8/29/11 Recovery Continues
Last Tuesday we drove back down to Phoenix to meet with Dr. Stone and do all the post-op normalities. First up was the all important Doppler to ensure my veins were open and flowing. Having been through this test several times, I laid on the table and tilted my head to both accept the transducer and to see the monitor. I could tell almost instantly that blood was flowing, perhaps even gushing, through the new vein. The technician had a little difficulty identifying the connection points at the top and bottom of the graft, so she had to go and get some help form the radiologist. As she left the room, I closed my eyes and thought this might be the beginning of the end of this ordeal. I texted Kathy who was out in the waiting room, and I felt so relieved and so hopeful that Dr. Stone and this team might, just might, have cleared the path for my health.
I gathered my composure as the technician came back into the room, and she completed a few more tests on me. I got up, and Kathy and I walked somewhat in a daze to the car. Was this really happening? Was something positive being confirmed? We felt a lot of joy and hope as we drove to the second appointment which was to meet Dr. Stone at his office.
We were quite early, but we checked in anyway just in case the Dr. was available. Soon we were chatting with him about how my veins were flowing freely, and he was quick to ask about my MS symptoms. I told him that my gait was improved, I was moving my bowels better, no morning headaches, no cog fog, balance was improved, and it seemed my intolerance for heat was improved. It was 116 degrees in Phoenix that day so I think that test was legitimate.
Then Dr. Stone and I turned to another topic...namely the Mayo Clinic becoming more of a leader in the CCSVI studies. Dr. Stone told me that although he's done hundreds of vein reconstructions before for patients and it's a well established surgery, this was his first known case for Mayo Clinic performing it for the purpose of improving MS symptoms. He was genuinely curious and deep in thought, perhaps even taken aback by the improvements I was reporting in just 11 days since the surgery.
I told Dr. Stone this wasn't placebo. I told him I know what I can and can't do. I told him again that I was a baseball player and I've always been very in tune with my body and I don't fake symptoms or wish for improvements. I reminded him I only used the pain button right after surgery for about 3 hours, then the nurses came and removed the narcotics bag from my IV as they realized I didn't need it. I took no pain medications on leaving the hospital. Yes I have aches and pains from the surgery but nothing I couldn't tolerate. I think I am very honest in assessing my symptoms, and they either have improved or they haven't. He took it all in and engaged me in meaningful discussion about both me and the idea of other MS patients benefitting. We even talked about the idea of ALS, Parkinson's and other neurological challenged people benefitting from the potential relationship between the vascular and neurological divisions of the body. Dr. Stone told me he would have the Mayo Clinic's media department contact me for an interview, and he also told me he wanted me to go back to Dr. Wingerchuck for a full workup in my functions so as to establish a baseline as I recover from surgery and into the future. He really was quite curious about it, but of course reminded me he was a vascular surgeon and there likely wouldn't be any involvement from him unless there were any problems with my new vein or my leg's missing one.
We departed and drove home, feeling really good about the future. We felt like we caught a break. We decided to go to our cabin near Yosemite for the weekend, which we just returned from. It was a little achy and challenging driving 8 hours up and back, and I seemed to develop a bit of an infection in a couple of the surgery wounds, but I'm on antibiotics for a week or so and it seems to have knocked that out. I'm getting up and walking a fair amount in each day, still spending a lot of time with my leg in the air when seated. Of the 15 leg incisions, 13 of them are almost completely healed, while two are having a couple of issues, mostly because they are in tug spots when walking (top of the calf and in the quad/hamstring area). The neck incisions are doing really well.
I am on restrictions until 9/23, 6 weeks post op. Walking only, no swimming or exerting myself.