Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hippo Discoveries

In the spirit of loving all things hippo, and as a reminder that this blog is not, in fact, just a platform to keep people updated on my injury/illness status, I'm going to share some lovely hippo art that I've recently discovered!

This first find, adorable hippo greeting cards titled "The Cavorting Hippo," is from Vancouver-based illustrator Rebekah Joy Plett. I'm in love with the line drawing of the hippo beside all of the cards! This pack can be purchased at Rebekah's Etsy shop and 10% of the profits go to a local children's organization. I plan on purchasing a pack to frame and put up in my studio!

The other interesting hippo art I found is from my own employer, Anthropologie! This Flip-Flop Hippo is made entirely from rubber sandals that have washed up on the shores on Kenya and it sells for a whopping $298! I'm not sure I'd use it to decorate my own house, but I'm thrilled that the creators chose to feature my beloved hippo.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Incredible Future of Technology

Hi Everyone! I know I haven't written in a while, but I've been home from the hospital since the day after my last post and I finally have a surgery date - December 21 - so I know when I'll finally be able to join the real world again!! I haven't been writing because I feel like I haven't had much to say - my pain is still pretty much the same as it's been for the past 6 weeks and I've been working on building a tolerance so that I can stand and walk for longer periods of time. Most of my time is still spent lying on my back, but now I get to go out on little field trips so I can go shopping for an hour or pick up my brother from the airport (riding in the backseat, lying down, of course). I've been busy knitting hats and scarves (pretty much all I know how to knit), watching lots of TV, and re-reading Harry Potter for the billionth time, so I'm keeping pretty positive and happy for the most part. However, the reason for this post was not to ramble on about myself, it was to share a very interesting video that I discovered about the future of technology.

This video features the genius Pranav Mistry as he demos and discusses his latest invention, SixthSense technology. It is absolutely astounding! In my wildest dreams I never could have foreseen technology becoming this interactive and accessible. And, though I've always dreamed that I could capture a picture with just the blink of an eye, I never thought we'd come this close... Imagine how this technology could change the world!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update Take 2: My Hospital Adventure

Wow, I didn't realize how long it had been since I last updated everyone on my condition! A LOT has changed, and not so much for the better, so let me get you caught up... After I last wrote, I got an MRI that night and learned that I have a HUGE herniation in my S1 disc - and I mean HUGE! All of the doctors who have looked at it agree that it is enormous and most recommended surgery to most successfully correct the problem. When I first heard this news, I was pretty upset, especially since I'm young, active, and have every intention of using my spinal cord and its discs for a long time to come! However, the next day I went to meet with the orthopedic surgeon and he explained to me (via a slew of comical metaphors) what exactly will take place in the procedure and how it will relieve my pain: It is a microscopic discectomy where they make a very small incision in my back, remove the part of the disc that is pressing on my nerves, and then sew a single internal stitch, leaving barely a mark on my skin. It's an outpatient surgery that takes only 45 minutes and the relief is said to be so instant that I can do backflips out of hospital! So, after hearing all of the details and weighing my options (wait for several more weeks, or maybe months, in extreme pain, and hope that the disc heals itself OR get this quick fix surgery) I opted for the surgery and scheduled it for Tuesday, November 10, 2 weeks from the date that I met with the surgeon. I would have scheduled the surgery for the day after I met the surgeon if I could have, but he was leaving town and couldn't fit me in that quickly, so I grudgingly accepted that I'd have to lie around for another 2 weeks (remember, I'd already been on my back for over a week at this point). In the meantime, I scheduled an epidural injection in an attempt to shrink the disc and hopefully find some relief, even if it was just temporary...

Wednesday, October 28, the day after I met with the surgeon, I had my epidural. I woke up that morning in a tremendous amount of pain. I couldn't stand long enough to put toothpaste on my toothbrush, and I was losing tolerance for the pain and my inactivity. I went into the procedure with high hopes that things would be different on the other end, but I was definitely not prepared for the injection. They sedated me as soon as I got on the table, so for about 30 seconds I was doing great, and then the shots started and I have never felt that much pain in my life. All of the pain I'd been feeling already was intensified as they were sticking needles right into my tender nerves and my body just freaked out. When they were done with the injections (I don't know how many shots there were, it felt like at least 5) I was shaking uncontrollably and hyperventilating and I was pretty much a wreck, but they gave me some more drugs and laid me down until I could recover from the shock of the pain and then, miraculously, I felt nothing! I could sit up straight and I could stand with no pain and I thought, maybe that was worth it after all! And then about an hour later the numbing medicine wore off and the pain meds wore off and I was in the same pain I'd been in when I woke up and my spirits sank. With epidural injections it can take up to 10 days for the steroids to have their full effect, and so I waited, still on my back, still unable to stand, sit or walk, hoping with each new day that the relief would come... and it never did. I could move around a little better than the days leading up to the procedure, but I still couldn't walk for more than 3 minutes and I still couldn't sit at the dinner table to eat my meals. However, my surgery was scheduled and I had a date to look forward to when I knew I'd feel relief.

Wednesday morning, with less than a week to go before surgery, I woke up with a strange pain in my right shoulder, chest, and ribs. I thought I had just slept funny and tried icing my shoulder, hoping the soreness would go away. Instead, as seems to be the trend with my body lately, it got progressively worse throughout the day. By Wednesday night when I was trying to go to bed, my chest felt constricted and I was having trouble taking deep breaths. I thought if I could just fall asleep, maybe I'd wake up and feel better, but I couldn't fall asleep. By 3am I was really starting to get aggravated and I had already had a fit of hyperventilating, so I woke my parents and told them I was worried about the new pains and the breathing issue. They tried to calm me down, thinking maybe it was just a panic attack and I was anxious about the upcoming surgery, but after another hour we finally decided it was time to go to the hospital, so at 4am on Thursday morning, I took a trip to the ER.

At the hospital they ran a bunch of tests and told me it was probably nothing, but I was still in pain and having trouble breathing. They tried giving me pain meds to make me comfortable but nothing was working. They gave me morphine three times and it had no effect on me! So we waited as they poked at me and scanned me and finally, they diagnosed me: I have several small blood clots all over my lungs - pulmonary embolisms! Now things are pretty serious. I was admitted to the hospital and they finally found a pain medicine that I react to. The first day they drew my blood every two hours to check its thickness, and now my right arm could embarrass a junkie. Since blood clots are much more serious than herniated discs, the surgery that I was so looking forward to has been pushed back at least 30 days. I'm on two blood thinners, benadryl (because the pain meds make me itch), and stool softener (because I haven't pooed since I've been in the hospital... in case you were curious). But really, after the initial shock of the diagnosis and learning that I'd need to stay in the hospital for almost a week, things are not so bad. Once we put the blood clots into perspective I realized how lucky it was that I came to the ER. Had I gone to surgery as planned, with no one knowing about the clots, there could have been terrible complications. Now I just need to treat one health problem at a time and keep trying to get back on my feet!

The hospital itself hasn't been so bad, either. I have a nice big private room and someone from my family is here almost all time. We hooked up our Wii to my TV and we've been playing everything from Family Feud and Trivial Pursuit to Mario Kart. My cousin decorated the room with pictures and I've gotten some beautiful flowers that brighten the room and all of the nurses comment on how great it smells in here! I've got my computer with me so I can watch movies and play games, and there's a whole staff of people waiting on me at the press of a button to bring me food or ice or medicine as I need it! Things could be worse! haha... I'm supposed to be discharged tomorrow, pending the results of a few more tests. Other than that, I'm back to taking this one day at a time...

So that's the update, sorry I couldn't give you happier news but I'm in good spirits so you shouldn't worry about me! Thanks for all the well wishes! I hope you're all happy and healthy!