My family welcomed me as I returned to my room. They had been waiting for me since the surgery started at 1:30 pm… and it was already 7:30 pm. (Thank God for St. Mike’s free wi-fi or my teenage siblings would have actually died of boredom.) Everyone could not be in my room at the same time, my nurse Kathryn told me, so they all had to take turns to see me.
One by one I saw my family. I held my mom’s hand. In tears I told her, “Mommy, I’m going to be okay, right?” Her heart ached as she saw me, her eldest daughter, terribly distraught. “Oh yes, anak (my child), you will be all right…” she consoled. The idea of wearing a neck brace for three months instead of six weeks still shattered me.
I asked my 13-year old sister to help me eat. My husband, who had already left for his long drive back to work, brought me two kinds of soup but since I could not bend my neck down, I could not see what kinds they were. I asked my sister to take pictures of them so I could choose:
The first looked so much more appetizing. It was already Tuesday night and I had only one meal since midnight on Sunday/Monday. Unfortunately visiting hours were over and my family had to leave. Still in a state of total despair, I was left alone.
If you’ve been following my story, remember when I said that there were three extremely difficult things that I’ve had to overcome since I broke my neck? Well. This was the third.
For over two hours now I remained agitated about all I was told after the surgery. Never did I feel so sad and disheartened. And now, alone.
After some moments, Kathryn entered my room to give my pain medication for the evening. I also had a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) pump which delivered a potent pain medication called Dilaudid through my IV every time I pressed a button. I could press the button every ten minutes. My throat and hip still hurt and I felt just generally spent and weak all over from the surgery on my neck.
I asked Kathryn if I could eat, and she said that I should stick to only bland food for now. I asked her if I could have the soup my husband brought me. She kindly offered to heat it up in the microwave.
When she returned, I pitifully asked, “Kathryn, umm, can you stay with me for a bit?”
Looking a little surprised yet understanding, she said, “Okay, sure, I’ll just bring my computer in here so I can do my charting while we talk, if that’s fine.”
Crying uncontrollably, I told Kathryn everything… never mind that my roommate heard me too. I told her that I was on top of the world, newly married with a thriving career and everything to look forward to. And now the only thing I looked forward to was the day I would get my neck brace off.
Kathryn was a young woman with shoulder length brown hair, probably a few years older and only slightly taller than I was. In her brown eyes I saw that she truly sympathized with me. She consoled and advised me, “It’s okay to have a pity party once in a while, but it’s important to get yourself back up too.” By now she needed to attend to her other patients, but asked me to think of five things for which I was thankful until she came back.
I came up with:
- My loving husband
- My supportive family
- Surviving a deadly accident
- Being able to walk
- Getting this surgery to continue my active lifestyle
With that, I told myself to get some sleep. It was hard, especially with the pain. I tossed and turned, trying to avoid plunging back into negativity. Finally I requested some Gravol and I drifted to sleep 20 minutes after.
Throughout the night Kathryn came in and out of my room to measure the girth of my neck. (See the measuring tape in the picture above?) It was to monitor any swelling or buildup of fluid not drained by the JP drain.
I barely noticed her come in and look at my neck. It had been a tiring day, physically and emotionally. I was glad for it to be all over. I was glad to finally get some rest.