March 29, 2013 – Forgiveness
For some reason I was thinking of all the screw-ups perpetrated by so many doctors and I started to get angry and resentful. It first started with Dr. H, who basically blew me off when I told him numerous times, that my whole body was killing me. Looking back, this was due to the spinal stenosis. He kept ignoring me and ordered a stupid regular x-ray, when he should’ve referred me out. Then when I went to Dr. G, he said he didn’t want to step on the toes of Dr. H, so again I was blown off. I finally referred myself to Augusta Back where the travesty continued. First I saw Dr. B, a D.O. who finally ordered an MRI. It showed spinal stenosis so he did epidural steroid injections, which worked a little but not enough. He then referred me to the surgeon and I then had a lumbar laminectomy, which was successful but didn’t address underlying symptoms too. In fact, I was worse as time went on, only to be told over and over that the spinal nerve just had to heal. Then after 2 months, they finally started to say that there was nothing that could be done and they had no idea why I wasn’t getting any better. At that point, I was hobbling with a cane, with no balance, causing me to fall at the drop of a hat. My foot was dropped and my leg was partially paralyzed so that I literally could not lift it up without using my hands. They dismissed me to a pain management doctor because I was also suffering with unbearable nerve pain in my abdomen, back, both legs and feet. My life turned to a living hell. Luckily the pain doctor told me he could not help me either. At first I was angry but now I am so lucky because I finally got sent back to the original doctor, Dr. B. He actually took time to stop and think about my symptoms and decided that it just might be coming from the thoracic spine. Sure enough, after a thoracic MRI, he discovered a small meningioma, pressing on T3 of my spinal cord. This was what was causing all the symptoms, including a weak right leg and all that nerve pain. I finally decided to go back to the surgeon, who, in my estimation owed me a huge apology for not looking any further for an explanation regarding why the hell I could not walk. She performed the surgery, which was much, much, more painful and complicated than the first, but Dr. B was right; the compressed spinal cord in the thoracic area was the culprit. To this day, I cannot fathom why the surgeon treated me like I was a nutcase and did not bother to investigate further. It would have been so simple to just think about it and order a thoracic MRI. I do not know why that was not even in the realm of possibility for her and why nobody else would actually listen to my symptoms. Here’s the thing, I could spend all my time being angry and resentful or I could be extremely grateful that at least I found the doctor who finally got it right. I wasted so much time being crippled and sad, so I don’t want to waste any more with being resentful. I prayed to God for me to find a doctor who could help me and my prayers were answered—that’s all I know now. I am grateful over and over, each time I do a simple thing like walk across a room, unassisted.
March 18, 2013
It is amazing how twelve days can make such a world of difference. I am no longer getting home care because I am so much better and driving too. So many people take just plain walking for granted, and so did I, until I couldn’t. This whole hellish 6 months has actually given me a new understanding of people with disabilities. It has taught me to not take anything—even something as simple as walking—for granted anymore. I know that there is a finite period of time on this earth and I MUST live it to the fullest. I have to just conclude that this is a miracle of God that was bestowed on me and that there is a lesson to be learned. I have started back to the gym just to walk on the track (because there are handrails, just in case; I still get nervous when walking) and have also started doing some of the P.T. exercises I was doing with the therapist after my last surgery. I am very, very, determined to get back as much function as I can. At this rate, I think I will be good in a few months and will continue to improve more and more as time goes on. I finally have HOPE, something I have not had in 4 months. Every day when I can easily maneuver around without losing my balance, I am amazed, and who would’ve thought that something so seemingly simple could give me such joy? When I see people that knew me before this latest surgery, they say I am different, almost glowing. I feel that I have a shot at a life now, but I will not forget the months I spent as disabled, hobbling around with a cane, ready to fall over at the drop of a hat, not being able to lift my own leg into the car, being a menace on the road because my leg was sometimes unresponsive. I drove my car again last Wednesday and at first I was not used to the sensation of actually having power in my leg. But, after a few minutes, I got the hang of it and reveled in the feeling that I could stop perfectly whenever I wanted to. Before this surgery, I drove with my heart in my throat because sometimes my car would lurch forward when I didn’t expect it, almost hitting the car in front of me. I had so many close calls that I was thinking of not driving anymore, but I just vowed to be extra, extra, careful, putting my foot on the brake way before I had to and pressing hard. But, even then, it was such an effort to just lift my leg from the gas to the brake and back again because of extreme weakness. It is a blessing to just be able to drive normally again. It is almost as if I have awoken from a coma and now have to learn to walk normally again. My right leg was so atrophied from lack of proper use of the muscle but it is already starting to get some of the tone back. I am so grateful that words cannot even describe it. I find myself smiling more at people now and that in itself is miraculous.
March 6, 2013
Surgery was 6 days ago and I am still having pain in my chest. I was told it is due to chondritis (inflammation of cartilage between ribs) due to the back surgery. In the hospital, I am sure the staff must have thought I was a baby. They had absolutely no idea how really terrible I felt between the incision in the back (quite long), the reflux in my belly due to the pain meds, and the horrendously painful chest. Every time the physical therapists came around, I was in severe, severe, chest pain which impeded my progress with the walking. However, I must have still done decently because I did not quality for in-patient rehab. I am actually very glad that I went home because there truly is “no place like home”, at least for me. They gave me a shot in the hospital of Toradol for the inflammation in my chest. It made a world of difference, but once the shot wore off, the pain started in again with a vengeance. By the time I wanted to sleep, it was impossible due to the belly and chest pain. I got almost no sleep last night. I called the office and they prescribed oral Toradol, which I can only take for 5 days at the most. Unfortunately I ended up eating too much for dinner which is now causing pain in my chest again, just in time for bed. I hope I will not have another bad night. It is worse when I sit or lay down. It seems the less I eat, the better I am. I am done with feeling horrible—-it is time for me to get better and start living a real life. Unfortunately, my legs are still stiff as a board but that might be due to the trauma of the surgery. But, on a good note, my right leg has improved drastically and I am able to move it on its own, rather than me lifting it up with my hands. That’s major and hopefully, the other nerve problems will improve over time. At least the leg issue seems to have resolved immediately.
February 23, 2013
I saw my original surgeon and she was very nice so I made the decision that I will go with her and her team again. Otherwise, I would have to start with someone else and wait even longer. I can only hope that I will have some major improvement, otherwise I do not know what else to do. Surgery will be on Friday, March 1st. I had a very hard day doing massage today and I am totally exhausted. Each time I’m in the massage room, I have to walk very slowly, and watch every step I take. I am always in fear of losing my balance and falling. I also have to apply for the Aflac disability again, which for some reason, makes me feel guilty. I know work is getting annoyed but I cannot help this. I hope there is no problem with the Aflac because I am counting on this to live for a while. I just must get better, I must.
February 8, 2013
I have been doing some massages lately. It is literally a balancing act. I find when I take my shoes off, I have better balance. But today I had a hot stone massage and I was worried since yesterday. First of all, I have to fill up the cooker, which entails bringing it to the sink and carrying it back. I had to ask one of the other therapists to do this for me. Then during the massage, I was nervous that I would lose my balance and fall in the room because you have to go back and forth to get the stones. It is much easier just doing a straight massage. I almost lost my balance once and it scared me to pieces but I caught myself in time. The whole massage I prayed over and over that I would not fall and I didn’t but I got out and told the receptionist to not book any hot stones for me at all until I am better. I saw the original doctor that I saw back in September and he actually took at lot of time to offer me some solutions. In addition, he is willing to explore more and thinks (as I do) that maybe, just maybe, the surgeon did not get all the areas decompressed. This is why he ordered a new MRI (I hope the insurance company pays for it) of the thoracic spine. I also still think that S1 is involved and he agrees. The surgeon I went to a few days ago told me there was nothing he could do but agreed to look at the MRI disk. As of this day, he has not done so. I need the disk to bring to my appointment with the new surgeon. Prior to the other appointment I was already planning to be told nothing further could be done, but he at least suggested that my weird symptoms in my stomach and back could be coming from the Thoracic spine. Sometimes it seems that I am getting very, very, slightly better (the belly does not feel as bad tonight) and my walking seems slightly better. Nobody at the spa has any idea that I feel so bad and that it is a miracle that I am able to do any massage at all. They say, “So, you’re back.” And I say, “just on a very limited basis.” I feel like a charity case when I am there and I get the impression that one of the new girls resents me. This little bit of work may dry up soon if the bookings don’t pick up, so we’ll see. I also have to try to believe that I will get better, eventually. But for today, I have to accept the way I am (but just for today). Tomorrow I have to tell myself the same thing; one day at a time.