Meet my friend Sue. We’ve been on many road trips together over the years. The moment we get into the car we have things to talk about, problems to solve, emotions to unload, stories to tell. There is no small talk, only the quick jumping in to the place where we left off. We are busy with the work of doing life together.
On all of our road trips Sue and I have never gotten lost. Not once. Never. Sometimes we take awhile to get to our destination and sometimes we discover new ways of getting there. There have been times we just want to stick it to the man and prove that googlemaps isn’t the boss of us. But we’re not lost. We are busy with the work of doing life together, and possibly a little distracted by it as well.
Several months ago I sent her this email:
Aidan has been scheduled for Spine surgery this summer. I’m hoping you can be my Pre-Op partner. It’s a b*tch of a job. I’d need you to drive us to Children’s (w/o getting lost) listen to medical mumbo jumbo and take notes and basically be another set of ears for me and then listen to me freak the crap out on the way home. It’s an all day long boring affair. You in?
Perhaps I could use a little refining in the persuasive marketing department, or perhaps not. This was her reply:
I’m honored and I’m in. Ears will be ready for listening, eyes will be ready to navigate, arms will be ready and open wide for hugs. Whatever the start time, will have extra large lattes ready. xo
Sue took her job seriously. We were at the hospital ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY. Before I turned into a hungry cranky monster, Sue wipped out a ham and cheese sandwhich for me from her handy dandy backpack. Later in the day she pulled a handmade sweater from her bag for me because hospitals are always so cold and somehow I forgot that.
Anyway, this is what doing life together looks like. Pre-op day is long and emotional and exhausting and should never ever ever be done alone. Don’t do it. Sue took notes. She kept me watered and fed (and beer-ed and pizza-ed as well). She kept Aidan entertained when I had to stay focused on his medical history. She made sure all of my questions got asked and answered.
It was the perfect harmony of me needing help and her wanting to help. Today I have a hospital hangover because yesterday Sue and I were busy with the work of doing life together.
And here is what we face at the end of the month. Aidan is having a posterior spinal fusion from T3 to his pelvis. They will open his back and put two titanium rods on either side of his spine and hold them in place with screws. Then they will sprinkle bits of cadaver bones (just like jimmies on ice cream) in there that will act as glue. The bone will eventually all fuse together to form a super strong back.
It’s an all day complex surgery. They’re not messing around with infections. He’s not wearing his back brace anymore because it’s leaving pressure marks on his back and that’s too risky. Aidan will be in the ICU with a breathing tube for a few days and then on the ortho floor for as long as it takes. I’m really hoping Mike the nurse from last year is still there.
Aidan’s neck will continue to have articulated movement but his entire back will move as one unit. The necessary result is limited movement but it will still be functional movement.
There is a huge range of recovery time. While they want to get people up and moving as quickly as possible, comfort and pain control is really the name of the game. Also, we know that Aidan takes time to recover and it takes energy for him to stay hydrated on his own. One day at a time.
The hospital team was very thorough and valued my input. Originally they wanted Aidan to see a neurologist at their hospital so he would be on their radar if seizures effect his recovery. I saw this as a colossal waste of my time and asked my neurologist (Dr. Trueloveforever) to write a note specifically clearing him for surgery and giving a basic history. I faxed it over last week and showed up with copies in my hand. The surgeon appreciated the note and said we didn’t need the additional appointment. This is what team work looks like.
We are ready. We have a solid medical team, great recovery team, and will be surrounded by our people. All will be well.