Monday, September 05, 2011
So my blogging friends, have you missed me?! I have missed you~~ SO much!!
Many, many things have happened since last we conversed! I am going to start at the beginning, and it will take a few posts to get everyone up to speed :))
When last we talked, I was preparing for back surgery. In June of 2009 I took a fall, it was bad. I was walking up my deck stairs and I tripped! I was carrying a bag of goldfish in each hand, and I sprawled flat on my face! It was the second time I had tripped going UP a set of stairs. I couldn't figure it out, what kind of idiot falls UP the stairs?!
Well, as it turns out, that fall cemented the injury I had from the bad car accident in 2004. All total, I had seven ruptured discs from my neck to the base of my spine. I spent two weeks in an armchair recovering, and about a month after that I had to quit my job at the beloved Nursery I had been working at for a year.
I had been trying to manage the pain with Ibuprofen and muscle relaxers. I didn't want to take pain meds, but in September I finally broke down, went to a neurosurgeon and started pain medication, along with seeing a pain management specialist who gave me epidurals in my neck and back.
The pain management worked wonders in my neck and shoulders- where three discs are ruptured. It did absolutely nothing for my low back- where the remaining four discs were ruptured. I have Degenerative Disc Disease, arthritis in my back, and permanent nerve damage. It got so bad that I couldn't even walk without a cane, and couldn't walk more than about 20' before I had to sit down. I couldn't sleep, drive, sit, stand, walk..... it was really messing with my head, I became severely depressed, and I got to a place where I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time for low back surgery. The reason I was tripping was because of a condition known as 'neuropathy'. My left foot does not lift and set down right. It just flops around without any control causing me to trip! There was danger that if I just left it, it would become progressively worse.
A date was set! The plan was that on December 2, 2009 I was going to go in and have an L2-L3, L3- L4 spinal fusion. After denying the surgery the first time, my insurance company said yes. They also said yes to a four day hospital stay (they only cover three normally). I was going to be in the hospital for four days, then home with a walker and back brace. No physical therapy needed, just a gradual recovery at home, and ditch the walker in a week, ditch the brace in about three months. No big deal. Of course, this is me we are talking about, and since our family seems to have a very close, personal relationship with our distant uncle Murphy, things were bound to get interesting.
December 2 came, to the hospital I went! Starting the IV was difficult, apparently I was dehydrated, who knew? Surgery was scheduled to last three to four hours, and then voila! Finite.
Except..... surgery went over eight hours..... I hear I have very thick muscles back there! They were worried because I wasn't coming out of the anesthesia very well. I spent that night in ICU and had to have four units of blood, since I lost so much. All I remember was the nurse coming in and shaking me, telling me to breathe. Guess I didn't want to!
The next day, they started two new IVs, and I waited to get feeling back in my legs. Day two after surgery, still no feeling..... day four, I am getting a little worried. My feet are swollen up to five times their normal size, I can't move my feet or toes, and they are starting to curl under. there is no feeling at all in my legs from my waist all the way down.
My wonderful husband, bless his heart, stayed in Bakersfield 60 miles away from home, for the first seven days. He slept in his truck, because he got snowed off of our mountain. He wasn't eating, or getting enough sleep, and yet he was the one holding my hand and telling my I needed to have faith- everything was going to be alright.
On day six, I am a wreck. Being paralyzed, I couldn't get to a bathroom, so I had a catheter in. I was on so many medications, I couldn't eat. Day six I am hallucinating every night (they gave me Ambien, Dilaudid, Percocet, steroids, two antibiotics, another pain medication called Norco.... I don't remember what else. My doctor, who has been thinking the few extra hours had caused all the swelling and in turn, that was causing the paralysis, is worried... so off for an MRI I go. In the ambulance, in agonizing pain (can't move to get in a comfortable position).
The MRI was the key. It showed a rare "Arachnoid Cyst" on my spinal cord, under the protective outer lining, or 'dura', squeezing off most of my spinal cord, and causing the paralysis. It probably had been there for a long time, it might, or might not have been responsible for some of the pain in my back and radial left limb pain. On the last MRI done before the fusion surgery, it isn't seen at all. With my surgery causing this extra swelling from the long duration, it had irritated this cyst and caused it to swell to about six times it's normal size, thereby making it visible on the MRI.
Seven days after my original surgery I had a second surgery to remove the cyst. With the original surgery, I had an incision about 7" that had been closed using Dermabond. Needing to use the last 4" to open up and continue down, in the end I had a 12" incision that was stapled from top to bottom closed.
On day 10, I was transferred to a physical rehabilitation hospital and my long journey to 'relearn' how to walk began. I will tell you all about it in the next blog installation, I promise! :))
And now dear readers, I leave you to get off my duff and walk around, because my back hurts!