Friday, June 06, 2014
I rattled some cages today and am going to get things my way to the best of my ability. The reality in my world right now is that I have a full incision down my back. There are no signs that anything else is damaged or non-functional from all of the tests I had. My legs don't work right now. I can wiggle my toes and ankles on both feet and have some movement in my right knee. I am getting a bit of sensation in my legs. My knees on up to my waist have no feeling. This is scary stuff.
I told the nursing and PT staff that there were so many people giving me information and that so much of it didn't match that I wanted my spine team to visit with me and straighten things out. I called my PCP and my pain doc from home and let them know what I knew and the ideas of sending me to rehab when I cannot stand or take a step or get from the bed t a chair without being hoisted like an old Chevy truck engine through the air. I learned that there are a couple of resources at home, but they wanted me in the hospital, here or there. My pain doc said the fact that I am getting some sensation in my legs is significant because it should come first and walking is probably going to happen but there is no predicting when it will happen.
My entire spine team came and spent a good deal of time with me. My condition is tricky but they are optimistic and explained the CT scans, x-rays, and MRIs and how they have come to this conclusion. They took the vacuum pad off of my incision. as well and my incision is looking good and free of problems (and stapled from end to end.)
I no longer have 3 working IVs and I am now on oral medications rather than morphine. I had the catheter removed and my bladder has worked. My local hospital where all of my docs work has an acceptable rehab unit and if the insurance approves things, I will end up there, probably on Monday. They will have to figure out transportation and I have told them I don't want an ambulance for an hour and a quarter ride because it will be too painful on my incision.
My mood is rough and I'm crying a lot. I didn't sign up for this and have no idea how this all will play out. The people in charge now know that I am a player though--and finding my voice has helped me a lot.
Thursday, June 05, 2014
My story gets more and more confusing. I had surgery at 1 PM on Tuesday. I was sitting up, as promised by the anesthesiologist when I went to sleep and didn't have to face the nasty spasms and pain in my right leg. I woke up in confusion at 5:30 in Recovery. That was a big room with about 25 stations and full of color and activity. There were several people around me and the conversation about my legs not moving. They were numb, but I thought that was from surgery--and I was lying flat on my back without problems. I kept asking people about my legs, but nobody was telling me anything. They went and got Floyd and he showed me a bag with bolts and other stuff they removed from my back. He told me about the large nerve shoot that was strangled in my back by bone spurs and scar tissue. They found a place where the allograf had shifted, so they fixed it too. Much of the first surgery was fusing, so they removed several bolts and the upper hook so I'd have more mobility in my back. Things were going well until the monitor indicated that my legs were not moving. That put an end to the surgical work.
They ordered the CT mylogram and a spine CT right after the surgery. There was no fun in being transported so many times from table to table and my friends, I behaved badly with lots of crying and begging, They did the mylogram with me on my side instead of on my tummy like they wanted. Having that injection wasn't fun.
This morning I was able to get my right foot to move and an hour or so later, I got my left foot to move. That has worked a bit all day. As of now, I can move my knees if I am sitting up and I can move my right leg to my knee when I am lying down, I can move my left foot and ankle. I believe I will be able to move my legs and maybe even walk by sometime tomorrow. I might have gotten further today, but my blood pressure stayed really low and I also needed a transfusion before I had to go have an awful, awful MRI of my spine. I cried throughout the entire test. The table was so hard and I had to lie on my large incision for over 20 solid minutes, I was a mess and have been doing some comfort eating.
Tomorrow, I hope to get the results from these tests. I pray my legs will work so they can remove the catheter. The steroids are making it burn. At least I didn't have to wake up with the tube in my throat and in ICU.
Quite honestly, I don't know what is next. I'm guessing I'll be here for a bit longer as these unknowns get answered. I'm so grateful for the prayers and warm thoughts being sent my way. I am feeling them amidst this confusion.
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
I'm a bit stressed today. Within 1-2 hours, I will be taken to the OR. I've been promised that they won't make me lie down and aggravate the awful leg pain I am having. They will put pillows behine me, set up the anesthesia, give me oxygen and put me asleep sitting up. Then, they will lie me down before positioning me on my tummy for my second major and intensive surgery since April 17. I was totally good about my previous surgery--actually all of them. However, now that it has been confirmed that I am going to ICU, I am a mess.
Women have some special issues when they are lying on their stomach during surgery. Our faces, mouths, tongues swell up and the way they keep us breathing is by the breathing tube. That is not a bit of fun and my last experience with it is way too raw for me to be doing this again.
My doctor orders a specialized EEG where they use specialized paste to attach a bar to both ankles and add in the kind of little shocks of an EMG. Their machine gets 900 pieces of raw data and saves them in the machine. During surgery, the machine is again attached to the patient and it will let the surgeon know if any of their work with the spinal cord has moved the pateint out of the way they normally function.
That's all fine and good--and why am I describing this to you? Yesterday after I had my EEG, I fell asleep in my chair. When I woke up my feet were awful. The left one (which is my "normal" one was burning and swollen and covered with a horrid rash. My right foot looked the same, but of course, I didn't feel it the same way. I figured that it was caused by something with the EEG. I was told that nobody ever had an allergic reaction to the glue before. There's always a first time--and I tried putting ice bags on my feet. My third shift nurse took one look and called it an allergic reaction and got me an order for benadryl.
The bright side is that when I took benadryl along with flexeril (muscle relaxer...) I got 6 hours of uninterupted sleep. I got up at 4 this morning. I have taken two naps and am trying to occupy myself so I don't feel so nervous. I have one more scrub down with antiseptic wipes yet, and then, its all about the surgery.
My IV is running low and I think that means its time for me to sign off. I'll be back when I am able.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
There just isn't a lot to do here--I get up and walk with every person who will walk with me. My leg pain is decreased with the morpine PCA, but it rears its ugly head when I stand up from the chair or sit down or go near that bed. After a few laps around this floor, I am limping pretty significantly which tells me that the pain meds are masking the issue which is helpful in a way, but not a problem solver. I haven't screamed at my leg all day today and that is a first in well over 3 weeks.
I am thinking too much--The test I need on Monday is (I think) a CT Myelogram. I cannot help but remember that the entire saga with my back began with someone injecting dye (and bacteria) into my spine. Now, to fix my leg, I need a test where someone gets to inject dye into my spine. Now, I am convinced that there is high quality care here, but that little nagging thought is with me nonetheless.
I have to miss the big shower our church is holding for my son Mitchell and his fiancee, Laura tomorrow. I had to miss her shower because of my surgery and this makes me sad. I am trying to keep my eye on the golden ring--being able to enjoy their September wedding, but this is special and fun. All of my other kids will be there and they are going to call me and do facetime from the party. (I haven't done facetime, but I understand it is easy enough to do.)
Finally, I am thinking about the two possible procedures I will need toi handle tis impinged nerve. If it is the little one--debriding the nerve and ridding me of some of my many bone spurs--well, hallelujah. If it is the big procedure, I have this horrible thought of waking up with my hands restrained and a tube down my throat. I really, really don't want to ever experience that again. I know I have no choice.
Finally to add to my anxiety--I got a nasty email fromt he principal on Friday. She sent me a weird email on Thursday about my job and I sent her a response asking for clarification. She didn't answer, so I sent a similar email to my Title 1 director and our HR guy because she answered my question if I would be doing the same job next year with half day Title 1 and half day Professional Development this way: "yes but next year it doesn't look good." I didn't know what the heck that meant--so I asked for clarification. She sent me a saucy email telling me to never ask anyone but her about my position again. (Great, she is at it again...I have been gone for 6 weeks so she has to cut loose on me.)
I have to just work on feeling better and take things as they come--and I will. But--it isn't easy when they are like this!!
Saturday, May 31, 2014
I had an 8:30 appointment with my surgeon today. My time started out with one of his nurses and then with his resident. She was pretty alarmed about the lack of strength in my right foot and leg and she also had me go out into the hallway to walk. I saw Dr. M there talking to a group of med students and I didn't realize he was watching me. He came into the room and started by telling me that the CT Scan I had at our local hospital was poor quality and the report was entirely inaccurate. The doctor wrote that I had a pair of fractured vertebrae when it was really the spacer that Dr. M placed in my spine to straighten me out.
He was very concerned with the problems with my leg and the obvious deterioration taking place, so he ordered another CT scan with sedation. They still couldn't get me in a lying down position, but I was still and they got the pictures. It wasn't enough information. Dr. M believes that I have a nerve problem. It could either be an impingement on an arthritic bone or it could be an awful slipping of one of my vertebrae that he worked on that is pinching the nerve.
He ordered a test this afternoon and told me that he didn't want to do a test and send me home and keep stirring things up. He plans to operate on my back on Tuesday, so we are getting all of these tests in between today and Monday. Today, I went to x-ray where they used a fluoroscope to insert some dye , lidocaine, and cortisone into that big nerve root he was worried about. The hope was that it was going to relieve the pain in my right leg--it calmed a bit of it, but I am fretting not enough. They admitted me and put me on a PCA pump and under observation for falling.
The other big test I can't have until Monday because I have to be off of Savella for two days so it doesn't react with the dye will be for them to inject dye into my spine to get a better picture of it. These two tests, along with labwork to rule out infections and the like will let Dr. M know if I need to have a more minor surgery where they clean up around the nerve root and remove bony spurs and other arthritic litter or a bigger surgery where he will have to disassemble the hardware and find the place where things have come apart and reassemble everything.
I am definitely on edge. I cannot lie down and I need pain meds to move my right leg that is really pain from my back.
Things are once again complicated in my orthopedic life, but I will get better. It is nice that they are listening to me. I couldn't lie on my tummy for the test today because everything I tried to pull my right leg onto the table, the pains started up again. They put me on a table that I could stand on and lowered me until I felt pain and did it that way. I was so relieved because they need this information and I hated to be unable to cooperate.
Anyway, I'm back in the hospital--and am praying again for a good outcome.
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