Michael’s Story

Site created on November 9, 2020

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Michael Whalen

Wow, time sure is flying by fast--here it is 4 weeks since my surgery. I have been progressing pretty well. Within a day or two after arriving home  visiting nurse, physical therapist and occupational therapist began coming for rehab work. Each one comes one day a week --the physical therapist has a list of exercises for me to do to keep my muscles active and develop muscle and balance together. The occupational therapist has gone over my living conditions and suggested modifications to the house so I can live independently. The nurse checks over the surgical wounds to make sure no infection is developing.  They are all finishing up this weekend -so I will be on my own. My cousin's husband, Bob Banach'  has stayed with me for two + weeks and has been a great help. He has modified the house with railings, dog feeding stations, bed rails , and has been chief cook and clean up person. Thank You!!  Jim and Cheryl have taken care of Molly for the past 4 weeks and now she is home with me. Cousin Maureen Maher has delivered a number of wonderful meals. Alice Christensen, my medical advisor worked with me in making the final decision on having this procedure. Because of the Covid visitors have been limited.  SO, I have been really well taken of and can function on my own. It is still a long road--another 5 months before  I will be cleared  to live a normal life.

I am wearing this protective shield (turtle shell) for three months--one down already. I wear it for 16 hrs/day and only take it off to sleep or shower.  The only pain that I do have is in the chest and rib area where the thoracic surgeon cracked a rib to bend it out of the way, cut through muscles and move some organs around to open the spinal cord for the neurosurgeon to do his work.  The healing of this area is really the painful part. I actually only get 4 hrs. of sleep a night. Had a virtual conference with him last week and he said I am ahead of schedule, will have to suffer the pain for the next two or three weeks. As far as he is concerned he does not want to see me again. 

The neurosurgeon did wonders. Using micro tools he cut away the disk that surrounds the spinal cord since it had herniated and was pressing against nerves that control muscles to the legs. He replaced it with an artifical disk. He then used a drill to remove 40% of the T9. & T10 vertibral bodies which were also contributing to the problem. He repaired those using a man made material and secured them with a rod and screws It is a wonder that this can be done.  Since there are no nerve endings in this area --no pain.  you would never know that any work was done in this region.  It takes time for this area to heal --6 months of no bending, twisting or lifting .  So, by the time spring gets here ( may) I should have had my covid vaccination and be all ready to be on the go again.

Thank you all for the prayers and get well wishes.  To All  a very Merry Christmas and Happy New year  

Mike

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