The Details of Rocky's Fall

The Fall Itself - Wednesday, February 25

Rocky took an Ambien prior to bedtime last night but later arose, coughing, and went downstairs to lie on the couch and watch some TV. At this time, she took another half an Ambien to see if that helped her sleep. Around 4:20am she decided to come back to bed so she turned off the TV and all the lights downstairs and headed up the stairs to our bedroom - that's the last thing she remembers. The sound of her falling down the stairs woke me as I thought a piece of furniture had collapsed; when I heard her start to groan the grim reality struck me.

Judging by the marks on the wall, she fell down at least 7 steps, landing at the foot of the stairs and striking her head against the front door. She was immobile and obviously in great pain when I got there but, fearing the worst, I cautioned her about moving. After dialing 911 and getting the EMTs on their way I was able to move her away from the front door my pulling on the entryway rug which she was lying on; this enable the front door to be opened when the Rescue vehicles arrived a short time later. She was very unresponsive to their questions, seeming not to remember the President's name or what medications she takes or where they were kept so they strapped her to a backboard and carted her off to the local ER.

They took a series of X-rays since she was complaining mostly of back pain and a CT scan since she also had a terrible headache, presumably from the blow to the head. We were told that all the films were negative and she was discharged after being given a script for pain killers and being put in a soft neck brace. It took two Medical people to lift her into the passenger seat of the Yukon.

By the time we got home around 7:30am the pain pill given to her at the ER was starting to take effect and I was able to assist her out of the truck and steady her as she walked slowly into the house. She went to lie down in the guest room bed and had great difficulty in getting into bed due to the pain. "I fell like something must be broken.", she said through her tears.

She slept for a while and I went out an filled her prescription for the Vicodin. Around 10:40 she got back up and decided to watch some TV while I went out for some Won-Ton soup for her. Upon my return, she said that the ER had called but she couldn't get to the phone in time to answer it. The message said that it was fairly urgent. I called them back and got the doctor who had called who said that he had reviewed the films and it looked like there might be a few fractures in the cervical vertebrae. He asked how Rocky was doing as far as pain and mobility and upon hearing her condition decided to schedule an ambulance to take her on a backboard directly to Mission Hospital in Asheville.

There, they reviewed the X-rays and CT, indicating that it looked like she had several fractures on different levels and they needed to do an MRI to know the extent. The did this in the following hours and it was followed by another CT scan, this time a more fine cut scan to get a better look. The results were several minor fractures in the C4 lamina (along with swelling), a mild compression of the C7 vertebra and a disk rupture/tear in the C6/7 region. The additional CT scan was done to see if there were additional fractures through the C6 area (no more were found).

So, the options, at this point, are:

1. try a neck brace for 3-4 months and hope that the vertebrae heal themselves and the ligatures are strong enough to hold everything in alignment or 2. do a discectomy to repair/replace the damaged C6 vertebrae and fuse it to the C7 vertebrae and hope that everything else healed well or 3. do a double discectomy to repair/replace both the C6 and C4 damage.

Not really great options as the first involves a longer, more painful recovery time (but no surgery) with no guarantees and both the others involve surgery with (I would assume) loss of some mobility in the neck and, again, no guarantees of success with all the attendant risks of surgery.

Rocky is inclined to try the neck brace first so they have kept her overnight (and maybe tomorrow night) to see how she responds to pain management and then light movement tomorrow with a softer neck brace. I think they are trying to judge the necessity of surgery by her ability to function with just a neck brace. Regardless of the approach, she will probably be in a neck brace for 3-4 months and will require X-rays on a monthly basis.

OK, now you know about everything I do about this. Their feeling is the dosage of Ambien may have played a significant role in her fall, perhaps causing her to black out on her way up the stairs.

Subsequent Status Updates

Februrary 26, 2009

I missed seeing the doctor during his morning rounds but it appeared to me that Rocky was not in quite as much pain today as she was yesterday; this may be due to better pain management and a build-up of meds in her system by this point. Regardless, she is still in a lot of pain and still has the radiating pain and tingling in at least her right arm. She is spending tonight (at least) at the hospital (Room 626) and tomorrow we will discuss progress and viable options with Dr. Silver.

My sister and her family delivered a huge fuzzy rabbit to her in the morning (hope to have a picture tomorrow and Sheila/Charlie/Bonnie/Tom sent a beautiful spring flower arrangement to brighten the room - thanks to you all.

I'd also like to thank the many friends who called (waiting for a reasonable hour) to send their well wishes - I passed them along to Rocky and she smiled through the pain in appreciation. I am endebted to you as well.

So much for today as I am heading to bed early in order to rise early and be there for morning rounds. I will enter the updates as they occur (probably each evening after I return from the Hospital). Play safe!

February 27, 2009 6:24am Off to the hospital to catch the neuro surgeon on his rounds this morning. I have a HUGE "speedy recovery" inflatable turtle (an odd choice of animal for the message, considering...makes you wonder what the designers were thinking?) that Terry and Julie (neice) dropped by last night. Hope there's little wind! Thanks to all for well-wishes - more information when I know it.

12:10pm Back from the hospital and Strider walked. Dr. Silver was in surgery so we spoke with Jean, his PA, for some time, getting clarifications, discussing options and recovery times, etc.; she was very pleasant and informative. She reviewed Dr. Silver's notes and said that he did not address the approach to any surgery for the C4 issues directly. This usually indicates he thinks the bone will heal itself. However, the issue with the C4 is the damage to the ligaments that support that area. If they are not strong enough, then surgery would be indicated to support that area. The C6/C7 are has a compression of the disc between C6 and C7 that is pressing on a nerve and swelling throughout the area as well - this is what is causing the radiating pain/tingling down the arms. If the swelling subsides enough it may remove the pressure on the nerve. Then there is the question of ligament strength to hold that area securely - this is Dr. Silver's primary area of concern and would be the initial (hopefully only) area where surgery would be required. The procedure would be to remove the disc completely and replace it with a bone graft; this would then be strengthened with a metal brace attached to the C6 and C7 vertibra to provide the support needed. If done, they would expect this to eliminate the bulk of the current pain Rocky is in.

We discussed the "neck brace only" option in terms of pain (longer and more acute) and feasibility. It comes down to how much pain the patient can tolerate and for what length of time (assuming there is no further shifting of the disc or vertibra involved). Taking this option, some noticible improvement would be anticipated in the 6 to 8 week horizon. This would be our preferred approach but I'm not sure Rocky can tolerate the level or duration of pain involved.

So, here's the immediate plan. They are going to keep her in the hospital over the weekend and then order additional films on Monday to determine if there is any further shifting of the neck structures since Wednesday. If found, I think our decision will pretty much be made for us. If not, then Rocky has to be brutally honest with herself and the doctors in chosing what approach to take. I would expect her to go with the "collar only" approach in order to be able to come home quicker, realizing that, once home, she can always decide later that she is unable to cope with the pain and opt for the surgery at that time. Normally, they keep you for only a day after the procedure; the C4 condition may require a little more time if it complicates it. Regardless of the approach taken, she is looking at 3-4 months of using some form of neck brace most of the time. One of my main concerns is my ability to care for her once she returns home. I certainly don't want to do any harm! Maybe they'll train me at the hospital to attach and remove the neck brace in a safe, yet secure fashion - still makes me nervous.

So, for now, it's wait and see what the films on Monday show. Hopefully, there will be nothing to report over the weekend. Rocky will be miserable and in pain - I think that's a given. If there is any change or additional info, I will post it here. Thanks for your understanding, thoughts and prayers...

9:36pm Wow!!! Whatever you guys are doing out there, keep it up!!! What a difference this afternoon made! (Maybe it was due to my not being there?) Rocky was able to get a change of linen, a shampoo and a bed bath which made her feel better immediately. Then the prescription for the Fioricet (sp?) came and that took away the headache she's had since the initial fall. By the time I got there around 6:30 tonight she was actually smiling for the first time since the incident - what a joy to see! We talked, watched some TV and even laughed a couple of times. This is a very positive change and we can all hope it continues.

Just as I was leaving, Dr. Silver came around and stopped in to see how Rocky was doing. He listened to Rocky's description of the pains she was having and agreed that "hanging out" for the next couple of days made sense to see how much more mobility was acheived. Once she is standing and sitting by herself he wants to do more films to see if there is any shifting of the disc/vertibra and then we can decide on the proper course of action. He is held in very high regard by the staff and, apparently, is the youngest person ever to graduate from Duke Medical residency (1986). Sounds like he's a good guy to have on our side.

I'll be spending the day with her tomorrow so probably no more updates until tomorrow night. Thanks again for all your positive energy - it's working!!!

February 28, 2009 6:40pm Today started out looking like a little set-back from yesterday's "high" of smiles and laughter. It was a rough night, not being able to turn herself on her side and waking about every 45 minutes or so. The pain in the lower cervicle area had returned and she received medication for that around 10:30am. I arrived around 12:30pm and Rocky was conversing/commiserating with the weekend nurse Jennifer. They were discussing the pain and Rocky's frustration about still not being able to move around freely in bed on her own (much less being really mobile), being so dependent on everyone and being somewhat of a "wimp" in the pain tolerance area. Not much of the lunch had been eaten except for the apple sauce and Rocky thought that might be one of the sources of her heartburn. Jennifer said that she could get medication for the muscle spasms around 2:30pm (relaxers) and that the Physical Therapy (PT) group wanted to visit again today - this has been a somewhat less than productive event so far. Things were not looking good and then the flowers from the Jacksons in their ceramic Spring watering can (the flowers, not Sandy and Mike) arrived and this cheered her up quite a bit.

Unfortunately, the headache started to come back but, luckily, the script for the Fioracet was still in effect so she got that and took it with some ginger ale. This seemed to take care of the headache; then the PT crew arrived...

The weekend crew of Tracy and Chad was different than the weekdays group - and far more observant and understanding of Rocky's concerns and needs. They listened carefully to her description of what caused the excruciating pain and offered approaches to avoiding it - most of which coincided with what Rocky had told the weekday representative! Anyway, they talked it over and Rocky seemed willing to give it a shot at putting her legs over the edge of the bed and sitting up with them providing support to her back. They went slow and everything worked out well with very little pain; Rocky did get very dizzy though so Tracy had her move her legs forward and back repetitively to get the circulation going and get the blood back up in the brain. Again, success! OK, so now the question of standing was posed. Encouraged by their support, Rocky went for it and stood up with only mild assistance from them in terms of back support and steadying. The dizziness came back but Tracy was able to counteract it by making Rocky focus on her. Once standing, Rocky appeared to be fairly steady considering this was the first time since midday on Wednesday! Final (immunity) challenge time - is she willing to try to walk? Again, the confidence inspired by this team's cooperative nature let Rocky agree to give it a try. She easily made the 6-8 small steps to the room door and then turned around and returned to the bed where she turned around again. Enough for one day - major success was declared and they assisted her in returning to her bed which will no longer hold her captive. The smiles returned as her confidence is now bolstered and she knows that this is not something beyond her abilities. I am so proud of her! She really bit the bullet and dug her heels in to even attempt that amount of physical motion, much less acheive it with such (seemingly) little discomfort. Major credit goes to Tracy and Chad for their confidence-building and supportive nature. Kudos all around!

Dinner came around 4:30pm and Rocky was able to eat some of the (minced) roast beef sandwich and washed it down with some cool water. She passed on the apple sauce (I didn't) and iced tea due to the acidic nature. After dinner I helped her brush her teeth and settle in for the evening TV shows as I needed to make the return trip to Brevard with some daylight due to the cold, rainy conditions. They are predicting snow for the Asheville area for tonight/tomorrow so my plans will be finalized when I get up (early) in the morning. I'd like to be there for morning rounds as we are being told that Dr. Silver is planning to make them (we were previously told he had the weekend off) and I'd like to be present when Rocky discusses her recent progress with him. But, if the weather is really poor, I'll probably wait till later in the day. That's it for today - another good one, relatively speaking, and I hope just one more in a long string of days that gets better with time. Thanks again for your interest and positive thoughts - the prayers can't hurt any either!!!

March 1, 2009 6:00am The weather forecast is not good - rain/snow mixture in the AM changing to all snow around noon with a 15-20 mph wind. The wet areas here that are exposed to the breeze are already icing and something is telling me not to travel today. I'm listening. It's about an hour to the hospital across fairly hilly terrain (Rocky calls them mountains and suppose she's right, since they are named). The fear of black ice and driver stupidity is enough to keep me here; my emotions say to go, my rational thinking tells me to stay put. I would be no benefit (medically) to Rocky this morning and even less help if I were to be involved in some sort of traffic incident, damaging the car or myself in the process. I hate making this decision but I have to think long-term right now. I'll call her room nurse later and have her tell Rocky my decision; she can watch the TV for the reasons. Now the feeling of helplessness really sets in...

12:00 noon No word yet from Rocky and the weather has neither improved or noticably worsened, other than there is now thunder every so often. The temperature has risen to about 38 and the breeze has continued; I'm second-guessing my decision which is probably wasted effort. Since I have the time, I thought I'd give a view of the scene of the incident and the eveidence left for those with a morbid sense of curiosity (like me...). Off we go with a view of the staircase itself and the view from the bottom and top:

Our best guess is she was at least 2/3 up the stairs when she went over backwards, striking her head on the stairs and then continuing to tumble to the bottom where she struck her head again on the front door. The evidence we base this on are the marks from the heels of her slippers left on the wall above the sixth and fifth steps and, finally the long, vertical mark above the first step (going up).

After tumbling down the stairs and crashing against the front door, Rocky ended up at the foot of the stairs on the entry rug. This was, itself, a blessing as it allowed me to simply pull her, using only the rug, away from the front door without moving her neck or body in any way. (This is the same approach they are using at the hospital to slide her up in the bed when necessary.) Otherwise, the EMTs would have had a difficult time getting their equipment and the back board into the house to begin treatment!

Fortunately, they arrived quickly and did a very professional job of bracing her neck and securing her to the back board prior to moving her on the gurney. So, there you have a picture of "the scene" and some appreciation for the severity of the fall she took. As we are telling each other, it could have been so much worse... Just the same, keep up those happy thoughts!!!

6:12pm I just spoke with Rocky and although she said she had another bad night (aren't they all?) she sounded good. She had another change of sheets and bed bath today and had help brushing out her hair and putting it up in a poney-tail (a very high poney-tail) which probably had a lot to do with lifting her spirits. While she was disappointed that I wasn't there today, she understood the logic of my staying here - the disappointment was mutual.

As it turned out, Dr. Silver did NOT make the rounds this morning so I didn't miss any relevant discussions of condition, options, etc. The nurses had Rocky up a couple of times during the day so her PT quota was met as well. Still not much of an appetite though - I'm guessing, under the circumstances, this is probably normal. So that's all to report for today other than I continue to get well-wishes from friends and relatives who I've long lost touch with - what a nice surprise. Thank you all for doing your part; God bless you.

March 2, 2009, 9:11am Truly, abysmal road conditions being reported. All highway authorities are requesting people NOT travel unless it is an emergency since there are already over 30 active accident scenes in western NC. A pile-up in northern SC (Interstate 85) had traffic backed up all night: 30 miles in one direction and 10 miles in the other. You can listen to/google the news for all the gory details. I'm playing it by ear for now but won't be leaving the house anytime soon...

Yeah, it's pretty to LOOK at but not so much to drive in with temperatures in the 20's and winds to match. Discretion being the better part of valor and all ...

10:00pm Roads were clear, for the most part but littered with slush from side streets and accummulated snow from the tops of cars and trucks on the local roads; the interstates proved to be a better route. Tonight all the melt off will refreeze to black ice and everything will start over again.

Rocky had a better night sleeping last night but could not find a comfortable position today and required additional pain medication - not a good sign. The surgeon was by in the morning and had a heart-to-heart discussion with Rocky about her condition and ability to cope with the pain, etc. Rocky has opted for the operation to repair the damage in the C6/C7 region and I'm thinking that is probably the right decision. She has been unable to navigate around in bed without assistance or rise from bed and walk short distances without support since the incident and that is making her miserable (nearing the level of intolerable) so I'm not sure that trying the collar-only healing is really viable in this case. We know that the C4 ligament injuries may require attention in the future but the initial surgery should provide substantial relief for the back pain which radiates down the arms. The surgery is scheduled for this Wednesday at 7:00pm (Rocky will be talking to Dr. Silver about the late hour and it's possible she'll get it postponed for an earlier start on Thursday but that's the current schedule; stay tuned).

As I was helping Rocky to get comfortable later this afternoon she mentioned the nurse had remarked on her bruised big toe. This had been hurting her since her tumble but had not shown any swelling or discoloration soon after the incident - it does now! What a beauty!!! She has quite a collection of them but this was the only one she was willing to show ...

The surgery is not our first choice of corrective action but this seems to be the one indicated. This takes control out of our hands and places it into Dr. Silver's hands - and those of the higher power... Please say an additional prayer to help guide Dr. Silver's hands so that Rocky may recover quickly and completely. Chris Schlender, the Children's Pastor from the community church we've been attending and a friend of the family, stopped by this afternoon at the room to do just that with us. That's about all we can do now. Watch for tomorrow's events to be posted tomorrow evening - same place, same time (sorta).

March 3, 2009 16:30pm Today seemed like a step backward but it may be due to cumulative pain and a really uncomfortable hospital bed. Rocky spoke with Jean, Dr. Silver's P.A., this morning and voiced her concerns about the late time for the surgery. Jean assured her the OR staff would be fresh as they are on 8-hour shifts rather than the 12-hour nursing shifts. Further, she said, "Dr. Silver is Superman. He has unbelievable concentration and stamina - you have no need to worry in that department." I think Rocky is OK with that, although we'd BOTH like it we didn't have the whole day to think about the procedure. But, then, we aren't in control of that either.

The anesthesiologist (sp?) had also stopped by to check on allergies, etc., etc. and she and Rocky had had a good chat during which Rocky told her of her usual nausea after any general anesthesia. Maybe they can use one of the newer varieties that don't leave you with that (peaceful) queasy feeling (sorry, I just couldn't resist the obscure Eagles reference)...

I arrived shortly before 10:00am and shortly thereafter my nephew Frank's wife Stephanie stopped by the room to look in on Rocky and report her progress through nursing school - she has passed her last three exams (not the final three, just the last three she has taken) and has gotten certified for ALS duty! Well done! She also brought pictures that her twin daughters drew for their Aunt Rocky to cheer her up. Stephanie "acquired" some nursing tape and I hung them in the room where Rocky could see them from her lying position - they look great, don"t they?

Rocky asked me, "Do you think the twins think they are African-American?", and I said, "Maybe because the President of the United States is, they think that makes ALL Americans African-Americans.". Hey, it could happen ...

Later, Anne and Frank stopped by to see Rocky but she was asleep so we let her get some rest while we went to the cafeteria (a quest in itself) for a bite and conversation. When we got back, Rocky was still asleep (she'd been given pain meds about 30 minutes before Anne and Frank arrived) so they went on back but Anne left a binder with a nice card and some pictures of the great-nephews and nieces and artwork that Gracie and Hunter had done for Rocky, accompanied by the story behind each picture. Rocky and I went through it after she awoke and she was very touched by effort from everyone.

Just before I left, Marty Burgess, the College Pastor from the church stopped by just to say "Hi", see how Rocky was doing and say a short prayer for her complete recovery. A nice gesture since we aren't even members ... that's the way it should be. So now about all there is to do is wait for the procedure and hope/pray for a good outcome. I'll be going to the gym in the morning and then to the hospital after I shower and walk the dog. I have a couple of biographies I'm reading right now so I should all set for the long wait. Too bad I can't take one of the guitars or mandolins along so I could practice while I wait but I guess that would be a little cruel for those within ear-shot and NOT under anesthesia... I'll try to give a complete update of how the procedure went either late tomorrow night or the following morning so stay tuned and ... well ... you know... THANKS!!!

March 4, 2009 14:30 Arrived at the hospital, dressed in my "Battle of Britain" T-Shirt under my "Porsche" denim shirt, to a semi-cheery patient who reported that she had her best night yet here. Rocky said that Pastor Todd from the church had stopped by just to help ease her worries and to remind her that her only job was to heal and to leave everything else to those in control. Good advice. I shared your cards and emails of encouragement and well wishes with her which brought additional smiles. Shortly thereafter the "flower lady" arrived with not one, but three deliveries for Rocky. The Bowers (our landlords here) sent a wonderful pastel arrangement of flowers (which I won't try to identify because Peggy is a Master Gardener - look at the picture and identify them yourself), the church sent a beautiful arrangement of (appropriately) Gator-orange carnations and our friends, the Franckes, from Florida sent a gorgeous, shiny green houseplant (again, no identification will be attempted as Meredydd is also a Master Gardener...). All will make great additions to the cheerful ambience of the room; thank you, one and all!

We relaxed a bit and I brushed Rocky's hair (more) free of tangles and got it back up into a pony-tail so she wouldn't frighten the O.R. staff (her words, not mine) and chatted a bit about nothing in particular until about 4:40 when the pain started to return. This was quickly resolved by another round of approved meds and soon the warmth from the late afternoon sun against the windows made Rocky a little drowsey and she was able to drift off to sleep.

6:00pm The nurse came in to say that transportation was on its way and our friends Alan and Dee Alesi happened to call the room at almost the same time. They wished Rocky well and we thanked them for their thoughts and prayers - it made a nice send-off!

Ryan arrived to transport Rocky to the Anesthesia holding area so we disconnected the power cords and other wires connecting her to almost all 4 walls and off we go down the halls; Ryan keeps apologizing for each bump encountered, counting them down as we go. We arrive in the pre-op area about 6:20 and go through the identity checklist again. The attempt to provide a more suitable IV line fails and this begins to upset Rocky; her anxiety was already high so this doesn't help. Dr. Silver comes by and says it should be only about a half an hour wait till "show time" and that the procedure should take about 2 hours, plus an hour in recovery. The anesthesiologist then stops by and another checklist is gone through; Rocky mentions her anxiety and he says his assistant, Bob Patel can fix that.

7:20pm Bob Patel stops in and, while carrying on a non-stop dialog describing why a better IV is a requirement, proceeds to provide said IV and then administer his "super juice". Rocky is much more calm now and launches into a discussion of Daliwood movies and Indian food with Mr. Patel who, it turns out, is actually from Kenya... go figure.

7:50pm They are ready and Rocky and I say our "laters" and she disappears down the corridor. Now is when I really begin to feel the stress. Food helps that, even if it's from a hospital cafeteria. Then it's back to the room to wait for Dr. Silver's call.

10:15pm Dr. Silver calls the room and says that Rocky is out of the O.R. and everything went "technically perfectly", meaning the rest is up to Rocky. He said there were no surprises so now we have to see about the ligament strength and how well Rocky does in the next day or so before he is willing to discharge her. This was about the best report I could have hoped for and at least part of the credit goes to all of you out there that were pulling and praying for her. THANK YOU!!!!

10:20pm The nurses inform me that Rocky's room is being changed to B673, in the Spine Ward, which is where they house the post-op patients. So we pack up all her stuff and the flowers, plants, pictures and balloons and caravan down the halls to the new room. This has more room in it and I'm thinking that's because they expect her to actually USE the room to move around...

11:20pm Rocky arrives in her new room, disoriented, groggy, maybe a little irritable and very dry. We spend the next 2 hours getting her situated, oriented, comfortable and moisturized (drinking water by little sips). When I leave she is still awake but I doubt she will remember much about any of the discussions we had. That's OK; I know that she is in less pain than she was before. Thank you again, all of you out there, for the caring and compassion you showed - we can never thank you enough. That's it for now...

March 5, 2009 7:45am Rocky just called to say that Dr. Silver was just there and said he may discharge her this afternoon. Wow!!! He must be very pleased with the outcome of the surgery and with Rocky's progress. Other than that, Rocky said she had a very bad night due to her sore. dry throat from the breathing tube and anesthesia. She sounded very good but had to cut the call short and said she would call me back. What a great way to start the morning!!!

3:00pm We are dressed, signed out and loaded up at the hospital and headed west to Brevard.

4:15pm After a quick stop at CVS to drop off the prescriptions, we arrive home where Frank, Sr. has already arrived and turned the heat up ahead of our arrival. We assist a wobbly Rocky inside to the couch where she assumes the full upright position for the first time in perhaps 8 days. Some fluids are delivered by straw as her throat is still killing her from the procedure. Frank then returns home for Anne and then they both return so I can run our necessary errands - the least of which is not the Won-Ton soup, which will be dinner. Some pudding cups are acquired in case her meds cannot be taken whole due to the swelling of the throat.

9:00pm After watching some of our recorded programs from earlier in the week, Rocky calls it quits and I help her to the guest bedroom where we will take up residence for a while. I am about to walk the dog and then join her - it's been a LONG week or so. More in the morning. Thanks again to everyone!!!

March 6, 2009 1:00pm Rocky said she slept better last night than any night she spent in the hospital. We had only one trip to the bathroom during the night and that coincided with a meds ingestion so it was not a bad night overall. This morning she had some oatmeal, a little coffee and water. We still have more Won-Ton soup so lunch shouldn't be an issue. I plan to go out later and pick up some ice cream and popcicles which may help the neck/throat pain that is still present and seems to be the primary source of discomfort. For now she seems to be resting comfortable on the couch. The more rest she can get right now the better it is for me to be able to take care of the other items around the house. We're using the hand-held radios for communication when I'm not right there with her and that is working out well - gives me a little more flexibility when she is in a stable (reclining/prone) position. When she recovers a little more I think I'll let her start the "Recovery" blog herself so you can get a better "read" on her progress; I'll add my observations to it as well in order to give a complete picture, though her side will be the more relevant, to be sure. So far, so good ...

March 8, 2009 4:00pm I have not updated the blog much since Rocky's discharge as it has been a "rocky" ride. The swelling in her throat has all but precluded any source of nurishment not in liquid form so I have stocked up on "Ensure" for this purpose. Similarly, all but the smallest of pills have to be crushed and mixed with pudding in order to be ingested without complication. I need a bloody abacas to keep track of what meds are due when and how many (if I get 10 minutes with Excel I'll generate a 24-hour schedule I can use for this). Then there's the dog that needs walking and feeding, the shopping for supplies, etc. so my time to update the blog has been minimal. However, it's getting better.

We may have turned the corner on feeding this morning as Rocky was able to eat almost her entire bowl of oatment with "craisins" - this is the first semi-solid food she's been able to handle in any quantity. She says she is feeling like she may want some more semi-solid food tonight; that sounds good to me as we're out of Won-Ton soup! We also managed to correograph the shower w/ shampoo and conditioner today. Not only does she now smell better, she looks better and feels better too! (I won't say which is more important to me as that's one of those no-win questions.)

Our concern now is the persistent pain she is having in the left arm. Since neither of us really knows what to expect in terms of recovery period and associated levels of pain, we are sort of playing it by ear and this may be causing us to be overly-optimistic in our expectations. They have given us a perscription for prednisone which should help control inflamation around the surgery site and we started it this morning. If Rocky is still having the constant pain tomorrow we'll check with the doctor to see if I'm being a Nancy-boy about this or there is reason for concern - I'm hoping for the former.

Thanks, out there, for keeping us in your thoughts and for being patient with my lack of updates. In many ways, no news should mean no bad news. I will try to post any significant changes, one way or the other and, hopefully, that will be taken over by Rocky soon! Stay tuned.

March 12, 2009 11:36 My apologies for not having updated the blog in a few days but we are now in the phase where the progress being made is in incremental steps. However, looking back to my previous entry, a lot of progress has been made! Rocky is now taking "regular" food, though not yet ready for the beef jerky strips. She has very little appetite due to her taste buds still being "off". (My brother had the same issue after his surgery - after drinking 6-10 cups of coffee a day prior to the surgery, he said it no longer tasted good and gave it up! He has since started drinking it again but not in such copious quantities.) She is now able to move about the main floor of the house unassisted and is getting into and out of bed on her own as well. This morning she took her pain pills by themselves (split) without my having to crush them up and mix them with the pudding cup.

So things for me are getting easier and she is feeling better, though still in a fair amount of pain. We have talked about starting to take a few stair steps during the day (assisted, of course) and work up to her ability to climb the "scene of the crime" in order to sleep in our bed - something she is really looking forward to! This may take a week or more to do but it is a good short-term goal to work on.

Bradford Pear Trees Spring is trying hard to establish itself here and the daffodils have already bloomed in the side yard. The cherry and Bradford Pear trees are starting to bloom and the little yellow blossoms on all the Forsythia bushes around the house are blooming as well. We plan to take a short ride today to let Rocky see these early signs of Spring around the town in case the coming cold spell puts an end to it. This is the one season up here that I haven't seen (and my favorite season in the colder climes) so I'm really looking forward to it!

Bradford Pear Trees on Main Street Downtown Blooms Office Tree Blooming Office Tree Blooms Steve's Cherry Tree Steve's Neighbor's Tree The Lloyd's Cherry Tree Our Forsythia Bushes Our thanks to you all for your remote support, prayers and well-wishes cannot be adequately expressed. We know you are continuing to wish us well and hope for a rapid and complete recovery; we know this because we are making good progress. We'll keep it up if you will ...

March 13, 2009 6:53pm Steady progress: less difficulty eating, more walking about the main level and becoming more self-sufficient. All good things for Rocky. Today's new project was starting to climb stairs. Rocky started with just two steps and was amazed at how difficult it was due to lack of strength in her legs. Later, we did 4 stairs without much difficulty. We'll continue along this path for however long it takes for her to make a complete trip up the stairs to the second floor. Then, you should expect to get email from Rocky, as her computer and office are on the second floor. Our bedroom with the bed she loves is also there so she has multiple reasons to want to be able to navigate the stairs (though it will be with my assistance, at least for a while...).

I also took some pictures (see above) of the early spring "color" for those not entirely familiar with the season. These are of our neighborhood and the downtown area. It was raining when I took them so I apologize if some of the quality is lacking - I'll take better ones when the weather clears in a few days.

That's about all for today - stay tuned!

March 16, 2009 11:10pm We had our first checkup at the doctor's office today and, while neither Dr. Silver or his P.A. Ms. Stryker were there, we were able to get most of our questions answered. Basically, we are on track with the recovery process and should keep doing what we've been doing. Rocky was told she does not require the stiff brace when she is reclining, watching TV or sitting stationary, eating; all other times, she should be in the brace. (They agreed that the brace she was given is too large for her and arranged to have a smaller model made available to us at no charge.) There is some concern about the weakness and numbing of the left hand and arm but they say that can be due to nerves being severed during the operation and it may just take a while to heal. The statement "It could take months or might never come back." was made by Dr. Fowler, who examined Rocky. He was pretty frank about the possibilities and made us even more aware of how important it is to follow Doctors Orders during the recovery process.

Meanwhile, we are sleeping upstairs, in our own bed now and Rocky is getting better at climbing the stairs with my support (though only moral at this point) and presence. Hopefully, this will be one of the final entries I will make in the blog - future entries, or a new blog on the recovery from here on out, will be made by Rocky, herself. I may add the occasional comment but I'd like the remainder to be in the first person, from her perspective.

I can't say this has been fun but I have enjoyed meeting some of you that I did not know before. Feel free to stay in touch!

April 2, 2009 3:00pm Today was Rocky's checkup with x-rays with Dr. Silver's P.A., Jean Stryker. They took the x-rays as soon as we arrived and Rocky was then called in after Dr. Silver had reviewed them and given his directions to Jean. Good news - we were told that Rocky does NOT have to wear the neck brace anymore unless she starts experiencing pain. We are both terribly excited with this news (Rocky more than me, no doubt) and are encouraged for future progress. Now we need to see about some physical therapy to make sure we do all the right things. A big day for everyone involved.

6:30pm Rocky started having some pain in the upper back and neck so she put the brace back on for the time being. Probably should be expected at this point.

April 5, 2009 10:00pm Rocky is not wearing the neck brace at all now and she has all but eliminated the use of pain medication. She has PT scheduled to begin this Thursday and will probably continue on that for a while. I am encouraging her to begin getting more exercise by at least walking around the house and/or out to the street and back. She has started taking Strider out for his short walks but that only goes a few steps from the front door (so he won't get distracted and try to bolt...). In all, progress is going well.

April 6, 2009 11:45am Snow predicted for tonight and tomorrow - hope it's the last of that we see. I'm afraid it may have disastrous effects on the Spring flowers and fruit crops as it is expected to get into the low 30s tonight and high 20s tomorrow night. Brrrrr!!!

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Changes last made on: Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 11:59pm