My alarm went off at 5am, after silencing it and turning on the light I opened my nightstand drawer and got my glasses out. I put them in the drawer because I have knocked them off of the nightstand and finding them was a major undertaking when I could still walk because of how little I can see without them, not to mention how big a problem it would be now that I canít walk and get out of the bed and pat around on the floor to find them. As I began to transfer to my chair in noticed that I could feel the covers on my legs, I sat myself up and threw off the covers so that I could see my legs. I attempted to move them and found that about all I could do was move my foot and toes a little and roll my legs from side to side with considerable effort. ĎThat wonít last longí I thought to myself as I swung myself into my wheelchair and using my hands placed my feet on the footrest. I noticed that my feet could feel that the footrest was a little cold, this too would soon never happen again.
After picking up my overnight collection bag I rolled to the bathroom to do my morning routine. Because of the medication that has been paralyzing my lower body, I have lost all control of my bodily functions; thus, I am incontinent and must use a catheter or adult diapers at all times. I have chosen to use the catheter because I dribble pretty consistently and without the catheter I would be sitting in a wet diaper all the time. Depending on what I am wearing I attach a small collection bag or clamp the catheter with a small clamp, in either case, I have to visit the restroom every couple of hours to empty the bag or myself. At night I always use a large collection bag sitting on the floor next to my bed so that I donít have to get up in the middle of the night. Today is bowel day so I transfer to the toilet and proceed to take care of this requirement. Iíve been very lucky in that I can usually cause a bowel movement by massaging my belly and sure enough that takes care of the process this morning and in just a few minutes Iím done and ready to continue my routine. I transfer back to my chair, wash my face brush my hair and teeth and then do my makeup. I donít use a lot of makeup, especially around my eyes because with my glasses on it doesnít show up very well. I do have some makeup glasses that I use to help do what little I do to my eyes; they are a pair of glasses that allow the lenses to flip down so that I can see with one eye as I do the makeup on the other. They were originally a pair of over the counter magnifiers that are available in the makeup department of many stores. My mom, also very nearsighted although not quite as bad as me, got the idea from somewhere, so when I started using makeup and couldnít see my eyes without my glasses she got a pair and had our optition put lenses with my prescription in them. I have had to have the lenses changed several times as my prescription has gotten stronger but I love them as they really do work well for me.
Makeup done, I rolled back into my room to get dressed. I had decided that I would only wear a pair of shorts, a tee shirt and flip-flops for the ride to the clinic. I didnít even bother putting on a bra or panties since I would have to remove all of them as soon as I got to the clinic. After I had slipped on my clothes I rolled out to the kitchen to meet my parents and head to the clinic, they had just gotten to the kitchen and were pouring themselves travel mugs of coffee. We headed to the garage, I transferred into the front seat of dadís car, I canít get into the back seat very easily by myself so most of the time I sit in front and mom sits in the back when we go places in dadís car. We set out to the clinic, arriving there at about ten minutes to six. The nurse at the desk told us that everything was ready for me so I could just roll down the hall to room 21 where the nurse that was to prep me for surgery was waiting for me. She suggested that mom and dad wait in the waiting room just across the hall and she would let them know when they could go back and see me. She said that this was necessary because the prep rooms were very small and would be crowded if all of us were in there and besides she said with a grin, boys werenít allowed in there until female patients were completely prepped.
The nurse was in fact ready for me, she was at the nursesí station just across from room 21, as I rolled toward her she looked up, smiled and came to greet me telling me she was ready for me and following me into the room. She asked if I needed help transferring to the gurney that was in the room, she had lowered it down enough that it was no problem for me to transfer myself onto it so I told her that I didnít and proceeded to make the transfer. She moved my chair out of the way and helped me get my clothes off. She told me that before she put a gown on me she needed to run some quick tests and do a visual inspection of my body to be sure that there were no issues that could be a problem. She asked if I minded lying there for just a few minutes while she took care of these things or if I wanted her to cover me up with a sheet. I told her that if it would be easier for her to do what she needed to do with me lying there uncovered that it would be OK with me since it was warm enough in the room that I was not uncomfortable and I was OK with her doing what she needed to do while lying there nude. She proceeded to take my blood pressure, temperature and did an EKG; after that she did a visual inspection of my body including rolling me over to check my back as well. She told me that if there were any sores or infections they needed to know about them ahead of time so that appropriate precautions could be taken. She said that she found to problems at all and picked up a gown and helped me get into it. She even tied the straps in back so that it would stay on properly, she then pulled a sheet over me and called the front desk to tell them that my parents could come back and be with me until I was taken for surgery. She then told me that she would be back in just a moment to setup an IV, she also said that a mild tranquilizer would be given to me through the IV and that the anesthetic for surgery would also be administered through the IV. As she was preparing to leave she told me that she would put my chair in my room which was just down the hall, with that she sat in my chair and I noticed that she picked up her left leg and placed the foot on the footrest just as I would do to both of my legs, it was then that I noticed a metal pole where her ankle should have been. She noticed the look on my face and smiled as she realized what I had seen and told me that she understood my feelings very well and proceeded to pull her pantleg up to display a high-tech artificial leg with no covering on it, she obviously had a short stump as there was a piece of pole above the knee which attached to the socket that held the leg to her stump. She told me that she had had her leg amputated by Dr. Cooke shortly after he amputated Dr. Hamiltonís leg. She also told me that there were several others on staff that had received some form of treatment including various forms of leg and arm amputations and like me paralyzing surgery. With that she started rolling toward the door which opened just before she got to it as my parents and Rob were arriving. She was back in just a few moments and proceeded to start the IV as she had said she would. When she finished with the IV she said that the anesthetist would be by to visit with me and give me the tranquilizer and that Dr. Hamilton would also be in to see me before I went to surgery. With that she left giving my parents, Rob and me a few minutes to visit.
As we were talking I removed my engagement ring and gave it to Rob telling him that he would have the opportunity to place it on my finger again after surgery was over and I was in my room and lucid.
It was not long before the anesthetist rolled into the room, she appeared to be a paraplegic and shortly confirmed that she was. She told us that she was one of the first patients treated at the clinic and that she was very happy that she was able to have it. She gave us a brief rundown on the anesthesia that she would be using, telling us that I would only be out for about 45 minutes to an hour, if that. She said that the surgery would take only about 20 minutes so she didnít want me to be out any longer than necessary. She administered a shot into the IV line telling us that this was the tranquilizer which would relax me a little which was desirable before surgery; then she asked if we had any questions and upon telling her that we didnít she left.
A few minutes later Dr. Hamilton came walking in, she was wearing her peg leg and was in scrubs. She asked if I was ready to go, I told her that I was very ready and very excited that I was about the realize my strongest desires. She then explained exactly how the surgery would be done. She said that I would be rolled down to the OR on the gurney that I was on and transferred to the operating table. I would then be turned over on my stomach and a special pillow would be placed under me to bend me a little and separate the vertebrae a little giving some extra room for the operation. She told us that a device much like a large needle would be inserted into my spinal column between the T6 and T7 vertebrae as if a spinal tap was being performed. This needle would have a laser scalpel in it with which she would sever my spinal cord. She said that they had found that this was the preferred way to sever the spinal cord cleanly without having to do major surgery to get to it. She would then remove the scalpel laser and insert another laser into the needle with which she would destroy a small part of the cord below the cut to insure that no reattachment of the cord sections could occur. This was necessary because the laser made such a clean cut with the two pieces very close together there was some possibility of at least partial reattachment. The needle would then be removed and a small bandage would be placed over the entry point completing the surgical procedure. After that she would wait a few minutes to be sure that there was no leakage before I was turned back over and moved back to the gurney to be taken to the recovery room. If there was any leakage she would then decide if a stitch or two was necessary to close the incision, she told us that stitches were not often need. This should take no more than twenty minutes to complete.
She said that I would only be in recovery for 30 to 40 minutes. By this point I should have awakened, and after they checked me out I would be taken to my room. Dr. Hamilton said that I might be a little groggy for a while but that it would pass fairly quickly. She suggested that if I was groggy I should try and sleep for a little while. She asked if we had any questions, there being none she said that the OR staff would be here to get me very shortly and that she would see me when I arrived in the OR.
Almost immediately after Dr. Hamilton had left the room two ladies in scrubs entered, they advised us that they were here for me so my family should say good-bye and head to the waiting room. Mom & dad each gave me a hug and dad said to ďBreak a legĒ, I smiled and responded, ďNo problem, I wonít feel it.Ē They left and Rob gave me a hug and a very passionate kiss, he smiled and said that he was glad that I was getting to achieve my dream and would see me in an hour or two. I took my glasses off and handed them to Rob with instructions to take really good care of them for me; he smiled and said that of course he would as he knew how dependent I am on them. He left and the two ladies rolled me out into the hall and down toward the OR.
When they rolled me into the OR, I could see nothing but a bunch of blurry shadows, one of them leaned over me and I realized that it was Dr. Hamilton. She told me that I had one last chance to change my mind, I of course told her that there was no way I was going to change my mind so please get started with the procedure so that I could get on with my life. She smiled and said that I had given her the answer she expected but that she had to ask one more time as it was their policy to do so. I was then transferred to the operating table and turned over on my belly; they raised me up and put the pillow under me as she had said that they would. The anesthetist said that she was ready to give me the anesthesia and that is the last thing I remember until I woke up in the recovery room 35 minutes later. The nurse in recovery spoke to me briefly asking how I felt, I told her that I was a little groggy as Dr. Hamilton had said I might be but otherwise I felt fine. She told me that my vitals were perfect and that she would tell Dr. Hamilton that I was awake. A couple of minutes later Dr. Hamilton crutched into the recovery room, she had removed her scrubs and was wearing her usual skirt and blouse. She had my glasses with her; she had just come from the waiting room where she told my family that everything had gone just as planned and that it had only taken about 15 minutes to do the procedure because I had gone under the anesthesia much faster than most. She gave me my glasses and told me that I would be taken to my room. She also said that she didnít expect me to have any problems at all because the procedure had gone very smoothly, she said she would see me later in the afternoon and we would then discuss my release from the clinic.
Dr. Hamilton then did some prick tests to see where I had feeling and where I didnít have feeling. Just as expected, nothing at all below the T6/T7 level and everything else was just fine. While she was doing this she drug her finger up my stomach toward my chest, when she crossed the line to the area where I have feeling the sensation I felt was like fire and was very exhilarating. I had a little bit of that with the anesthesia, but nothing as defined and intense as this was. She told me that when Rob discovered this line on my stomach he would be able to get me very worked up and bring me to an orgasm caressing me there, my breasts and possibly other areas where I still had feeling. She smiled and told me that I might want to let Rob find out about this feeling line without my telling him about it. She also chuckled and said that I might want to wait until after the wedding to allow him access to that part of my body. I smiled back and told her not to worry as he has had absolutely no access to any parts of my body that are normally covered by clothing and wouldnít until after the wedding, but after that it was open access time. She laughed again and said that I was a girl after her own heart and was proud of me for saving myself for marriage and with that she finished up the tests and left.
Right after she left, she nurse disconnected all of the wires and removed the IV from my arm; she then rolled me out of recovery and to my room. She and the floor nurse helped me transfer to my bed and got me settled. The floor nurse asked if I had brought a gown from home that I would like to change into before she let my family know that I was in my room. I told her that I had brought one and that it was in the overnight case I had brought with me but that I didnít know where it was. She told me that it was in the closet and that she would get it. She got the case and brought it to the bed; I asked her to go ahead and open it and get the gown which was right on top. She found the gown right where I said it should be, and put the case back in the closet. She then helped me change into it; this is when I noticed that my legs were much more floppy than they had been when I was on the anesthetic to simulate paralysis. My feet pointed way further down than I had ever seen them, this was really exciting to me because it was proof that I was now a real paraplegic just as I had needed and wanted to be. After helping me change the nurse got me settled in the bed and went to advise my family that they could come in and see me.
They came in and visited with me for a short while, then they left to let me relax and maybe nap for a little while. The first thing that Rob did was put my engagement ring back on my finger, telling me that he still wanted to marry me and could hardly wait until the day of the wedding which was now less than three weeks away. When my parents left, Rob stayed with me. He pulled up a chair near the bed and told me that I should relax and try to sleep so that I would recover faster. I blew him a kiss, closed my eyes and the next thing I knew was being awakened for lunch. I felt much more alert after my nap and enjoyed the meal since I had not eaten since the night before. Rob stayed with me all afternoon to keep me company. About 2pm the nurse rolled my chair into the room and told me that I was welcome to transfer into it and roll around a bit and start re-building my strength. She said that I should not have lost much since I was only under for a very short time and that if I began moving around I would probably not really notice it at all.
I was excited about the opportunity to get out of bed and into my chair. The nurse first helped me put a robe on over my gown, she then instructed me on how to lower the bed to the height that would work best for me to do the transfer. I lowered the bed and then placed the chair in the appropriate spot for the transfer and locked the wheels. In doing this I experienced for the first time the difference in the height of my paralysis. I was a little careless and almost folded over at the waist because I no longer have use of my back and stomach muscles; however, I was able to catch myself and avoid a catastrophe. Chair placed and wheels locked I proceeded to transfer myself into the chair. With both legs still on the bed I got myself fairly well situated in the chair and holding one wheel for support moved first my right leg and then the left to the footrest. Being careful not to lean too far over I apparently misjudged where I placed my right foot on the footrest. Rob who was watching me closely said that I only got the heel of my foot on the footrest, it was barely staying on the footrest until I went to place my left foot next to it and as I did I nudged my right foot with the left causing my right one to fall off of the footrest, it did so in such a way that my ankle turned over and my foot was touching the floor only with the outside edge of my foot. Rob smiled at me and said that it appeared as I had dropped something and pointed to the floor in front of the chair. I looked down to see my foot askew on the floor and broke out laughing as I realized that this is exactly what turned Rob on and also that my ankles seemed to be much more like a ball and socket which would allow them to turn in ways that never had before. I lifted my leg and crossed it over my left and noticed that my toes were pointing straight down at an angle much more severe than previously which confirmed my earlier thought about the amount of rotation possible now from my ankles. I reached to the bed and unhooked the urine bag; placing it on my lap I rolled to the bathroom to empty it. I decided that I wanted to go out into the hall and roll around for a few minutes so after emptying the bag I placed it in my lap under my gown and robe so that it would not be on display, I was now ready to begin my first excursion as a real paraplegic.
As we went down the hall, Rob told me that he had never seen me so radiant and beautiful as I was today; he said that my eyes were sparkling behind my glasses and I looked very relaxed and happy. I responded that in fact I felt very relaxed and happy because I was now what I was supposed to be and felt totally normal for the first time in my life. I felt like I was now the real me.
I stayed in the chair for most of the rest of the afternoon, only getting out of it a couple of times to transfer into one of the chairs in the room so that I could practice my transfers and learn to hold myself up properly when transferring. I also had noticed that I could not hold myself upright any longer and had to consciously work at keeping myself balanced properly. After making the decision that I would be paralyzed at the T6/T7 level I had had my chair slightly modified so that it would be easier to sit up by replacing the back with one that was a little higher and angled back just slightly. I now realized how important those two minor changes were for my ability to sit up and keep my upper body balanced. The chair has clips to hold a seat belt, which I have, and I realized that I would definitely need to attach the belt and have it available for times when I might be likely to fall out of the chair.
Later in the afternoon Angel and Kathy stopped by as they had promised to do, they didnít stay too long but we had a nice conversation while they were there. Angel told me that she had an appointment with Dr. Cook the next morning and that she had decided that she was going to move forward. She said that she knew that she would have to have more sessions with Dr. Cook over the next few months and that she would begin seeing Dr. Cookís husband very soon to begin discussions about her treatment. Angel said that she had been very near a decision for some time but that my moving forward with my surgery had sealed the deal for her. She said that she was a little scared of the surgery but when I went through with it she decided that if I could do it so could she. She also said that Dr. Cook had told her that she like me was going to have to live as she desired to be for several months, when she asked how she was going to do that Dr. Cook told her that they would paralyze her leg so that she could not use it and so that she could fold it up easier due to the muscles being relaxed. Dr. Cook said that they might be able to do her surgery in as little as six months but that was yet to be determined. Angel seemed to be very excited about having made her decision and beginning to move forward toward having her surgery. After about a 45 minute visit they left.
Before I knew it, dinner arrived. I was surprised to see the nurse come into the room with two trays of food. She said that it was their policy to feed whoever was keeping the patient company. She brought the table that slides over the bed to me and lowered it so that I could remain in my chair and have dinner, as she was setting up the table; another nurse entered the room with a table for Rob. She told him that he was to place his chair next to my wheelchair after which she setup the table for him. As the nurses left they said that they hoped that we two ďLove BirdsĒ enjoyed our meal. We did indeed enjoy the meal and being able to have dinner together.
Shortly after the trays were cleared from the room the nurse told Rob that he would need to make himself scarce because visiting hours were about to end and I needed to get a good nightís sleep because I had another big day tomorrow. Rob, being the obedient soul that he is, kissed me goodnight and headed out the door. The nurse told me that I needed to get myself into bed for the night so I proceeded to the bathroom to empty my bag one last time before climbing into bed. The nurse allowed me to transfer myself but stayed very close in case I needed help. As it turned out I didnít need any help but was glad she was there just in case. She suggested that I not try and watch TV but rather turn out the light and try and get a good nightís sleep reiterating that I had a big day tomorrow. Not sure that I understood what was going to make tomorrow such a big day I decided not to worry about it, placed my glasses in the nightstand drawer and lay back to go to sleep. The nurse turned out the lights, except for a low indirect light near the ceiling, and left the room. I guess I was more tired than I realized because the next thing I knew the morning nurse was bringing me a cup of coffee and telling me that it was time to wake up.
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