Sunday, February 19, 2012
I am trying hard to avoid thinking about this pain--I can't when it flares hard or when it makes my right arm buzz down to the tip of my thumb and renders it useless, but especially while I am typing, I don't have to talk about it.
I am taking a homework break right now. I wanted to check emails and do some sparking. The first thing I noticed was all of the thoughtful and caring comments on my last blog. My dear basset hound friend is correct, my colleagues are a very self-absorbed lot. They are competitive and they work closely with a partner and terribly with other people. I have a constant push and pull think where they want me to serve their students but they won't let me take them out of their classes. I have a couple of close friends, mostly people who are on the end of the same whipping stick that I am. In our building if you are over than 30 or weigh more than 130, you are not one of the chosen ones. Self-absorbed is a good way to put it. It will be interested when school starts and 4 of them are all off on maternity leave. I wonder if experience will be coveted a bit more then.
My church family is another group that I can count on. I sent a request out via our prayer chain looking for guest readers and I may be up to six now. I think it is interesting that the folks I work with had trouble finding one reader, but through our little church in the heart of the inner city, I am getting a lot of warm and caring responses. Even the folks who are telling me "sorry, I cannot" are sending some wonderful messages.
My own family gets kudos from me as well. They are walking on eggshells around me and they are being kind and they are getting along a lot better recently. Megan is doing my laundry (again.) The biggest problem that I have with family is that Marshall and Miles keep buying me food that I wasn't expecting. For VAlentine's Day, my husband commissioned my daughter's musical group to bring me a singing valentine along with a long stemmed red rose and a sweet stuffed teddy bear. It was sweet when they came to school, I was quickly returning to my room after a discipline issue and one of my first grade groups was in my room. The little girl in the bunch had her hands over her heart, sighing and swooning a bit. It was cute.
Anyway, it is a tough time in my life and I sure do appreciate the many ways my spark friends are showing kindnesses. I know I am barely reciprocating. I have broken spark streaks recently and missed taking care of things on a couple of my team pages. I simply am without enough energy because this pain in the neck is taking more than its fair share of my energy.
I am down to a ten day countdown. I got a letter from my husband's insurance approving up to 5 days in the hospital. My insurance , which is primary, approved one day. The doctor was clear that this may not take care of all of the pain, so I am expecting some pain to linger. I also know that my first days are going to be rough because I already use the pain meds that they would use to make me comfortable to treat my lower back problems. However, I know it and I am not expecting everything. I do expect that removing the offending disks and replacing them with gifts from my hip should take the pressure off of the nerve that is upsetting my right arm. Eliminating that much of the pain makes this a worthy procedure--anything else will be "lixury."
I am so blessed to have the people in my life I can count on. You and my other spark friends, my church family, my family, and a few special people like my best friend. Our lunch date for this month is tomorrow because we had so many other things on Saturdays this month. President's Day is a good day to spend with her. I will go to the pool after that and I have class in the evening. I am going to wrap things up now and work on homework for as long as I my neck will allow it. Although this body and the arthritis that is in all of my joints is painful and tricky to live with, I am blessed to have the best people around me. People I can count on is a definite plus. Thanks for being one of them!!
Gentle hugs to each one of you, my reliable and caring friends!!
Saturday, February 18, 2012
I feel as if sometimes the only places I can be myself are at the pool, in my chair at home, and on the computer. I am so hurt by some of the people in my work world that it has added to the physical pain I am feeling in a nasty way.
I have been told that I need to give up some things I do at work because "I am going to be gone." Hmm, it will be a total of 8 days at the most. It was a snippy little email from the principal about handing out prizes that the kids earn on their way to making a reading goal for the ball game. NOBODY else wants the job and I had it covered so that I distributed them one day a week and there would only be one day that I couldn't do. Now, I am trying to figure out an entirly new way to doit.
Next, we have our other reading day coming. It was supposed to be a fun day, based on "Read Across America." We couldn't do it on the national day because it is an ISAT day (our state's standardized testing.) The group working with me has changed it to "Read to Succeed" and they want all of the guest readers to share their career and give it a career theme. Okay, I can work with others--and this group of 6 was supposed to be responsible for 2-3 guest readers apiece. (We need 20.) When I asked for a meeting to put the schedule together and to see how many readers we had, I was told that there wasn't time this week. (Reading day is March 9 and I won't be back to work yet.) I got three emails from one of the team members Thursday night that told me a number of things about the ball game and reading day. The big piece is that they think one of the teachers husband has two readers coming. I have three scheduled and that gives me 5 out of the 20 needed. Nobody else got one person. I have to figure out where to find 15 readers who will talk about their career. When one of them asked if I was going to be there, she told me "Wow, you really picked a bad time to be gone missing ISAT, the ball game prizes, and reading day."
What in the world was I to say? It didn't matter, she walked off after spewing that anyway.
Thursday was not my best day. On Wednesday, I went to the hospital after school to do my pre-op lab work. On Thursday, my PCP called me everywhere. My urine test turned out like the one I had 3 weeks prior for my regular physical. There was bacteria in it. He did a repeat and did a culture and there was bacteria in it. I am not having any symptoms of an infection and my doctor decided that it is probably colonies of good bacteria causing the test to respond that way. He said with my history of the infection in my spine that it would not be a good idea to treat this because the good bacteria would be killed and then bad bacteria would replace them because they were colonized. (I guess it is something in women my age and I have to believe it makes sense. He is a pretty picky doc worrying about every detail of test results.)
Now, my surgeon is balking because the new urine test showed bacteria. They are doing a culture now and these cultures take time, so there were no results yesterday. I told the doctor that I cannot have this surgery canceled over this. They are telling me that there is plenty of time to manage it, if they get results on Monday that indicate I need to be treated. OK, calm down, Sylvia.
My entire world is revolving around this awful pain. My neck and shoulder and arm are making me crazy. Somehow, I had pushed my regular low back pain out of my mind, but it reminded me yesterday that it hasn't gone anywhere. It is almost impossible to function with my lower back inflamed. I am stiff in one of my knees right now as well which tells me that our weather must be changing. Arthritis can really be mean.
I am hanging on, but my patience is almost gone. I wish I could just hide in a corner until the surgery and let the school deal with itself. However, I don't have enough sick leave to cover it and staying here thinking only about this pain probably isn't a good idea.
I am going now, to Weight Watchers to weigh in. This isn't going to be good because I am ashamed to admit that I have also started engaging in some comfort eating. There were too many things around on Valentine's Day for me to resist. I am not myself right now. I am going to go face the scale--it has been weird while I have been behaving, so I am hoping that this helps me get back on track. I have either not eaten or enjoyed the chocolates around me when I didn't need them.
I love the pool. It is weird to swim when this thing spasms, but I am getting used to the sensation. I wish I could live in the pool sometimes.
I need to go--take care of yourselves.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
I am waiting and waiting and waiting for the surgery on my neck. This procedure that my doctor said needed to be done "as soon as possible" is scheduled for February 29th. I wish I could understand how the medical world around here really works because waiting almost an entire month doesn't seem like it is as soon as possible.
This thing hurts day in and day out. I am doing everything I wildly can in order to manage my pain and function. Everyday is a total challenge. The meds that help the most put me to sleep which is needed at times, but not always at the times they work. Staying focused is a major challenge--and for someone trying to take a couple of classes and teach every day, this is not a good plan. The injection that my pain doc put into my neck seemed to numb it up a bit which is a blessing since I deal with these spasms going on at irregular intervals all day long. They are a unique sensation of weird and pain, starting at the base of my neck, moving across my shoulder and then squeezing my upper arm like a blood pressure cuff being over-tightened. It does that for a few times and then buzzes down my arm all of the way to the tip of my thumb. The only thing that I notice that triggers them is when I start walking somewhere--I always have a series of them and I assume it is the way I hold onto my walker that does that. I also have them at random times that are not predictable--when I am sitting, talking, in the pool, right now...
The surgery will fuse my affected disks. The MRI clearly shows problems with two of them and hints at trouble with two more. I won't know until I wake up exactly what has been done. I will have an incision about an inch long on the front of my neck right where it folds--the incision will ultimately not be noticeable because of the way they do it. The doc will use bone from my hip to replace the disks and then use a small metal plate to do the fusion. It sounds so simple to hear the medical folks talk about it. I did learn that our neck really doesn't facilitate most of the movement that our head does. I have to trust that this will all result in some relief.
I sure wasn't expecting any of this to be part of my new year plans--it has thrown me for a loop. In the meantime, I am not able to spark as has been my habit for a few years. I sometimes get out the computer and then, things just get out of control. Or, I fall asleep for the first time in a couple of days. If I could predict how all of this worked, I could fit my world around everything.
I sure appreciate you all for hanging in here with me as I muddle my way through. Some of the next few weeks are going to be challenging. My doctor has said that I should expect to be off work for two weeks and then probably returning with light duty for the next four weeks. The middle two weeks of that is our scheduled spring break so I will have that time off of work. I was planning to volunteer at the church for a few of those days and to do an interview with one of the ELL parents who are there for one of my classes. I think those plans are going to be changed now.
My kids have been pretty good and have been helping in a number of ways. Our sad news is that Mason lost his job because the sheet metal company had to lay several people off due to a shortage of work. He has been diligently looking for a job and got a new one last week, in a company that makes hose. He will be cutting hose--and I don't know where his planned apprenticeship now fits in. He told me that he needs to be able to pay his bills (Hmm, his truck payments and his phone) so that is his focus. I want him to have more than a job, but I understand that he is a responsible, hard-working young man and he needs to be given the freedom to be in charge of his life. During this past few weeks, he has helped me in a lot of ways with rides and supporting our two younger kids.
Anyway, my entire life is revolving around problems with my spine again. It is almost like deja vu for me, except this time, I am still going through the motions of my life and when it was my lumbar spine with an infection, I couldn't do anything for the entire month before my surgery. My life would have been different if I hadn't had bacteria injected in my back way back then. I don't have much else to blog about except how I am managing to function. Thanks for the goodies and the kind words that I receive from you all. I am lucky to have my spark friends. I am lucky to have anyone still in my life who can live with this thing with me because it has taken over my life.
Take care of yourselves!!
Friday, February 03, 2012
Hi there, my friends,m
After a busy morning at work, my son took me out for lunch. Then, we went to the doctor. I had some more x-rays and that led to meeting the new doctor. He is a younger doc who is very conscientious about his work. He told me that I have at least two herniated disks in my cervical spine and there may be up to four of them. He talked about treatments and he was quite uncomfortable with this because--well, I have had all of them but the big one. I have tried a variety of meds. I went to PT without any success. I have had injections of almost every shape and size. The next treatment is surgery. He told me that he honestly didn't like recommending surgery to a patient on their first visit. He tried to talk me into waiting another week and seeing him again. I told him that I cannot wait any longer and that I was in so much pain that I was ruining relationships and am unable to focus on anything.
Then we talked about the surgery. I will have a small incision in my neck and he will place it strategically where I bend my neck so the inch and a half won't be noticeable. He will then remove each of the herniated discs and clean out all of my bone spurs. He will replace the disks with some of the bone from my hip. Then he will use a titanium plate and some small screws. It will be closed up with dissolvable sutures. I am to expect to stay in the hospital overnight and the recovery pain will be the worst for the first 2-3 days. The second biggest area of pain and discomfort will be my throat from having the voice box and esophagus moved and the breathing tube during surgery.
There is a high success rate (90-95%). I am at risk because of a previous disk/ spine infection and pain meds might be an issue because of what I use regularly to control my lower back pain. Most patients having a similar surgery take 2 weeks off of work and then 4 additional weeks of light duty that includes not lifting over 10 pounds. I already have those types of restrictions because of my permanent back injuries, so all I have to do is follow the rules and patiently wait for certain jobs be done for me. Patience is something I really need to learn and develop, as is less independence in my attitude and the skill of asking others to do things for me.
Anyway, surgery is on and I should know when tomorrow. My big job is trying to manage this lousy pain until "the big day." It will be a lot more of what I have spent the past month doimg. I will need a lot of help from my family and friends to be ready to do this. In the note from the surgeon, he asks for us to NOT diet in the weeks up to the surgery and the 6 weeks that follow. I am sure glad that we are on a program of healthy eating and moderation!
I am not crazy. All of this pain is here. Fixing the problem will be a big deal, but it will be worth it. I had a tough night as you can tell by the date at the beginning of this and when I am finally posting this. It will be no small deal for me to hang in there while I am waiting for my surgery day.
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