Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: April 25 Post-Op Appointment

I told my parents last night that I can not be held responsible for anything I do in my sleep. I've always been a wild sleeper. My college roommate can attest to this. ;) I mentioned this to Dr. Gardner today when I saw him for my 1 week post-op appointment. He smiled and said, "There is a reason I put you in a boot!"

I was completely out-of-the-loop on what was happening at today's appointment. For some reason, I got it in my head that I'd be able to get rid of the bandages or at least the boot - haha. Yeah, not so much! Despite that, it was a good appointment. Note to self though: take pain meds before going to the doctor. Mom did not tell me this until AFTER we were already there. ;) It was kind of painful to get the bandages removed. My foot and toes look absolutely disgusting and gross, but for the first time in forever, my toes are completely straight!! Dr. Gardner made sure everything was healing properly (it is!) and he got an X-Ray. Then he re-bandaged my foot and explained to me why I have to continue to wear the boot. He said that because of my dystonia he didn't want any spasms or awkward movements to undo everything he had done surgically. He said I'll be in the boot for a few more weeks yet and as long as I'm in it, I don't have to worry about doing anything that would undo his work. I have to go back NEXT week to get the stitches out. With as much surgery as I've had, it struck me that I've never had to get stitches removed. I asked if it would it hurt and he said maybe a little, but I should be fine.

Dr. Gardner gave me permission to start bearing weight on my foot, so I practiced walking a little bit at my parent's house. It's not wonderful, but it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be either. I still made the decision (with my boss's blessing, of course) to work from home until at least next Tuesday.

Funny story: I asked Dr. Gardner whether I went under general anesthesia or not. The anesthesiologist said he was going to put me under "twilight" but not fully under general. But I could of sworn, I heard Dr. Gardner in the OR say, "she needs to go under general." So I asked him and I was right! I did hear him say that. He said I went under as far as possible without actually having a machine breathe for me. The anesthesiologist didn't want to put me all the way under because of the dystonia and Dr. Gardner wanted me all the way under because of the dystonia. Go figure! Anyway, Dr. Gardner told me that the last thing I said to him was, "If I say anything, don't tell my dad." I guess I was thinking I might say something inappropriate or something, I don't know! I asked him if I really said that and he said I did. I told him that all the nurses in recovery were saying that I was awfully giggly.

I still have some pain, but am not taking any pain meds. I started working again yesterday (from home). I told Dr. Gardner that I thought a lot of pain was coming from the boot. He agreed that it might be. It still didn't get him to say I could stop wearing it - darn.

That's it for this update. I have to say that I'm feeling really blessed. God is good. I can still say without a shadow of a doubt: God's Got This!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday (but on a Thursday): Surgery

It is Thursday, right? My days have all been messed up. I blame it on the pain meds. :) Hopefully this post will turn out OK, but I've already warned my mom that she may have to proof read it before I post it.

I had hammer toe surgery on Tuesday and all went well. The night before, I did not sleep well at all. You would think after all the surgeries I've had, that I wouldn't be nervous anymore about having them, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Oh well!

Mom and I arrived at the surgery center at 6am. My surgery was at 7:30am. I had to turn off my deep brain stimulation device. When the anesthesiologist came by I told him about the device and said that my neurologist said to keep "electrocutionary" devices away from the implanted battery. He looked at me said, "I think you mean electrocautery devices", to which I laughed and said, "Oh, that makes much more sense!" When the anesthesiologist assistant came by, we started talking and I told him to make sure I woke up after the surgery and he said he doesn't get paid unless the patient wakes up. I told him that should be his slogan! Dr. Gardner came by with a gift for me: an ever-fashionable boot. But, the medium sized boot that he brought was too big, so someone from his office brought over a small boot.

When it was time for the surgery, I remember being wheeled into the operating room and "meeting" another nurse, but after that - nothing. My mom said that the surgery was over an hour long and Dr. Gardner came out and spoke with her and gave her this picture:

I can literally say I have (internal) hard-wear from the top of my head to my toes - haha!

After surgery, the post-op nurses were helping me get ready to go home. It took two of them to get the boot on over my bandaged foot:

After Mom left to go get the car, one of the nurses exclaimed that I was awfully giggly. My laughing got her laughing. I have no idea why I was laughing or even what I was laughing at. I guess that's what anesthesia does to me. I could definitely think of worse ways to come out of anesthesia, so I'm thankful I laugh.

Mom and I left the surgery center at 10am. Thankfully, I have wonderful parents who said that I could stay with them while recovering. I really think my mom could have been a nurse. She knows exactly what to do. Dad is great too. He seems to have the morning shift with me here. He'll get me something to eat and my medicine and refill my glass with water. I'm staying in what now has become Genevieve and Hope's (my nieces) bedroom. The room used to be my brothers Stanton and Steven's room. My mom has decorated it in all things girl. It literally is every little girls dream come true. My view is of baby dolls and stuffed animals, a princess castle, a kitchen, a tent, a bookshelf stuffed with books and a baby stroller and baby bed.

In their room is the bunk bed that my parents got me and Stuart when we were little. I had the top, he had the bottom. Then it was Stuart and Stanton and after that it was Stanton and Steven and now it will be Genevieve and Hope.

After coming home from surgery, I slept all day. My foot was completely numb because on top of the anesthesia, Dr. Gardner numbed my entire foot. Tuesday night was not a good night at all. I was in so much pain, even though I took the Percocet as prescribed. It hurt so much, I might have cried. ;) No one saw me though because I was in bed. I woke up every 5 to 10 minutes that night. 3am could not come fast enough - that's when I could take more pain meds! Interestingly enough, the Percocet only helped me for about an hour and I could only take it every 4 hours. It hurt, but not nearly as bad as after brain surgery, so I am very, very thankful for that! I survived the night. The next morning however, I called Dr. Gardner. I told him about the pain and he said he thought I'd be in more pain than his usual patients because of the dystonia. Was he ever right. Tuesday night, my foot started having spasms and I knew that was the dystonia. He prescribed Tramadol on top of the Percocet. That did the trick! I'm still in pain, but nowhere near where I was.

I have to confess, I'm so out of it, that I just took a mini nap. Like right now - laptop in my lap, hands on the keyboard. I just closed my eyes for a few minutes. :) My plan was to work from home today and tomorrow, but since I'm still on heavy duty pain meds, that's a no-go. I've slept most of today. I'm thankful for co-workers who jump right in and make sure everything is taken care of.

As much I didn't want to, I'm using the walker again, but not in the same way. I discovered that if I put my knee (of the side of my foot surgery) on it, I can get around rather well. I have to keep ice on for 6-8 hours a day. I keep forgetting that, so I'm thankful Mom and Dad remind me. I also have to keep my foot propped up so that's it above my heart. The weirdest thing is if I keep my leg straight on the pillow, it hurts like crazy, but if I lay on my side, it doesn't hurt at all. Is that not strange? Whatever works!

And now, I'm going to take another nap! Thanks for reading and following along. I hope there aren't too many grammatical mistakes or any other kind of mistakes in this post. If there are, please excuse them! Always remember, God's Got This.

Friday, April 14, 2017


I've been mulling the idea of a haircut for some time now. I've known I've needed one for awhile, but the thought of cutting it kind of made me sad. I worked hard to grow the hair I have! It's been a long 14 months and I'm proud of my hair (even if I find a few gray hairs!). But, since I wrote in the blog that I was going to get a haircut, my mom held my feet to the fire and asked me last night if I had made an appointment to get it done. She's been suggesting I get it done for awhile now. ;) I told her I hadn't, but I knew I needed to.

Last night after the Maundy Thursday service at church, I decided to just bite the bullet and do it. Great Clips is open until 9pm, so that's where I went. I could have gone to a fancy salon and paid a lot of money, but I didn't want to do that. I could have had my friend, Carrie, cut it (she's the one who shaved my head!), but I had to do it that second, or I'd lose my nerve! So, I went to Great Clips and got a stylist named Clare. I immediately relaxed because she has curly hair. I told her my story. She said she felt honored to be the first one to cut my hair. I told her I had to get rid of the mullet! She laughed. She said that she was actually quite impressed how my hair had grown. It had its own layers! ;) When she was done, she had cut 4 inches off - 4 INCHES!! I didn't know I had that much to even cut. She commented that my hair must grow fast because there was a ton of it. I survived the cut and didn't cry. I haven't cried at all because I love it!! Thank you, Clare for the beautiful cut. It's just what I didn't know I wanted and I love it.

May everyone have a wonderful Good Friday and a blessed, glorious Easter Sunday!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: April 11

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for me to update this blog. There’s not too much to update on, so hopefully it’ll be a short read, but if you’ve been around this blog for a while you know I like to type, so we’ll see what happens! Thanks, as always, for reading!!

The past week from Tuesday to Friday, I walked well. There were no major issues. I was even beginning to wonder if I should still have the hammer toe surgery, because my toes weren’t bothering me all that much. But that was just God allowing me to have good days, because, starting Friday, I started having more difficulty. I didn’t fall and as of this posting I haven’t fallen, but walking has been more of a struggle. I even checked to make sure my deep brain stimulation device had not been turned off. It's on and working. I blame it on the weather. I mean, I want to blame it on something, so it might as well be the weather! ;) The daytime weather has been gorgeous – sunny and 75 as they say. But, it’s the huge swings in temperature that I think are messing with me. We can go from 35 degrees at night to 75 degrees midday. Anyway, your guess is as good as mine on whether the weather is to blame. Also, the toes not hurting ended as well. Today, somehow (I have no clue how!) I was in the shower and did something to make the callous/blood blister/whatever-it-is spot on the bottom of my foot REALLY hurt! I just like to think of these moments as God’s little reminders that I’m on the right track (having surgery) and not to doubt what’s been set-up and planned.

As of this post, I have $37.43 left on my deductible to pay and that will be met on Monday (the day before my surgery on Tuesday) as I have a doctor’s appointment then. This year it’s being met a little later than last year (last year I met it on March 1), but April to meet the deductible is not bad! I am so thankful to work for a company that offers great insurance.

I'll share a couple of photos since I haven't had photos on the blog in a little while.

This first one I took last week when I liked what my hair was doing:

This second one I took on Sunday when I woke up to my hair literally standing straight up. It cracked me up. I didn’t do anything to it to get it like this (except sleep!):

My hair is beginning to look like a mullet – seriously. I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I know I need it cut. I’m hoping to get that done before Easter, but considering Easter is this coming Sunday, I need to get a move on it!

And, that’s about it. I told you it wouldn't be that long tonight!

I’m seriously thankful that I didn’t fall today or yesterday or the day before that. I’m thankful that my deductible is almost met. I’m thankful that my toes will soon be straight. My surgery is on Tuesday, April 18, even though my dad wrote it down wrong and keeps announcing it at church in the prayers as being on Monday the 17th. ;) I’m thankful that my hair is growing (however wild it may get!).

May everyone have a blessed and joyous Easter and always remember that “God’s Got This”.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: April 4

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you survived Monday and Tuesday was good to you. I can’t believe a week has passed since my last entry. Where does the time go?!

First off, I realized why I was in such a bad mood last week after the news about toe surgery. I hate to admit this, but in reality, it was all about my stubbornness and vanity. I came to realize that I didn’t want to have to use any assistive device like crutches, a walker, a wheelchair or a cane to get around while recovering. How dumb is that? But that’s what it was all about. I’ve just got to “suck it up, buttercup!” and deal with it! Once I realized that was the true issue behind my grouchiness, it’s been smooth sailing ever since! I’m excited about the surgery (or as excited as one can get for surgery). I do want my toes to lay flat and I do want to walk better. Surgery is set for April 18. I think it was announced in church (at least at the 11am service) that it’s on the 17th, but it is actually on Tuesday, April 18.

Last Wednesday night, I went to church and was talking with a friend (Sylvia) before the service started. She and I chatted about hammer toes and just toe issues in general. She had read my blog post from the night before. She said that she had looked into toe surgery about 10 years ago and the doctors told her to be prepared to not be able to bend her toes anymore because of the fusion and the rods. She asked if I had discussed that with Dr. Gardner and I told her the truth – I couldn’t remember! Then I started questioning myself: “He does know, I’m relearning to walk, right?” “Did he say that I wouldn’t be able to bend my toes at all?” “Did I ask him if I’d be able to walk normally?” I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how God works because no sooner had I started questioning myself then I turned around in the pew and two rows back, sat Dr. Gardner! So, I went and asked him – haha!! I did apologize for asking him medical stuff while at church, but he said he didn’t mind. ;) He clarified that he would only fuse one of the joints – so yes, that joint won’t be bendable, but there are 3 joints in the toe and I will be able to bend the other two joints. He said it won’t impair my walking, but improve it. Another worry, checked off my list! Thank you, Jesus (and Dr. Gardner!). Dr. Gardner asked if I had informed my DBS neurologist at Vanderbilt yet about the surgery and I told him I hadn’t. I wasn’t sure that I was going to. Dr. Gardner was OK with that, but he said that he always likes to have as much information as possible. I pondered that. The next day, I e-mailed Dr. Tolleson at Vanderbilt. I e-mailed him so I could remember everything I wanted/needed to say/ask him. The phone is not always my friend – I forget what I’m supposed to ask or just get flustered. E-mail is much better for me. I thought maybe his nurse would contact me, but no, I got a response directly from him! He has no major reservations about the surgery and confirmed that Dr. Gardner was correct – I’d need some kind of physical intervention to get the toes to lay flat (because they’ve been balled up for 10-12 years now and they’ve kind of fused themselves to that position). He reminded me though that without DBS or another treatment, my toes could still pull. He told me if Dr. Gardner had any concerns that he could call him. He also reminded me that I need to turn the DBS stimulator off while in surgery and ended with “direct electrocautery away from the battery.” :) Duly noted!! I feel much better that everyone is now informed.

On Saturday, I did something I realized I hadn’t done since going cane and walker free – I walked all by myself into Ross Dress for Less. No walker, no cane, no shopping cart – just me, my legs and my balled up toes. I even crossed over the dreaded lane that cars drive through and didn’t worry if a car had to stop and wait for me. I walked in front of people and didn’t crumble! Once in the store, I decided to try on dresses. I realized when I got to the dressing room that I could go to any dressing room I so desired to because I didn’t have to worry about fitting the walker into the room. I fit into a fitting room!! :) I know all of this is silly to all of you, but it’s life-changing, soul-lifting stuff to me.

Sunday, I again did something I haven’t done in 10-12 years. There were NO parking spots close to the door. There weren’t even any handicap parking spots. In cases like this, I usually circle the parking lot several times and a spot usually becomes available. But Sunday, I parked “way far-away” (at least for me) - on the outer spots of the parking lot and I walked. Cars had to stop so that I could cross over the parking lot. I was slightly embarrassed, but I pressed on. I made it inside with no falls, no walker, no cane. I made it. It was monumental. I’m blessed. Walking is not perfect – it may never be, but I’m doing it and for that I give God all the praise. I start and stop. I don’t walk fluidly. I have issues. But I also have a fire that burns in me, a “Type A” personality, stubbornness to the core and determination that won’t be shaken. I have God on my side. He’s truly all I need! Sunday night and again tonight, I walked into Kroger without a shopping cart, cane or walker. I walked in front of people. All of this is truly God. Thank you, Lord for building confidence and character in me. It’s a slow process, but I’m learning.

Ya’ll, I am still so amazed that I don’t use a walker or a cane anymore. There are days and times when I want to, but I don’t. I press on. I put one foot in the front of the other and do the best I can. God hasn’t failed me. Not one time. And He never will fail me. He’s there to catch me, love me, console me, reassure me, uplift me, strengthen me, build confidence in me, and the list could go on and on and on. I’m in awe. Always remember…God’s Got This!