Psalm 121:2 – My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
I wrote recently about my sister who had a serious back surgery and the pain she is fighting through.
She was released from the hospital with a team of people who have been coming to her home to help with physical therapy and learning how to do things differently because she won’t be able to return to normal living.
But now, that help is ending. You can only receive a limited amount of help and hers has run out. She will be referred to regular physical therapy at a rehab gym, but no one will be there for her at home. She is left alone each day while her boyfriend goes to work and that can be scary since she needs help.
And now she is really on her own.
What happens when help runs out?
Questions that my sister has had to answer. And there are no easy answers.
Webmd.com has a couple of good articles on this subject. “How to Plan for Recovery at Home After Surgery,” provides tips on what to do at home after surgery, such as deciding if you need to make changes to your home, stocking up your pantry before surgery with foods with choices your doctor will approve of and those foods that will be easy for you to warm up, making sure you have the right equipment including oxygen tanks, elevated toilets and shower seats. It’s also important to know when you can go back to driving and if and when you can return to work.
Webmd.com also posts the article, “Mistakes After Surgery that Slow Your Recovery,” such as one that my sister struggles with doing too much too soon, staying in bed, and not taking your meds as prescribed.
Equipped with information from both of these articles will go a long way in a successful recovery when help runs out.
Also know, as the Bible verse above says, our help ultimately comes from the Lord and his help will never end. When doubting yourself if you should perform a task after help runs out, ask God to give you wisdom on how to handle each question you try to answer so you will have the best outcome to heal.
1 Samuel 12:24 - But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.
Your heart can dance to a different tune than it’s supposed to.
There’s no way to know what it will do next and its taxing on the heart. This is just a bit of what A Fib, atrial fibrillation, means.
Basically, it’s when the electrical impulses of the heart misfire and make some of the nerves shoot off a round of gunfire within your heart.
A Fib can make you feel uneasy and cause you to be tired. Treatment includes cardiac ablations. I had an ablation for atrial flutter and two for A Fib. The first two tries didn’t work but the third did. Treatment can also include medications that can cause the signals of the heart to calm down. Sometimes. Medication hadn’t worked for me and that’s why I had the three ablations.
A Fib makes your heart quiver (my heart would beat really fast and flutter) or have an irregular heartbeat, (which I had), and can lead to blood clots, stroke,(I had one) heart failure and other heart conditions.
Heart.com, the American Heart Foundation, allows you to watch a video of what happens to the heart during A Fib: https://watchlearnlive.heart.org/index.php?moduleSelect=atrfib
It also shows what happens during normal rhythm: https://watchlearnlive.heart.org/index.php?moduleSelect=atrfib
It can be disconcerting when you experience A Fib, but remember you aren’t alone. A Fib can occur at any age but has a higher percentage of patients who are over forty. Treatment is available that can return your heart to normal rhythm.
If you think you might have symptoms of A Fib, it’s important that you see a physician who can help diagnose and treat atrial fibrillation.
The Bible verse above talks about fearing the LORD and serving him with all your heart. Then it says that we are to think about the great things he has done. Certainly, the procedures that can be done during our time, it’s amazing to watch God guide skilled surgeons to do his work.
Matthew 20:28 - Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
We’ve heard stories of patients who are on the donor list waiting for a transplant. Some have a disease that has been affecting an organ, while others may have been in an accident leaving an organ no longer viable.
A patient may have to wait a long time before the right donor comes along. There are criteria which enables an organ to be acceptable including the right blood type and if the organ is in healthy condition. In addition, there is a donor list of individuals who need organ transplants, and they must wait until their name is at the top of the transplant list.
There is also the family of the donor that comes into play. Even though someone may have consented to be a donor either on their driver’s license or through their Living Will, the family can have trouble letting go. Though the person may be deceased, loved ones may still feel connected to them. This calls for the right kind of counseling to insure the loved ones let go as soon as possible so that the organ has a chance to make it to another who needs it quickly.
I’ve listed some of the steps to giving and receiving a donated organ. Let’s take a closer look at the process of someone receiving a donated organ. Organdonor.gov in their article, “The Deceased Donation Process,” such as registering as a donor, medical care of potential donors and brain death testing.
All of these things come into play. While all of the complications and requirements to receive a donated organ can seem daunting, to give someone a second chance in life, is truly the ultimate gift.
This is what Jesus was talking about in the Bible verse above except he gave his all to give us life. Now we can become donors and give the parts of our bodies to save another’s life and make the recipients whole again. We can be that ransom for many who would die if it wasn’t for the transplant. Please consider becoming a donor.
Mark 5:26 - She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.
Your phone rings. It’s your doctor’s office. They tell you that you’re going to need to have surgery and it’s in-patient.
Though you’re nervous about having the surgery, you’re more concerned about developing a serious infection during your time at the hospital.
A friend of mine recently received one of those calls and needed to be hospitalized for the surgery. The surgery itself went well. However, while recovering she fell and was hurt badly. Then she developed a potent infection to top it off.
Am I even more nervous now about my upcoming hospital stay? Yes! And here’s why I should be nervous.
According to Scientific American in their article, “10 Ways to Stave Off Hospital Superbugs and Other Nasty Germs,” about 100,000 people die every year as a result of a hospital bug. However, hospitalinfection.org in their article, "15 Steps for Protecting Patients," provides us with ways we can do reduce our risks, such as asking hospital staff and visitors to wash their hands before they enter your room.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. The woman in the Bible had spent all she had on doctors, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. It feels like a page out of our own lives even two thousand years later. Take care and follow the steps above if you should need to be in the hospital. We can also take one more step – prayer. I pray before I see a doctor in their office or at the hospital. It gives me a sense of peace and perhaps will help the medical staff treating me to be more careful when it comes to infections.
Matthew 7:25 - The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
After having a surgery, your legs can feel wobbly as you get used to the changes made in your body.
If the surgery was in your neck, you may have some difficulty turning your head.
Aftercare for both surgery patients is to be part of physical therapy.
Physical therapy can be very taxing on your body as you stretch your muscles and use your legs on an exercise bike or treadmill.
But it is important to take seriously your therapy at a fitness center, but also home therapy.
Having surgery places your body with a clean slate. You have a chance to learn how to do things differently, what activities you will have to give up, which ones to keep and learn the right way to do things.
You need to build a new foundation. One that is built upon the rocks of exercise and eating a nutritious diet. This foundation is important. You may want to skip this part and think that you’re okay because you’ve completed your physical therapy.
Just like I said above, you are given a fresh start. It’s up to you how you will build your foundation – will it be built on the rocks of hard work and perseverance or will it be built on the sand of taking the easy way out.
Physical therapy and home exercises can be painful to do. You’ll have to go the extra mile. But if you don’t follow through and build a stronger back or neck, you’re weakness will seep into all areas of your life.
Things will begin to fall apart. Your back will become stiff from not exercising your muscles and your neck won’t turn very much.
But it’s never too late to begin home therapy and exercise. Take it a step at a time and persevere through it.
It is valuable. You are valuable, to your family and to all of the people who are in your life. When you feel like giving up find some ways to motivate yourself from dougkelsey.com in their article, “The One Thing You Must do to Motivate Yourself.”
Life after surgery can be built on a solid foundation. And as the Bible verse above says, when the rain comes down and streams rise in your life and the winds beat against your life, know that God will help you build that firm foundation. Then, you’ll be able to withstand the winds of trials and pain.
Put on those shoes. Let’s go!
1 Corinthians 9:24 - Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Someone I know is getting ready to have a third back surgery. The man has been in so much pain for so long and he’s only forty years old.
He began losing strength in his leg and the inability to stand up straight. After much thought he decided to go back to his surgeon and see what could be done.
But it’s not just a surgery that he’s made a commitment to. He also has to be committed to live his life differently. It’s hard for me to think about his age and then think about the life he’s going to have.
You see the surgery will remove bone fragments, but it won’t be able to restore his back to normal use because this is his third surgery. With each surgery the improvement rate drops.
I think that’s where the rub is – not being able to return to a normal life.
Find a list of things you can do to improve the outcome on spine-health.com in their article, "Practical Advice for Recovering from Back Surgery," such as keep common items close by and avoid bending over too far.
You can find a few things that can compromise the outcome of your surgery from sinicropispine.com, in their article, "4 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Spine Surgery Recovery."
Now that you know what you can do to improve your chance of a successful recovery do so as the Bible verse above says. Run in such a way as to win. Work hard. Give it all you’ve got and God will bless you as you walk through recovery.
Jeremiah 14:19 - Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry.
When living with chronic pain we sometimes wish there was a getaway car to take us to the land of no pain. Yet, most of the time there is no cure; just education on how to live with it.
Along those same lines, people in pain sometimes turn to a surgical solution because they believe there’s the possibility of fixing what’s broken and finding relief.
So which is better, learn to live with the pain, or take that getaway car to the surgery table. You'll find a list of pros and cons from webmd.com when considering surgery in their article, “Back Surgery: Pros and Cons,” such as needing less pain medication and becoming more productive at work. You'll also find the negative aspects such as risk of blood clots and infection.
Other negative factors aren’t just based on the physical, but on the psychological both before surgery and after.
Before surgery there are the basic stressors:
As for the psychological effects after surgery, read the article, on spine-health.com, “Study Finds 20% of Spine Fusion Patients Develop PTSD,” which discusses the relationship between back surgery and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Though at first glance it may look like there are many more negative effects from surgery than positive, with the right information and attitude these effects are less likely to be a problem for surgical candidates.
Even as the Bible verse discusses above, the sounds of a battle cry can create agony and a pounding heart, the news of an upcoming surgery can also be a battle cry. You know the battle will be difficult, but the battle cry also is heard by God and he can calm that pounding heart and give you peace before surgery.
To learn more about the pros and cons of surgery, and PTSD after surgery, choose the two links below.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.