by Sarah Squires, editor-in-chief, Winona Post
When I was in high school and college, I worked as a certified nursing assistant in nursing homes, hospitals, and other settings. Nursing assistants are the ones who take care of people — we don’t give medications like a nurse. We put on socks, we help you to the bathroom, we lift you out of bed and hold the straw to your parched lips; we get you into your wheelchair safely, we hold your hand when it hurts and wipe the tears from your eyes. Whenever someone is ill, I’m always the first to step up to help out. No matter what is needed, I’d always rather be the caretaker than need one myself.
Today, I’m writing from my hospital room after yet another medical emergency with my back. I am anxious to go home, anxious to get back to work and to my life, but I have to be certain that I’m ready to care for myself before they let me out the door. Being here is a strange throwback to my days in the medical profession, and I hope I am the kind of patient who isn’t too troublesome — even when the pain and exhaustion has been pretty overwhelming, I’ve tried to remember to say “thank you.” It’s the least I can do, because the care I’ve received has been excellent.
I have stenosis in my spine, a deformity that basically means that the little openings in my vertebra are not big enough. The nerve bundles that weave down a person’s back and control pain and movement run through those little openings, and because they are so small, it is much easier for my nerves to get squished than someone with a healthy spine. So, the nerves that run down my legs are being compressed, which means that my body is sending pain and other false signals up to my brain.
This has happened to me before, and anyone who has had a pinched nerve understands the basics of this kind of nerve pain. I’ve had three surgeries to correct the worst part of my back, and I’m lucky, I think, that this time it’s a little different area that is being compromised. I know that if they had to operate in the same spot they’ve worked on before, it would be a much more difficult surgery and recovery, so hopefully, I will be back to normal pretty soon.
It’s been a difficult time, but I’m so fortunate that I’ve had so many people help me out. I’m not out of the woods yet, and I’m sure I’ll need another hand (or six) before I’m back to myself, but it’s really heartwarming to be so well cared for.
It’s been so long since I wasn’t more involved in an edition of the Winona Post, so I thought I would send a little update, a little smoke signal from my room downstream, for this Wednesday paper. I’m anxious to be back at the paper, but this time I’ve spent in the hospital has reminded me what a wonderful team we’ve got at work. Even though I haven’t had the opportunity to see much of today’s Post, I know it will be a wonderful read. Also, since I’ve had the opportunity to see the TV news about 30 times in the past few days, stuck here in this bed, I know it’s going to be warm out, so enjoy the sunshine!