Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another Shoulder Surgery . . . that worked!

At the crack of dawn this morning (Friday), Fred and Elaine dragged themselves out of bed and shuffled to their car to drive over to the local surgery center. Now, it may seem like Elaine is trying to earn loyalty points from this place. Of course, her goal is just to get better.

Now that it is over, we are happy to report that the surgery should make life easier. Apparently,  Elaine had a big chunk of bone causing real problems around the nerves in her shoulder. According to surgeon, fixing this should allow for some serious relief!

Elaine and Fred are back at home catching up on much needed rest. Tomorrow is the first day of recovery for Elaine that is expected to take a couple months. We are very hopeful that this recovery results in a pain-free Elaine!

Monday, September 23, 2013

As promised, here is a follow-up email about Elaine's shoulder surgery. They went to the doctor this afternoon to check on her foot and her shoulder. They took the stitches out of her shoulder, and she was able to wear a tennis shoe on her left foot for the first time since surgery. Unfortunately for the foot and shoulder, it will take about 6 months for them to completely heal. The good news is that both appear to be on the right track. Elaine spent most of the weekend in pain, but she felt like it was surgery pain, different from her pain before. We are proceeding with cautious optimism and are hopeful that this is the answer to our prayers. Elaine will begin rehab on her shoulder this week, but not on her foot for awhile. It was more complicated with the joint fusion and the metal plate. 

As you can imagine, Fred and Elaine have been very diligent about all of her rehab exercises. She spends four hours a day in a chair that moves her arm in various positions. It doesn't hurt her, and will prevent it from getting stiff and scar tissue building up. It finally feels as if there is light at the end of the tunnel with pain relief in sight! We continue to hope and pray that these will be the answers. Fred and Elaine, on different levels, have worked tirelessly over the past 20 months to find answers and continue her recovery. They have come so far and have not given up on each other or lost hope. There have been dark days and even weeks, but today, Elaine is walking without any assistance, without a swollen foot and looking as beautiful as ever. I don't know a more dedicated person in the world than Fred has been to Elaine. I also don't know a person that has been more committed to getting better, despite the numerous setbacks, than Elaine. They greet each day grateful to have each other and ready to tackle whatever obstacles come their way. Its an inspiration to watch!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Elaine's Surgery Update

Another Friday, another surgery. We were back at Newport Orthopedic Institute for another procedure. This was the second attempt to ease the pain in Elaine's shoulder. The surgeon was hoping that her rotator cuff wasn't torn, but he wouldn't know until he was in there. Fortunately, once the incision was made it was confirmed that there was no tear and the surgeon could focus on reshaping the ball and socket joint to reduce bone on bone friction (and reduce the discomfort in the process).

Elaine showed up early this morning to check in. She, as usual, had a great attitude and was ready for some serious relief. This paints a pretty good picture of her attitude. Elaine's biggest concern was, "Please make sure they don't ruin my eyelashes!"

Elaine headed home at around noon following an approximately 90 minute procedure. She has been in some pretty serious pain all day. It is worth repeating that Elaine is easily the toughest person on the planet. She is taking this surgery head on as she has with every obstacle that she has faced over the past two years. It also bears repeating that Fred is the other toughest person on the earth. Despite the fact that he hasn't been sleeping because of pain in his legs, he was up and upbeat this morning ready to cheer on the love of his life. He is ready to continue on his doctor duties. He is well versed in giving injections, drawing blood, cleaning wounds. and whatever else is asked of him!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Today is Elaine's 62nd birthday. We promised her last year, that next year would be a better birthday. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. We are certain that next year will be! It just has to be! Elaine has spent the last week basically in bed. She is restricted to her bed for another week and half. She gets up and hobbles around, but she is in tremendous pain. As many can probably relate, foot surgery is a nightmare. We don't have a timetable as to when she will be feeling better, or out of pain. The one thing we do know, her foot looks much better! We had a birthday celebration at their house tonight. Nurse Fred, and Elaine's stomach, have finally been given a reprieve from giving her blood thickening injections in her abdomen. His duties have not stopped though. Fred has to change her bandages and clean her wound every morning and before bed. We were there tonight to watch it, and were able to peek at her foot. We never doubted Elaine's pain, but after looking at her foot, you understand why she is so miserable. She has a giant incision from where they put the metal plate in and fused the joint, and shaved the bunion,  as well as another incision on her second toe where they shaved the bone that was growing. It is swollen, but it is straight. You can see when she takes a step, that she is able to bend her knee now too. Although she can't bear much weight on her foot, you can see that she is more stable and balanced. It helps Elaine know that this will all be worth it in the end.

I marvel at the connection my parents have and their undying love and dedication to each other. Throughout their lifetime, they have been through some major health scares and the most devastating thing anyone could experience, the loss of a child. I have watched first hand the hell they have been through the last 19 months. Elaine and Fred have worked tirelessly to explore every option, and both been committed to getting Elaine better. Elaine has worked harder than any person I know, and has experienced setbacks that aren't fair or deserved. Fred has been by her side every single step of the way, holding her hand, encouraging her, beating down doors looking for answers. He has battled prostate cancer during this whole ordeal and hasn't complained, always gaining strength from what Elaine is going through. The saying goes, "God doesn't give you more that you can handle." I think they are at their  breaking point and need some good luck to swing their way. Its easy to say how lucky they are to have each other, that they are both alive, that they are in a position to afford health care.  All of that is true, but the one thing that gets them through each day is the love that they share for each other. Over the last 7 days, I don't think a night has passed where they have slept for more than 2 hours straight. Elaine's coumadin level is bouncing around again for no reason at all. Fred's having the worst leg cramps he's had in years over the last month.

As I looked at my mom tonight at dinner, my heart just broke for her and for all the pain she is going through and has gone through. I gave my dad an extra big hug tonight, knowing his heart is breaking watching the love of his life in so much pain. We all believe that the end result, which we hope and pray will be sooner rather than later, is going to be a better life for Elaine. So, it wasn't the birthday Elaine planned on. It wasn't what she ever thought turning 62 would be. There is no stronger woman or man on the earth than Fred and Elaine. We have so much love, respect and admiration for them. In the words of Alice in Wonderland, it was a very unbirthday to Elaine this year, but we know it will get better!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Another Hurdle Cleared

After bearing with the pain for far longer than any of us could and dealing stoically with the delay caused by an unexpected fever last week, Elaine was back at the doctor this morning for a surgery on her foot to fix the bunion on her left foot. For those of you who didn't know about this, Elaine has had a bunion on her foot for some time. More recently, it has developed into a truly debilitating condition. She was having all kinds of trouble even walking around. Eventually, she actually cut a hole in her shoe to give Chester (her name for the bunion) some space and give herself some relief. The time arrived when the home remedies were not going to solve the problem bringing us to the events of this morning.

As usual, she handled the pre-op with grace and maybe some slight embarrassment as Fred felt the need to show the entire medical staff how he dances and sings whenever Elaine is feeling the blues. Everyone was impressed. The surgery was an apparent success. The doctor was able to realign Elaine's toes, install a plate to make sure they stay there, and get her home all in one day. The image below shows Elaine's new hardware.


She was in good spirits in post-op and looking forward to a major reduction in pain. We want to take this opportunity to once again say how proud we are of Elaine and how impressed we are with her pain tolerance and toughness. Elaine continues to prove just how amazing she is. We know that she will work hard through her rehab over the next couple weeks and that there is another light at the end of another tunnel that she will fly right through.

(There were plans to do some work on her left shoulder, but the doctor decided to wait until the foot is fully healed before working on another area.)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Post Op: Back at home

"We've only just begun!" That was the refrain from Elaine today from the moment she woke up. She is feeling better physically with every passing minute. More importantly, she is ready to move on with her life and she is so optimistic about her recovery. The nurse was calling Karen Carpenter (incidentally, that was what Elaine's dad always called her).

It has been a long week and Elaine is certainly still in some pain from the surgery and she is undoubtedly tired from her ordeal, but she has the best attitude about getting her life back. It has been a tough several weeks with her pinched nerve and incredible pain. She looks forward to when she can get back to living her life (relatively) pain free.

Elaine arrived at the house with Staci to a very excited welcoming committee of Fred, Brian, Christi, Taylor and Ben. The kids were so happy to see Nammie out of the hospital. She looked absolutely beautiful when she got back home.

We will keep you reasonably updated her on recovery. Elaine's optimism is infectious and we are excited for her continue her journey with considerably less pain!

Thank you to all of you for your thoughts and prayers!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Post-Op Update

Elaine had a restless night in the hospital. She had a neighbor a few rooms over that couldn't figure out where she was or why she was in pain. It made for a sleepless night in the hospital. The Doctor decided to keep her another night. Elaine is doing very well, but with her needing to start her Coumadin today, he felt it was important to keep her in for another night to watch it. While the risks were unlikely, they were serious and we all agreed it was for the best.

As the day wore on, Elaine began to swell on the opposite side of her incision. The doctor was relieved that it wasn't where he cut, but felt it was best to do a CT scan. As we began to notice the swelling, we were very thankful to be at the hospital. Fortunately the CT scan was clear, and apparently due to the position they put her in during surgery. They pulled and strapped her shoulder down low and tight, and had her neck up up. The more we learn and surgery, the less we really want to know what goes on in the OR! The bonus to the CT scan was that the doctor had a sneak peak at her disc replacement. He said everything looked perfect and he was very pleased. This was great news of course. We are very hopeful that Elaine will come home tomorrow, but that decision will be made tomorrow.

All in all, it was a great day. Elaine is still feeling some aches and pains from surgery. She is such a trooper though. She makes herself get up and walk, doesn't need prodding from the nursing staff. They have quickly learned too that when she decides she wants to walk, we are going to get her up and walk. We don't wait for them to get in there. I guess after 13 months of practice, both Fred and Staci are very capable and confident of getting Elaine out of bed and unplugging what needs to be unplugged, and walking. Elaine can't be kept down, and she continues to amaze us with her strength. No one can believe her attitude - clearly they haven't met Elaine before. They are inspired by all that she has been through and her continuous will to fight. They adore the family support she has as well, and the love story that is Fred and Elaine.

We don't anticipate having an idea on the actual success of the surgery for at least another week or so, but all signs are pointing towards at least some success. We will take any relief that we can get for her, and continue to hope and pray for more and more each day!