This weekend marked six week’s since my surgery. I am at the half way mark of the driving restriction (if my vision returns to normal in that time), and I am much more independent around the house, even cooking my first dinner last night with some assistance from my mum, whom has come up to stay a little while and help out. I am independent enough to be causing her some frustration at not being allowed to help out too much. Every little bit helps though, and having her here means Jason has returned to work full-time and can catch up on his projects and have a break from caring duties. He has been nothing short of amazing.
At the six-week mark, I am now walking 2.2 kilometers each day, making my own breakfast and lunches and helping with dinner. When we first returned home and started little wobbles (walks) outside, I could only manage 0.7 km laps up the street and back. I have increased my pace sufficiently to now be getting breathless, indicating I am actually getting some cardiovascular benefits. I’m kinda pleased with the rate of improvement in only two and a half weeks since returning home. Our townhouse is quite large so moving around it has also meant a huge increase in the amount of walking and navigating I do, which all goes to help with endurance and confidence.
I have not yet gone walking outside by myself but am feeling more stable within myself and am having days where my leg weakness isn’t a restriction. I am hopeful of being able to take myself on an un-escorted walk soon; although, I am acutely aware that my restricted vision still provides limitations as demonstrated on our most recent walk around the neighbourhood. Jason and I headed out and decided to try a longer route. We were walking down a street previously unexplored, heading toward Stephens road, as it is ideal for a walk, running parallel to the MacDonnell Ranges. Excellent walking surfaces with exceptional views, what more could we want? So, we were walking down a little residential street, when out of the blue, a large, unhappy dog began snarling, growling, barking and trying to bite me from under its owner’s fence. I will attempt to explain how my lack of vision made this scenario so much worse for both Jason and me.
Jason was walking on my left hand side, as we are building my confidence by not having him on the blind side. The grumpy dog was on my right hand side so when it went ballistic, I couldn’t see it. The first I knew of any problem was the noise, followed by the slightest hint of frenzied activity at the very bottom of the field of vision of my left eye. I didn’t have time to think, my brain went immediately into fight or flight response, and I kid you not when I say that I leapt into the air and began to climb Jason as though he were a tree. I actually had both feet off the ground in my attempt to get away from whatever was attacking me. Of course poor Jase also had a scare so was leaping in his own fear.
A few seconds later, I was able to recognise the sounds of a dog and look at it and assess the risk. The poor dog, presumably out of boredom or a desire to taste human flesh, had dug a hole beneath the fence to the street and was straining to escape whilst snarling and barking. I cannot stress enough how much of a fright it gave me. I asked Jason if getting my heart rate going so fast counted as a work out. He made me finish my walk.
As we were coming home (along a different street), I asked Jason if it was the dog or me trying to climb him that had provided his scare. He replied, “I don’t know. All I know is I was scared!” Relaying this tale to my mum upon our safe arrival home, I told her that if we go walking that way again, “I’m taking a lamb chop as a peace-offering”.
Anyway, I am off to see my local physiotherapist this week to talk about accessing hydrotherapy in town and see if there are any exercises I could be doing to get my jaw muscle moving better. I tried to eat an apple the other day and failed miserably, barely breaking the skin. Whilst I don’t mind eating an apple with a knife, I’d much rather have the strength and range of movement of a normal jaw.
Whilst I am not pushing myself extra hard on the exercise front, I feel as though I am healing and recovering well. The neurosurgeon is in town at the end of the week doing an outpatients clinic at the Alice Springs Hospital and I will be seeing her on Thursday for a routine six-week postoperative follow up. My wound is mostly a well-healed scar with only one section having opened up a little to form a redder wider scar. All the stitches are out and the swelling in my forehead has reduced to the point that I can clearly feel the screw there holding in the skull flap removed during the op. I still have swelling of the face beside my right eye. I have been sleeping upright since the surgery due to all the swelling but last night thought I would try sleeping flat. The first time I tried to do this was when I left hospital and my head immediately felt horrible, thus I abandoned the idea. Last night my head felt ok resting on a pillow although not on the surgery side. This morning however, I woke with an egg of swelling beside my eye; something to mention to the surgeon.
I am able to read a lot more at this juncture although I do need to be careful so as to not over do it, as I had a rather unfortunate vomit episode the other night involving a lovely soak in a hot bath. It turns out that if I read enough to make me feel dizzy, laying in a bath without my eye patch on, with flickering light from candles and rippling water, makes me rather unwell.
Despite the moments of fingers curling making my left hand useless, the continuing double vision and patch wearing, and moments of boredom, I think I am doing rather well. Six weeks and counting.