Drugs are great

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I will try again – the computer seems to have eaten my post!

 

Sorry for the delay in updating things here; once Ruth was out of surgery last night, things were very busy, and then we didn’t have access to the internet until this morning.

As soon as he had finished operating (it took about 6 hours), the surgeon rang us to say that he was very pleased with the way everything had gone from his point of view.  We weren’t able to see Ruth for quite a while, as her blood pressure was very low when she got to the Recovery Room, and there was concern about some unexplained bleeding from her kidneys.  However, she is OK, and this seems to be resolving.  She did lose a considerable amount of blood during the surgery, which was not unexpected;  this particular operation involves a lot of gore.  (Sorry if this is too graphic – I am trying to be as polite as possible 🙂  Some of this blood was replaced at the time.  So far she has not had a blood transfusion, but it is quite likely that she will within the next day or two.  As you can imagine, she is very pale and tired, but in good spirits.

Ruth now has about 16 screws, 3 hooks and two straight rods attached to her spine.  We are all looking forward to seeing the Xrays they will take when she is able to stand up in a few days’ time!

She is particularly fond of the “Patient Controlled Analgesia” button, which gives her an instant burst of Morphine any time she presses it.  It makes her smile.  And then she falls asleep for a little while.  She says she “Loves, loves, loves” it.

She had a good night, back in her own room, and slept on and off in between all the frequent interruptions and close observations.  She has been sipping water and sucking on ice blocks, and thanks everybody for them – she is a great girl!

This morning, the physiotherapist came to help her sit up briefly on the side of the bed, which was quite a feat.  She asked Ruth if she would like to sit out on a chair, but was politely declined 🙂  She is coming back this afternoon for another session.

We can’t tell you how much it means to all of us to read your comments, and to know that so many of you are praying for Ruth, asking God to take care of her.  He certainly is.

Despite being tired, pale, sore and attached to lots of equipment, Ruth is her usual, calm, capable self.  She got the laptop organised this morning, through the bedrails, and Skyped her sister Miriam in London.  And then drifted off to sleep again.  Those drugs …

It’s all happening

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This is a quick note from Jill (Ruth’s Mum, for those who don’t know us personally) to let all Ruth’s readers know the latest.

Ruth had a reasonable night’s sleep; she wasn’t worried, just woken by the lights and noises on the ward. Prior to going off to theatre this morning, we had some very welcome news.  The surgeon has decided, after looking carefully at the traction Xrays from last Friday, that he is not going to do an anterior release as he had originally planned.  He feels that he will be able to get a good result without this, and so he is only (“only” being a relative term, and a bit of an understatement) doing a posterior fusion.  This means that the surgery will be some hours shorter than originally expected (still 5 – 6 hours), and will not involve any of the scary things associated with entering her chest cavity.  We are so grateful to God for this, as is Ruth.  I didn’t get a photo of her face when he said this, but it was very happy.

David, Becky and Abby are in luxury accommodation at Ronald MacDonald House, Grafton Mews, just off the hospital precinct, but about 15 minutes’ walk away.  We are all so blessed, to be living in a time and place where all this is possible.  God is so good to us.

We will try to update this later today, when we have some more news.  Thank you to all who are praying for Ruth, for us and for the surgeons and anaesthetists.  It means so much.

Right-Angle Girl: Patient

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I’ve been admitted to Starship Hospital, and everything is all go for tomorrow morning! Exciting? Somewhat. Slightly terrifying? A bit. But, surprisingly, I am not particularly nervous. I’m not sure when this will change, but I suppose it’s good to enjoy the calm while I can!

My Friday appointment went very well, and it was all quite straightforward. The only exciting thing that happened was that I had a traction xray. The name really describes it all. Basically, I lay down on the xray table, Mum (who was allowed to participate, provided she wore a lead apron thingy) held my hips down so I wouldn’t slide off the table, and one of the nurses (who also wore a lead apron, plus lead oven-mitt style gloves) held firmly under my chin… and pulled. When I was as stretched out as the nurse could get me, they took an xray. Although it wasn’t painful, I wouldn’t  describe it as an experience that I’m anxious to repeat again. Ever. 🙂

Just prior to having my head nearly pulled off...

So today (Monday), I’ve been admitted to Ward 24a. I’ve got a single room which is extremely nice, especially as it means that Mum gets a fold-down bed to sleep on tonight, as opposed to a mattress on the floor. I may not get to come back to this room after my night in ICU tomorrow, so I’ll enjoy the privacy while I’ve got it!

There's a Smurf on the door of my room. A grumpy Smurf.

So far, I’ve had a lovely nurse come and ask me lots of questions and fill out charts; I’ve been given my hospital wristband; I’ve had a tour of the ward; I’ve met one of the anaesthetists and signed the anaesthetic consent form; I’ve met one of the physiotherapists, who has basically told me that she’s going to make me do painful things after surgery (such as sitting up, standing and walking); I’ve been given two special shower scrubs to use tonight and tomorrow morning, plus a beautiful *cough* green hospital gown to put on tomorrow; and I’ve had blood taken. Dad nearly fainted when he saw the nurse bring over the needle, so he went and sat down in the waiting area with Abby. I, however, was very brave. And I got a Dorothy the Dinosaur bandaid. Right now I’m waiting for one of the registrars to come around and get Mum and I to both sign the surgical consent form.

I’ll be taken down to theatre at 7:30-ish tomorrow, which is a little earlier than I thought originally, but it will be good to get on with things quickly rather than waiting around and getting more and more nervous. This means that Dad, Becky and Abby will have to get up rather early to come and say good bye. They are settling in at Ronald McDonald House at the moment. The House on the hospital grounds is actually full at the moment, so they’ve been sent down to the part that is somewhere on Grafton Road. They are still allowed to come and park for free up at the hospital, though, so it should still be very convenient.

Okay… the registrar just came down and explained what would happen during surgery, and also outlined the risks. Mum and I have signed the consent form, and so it’s all officially happening.

The rest of my family are off having dinner – I’ve already had my first hospital dinner, so I’m staying put in my room.

The person who really needs the most prayer at the moment is Becky. She’s very anxious and teary, and its hard to explain everything so she’ll be reassured. She’s also driving us all a bit crazy with all her worrying about  what is going to happen each day…

I think I’ll finish now, and maybe read one of my new Christmas present books. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep – we’ve all got an early start tomorrow!

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. I’m definitely not looking forward to the next few days, but I know that God is in control of all things, and He will help all of us through whatever may happen.

One Week To Go

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This time next week, my surgery will hopefully be over. After such a long time waiting (I began a countdown chart over eight weeks ago), it’s a bit weird thinking that there aren’t many days left now before I’ll be straight again! (Or at least straighter.) Because it all feels a bit unreal, I’m not actually nervous. I’m sure that will change at some point, though, so I’ll enjoy it while I can!

I can’t really imagine not being wonky any more. Because my spine’s curve has happened gradually, I’ve just got used to how it feels to be crooked all the time, and I can’t even really remember what it feels like to stand straight, or not have my ribs sticking out on one side. It will definitely be strange when all that is changed. I might even miss feeling crooked! (Although I’m pretty sure I won’t miss my rib hump…)

Anyway! Mum suggested that I should show you all some photos of my back. We’ve been taking photos every few months, which has made it easier to see how much the curve has progressed. I won’t put them all up, but here are three photos, which should give you an idea of what it all looks like.

Admittedly the photos are not all from exactly the same angles, but they should still give you a general impression of how it is.

I’m afraid that there isn’t anything particularly interesting to share on here right now. I’ve got one last appointment up at Starship on Friday morning, and then I’ll be admitted next Monday afternoon, with surgery the next morning. Hopefully we’ll be able to find out a few things on Friday, such as how easy it will be to access the internet for Mum to post updates and such.

Thank you all so much for your comments on my first post. They have been really encouraging. It’s so amazing to know that there are so many people supporting and praying for me and my family. Thank you! ♥

I will probably put another post up after my appointment on Friday, but we are pretty busy from then on, so I won’t make any rash promises!

A Rather Feeble Introductory Post

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If you are reading this, you are probably either one of my family, or a friend. Either way, you probably know already what this blog is about. But, if you don’t know me personally, or you don’t have any idea what this blog is about, then read on.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in February this year.

Although for the last month or two beforehand I had noticed that my waist and hips were uneven, I hadn’t really thought much of it, and it wasn’t until my mum saw my back one day that I really realised that there was a problem. Mum has mild scoliosis herself, so she knew what was wrong with my back. The GP confirmed that it was indeed scoliosis, and I quickly had xrays which were then sent on to Starship Children’s Hospital, and the scoliosis specialist there.

Despite the first batch of xrays being lost, I got an appointment for an MRI scan fairly quickly, mostly due to the fact that my mum kept on ringing the hospital up to remind them I was still waiting. We could see that my curve was progressing very quickly, and it was very difficult to wait patiently.

I had the MRI in April to confirm that there was no underlying cause for my scoliosis, and everything was fine. When the surgeon finally saw my xrays he put me on the Class A priority list, which made me feel pretty smug. At least we hadn’t been ringing up about nothing!

In late May, I finally got to see Mr Haemish Crawford, the scoliosis specialist up at Starship. He measured my curves at about 75 and 42 degrees, and told me that I would need surgery. This wasn’t really a surprise to me, as I had been doing a lot of research, and knew that my curves were pretty big. This is one of the xrays I had taken that day:

Once I knew I needed surgery, all I wanted to do was get on with it. Unfortunately, with the long waiting list for this type of surgery, nothing happens quickly, even though the surgeon had said that it would be this year sometime. At first we thought my surgery would be in October, and so I prepared myself for recovering in the fourth school term. However, my surgery is now scheduled instead for December 13. Although that is a bit later than we originally thought it would be, time has flown by, and it is now only 13 days until that date. I’m getting a bit nervous, but I’m still excited for the end result.

At my last appointment in October, my curve was measured at about 88 degrees, with fairly severe rotation. I actually have two curves, but the lower one is much more severe than the top, which is just a compensatory curve. This means that, when the bottom curve is straightened, the top one should straighten of its own accord. Because of the stiffness of my curve (which was shown on some side-bending xrays I had done), the surgeon is going to do two procedures instead of one. First of all he will go through my side (the anterior approach), remove a rib and collapse the lung on that side so he can get to the front of my spine, and then remove disc material from from the stiffest part of the curve, so that it will straighten more easily. After he has done that, he will then go through my back  and carry out a normal posterior fusion, probably from about T7 to L4.

So there are 13 days to go until surgery. I can’t wait… although, thinking about it, I’m actually dreading it all as well.