What a challenging, painful week this has been!
At the Tongren Hospital, most neurosurgery patients who participate in the Kunming Walking Program start standing balance practice about 15 days after surgery. Dr. Zhu Hui has an interesting rationale for this fast-track protocol that I’ll cover in another post in the near future.
Yesterday was my 15th day since spinal surgery, so I went to the hospital to try to get back into the flow of the program. I managed to stand up successfully for 4 minutes without passing out … 🙂
Standing 15 days after surgery (to left Dr. Zhu Hui)
Yes, after being in bed for a few weeks it takes a while to get back your balance. At least I was able to stand up bearing 100% of my own weight without a binder or pressure stockings, so my blood pressure is holding up pretty well.
However, I ran into some unanticipated and very painful difficulties.
Unfortunately, the back-of-neck incision site of my surgery is still really painful, even though it looks to be healing fine.
How do you like the haircut?
I suppose this is understandable considering how many titanium rods and screws have been added to my spinal column!
Anyway, after I stood for the first time yesterday, I had such a severe reaction that it felt like I was breaking my neck again, so I had sit down right away and be taken back to a hospital bed to recuperate on my side for a couple of hours.
My Dad and I suspect that there’s still quite a lot of inflammation inside my neck, which has forced me back to bed at home for at least another few days or maybe as long as a week. We’re sort of flying blind here, although my good friend Nu Jia from Guangzhou tells me she had pretty much the same experience after virtually identical surgery.
So the bottom line is that my Dad has me under house arrest right now, as I am unable to move my head freely left or right and almost any sort of exertion provokes severe pain. But at least I have stopped taking painkillers for the time being, just relying on Acetephetamin to take the edge off. We have both morphine sulfate and Tramadol in reserve, but I only want use them as a last resort.
When I first moved to China in March, the neuropathic pain was so severe that I got sort of addicted to painkillers … not the cleverest idea, of course, but in the circumstances they kept me from going completely out of my mind.
I must say I’m a little bored with bed rest, but I need to get these pain levels down before I seriously start the walking program again.
Every day in the afternoon I have Xiao Kong, one of my physical therapists, come over to the house in order to stretch me and work out my arms with weights.
Physical therapy aside, I have to say this is my favorite time of day because I have a lot of fun joking with 25-year-old Xiao Kong. The Chinese are pretty reserved in their conversations, but Xiao Kong is such an adorable guy that you just want to eat him up like a cupcake! So I mess with him a little bit, asking questions about his girlfriend, about what he does his free time, what kind of drinking games he plays, etc.
These topics are generally not talked about in public by the conservative Chinese, and I’ve never seen somebody’s face get so red so fast before!
Xiao Kong working out Froggie and me!
Anyway, overall I’m sort of treading water right now, trying to be patient for the surgery inflammation to subside while still battling intermittent bouts of severe neuropathic pain. I think the neuropathic pain comes as a sort of Dysreflexia response to the acute pain in my neck, but who knows?