Posted on November 27, 2013Thank you all for your patience! Here is my update from the last few days,
Ryan had just gone into the elevator and the doors closed and he went down into the operating room, and will be sharing his perspective on this in a later update as I feel it best to come from him. I posted earlier about my experience during this time, and it has been quite a whirl wind since my last post so I wanted to update you all on these last few days.
At almost 1pm they finally wheeled Ryan on his hospital bed back into his room. He was fairly disoriented from the anesthetic but it was wearing off enough for him to talk a little the nurses had him hooked up to an IV with pain killers and out of his neck was a small tube that ran to a bottle holding some blood. This was to help the site of the incision drain while it was healing.
As they were getting him settled he grabbed my hand and held it tight and said I love you...I missed you. Then he also reached out for Eldons hand and gave it a big squeeze. He looked quite nasseous and then he told me he was going to throw up. I told the nurse and she quickly switched the bag of pain killers to an anti nasseant to help settle his stomach. As the drip started working I just kept encouraging him to try to keep from throwing up and like a champ he managed to fight it off. He was in a lot of pain because they had to switch out the drip but as soon as the nurse switch the pain killers back it started to at least take him from an 9 pain level down to a 6.
Over the next few hours he would wake up ask a question and then fall back asleep, sometimes just to wake up a few mins later to ask the same question. I did my best to answer him "how long was I in surgery, how much can I move my neck" and one of the questions he kept asking was how did the surgery go? At this point the surgeon was still operating on his next patient but I knew if there wasn't a doctor in the room chances are it went well. His pain was still quite high so the nurses gave him a tablet to swallow which was difficult but he managed.
About 4 hrs later Ryan was staying awake for a few mins at a time and we were able to talk a little. He hadn't let go of my hand at all and I couldn't believe how hard he was squeezing it since he was asleep for most of that time. Suddenly he felt quite nauseous again, I think the medication had worn off but later the nurses explained it is very common to throw up after surgery. I managed to get him on his side and help him brace his neck so he could throw up in these special plastic bags they have for such an occasion. I just kept rubbing his back and saying its ok your doing good just keep going its almost all gone. A few tears streamed down his cheeks and once he had finished throwing up he started to cry. I asked him if he was ok and he said these words that I will never forget "I am in so much pain right now, more pain than I have ever been in and I am laying here so grateful...so thankful because even though I just had a surgery - I can not feel that same grinding, chronic pain I have had in my neck these last 4 years." At this point I had not cried yet today because I just felt Gods strength and peace and I had to be strong for Ryan, but that was it for me, and I cried.
Eldon shed some tears with us and then prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for this miracle.
In the next few hours Ryan slept again and managed to drink some water, although this was difficult because for the surgery he had been intubated but more importantly the surgeon had to cut through the front of his neck and move everything to the side to get to the spine. The nurse gave him an "ice lick" which we now know is a freezee! Coca cola flavoured :) These ice licks became very important to Ryans recovery because they actually help reduce swelling in the throat.
Then at about 6 hrs after surgery to our amazement the nurse came in and was going to help Ryan sit up. And he did by himself! This allowed him to get a bit more comfortable on the bed but also made him quite nauseous so he threw up again. You'll see this is pattern.
Much later on the surgeon, Dr. Illerhaus, and our liaison Ken Hiebert, came to Ryan's hospital room to discuss the details of the surgery.
Ken had his iPhone with him as he had been taking pictures of the surgery. So Dr. Illerhaus went through the surgery which was quite incredible until he said "this part will be a bit bloody" and before I could look away there was a picture of Ryan's neck wide open blah! I managed to keep it together which I think is another miracle we can jot down from this whole ordeal! Dr Illerhaus basically said they were able to accomplish everything they wanted to with no complications! He even said Ryan could try standing tomorrow! This was an even bigger miracle! Ken, jokingly said "seeing what he did to fix you he can fix anything!"
I stayed overnight with Ryan to make sure he was ok. The nurse was so sweet and brought me a pillow and blanket - and that is when the blue reclining chair in the corner of Ryan's room became my home. He did well through the night until about 2am he woke up - we talked for about an hour while I rubbed his feet. I told him I was so proud of him, he was so strong and courageous. He fought through the pain and let his faith lead him through it all.
Friday morning Ryan woke up in a lot of pain, at about 5:30am so I pressed the red button and the nurse came to give him his pain killers. Ryan's throat had really swollen up as well and was very sore which caused his voice to change. After she left he insisted on standing up and going to the bathroom on his own rather than in the bottle thing they game him. I cautiously helped him stand and he shuffled to the bathroom and shut the door. Well he got back to his bed safely and then promptly threw up again. But he said and I quote "success! It was worth it" apparently peeing in a bottle is worse than throwing up.
Around 8am the Head Doctor for that wing came to check on Ryan - he was full of smiles and very personable. He asked Ryan a series of questions and then came to the conclusion after reviewing Ryan's chart that the anasegiologist had been " a little stingy with the painkillers... Because how do you say... You are a whole lot of man" And upped the painkillers to every 4 hrs instead of every 6. Ryan was very pleased with the doctors comment :)
Over the next several days Ryan had shots twice daily to fight infection, as well as blood tests for inflammation and infection. The nurses always did their best to make sure this wasn't to uncomfortable for him.
The rest of Friday went ok, he was able to eat a little bit and sat up a few times. His stomach had settled down up until the nurse came to take him for his post surgery X-rays. He was wheeled to the X-ray room in a wheelchair and was doing pretty well until she had to backup the chair and the motion was a bit much and up came lunch in front of 6 people. But again Ryan just stayed positive and didn't let it get him down - though he ll admit he was rather embarrassed.
But a couple hours later Ryan had one of his proudest moments when the physiotherapist came in to give him a light massage on the surrounding muscles and help him start to walk. Much to our amazement and joy Ryan stood up and started taking his first steps out of his hospital room and into the hallway. He walked all the way around the ward and back to his room as I walked in front of him to try and get some video footage of this grand event and the physio went over the things he should do when he walks. This was by far the SLOWEST i have ever seen Ryan walk, which as anyone knows he always speed walks everywhere but by far his proudest walk. On completion of this 2min treck he did NOT throw up! Yeah :)
Friday night was ok, I stayed over at the hospital again - we both slept a few hours at a time and he was able to sleep ok because of the adjusted painkillers and sleeping pill.
Saturday morning came with a lot of discomfort for Ryan but also the news we had been wanting. The head doctor was back with his big smile and big hand shake having just reviewed the post surgery X-ray from yesterday. He said it was perfect! When he left the room we just held hands and thanked God for all he has done for us.
Later in the morning since Ryan could stand fairly stable he took his first shower! He felt so much better after being cleaned up, had his "blood bag" that was draining his wound taken off and a fresh bandage put on.
The rest of Saturday he did a combination of eating, sleeping, relaxing and walking -
Saturday night Eldon offered to stay with Ryan for the evening so that I could have a night sleeping in a bed. The boys had a bit of a rough night as there were some loud noises and Ryan wanted to try sleeping without a sleeping pill. He ended up doing a few laps listening to music and praying at 5:30am which was actually a peaceful time for him.
Sunday was a great day for Ryan - not necessarly pain wise but because him and Eldon figured out a way to get NFL network on his tablet - this was a praise report and much needed miracle of encouragement for Ryan! God knows our needs ;) later that evening Eldon had come back from the village market with some pizza and visited with us before he said an encouraging prayer over us and said his good byes. Then he headed to the train station to begin his adventure back to Winnipeg.
Sunday night I stayed with Ryan again. The swelling in his throat causes him to gasp for air in his sleep which wakes him up, I discovered that day if he sleeps on his side he is actually more comfortable and doesn't choke on the air. I stayed up most of the night gently helping him move back onto his side if he started to gasp and he managed to sleep for almost 3 hrs at a time during the night and early morning. He was looking a lot more rested on Monday morning, and had a lot less discomfort in his throat than previous mornings.
Monday was good, he did a lot more walking and was able to watch the Broncos Game. I slept for a couple hours in my chair in the midafternoon which was great. Then we got to meet with Dr. Illerhaus - the surgeon who performed Ryan's surgery - which was great. He stated he was very pleased with the results and speed of recovery so far and suggested Ryan be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday. He also went over a few things necessary for Ryans recovery and a few cautions specific to movement and suggested a neck collar for traveling ect.
Monday evening I went to the hotel and Ryan had his first night on his own.
Tuesday Ryan was released and we said our good byes to all the amazing staff there. We are currently waiting to hear more details regarding Ryans recovery plan for massage while we are here. It is very important to Ryans recovery that he continues to rest, manage his pain and practises walking. The hotel is perfect for this as it is very quite here, they have nice hallways for walking and are located very close to the village square which is also nice for walking. The staff here is so helpful and sweet, and they have a wonderful breakfast and a little fridge and stove top so I can keep food here for meals. Tuesday evening after a much needed 3 hr nap we walked into the village to look at the Christmas Market which was beautiful.
Ryan's prayer request and update is he is currently still experiencing a great deal of muscular pain from the waist up, and structural pain - because they have reconstructed his whole neck causing his body to have to create new muscle memory and stretch farther than they ever have these last 4 years. Some other symptoms Ryan is battling are numbness of the under chin down along his throat, as well as a good deal of difficulty breathing, swallowing and talking. His voice is off by just a few notes. The doctor says this should return to normal in the coming months but prayer would be appreciated.
Another major prayer request for Ryan is dealing with his ability to stand and walk. Currently he can walk and stand but proper posture and balance take a great deal of concentration and discomfort which causes him to tire quickly. He also has to be conscious of moving his head to quickly or frequently as this can potentially loosen the screws that are holding things in place while the bones fully heal and adhere to the titanium.
We are so blessed by everyone who has been supporting and praying for us. Thank you all for being so understanding of my delayed update and I hope it gives you hope that your prayers are working and we feel Gods hands surrounding us and an immeasurable strength to not just survive these last few days but to grow.
I will leave you with this, we have been able to experience everything we had hoped for from no delays to our flights, to wonderful nurses to the perfect results of the surgery and even the days that followed though extremely difficult his recovery has been better than the doctors expected. Hope is what we started this journey with and we have been blessed with that!
Will update again soon!
Love Jennifer & Ryan