This is Paul’s x-ray from his 6 week post-operative check up today – he’s looking to the left. (Original accident details here.)
Based on the encouraging way his body is mending, here’s what his surgeon says he can and cannot do:
He’s now allowed to turn his head.
He can drive.
He “can” lift up to 20 pounds, but cannot “pull” or reach over shoulder height if anything feels “too much”, i.e., he has permission to try but is not routinely lifting much.
He’s released from wearing his brace, unless he’s in a “risky” situation. (The surgeon said most patients are not released from this for a minimum of 3 months.)
He can sleep on his side as his broken sternum and ribs allow.
He can take a Tai Chi class. (His idea because he’s going crazy.)
He can do aqua-therapy as part of his occupational therapy. The occupational therapy basically keeps his muscles limber and ready for when the nerve function returns “on its own”.
He cannot do physical therapy for his upper body yet; he has to wait at least 3 months post accident to let his body heal. So that means I can still beat him at arm wrestling, wrestling in general, and thumb wars.
He can be patient as he tries to write, type, and play the guitar. The doctor advised it can take a minimum of 6 months for internal swelling to abate. She still anticipates a full recovery, but stressed the patience aspect.
Ditto for his voice while it is still getting stronger as it recovers from the double-surgery incisions.
He can return to hearing arbitration cases. (Are we surprised he has one scheduled for tomorrow?)
Here’s what we agreed he can and cannot do…
He cannot walk ZuZu, our 55 pound bundle of black lab/pitbull “pull”.
He can fold clothes (good use of fine motor skills).
He can vacuum.
He can do limited cooking (the qualifier is if it requires a knife…).
The most he can do outside is water plants in the garden. We bought a new lightweight hose…
He can walk 3+ miles per day.
We can take a Tai Chi class together.
What I can do:
Try to stop hovering (What can I say, Nurse Ratched habits die hard.)
Be grateful that my sunshine Paul is lighting up more and more every day.
Have faith in what the doctors say regarding the healing times:
~ A year for Paul’s neck to heal.
~ 3-6 months for his broken ribs and sternum to heal.
~ At least 3 months for his voice to heal.
~ 6 months to 5 years for his right hand/arm to heal – with the emphasis on the short end of that time frame.
The best news is that the doctors, nurses, and therapists are continually impressed and amazed by what a “good healer” he is, and a full recovery is still expected.
Thank you everyone so very much for all the continued generosity of goodwill and heartfelt prayers. They do work. We love you all – P & G
ADDENDUM ~ ONE DAY LATER: He survived his first solo outing, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so tired as when he returned. He slept his first night through since coming home from the hospital.
And, he has a new appreciation for his limitations – after spending 15 minutes fiddling with his top dress shirt button, he ran out of time and had to ask a maid in the hall to assist.
In other news, he discovered Taco Bell’s vegetarian Cantina Bowl and fell in love.