Saturday, 27 February 2010

Not a long one...

Hi - don't think this will be a very long blog. I've noticed how often I say "I will blog about that tomorrow" then don't get around to it - maybe at some point I'll catch up!

Today really is about checking in and reminding myself as well as everyone else that they said there would be bad days as well as good ones. It was lovely to see my dear friend Aled so today cannot have been all bad but to be honest he saw quite a lot of tears so I am not going to try and be brave or put a humorous spin on things. The pain is awful, I am very miserable, and tomorrow can only be better.

Night night xxx

Pain, pain, go away...

Have been in a massive amount of pain today and almost let it get to me. Anyone in Beechcroft - if you do spot a day when the curtains remain closed all day please do come and knock and demand to know why I am not dressed - not to mention wearing lip gloss and mascara. Those will be the first signs that I have succumbed...

Was awake very early with dreadful "tummy troubles"and by the time Dave came in to eat his breakfast with me before he set off for school I was hallucinating in a mildly entertaining fashion....

Mum "I'm really worried about today Dave...."

Dave "Why's that then mum?"

Mum "Today's the day I have to have my operation...."

Bless Dave he reassured me it was in fact all over and full marks for not responding that yes, it was likely to be a slightly painful day...

Just Judith and Keith in the house today - Ian's sister and her hubby. Must publically thank them for giving up a week of their time to come and stay. They have worked so hard shopping cooking and cleaning. Judith admits to never having done so much laundry in her life! Thank you both and safe travels back to Newcastle tomorrow.

Judith was also a sympathetic ear whilst I wept a little and Keith did the drugs run, after which I forced myself into the shower - will blog more on that tomorrow! Then a very brief but pleasant visit from a young lady studying to be a doctor who had both a personal and professional interest in scoliosis.

The sun was shining and it was now or never so I pulled on the Skechers and made it to Number Nine for a cup of tea. Lovely to see the lovely Lara of course but by the time Dave came to collect me 15 minutes later, and by the time I had walked home the pain was again beyond belief. Morphine, hot water bottle, sleep....

Managed to eat some dinner courtesy of M and S but long for the day when something tastes tasty. I'd like a glass of wine too - just a sip to go nicely with a meal. Have no desire ever to drink too much again - after all of this I have this crazy "why inflict pain upon yourself?" question in my head. That may well change -let's see!

Went to sleep nice and early after max dose of all pills so can't take anything for the pain now. Some oromorph in an hour or two but that is the one I am supposed to wean myself off of. For now I am halving the dose - perhaps a wee top up? Was so much easier in hospital when the nurses made these decisions for me!

Quick postscript re the little black dress - have decided I want it but M and S will not accept my vouchers for an online purchase - how annoying is that? I may write and complain considering my job used to be to respond to that type of letter!

Off to try and sleep again - thanks for reading. I know I keep asking for comments but seriously I do enjoy them so tell me what you're thinking - or just what you are up to!

Lots of love

Linda xxx

Friday, 26 February 2010

In the middle of the night

That was a pretty depressing post earlier - sorry - was in a massive amount of pain :-(

Since then I have just laid on my back under the influence of every drug and a series of hot water bottles. Surprisingly relaxing and twenty minutes ago Ian noticed I was awake so made me a nice cup of tea.

I just remembered I was going to post a couple of top tips for anyone considering surgery - the first in response to an email this morning (I promise to get back to you soon Sarah!) so I logged on and actually rather enjoyed the latest M and S Ezine. I am thinking of buying a dress - something very challenging if you have scoliosis and one of the reasons why historically I have worn separates. I wanted to show it to you but M and S are obviously very clever when it comes to protecting the copyright on their photos etc... this link may have to do - sorry.

Anyway back to the reason for writing. My friend is going to have similar surgery to me in a few weeks time and has been promised a netbook to keep her company. I cannot say loudly or clearly enough that this is the way to go. I have a teensy little Asus Eeepc, it is very light (vital), it runs Windows (vital for someone like me - some of these little machines run Linux - que?!) and it has masses of disc space for photos, music etc.

It connects wirelessly - only real downside is no cd/dvd drive but I have one that I plug in on the very rare occasions I need it (thinking may watch some of my boxed sets on here so will be useful then)

Mine was £200 or thereabouts from Laptops Direct - if you can find the money then go for it - you will not regret it. A regular laptop may be too heavy and this is truly my lifeline to the world. (especially since the k is fixed!)

I then remembered another top tip for anyone considering surgery. Start saving small bottles of toiletries and products. Boots do them but they are quite pricey. I used to travel a lot for my work and collected quite an assortment in various hotels (though Travel Lodge of course pride themselves on not offering them!) I used to bemoan the fact that these bottles were so environmentally damaging and guess I do still feel that way - but as they exist and I have some I am making use of them and grateful for them.

The reason being I buy enormous bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel etc all of which are now too heavy to manage in the shower! I am scared enough of slipping as it is, these tiny bottles just make life so much easier. Where I don't have a product - and indeed when these have run out - then I've found that squeezing the amount I need into a shotglass just before I take a shower makes things easier - and also finds a use for a product which might otherwise be redundant... :-)

Well that's the top tips for the day. Gone 2 now so time to lie down again (theoretical maximum 30/40 minutes sitting up). Oh - not sure if I blogged about my GP's visit? Will do so in the morning.

Hope you are dreaming sweet ones


Thursday, 25 February 2010

Good Early Night

For once I am not blogging in the wee small hours. It's 21.06 and will be interesting to see what time I finish this. I definitely don't feel a long blog within me - just a desire to sleep (preferably following a soak in a hot bath and glass of wine...)

But I'm so grateful to those of you who are following the blog. Do you know the first thing I do in the morning is reach for my netbook? I sit here with a cup of tea (Ian makes it if he is around - otherwise I use the flask I have here for the night) and your messages cheer me up so much. If Ian is here I often read them out to him and feel so encouraged.

A few of you have kindly asked when is a good time to call or visit. Good news is I do now have a phone - by my bed - so calls will be much easier. We can also use the phones as intercoms round the house - a good investment. Text first and please don't be offended if I don't reply - there are a myriad reasons why I may not be able to...

With regard to visiting - impossible to know when is good. And again please text/call as I would hate you to have a wasted journey. I do want to see you all (even those of you I have never met!) but to put things in context other than family I have only had a handful of brief visits. And those lovely people can testify to me having spoken nonsense or fallen asleep whilst they were here!

Because I sleep badly the day begins early with drugs at 6am. A cup of tea then more drugs at 8am including the morphine which means I can usually sleep for a few hours. More tea, some cereal, then a shower and hairwash after which I am so exhausted I usually need oromorph and more sleep!

More drugs at 12, a yoghurt perhaps, then a snooze. Tea and oromorph at 3pm then I try to read or something - perhaps this is the best time to visit maybe?

I should go for a walk but the weather is so awful. I eat something about 6, take more drugs, lie down till the dose of morphine at 8 then read/write till bedtime drugs at 10. You usually hear about the night time activity when I blog in the small hours!

Not a very inspiring or brave post today. It has been rubbish. I seem to have strained something internally which has made the ribs most painful, and I have oral thrush back again.

So just pray for a good nights sleep I think - thank you xxx

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

What's to say today...?

I was wrong about sleeping well last night :-( BUT my insomnia did mean that I had a delightful chat with Rachel for over an hour - so clouds and silver linings and all of that!

We chatted about all that she has been doing - including a Sky Walk. She is braver than me and here is the evidence...!

Rachel hasn't been reading the blog - when I set it up I pretty much told the family not to worry/bother as I didn't envisage it containing as much as it has done! I honestly thought it would be a daily progress update for colleagues and friends (and that family would be getting that information automatically) but gradually the idea of building a resource for others has grown and developed...

More than that however - the blog is somehow charting the emotional journey in a way that would be impossible to do otherwise. Unless I spoke to all the family individually or arranged a conference call each day how would I ever pass all of this stuff on? Besides - much of it is stuff that I couldn't express verbally anyway. This is an okay way to pass a few of the wee small hours - nice cup of tea, a biccie and my blog ;-) So I nagged Rachel to start reading it (I hope you are there now!) and also sat Ian down with my netbook to give it a go. I know Paul and Dave have dipped in and out - I enjoyed their entries so I think that is pretty much the family on here too - along with many others some of whom I have never met or spoken to personally - thank you all so much!

My mum just asked me what sort of day I have had (on msn - how about that? Give it up for one of the super-coolest nannies who's there on msn, on fb, and of course on here!) I can only describe it as mixed. I finished the book I had been struggling to read - not a literary masterpiece by any means but good to get to the last page of "the truth about melody browne" by lisa jewell. Tomorrow I begin "rapture". I ate a bit - not much to be honest but it did include a mini magnum - and it's pretty wonderful not having to even think about thinking about the calories :-) I dozed quite a bit, showered, took delivery of my very lovely retro pedal bin and a whole load of other useful looking stuff...

I discovered Dave's little mat for his laptop stops my legs from burning up, i managed to take all my pills dead on time (but a bit too much oramorph...), I watched a lovely teenage girl take part in the Olympic ice dancing just after her mum died - how brave is that? I got cross because the florist I used to send my mum flowers forgot to put in the Teddy Bear :-( I saw my Boss who kindly schlepped all the way out here to see how I am doing (and presumably will not be expecting me back in the office tomorrow)

All this and more - this minutiae - made up my day. Such things used to make up my lunch hour Or perhaps a bit of time out of my commute. Or an evening's half an hour.

My world is shrinking. Closing in. I am in danger of becoming institutionalised. I still resist the temptation to stay in bed, cry, slob in my pyjamas and eat nothing but biscuits and toast. Please don't let that happen! If the weather is nice tomorrow then I intend to put on a dress (and my Skechers... hmmmm....) and we go to the Grove for Tea - anyone care to join us?

It's about to be midnight. No pills due. Just some relaxing music, love and prayers to and from me to you in cyberspace. Sweetest of dreams xxxxxx

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I've got a feeling...

... to quote the Black Eyed Peas ... that tonight's gonna be a good night...

I hesitate before saying this of course - not wanting to jinx things and end up staring at the ceiling humming "I can't sleep..." but generally speaking I do feel a wee bit more relaxed and I am hoping that is going to carry over into dreamland.

I've had a few things on my mind and rather than bottle them up I have shared them with people who've been ready to listen, empathise and help me cope. I've not had visitors today and whilst I do of course miss you all it's been good to relax, doze, read and write a little. I'm pretty sure that due to misunderstanding the instructions in the early days I have been sitting up too much (I thought that applied just to in a chair - not in bed now that I no longer have the magic carpet...) so it's been lovely to lie on my back sunk into the memory foam - and the new wedge is proving a lifesaver there too.

All the dressings are off (picture as ever will be way below so the squeamish need not look) and the itching and irritation has already lessened. Although I still have very little appetite I am nibbling fresh fruit and managing some probiotic drinks and yoghurts - along with the cereal I so used to hate!

I'm just about managing to write one email or thank you letter a day so promise to be in touch eventually! And I bought phones! Very exciting - these mean that I can speak to people without using my mobile and will hopefully reduce the number of headaches I am getting. Having said that it was worth any headache to speak to Karen and Simon today - thank you both for helping in such different but valuable ways!

I also bought these great sheets which hold together the mattress and the toppers preventing us sliding around at night - every little helps!

Online shopping is amazing anything I have needed is there at the tip of my fngertips and delivered next day! Makes it a little too easy to spend money but hey - have discovered following a conversation with the Tax Office that I need not pay VAT on anything related to pain relief etc ;-) Tomorrow I am looking forward to receiving a Brabantia Retro stainless steel pedal bin - something else designed to stop me bending over. Have to say though I am developing the most amazing dexterity with my toes - you should see me if I drop my specs!

All in all a pretty positive day then. I really need to walk more though and the bad weather (as in snow...) is making that difficult. One idea we've come up with however is to drive to The Grove
( ), order a pot of tea and spend the rest of the afternoon wandering along its spacious corridors! Other suggestions gratefully received but please no treadmill - too obvious a reminder of a succession of sadly deceased small rodents we've known and loved.

So - time for some pills and ever hopeful that I will not be blogging again until the morning! Do keep in touch - I still love to read your comments and your emails and texts are the highlight of my day.

Oh yes - before I go - for those of you that want to see...












(ready for this?!)





that's it - dressings all off - nothing left to do now but wait for the swelling to go down, and for the spine to fuse, heal and grow strong...

Just another day

I think I said something like this in the really early days of setting up the blog, but I'm reluctant to blog for the sake of it. If nothing much happens there seems little point in recording the mundane just so there is a daily entry. Equally some things are a given and I have chosen not to record them in detail - I think we have established by now that all the wires bleeps and monitors are gone even if beforehand we may have seen these milestones as worthy of a party! (Yes - I had had this vague idea of blogging "hallelujah - the catheter is gone.....")

I still subscribe to this attitude - and hopefully it contributes to the "Glass Half Full" atmosphere which I'd like this blog to have.

However - there are some things which are very small and seem barely worth a mention which actually make a difference and raise a smile so here are a few as I try to cheer myself up in the wee small hours waiting and hoping for sleep to once again desend....

I have managed to write three thank you letters! Around 333 to go but it is a start!... Technology is ******* amazing - that I can call Rachie on her mobile for pennies thanks to "Skype to Go" is something to be very grateful for. Webcams make it oh so much easier too - can actually see Rachie from the comfort of my own bed! ... I finally fancied something (NOT Daniel Craig...) - these biscuits - anyone else remember/like them?

I am quite a lot taller, I do have a waistline, my BMI should be very good (need to check that!) I very much doubt I will ever be scared of pain such as injections again. I shall resume blood donation with gusto and enthusiasm having been the grateful recipient of a unit myself... I have seen the first ever Sex and the City and have the entire series to go on DVD... I'm used to and enjoying short hair... and not stressing about makeup (though mascara and lip gloss are a given...)

I have a fantastic family - a husband who insists on sleeping in here even though the noise of me typing, turning pages, making tea and generally moaning - in my sleep or whenever I move -must surely make him tempted to head for a spare room! A great mum - who gave up her own bed for a week and moved in to generally help out and ended up endlessly changing beds, washing sheets and peeling fruit! Children of whom I am enormously proud - Rachie for thoughtfulness in sending such a fun parcel, Paul for dropping by, making meals, and always being able to update me with the football scores! Sarah who's been an absolute superstar - sourcing suitable clothes and footwear, getting some housework done but most of all just sitting in the room listening when I have needed to talk and shutting me up when it's just the drugs speaking (NO - Rachel and Ceri are not flat sharing with a nice new young man... are you ladies?!)

And of course David who knows just the right time to pop in and sit. I'd say he's the best hand holder but don't want to upset the others or embarrass him - so let's leave it that he's an expert on obscure US TV programmes which can generally make me smile :-)

And then there is Jemma - without whom I would not have my toenails painted in Chanel's latest colour!! And who has almost managed to make sense of the missing eyebrow.

I could go on, there are more of you and you know who you are. As with any thank you speech the danger of overlooking someone is so great it almost stops you saying anything. There will be more I am sure...

On that note of gratitude I will leave things for now - have been awake about 90 minutes which is the usual time it takes for tiredness and oromorph to combine and ensure I get another few hours, That's something else to be grateful for - the sense of rhythm and pattern which is starting to form... the comfiness of the memory foam mattress and wedge... the softness of my new towels.... enough!

Night might (originally a typo but kind of sums up the hope that sleep is an option...)


Monday, 22 February 2010

Good morning

The first question most people - if not everyone - asks me in the morning is "how did you sleep?" Such a difficult question to answer and so easy to be facetious "on my back" for example. (Oh how I LONG to snuggle up on my side!)

Someone asked me a variation on the question yesterday - in the context of setting alarm clocks it was along the lines of "what time do you get up?" To which the answer of course is "I don't..."

So the days and nights muddle along, but I am learning a few things. No point trying to stay awake now in the hope I will sleep better tonight. It just. doesn't. work!

When someone comes in and sees me with my eyes shut they assume the obvious and will often say later "you were in a lovely sleep" but that assumption is not necessarily accurate. There does seem to be this twilight zone where it looks like I am sleeping. If I were to tell you that I thought we were already half way through the world cup would you think I had dreamt all of that? It feels more like some kind of crazy hallucination... (and Paul if I get the scores I will pass them on to you)

I lay here last night with Sarah and Jemma struggling to watch the first ever Sex and the City. My eyes would barely stay open and every now and then I just rambled on in a nonsensical fashion. Sarah tells me that in the hospital I asked her if she was dead. Ooooops. Though she does of course look and act like an Angel.

Speaking of Sarah - she checked my scar last night. Time for another pic but don't worry I will scroll down to give those of you that don't want to see it an opportunity to look away. It will just be of my back but the absolute thrill last night was to see the change in shape of my upper body (the scars will fade given time!) It almost looks like I've had a wee spot of lypo-suction, the extent to which I suddenly have a waistline!

So I will say goodbye for now - Happy Monday everyone. Please message me - entering Week4 I am missing you all. And if you want to be astonished scroll down now. But no obligation if you'd rather wait and see me in a Galaxy dress (apparently still in season...!)

Much love for now. Linda xxxx












Sunday, 21 February 2010

Three Weeks Ago

Hi everyone

I just found myself thinking that three weeks ago today many of you were here at my house for Sunday Tea!

It was lovely to see you, even if it did end in tears somewhat with me feeling totally overwhelmed and absolutely terrified. There comes a point - when you have told a few hundred people perhaps - when backing down and saying that you have changed your mind about the surgery becomes something less of an option.

I remember something similar 22 years ago today. I'd been in labour with Rachel since sometime during church on Sunday 21st February. Our Assistant Pastor and very good friend Robert Green, along with his wife Heather and family, were leaving to go to another church and tea to say "farewell" was that very afternoon.

My midwife - the wonderful Alison Bannister - was also away doing something with cubs or scouts so all things considered we just needed to wait.

I did.

I'm not sure how but we got through the tea party, (contractions coming at ten minute intervals during the speeches - quite a distraction ;-) ), slept that night, and I was able to call Alison in the morning and let her know that today was the big day.

This blog is about my spinal surgery and not the birth of my third child so I won't go into any more detail than this for now. Suffice it to say we had a houseful of friends and visitors (home deliveries being something of a novelty in those days...and as the day wore on the more tired and emotional I became.

So I asked if I could change my mind. Not permanently of course. Just whether I could stop, have a break, get some sleep and maybe reconsider...

Rapid fast forward 22 years and I had the same VERY cold feet. So as my friends and family were winding down and chilling out with a glass or three of something from the Southern Hemisphere I was drinking tea, sobbing, and wondering why on earth I would consider undertaking such major surgery - not without its obvious riska.

We've answered those questions since then but many of you may have left the party before this point so perhaps good for me to point out I am no where near as brave as some of you seem to have thought I am - sorry :-(

I'll finish with a few pictures from that party and maybe tomorrow say a little bit more about where we are at today. Missing my mum and Ian's sister and her husband have arrived from Geordie-Land - all change :-)

Two hours

Having just published this post I must apologise now for the formatting - I have fiddled and it is better than it was. Lara or anyone else that can log in and knows enough html to tidy it up please feel free to do so :-)

I'm not sure if two hours constitutes a good nights sleep? I suspect not personally and feel rather disappointed it is just 1.30am or thereabouts. I've made good use of the flask and drug supply by the bed so I'm sipping a cup of tea whilst waiting for the oromorph to kick in. I thought I would try and write a bit more about why the past couple of days - and yesterday in particular have been so tough.

I feel before saying anything else I should preview this post with a disclaimer in very large capital letters, highlighted in bold black ink over a fluorescent pink background. Like THIS (only with the pink background which I cannot find ).

This disclaimer needs to read something along the lines of "Linda is incredibly grateful to everyone for all the care and attention she has received. She completely, utterly, and absolutely recognises all the hard work that has gone and continues to go into her care. Everything that is said here is intended simply to communicate how she is feeling and is not intended in any way as criticism. Linda is taking in excess of 200 tablets a week - much of which is Class A or otherwise very strong medication, and has not slept properly for two and a half weeks. It is therefore possible that she may say things which appear to be out of character (though I do hope not) and also that you may feel she is over reacting to the slightest thing. For this she can only apologise. Etc...."

That last bit is perhaps most significant - over reacting to the slightest thing. Can you remember a situation when your world has "shrunk"? Perhaps you have been in hospital, or just at home for a week with the 'flu. Your interaction with the outside world is reduced and unless you are in a situation where you have access to and can make a real effort to engage with the media it is oh so easy to disengage with what is happening outside of your daily round of activity. It can even happen on holiday but in those circumstances you are hopefully much happier and less inclined to find yourself in the situation I am trying to describe.

This situation is exacerbated by the institutionalisation that can occur in hospitals (similar to in prisons!) where everything begins to centre on the next meal, visiting hours etc.
In these circumstances it is way too easy to lose our sense of perspective and our sight of the Big Picture. So very small things take on way too much importance, things are taken out of context and misunderstood, people are unnecessarily upset and anyone or indeed everyone can quickly become defensive when no criticism or malice is intended.

We're going to have to get our heads better round all of this here at no 40 if we are to avoid unnecessary tears. My personal upsets over the past couple of days may well have been caused by the pain, and the meds, but have perhaps been made worse by my not managing to stress that I am simply communicating how I feel and not criticising anyone.

The fact of the matter when it comes to feelings is I feel pretty rubbish. The pain is very difficult to manage and no matter how much I think positively it does not go away (though it may be a lot less than I would otherwise be experiencing I do agree and accept...)

I also feel pretty scared - I can see I am making good progress - objectively and on one level. But at times it is impossible not to stop, think and wonder how life would be if this were to be it with no further improvement.

I hate with a vengeance the loss of control. No matter how much anyone says to me "enjoy being waited on" I simply cannot. I'm not a huge fan of being served in a restaurant, it took a very long time before I could accept that having my hair washed is part of the salon experience, heck I even strip my bed when checking out of a hotel! This accounts in part for my urgent desire to employ a cleaner - in that way we would at least be offering someone paid employment and I would not feel so uncomfortable with people doing things that I am used to doing myself.

Perhaps this all goes back to something trapped deep in a layer of my psyche - I am not sure it matters but I am sure now is not the time to unpack that. What matters for now is that the pain, the fear, the drugs and the loss of control are combining to create a situation which I am finding very difficult to handle.

I don't want anyone to try and fix me. Honestly. And there's the rub. So many people when I express any of the above want to put things right - but there is only so much that can be done. When they make suggestions which I seem to knock back they are hurt. As I said right at the beginning I am exceptionally grateful to everyone for all that you are doing. I could not be being offered nicer meals, more cups of tea, fresher fruit, cleaner sheets and nighties, smellier candles or moister cakes. I have dozens - no hundreds - of cards, messages, texts etc etc etc.

But the simple fact is that at the moment I feel rubbish and maybe all I need is for that to be acknowledged. I know it is tough for all the problem solvers who want to put things right but perhaps for now the only thing to do is to dig deep and find a hug or a touch somewhere that you can share with me which will assure me I am not alone.

Feels like a bit of a self indulgent post but hopefully in the wee small hours fuelled by pain and morphine it's allowed. Tomorrow I will post something more cheerful (Dave promises photos!) and let you know what the Teddies have been up to ;-


Saturday, 20 February 2010

A Tough Day

On reflection today has probably been the toughest day so far.

I didn't sleep - but nothing new there. Unless things change dramatically I may ask for some sleeping tablets when I speak to my GP on Monday. Not a road I wanted - or want - to go down but this can't go on any longer. The painkillers - Oromorph in particular - do instil a sense of drowsiness and for a wee while I may drift somewhere over the rainbow. Unfortunately when I open my eyes very little time has passed and it is impossible to describe just how lonely it is staring at the ceiling for hours in the dark!

We've discussed, considered and experimented (as one is encouraged to do in the bedroom!) and the biggest steps forward so far have to be the flask full of hot water, the tea bags and milk sachets now on the dressing table - never has a cup of tea been so welcome as when you didn't think you could have one! Then there is the relaxing music I've imported into itunes - thanks Helen!) Sometimes I sit up and read or blog for a bit - you will have noticed. Generally speaking I try not to disturb Ian who is still having to get up for work in the morning - the time off he had hoped for not having materialsed :-(

The one meal of the day I do have something of an appetite for is breakfast. I guess if you've no appetite and are generally not eating - or sleeping - well than you're likely to wake up hungry. The thing I am finding slightly disconcerting however is what I fancy when I wake up...

I've never been into cereal. The idea of half a pint or so of cold milk on top of cardboard like flakes of bran has simply never appealed to me. Much more likely to grab a banana to eat on the tube - and perhaps a yoghurt. Toast - maybe. But the cereal aisle is somewhere to collect cornflakes and coco pops only.

Nowadays however I am waking up desperate for Weetabix, Alpen, Special K, with fruit, berries, milk, sugar. All very good for me - are my bones craving the calcium? (Let's leave alone for now the need for fruit and fibre...)

Where has this come from? Suggestions on a postcard please! For now though I am going to succumb once more to the sleepy dust fairy and maybe blog again in the night.

Not without a quick Hello and Happy Birthday of course to Nigel and Lee - and more to come over the next few days!
Later x

Friday, 19 February 2010

Time flies ...

... when you are having fun. I guess few of us would dispute that - weekends go so much quicker than week days; the run up to Christmas Eve (and the night before itself) creep slowly along compared to the frenzied fun of the big day (for children in particular!) Holidays slip by so fast - unless you are at home waiting for someone to come back... I could go on.

Time also seems to fly when for whatever reason days begin to merge into one. Of course time itself is still moving at exactly the same rate -what's changed is our perception of it. And on reflection this perception has shifted dramatically on several occasions over the past months - weeks in particular - so very keen to blog about that later,

Meanwhile I feel the need to force something out regarding the past few days. It's not easy and good news is even as I am trying to do this the sleep fairy is sprinkling fairy sleep dust over my eyelids. Either that or the 10ml of Oramorph I took 20 minutes ago has been busy! I've just had a nice cup of tea too - we're gradually getting better organised - something to record here now perhaps as it requires less brain effort than a debate on perceptions of time!

On arrival home it was just wonderful to lie on my own bed bed - but now of course it has a memory foam topper making it higher and softer! It was wonderful to be back with the family as even when I sleep with them in the room (how rude!) I sleep better for just knowing they are there. At first I found the space very limited and really missed being able to have everything within reach. Then my mum suggested bringing a set of shelves down from the bathroom upstairs - perfect! Then Dave cleared everything I won't be needing for little while off my dressing table and into cupboards - more space!! We ordered the table that sits on/over the bed - suddenly life's essentials - in no particular order here - are within arm's length. I will list them and start over tomorrow on what's been occurring these past few days that's made time fly so...

I have to have a jug of iced water and glass next to me at all times. Guess it's the drugs but I am permanently thirsty. It also takes at least half a pint to swallow each dose of tablets - currently 27 tablets in total ( have feeling I may be repeating myself here - please bear with me! If not then it is deja vu -another side effect - kicking in!)

The little netbook as another essential - in ways I never imagined it would be. Keeping in touch - email, skype, msn, FB, this blog, the SSO forum. Even in hospital I felt included and that helps with the loneliness. It's going in for a chec up tomorrow (still having problems with "k") and I will miss it so much and need to find a substitute! My mobile is here too - I love the text messages I'm just sorry I rarely reply. Please forgive me - no offence intended - just not great at texting with an unfamiliar phone. I'll be in touch soon!

Then there are some books and magazines. I have no interest in books/magazines/DVDs (though the boxed set of Sex and the City is calling me...) or much else for that matter. But that doesn't mean I won't be one day soon so please keep them coming. I have some knitting here - done very little so far but Dave set me off on a new project this evening - more of that on what may develop into a bit of a parallel world type blog (the Teddys have been very busy....!)

Of course there are my drugs - not as many as I would like to see and I am sure the Battle of the Prescription will feature on here soon enough! And my machine that I regularly suck into to stretch my lungs.

There's a light - which hopefully dims enough so as not to disturb Ian (he seems to be in dreamland just now) and - utter bliss - always a Molton Browne candle burning (not at night obviously...) Thank you to Graham and Eden for such generosity.

A soft hairbrush; eight hour cream and lip protector; moisturiser; bio oil - all designed to stop me looking like a wrinkled prune (albeit one with excellent posture). My brace without which I must not walk even as far as the toilet, my glasses (ones for with the contact lenses, ones for without...) fruit, dried fruit, chocolate, pens, paper, thank you cards (when I have read all your lovely cards they go on display and I do plan to respond eventually...)

I could probably go on but anyone considering surgery might lie to bear these suggestions in mind.

Well - time to rearrange the memory foam wedge (what a great investment) and try to sleep a bit longer. Exciting day tomorrow - lots to blog about and a PlayStation lesson" Hoping to see some friends especially now that the Clinical Nurse Specialist has suggested this is a good idea to keep me smiling. Text me if you are up for a short visit and don't forget you'll be the one boiling the kettle (though the flas served its purpose tonight)

Hope you are all sleeping well

Lots of love

Linda xxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, 18 February 2010

In a word - or three

The past two days have been very up and down indeed. Than you Dave for updating everyone last night - I simply wasn't up to it.

Dave is staying over at his cousins' tonight so not here for me to dictate to. My laptop then needs to go in for a service as some of you may have noticed the "k" is playing up!

I will probably therefore do some writing by hand tomorrow - so expect a couple of longer posts here at the weeend. (ah - see the problem "k"!)

For now a dozy night night xxx

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Update from Dave

Hi Everyone!

Mum knows-because you have told her- that many of you are kindly reading here each day. She didn't want to disappoint you so here I am instead!

Mum is really happy to be home, and we are really pleased to have her here! But the adjustment from hospital to home life is always tricky. Mum no longer has the magic carpet bed with buttons to push when she's a bit uncomfy. It takes a while to adapt to new surroundings and work out where to put everything so it's within easy reach. It also takes some organising working out when to to take the 27 tablets every day.

Mum really does love getting your messages, she's looking forward to seeing you all, but please bear with us as there's a long way to go and she gets really tired very quickly.

One of us will write some more tomorrow.

Thank you all again.

The Anderson Family xxx

Not so good....

As many of you have so kindly observed the intention has been to keep this blog as light as possible in the circumstances. A touch of humour here, a diverting tale about the antics of the Teddy Bears (expect more of those maybe...) there. An interesting photo, a fascinating thought...

I have resisted the temptation to scream anything along the lines of "I'm a Celebrity Get me out of here". Mainly because I am not of course a Celebrity, neither am I in the Australian Outback, so the chances of two Geordie Lads running to my rescue are pretty remote. Having said that of course I am married to one Magpie fan and gave birth to a couple of others - but even if they were Ant and Dec I'm not sure there is much they could do tonight.

The situation as it stands is I am choc-full of all prescribed drugs. Slow - release morphine (which I also topped up at 3am), Dyhydrocodeine, Paracetomal and Diazepam, I've a heat pad where it hurts most and Classical Music flooding my ears and soul (there's nothing like Debussy to lower the blood pressure - not that it has ever been high!)

The pain remains indescribable though to be fair since I started writing this the 6am doses have kicked in, I've spoken to Rachel, and Ian fetched me a cup of tea.

The pain has to have been caused by the journey yesterday. By the stress of the morning and how we would get hold of the drugs. By the change of bed - no more flying carpet. By a whole number of things which are over now so it has to be onwards and upwards yet again...

I've made use of some of these bonus awake hours to shop online for a wedge to sit against - think it will be more comfy than this V pillow to be honest. Whilst there I picked up a clever looking over bed tray that tilts up to make reading easier. It almost looks like an easel - perhaps I should take up painting (no no no! only joking - how would I ever compare with Ian?!)

I also spent a fascinating fifteen minutes comparing the relative merits of an assortment of pill organisers and decided on this fashionable accessory (I do think Mulberry are missing an opportunity here though...)

With around 24 tablets to take up to 7 times a day this looks set to minimise the chances of either an accidental overdose or - perhaps worse (!) that awful struggle to remember what you last took when and the reluctant decision to wait a while as you are not sure if any more could have tragic consequences.

So that's tonight - pretty grim really. Of course it is lovely to be in my own bed in my own home with Ian next to me, mum upstairs and Dave in the next room. But please forgive me if I am grumpy tomorrow - have only had a very few hours respite when I dozed after the Oramorph.

If I were in hospital I would now switch on Breakfast TV so that is the next hurdle to negotiate - will blog more about it later perhaps. For now though - Have a nice day xxx

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Full Frontal....

Hehe - sorry for the cheeky subject line but here we have the x ray that I have certainly been waiting for - isn't it amazing?!

As my friend Pete said - aren't you just in awe of a guy who is willing to attempt such surgery - I literally put my life in the hands of him and his wonderful anaesthetist - if you are reading this (who knows?!) then thank you SO much!

So - home and snuggled up in bed. Right lower back is exceptionally sore but guess we've done a fair bit today. The ride home was pretty interesting - though to be fair I spent most of it dozing after a dose of morphine and diazepam. Ian brought the car up to the door, reclined the seat which was lined with pillows, and covered me with a snuggly fleece. Dave sat in the bac and held my hand all the way home.

It was straight up to bed - and the new memory foam mattress - bliss! Then so lovely to see Pauline and Angela for a catch up (sorry girls I rather dominated the conversation!) Lovely to have my mum and Paul around too and Dave made the most amazing stack of pancakes after which I fell back into bed with Robbie - well the Brit Awards!

In spite of maximum doses of all drugs (don't get me started on the hassle it was to get hold of them all today either!) I'm in a lot of pain. Hoping and praying for a good nights sleep and fresh outlook tomorrow - we shall see!

For now I'm going to enjoy being snuggled here with Ian, Dave, Keegan and the Teddies (Keegan has taken a real shine to the Grey one!) so night night all xxx

Rods and Screws

Wow! I don't know about you but that is all I can say when I look at this image! From now on this is my spine. Look out airport security staff - the Bionic Woman is on her way!

I apologise for the misunderstanding - I know that some of you thought that the various rods and screws holding my spine in place until the vertebrae are fused would form an outward brace or "scaffolding."

What has actually happened is this - the rib which was removed has been used as a bone graft fusing vertebrae T4 - L3 (not as originally planned T2 - woo hoo!). Whilst this fusion takes place - over the next 6 months - the rods and screws hold everything in place - but inside my body! The brace is also a pleasant surprise being much lighter than expected.

It is very unlikely that the scaffolding will be removed - that would involve another lengthy operation and anaesthetic. Obviously I asked how much the rods and screws weigh so that I can make allowances when stepping on the scales (!) but I was told not to worry - the extra inches make up for that!

So for the foreseeable future this is me - what fantastic posture huh?!

More to follow xx

Time to go home

Do you remember when you couldn't sleep the night before Christmas? The excitement, anticipation, looking forward to getting dressed nicely, seeing people, eating favourite foods...

I't been like that - I haven't been able to sleep. I wrote the wee story last night, spoke to Rachie in Australia, have drunk tea, eaten biscuits, read my book, blogged, listened to music blah blah blah but nothing will make the time go quicker. At 5.30am I gave up and asked for more drugs and more tea and I've switched the tv back on.

Maybe it is a good thing- it would be advisable to sleep later on in the car home as the journey is likely to be uncomfortable. In fact they may arrange some Diazepam for around then. There was a fair bit of stress yesterday about my homecoming medication as Private Scripts are notoriously expensive so we need to get NHS ones written up. Sadly my own GP is on leave but it is being sorted - after which the hurdle is finding a pharmacy that can get hold of the controlled drugs quickly - it is possible there may be a window between 4pm and 8pm when you may wish to stay away from the house. I heard my very own daughter tell the doctors'surgery in no uncertain terms what my pain is like and how you would not want to be in the same room as me if it is not controlled. Failing that of course I could crack open the rioja.... :-)

Thankfully the morning meds are kicking in now. Eyes are heavy brain is foggy. Will go back to sleep leaving you with just a couple of images of my last night in what's become a cosy little substitute for home. At the end of the day though it isn't about your surroundings - no matter how desperate I am for my own bed! It's your family and friends so thank you guys for making home so homely... xxx

Monday, 15 February 2010

A Teddy's Tale

Once upon a time there was a lovely little Teddy Bear who had been loved and looked after by the Children's Society. He lived with lots of other Teddy Bears in a big house owned by the Children's Society. Somewhere near Kings Cross - do all famous Teddy Bears live near railway stations? All of the Teddy Bears were very similar, identical even, and they wore the Purple t shirt that was their uniform. He was very happy and contented.

Then one day he was grabbed from the comfort of his home, carried in the dark and the noise of the underground to a place called St John's Wood, and handed over to a strange lady that he'd never seen before. She gave him a cuddle, and immediately sat him on her bed and introduced him to what she said were her other Teddy Bears. But one of them was pink for goodness sake! One had a bit heart round his neck and another looked a bit grey and tatty as if he had really been through the wars. One of them was so teeny tiny he can hardly be seen in the photo here - but if you look very carefully you can spot him as he has a bandage round his foot. He'd been in hospital before too - where he had looked after a very special little boy. But that little boy was so kind he had sent him to this hospital to look after the lady that had welcomed him with a cuddle.

He could tell he was going to be happy here - the room was bright and light and the bed comfy. But most important of all the lady had other people there all of whom were smiling and laughing and so very pleased to see him. Even if the other Teddy Bears looked very different he could tell that they belonged to one another.

One of the people in the room picked up a camera. She lined the Teddy Bears up and took the photo of them all together. Then she took lots of other photos of the room as she said that tomorrow everyone would be going "home".

Teddy knew this wasn't going to be back to where he had come from and he did feel a little bit sad. But not too sad. He could see already that what mattered wasn't the place you lived - however big and grand. It was the people that you shared your life with. And this may be a mixed bunch of Teddy Bears but he just knew that even though they had only just met they were going to be good friends.

He whispered to the teeny tiny Teddy Bear "hello - will you be my friend? I've not been here before. The teeny tiny Teddy Bear gave him a little hug - he could just about reach around his ankle - and said "of course! I know how you feel - but I'll tell you a secret - when we get "home" I will take you to see a very special Little Man and we can play with him too....""

for Callum, with love xx

Wires - take care if you are squeamish

Last Summer Dave and I saw Athlete at the Greenbelt Festival. I was converted - what a fantastic live set! But even prior to that gig I was aware of them - mainly due to their single "Wires" which is apparently about life in an Intensive Care Unit....

One of the things I feel the need to document here - for my own benefit if no one else's - is the fantastic array of wires, tubes and monitors that kept me safe and sound during and after my surgery.

I've already mentioned the spinal cord monitoring - the electrodes stuck to my scalp and feet. Then there was the ECG monitoring with pads all over the place! As for tubes - IV lines for fluid, morphine, antibiotics, blood (I needed a transfusion) and through which various other drugs were administered as required. Anti nausea for example - though to be honest my preference might have been to be sick :-(

There was a chest drain filling up with serum from where my rib was removed and of course the terribly trendy catheter (when is someone going to design a more attractive range of bags...?) Tubes for oxygen up my nose (which I kept fighting off) and the PCA morphine pump completed the picture - you will have to imagine it as no photos were allowed.

As each wire or drip was removed I would have expected to feel relived. Instead I panicked a little each time. How would I cope without the PCA morphine? (a lot better as the hallucinations stopped!) How would I drink enough without the IV fluid? (you get very thirsty on morphine!) How would I ever get out of bed to use the loo? (If it's that or a wet bed you manage somehow!)

Even the wound dressings are off now. If you can bear to look here are the scars. If not shut your eyes or turn away quickly before scrolling down...

More to follow

Linda xxx







Just a quick one...

The past couple of posts have been very long winded and very much of the "therapeutic" variety. More of those to come no doubt as I get everything out of my system and down onto virtual paper. Slept incredibly well after writing at 2am so obviously a good time to write uninterrupted.
This however is just a quick practical update - should be home tomorrow and as with any decent hotel (!) rooms need to be vacated by 11am.
I cannot wait - I thought I would be nervous about the move home but hadn't realised how quickly I would be able to wash and dress independently. It will be lovely to be closer to the family (and animals!) and many friends and to sleep in my own bed - will I recognise it however as it now has a brand new memory foam topper?!
I'm going to get stuck into those boxed sets too - remember me mentioning Lost? 24? Desperate Housewives? etc? If you can help please get in touch - but be careful about anything side-splittingly funny (ouch...)
As soon as I am off the morphine I can have half a glass of wine (I'll still be on dihydrocodeine, paracetomal and diazepam...) so looking forward to many of you dropping in for that - or to make me a cup of tea! I will need to get out of my 3am chocolate habit if I'm not to pile on the pounds - it's been my preferred way of taking away the taste of the morphine!
Sarah's already chosen me a temporary wardrobe - stretchy trousers, loose tops and sensible footwear ;-) The fantastic news is the full body brace has been downgraded to a black "belt" which whilst it is never going to be a top seller at Agent Provocateur at least tightens my tummy as it supports my spine - who needs Magic Knickers - sorry M and S!
So - today. All about tidying up my room (not me though - still NO bending/ stooping/lifting/housewor for at least three months) which has to include re-reading the dozens of lovely cards (and maybe finishing some of the chocolates....). One more sleep in this bed which I have finally started to have fun in. And before you raise your eyebrows I just mean I've discovered the buttons which raise and lower other bits of it - bit lie a magic carpet ride!
One or two visitors this afternoon - sorry I've not been up to seeing many people - it really is impossible to describe the grim-ness of those early days when it really was family-only. I'd love to welcome you to my home - it is oh so easy from Central London (Croxley Station on the Metropolitan Line then a three or four minute walk). Just call or text in advance if you are coming any distance as I think I will still be sleeping a lot for a few weeks yet.
I'm bound to be bored so please don't forget me even if LookingforLinda is no longer on your daily reading list! Keep emailing and texting me, forward me funny jokes and all the news etc. If we're not Facebook Friends please add me and maybe I'll start to Tweet (again!)
The journey is far from over but it is definitely entering a new phase - and so soon! Thank you so much for sticking with me so far!
Linda xxx

Wee Small Hours

Even by my standards the last post was a bit of a ramble - way too interrupted and drug-fuelled! Here we have a rare moment of quiet and lucidity - it is 2am, the drugs have worn off - the small top up allowed has not yet kicked in - and there's not a lot on tv. I've had a lovely cup of tea (not sure drinking tea in the middle of the night is a good habit to have acquired...) and will probably snuggle up with my book and one of my teddy bears soon.

Rather than read for a bit - though I'll do that soon. Or knit - because to be honest that does make my arm ache rather (sob) . Or watch yet more inane tv ("watch" in this context meaning having it on in the background - generally muted - whilst I surf the internet for somewhat belated advice on coping with scoliosis surgery...). Rather than do any of these I'm gong to write a bit about what it is like in hospital. Apologies for any repetition - that can be edited out if this ever makes it to publication....

Hard to believe I was admitted less than two weeks ago. I look back on that day and smile, recalling everything that was said with the benefits of hindsight and with things in better focus. Everyone was SO lovely to me - from the guy on the front desk to the admissions officer, the concierge (did I mention the porters are concierge and wear sharp suits...? Except in theatre of course!) and receptionist, then all the clinical staff - doctor, sister, clinical nurse specialist, catering staff - I could go on. I am sure they are equally lovely to everyone but at the moment it is hard not to think "they didn't tell me the truth". Which of course is nonsense - them being so lovely to me and calming me down (you'll be fine, well yes of course there will be some discomfort...) does NOT mean they were lying to me. It means they are incredibly skilled professionals who managed to instil confidence - they just happened to know what I was about to undergo and sensibly told me what I needed to know rather than unecessary detail which would have sent me running home...

That evening was so lovely. The children joined us for dinner at a nearby restaurant and a glass of Rose (mmmmm.....) definitely took the edge off. Wished Rachie could have been there but waiting till she is back in October was never an option - by that time my breathng could have been severely compromised and this way by then it will be a dim and distant memory!

After saying goodbye to them all Ian stayed overnight with me. His admission that if it were him then he would be petrified was surprisingly touching and reassuring - there have been times when for all the good wishes, compliments on my bravery and "you'll be fines" I have just wanted someone to say "you must be fu**ing terrified." I passed on the hospital bed and instead we snuggled up on the sofa bed - surprising the nurse with the early morning tea! Grateful for the diazepam which transformed my sobs of fear into gentle breaths and helped me slip into a surprisingly peaceful sleep.

The next morning I remember posting on here - amidst the rituals of taking a shower and having the electrodes stuck to my head for the spinal cord monitoring. The pain when they passed 11 volts/amps/ohms/somethings through my legs (correct me please Ian/Dave/Paul!) and the fear when they told me that would be increased to 20 during the surgery was intense, but also reassuring as this was to be quite literally a lifeline. During his visit the night before, Dr Kofi (oh how I love that man!) had explained how this would alert he and Mr Tucker to any potential problems during surgery ...

I read and signed the consent forms then thankfully swallowed the three little blue pills after which all becomes a happy blur. I do believe I smiled as I swapped my new M and S nightie for that fetching blue gown. I quite happily boarded the trolley to the lower ground floor, and I remember finding it amusing that when we got to the bit just outside theatre where they supposedly ask you to count backwards (that never happened to me) Dr Kofi asked where Ian was. The nurse replied that of course he was outside and Kofi told them to go get him as he was to hold my hand till I fell asleep :-) (How was that for you Ian?!)

Next thing of course I woke up. I'm starting to flag again here tonight but cannot resist commenting on the confusion I felt that night. The number of times I asked if I had had the operation is going to go down in the annals of operating history I reckon! That and the number of monitors and tubes - in fact I will leave that till tomorrow as it really is time to zzz and the Teddies are calling me.

Oh - in case I didn't say so - Happy Valentine's Day everyone


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Walking Tall

Well here we are!

Ten days post-op, standing tall and ready to go home. As Mr Tucker said to me yesterday in pretty much any other scoliosis unit in the UK I'd be one day post-the-second-op. So in spite of the huge amount of pain and the various challenges during the past week's recovery at least I'm not back in HDU after a second anaesthetic and surgery. Phew!

I've been thinking about blogging a lot, picked up the netbook several times today, but each time I have been waylaid by endless messages/emails/posts etc. In spite of my reluctance to flood Facebook with surgery -related updates it is there that most of the interaction with friends is taking place. That's fine - and I know a lot of you have problems commenting on here (especially Firefox users apparently...) However - perhaps I should mention again one of the ultimate aims of this blog...

It wasn't one of the original reasons for blogging, but within a few posts I started to think that this might be a useful resource for others facing scoliosis surgery - whether for themselves, their partner, a child or a parent. I've been thinking of seeing if I can find a publisher, and gradually as the idea has evolved I think it would have far more value with the voices of those around me represented and echoed there too. Copying things across from FB is an option but less straightforward of course!

Please don't let that stop you commenting either - obviously if this plan goes ahead names will be changed, and in all probability further interviews carried out - for now please just carry on as normal. But if you use Firefox maybe consider downloading Chrome?! And please don't be shy of replying to my post just as if you were sat here with me!

Anyway - back to the blog itself. I'm also realising just how many "issues" I would like to explore in terms of the preparation given for surgery such as this, and the impact on the wider family and friends. I'd like to consider recovery times etc - and will do so as we go along. For now however I just want to capture something of what has happened over the last two difficult days.

I spoke to someone who was herself 9 weeks post-op just before my own surgery. She said that with hindsight she was better prepared for the pain than the emotions she experienced and I found that impossible to believe! Having suffered with anxiety and depression over the years, being something of a thinker and analyser, I could not foresee a situation I would not be prepared for emotionally. I expected to cry from the pain and to feel that no one understood me - wouldn't that be normal and as bad as it got?

Oh no - the past couple of days have revealed depths of emotion and confusion that I could never have forseen. Just like the pain it has been like entering a surreal universe that I never could have imagined even existed. To some extent the pain has been controllable - not however completely - but the emotional rollercoaster has been much more of a challenge.

Before surgery I was very concerned to be "at peace" with everyone and to ensure I had spoken to and caught up with everyone I'd not spoken to for a while with whom there may have been some understanding to be cleared up - a birthday forgotten perhaps. I guess that was natural and went along with the whole "what if I don't wake up?" scenario.

I don't think I had realised or expected the extent to which that would continue afterwards. I am ridiculously sensitive and ridiculously scared of upsetting or offending anyone. Not a great situation as with the best will in the world it's really difficult to be "nice" to everyone when you are suffering pain at a level of about 15 on a scale of 1 to 10! Any little thing upsets me - not surprising when each day I take maximum doses of dyhydrocodeine, morphine sulphate, paracetomal and diazepam. Is it the drugs or is it the pain? I just don't know - all I do know is on top of everything else I am spending lots of time stressing and worrying. And hey - I have just been advised that it would be good to reduce the doseage of diazepam! Oh for a large glass of wine! But that is something to look forward to once I am off the morphine :-)

So what else has been happening apart from the worrying? And what exactly have I been worrying about? Well - the astonishing news is that I can come home! There is nothing more to be done here - it is all about the rehab and recovery now. Rest, gentle exercise, rest, more gentle exercise, eating well, seeing friends, catching up on reading, writing, movies...


I have to be honest and say that I began this post 24 hours ago! The idea was to blog so that I could direct everyone to a central point for updates. As I have logged on each time however I have enjoyed a lovely chat with a friend online and so not progressed it. I'm going to draw a line and write lots of factual stuff in the morning (or the middle of the night if I wake up!) For now thanks again for being a part of the journey - lovely to have you there.

Lots of love

Linda xxx

Pictures - not for everyone!

Here we go - a few pictures to illustrate what this was all about. X rays which demonstrate how it was all achieved should be available later on.

Many of you said that you hadn't noticed a problem with my back (though many of you did of course notice the TSE machine!)

I dressed with care - due to the curve my spine was scrunched up and I was very short waisted, I therefore chose longer tops. My chest area was lop sided so balanced by my endless supply of scarves - with beads to draw attention away from the "discrepancy". I wore dark colours to neutralise the curved area, with my favourite purples, pinks, bright blues and reds, to again draw the eye away from the increasing rib hump. I always wore a jacket or at least a cardigan - preferably a chunky one. Summer was a challenge -never wanting to be seen in a bikini, straps slipping down - and evening wear always a disappointment...

In comparison to my short body my long legs seemed longer so I played on that with a collection of killer heels - the pinnacle of which has to have been the sparkly purple platforms I wore at Christmas and my favourite suede stiletto boots - oh to wear those again!

My wonderful daughter Sarah shopped for me today and found the most stylish clothes she could that I hope to be able to put on in the coming weeks - joggers, loose tops and - to follow - trainers! After that I am looking forward to buying some fitted tops, an evening dress and a beautiful bikini! (have to work on the tummy muscles first though!)

No more prevaricating though - here are the pics. I am a little bit embarrassed but I want everyone (who wants to) to see what an amazing miracle Mr Tucker and Doctor Kofi have wrought. I am in awe of these guys and have no way of expressing my gratitude to them.

The morning of the op - note the rather fetching electrodes glued to my scalp ready for monitoring during the five hour surgery. The tattoo was an attempt to draw attention away from the curvature...

This evening - what a difference a week makes! Previously the curvature was only going to get worse - it had deteriorated to 66 degrees. Now it is stable due to the spinal fusion from T2 to L3 (remember your biology?!) But the real miracle has been wrought by the anterior thoracotomy which has removed a rib and rotated my spine. A seven inch scar under my right arm and it hurts like **** but that will get easier.

Already I can feel my breathing improving - I knew that I never really had asthma! And I am about 5'6" - sorry Dave I am taller than you again.

I honestly see this as a modern day miracle. There is a long way to go and the past couple of days have been full of pain and tears as I have been more conscious. But thank you all for your support in so many ways - I am sorry if I never get around to writing to you personally. You know who you are and thank you.

I still don't feel up to visitors other than family and very closest friends - sorry. But I will be home soon and very pleased to welcome you there so that you can make me a cup of tea! I warn you however I still have a habit of crying or falling asleep on visitors - great hostess huh?

Going to drift into another morphine induced doze now - please let me know what you think, and if you have clicked on this by mistake I hope that you have not found the photos inappropriate ...

Sweet dreams all

Linda xxxx

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Took a while but...

...finally the gentleman I had been so looking forward to seeing arrived at the Wellington today. True it wasn't in person but dressed as he is I guess he may have been a bit chilly :-)

And to those who have even dared to hint that the presence of Mr Craig in my bedroom suggests I am once again hallucinating- sadly it was just a card - but a beautifully crafted handmade one with this message which warmed my heart...

Thanks Mum! xxx

Sitting up and writing this myself....

Hello amazing friends, family and followers,

When I got the idea of blogging this journey I had my doubts. Who'd be interested in reading about my hospital stay? Would it scare/frighten/embarrass people? Would it just be for my benefit?

But since receiving so many lovely comments and messages here and on facebook, and by card and text, I have realised what a great way it's been to let you know how things are going , and I am SO grateful to Dave and also now to Rachie and Paul, who have taken turns in writing for me.

I have to say it is 100 times easier to chat or dictate than it is to type. This will not be a neat and well ordered post, rather some random thoughts. A shame really as in my mind I have composed pieces of great literary merit but they remain out there uncaptured - for now. I may return to some of the topics that I have been reflecting on as I gain strength and typing is easier. I have a fair bit to say about "being a patient" and the balance of power and control that I have found difficult to manage. I've a fair amount to say about the healthcare system in the UK. And various other subjects that for now my brain cannot quite process. I sit here in a fog, stumbling for the correct keys, having touch typed at 60 words per minute for many years I can barely find the space bar. Perhaps there is a pathway that needs re-mapping somewhere. And multi-tasking is a dim and distant memory, every ounce of energy now is focussed on writing this - and what have I actually said so far?

Well you have heard all the good stuff from my children - thank you! Mr Tucker came to see me this morning and is very pleased with the results of his handiwork (I need to work out where to put before/after pics and xrays as don't want you all to have them forced on you!) He was honest about the level of pain I am in now and to expect in the coming weeks, hence the constant and ongoing requests for prayer and positive thoughts to help me cope. The anaesthetist just popped by and we had a long chat about pain management. Seems there are two types of people - those who put themselves in the hands of the doctors and nurses and unquestioningly swallow the little cocktails of drugs presented to them at regular intervals - and those like me!

As I have (politely) pointed out on several occasions I have thirty or more years experience of pain. I know that diclofenac makes me depressed, that tramadol makes me feel ghastly, that codeine causes constipation. I also know that the hallucinatory effects of morphine can be terrifying (we're talking cats walking down the side of the bed, people at the foot of the bed, green spiders over the walls, pools of blood and red spots all over the walls and floor...) and that diazepam is great as it relaxes me enough to cope with the pain. There are to my mind worse things than intractable pain- such as the fear and anxiety of feeling it getting out of control. It's taken some negotiation but we're now down to paracetomal and dyhydrocodeine with diazepam, and morphine as required. Plus the nystatin of course - not sure I mentioned the horrendous sore mouth I've had since the weekend? Was totally unable to eat and being constantly told "you must eat something" with my response always the same "I can't!" every mouthful felt like acid but when last night I persuaded someone to take a look they confirmed what I thought- such a reief but slightly bizarre to be calling Ian at 10pm to say "Great News! I've got oral thrush... hmmmm......."

Right - lots more to say but drugs kicked in so off to doze. Laters........... xx

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Update from Paul

So it's Wednesday afternoon and I am currently sat next too mum in the extremely lavish hotel, sorry, hospital, that is The Wellington South in North London.

This is my first visit, post operation, and a few observations have struck me after spending a mere ten minutes in the room with mum so far.
First of all, how nice this room really is! Spacious. Warm. Flat screen television opposite the bed. En-suite bathroom, wow, and above all, a view overlooking the home of cricket, the nursery end at Lords! Wow!
Hello! Doctor! MY back hurts! lol.

I also noticed that, thankfully, mum is now back with us after a couple of days in the wilderness, dancing with the morphine fairies around regents park! Phone calls and text messages in the last week have been confusing to say the least.

When I entered the room, mum was with the occupational therapist, she was sat up slightly and talking, and instantly recognised who I was. Good start.
He then left, and we started talking about 'the week that was'. It became clear mum is still in alot of pain, understandably, and that confined to a bed can be uncomfortable, and some what lonely. But she soon perked up as we discussed all the messages and good wishes left on her Facebook page. She really does appreciate these!
And this led us nicely on to her blog, which is where we are now, and so she will now dictate as I type. Here are her thoughts and thankyou's to all her friends!

Hi everyone, the last week has gone in very much a blur, I stopped trying to reply too texts when I realised they were not making a lot of sense at all, or I sent the same message twice. And several people even received blank texts.
Thinking of you all, and looking forward to seeing you all! But I can now understand what they meant when they said 'you wont want visiters'.
Dr Kofi (my lovely anaesthetist) described me as 'another one that got away'. By this, he meant I did not have surgery as a teenager. And the scoliosis has worsened over 40 years, with the help of having 4 babies, but surgery was now possible and necessary. Nowadays teenagers with scoliosis would be operated on routinely, and I have heard how quickly they can 'bounce back'.
I am very fortunate to a have found in Mr Tucker, a surgeon willing to take me on. And I am very grateful that our medical insurance has made it possible to be treated so quickly, and in such luxury! (if I fancied eating, I would have put on a stone!)
Bit dissapointed though, it looks like I have only gained 1 and a half inches. But boy do I have some scars to show for it.
I really do appreciate all the messages, texts and cards, can't tell you how much they mean to me!
That is all for now. Love to

So there we go, a little update from mum. Hope this helps paint a picture. It is a long road mum has started walking down, but it will be a lot easier with all her friends and family with her along that road!

Many thanks from all the Andersons, and from this blog in particular, me, Paul.
Speak to you soon.x

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Update from Australia!

Hello everyone!

Well...this is all very clever! I am on the other side of the world but I have an update on Mum's progress! She text me at 2pm Auzzie time (which is about 3am over the pond!) as she wasn't sleeping very well...being the only patient in the Intensive Care unit, the lovely nurse allowed me to call her on her mobile! :o)

She sounded very groggy and a bit out of it - like you do after a few too many drinks! (sorry Mum, when you read this! :p) but that's down to all the strong painkillers she's on at the moment. It was great to speak to her & I can't believe she's already been standing up! It sounds like the surgery went perfectly and for the next few weeks it's all about pain control and the slow healing process...

It sounds like the "hospital" (hotel!!) is amazing and she told me how she's been eating some nice meals and as I was on the phone the nurse brought her a lovely hot cup of tea! :o)

Being on the other side of the world when Mum is going through something like this is reeeaaaallly hard but i've realised it's a blessing in disguise as when she can't sleep at night, there is always someone to talk to on the other side of the world! :o)

I will update the blog soon when I speak to Mum again but I just want to say a massive thank you for all your support and kind messages the past few weeks - she really does have great friends and without you, I don't know how she'd have got through the difficult patches!

Lots of love, Rachie xxxxx

p.s - Well done to David for his little update - keep them coming! :o) xxxx