My third dose was on Friday, September 1, and it was fine, just not very blog-worthy. Because my back was still quite swollen from the surgery, my doctor used an ultrasound machine to find the reservoir and be precise with the injection. At this point, I have noticed some increased strength and flexibility in my fingers and thumbs... which is definitely encouraging! I'm hoping to continue to see progress there, and maybe attempt some of my old handicraft hobbies again this winter, like crochet and cross-stitch. I found out that my neurologist likes to cross-stitch pictures of the brain... maybe I'll try that, in honor of her support?
The following Tuesday, I had my one-month check-up with the neurosurgeon. I almost didn't go, as I felt like I'd spent enough time at the hospital for one summer. But I do like my neurosurgeon, and thought it would be nice to have him see how well I'm doing... except for that annoying swelling that just won't go down, and those nagging pressure headaches when I lay down. I suppose it's a good thing that I went to the appointment, because when I told him about my two little inconveniences, he took a look at my back and declared (with some displeasure) that I still had a CSF leak from the area where he had placed the tube in my vertebrae. Apparently, I am more active than he anticipated, and didn't lay still long enough for it to fully heal. He explained that he had put some extra muscle tissue around the tube, but that it needed time to heal and seal up the gap where the fluid leaked out.
He gave me immediate orders to take a week off work and lay flat on my bed. I nearly cried, and told him I really couldn't take that much time off - I had too much to do! So he said, "Two days, then. We'll see how you are after two days. I want to see you here again a week from today." So I took my two days off and did what he said. On Thursday afternoon, I called to give an update. Better, but still swollen, still getting headaches. He told me to stay in bed until my appointment on Tuesday - sneaky little bugger, ended up making me stay in bed a week anyway! Then the ominous news: "If I'm not pleased with the progress by then, we may have to do another surgery."
Oh God, please not that.
There was a shift in my spirit. I could feel fear and frustration and anxiety and despair begin to creep in. Stillness and silence can be a breeding ground for all sorts of psychological and spiritual battles. I had this surgery - I was getting these treatments - in hopes of being stronger and more active, and here I was, able to do nothing at all but lay down and wait. I needed to proactively fight the brooding darkness... so I prayed for help and grace and courage.
And then I sang. I mean, a lot. And loud. For...hours. I sang praise songs, songs of hope and truth. And I felt my spirit lift and embrace joy. During this time, God brought to my mind this verse:
And it comforted me. I thought of Jesus using his personal sewing kit and stitching up all the gaps in my back where spinal fluid was leaking out, and then stitching up all the gaps in my spirit where trust and hope was leaking out. I claimed this verse in the most literal way I could, trusting that he has and he will hem me in. It was the sweetest and most intimate time I've spent with my Savior in a while. As difficult as it is for me to be still, that's exactly what I needed, to remember that it is God who heals, who redeems, and who makes all things beautiful in his time.
The week finally ended, and my second appointment was much better. The swelling has gone down quite a bit and my headaches are gone. The surgeon was pleased, and said I could return to work, as long as I tried to rest and lay down as often as possible. I am trying my best! The next injection is September 29, and the surgeon has requested to be present for that to check my progress. Please pray for continued healing in the meantime!