It was a long day of waiting. There was a delay right off the bat, pushing the surgery time from 12:30 to 2pm. By the time 2pm rolled around, Mom was starving and reading to get this thing done. 6 hours later, the surgeons came out to tell us that they did everything they wanted to do without issue. 2 levels have been fused, decompressed and stabilized with the arthritis removed.
When she woke up from the surgery there were some complications. She had trouble moving her legs initially but after a CT scan showed the surgery site was in good condition and steroids got the swelling under control she was able to begin moving her legs again. We left at her at 130am in the very capable hands of the neuro ICU nurses where she spent the night. She was comfortable, aware and her pain was managed. And with that, surgery day is over and now begins the long road to recovery.
Vulnerability and its Perks
By: Kristy MacAulay
When I was 13, I was diagnosed with scoliosis at Sick Kids Hospital. I moved out on my own at 16 and decided at 17 to have the surgery before I went away for university. It was the lovely Momma Clout who recommended to me Shriner’s to help with the surgery costs. I decided to take my boyfriend’s dad, Jim, with me to help me through it. This turned out to be one of the best “perks” of being vulnerable. Jim and I formed a bond that can only be developed through the adventure to the Shriner's Hospital for Children in Montreal.
Jim went through the exhausting pre-operative process with me, and helped fill the moments before the surgery with fun instead of worry, anxiety, or countdowns. On the actual day of surgery, he held my hand until I went through the operating room doors and was appropriately amused with my high as a kite post-op rambling.
Other than a pesky blood transfusion during my operation, the rest of my spinal fusion went well. However, I developed stomach complications that extended my stay, eventually coming home only 2 days before Christmas. I was VERY vulnerable during my hospital stay and in the months that followed of home recovery. In the hospital, I was constantly throwing up (not fun on a normal day let alone after a serious back surgery) and dealing with intense pain from the doctors trying frantically to switch my medication to help my stomach. I called myself miracle child as I was quoted 7-10 days recovery but insisted I would do it in 5 (teenagers, right?). Jim never stopped believing in miracle child, and encouraged me to keep fighting even when I was depressed and just wanted to sleep the day away. I never would have been able to see this side of him had I not gone through this experience. I would never be able to see his willingness to help someone who he knew only as his son’s girlfriend through absolute thick and thin. There are not many who would drop everything to go to Montreal to be the sole caretaker to a surgery patient.
At home, I was not able to dress myself independently and unable to carry much, if any, weight. My boyfriend had to help me put my socks and boots on for most of the winter, and carry all of my groceries for some time after. I felt like an incredible burden at the time, but looking back I see that this whole experience, which at the time was terrible, really showed me the incredible kindness of others. The understanding and kind words of the nurses in the hospital, the superhero advocacy of Jim getting me the treatment I needed, and the amazing support of everyone back at home who helped with my recovery was something that I would go through the whole process again to relive.
The wise Bob Marley said that “Vulnerability is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure” and the pleasure I found from not only the kindness everyone showed me, but the feeling of accomplishment with every step of recovery, is something that you can only achieve from opening yourself up to weakness. As cliche as it is, being truly dependent on others, made me cherish and value my independence after recovery so much more. And with that, I wish my Momma Clout luck, and hope that she values each kind word and exhilarating feeling of accomplishment along the long road to recovery.