How would I describe how I felt following that appointment?

Disappointed? No, not quite.

Upset? No.

Ah, yes. Demoralized was more like it.

For over a week, I was in a state of perpetual emotional struggle over the news that I had to get yet another surgery and wear another neck brace for a longer period of time. Everything I did while in the halo, I did it right – resting, eating properly, walking, being positive. I was told my neck was all fine; it was apparently healing well. And now, my new doctor tells me my first surgery wasn’t even all that successful?!? Like I basically wasted all that time in the halo?

Was this a complete oversight???

My former neurosurgeon’s notes when I got the halo removed in California

I continued to ask myself, When will this ALL end?

Try as I may, I simply couldn’t get over it. Now that all the homecoming festivities had subsided, I wasn’t doing much, apart from going for physical therapy, cooking every now and then, and walking in the afternoons with my 14-year old brother. I was just passing the time at home since I couldn’t go back to work and nearly all my friends had jobs. You know what they say:During this time, my mother-in-law proved to be an invaluable source of strength and courage for me. I called her a few times when I felt really down and out, sobbing and everything. She urged me to “take a look at the bigger picture” and it would be “just a little while longer.”

I also became overly anxious and paranoid about tripping or falling while in the Minerva jacket. Ridiculous as it sounds, I was scared to fall and damage my spine and therefore paralyze myself. I was going bonkers. (To be fair, I did call my neurosurgeon to ask about this, to which he said, “only if you fell abruptly.” Realistically the chances of paralysis if I fell WHILE IN THE NECK BRACE was remote. The neck brace was there for a purpose… and I had to get my husband and mother-in-law to knock myself back to reality with this one.)

My mantra became, “Just take it one day at a time,” and really focused on that alone. I would say that to myself before, but it was for real this time. As I lay in bed every night, squirming uncomfortably in my Minerva jacket, I would set myself little goals for the next day, such as to do insurance paperwork, to clean up the pantry, or to make banana oatmeal muffins.

So I trudged along my days in some sort of a routine at home, trying to keep it together and consoling myself: