Sunday, July 22, 2012

I had TOS surgery...rib resection surgery

Almost a month ago, I had bilateral rib resection surgery and a partial scalenectomy for thoracic outlet syndrome.  In real people terms, I had one hell of a surgery twice in one week!  I spent a full week in the hospital, and am looking down a long 6 month recovery road.  Here's a better idea and picture of what they did.  My amazing doctor created space in my chest to stop the compression on my brachial plexus on both sides of my body!
  • Remove the fibrous tissue band from c7 (bottom of my neck) to the middle of my 1st rib
  • Divide and detach anterior scalene muscle from 1st rib ( muscle wider than usual and fan shaped)
  • Detach small part of middle scalene muscle from 1st rib
  • Remove 1st rib (wider than what's normal for my body size)
  • Shorten c7's elongated processes to regular length
  • Reroute or straighten out the  artery, nerve, vein
  • Remove extensive amounts of scar tissue

I'm still not quite sure what to think about the surgery that I had - I do feel little improvements already regardless of the post op pain and I am very thankful for all the support I've received along this path.  This path hasn't been easy for me or my family especially when trying to explain the magnitude of the problem through the telephone and how it affects almost every aspect of my daily life.  I have experienced some really great post surgery days and some pretty awful depressive days - all of which I fell are normal and expected.

In short, I am thankful I had surgery.  I have a great support system, am learning how being inactive is actually harder than I imagined, but mostly I am excited to live a different life.  A life (hopefully) without excessive pain and the ability to do the things I want instead of the things my physical therapist and body allow me to.  Oh, I'm trying to adjust to the force of my body movements being pushed off to the 2nd and 3rd ribs causing added pain and tenderness there!

Here are just some of the beautiful flowers I got in the hospital...the nurses kept saying I had a flower shop for a room and told me I was special that so many people cared for me.  I couldn't agree more!  One CNA even took a picture of one of the flower arrangements  to show her florist for her wedding bouquet! :)

Haha!  Just taking a mid-morning stroll with all my favorite accessories...note the medical fanny/hip pack!  Ridiculous...definitely going to be a summer must have.

The 3 C's of life: choices, chances and changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.

I'm am so relieved I got over my fear of having surgery.  In my hearts of hearts, I know I made the right choice. 

When was the last time you took a chance in hopes to change your life forever?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Looking back...

This past few months have been beyond busy with work, school, life, and health concerns that I haven't felt like updating my blog.  More than anything, I didn't really feel as if I had anything interesting, inspiring, funny or any rants to share or anything that I was emotionally ready to share.  I got thinking the other day, where I was at this time two years ago and then last summer and how they seem like a lifetime away. 
Cliffs of Moher

Two years ago, I had just gotten back from my semester abroad in Ireland and traveling across Europe.  Lets not forget: experiencing Sin City with my best friend and cramming for the MCAT when I had a new outlook on life that caused me to feel medicine and the health industry weren't for me.  Two years ago, I wasn't happy about house hunting in Fort Collins, living in Colorado, and wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I "grew up."
Last summer, I was splitting my time between Fort Collins and Denver.  I worked 45 hours a week for 2-3 weeks then had 2-3 weeks off that was spent in Denver attending my first semester in graduate school.  I was transitioning from focused yet slightly reckless fun loving undergrad to highly determined grad student trying to match life experience obtained by her 30-50 year old classmates.  I attended my best friends wedding and moved to Denver full time in August.  My free time was consumed with playing the doctor hopping game trying to discover the source of several musculoskeletal and vascular concerns.  Last summer, I was exhausted, strung out, and emotionally broken.

So, where am I now?  Well last summer determined this summer.  A year ago, I found out what was wrong and shared the diagnosis in an October post but never told you what my decision was - surgery or to simply live with it.  The truth is, I didn't know.  I asked friends and immediate family members what they would do, asked them what they felt would be best, tried a thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) specialized physical therapist, had tearful conversations, and drank many cocktails looking for the answer. 

It has been 12 and 16 days since I've had surgery; this summer, I had major invasive surgery...