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.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
The weekend has continued as my past couple of weeks and I sit here with ice all over my neck and shoulder, trying to tolerate our 16 year old daughter who is helping me to purge my clothing of all the "fat clothes." She can be a great helper, but it comes with an element of noise and funny stuff that this mother cannot quite manage. Anyway, I will feel better when these things are sorted and I have better access to what I really want to wear.
We had a great service at church today and it was followed by a "shared meal" (a potluck--my kids commented on the new terminology for an old favorite!) I didn't enjoy it as much as always and I even took a dessert that I gave over half of it away. We always have a potluck before our annual meeting (which is a new name for the Congregational meeting.) This is when we discuss the business of the church, plan projects and approve the budget and so on. It lasted a long time--we finished about 3:00. There were a couple of more 'sensitive items on the agenda that were talked through.
I took a moment and asked our parish nurse to talk with me. I shared my frustrations about this pain and the issues I have been having. She helped me to come up with a couple of ideas--we discussed the issues between the two big hospitals here and how some of my docs are affiliated with one of the other and some with both. I am going to try and play that card a bit and see if my OB/GYN who is affiliated with the "other hospital" might help. I might also try an express care clinic if that doesn't work. We have several connected with either hospital. The problem, it seems , is that orthopedic neurosurgeons are limited around here and are very "special." If I were older, I could have an advocate. If it were cardiology, I could get in today and if it were urology, I could get in tomorrow. I think seeing doctors is far too political.
I am glad that I talked to her--it took her about three minutes to notice that I am in some sort of distress. I cannot hide this from anyone. I am most comfortable if I can rock back and forth and stay moving. I don't quite know why that is a bit soothing, maybe it is the distraction of the movement. Anyway, I'd like to say that I am better, but that is not true. I was up almost all night dealing with this pain. Tomorrow is back to school and I sure need some prayers to help me through another day. I will take one at a time.
Take care of yourself--enjoy every moment!
Friday, January 27, 2012
This is a very quick blog to let you know that the pain that I am dealing with is totally out of control and the slowness in which the medical folks are acting is making me very unhappy. I called my pain doc's office yesterday to find out about my appointment with the surgeon. They told me that they faxed my info to him on Wednesday and to call them for any further info. I called the surgeon's office and was told that he reviews referrals and sets up his own schedule. I asked how long that takes and they said that it can take up to a week or more before he contacts patients.
I am losing my sanity. This pain is now a series of repetitive spasms from my neck to my right shoulder and down my arm. When it gets to my arm, it feels like someone is tightening a blood pressure cuff way too tightly, releasing it a bit and then reinflating it. After it does this several times, it lets up for anywhere from 5-15 minutes before it starts up all over.
The pain meds that I am taking are taking the bite out of this pain, but it is still there--and last night, I fell asleep before it was time for my night dose. I woke up around 2:30 and I was in excruciating pain. It took almost 2 hours to get things back under mild control with meds and ice bags.
All I want to do is cry and I am not sure how much longer I will be able to come to work like this. Today is the big 100th day of school and the primary children who have a big 100s party are way off task. I cannot exactly enjoy their fun and I cannot get them to focus either. MY shoulder hurts. A lot. I am truly, truly sick of it. I didn't even spark at all yesterday. I didn't log in and I did nothing on the computer at all. When I got home from the pool, I got my laptop out, but I didn't have the patience or energy to open an email.
I am sorry that I missed two new members in my Oa of the lower back team--I will try to meet them this weekend. I am missing my Basset Hound friends too, My son gave me a sweet mug for Christmas that is decorated with photos of Lady, Chloe, Scooter and Frankie. The kids here love it. The dogs are truly my best friends right now. I am grumpy and miserable. I need some help, but I am about out of options. This sure doesn't seem right or fair.
I know I will survive and I will do as well as anyone else in a similar situation. However, I don't like dealing with this and I need to scream, cry and curse all at the same time. This pain is taking all of my energy and inner strength. Today, our staff won a catered breakfast. Hmm, I had a half of a large bagel with some flavored spread and a piece of danish along with my apple juice and a half of a banana. That is comfort eating at its worst and along with what these pain meds are doing to me, I am guessing there will be another hefty gain for me on the scales tomorrow.
Someday soon, I will find myself and when I do, I will let you know.
Take care of yourselves. I am going to try and do my lesson plans with free time granted to me from hundreds day.
Gentle , gentle hugs,
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