This past Friday marked seven weeks post-op and one week free from wearing my neck collar. I was surprised to see how easily the transition went from collar to no collar. I was expecting to have more pain or difficulty holding up my head, but quite to the contrary, I found myself experiencing very little pain or discomfort. My neck feels solid now; it's less rickety with no more of the "crunching" that I used to feel and hear when I moved my head from side to side or up and down. As far as the range of motion, I had been told I would lose about 6º to the left and the right; however, I really can't say that I feel that. And to his credit, the doctor did say that it would be imperceptible. It almost feels like I can turn more than before if you can believe that! I think it's because there is no more pain when I turn my head, although my range of motion is still limited compared to a healthy non-fused neck. I was also able to go for my first massage in almost two months and found that I could comfortably place my head in the padded horseshoe without any discomfort in my neck. Before my surgery, I was always uncomfortable laying on my stomach with my head in the horseshoe, and lifting my head up and out of it after a half hour or so was difficult and painful. I've also been able to get back to driving my car, which is great. So as far as my recovery from surgery, things are going quite well, and I'm really pleased with the progress and the results so far. I've also discovered that the hump I had where my cervical spine meets the thoracic is gone! And, my head is no longer being pitched forward – my posture has improved. That's the good news!
I'm still battling severe IBS symptoms which are at the worst they've ever been. Some of you may already know that I had become dependent on daily enemas for about eight months going back to June of 2018 because of my chronic IBS. After being hospitalized in late January 2019, I was able to kick the habit and had been enema free for about three months, something I was quite proud of. Bowel movements continued to be a challenge, but I was managing to get by. However, recently, I have found myself in a state of crisis and have had to go back to daily enemas. It's disappointing, depressing, and obviously, time-consuming. I had quite enjoyed the extra time that I had when I was enema free, although I was still – and still am – more or less chained to my home to be close to a bathroom. Severe IBS ruins people's lives. I can't tell you how many posts I've read on IBS Facebook groups where people share their very personal "living nightmare" experiences, something I can attest to. Like others on Facebook, I have been driven to suicidal thoughts due to the symptoms of IBS – that's how bad it can get. When it's at its worst, you really do wish you were dead. A new survey found that one in 10 IBS-D sufferers have suicidal thoughts. I'm one of those 10.
AND THE UGLY
I have had several severe emotional breakdowns recently, including one last week that took me over the edge. I was riddled with all sorts of various chronic symptoms such as: joint and muscle pain, abdominal discomfort, extreme bloating, nausea, manifestations of Sjôgren's Syndrome (itchy watery eyes and dry mouth), cramping in my legs and feet, swelling in my legs and feet, hip pain, symptoms of Eosinophilic bronchitis and Eustachian dysfunction (blocked ears) etc. I finally lost it. I was lying face down on the bathroom floor sobbing – my wife Sherrie by my side consoling me as best she could – when I suddenly got up filled with anger, frustration, bitterness, and an overwhelming urge to smash anything in sight. I slammed open one door with my hands, and then ran my shoulder into another door like a hockey player does when checking a player into the boards, essentially breaking down the door. I ended up destroying one of the frames and the latching plate. Imagine? Me, with all of my physical limitations and frailties, ramming my shoulder into a door with no regard for the consequences. I injured my ribs and have been nursing them daily since then, but thankfully, my neck is fine. That's how crazy I got. I went from mild-mannered Bruce Banner to The Incredible Hulk in a matter of seconds. Then I collapsed on my bed and continued sobbing uncontrollably. I had reached my limit. My mind had been warped to the point of reaching a Momentary Lapse of Reason. As a pacifist, I'm against all forms of violence, so I'm not proud of this. But there is only so much a person can take all at once before they go stark raving mad. It just goes to show how much it can affect a person's mental health. I wasn't sure if I should share this episode, but I realized that if I didn't, I would be doing a disservice to anyone following my story. I am committed to sharing the truth as it evolves, no matter how ugly it may get at times.
Thanks for reading.
Patrick 2.0 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man/Incredible Hulk