Well good morning my beautiful peeps! 😎 I’m currently sitting on set for a Jack Daniels Photoshop and figured since I’ll probably be sitting around for a few hours, I might as well stick to my word (my word is my bond, after all 👊🏼😉) and work on my next post. If you’re in the industry, you understand the whole “hurry up and wait” concept. If you’re not, well, it’s exactly the way it sounds. You MUST be on time (something I am still working on in the social part of my life) in order to sit around for hours while production sets up the equipment, the lighting, tests the lighting, tests the sound, goes over the schedule, eats a few bagels.., (LOL) etc… If you’re one of the main talent, however, this part can go by quickly because you’re too busy getting picture ready 😉 If you’re not, you’re pretty much sitting there twiddling your thumbs, so best to bring something to keep you occupied 👍🏼
Anyways, back to my Scoliosis Surgery. Before I move on to talk about my recovery at home and explain the next video on my YouTube Channel (click that cute little floaty icon on the screen to check out my vids 🙃 ), I think it’s important for those interested in having the surgery to know that it is, BY NO MEANS, a cake walk.
FINDING THE RIGHT MEDS FOR YOU
I’m on of those people where, once I’ve gone through something, and I’m out of the dark stages, I’m great at seeing the “light” or the positive in it all. (Again, once I’m OUT OF IT, so cut yourself a break if you’re not.) But not everyone is like that, and as I said, I want to be as honest as I possibly can in my blog. So, you need to know that I was in A LOT of pain and on A LOT of medication. The one that worked for me was called Dilaudid. If you’ve been following my blog, you know from one of my past posts that the hospital has to try different medications to see which one works for you! And again, everyone’s bodies are different. I don’t react well to Oxycodone. If you remember from two posts ago, they switched my drip medication from the Dilaudid to the Oxy to see if it would be better… it was not. Also, as I said before, the first night in the hospital was the worst night of my life. I was in SO much pain and felt very alone. Granted I had family and my high school bestie (love you Mondizzle) with me up until the early evening, but after they left, I was alone with the pain.
You’re hooked up to an IV that allows you to self-medicate. Which sounds great in retrospect. But it’s a BITCH!!! Like seriously, capital B-I-T-C-H. You basically end up falling asleep because you’re so drugged up. And then you’re woken up by the pain an hour later. And you can’t move, to make yourself more “comfortable”. This was probably the most aggravating part for me because I’m such an “I’ll do it myself” kinda chic. (Ask the boys I used to work with cocktailing… If they weren’t ready with carafes and the bucket of ice when I was, I peaced the F-out, arms full and line-backer-ing my way through the crowd. Sigh, it definitely didn’t benefit my whole spine situation.)
Perhaps another reason why my spine got to where it did... I carry too many turkeys ;P
And to be fair, Skybar wasn't ALL bad ;) Love and miss you guys!!!
I had to buzz a nurse to ask them to adjust me, roll me, shift me, (then later in my stay), help me stand up, help me sit back down, sit on a special bed pan seat and eventually help me graduate to the Crimson throne. If you’ve been reading my blog (or know me) you know I drink/ drank a lot of water (I was addicted. No, seriously. ADDICTED. I’ll definitely get back to talking more about this in future posts.) I curtailed the water drinking habit before the surgery and STOPPED the crazy hydration habit during my hospital stay. One, because it hurt too much to get up, and two, the nurses in the night shift were so grouchy and mean 😳
YOUR HOSPITAL CARETAKERS
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been raving about NYU Langone and I still mean everything I’ve said. My Doctor- awesome! His assistant- awesome! My nurses during the day shifts- loved!! I even liked a few during the evening… But some?? Ugh, when I clicked my buzzer to ask someone to help me roll over or pee, I literally prayed that they would come within half an hour. Or that it wouldn’t be “the grouchy one”. (I do realize, and you should too, that not every establishment is perfect and there’s always a few bad eggs. That’s life. Deal with it.) I remember one night, hitting the buzzer and it taking so long for someone to come help me roll over that I finally just did it myself. I wasn’t supposed to, but of course I’m an impatient person and eventually just taught myself how to roll over just the right way to not hurt myself TOO much. Other nights… well I just cried.
Before I switched to a private room on the last two days (Oooooooo! I’m sooo fancyyyyy!), I shared a room with an elderly woman who wasn’t doing very well. I’m not sure why she was in the hospital… maybe my Mom remembers? (Mom? Wanna chime in?) Hey! Pain killers, remember? Cut my brain a break! Anyways, one day, my Mom decided not to come visit me so that she could, instead, get my room and the house clean and more functional for me. And, that day, I had NO visitors. None. I cried. I cried a lot that day. (Woah, I just welled up with tears thinking about that… Maybe I’m just as good at pushing those feelings down and burying them as the next person…)
My old acting coach in LA says that it actually takes the body 90 seconds for the brain to recognize a feeling, for it to travel throughout our bodies and then release. Over. Done with. Just 90 seconds. I meeeaaan, you’ll still be sad after 90 seconds, I’m sure, but he always says that if you just opened yourself up and let yourself really “feel it”, you wouldn’t be in as much pain as you still are 90 seconds after the fact. But we don’t want to do that. Humans are still animalistic and our survival instincts kick in. But what we think is protecting our heart, is actually hurting it.
Anyways… the elder woman next to me had a daughter that came to visit her, I’d say, every other day. You could tell she was a sweetheart when 30 minutes after I initially pressed my call button, she peeked her head around the curtain and asked me if I needed anything. (Maybe she just wanted me to stop that constant buzzing sound, but I’m a pretty good judge of character and annoying sound or not, she wanted to help.) “I have to go to the bathroom,” I said very shyly. (A person never feels as vulnerable as when someone is helping them go to the bathroom. I mean, toddlers? Different story. They don’t have that experience of already taking care of themselves. But an elder? We gotta hand it to them. They’ve lived a full life of independence and now, they have to accept the fact that someone needs to help them wipe their asshole. That, my friends, takes courage. And I’ll admit, I didn’t have that much courage with it… plus I was constipated. Ha! But I did have to still pee a lot. (Yes, I tailed back the water drinking habit but fluids also help with constipation, guys! God!) 💩😆😆 So… the second I felt like I had a little more range of motion in me, I was reaching for those wet wipes instead of that buzzer.
Oh!! The wipeys! Ha- forgot about the wipeys! That’s another “fun” part about the hospital stay… and even throughout your first week at home. You can’t shower or bathe. I forget why… I think one reason is that you still have a huge incision running down your back so you shouldn’t get it wet in the beginning.
This was taken probably a couple weeks after I returned home from surgery. My Mom was afraid to pull that last piece of protective tape off. Dr. Errico kindly did it for us at my follow-up visit :)
But also because you can’t really move. I mean, I was walking two, almost three days after surgery but with a walker. And your movements are still pretty stiff and limited. So instead, you are “bathed” with wet wipes. I mean, you feel “clean-ER” after your wet wipe bath, but you definitely don’t feel clean.
Sorry but I thought this was hysterical when I saw this meme while I was home healing... I'm sure you'll be able to relate eventually...
Ugh! And the nurses… So you are usually bathed in the morning. A nurse that was still on the night shift comes in to wake you and to give you your “wet wipe bath” and tooth-brush and small basin to brush and spit in. I remember one morning I asked if I could sleep a little longer and do it later. She gladly said yes (I actually had never seen this nurse say yes so nice to me before- LOL)… and then never came back. “Lady!,” I thought. “I don’t want to take a wet wipe bath as much as you don’t want to give me one, but I still need to feel clean, Gawddamnit!” Let’s just leave it at the nurses on the night shift weren’t the nicest. And some on days, weren’t the greatest either. But the ones who were AWESOME (shout out to you guys!!!! <3 ) made up for them 🙂 And they do have someone who comes around and checks on you and asks you how your stay is going. I eventually hinted that one nurse wasn’t the most “gracious”. The woman instantly jumped on it and asked if I wanted her to be removed from working with me. I felt bad saying yes but she could tell I wanted to. She removed her anyways, no questions asked. So NYU Langone is awesome in this regard too. (I’m not a tattle guys, quit judging me. 😏 )
K, back to my elderly roommate’s daughter helping me… **(And I do realize this is getting long, but hang in there. As I catch up to present day on these posts they’ll get shorter. It’s just been a while and there’s so much to tell!! Plus I labeled each section in case you want to skip to the ones that will be most beneficial for you 😉👍🏼 )
… I remember crying in that bathroom after she helped me there. I felt very sorry for myself because no nurse came to help me and I had no visitor there that day to lend me a hand. I also was on a massive pain-killer/ medication rollercoaster, so again, I know the meds had a play in it. I also remember having a good cry with one of my favorite nurses that day. I was venting about how no one came to see me that day. One of my besties from college got lost and went to the wrong hospital. Long story short, she had to cancel and would come to see me the next day. We had a good laugh about this again recently… she was re-explaining to me the surprised look on the patient she visited’s face that day when she walked in cheerfully and peeled back her curtain. “You’re not Care!!” 😳😔😂😂 “I’m going to go now…” Hahahaha! I have awesome friends. 😘
But that day, I didn’t find it very funny. I said I understood but I was definitely disappointed. And I also admitted to my nurse that I was slightly upset with my Mom for not coming. (Ugh! I’m so mean!! The poor woman was home cleaning/ getting ready for my hospital return and I was secretly upset with her. (Do you see what medications do to you?? Or I guess what trauma does to you? But I think that’s why I started crying… Because I knew I shouldn’t be upset with her but I couldn’t control NOT being upset with her and therefore just felt awful about it. JEEZ! I am a very complex human being, huh??) So I eventually ended up going on an emotional roller coaster, sobbing about things from my past, and you would think the poor nurse would think I was crazy, but nope. She was totally fine with it. In fact, she hopped right on my band wagon and told me something about what she was still struggling with. Then she looked out the window and started to cry. Yep.
This was an awesome experience though. Because it snapped me back to reality. This is what I mean about sharing with other people the things that we are going through/ have gone through. It snapped me out of my whole “I feel so sorry for myself” state of mind, and brought me back down to the, “everyone goes through hardships” planet. I’m great at being strong for other people. And so that’s exactly what I did. I sat there and listened to her, let her talk it out, gave her advice and let her have a little cry. We formed a bond. Aaaand then I asked her to take me off my Neurontin medication so it wouldn’t mess with my emotions anymore. Ha! (Disclaimer: I don’t advise you to do this. I almost asked her to put me back on it after she took me off. Double HA!) And later, I lost it and hysterically cried to the new PT guy on shift and refused to do anymore stairs. The poor chap #GodBlessHisSoul 😔😆😋
Feel free to watch my PT/ Walking Up Stairs Video Again ;)
Now the pain… “Scoliosis Kerri” (I realize I have a lot of Kerri’s in my life so I’m giving them each nicknames so you can still follow- haha!) and I were texting this week and I was looking back through my texts to her in the hospital. Let’s just say they weren’t pretty! And I had forgotten just how kinda awful it was. So, here it goes… The best way to explain the pain I felt after the surgery, and while in the hospital, is like your body is permanently uncomfortable. And the pain is kind of like a gnawing feeling in your torso. The medications help, but not enough. I was switched from a self-medicating IV to a pill when I was moved out of ICU. The nurses came in every four hours to give me pain meds and every 8 hours to give me muscle relaxers. I forget how often they gave me the other medications (Neurontin to calm the nerves, iron for my anemia, Dolcolax to soften your stool- which does SHIT, by the way… no pun intended, my regular vitamins, and a few other drugs that I can’t remember…) And every time they came in with the pain killer I’d say I that I think I might need more… but then I’d back down because I was too chicken-shit and thought I’d over-medicate. (I know, I know- the way I think sometimes…) 🙄
The thing about my body is I didn’t respond well to ANY pain medication. The Dilaudid made my entire body shake uncontrollably. You know that shiver that happens in your body when your cold? How about that same shiver that takes place in your bones and makes your teeth chatter when your deathly scared? (Am I the only person that’s ever felt that?) Well that’s what would happen to me. My Mom would ask me if I was cold because I was shaking so much. And I remember it being pretty violently. My girlfriend, who is a nurse, came to visit me twice (love her) and I remember even seeing some concern on her face when she saw the way I was reacting to the medication. Clearly the meds were too much for my body and it still wasn’t masking the pain. (Imagine what I would’ve felt if I had no pain medication whatsoever?? OMG I can’t even.)
The meds also made everything feel like a dream. You know when you wake up from a dream and you can remember what happened but don’t remember the details? That’s what I think about when I think of my hospital stay. I know it happened, and remember the major points, but the rest is all a blur. I also remember only eating a few bites of every meal… For a few reasons. One, because I was in pain. You’re not really hungry when you’re that uncomfortable. Two, I was really constipated. I didn’t poop once in the hospital. So even though I wasn’t eating much, I felt really “full”. On the last day, the nurse gave me an enigma in the morning. And I think I might have went a little bit?… I think. Again, I don’t really remember a lot of stuff and things are all hazy, but something like that happened… Moving on.
I also remember the last day. Dr. Oren and the anesthesiologist came to check on me and asked me if I wanted to go home. I remember feeling torn. Obviously I wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed, but I was also really scared! Like, was I ready to go home? Will I be okay if I’m at home away from doctors and nurses in case something catastrophic happens??!… Like, if I roll over the wrong way and suddenly my rods snap, the bolts pop out and my back splits completely open?!?! Will I really be okay?!? (Yes, this is the way my brain works. Not really but kinda. It’s pretty exhausting sometimes.) “Yeah… I’m ready…”, I replied sheepishly.
THE RIDE HOME
I remember giving the nurse I cried with a hug goodbye (or a somewhat hug. I still had limited movement, keep in mind), and saying goodbye to a few of the other nurses that were so awesome to me. Aaaand I remember being TERRIFIED of the car ride home. Past patients and my nurses all warned me that it wasn’t going to be fun. And it wasn’t. I definitely cried again. (I cry a lot throughout this experience… I guess you’re getting that?) I had two pillows behind me in the passenger seat shaped like a giant “T” and yet still, every bump, nick, pot hole in the road and swerve of the car was the complete death of me. You know when you’re hating an experience and you just keep bracing yourself and asking “When is this going to end?!??” 😩😩😫 (aka “When are we going to be there??!”) That’s what that trip felt like for me. My Mom felt really bad. So brace yourself for that ride… it ain’t pretty.
I know this all sounds so terrible but I wanted to give you a heads up on what you are in for and then follow by saying, “Look at me now!!”
I did this photoshoot with the very talented Photographer Akintayo Adewole just 7 months post-surgery!
One of my manager’s at Skybar gave me a pep talk when I was waiting for my roommate to pick me up from my shift and take me to the Emergency Room (read back in my posts if you’re interested to hear about this one… OOF, it’s a doozy. **SIDE NOTE: It has nothing to do with my Scoliosis. I had several things wrong with me before my surgery.) Anyways, he actually would say to me, “The mind is a powerful thing. You can talk yourself out of/ into anything. Especially when it comes to the body and your health. He knows his shit. Follow him on Insta if you liked that one 😉 Shout out to Aid! So KNOW that you will be okay, and I promise you, you will be. 😇🙏🏼😚
Another perk of the surgery- you're back is straighter! Before and After pics :) AND my back still had some shifting to do after the second pic!
I just left PT and was talking to James about all I’ve been through over the past three years with my health (in addition to having the Scoliosis pain and surgery), and he reminded me by saying, “Wow!! You’ve really been through a lot!” “Yeah…” I replied. He said, “Do you know that? Do you see how far you’ve come?” and I gave a hesitated “Yeah.” “DO YOU THOUGH??”, he seemed concerned. “Hahahaha! Yeah, no, I do,” I laughed and smiled graciously. I guess I was just hesitating because I had forgotten all these things. That’s why this blog is nice for me as well… because it reminds me of how strong and how positive I am now. So if I can do it, you can do it too!! 🙂 Keep going scoli sisters and brothers and anyone else struggling with illnesses, depression, hardships, etc.- WHATEVER! You’ll get there. I’m confident that you will. We ALL will! Thanks for reading 😉
‘Til next Post- Exes and Oh’s!!
You’re little fighter,