What a Pain!

Today I have the best of intentions to clean the remainder of the house while my son is out with daddy this late afternoon. In anticipation, I have been doing a little bit of dusting here and there. Oh my, my back/neck/arms hurt! I am doing NOTHING intense, just walking and mildly dusting.

My thoughts as I continued to dust: do I even need another neurosurgeon appointment?! (I do just in regards for timeframe surgery may be necessary). A few days ago I read through blog posts from July describing my neck/arm/head pain and remembered how physical therapy made it more unbearable. I guess the months that the pain diminishes or lessens in degree, I forget about the painful months. I don’t have many readers to my blog but this journal really helps me in keeping a log of pain (physical and emotional).

Last night, I looked over at my son beside me in bed. It caused he most excruciating pain. I must turn my body when I am upright and looking side to side. It brought tears to my eyes realizing surgery may be closer than I hoped.

End of week

It is the Friday of spring break.  Unfortunately, it was not quite a break for us.  My husband and I had work and my son was in camp all week.  Luckily, he was so excited for camp each day and said he had a best friend at camp.  Last night, we went to Main Event and played video games and Roger got to play laser tag with a friend from his school.  Today, after camp, my husband is taking him to the park and then we will all go to my parent’s place for dinner (bringing over Chinese food).  Roger is probably a bit disappointed I did not go to the park, but I woke up with horrible allergies.  It’s that time of year when I start having days that feel flu-like but know it is just what happens when the weather is nice.  I get to only explore the great outdoors on hundred degree days that are allergy-free.  This is truly not fair!

I have decided to have another appointment with the neurosurgeon I met with last year prior to my ulnar nerve surgery (who recommended traction).  I have an appointment with him two days before my follow-up with the new neurosurgeon.  As you can see, I am really wanting avoid surgery!

I have not received a call from the imaging place yet re: x-rays.  I called them yesterday and they did not get the order yet.  They said they will call me.  So, this afternoon I emailed the neurosurgeon office via the patient portal and will follow up with both over the phone on Monday early afternoon, if I hear nothing.

Now that a couple of days have passed, I feel like the idea of surgery is a long-past memory.  I am cheerful, despite allergies.  I am loving my new office arrangement and ordered a new, larger turquoise rug (to compliment the orange walls), so I can stretch during breaks.

Tomorrow hopefully my allergies can subside so we can enjoy a day outside in the gorgeous weather.  There is a St. Paddy’s Day Texas Style festival in Lewisville I would like to check out.  I have also heard the Dallas Arboretum is beautiful.  Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Neurosurgeon

First off, let me say that I have been dealing with this back pain for over a decade.  I was working in NYC when I started treatment on my back.  I have been in and out of physical therapy, had a few epidurals, and many x-rays and MRIs over the years.  The pain in my back specifically and has been pretty constant since 2014 and my limited range of motion since 2007.

Since being in TX, I was referred to one orthopedic doctor who said I had three options:  1. Physical Therapy 2. Epidurals 3.  Surgery.  He said it was up to me.  I went the PT route and never returned to him, since he offered no advice.  Then, I went to a different orthopedic surgeon who set me up with a pain doctor for epidurals, since PT was not helpful.  Last year this orthopedic surgeon said I needed ACDF surgery.  I was hesitant because he suggested the same to a friend who was told her disc issues were very minor by another doctor.  So, I met with a different neurosurgeon at the time that recommended traction over surgery, since, at the time, my arm and hand pain were the biggest issues.  Also, my PCP at that time suggested I get an EMG to see if my arm pain stemmed elsewhere before committing to ACDF surgery.  That is when it was discovered that I had severe compression of my ulnar nerve at my elbow.  I had ulnar nerve transposition surgery last August and “forgot” about my back.

Currently, the past couple of months, arm pain has returned, along with the ever-present neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain and mid-back pain (all due to my C5-C7 discs).  I went back to the surgeon who performed my arm surgery.  She said that what I described was most likely due to the my neck issues.  I went back to the pain doctor, set up two epidurals and a referral to a neurosurgeon who she highly recommended and was conservative in his approach.

The new neurosurgeon was very straight forward.  He said, at this point, physical therapy or epidurals will not help.  They may help some of the symptoms but will not make the underlying issue better.  He tested my reflexes and did some sort of flicker test on my fingers. My middle finger on my left hand twitched.  He said this was definitely indicated that surgery is necessary. He recommends ACDF surgery on 2 levels (as the orthopedic doctor suggested).  He said the level above is having some slippage but, since he is conservative, would not work on that level unless the new x-rays he ordered show more slippage from the x-rays of 2015.  He said surgery was not urgent but needed to be done.  Our perception (my husband and I) thought that meant that we would discuss in a year, maybe five.  Thankfully my husband asked for a specific time frame.  The neurosurgeon said 2-3 weeks.  Um, we would define that as an “urgent” time frame.  He retorted that in the medical field “urgent” meant surgery needed to be done within a 48 hour time frame.

I have a follow-up appointment in two weeks where the new x-rays will be discussed, as well as the plan for surgery.  I did tell him I could not have surgery so quickly.  I have a colonoscopy in May and we have been planning  a very nice summer vacation for the end of June.  I will be in a neck brace for 3 months post-surgery. I cannot drive in a neck brace and we are driving to Denver.  He did not like me waiting so long — but I’ve been waiting for a year with all the last minute attempts at another round of physical therapy, epidurals, and ulnar nerve transposition surgery.  He said to avoid anything jarring: running, jarring exercises, riding a horse, being on a boat, and not to fall when on the mountains!

I guess I need to get back in touch with HR tomorrow and find out what short-term disability I can get since I had surgery not so long ago…What a fun Wednesday!

Big Ball of Stress

Achieving balance is what most people are striving for  – or at least I am.  However, at this time in my life, I view everything as stressful.  Work is stressful, cleaning is stressful, trying to find time to exercise is stressful, eating healthy is stressful, getting Roger ready for school/camp/bed/classes/therapy is stressful, playing with Roger is stressful, trying to fall asleep at night is stressful.  BUT doing nothing is the most stressful of all for I think of everything I should be doing.

I think I have forgotten how to relax.  What is the first step?  How do you train yourself to relax?  It really pisses me off when I see others relaxing while I am stressing out.

I also think I have forgotten how to have fun.  It takes a lot to make me smile or genuinely enjoy myself.  It wasn’t until The Dead Milkmen were actually onstage playing that I enjoyed that night.

I genuinely feel bad for my son and my husband.  I want to have fun.  I want to let go.  Will a brain swap work?

Any tips or advice appreciated (just comment).

Follow up on yesterday’s 1-4

For those interested:

  1. Pain doctor – she is sending a referral to a neurosurgeon.  We both discussed the Orthopedic Surgeon who I previously went to and I said he was too “surgery happy” and I would prefer to see someone she recommended, since her recommendation for a surgeon for my elbow was fantastic.  She said the doctor she is sending me to was head at UC Davis and is conservative in his approach.  Also, we scheduled two cervical epidurals on March 7th and March 28th with a follow up with her in April.
  2. Dental cleaning – they said all is good and that I have been doing well with my upkeep
  3. Open House was really great.  Roger was super excited and he got to show us all around.  It makes me waffle a bit about our decision to switch to the STEM Academy at Donald next year.
  4. The Dead Milkmen were phenomenal.  So much fun!  It’s always nice going to a concert with most of the attendees your general age.  There were some younger kiddos as well (middle school aged).  However, about 3-4 songs near the end I was aching to go.  My back was feeling it!

Last night we got home too late and this morning came too early.  My back is in dire straights today which is calling for a lot of icing and, soon, a hot bath which will, hopefully, be followed by a nap.

Rainy Wednesday

Today started out as most weekdays –with the struggle over Roger’s shoes not being tight enough.  I know the weather change enhances some sensory issues.  This Wednesday it manifested itself over a shirt to wear.  The first shirt I chose was sweatshirt material.  Roger said it was too soft and to get it off him.  He was very upset.  The second shirt’s sleeves were a 1/4 inch too long for him, so he completely freaked out for a second time.  The third shirt worked but his shoes had to be tied multiple times.   The walk to school had light rain.  That he did not complain about.  The walk home the rain became heavier.  C’est la vie!

So today is a cold, rainy day.  The perfect day to be under covers in bed.  I tried to convince myself that I could skip my exercise for the day, since I did it the previous 3 days.  However, this seems to be my cycle.  By mid week, I usually start excusing myself from exercise.  Since I am volunteering the next two days and have an ENT appointment, I know I may not have time which made today’s workout more crucial for me.

Well, I did it and it’s over and I’m glad I did it and I’m glad it’s over.

Back in the Saddle Again

Yesterday was my first day back at work.  It was an 8 hour day.  I took hourly breaks to walk and move my arms.  During my lunch break, I did my 10 minute headspace meditation program and rested in bed an additional 10 minutes or so.  After school, Roger had homework and then Occupational Therapy.  After OT, we had our normal Chick-fil-A dinner and play date with his friend at our house.  It was a long day, especially since part of my workload occurred between the 7 to 9 o’clock hours.  I was very sore by the time I went to bed and woke up pretty sore too.

Today, I, again, took breaks and had my meditation/rest time during lunch.  This afternoon will be pretty packed with Roger having a trial singing lesson at School of Rock, followed by his swimming lesson, followed by dinner at my parents house, followed by spelling homework, followed by showers/bed.  I’m exhausted thinking about it!  However, the routine and new 5 minutes-per-hour (in the morning) exercise schedule has put me in a better mood than I have been.

I am hoping my health, wellness, and recovery will flourish.

Today I am very hopeful.