Sunday, July 22, 2012

Back Update #6 - 'Twas the Day Before Surgery

Hello friends! The last week has been really crazy in terms of my back. On Tuesday I had to goto my Dr.'s office to get all my Pre-op stuff done and it was a roller coaster. I actually was doing ok before I went in but to make a long story short, they had me standing or sitting for almost an hour and a half with a small reprieve in the middle when they did my EKG. It was a mix of a physical and then the blood/urine stuff at the end. I stood for way too long and it hit me really hard. By the end I barely crawled in the van I was in really rough shape. I couldn't walk well and every movement hurt. I got home and to my recliner and sat for about an hour. I was very uncomfortable and finally decided I had to get to the floor to lay completely flat. That pain chilled enough that I could get some food down and I layer there for several hours. I realized I wasn't moving very well and got nervous when I felt I had to goto the bathroom. I worked myself to the couch having M muscle me on to it but that was it, the nerve was shot. It hurt more than I had ever hurt throughout the entire process. I was sweating, in unbearable pain, and shaking like crazy. That my friends is the road of being in shock. I laid there and I tried to get it calm and knew I would need to move eventually, this wasn't working. About an hour later I needed to stand up. I knew I needed to at least get back in the recliner so I could easily work to a standing position with little to no help. M helped me stand and it was horrible. I walked a couple steps back to the recliner and that was it. I never left that recliner until 24 hours later when I attempted to stand using crutches. I am just going to say that my wife is a saint and without her there I don't know what I would have done. I could not take care of myself over that 2 days and I have never been that bad off in my entire life. I was scared.
On Thursday I had to get to my MRI or this surgery wasn't going to happen so after some very long talks with my surgeons nurse and a last minute decision, I mustered enough strength and energy to get in the van using crutches. I figured that worse case they could wheelchair me in, I just needed to get to the van and get on the table. The trip to the van: sucked. The trip in the van: not cool. The wheelchair ride to the MRI: excruciating. I stood up and worked myself onto the table. They put a wedge under my legs to bend my knees and it hurt. I thought this would calm it down but it just hurt. I was on that table in that tube for about 35 minutes and it never stopped hurting. I came out and they could tell it still hurt. Here is where it gets crazy. They helped me sit up, I swung my legs over and stood up and the pain pretty much went away. I was still sore but it was like from pain level 10 to 2 just from standing up. I walked to the van with no crutches and no help. Crazy. The junk in my back must have moved just right. I came home and the van ride was fine. I told M I wanted to take a shower because I didn't know if this was going to last and I went upstairs and took the most restful nap I had had since 4 days before. M and I talked and decided that the recliner needed to go immediately. We have a feeling that because I wasn't completely flat is hindered my healing over those two days so she brought up a twin bed to the living room for me to be in. This way I could be off the ground but still lay down and still be with everyone instead of up in a bedroom. I'm still nervous of trying to get off the floor. I did however discover that I can no longer lay on either of my sides or my belly. Back is the only option and if I do lay on my sides, the leg flares up. I didn't realize until I couldn't how much I sleep on my sides. I hate laying on my back currently. I will however take it over being in constant pain.

Yesterday was good, I finally stopped taking the pain pills which I hate. I didn't mention that through the course of this past week, I am also not allowed to take any anti-inflammatory meds because of surgery for a full week before. This definitely made things even worse over the week. Tylenol and pain meds, that's it. I also iced as much as possible. But the inflammation in the nerve area is the source of 90% of my pain so it was rough. Yesterday was emotionally a bit crappy also. Avery and I had worked on her riding her bike with no training wheels (funny enough at the start of my bad back pain) in May and she had wanted to go out and work on it some more. M was kinda holding off over the last month or so wanting me to have this Daddy moment. Well Avery asked me last week if I could help her and it broke my heart. I told M to help her. They went out yesterday and she picked it right up. I was so proud. I wanted to be there and it made me sad but at least I could watch for a couple minutes. That stuff right there is the most frustrating thing about all of this. I know the kids will barely remember and I probably will to afterwords but man it sucks now.

Today is my birthday, tomorrow is the surgery. It's been a very mello day overall. Not a ton of pain, just a bit uncomfortable. I really want to be on my side and can for about 5 minutes but I don't dare for much longer. M is making me a special b-day dinner and Debbie is in town to help over the next couple of days with kids and such. Just chilled with Lil while she napped and look forward to some family time before tomorrow. The surgery is tomorrow at 11am and will take about an hour and a half. I will be at Spectrum/Blodgett campus. It is an overnight stay to monitor infection and any potential complications such as spinal fluid leaks and stuff but that is very rare. I should let you all know that the success rate is 95% and should go fine. I'm nervous, who wouldn't be having someone expose my nerves and playing around in there but my surgeon is amazing and I continue to hear great things about him as days pass from friends in the medical field and people M knows. I know I'm in amazing hands. The surgeon (Dr. Brown) is confident I will be back working at the beginning of the school year. Good news indeed. Unfortunately, no band camp or pre camps for a while. I'm hoping I will recover enough to actually enjoy some of my break before I go back. I really want to get back on the drum set as well. We will see, one day at a time. I'm keeping my hopes up and I'm excited for post surgery healing. Talk to you all soon after the surgery.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Back Update #5 - Post injection/Pre-surgery

The last post was two weeks ago the day of my 2nd spinal injection. It was rough but a couple days later I did feel a little bit of improvement. I found that I could be on my feet for 20 to 30 minutes before I would have to lay down to calm things down. An improvement but not quite life altering. Then it wore off about 4 days after. So much for that. During that time my spinal doctor came through and set me up to meet with a surgeon sooner. Instead of Aug 8 it would now happen on July 12! Finally something positive. So my follow up for the injections happened on the 10th and the PA agreed that it was good I had the consult lined up for Thursday. He said that even though the shot did cause some relief it wasn't enough and I'm officially part of the 20% of people that just don't recover with physical therapy and the injections. If I don't do the surgery I have a very long haul of recovery probably not being able to go back to work for quite some time. As we were leaving, my nurse asked if I had anymore questions and I had been wondering how long it would take between the consultation and going under the knife if he decided that was the right way to go. She went and talked to the surgeons schedulers and reported back that it looked like he was booked till early to mid-August. Not at all what I wanted to hear. It didn't sit well with me but what was I going to do. M and I decided we would talk specifically about my timeframe when we met with the surgeon. Maybe he could pull some strings if he knows my job situation.

This brings us to the surgeon consultation. I met with Dr. Brown yesterday and he is really on top of his stuff. As we talked and he had me run through some physical tests and he explained that unfortunately with my previous injury (5yrs ago had the same thing but I recovered with P.T.) there is quite a bit of scarring/calcium deposits from bones rubbing together while it healed the first time between my vertebrae. Due to this he isn't surprised it happened again because that stuff has misshaped the area between the disk and has an easier time pushing the disk into the wrong place. He explained that odds are that eventually (and hopefully) the two vertebrae will fuse together naturally since most of the disk is trashed. He said there was some consideration of fusing them together but felt we should give the area a chance to work it out a bit more naturally. He said that if it really gets bad in the future we will talk spinal fusion. With that in mind he feels a hemi-laminectomy is the way to go. This is surgery to help alleviate the symptoms of an impinged or irritated nerve root in the spine. During this procedure, he will remove part of a vertebra called a lamina (it's like a little wing off the back of the spine that covers and protects the nerves). This removal of bone creates more space and a little window in the spinal canal and is meant to release nerve tissue from pressure. He will also remove the debris from the nerve area that was the various parts of my disk that broke off/leaked out and is now pushing on my nerve root in that part of the spine. After the surgery I should feel relief on my leg immediately since no more stuff will be pushing on the nerve. It will require an overnight stay in the hospital and I will be on some very strict restrictions. Dr. Brown was however concerned that since the current MRI was taken, I had really hurt myself even worse two different times. He really wants to make sure there would be no surprises. With that being said, I have to do another MRI on Thursday this coming week. I am glad he wants to be thorough. As we talked he stressed the fact that we needed to get me back on my feet by the time school starts. Since everything else doctor related had move so slow, it was nice to hear him say that but we still didn't know when the surgery would officially take place. I know recovery for this takes at least 2 or 3 weeks before I could go back to work and it would be 6 to 12 weeks before I felt normal and didn't have any major restrictions. With that being said we went out to schedule the surgery. The assistant said that Dr. Brown spoke with her and they want to do the surgery on July 23rd! My mouth hit the floor. I thought it was going to be mid-August. So yeah, 10 days and I'll hopefully be on the road to recovery. I'm pretty nervous, I mean, it's not terribly evasive and it has a really high success rate (95%) but its still my spine. The doctor also said that because my injury is cross-lateral (when sitting if he raises my left leg, it sets off the nerve causing problems in my right leg) my chances of success are even greater (I don't know why but that is good). I have done the research and this surgeon is top notch as are all the surgeons at OAM so it should be good. I'll keep you all posted.