Strike three and the plate is out

since my last post I had bad fevers which prompted scans to check the metalwork in my neck was still stable, the scans showed an excess of air in a pocket around the metalwork despite continuous antibiotic treatment for the majority of the last 15 months.  The scans also showed that two screws were missing from the metal plate one of which was later seen in my descending colon from abdomen x-ray.  The conclusion was that the metalwork needed to be removed as it was acting as a catalyst for the infection and my body would have much better chance of fighting it without the presence of the foreign body.  I therefore underwent surgery to remove the whole of the metal plate and screws between C4 and C7.  There was another complication, the screw had created a whole in the back of my oesophagus (a fiscule) which meant that food, liquid and air could leak into my neck and cause infection.  A few days after the operation my neck swelled excessively due to surgical emphysema where air get trapped between tissues, I had a neck drain removing blood and other fluid from where the metalwork had been removed and a nasogastric tube was inserted into my stomach from my nose so that I can be fed without swallowing (swallowing was causing air to be injected into the neck through the hole in oesophagus).  The drain has been removed, swelling has reduced although it still looks like I have an egg beneath my skin on my neck.  I have been getting up into my wheelchair for a few hours today and yesterday and I’m feeling much better mentally, this operation I have managed to stay away from strong pain medication and have managed to keep healthy in terms of respiratory systems, I feel I have learnt ways to keep recovery period as short as possible through previous operations.  I will have to be fed and watered through my nasogastric tube for a little while yet while we wait for the hole in my oesophagus to heal.  I’m still hoping to be able to go to a festival in Switzerland at the end of July, something we have been planning for a long time, but we will have to wait and see.

Third time lucky?2

4 thoughts on “Strike three and the plate is out”

  1. Tom,
    So great to hear that i) you feel like you are learning how to be in charge of the processes of recovery,
    and ii) you are well enough on the post-op road to be up and about in the wheel chair.
    It’s a real bummer that it’s taken a third shot to get things to settle down, but, given the info you’ve posted, both the elimination of the air pocket and the healing of the oesophagus will dramatically reduce the chance of continuing infection. Once you get that cracked, all of the other great strides you’ve been making will click into place, so here’s hoping the third times the charm..
    Blythe sets off for Levanto tomorrow and is hoping to drop in on you Saturday week as she comes through the UK to pick up Michael and drag him off to the wilds of woolly Connecticut – let her know, please, by email, if you can, if that plan will not suit you.
    I’ll be hoping to see you in quite different circumstances when I bring M back at the end of August.
    All my love, my lad, and to Ells – I hope the Paleo trip comes off but it may be a bit more ambitious than is prudent just yet – you’ve got a lot on your plate as it is.
    P.S. I really love it when you do the posts on this site – truly, thanks for sharing.

  2. My dear Tom you really do have a real talent for writing and thanks once again for sharing your thoughts.
    Despite the somewhat gory details and the seriousness of the situation your message and your down to earth style made ME feel better.
    Why does all this have to happen to you?

    I know it’s not quite the same thing but what about a video conference and high tech loud speakers for the Paleo Festival (?)

    Thank you Doctor Tom !

  3. Tom please excuse my rather clumsy message.
    What I tried to say was that your news made me feel better for you (not myself). I find your wit and courage simply outstanding.
    If your health permits I sincerely hope that you can enjoy the festival “sur place”.

  4. I’m hoping that everything has been going well for you since your last post, with no more complications. Like everyone else, I was grateful for the detailed update on the operation, but so much wished that you didn’t have to face all these setbacks.

    Thank you to whoever posted the photos. It was so reassuring to see the dazzling smile still intact, showing that it’s possible to be extremely photogenic and attractive lying down with a nasogastric tube in place and a swollen neck!

    Dear Tom, you continue to be amazing and inspirational. Keep on getting better – I hope you’ll be back on track soon and able to get on with all your plans.


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