Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Prayers for the Big Guy

Ok, not the Big Guy, but my big guy. My Dad is having spinal surgery today, and I'm all sorts of fidgety nervous about it. It's not like he hasn't had surgery before, probably more than the average person actually (two knee replacements, an ankle replacement, and an eye surgery in the last few years) but this one is different. Today the stakes feel much higher.

Imagine the most stubborn, hard headed, independent person you know...I'll wait...got one?...OK, now multiply that stubbornness and independence by 50. That's my Dad. A good old fashioned, macho, hard shelled, tough as nails, pride filled, hard headed man. The kind of man who refuses to use a walker during the recovery for his knee replacement surgery because, really? A walker? He'd rather not. That kind of man. So when my Mom told me that a few months ago he had electively stopped driving because he didn't think it was safe anymore, I knew something big was wrong.

A few weeks later Hubby, and the girls, and I went over to my parents' house for a regularly scheduled Sunday dinner to find my Dad using a walker to get around the house. It was then that I really found out what was going on. My Mom told me that my Dad's legs were going numb, and threatening to give out when he was up and about, so he had decided that it was probably better for him to just use the walker. Except I knew that for my Dad, there was no just using a walker. I *panicked* but didn't let it show. They made him a doctor appointment. That was about a month ago. Since then things have only gotten worse.

Following the doctor appointment, my Dad quickly went from walker to wheelchair...wheelchair. Essentially too proud to ask anyone for help previously, my Dad now found himself unable to really do anything without the assistance of someone. He went downhill so fast. The reality of it all was written all over his face, almost like embarrassment. It was almost too much for me to even meet his gaze, for fear of seeing the look in his eyes. Horrible is really the only word I can use to truly describe it.

The MRI reports showed that the nerves that run from my Dad's spinal column to his legs are being pinched by a malformation of bone in his spinal column (caused by osteoarthritis), causing almost all feeling in his legs to be cut off, hence the weakness and numbness. The only way to fix this is to go in surgically and "clean out" that extra bone formation, un-pinching the nerves and *voila* giving him feeling back in his legs. If all goes well, once he recovers from the surgery, he'll be able to get up and go and do whatever he wants again. However, since he's been unable to be active for quite some time now, the recovery process may turn out to be a little more drawn out than usual in my Dad's case. In fact he mentioned the words rehab facility...and frankly it's too soon for me to be able to wrap my mind around that.

Of course, when I talked to my Dad last night he made no big deal of what lay ahead of him today, talking mostly about how he was dreading getting up at 5 AM to get the ball rolling. I tried to talk to him a little bit about the surgery and he quickly changed the subject and asked me what the girls had been up to in the 24 hours since he had last seen them. When I told him that Little had taken 5 steps in a row for the first time last night, his voice filled with sparkle and pride, as he gushed about how my daughters are "really something". Just like him to avoid the topic at hand if it has anything to do with him suffering. He really is such a stubborn man, but it was nice to hear him smile.

So as I sit and therapeutically type this post, I wait. I've already heard from my Mom once this morning, to find out that my Dad has been taken back to the surgical room. That was almost an hour and a half ago. We should have about another 30 minutes to wait before we hear how everything went. And of course, I'm anxious to find out, but also well aware that that's not where the nervousness ends, because then we get to wait and see how the recovery goes, and whether the feeling will return to his legs. And really all I keep thinking in the meantime is please, God let it be good news...

Update, 12:09 PM: He's out of surgery. Surgeon says things went well and he's stable. He'll be in recovery for a while, then move up to his room. Good news!

Update to my update, 3:23 PM: He's in his room, awake and on pain meds. So far so good. YAY! OK, no more updates. :)

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