This may be my last entry for a month or two. A week from today I will be going to Jackson, MS, to have what is called a Mitrofanoff procedure. I know that word probably means nothing to you so let me explain what is. Currently, I have to be catheterized every 4 to 6 hours. Not doing so can easily lead to accidents, dysreflexia, infections or bladder failure. And because of my injury and lack of finger function and trunk control, I am unable to do this on my own. You can imagine how inconvenient it is to have to go through this process every 4 to 6 hours (especially when going out). With this procedure, my bladder will be stretched so it can hold more, generally for up to eight hours. In addition to enlarging the bladder, my appendix will be used to create a stoma through my stomach- more than likely my belly button. I will then be able to go longer periods without having to catheterize and will also be able to catheterize myself through my stomach. What now takes 5-10 minutes and discomfort will only require little time and effort. Not to mention with a stoma through my stomach, I will be able to catheterize myself. It is a large step towards becoming more independent.
To sum it up, a lot of my organs will be rerouted and stretched. My intestines, bladder, and appendix will be operated on. They expect me to be in the hospital 7 to 10 days and they say recovery can take up to 1 or 2 months. From what I have heard from other people and have read online, it is a very hard and long recovery, but well worth it in the end. I decided to do the surgery now in the beginning of the year so that I could recover and it will be behind me as I go forth in this year to get as much rehab and recovery as possible. It seemed like a moot point to go to Shepherd and then have a surgery that would stop therapy until I recuperated. I am very anxious about the surgery after hearing how tough it will be. I know I have been through a lot and I can get through this too, but I still find myself very scared and nervous. But I will keep the faith, as I always do, and find comfort in knowing two things: God will never give me more than I can handle it I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I would just like to mention that the last couple of weeks I have been very motivated and strict with my exercise plan. My PCA, Mary, stretches my legs every morning for a good hour. I roll over on my stomach and stretch. I practice pulling myself up and then sitting unsupported in the bed to work on my trunk control. Then, we stretch my arms and I do 10 different arm exercises using a theraband, 30 times apiece. I can already tell such a big difference in the mobility and strength in my arms. It is crazy to think about exactly how many muscles are in your upper arms and shoulders that you have to build. I have to make sure to concentrate to use the right muscle or I will subconsciously compensate with a stronger muscle. It is such a rewarding feeling every day to work so hard and be able to see progress. I pray that I can push myself during my surgery recovery to try to keep up with some of my arm exercises that are not too strenuous so I do not lose anything that I have gained here recently.
One final thing I would like to mention: I finally have everything in for the Shepherd center and have been put down in their scheduling book. As of right now I am scheduled to be evaluated on June 11 to make sure that I qualify for the Day Program. After my evaluation I will be scheduled for a month of therapy. I am trying to get my appointment moved up so that I can attend sooner. Ideally, I would go for an evaluation the beginning of March and then enroll in the program April or May. So that is where I sit right now on the Shepherd story. I will get there eventually and it will be worth the wait!
Please remember to keep me in your prayers as I prepare for my upcoming surgery. I look forward to writing again when I feel better and everything is running smoothly! God bless