Saturday, 12 October 2019

While Kate's in surgery

Today’s blog is going to take a different perspective.  I’m going to give you my insight into the last 10-11 months from my vantage.[NB* as of posting this Kate is now out of surgery and apparently has been going mad with Facebook live!}

I have been on this journey with Kate from the moment she fell in the back yard at home.  That day seems like a distant memory, we have gone through so much since then, and yet the emotional pull from it feels like yesterday. I wasn’t home at the time the accident occurred; I was at Robina doing some shopping when I got panicked messages and a call from Charlotte that Kate had fallen and couldn’t get up.  

The Theory of Relativity suggests that the closer you travel to the speed of light, the slower time passes and I can tell you that although I made it home in record time, it felt like an eternity.  When I arrived, the ambulance was already there and I found Kate sprawled on the grass in the backyard screaming in pain.  Those screams have stayed with me ever since that day and will probably haunt me forever, I don’t think I have ever felt so much pain and fear vocalised with such intensity.    

The path that was laid before us from that day has seen it twist and turn and wind around in what seems like circles sometimes and as with many life changing events in one’s life, you constantly ask; why?  Or, what if?  That one event has triggered a Butterfly Effect that has seen every choice and decision made, both good and bad, lead us to here, Zurich.

The misdiagnosis of her condition and subsequent unnecessary surgery that Kate went through in January has by far been the darkest of the paths we have travelled.  The nerve pain she suffers from the botched surgery stays with her almost constantly, the sudden jumps from the electric shocks in her lower back and down her legs make me wince on her behalf!  She soldiers through it but, honestly, how much can one person take?  If I could take it all away, I would in a heartbeat.  If I could trade places with her I would without a second thought.  I hate seeing her go through so much pain, I just want to wrap her up in cotton wool, bubble wrap, and anything else that will protect her.

I say “we” throughout all of this, reference it as “our journey”, and although it is not me literally suffering through the pain she feels, believe me I feel everything she does.  When you spend so much time with someone you love, and we do - we are very rarely apart; you get inside each other’s heads and become a part of each other’s souls. Since that day I have effectively become Kate’s carer.  She has needed assistance with everything that requires movement.  From stairs, to getting into cars, to walking around the shops, to cooking, cleaning and after a fall in the shower several months ago, we now even do that together.  Just as well I built a large one in our renovations last year!

There hasn’t been a day go by when Kate hasn’t apologised to me at least a dozen times every day for everything she has “caused”.  Yes, she sees this as her fault and the guilt she carries over this breaks my heart.  The term “shit happens” falls on deaf ears and although this was originally an accident, she has taken on the guilt of every choice made since then. 

What this had done to her mental health has become clear to me. And, while she puts up a brave face for others around her and soldiers on, privately I am witness to the tears and anxieties that she feels because of this.  Sometimes it’s difficult for those “what if?” questions not to take a negative track; what if this is the best it will get? What if I can never walk properly again? What if something worse happens? She asks me these questions every day. I feel an overwhelming need to protect her at every moment, all I can do is reassure her that everything will work out fine as I hold her in my arms every night. I provide her comfort as best I can, but the one thing I wish I could do is impossible – take it all away.

If life is a series of consequences for our choices, then those choices have finally led us here.  From the initial accident, to misdiagnosis and botched surgery, to seeking new specialists, to second, third and fourth opinions, to our wonderfully deficient health care system not covering Kate’s needs, to seeking help outside Australia, to finding the best European surgeon in his field, to now sitting in the hospital cafeteria writing this blog as Kate is undergoing the operation that will resolve all this mess.  I wish we could have just skipped all the bad things and just jumped straight to this!

Being in a foreign country surround by an unfamiliar language is a bit like trying to tie your right shoe with your left hand; you admire the beauty of its execution but it feels completely uncoordinated trying to achieve it.

Switzerland is an amazing country. Everywhere you turn you are surrounded by history.  Zurich is a combination of old and new; the old town is so full of beautiful architecture and yet, just a short distance across the river to the west, large post-modern structures intermingle and rise to dwarf beautiful buildings that could tell so many stories.

The Pyramide Clinic sits on the eastern shore of the top end of Lake Zurich and looks like a cross between a Mayan temple and something out of Star Trek. For weeks we looked at pictures and studied maps but to be finally sitting here in this hospital seems totally surreal.

Our consultations with Dr. Rischke, both in Australia via Skype and now here in Zurich, have left us with enormous confidence and a true sense that the end of a very long and dark tunnel is nigh. He is confident that he will be able to revise the botched surgery and remove the screws that were supposed to fuse Kate’s sacroiliac joint.  Scans had indicated that no fusion had occurred, so the Professor was confident in their removal. He even has the specialists who invented them in there assisting him.

Once that operation is done, they will flip her over onto her back and then perform the three-level disc replacement.  This is done through the front, so once they “open her up” they have to move aside the contents to access the spine.   It’s a fascinating procedure, we watched one on YouTube a few months ago. 

As I sit here know we have just hit the five-hour mark.  It’s a complicated surgery but one that we are sure will give Kate her life back.  She is in for some horrific few weeks ahead with pain and so forth, but the long-term prognosis, hopefully, is bright. 

We are currently in the hands of our Swiss surgeon.  And, if he is half as good as everything else here, we’re in good hands.

Thank you again to everyone for your support, thoughts, donations and prayers.  We really do owe you all a great debt of gratitude.

By the time the next blog comes around I'm sure it will be Kate's view from the other side of surgery.


1 comment:

  1. It makes me very happy to know she has you with her Craig.


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