* * * 5th surgery in a row!… little update * * *
Bonjour my Dearest FRIENDS < 3 🙁
As many of you seem to enjoy it, and as you have emailed me so very many questions about my little * * * Massive Heart Attack followed by 5 surgeries in a row * * * journey… I thought that I would share with you here today a new little update about that very last, and 5th surgery (the ICD Implant), which took place last Friday at UNC.
(for those of you who only recently started reading my updates, the short summary of my surgeries of these past 2+ months is: Catheterization (right after my massive heart attack) + 2 separate heart stents surgery + emergency spine surgery + ICD implant surgery).
So my 5th surgery was indeed just a week ago, and the amazing Dr. Gehi and his team implanted an “ ICD DEFIBRILLATOR” deep into my left pec muscles… with 2 wires “leads” running into the lower and upper chambers of my heart… all making me now de facto… a bionic “The Six Million Dollar Man” … minus the 6 million dollars of course! 😉
I have included here under 2 photos to share with you for those of you who like and enjoy the technical side of “medical” visuals …
One photo is from 2 days ago, right before they removed the dressing on my cut/scar… (and you will notice my right shoulder (left side of the photo) being abnormally HIGH and weird looking simply as my muscles in that whole arm are not controlling things anymore as they should 🙁 ) .
The 2nd photo is from yesterday, after the dressing was removed… and yes you are thinking right J it all pretty much FEELS just as bad as it LOOKS! L lol
Holy molly rolly polly!!! (not an expression per say but why not right? Lol ) … I simply can’t remember EVER having so much pain post surgery than this time (even when they sliced up my entire face in a major surgery when I was 20 and I was left with 26 screws and titanium plates all over my face!).
From a visual perspective I think that my scar/cut looks much more like… Rambo stitching himself in his original movie J … it just feels so much cooler to think of it like that!…(otherwise all I could think of when I first saw it was: it is UGLLLLY! … close to fuglllly! 😉 Lol – so thinking of Rambo just helps me embracing it some more J ) – now John Rambo of course did not even flinched when he got that nasty in the movie and stitched himself up… I, on the other hand, not being Rambo AT ALL lol … made huge cringing faces… took Percocets… and even with all that, the pain was still so horribly painful the first few days and nights that tears were not too far to be found if you look around my eyes… it was really REALLY bad I must confess! L … it was pretty much feeling like is someone had left pieces of glass in my entire shoulder and pecs and… every time that I moved, even just an inch, or breathed, or walked, it all hurted SOOOOO BAD inside! 🙁
Here is a cute little story to share with you about that pain… so as I was in such unbearable pain the 3rd day after the surgery and I progressively got really convinced that something was really wrong (I had of course been released from the hospital the very next morning from the surgery… despite going through that surgery and being in horrible pain – did I mention that I live in … America? 😉 … whereas in most other civilized countries they would have of course kept me in the hospital for at least several days or even a week… simply to offer basic caring and nursing support and pain management etc… but the US Health system is well… maye a little less… civilized? 😉 ) anyways… so after 3 days I call the cardiologist fellow on call and tell him which surgery I just went through, and start to explain to him how the pain is really HORRIBLE and close to tears and being unbearable… and how much I am really worried that something is really wrong with the cut, or the defibrillator, or that they maybe left something in there by mistake!?… explaining that something really HAS to be wrong as I have simply never been in that much pain in my whole life… and he asks me a few questions then asks “ Did they cut deep into the tissue to insert the ICD as deep as possible?…” and I answer “Yes…” (which is what I asked the surgeon so that the ICD would be the least visible and from an emotional standpoint I would have a chance to not be stressed about it every single day of my life seeing it too visible and being reminded of everything that happened) …and I hear his voice saying “Oh that’s why then! ….that surgery is EXTREMELY PAINFUL when they do it that way!!! Everything is normal…” which is actually Doctor’s code for … “the pain IS indeed unbearable!!! “.
As we all know, especially if you have been through many surgeries as I did… there is indeed… a CODE! 😉 A “DOCTOR’s linguo CODE” where you need to be able to TRANSLATE what they are saying to … what they actually really telling you! Lol
So, for example, if a Doctor tells you about a procedure or surgery “This is nothing… this is all very routine… “. What it means for YOU is that… YOU WILL HURT SOME… but it will be bearable.
If the Doctor tells you before the surgery “It will be a little painful… but most people do well with it…” this is CODE for… “ YOU WILL HURT!”. The word “little” will NOT apply to YOUR experience of your pain! Lol
And if the Doctor says “This surgery is painful… but ,ost people tolerate it well…” … well… this is CODE word for … it WILL (and it WAS in my case) EXTREMELY PAINFUL!!! Brace yourself for lotssss of pain!
So this is my modest sharing with you in this post of a few little tips to understand better their language J … pre and post surgery 😉
Also I had this crazy idea during one of my many hospital stays (despite being an idea which of course will be never be possible to implement)…. that… what about if, while in Medical school… medical students had to go ONCE through every surgery that they are studying and will one day have patients go through?…:) and so that they have a chance to realize how incredibly HOPELESS, VULNERABLE, SCARED… and in possibly HORRIBLE PAIN… we actually go through, as a patient?…
How cool and wonderful would that be?.. how much of an amazing education for their souls, hearts and minds it would be, then allowing them in turn to be amazingly caring and compassionate human beings for the rest of their lives… It would truly be SO wonderful… even if will ever be only a little day dreaming of mine…
Yet, thankfully, there are of course SO MANY GREAT AMAZING CARING LOVING Doctors and Surgeons out there…on top of being AMAZING EXPERTS at their fields… and I want to take a moment to commend and voice my deepest appreciation and endless gratefulness to my 3 main surgeons (for my 5 surgeries of these past 2+ months)… as all 3 are truly DEEPLY and GENUINELY CARING human beings, on top of being such amazing experts at their work and craft!!!
Dr. Rossi, Dr. Lim and Dr. Gehi (all from UNC)… you all 3 have my deepest GRATITUDE for both keeping me alive, as well as for fixing everything that you did in my banged up little worn out body… and I thank you SOOOOO MUCH for ALSO offering true caring, kindness as well as all the time needed to answer all my questions and reassure me when I was scared, feeling down, in huge pain, or in deep fears. THANK YOU SO MUCH to you and your nurses and assistants, from the bottom of my heart!!! <3
I will also share with you a little side note on my daily “quite interesting” (and depressing at times L ) new life of “living with ½ an arm”… by which I mean that, since my LEFT ARM is almost useless (except for my fingers working which I am SO grateful for <3) as the pain is still quite horrible in the entire shoulder + pec + ICD scar, and also because for 6 weeks I am restricted from lifting it or carrying anything over 3lbs (and as doing so could pull out and displace the wires that they have inserted in my heart … which is of course the very last thing that I ever want to happen and having to go through AGAIN all that surgery and pain!) … and… also my RIGHT ARM is still 80% disabled (from the sudden and huge herniation that triggered my emergency spine surgery 2 weeks ago) as I still can not lift it more than a few inches, nor rotate my hand towards my body meaning that… I can not feed myself at all with that arm and as I used to for 50+ years… I also can not button shirts above my belly button… I can not lift even just a glass from the table… nor dry myself after a shower… nor carry much of anything with that arm… and soooo many other things and newfound major limitations!
Being so handicapped/disabled from both arms, and all of it happenings so suddenly(it all happened within 5 hours time, 2 weeks or so ago), is to say the least… not fun… and it is actually to be more accurate, very depressing at times (especially the eating/feeding myself part as my right hand (I am right handed) just won’t go to my mouth at all, and this is so incredibly frustrating and such a scary feeling from its endless limitations I must confess L … on top of it all I still have daily really bad low back and knees pain so bending down to reach anything is a very frustrating and painful task… so, in pure BONOBOS spirit J and as I mentioned in a previous posting, I now use my feet and toes a LOT to pick things up from the floor… to use one foot to for example slide a pack of parmesan that just feel off the fridge and onto the floor, and slide it every so gently and accurately onto…. my OTHER foot… then balancing it all bring that foot up (now carrying the parmesan pack! ) to a shelve inside the fridge and…. slide it back there into place where it belongs! J … Pure BONOBOS mode! Lol …or for example now using door knobs to … get dressed! To put a shirt on I insert one sleeve… then hook the top of the shirt on the door knob… then slide my body down to… have the other arm (still 80% non dead) reach the right height for the 2nd sleeve… and as, with both arms deeply affected, I simply can not put both sleeves on by myself as we usually all do…or also having put together a creative routine of sitting down in the shower in order to be able to have both of my hands to the top of my head to… do something as basic as shampooing…. (and as my left arm is NOT allowed to go up above my head… and my right arm simply will NOT go up by itself anymore)… .thankfully… I do not have longgggg beautiful hair to shampoo (unlike most of my ex girlfriends and lovers)… little silver lining here in my being bold! Lol
Things as simple as unloading a wahing machine… or a dishwasher… or hanging a shirt on a hanger in my closet (my left arm can’t go up without tremendous pain… and the right arm simple will NOT go up by itself!) all become a huge struggle… quite depressing at times… and despite being very creative in some ways and finding weird convoluted solutions to many challenges.. it yet takes a big toll on your spirit when you fully realize how you just can’t even accomplish anymore the simplest and mosts needed things in your daily life…
CREATIVITY and ADAPTATION are definitely the name of the game here and of my new “disabled” life… and we, as human beings are INCREDIBLY ADAPTABLE!!! <3 … despite the fact that we are creature of HABITS and do NOT “want” to have any changes in our abilities or any disabilities… but when we do and have no choice, we DO ADAPT!!! <3
ACCEPTANCE (emotional AND intellectual) of such a drastic new situation is also critical!!!… especially when things just get “too much” (especially after 5 surgeries in a row) and you just feel at times very VERY down… for a million reasons… then ACCEPTANCE that yes you are down… and that yes it is OK to be down… and YES accepting the love and the help (for things as simple as someone cutting your food for you as you neither can cut it nor eat it with your right hand, and as my amazing children <3 were the first to so lovingly do for me) of the people who truly care for you is “OK” and is LOVE.. is also very critical.
Now as I know that many of you LOVE the medical aspect of things and how our body is inside and looks like and how we heal and people who think that a scar is beautiful and that anything medical is fascinating etc…(I am not one of those as much as I loveeeee our outsite body and revere the magic of our inside bodies… I am way too sensitive to enjoy looking at scars and the inside of our bodies!) so for those of you who like so, I am including 2 photos (please forgive their lack of photographic quality ut they are straight from my low quality cell phone)– one photos is from 2 days ago, and please know that the nice “Abstract Art painting” 😉 bruise on my elbow and up is more scary than it feels as it is not hurting too much… but on the other end the pecs and shoulder and dressing areas DO hurt like… hummmm… I won’t say! Feel free to use insert and use here any of your favorite curse words to describe that pain! Lol as it is really REALLY bad! L – and the 2nd photo is from yesterday after they removed the dressing. And from a “visual” standpoint it will probably give you a small idea of how much and why it hurts all so much! RAMBO style of course! 😉 Lol
… and my today’s humble proposed “expression of chosen gratefulness and awareness” for your own life, your own journey and your own heart… will simply be that, every time that you use your hand to grab your fork… and then slide it so skillfully into your food in your plate, all such “small” acts that your brain and your own perception most probably all take for granted by now, all from having done it automatically millions of time since you were a child… and then your brain ask for your wrist to slightly turn inwards, then rise by a few inches towards your mouth to reach it… all the bringing that food to your lips, both for culinary pleasures, as well as for mere survival purpose… then I modestly propose to you that first, you fill up your heart and your thoughts with endless joy that you are indeed SOOOOOO very lucky and blessed that doing all of that does NOT trigger horribly sharp pain in your hand and arm (as it does for me and so many others in similar struggles)… and also filled up your heart and this moment with endless gratefulness that your food… does indeed reach your lips… all so very SMOOTHLY… so MAGICALLY… so MIRACULOUSLY… all while it probably took hundreds of nerve signals and tissue connections etc… to make that very very basic miracle happen in this moment for you <3
The mere fact that your fingers WERE indeed ABLE to grab that fork… and hold it… strongly enough to not let it slip from your hand… is also such a true miracle! One too often missed… or missed to be deeply grateful for.
And all that process of never signals… signals to our muscles… for the proper contractions or release etc etc… are ALL DONE HUNDREDS of times a day, all always with such gentleness, precision, easiness and elegance… So SO SOOOOO many MIRACLES in our every days!!!! In our every moments of life… way too many to ever keep track of, or account for…
Who could ever need… mansions, expensive cars, zeros on one’s bank account, “success” etc. to reach and live any kind of true happiness and enlightment… when all the sources of more miracles that you can EVER account for, is ALREADY WITH YOU… EVERYWHERE YOU GO… in EVERYTHING YOU DO…. Is ALREADY IN YOU… is already… YOU!!!! <3 ….all available to you to deeply cherish and fill your heart with endless love and smiles, if you only choose AWARENESS… if you only choose true and deep GRATEFULNESS for all the miracles in your own body and through your days… everyday… everywhere you are … everywhere you go…
And if you are so kind as to do that very simple modestly proposed exercise… just for yourself… just a few times a day… even if only once a day… then please know that my own heart will be filled with joy and love from simply knowing that, even if my own arms do not work too well for now, YOURS DO ! <3 … and that makes me SOOOO truly and so deeply happy for you <3
With much much love to You <3
ps1: and if anyone noticed and wondered about the quite major… hummmm?… dichotomy! 😉 lol between my “Bonobos” waits area (aka hairy kind of body! lol ) and my… hairless pecs area?… well… please know that it is not the poor result of some 1/2 unfinished attempt at… shaving myself to look cool! lol (which would btw make me lose my Bonobos status and which I actually love… simply ’cause they are kind of “French” you know in their love of … making love <3 . I loveeee our dearest ancestors’ passion and spirit in regards to … relationships amd revering Woman 🙂 <3 ) … so the explanation of my “hair style dichotomy” is simply that a nurse did buzz my pecs right before the surgery… so this was my gentle little Disclaimer about that… hummmm…. dichotomy of landscape! lol