What a pain in the back!

This morning I had scheduled Yin and Sit Yoga and Meditation, some “me” time.

After waking up to Roger on the iPad continuously this morning, I decided to finish my weekend work while riding the stationary bike.  I was done by 9.  I then did homework with Roger and followed it with some fun karaoke.  Then the time arrived:  time for me, time for yoga.

I was in tears from the beginning movements to the final savasana.  I was in total pain from my neck to my tailbone to my right leg.  This is where Roger, my son with autism, rammed his head into my spine after not getting his way.  This was on January 2nd and I don’t even remember what it was regarding.  All I remember was it was post-massage as I plopped onto the bed on my belly and was peacefully lying there.  I let out the loudest cry.  It immediately hurt so terribly.  I don’t think I ever produced a scream like that even when I broke my knee or ankle.

It has been three weeks and the pain has not gotten better.  I have tried Tylenol and anti-inflammatories while using the heating pad but this has not helped in the least bit.  I kept wondering where all my depression and lack of motivation came from at the beginning of this year.  Today was my reminder.  I am so glad that the majority of the class is done with your eyes closed, so others did not see the tears stream down my face.

When class was over, and that could not come quickly enough — that damn 75 minutes, I rushed to my car for a proper cry.  Then the thoughts raced:  have to make an appointment this week.  With who?  My primary doctor?  My back doctor who I am not really fond of — seems too surgery happy?  My pain doctor?  Next thoughts:  I really am going to have to cancel being teacher’s helper this week, my back cannot handle the copier.  Followed by thoughts of that yoga retreat that accepted me on “scholarship” but is less than 2 weeks away.  How can I possibly do a yoga retreat right now?  I do not foresee my pain level being that lessened in that short period of a time – especially since specialized doctors usually do not have readily available appointments.

I told Rob to occupy Roger for a bit.  I am in such a terrible mood right now.  I have 2 loads of laundry and cannot even muster the strength to empty the dryer to put the other load in.  And the state of the house is in total disarray due to Roger’s “box fort” building.  I may hide myself away in the bedroom for the time being until I can cope better with it all.

November

I am hoping to have turned the corner on exercise and wellness.  Yesterday, I went to a yoga class for the first time in YEARS!  It was a restorative class and last night my cervical pain has been at its lowest.  Today, I did a 30 minute streaming cardio class.  The first fifteen minutes seemed pretty easy but the last fifteen was pretty difficult.  It felt great to complete.  I am hoping exercise along with my Headspace meditation will make dealing with my own and Roger’s anxiety easier.

 

A bit down

Today I woke up feeling down, just an overall feeling of sadness.  I looked around the messy living room and felt unease.  I really wanted to clean it all up but was lacking the energy.  Also, I had plans for coffee with some friends.   I reluctantly went to coffee, for when I am down I am not feeling social.  It was a nice hour but I still felt down and tired when I left (despite the additional 16 ounces of coffee).

I keep wondering why I feel so down and today’s Headspace meditation had me realize one factor.  Today, it was focusing on if you are feeling pain and I realized my intention through the meditation and during this sick leave was to recover and rejuvenate.  I am still in pain through my arms, my entire back, and now my feet.  With virtually weeks of rest, my body has not rejuvenated itself.  It has actually worsened in some areas.  I was hoping when I was to return to work I would feel better than when I had my last working day.

2nd opinion – ulnar nerve

Today’s appointment was the  polar opposite of yesterday’s appointment.  The nurse brought me back about 10 minutes early to thoroughly go through my paperwork.  A few minutes after that the doctor came in.  She wanted to see my cervical reports and wanted to make a clear determination of pain stemming from my elbow v. pain stemming from my neck.  She said that what I have is called “double crush syndrome”.  This led to doing many different tests.  A few showed “Wartenberg’s sign” where I am unable to keep my pinky finger squeezing my ring finger.  The tests were timed and by the time they were done both fingers were far apart from each other.  Another test showed my incredible weakness in my left arm.  I was not even aware it was so weak.  It seemed like one of those illusions.  She scratched along the nerve and did strength tests and she easily pushed my arm towards me.  Unlike yesterday’s opinion, she said the EMG had shown severe compression and my nerve is working less than 50%.  Due to all of the above, the only solution would be surgery on my left arm.  She said it was beyond the realm of physical therapy or just wearing a brace at night.  Also, the other surgeon suggested decompression surgery.  This surgeon disagrees.  She states decompression usually ends with another surgery down the line to move the nerve.  Therefore, the surgery would combine both decompression and transposition of the ulnar nerve.  From what I have read, a lot of patients agree with this approach and do not understand why their surgeons only opted for decompression.  She also thoroughly went through the surgery process and will have a pre-op with me to review the surgery and all my instructions.  She said to bring a list of questions.  Wow!  The other surgeon was not going to have a pre-op.

Surgery is scheduled for Friday, August 25th and the pre-op that Monday, August 21st.  She was so thorough that I currently cannot think of any questions! Three days after surgery is Roger’s 1st day of 1st grade.  I am hoping to be on my feet to see him into the doors of the school with Rob.  These next few weeks will be crazy and the following six will be in recovery.   Full recovery takes 3-6 months.  Roger was happy to announce that in 6 weeks after surgery, I can tie his shoes again!  Silly boy!

 

ACDF 2nd Opinion

Today I had my second opinion for ACDF surgery with a neurosurgeon.  I already scheduled ACDF surgery with an orthopedic surgeon for October 19th.  I spent a long time with the nurse going over my back pain history, therapies, treatments, and doing some reflex and strength tests. Once that was completed, the nurse said the surgeon would come in to discuss the results of my MRI.  He plainly stated that he only urges surgery if 1) the spinal cord is compressed or 2) weakness. Since I don’t have either at the current time, he does not recommend surgery now.  He did say, though, that I will need surgery in the future due to the disc degeneration/spondylosis.  He recommended traction kit to use at home for 30 minutes a day/daily for 3 months.  He  put off having ACDF surgery on himself for 10 years by doing traction for 3 months, every two years.  He said he knew it was time once traction no longer worked.
At first I was relieved.  I am looking at a possible surgery on my arm/elbow and cannot imagine two surgeries in such close proximity of each other.  However, then I was wondering how long do you put off surgery?  I have read of individuals who waited too long and had the surgery but the nerves could not recover.  I will reach out to my PCP and let her know and ask her thoughts, since my thoughts are overwhelming!  

End of Week 9, Beginning of Week 10

The end of last week started Roger’s 7th birthday celebration.  Thursday night he could not sleep because he was so excited for Friday night’s Queen concert.  He was tossing and turning all night, sounding like he may be sick, and awoke at 4 am.  That day his sitter was sick and he had to occupy himself while I worked.  In the afternoon, we met his first grade teacher, looked around the classroom and around the school at some new things going on.  He was even given a kit kat for that night and some M & Ms from his principal.  He was thrilled, especially as she announced his birthday on the loudspeaker as we left the building.  I had an afternoon dentist appointment, which the candy made Roger hyper for but he did well waiting for me.  Luckily, I got him to take an hour nap before we left for the concert.  He enjoyed the show and was very excited during “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” but starting crashing at 10:30 pm.  However, when we got in the car, he perked up and fell asleep around 12:30.  Unfortunately, he woke up at 6 am on Saturday for his birthday.  Saturday was a pretty full day that started with gift opening.  We also had our dogs’ obedience class, followed by lunch, a classmate’s birthday party, School of Rock, pizza and cake with my parents and his best friend, Amanda, and her family.  Finally, he fell asleep around 9:30 pm and woke up at 7:30 am.  He NEVER sleeps that late.  It was amazing!  Sunday was his formal 7th birthday party at Bach to Rock.  It was the latest party we have had for him — ending at 4:30.  We were exhausted afterwards.  The birthday weekend ended with some lego play and Mooyah for dinner.

Last night an allergy attack woke me up around 4 am.  To say that I am a little tired is an understatement.  So, the start of my day was trying to fall back asleep followed by some Buzzfeed, mail, facebook, etc.  For some reason starting a new week put my mood in a bit of a damper.  In the past (even recent past), weekends seemed more stressful than weekdays.  Possibly, that is due to the fact that I like structure.  However, the past few weekends have relaxed me quite a bit.  I was blaming some of my back/arm pain on lack of sleep.  My pain levels have been pretty low Friday and Saturday which does not correlate with the lack of sleep.  It doesn’t even correlate with stress levels.  Setting up the house and the party are both stress factors for me, but neither aggravated my upper back/neck/head aches.  This week I have my 3 important surgeon appointments while experiencing virtually no pain.  My left arm was in a ton of pain last Thursday but that feels like a lifetime ago.  My headaches have been very mild the past 1.5 weeks.  I feel like my body is correcting itself before I make a commitment to surgery!  Due to no known nerve damage, I am pretty sure I will not opt for neck surgery .  The severe damage to my left arm nerve (assuming ulnar nerve entrapment) may force me to have surgery, pain being present or not.  If the time allots, I will give a brief synopsis of my appointments Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

 

Medications

Yesterday, I felt some of the side effects of the migraine medication.  First off, the neurologist told me I would be groggy in the morning.  I usually am groggy, so I did not think it would be a big deal.  However, that grogginess was present the whole day.  I even had afternoon coffee and was exhausted.  Another side effect I had was intense abdominal pain/cramps.  That is seen as a severe side effect and may be caused due to an interaction with fluoxetine.  That made the decision for me:  I’d rather have these headaches than suffer the side effects.  Usually my headaches are just annoying, like the constant ringing.  I’d take that issue over the intense fatigue or increased fogginess (the side effect of the other medication he was going to prescribe).  I also looked up the drug interactions between the muscle relaxer, anti-inflammatory, fluoxetine, and simvastatin.  The muscle relaxer and fluoxetine have a severe interaction — can cause serotonin syndrome.  Therefore, I have decided to forgo the muscle relaxer as well.

This morning Roger woke us up late — 7:30!  I am virtually pain-free today in my neck area and right arm.  My left arm has discomfort from the ulnar nerve issue.  However, this may be a big indication for me to forgo ACDF surgery.  I have the second opinion next week and, after our weekend away to Galveston, I will stop the anti-inflammatory to see how my body is feeling.  I cannot be on an anti-inflammatory long-term, so if the pain is manageable sans medications, the surgery decision is made.