Some people have told me that I look like I was bitten by a vampire; I responded that it was actually a werewolf. The cut on my neck is all puffy--despite religious pre-operative washing with 4% Chlorhexidine Gluconate and another SIX moist towelettes of the same stuff at the hospital (Man, did I itch! That stuff probably took off eight layers of skin!), I still managed to contract a mild infection, and the gash produced some bloody pus when I squeezed it last night (it felt better after I did--I've got a huge Bandaid and antibiotic ointment on it now). Other than that, my recovery has been swift, with little discomfort.
I stayed last Monday night over at Leah and Aaron's, washing at night and in the morning with the CHG solution and then taxiing with Leah to the Inova Fairfax Hospital in the pre-dawn hours for the surgery. Friends go with friends to medical procedures! I got pretty shaky lying there in the prep room waiting for surgery, and I was so glad she was there to calm me down. The staff was all very nice, efficient and pleasant, and the only thing that was really uncomfortable was having the medical tech shove the IV into my dehydrated hand vein. I went off to unconsciousness without a problem, and woke up in the recovery room with a sore throat and raging thirst, but no collar, because with the little metal disk implanted in my neck along with the cadaver bone, it's no longer necessary to be in the old medieval device. They had ice chips handy, and while I was chomping down on those they wheeled in a man who'd just donated a kidney to his wife. They have two little girls, I heard the nursing staff say. Wow. Awesome dude.
They schlepped me up to a room in the Spine Center soon thereafter and I tottered to the toilet with the help of a nurse and was then presented with an enormous sippy cup full of ice water for me to slurp on. Leah told me that my surgeon had talked to her and had been happy with the operation, and he actually showed up by my bedside soon thereafter and told me he wanted me to be doing normal activities, moving my neck as much as possible, going to the gym, etc. Leah had to leave at noon, and Susan and little Theo came in to spend the afternoon with me. Therapy pets are fine, but it's really nice having a therapy baby to cuddle when you are in postoperative pain! Susan and Theo were leaving when Mary showed up to retrieve me at suppertime. By that point, I was ready and able to go home, as my surgeon had promised me (I'd thought he was just being blithely optimistic).
Mary took me back to Rockville, and I went directly to bed. I pretty much stayed there for two days, watching DramaFever on my iPhone and eating ice cream, with one brief foray outside to sit in the sunshine. I took some minimal pain meds every four to six hours, felt weak and mildly sore, but certainly not miserable, and practiced getting safely to and from the bathroom. The bandage came off my neck at midnight on Wednesday and I immediately took a hot shower, and felt way better. My hosts took me out for dinner at the local Silver Diner on Thursday night, and Saturday afternoon Mary's husband and little Faith drove me back to my apartment, where Susan, Steven and Theo brought my mother just half an hour later.
Mums is here until Friday. I showed off my battle scar at church Sunday morning and at trivia yesterday night. I've put five listings on eBay and updated my USAjobs resume, as number-crunching for my taxes was horrifying. Sequestration or not, I need a "real" job with benefits ASAP. I love this area, but it's murderously expensive--last year, I spent more than $2500 on gasoline alone, and $17,000 on just rent and electricity. Medical expenses (in those pre-herniated disc days) were $3000 (heaven and Assurant Health Insurance Company only know how bad they'll be this year--thank God I shelled out for a policy!). Cobbling together all of my little income sources, I may actually have made $30,000 in 2012 (I have yet to total them all; right now I'm looking at about $26,000), but with an estimated $5000+ in federal and state taxes, and tithing, I had left less than $5000 to live on after the aforementioned required outlays. Close to the bone, close to the bone. No way to save for a prospective retirement, or the looming necessity of a new car, certainly. Maybe I should put a Paypal donation button on my blog sidebar...