Welcome to the other side
Hello dear friends,
First I would like to start with a general update as many of you have asked how am I doing.
I'm doing really well:-) I had no expectations going in and didn't try to figure out the outcome or how I would feel. I totally surrendered and allowed life to unfold without me getting in the way.
So here I am 3 days after, and my recovery is beyond normal...
The all mighty has graced me with a remarkable start to this new stage of my journey.
I feel good, already had my first hike in the hospital :-), hoping on my left leg using crutches, and overall doing pretty well
For those of you who are interested I wrote a detailed description below sharing in greater detail the day prior, the day of and the day after the operation.
The day before my operation we returned home from beautiful Tofino on Vancouver Island in British Columbia after 4 gorgeous days spent with my wonderful family.
This vacation / relaxation time was very beneficial and allowed us to unwind and enjoy Mother Nature and each other's company in a sweet relaxed way.
Upon our return I had to say my last farwell to my two beautiful daughters as they were picked up by their mother. I will see them again after the operation when I return home.
Saying goodbye was extremely emotional and very difficult. With tears in my eyes and a chocked throat I gave them a big hug told them how much I love them and tried to keep myself together.
It was heart wrenching.
I completed my last preparations, such as installing a hand grip bar in the bathtub, adjusting a portable shower stool, packing a bag for my stay with books, music, extra clothes, toiletries etc.
it's a strange time as I tried to 'finish' things knowing that I'll return home with some new mobility challenges so I tried to close different loose ends related to work, banking, bills and a large 'To Do' list that just kept growing, so at one point I just let it all go. There's time for everything and I'm sure I'll find ways to deal with it later.
Before bedtime I did a series of pranayam (Yogic breathing technique) exercises and meditated with my beloved Sonja.
Emotions skyrocketed as we both realized that the day has come - here it is, next morning is just a few hours away.
Last preparation was to wipe my body with Antiseptic Body Cleansing Washcloths. It should aid with reducing the risk of skin infection at the hospital.
Quick note about hospital infections:
this is a very serious situation, post surgery infection rates are very high and cause serious complications. If you're scheduled for an operation I highly recommend you speak with your health care provider to learn what they do to reduce this risk.
I used these wipes again the morning of my operation too - its important to be proactive towards your health to reduce risk as much as possible, you can do it and I strongly encourage it.
The day of my operation
We woke up at 4am. I managed to get some sleep and awakened with mixed emotions. On one hand I was ready, but nothing can really prepare you for something like this. There was no doubt or fear, just a heavy feeling of sadness.
I have ventured into uncharted waters many times before but this time I had to fully trust the process and surrender like I never have before.
Once again I did my pranayam routine (this time I found it very challenging to complete, my lungs and heart felt tight). we meditated together for a short while.
It's so hard to describe the emotions that came up, I can only say that at this point I had to master everything I learned and really internalize it.
Understanding that I am not the body and separate from oneself bodily part are two different things.
This is by far, my most challenging time.
However, at the same time I felt so connected, guided and protected - this provided me with so much peace and acceptance - I am eternally grateful.
The drive to the hospital was quiet, we didn't say much. Conversation was about directions on how to get from there back home as my parents will use my car for the next few days and this area is new for them.
Arriving at the hospital I went directly to patient registration and from there straight to pre op preparation.
I'm the first in the OR, scheduled time is 07:45. Operation should take about 2 hours.
I remove my clothes and slip into a fashionable gown, green smurf like socks and blue slippers - the hospital Armani line at its best.
Sathie, a sweet nurse inserts an I.V into my vein (why do they all poke at the same place?), some last paperwork to sign and I'm ready!
Tears run down my face as I say my last goodbyes to my parents and Sonja.
Emotions are high, this is it, in a few minutes My right foot will be separated from my body forever!!!
My heart races and I breathe deeply.
Secured in my bed I'm rolled away to the pre-operation waiting area.
Here I am introduced to the nurses that will aid the surgeons, I meet with the anesthesiologist and we discuss my options:
Epidural partial anesthesia (from the hips down) combined with sedation
Local nerve block either one injection that will last 24 hours or a catheter inserted in the main nerve that will stay for several days.
I choose full anesthesia with nerve block catheter - no reason to be awake during this and the nerve block should last longer than a local injection.
A note about Synchronicity:
At this hospital there were only 2 anesthesiologists that are qualified to perform the catheter nerve block. It requires a highly trained professional as they need to find the nerve with an ultrasound machine and insert the catheter in a very specific way.
Originally they were not scheduled to work on the day of my operation, but with divine guidance they were both called in that day and I had the fortune to have them on my team of professionals - so blessed and guided - thank you!
Another synchronicity moment (twice in a row now - how lucky am I?)
After I interviewed 5 different prosthetists in my area I chose to work with Scott Hedlund a Certified Prosthetist from Russell Prosthetics. I have to say that all of them are great and very professional, but I felt a special connection with Scott and decided to work with him. He's innovative in his approach and open to try new systems and techniques.
A few weeks before my operation Scott told me about a special vacuum based rigid dressing made by company named Ossur. This dressing is designed to reduce swelling of the risidual limb and may take off 6 to 10 days of healing time. He learned about it during a seminar he took in Sweden. Apparently they have used this system in Europe for the last 5-6 years with great success, but for some reason they don't use them here in Canada.
Scott was able to get one for me - this is the first time it will used in Western Canada (and perhaps in Canada) - I'm happy to be the first 'guinea pig' using it here.
So here we go, they roll me to the operating room, I'm introduced to the other professionals in the room and meet with my surgeon, Dr. Viskontas.
I request to have my foot cremated and they made the appropriate arrangments (my request is not religious based but spiritualy based, I'll tell you more about my intentions and plans about the ashes in a separate post) .
I lay on my stomach as they identify nerve location and insert the catheter, then I turn on my back, a surge of heat runs through my veins and... Lights out
Two hours later I slowly wake up in recovery. Monitors and beeping sounds bring me be back to reality.
First thing I do is take a big breathe and remove my blanket off my leg...
Not sure how I'll feel seeing it for the first time I open my eyes and look at a white plastic dressing that ends just below my knee.
Wow, my foot is gone!!!
A deep breathe in... and out came a huge sigh of relief...
This was completley unexpected and
I know this may sound odd but this is how I felt right there and then.
It felt as if a huge weight has been lifted, an anchor that held me down was released - I felt complete and in peace.
As I write this down I'm still in awe of how I feel. This is truly amazing and I truly feel guided and protected.
As days go by I have a stronger feeling of connection and acceptance, deep inside me it feels right.
My healing journey of 2.5 years has shifted and a sense of transition is everywhere.
Part of my extensive preparation was to learn how to use visualization and make it part of my tool kit.
I must say that I didn't know if this will work or not but I allowed myself to follow through. During the last 3 months leading to my operation I visualized myself in different situations, from waking up in recovery to walking with crutches, working at home, going to the bathroom, using the shower etc etc.
I have to say that it worked remarkably well!
I woke up and looked down and it felt as if I have seen this before, no surprises or anything like that.
I stayed in the recovery room for 5 hours (normal recovery time is 2-3) apparently my breathing rhythm and oxygen level where fluctuating too much. They say it can happen after full anesthesia so I was connected to an ECG machine and monitored for the next 4 hours.
After one hour things seemed to get back to normal but they insisted that my breathing rate of 6 breaths a minute and a heart rate of 44 is way too low.
It should be in the average range of 10 breathes a minute and at least 55 BPM.
I tried to explain that I trained in pranayama for many months and this is my normal resting breathing rate and so is my resting heart rate (which has always been low, just like my father's and my brother's).
But my pleads were to no avail. They were convinced something is wrong.
Throughout this time my family stood still at the waiting room anxious to hear what was going on. Unfortunately they weren't updated on my situation until I got out.
I can't imagine how they felt.
5 hours later I was rolled out to my room accompanied by my family.
I was so happy to see them!
I would like to use this opportunity to reach out to all of you who have held a beautiful healing space for me and supported my family in such a beautiful way - thank you so much!
It takes a village to go through something like this and exit on the other side as I did.
I feel your support energetically and I have no doubt that is it a tremendous part of my healing and well being - I can't thank You enough.
Off to bed I go, I'll try to post again in the next few days.
Love you all