Friday, February 8, 2013

Vickie's Journey Back to Health: Part 2

If a picture says a thousand words, what do the pictures below say?  It's obvious, right?

Vickie - just weeks before surgery on her back, in excrutiating pain, unable to enjoy life!

Vickie - just 7 weeks post surgery, and off over 8 medications!  

This is Part 2 of Vickie's journey back to health.  

(For some background, please read Part 1.)

I wrote my last blog on Vickie, in December, just before her surgery to fuse her spine in two spots:  L3/4 and L5/S1.  To say that recovery has been easy, would be just plain wrong.  Remember in my first blog, I said that "what could go wrong with Vickie, probably will go wrong with Vickie", and as if right on cue, her post surgical weeks followed suit.  First, she developed pulmonary edema (fluid on the lungs).  Second, she got sepsis, originating, probably with her urinary tract/bladder, but leading to a potential severe kidney infection.  Then she got a yeast infection, extremely high blood pressure, and of course, constipation. 

Major surgery causes serious stress to the body.  The body's immune system is weakened and gastrointestinal function is changed after major surgery, leaving the body vulnerable to infection and in a state of nutritional insufficiency.
 
I can understand all of this, because when you're on so much medication to start, it becomes a real challenge, a balancing act of medication, to heal the body (from surgery) and keep all the other bodily functions running smoothly.  Change one medication, and you affect another.  Add iron (to help regenerate components in the blood) and you get constipation; and sometimes not just 1 or 2 day constipation, but multi-day.  It's just not fun.  I will commend Vickie's doctors, however, for doing an amazing job of this delicate balancing act between blood pressure medications, antibiotics, pain medications and so forth.

Which brings me to the second picture.  Do you see the # of medications Vickie's holding?  She's "off" sleep medications, narcotics, muscle relaxers, NSAIDS and potassium, and her blood pressure medication has been reduced.  This is the result of three major factors.

The Doctors:  The doctors have worked diligently with a common goal, to get her off medications.  They are looking at "the big picture".

Vickie's diet:  Vickie's diet has been largely vegetarian, with warm organic broths and vegetable soups, with fresh chicken, fish or beef.  She's incorporated "colorful foods" for anti-inflammation, and to help fight disease.  She loves eggs and fruits, and has, for the most part, cut out most processed foods.

Vickie's fitness:  Prior to surgery, I worked with Vickie to strengthen her legs and her core (abdominals and back), knowing that she would be in recovery, with little to no activity, for several weeks, if not months.  Even her nurses commented, post surgery, that her "pre-op" fitness routine, helped speed her recovery along.

I asked Vickie yesterday how she felt, emotionally, about the entire process.  She said, "Surgery was absolutely the right thing for me to do at that time.  Today, it's wonderful to walk and not have that burning pain in my buttocks, which was the goal of surgery.  I still have some pain in my right leg, which may be temporary and is manageable, but time will tell.  I'm most proud of the fact that, during this entire process, I put myself first.  I did the right things before surgery, I set boundaries with people, taking time off from my responsibilities and committees, and I took care of myself.  I know that the journey is not over and I have a lot of work ahead, but I feel good right now."

Next week, Vickie and I will take baby steps together.  We have been given the doctor's approval to start "gentle moving" in the water; nothing twisting or bending, just moving the legs and arms, and holding the core/abdominals in for support.  When I told Vickie, just 15 minutes, she was surprised and said, "Only 15 minutes?"  I said, "Yes, we start small, and we don't overdo it.  Your doctors would not be happy with me!"

Vickie's long term goal is to come with 365fitt on the Healthy Active Living trip to Wine Country in November.  

Off to the pool we go next week!  Please stay tuned for more updates on Vickie's journey back to health.

365fitt is about training for the event called LIFE, focusing on physical, nutritional and emotional wellness through lifestyle adaptations.  Kathy is available for personal training and wellness consultations and corporate wellness.  365fitt invites you to participate in a Healthy Active Living trip to incredible destinations.  Please visit 365fitt for more information.  Live 365fitt!



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