This fourth of July, instead of practicing all-American pastimes like grilling steaks and eating pie and setting off fireworks, the holiday found us - my husband, mother, and myself - sitting in a hospital waiting room for the better part of the day while my father was operated on.
It all began the day before, when my mother went off to our woods to pick black raspberries. My dad tried to push himself up out of bed using his walker, but he slipped to the floor when he found his legs essentially paralyzed and useless. While he could feel someone touch his skin, he could not make the legs move. He was unable to reach the phone and lay on the floor until my mother returned several hours later. He told her to call an ambulance, and they took him to the hospital. My mother then called me, audibly upset, which of course made me upset, and Husband and I abandoned our house projects for the day and immediately went to the hospital. After an MRI and other testing, the doctor determined the staph infection was likely back and the inflamed tissue was pressing on the spinal nerves that controlled his legs. He had arrived at the hospital in the early afternoon Friday and was in surgery by 8 a.m. the next morning, July 4.
The surgery that he endured had been suggested at the beginning of his previous recovery. It was a major, invasive surgery that the doctors wanted to avoid, if possible, so they had given him a clamshell back brace instead, which had been working out well. Just one week prior he tottered easily out of the house to meet me when I pulled up, using two canes and wearing his clamshell brace. He had even taken a short drive to rubberneck the crops just a day before. But the insidious infection had returned after his antibiotics were stopped, and again wreaked havoc on his body.
A heart surgeon opened his front/side, removed a small piece of rib, spread the ribs, and deflated a lung to provide access for the neurosurgeon to operate on his vertebrae. The inflamed area of "reactive tissue" was removed and replaced with a metal cage. We were able to visit him, in protective gowns and gloves, several hours later. He was loopy, but he had not lost his sense of humor. When we returned to visit the next day, he was able to move his left leg, although the right still has not caught up. Yesterday, the physical therapist made him sit up on the side of his bed, and he was moved out of the ICU into the acute care wing. Still, the doctors speculated he will be in the hospital for three weeks.
I pray that this surgery, performed on Independence Day, will signal true independence for him, finally. This has been a long, long road for my father and his devoted nurse, my mother. Only time will tell if this will set him free. Please send healing thoughts his way.