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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,196

    Default Hi! Gentoo is alive and kicking!

    Hi there everybody.

    Since chat is down, I thought maybe this is a good place to let my Smartie friends know that I am home from the hospital after my serious neurosurgery on my cervical spine (neck) due to congenital and osteoarthritic degenerative disk disease - narrowing of my spinal canal that protects my spinal cord, (spinal stenosis) and consequent compression of my spinal cord between my neck vertebrae bones C-4,5,6.

    I'll be a non-drinker for 6 years this coming May 3, 2016, thanks to SMART and lots of hard work learning and applying the tools daily, several meetings per week, the Handbook, and some fine facilitators along the way. My biggest success (besides living through this surgery) is that I have not had a single desire to drink through this ordeal. That includes huge neck pain radiating down my arm and numbing my fingers which I suffered since summer 2015. Then, the stressful run-up to this surgery (dozens of pre-admission tests, scary enclosed MRIs, CAT scans, insurance company coverage/co-pay battles daily. And finally, this past week in the hospital (which was originally to be one day), and now convalescing at home, ordered to do absolutely nothing for 6 weeks.

    Wow, 6 years ago that 6 weeks home would have been a "license to drink all day"! Now, NO WAY!

    I am THRILLED! I'm still too weak to walk now. But shortly with a therapist I will start a gentle slow walking program. NO WAY will I be walking into any liquor store!

    So, Smarties, please believe me that it IS possible to be free of alcohol *no matter what* I never believed it when I first came here. That's a fact. But we all can break free. That's a fact too. People do it every day, all over the world. Lots of people do it, here at Smart. And the cool part is that they are happy to share what worked for them and give you some things to think about, if you express that you'd like that.

    Here's more stuff that DID NOT "drive me to drink" ;D

    Complications - surgery was to be 2 hours, turned into 7. Post op problems with my speech and ability to swallow food and drink without aspirating it into my lungs.

    Plan to use my own bone fragments (sawed off bone spurs on my vertebrae) to create artificial discs C4/-5 and C5/6 could not be done. So I have cadaveric bone in there instead.

    Thank you posthumously, generous loving humanitarian who donated their organs/body and allowed me to have spinal bone around my spinal cord, to protect it, as I was born with. Without you, I would be a quadraplegic should I fall or be in a car accident, without sturdy protection of my spinal cord, my doctors said. Now, the hope is that my own bone will fuse with the cadaveric bone, and I will have a near-normal, pain-free spine. That part feels better already!

    I encourage Smarties to be organ donors. It's easily done, with your driver license or I believe a registry on-line that you can find.

    Because of those post op problems with my speech and ability to swallow food and drink without aspirating it into my lungs, getting pneumonia and possibly passing away (REALLY and QUICKLY too, the doctors said), more surgery was scheduled. This was to install a feeding tube into my stomach area with a plug the size of a ball point pen into which I'd have to pour liquid nutrition gruel and insert meds into the hole by hand. To wear clothing in public I'd have to wear a spanx-like abdominal band to sort of hide the pen tube against my body. Then baggy clothes. I'm so vain I guess. This was a seriously traumatic concept for me.

    But working with the speech/swallow specialists very very hard in lots of lessons and relentlessly (privately) practicing in the wee hours with ice cubes and Mr. Gentoo's support and coaching, I was able to fairly master swallowing food and drink in puree form, and avoid the stomach feeding tube. There is a weird special technique to do this swallowing. Would get some shocked looks at a restaurant!

    I have lots of speech and swallow physical therapy plus neck/shoulder physical therapy coming up - at home visits at first and then at a special institute. My voice has been quite affected.

    Likely, I'll have serious plastic surgery to revise the 3" long / 1" thick scar on my neck and the holes from 3 big drainage tubes.

    I'm in a world of pain. I'm taking many many meds, but working carefully with my loving nurse/husband Mr. Gentoo to take all precisely as prescribed. We have an Excel spreadsheet to keep track! My world-renowned neurosurgeon said that I'm not in danger of developing addiction. The meds don't make me feel good or high or anything, which is great. A couple of meds (steroids to reduce the internal swelling of my neck organs) will require a scheduled, timed taper, which the MD gave me in writing.

    One thing that made me nervous is that I had to have two long sessions with psychiatrists to check I was ok mental health-wise to be released, and to review my addiction history (which they know because of the hospital being affiliated with my outpatient rehab center and my primary care physician and addictions medicine psychiatrist).

    My neurosurgery team was concerned that my Adult ADHD symptoms plus depression, and the added anxiety I was suffering (I was very tearful and panicky, alternating between uncharacteristic anger and language, then withdrawing and disconnecting -scary and sort of out-of-control, not myself)) that I may have a mood disorder like bipolar perhaps rapid-cycler type.

    But after the looong bedside sessions with two of their psychs (and they also interviewed Mr. Gentoo thoroughly about my behavior when not in hospital) they concluded that I'm not bipolar for real, but exhibited emotional reactions and characteristics likely attributable to the hosp setting and all the complications, particularly the disfigurement and social aspects I'd have from the stomach feeding tube.

    Also, during my swallowing crisis, I was unable to take my daily antidepressant and ADHD meds because they do not come in IV form. That was about to force me to have the stomach tube, because I was withdrawing from those meds, in emotional distress (particularly, ceaseless crying and incessantly calling God desperately to help me - wow!) and there was no way to give the meds to me. They are uncrushable too, because they are extended-released tabs and aren't available in any other form, like IV or non-extended-release tabs.

    This wasn't considered to be a possibility, because I was scheduled to be home the next day after surgery, with no missed meds doses. So - here is a word to the wise. If you take psych meds, look into this if ever you have surgery. I hope you won't though

    Haha - my hospital "roommates" were a crazy-making factor too, I think. (I was moved to different rooms 3x in the week I was there.) but I'll save a couple of amusing, anonymous anecdotes for later when I can talk to you in chat.

    Thanks to all of you who said a prayer, send a good thought or vibe, and just thought of me while I was gone from SROL. It means so much, you'll never know.

    If you speak to any other Smarties while chat is down, or outside of SROL, please give em a shout-out from me (actually a *w e a k * shout-out that Mr. Gentoo described as 1/3 James Earl Jones, 1/3 Lauren Bacall smoking 2 packs a day with Bogie, and 1/3 Betty Boop!

    <(- )
    ###

    Gentoo with stitches, dozing on meds, eating fish milkshakes, sending her best to all!
    And back to bed. It was hard to type this much, but I truly wanted to say hi and thanks to you all.


    gentoosmart@gmail.com
    It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry. ~ Joe Moore

  2. #2

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    Hey Gentoo

    Glad the op went well. Glad you let us know what is happening.

    Take care

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    1,459

    Default

    All I can say to you is WOW! An amazing story of courage and resiliency. Way to go Gentoo. You are a survivor, and it's not because of luck, it's because of the choices you have made and continue to make. So glad you go through all this. Wishing for you to have a very speedy recovery.

    q7
    "The central human drama is not wanting the experience we are having"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    smack dab where Time begins
    Posts
    14,518

    Default

    Jeez, Loo-ease. Good to hear from you, sorry to hear all the trouble you have had to deal with. I had a bit of C-6 issues a few years ago, left arm down to the little finger side of the hand, it would come and go.

    Strangely enough I found when it got bad if I placed my right hand on my head and turned my head to the right things settled down in a matter of seconds. You do get some remarkable looks in the Food Lion, pushing the cart with your left hand while having the other hand on your head and seemingly staring with vigour at anything on the right side of the aisle.

    Lucky for me, about 6 weeks of PT sorted it.

    For you when you are able to laugh without possible issues a flic with my second favourite Penguin in the role of the baddie. I hope you enjoy it.

    Wherever you go, there you are

  5. #5

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    Hello and hugs to my dear friend and favorite penguin. Calimari salad, sardines and some tasty grilled eel sushi -- all you can eat -- alongside a beautiful dozen virtual roses. How wonderful you are okay and getting through all the crazy twists and turns of hospital stuff.
    Soon you will feel better, and take time to rest during those 6 weeks. Do not rush it -- have a full ( not necessarily speedy) recovery!!!


  6. #6

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    Sending buckets of big squishy squids!

  7. #7

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    Get well soon Gentoo. Your post + presents here at SROL have been extremely helpful to me. You always bring a smile to my face in the chat room. Feel better + see ya later.

  8. #8

    Default

    Hi Gentoo

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    377

    Default

    Glad you are doing well, Gentoo.

  10. #10
    lynn50's Avatar
    lynn50 is online now SMART Chat Volunteer
    Former SMART Meeting Helper
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Kalamazoo MI
    Posts
    490

    Default

    A major surgery would have anybody on edge.
    Glad everything is Ok and that You are on the mend.
    Have fun watching all the movies you couldnt or didnt have time for.
    Prayers for a speedy recovery.
    Karen D. in MI

  11. #11

    Default

    I read the first half of your post, Gentoo. I'll read the second half later.

    I have been a card-carrying organ donor since age 17. It is gratifying to read your story, for an example of the huge benefit a living person got from a donor

    When I'm dead, I have no use for any of my parts. I welcome living people to take what they need from my dead body.

    The way you describe no-urges-or-desires-at-all is the way I have been with smoking for over 4 years; I quit 6 years ago. Ditto marijuana; I quit 9 years ago.

    ... but I am not quite there yet with alcohol and gambling. I will be there in due course; once I quit a thing, it is only a matter of time before the desires and urges disappear completely.

  12. #12

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    Gentoo, thanks for the update. Sounds like quite an ordeal. Glad you are at home now healing. Much love and prayers to you and Mr. Gentoo.

  13. #13

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    http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160...e-animal-world

    Gentoo take a look at this link. There is a Gentoo and baby!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,196

    Default

    Grace, how adorable! Thanks for the smile!
    It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry. ~ Joe Moore

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,196

    Default

    Thanks, Ali. Yes, I'll come around more when Smart chat is available, and I have more energy. I've been resting, sleeping most of the days now.
    It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry. ~ Joe Moore

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Nebraska, USA
    Posts
    115

    Default

    So glad you are on the mend!!

  17. #17

    Default

    Hey Gentoo, glad to hear your recovering/healing, I've been a bit down myself (still drinking but reducing daily) and this post helped boost my mood a bit as for how resilient people can be.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,196

    Default

    Thank you everybody who has sent warm wishes. I have speech therapy starting up this week I hope. Hahaha - Be glad I'm a retired Voice meeting facilitator now! Or maybe not - perhaps it would be, um, memorable!

    Joking aside -

    SMART's 3 P's: Patience, practice, and persistence will serve me well in my speech therapy just as they were touchstones of my quitting drinking almost 6 years ago. That's the cool thing about the SMART tools- they can help us get through anything in life, not just recovery from addiction.

    "Talk" soon,

    Gen

    (' )< "Rubugratxazciklth!" (' )<"Say WHAT?"
    It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry. ~ Joe Moore

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,196

    Default

    barry, thanks for cheering me up today! Glad my post cheered you too!

    Glad you're reducing!

    One idea I have - maybe use our Urge Log (in the Handbook) to record the times when you still give in, few as they are. Are they related to a day of the week? Time of day? Certain place/s where you are? People you're with? Are you hungry, tired, lonely, angry, some other emotion that pops up?

    Then, perhaps look at what you've recorded and see if there are any patterns you can identify. Perhaps it's all about Saturday nights? Being around someone or something stressful? Maybe then, think about what actions you can take to end those last few hurdles keeping your from freedom from addiction.

    Just musings from a mending penguin.

    Whoah - I better get back to resting. Later! Best wishes!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks you Pea
    It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry. ~ Joe Moore

  20. #20

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    664

    Default

    Gentoo,

    I'm glad to get an update and hear about your surgery. You are very brave and resilient! I hope you continue to heal well!


  22. #22

  23. #23

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    Im glad you are on the mend. you are an inspiration. shipping an order of pureed squid for you my pengy friend.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    273

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    Glad it went well. One day at a time and it'll all look better in a few weeks. Can't believe they didn't realize you can have those kind of reactions from a) antidepressant withdrawal, and b) let's just mixed some depressant pain killers with that depression...

    I hope you are able to be back on them now.

    Glad you are home! Hoping this goes quickly.
    FarmGirl

    I do have power!

  25. #25

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    Hi Gentoo,

    I would like to introduce myself, my name is Mary. I am 52 and dealing with spinal stenosis and bipolar. I have come to the assumption that I am becoming addicted or very dependent on the percocets. Qwerty and Chevanne in chat thought I should look you up. I am new here.... 1st day. Am about to withdrawl from my meds as I am out and I am scared. Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself.
    Mary

  26. #26

    Default

    Gentoo!!! Your spirit is inspiring! My best wishes to you. I wish there was a way to donate strength to other people the way we can donate sick days. I would send you some of mine for these next few weeks for sure. Mary, good luck to you.

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