Monday, May 10, 2021

Unexpected Transition

We live in Tucson between November and April, and in Brier, a Seattle suburb, from May to October. So there's a transition every year as we move between our little places.

Last summer we remodeled our daylight basement in Washington to create a no-stairs apartment for ourselves. The previous year I'd had trouble sometimes negotiating the stairs with a cranky knee. So Art designed a downstairs living space, and he worked with my son James on the remodel. It's a beautiful, warm and welcoming home for us, as well as being ADA compliant. Just what I'd hoped for.

We really thought the remodel was for me.

But last summer, while doing the wiring for the new apartment, Art strained his back. By fall he had to walk bent over to avoid the back pain he experienced when standing straight up. In late fall he had the first of three lumbar epidural injections. The last one, in early April, resulted in weakness in his right leg. Art fell several times. Two CT scans revealed multiple pinched nerves. The pain increased, requiring a trip to the emergency room in Tucson. He'd used a walker for several months to stabilize himself, but by May 1 he preferred a wheelchair. Two days after we returned to Washington we saw his primary care doc, who confirmed Art would need surgery. Four days after that, we met with the neurosurgeon. We're hoping surgery will happen by June.

We're adapting to Art's current disabled state. I'm doing the shopping and cooking, which Art has done for 25 years, plus most of the other tasks of living. Art is learning to maneuver in our apartment, becoming more self sufficient each day. And he has learned to stay ahead of the pain, with tylenol and ibuprofen and a prescription medication. 

We're getting great support from our family. Art's son Jason lives upstairs with his family; he brings the paper and the mail and spends time each day with his dad. His wife Kalei brings down food goodies. Son Peter is a nurse and went with us to see the neurologist, sending a summary email to everyone afterward. Daughter Melissa is a pharmacist and is a wonderful resource. Son Russ in Oregon is also a nurse, and has been very encouraging. Son James, who did the remodel, came over two days ago to install grab bars in the shower and beside the toilet. My sister Alyx is a nurse as well, and she's been actively involved; her husband Virgil flew to Tucson to help Art close up our winter place and then fly home with him, while I drove with a friend for three days to bring the car back. 

Really glad for our new living space, for Art as well as for me.



13 comments:

Olga said...

It is a blessing that you were prepared for Art's needs and what great support from your family. I hope that medical intervention will have good results for Art and for you.

Tom said...

Sorry to know about Art's problems. I've had a pinched nerve before, and I know it not only hurts but can really affect your movement. (Fortunately for me, a temporary neck collar and physical exercise which I still do helped a lot ... but I was only in my 50s when I had the problem.) Glad the house set-up is good, and even more importantly that you have family around to help. Good luck with the surgery -- they work miracle these days!

Janette said...

I am so sorry to hear of his pain. My sister swears by her CBD oil in massage. Inversion tables have helped my brother in law. I hope that surgery relieves the pan and then it is time to get the rest of the back strong (from what I understand). I am SO glad your place in Oregon is up and ready for all of you. I told my brother in law "no, we don't need these grab bars right now---but we will. We plan on living in this house for many, many years."
Transitions are hard enough.... May he heal well and be ready for another winter in Tucson!

Linda Reeder said...

I'm sorry to hear about Art's back issues, but glad that you have so many family resources for help and consultation.
I have had two spine surgeries now, plus a hip replacement. I am still in rehab mode for both and will probably never be as mobile as I was or want to be, but I am relatively pain free, can walk and garden and take care of myself, and handle the stairs and do what I need to do.
For Art, recovery will be better if he is as strong as possible before surgery. Walk.

Barb said...

So sorry to hear this. The best advice I can give on pain management as a severe pain sufferer who is not a medical type is 1. Taking lower meds all the time will be much better than waiting till you feel pain to take them 2. With Dr permission consider gentle massage with or without cannabis oil(you're in a medical state now yes?). The always works better than cbd on skin. Consider sleeping in a recliner or getting one if you don't have it. This is why you made all these changes!@@

DJan said...

Life keeps throwing us these curve balls. I sure do hope Art is able to get that surgery and recover completely from it. And glad to hear you're coping so well, Linda. This is a tough time for many of us, but your new digs seem pretty perfect for this interlude.

Joanne Noragon said...

So good you had the improved facility ready and waiting. A good recovery for Art!

dkzody said...

Be prepared for a long recovery from the surgery as I'm seeing a friend deal with this same thing right now.

Allison said...

The results of spine surgery can be miraculous, my husband has had two. It's a stout recovery, but it does happen over time. My best to both of you, and your most excellent supportive family.

Madeline Hill said...

Sorry to hear of Art’s health issues but so glad you have so many NURSES in the family, good doctors, and family support. I am sure this is a tough transition for you,too, as your daily routines are all up ended! Sending you hugs and support.Keep us posted!

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