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!
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!
Well, today started out very stressful. I had a half dozen phone calls with my boss prior to 9:30 am. I was in a constant stream of work until noon. I got up at 10 to the hour each hour when my Fitbit told me I took zero of my 250 steps each hour. After my lunch break, things settled down to a more manageable pace until the end of the work day. Today, Rob picked Roger up from camp and I got to take a long, extremely hot shower. I love showers that my skin is pink/red for a good 20 minutes afterwards.
Today we met a reading comprehension tutor at the Lewisville Library. It is hard to discuss the needs of tutoring when your son is at grade level. However, as many kids in his class started the year at lower levels than him, they have progressed to his level 6 months later. Roger is still at the same level he started the school year at. He is a great reader but I think his downfall may not be comprehension but attention. His long-term sub thinks it is lack of interest v. comprehension. How can you teach a kid to be interested, pay attention and focus on books that have zero interest to him? The only books he is interested in are biographies.
Of course, he aced the tutoring session and she said she would reach out to interventionists in elementary school for suggestions. She is a dyslexic interventionist in middle school. She gave me pointers but I told her that he will do these things for me. He is a people-pleaser for everyone except me and my husband. At home he fights about doing any homework. I could never homeschool. This child would be determined not to learn anything from me.
After his session, we went to the biography section of the children’s library and Roger chose books on Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Prince, Louis Armstrong, John Cena, The Rock, and Chuck Close. The Chuck Close book was one I showed him — truly an amazing artist and a fantastic children’s book. We also got Roger his own library card and he checked out his own books. He was thrilled.
Afterwards we had a nice dinner at Red Robin. That restaurant is never my choice but I know Roger really loves it and he’s been such an awesome boy lately. I had a nice libation there and two godiva chocolates at home. That made my mood better. However, I do not want alcohol or food to be my stress reliever…Although relaxed, I decided to jump on the stationary bike and blog while riding. Not as yummy, but enjoyable too!
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).
This week has been mentally, physically, and, mainly, emotionally hard.
Prior to my epidural, I had a change in my workspace. Instead of working on my personal laptop, that I could move from an exercise work station to different areas of the house, I am now confined to an upstairs workstation. The set up is quite impressive with large dual-monitors provided from my job. I am thankful but this has been a learning curve for me. I had to learn some new programs, spent the majority of Tuesday on the phone with the help desk, and am still not equipped with everything needed.
Wednesday was my “oh-not-so-fun” epidural experience that you can read about in an earlier blog. They days following have been tough work days. I was physically exhausted but thought I did not need to take off extra time. Boy, was I wrong. I lumbered through them physically but was hit mostly emotionally.
Since Wednesday’s epidural reprimand, I have been in and out of streams of tears. I have not cried this much in so long. I have read theories over why anesthesia could make someone cry. I am wondering if the stress of the past year is finally releasing itself with the help of the anesthesia. If so, when will the tears finally end?
Yesterday I had my third cervical epidural. My two previous ones were done a couple of years ago. I had some nerve issues after my second one but did not have any issues with the actual procedure. That was not the case yesterday.
First off, we had to be at the hospital at 6 a.m. So, we woke up about 1.5 hours earlier than normal. That wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I could not sleep at all due to the fact I was worried my alarm would not wake me. I was up every few minutes looking at the clock. Therefore, when it was time to wake up, I was already awake and exhausted. My husband had to get my son ready for school so he had to leave me at the hospital. I was glad they were gone before I got my IV. Normally, I get my IV in my hand. However, this time the nurse put it on the side of my hand/wrist. The only other time I had it there was when I had surgery on my ankle (almost 20 years ago) and it hurt so bad that I clearly remember that. Yesterday, it hurt as much as I recall it hurting then. She even commented that something was up with the nerve and she had to reposition it. Fun times!
The fun continued in the endoscopy room. We had to wait for the anesthesiologist. I chatted a tad with the doctor and staff while waiting. I was being chipper. They positioned me face down and, eventually, started the anesthesia. My next memory was the anesthesiologist commenting that I had to stop moving. I felt like he was reprimanding me. I started crying and was thankful I was face down and no one could see. Then I swore I could feel the procedure taking place. It hurt like hell and I cried from then until I was brought in the recovery, where the nurse commented a few times on when my husband would be back — he had to drop our son off at school. I was still crying when he arrived and on the drive home. It took me some time before I could tell him about it.
I have been under anesthesia many times and never woke crying. It makes me very nervous about having my next epidural in three weeks. I sent a note to my doctor telling her the above in a more vague manner. She tried calling but I was at my son’s school’s Chili Cook-Off. She responded via email and asked me to call her tomorrow. I have a lot to consider in the next few weeks.