July 9, 2014

Maybe Bigger Is Better After All

Several posts ago, I wrote about our decision to travel in the RV that we already owned – a Class B Sprinter van.  Although the RV is tiny, we thought we would give it a try and decided that a bigger RV may not be better for us.  Well, we have discovered that when one is recovering from neck surgery, a small RV like ours just does not work.

For many reasons, we decided to check into a hotel when Tim found out that he had to have surgery.  For the next month or more, our home is the Residence Inn by Marriott in Loveland, Colorado.  We are in a studio suite with a king bed, sofa, desk and kitchen, so that we can prepare our own meals.  A hotel certainly wasn’t in our full-time budget, but I guess that’s what an emergency fund is for.  Here’s what led to this decision.

The electric sofa in our RV converts to a surprisingly comfortable bed. However, the only way in and out is at the foot of the bed – you can’t walk around it.  Normally, that’s not a big deal, but after neck surgery, this is a real concern.  Tim cannot BLT – bend, lift or twist – and getting in and out of the RV bed would create an unacceptable strain on his neck.  Staying in the RV was just not worth the chance of slowing down the healing process or even creating additional problems.  Strike one!

Our tiny wet bath with its built-in shower is also an issue.  Manipulating in the shower without bending or twisting would be difficult, if not impossible.  Campground showers, which we frequently use, are not the most sanitary places, especially after surgery, and they didn’t seem to be a good option.  Strike two!

Tim’s activity is extremely restricted for the month following surgery – he cannot drive, and even sitting in a car as a passenger is to be minimized for the next three weeks.  He is supposed to lie down when he is not up and around (which he’s supposed to ease into).  Sitting is not advised.  These restrictions do not lend themselves to staying inside a small RV like ours for a month.  Strike three!

Since the surgery happened so quickly, we didn’t have much time to find a place to stay.  We looked for short-term and vacation rentals, but most were already rented for the summer.  The ones we did find were either extremely expensive or not pet-friendly.  We finally settled on an extended stay hotel.  However, even finding a hotel that had availability and that would accept a cat was a challenge.  We therefore considered ourselves fortunate to check into the Residence Inn on the day of Tim’s surgery, and we’ve been here for the last week.  Tim is very comfortable here and is able to follow doctor’s orders.  The kitty has also adjusted to her new surroundings.

Our Temporary Home

Kitty Makes Sure Tim Follows Doctor's Orders

Tim’s first follow-up appointment is on July 29, and he then will have twelve sessions of physical therapy to look forward to.  It appears that we’ll be in the Loveland area for the rest of the summer, and possibly into the first two weeks of September.  Northern Colorado is known for its excellent medical facilities, including physical therapy, so it only makes sense to stay here.  It’s certainly not where we planned to spend our summer, but one does what one has to do.  The only thing that’s important is that Tim gets better.

July 6, 2014

We Interrupt This (Ir)regular Blog Post...

I know it’s been ages since the last blog post, and I apologize, but I do have somewhat of an excuse.  I will continue to catch up on what happened after we listed our house for sale, but first I need to give you a quick update about what’s been going on lately.  You see, Tim had to have surgery.  Yes, surgery!  It’s been a bit of a setback for us, but he’s doing well and is recovering in Loveland, Colorado.

A few weeks ago, Tim started to experience pain in his neck and shoulders, as well as tingling in his left arm and fingers.  He soon recognized the symptoms as nerve pain resulting from a pinched or irritated nerve root in his spinal cord.  You see, he had a similar issue about eight years ago that resulted in surgery.

As the pain continued to increase, Tim realized that he would have to do something about it.  On Monday afternoon, June 23, he contacted the surgeon who saved his life during his cancer surgeries, and she and her nurse went out of their way to schedule an MRI and an appointment with a neurosurgeon.  Amazingly, all of this took place within a period of just two days.  We quickly returned to Loveland for the MRI on Wednesday morning, and then met with the neurosurgeon that same afternoon.  The verdict – surgery was really the only option to correct the problem.

Surgery was scheduled for the following Tuesday, July 1, and we left Loveland on Friday with a supply of pain pills, to attend Tim’s high school reunion in Fort Morgan, Colorado.  (I’ll write about our great weekend there in a future post.)  We returned to Loveland on Sunday night, and Tim checked into the Medical Center of the Rockies on Tuesday.

The neurosurgeon performed a posterior cervical discectomy to remove pressure from the nerve root in Tim’s spine.  Surgery went well, and Tim was only on the operating table for 27 minutes.  He was moved to a hospital room, where he stayed for observation for two nights.  

Medical Center of the Rockies is a great hospital and is Tim’s hospital of choice in Northern Colorado.  We were so fortunate that we were still in Colorado and could return to Loveland for the surgery.  We were surprised to find out that MCR is a pet-friendly hospital, and Kitty was able to visit with Tim.

Therapy Kitty Has a Great Bedside Manner

Although Tim is still in a lot of pain at the incision site, the nerve pain has virtually disappeared, and he has started to regain more strength in his arm.  We are expecting his recovery to go smoothly.  I’ll write about that and the issues we’re dealing with in the next post.