Friday, June 17, 2016

Recovery at Home Post Neck Fusion

NEW! People You Should Know Podcast: had the wonderful opportunity to share my story for a new podcast. Click here to take a listen Megan King- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Make sure you listen to the other podcasts that are featured. There are so many amazing individuals with amazing stories that you'll most definitely want to take a listen to.

Surgery. If you've ever had one done, then you know it goes through a process leading up to the big day. You get a diagnosis. You get told you need surgery. You prep for surgery. You have your surgery, and then it's time to dig deep, and begin the recovery process that nobody really says what it will be like; unless you consider, "You'll feel some discomfort" a good understanding. If you've had multiple surgeries then you know that not all surgeries have the same recovery. Some surgeries have a fairly easy recovery, some are in the middle, while others are far more difficult. This was my first spinal surgery, and now that I was home, it was time for me to experience first hand where I thought this recovery would land on the scale of fairly easy, medium, or hard.
April 19, 2016
It was day one of being home from the hospital post neck fusion. As expected I had a long night. I slept in my recliner in my room because I could get out of it easier than my bed. Even though it was a long night, I did get more sleep at home because there weren't nurses coming in every few hours to check my vitals. There wasn't the background music of various alarms going off at all hours of the night from patient's rooms. I was glad to be out of the hospital. After all of the surgery that I've had done, I have my own routine down at home. I have things set up in such a way to make life a little easier for me. Of course things were difficult, but it was nice being around the comforts of home. My first day home consisted of me primarily sleeping. After surgery, all of your body's energy goes to healing the area that just experienced the trauma. The best time when this healing takes place is when you're asleep. Any left over energy is what allows you to stay awake.  Needless to say, I didn't have a lot of leftover energy that day. 
Nap in the middle of the day. You can never have too many pillows after surgery. As expected, that's my dog Daisy in her usual spot when I'm post-op. She's always by my side and was giving whoever took this picture the, "What do you want?" look. 
April 20, 2016
April 20th was similar to the previous day, minus the fact that I got my halo brace stuck in the blinds. Yes, you read that correctly. I got stuck in the blinds. One thing to know with the halo brace is you're not aware of your surroundings at first because the brace is quite large. It was evening, and I was getting myself ready to go to bed. I walked over to my window and leaned over to close the blinds. I didn't realize when I leaned over I got one of the strings tangled in on one of the screws. I couldn't reach my head because of the shoulder injuries, and I couldn't reach my phone because I was stuck to the blinds. This meant I needed to yell out for some help.

From my room I yelled out, "I need help!" My niece Lizzy yelled back, "One minute!" to which I responded, "No, now!" Lizzy came into my room and started laughing...honestly, how could you not? I told her I somehow managed to get myself stuck in the blinds while trying to close them, and I needed her to untangle me. Unfortunately, Lizzy couldn't reach. I told her to get Kelly (my sister). Kelly said the same thing too, "Wait a minute!" I told Lizzy to go in the hall and say, "No! You need to come right now because Meg's halo is stuck in the blinds!" It's amazing how fast somebody comes to your rescue when they realize you're stuck. Next thing you know my sister and my dad are in my room. Kelly was untangling me, while my dad was in the background laughing, along with my niece, and my sister. I too was laughing, but also crying at the same time because I hurt and was irritated that I was stuck. Who knew closing the blinds could be so complicated? I told my family they better get a picture of this because I might be mad in the moment but I will laugh at this down the road. To this day, I still laugh at the day I got stuck in the blinds. 
Fortunately this has been the ONE and only time that this has happened. Haha memory making at its best.
April 21, 2016
There wasn't much rest on this day until the afternoon. As I mentioned in the previous post, I was having trouble being vertical because of the weight of my left shoulder blade pulling on my neck, and I ended up making a sling out of a bed sheet with my sister in the hospital to support my arm. On April 21st I had an appointment to get fitted for some custom braces to support my arms. My appointment was in the morning around 9:00. Early morning appointments are always rough after surgery. It takes a lot of effort, and energy to get yourself up, dressed, teeth brushed, hair back, food in your stomach, and all that good stuff. By the time it was time to leave for my appointment I was thinking it was time to take a nap. 
Almost time to leave. My dad putting my hair up in a ponytail. I think this is one skill in life he never thought he was going to master. 
This is as good as the hair styling is going to get. Nice job dad! 
When my mom and I arrived at the office where the arm braces were going to be made, I didn't know what to expect. All I kept telling my family, and the doctors at the hospital, it that I just need something to support my left arm so I could walk around easier. Thankfully the man who made my arm braces (Thomas) had been working on it already for a couple days. He had an idea to support my arms by essentially making arm rests. This wouldn't put any weight on my neck, and it would still allow me to have some function at my elbow and hand.  
Thomas taking measurements around my waist so he knew how big of a waistband he needed to make
This was the prototype for the arm rest. Since it helped my left arm, Thomas said he would have the finished product done in a couple days. He was also going to make a brace for my right arm too.  
After my appointment I was more than ready to go home but told my mom we should stop at the nursing home first to see my grandpa. We were only 10 minutes away anyways, and I hadn't seen him in 2 weeks. Up until a few months ago my grandpa had lived with my family and I since 2007. He had some medical issues this past February which caused him to have to stay at a nursing home so he could receive proper care. So, I felt it was necessary to stop by and see him so he knew I was okay, and wasn't worrying too much. My grandpa is blind so he has absolutely no idea what type of brace I'm wearing. The best description that I've come up with, is that it's like having your head in the middle of a birdcage. To this day I don't think he totally understands it which is good. I don't really want him to know what I'm in. He doesn't need to worry any more than he already does. 
Touch is important at all ages. I told my grandpa he couldn't hug me like normal because I didn't want him to bang his head on my brace & it was painful for me to bend over to hug him, so he held my hands instead. 
Some things are worth not feeling good for. This is one of my new favorite pictures of my grandpa and I. 
After visiting my grandpa, my mom and I went home. As much as I wanted to sleep I first had to eat lunch. I knew if I didn't, I would end up feeling sick from the pain medications, and I also needed to eat to get the calories in me. The halo brace is an additional 7 lbs. so even when you feel like you're not doing much, you still are doing more than you think because you're carrying around the extra weight. After lunch I pretty much slept the rest of the day. 

Picture of my nieces and I later that day. They were happy to help me open up a
"Get Well" box that was sent.

April 22, 2016

It was a day of putting on movies, falling asleep during those movies, and then putting on a different movie to only fall asleep again. I was exhausted from the day prior. In the evening I forced myself to get up and walk outside to get some fresh air for 5-10 minutes to move my legs but it was the last thing I felt like doing. 

Beginning of the short walk. I used a blanket as a coat since my coat doesn't fit over my brace. 
Heading back to the house with not as much pep in my step. One thing I never thought would hurt was the cold wind brushing my forehead where the screws are inserted. Who knew?  As soon as I got home I changed into my pajamas and went straight to bed. Tomorrow would be a new day.

I think this is important to remember:
If there is anybody that has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), is in/was in a halo that would like to connect, please feel free to email me at

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  1. This is amazing. You are such an inspiration to all of us!! Big Hugs!!

    1. Sorry for such thr delay in response!! Thank you so much:)