Surgery Log 2013 – Driving

February 3, 2013

I had a problem with my driving yesterday when I accidentally pressed the accelerator rather than the gas because my stupid foot does that. I always think that only super old folks do that, but this scared me so much I couldn’t believe it. Luckily I swerved and put the brakes on in time. I went outside today to drive over and over in a lot practicing stopping, going, braking, etc. I just have to be ever vigilant about where my foot is. I had a total meltdown today about my lack of balance and lack of money coming into this house. Tuesday I have the appointment with the new doctor, recommended by Michael, but I have no real expectations. I have some hope, but hope is different from expectations. If I could just get somewhat better to the point that I could function relatively normally, I would be so grateful. I keep thinking about how much more of this I can take and I just do not know. I pray every day that there is a good resolution to this. In the meantime I am trying to do some work, but my balance is sometimes so off that I can’t stand properly. I am filled with extreme fear that this is going to be my life and I just cannot continue on like this. I also contacted another doctor on line for an appointment. I read his bio and he seems like someone who may be able to help me. The thing is, when do you decide to throw in the towel? When do you decide that you will not try to get better anymore? I go to the pool and sometimes the burning in my legs is even worse. I never know what will bring me some relief or what will cause me to feel worse. Sometimes something works once and then the next day it doesn’t. I am living in a nightmare that I cannot wake up from. I have limited monetary resources at this point and I am freaking out, with no work, no disability, no nothing.

Surgery Log – 2012 – Morning

12/16/12 – Sunday – I woke up this morning feeling just as bad as usual, as if yesterday’s “progress” never even took place. Every morning is like a new beginning, and back to square one. Each night I go to bed and pray that I will have at least some indication that I am getting better, but that is never the case. Today, I am super unsteady on my feet. My renter left the house and forgot to deactivate the alarm system this morning. I was sitting in my office and suddenly realized that the alarm was about to go off so I had to literally “jump up”, without my cane, and “run” over to the closet to press the deactivate button. I almost fell and was so off balance but I did it. However, it depressed me to no end because a simple movement like that almost resulted in me falling. I do not know why I am so unsteady today and it is very discouraging. My knee is painful and does not support me properly, probably due to the weak leg. Last night my right leg and especially my foot were freezing cold to the touch. No matter how many socks I put on, my foot is just plain COLD. I had a measure of peace yesterday when I went over to Serenity and picked up some paperwork, then on to Starbucks. That seems to be the only place that I somehow can relax and feel like it all will work out. I am desperately trying to maintain some measure of peace today, because that seems to help, but it is hard when you are walking all crooked and wobbly. I am seeing the neurosurgeon tomorrow who will review the MRI with contrast. I am not sure if I want something terribly wrong to show or not. If there is something amiss, then maybe they can fix it. But if nothing shows up, then what the hell am I going to do at this point? I am so tired of being consumed with my physical condition and I am beginning to isolate. I’ve missed two Christmas parties recently because I just didn’t want to be walking with a plate of food and my stupid cane, not being sure if I would fall and make a complete fool out of myself. I am starting to avoid social situations and staying home more. My world has become increasingly more and more narrow. I am so sad, words cannot describe it. I pray to God that there is some hope tomorrow because I am coming to the end of my rope.

Surgery Log 2012 – Numbness, Burning

12/14/12 – Friday – I wake up the same as usual, no change. I am still having the numbness, tingling and burning, which is so depressing. I am trying to maintain some sanity today so I put my back brace on and it feels a little better. It somehow alleviates the pressure on my belly when I wear that. In the meantime, I will have the MRI today.

12/15/12 – Saturday – I had the MRI with contrast yesterday and that was uneventful. I then went to Walmart and the numbness, burning, and tingling in my legs was almost unbearable. I learned from the Internet that this is actually a form of pain, but not in the traditional sense; it is NERVE pain. It is almost if not more unbearable than regular pain, as most people know it. I keep saying, “Well at least I’m not in pain. I just have the numbness.” But this is not the usual numbness that I originally had, it is a deep, searing, burning, numbness and is a type of pain. Yesterday I finally identified this as a “burning” sensation. It is horrible. In reading over my entries I see that I have had days where I was not feeling bad at all since the surgery. I don’t understand why I felt better in the beginning, right after the surgery, than I do now. Also, every so often I feel a lot better and my leg is stronger. I don’t understand why the numbness seems less and then the next day or even later on in the day, I am back to the same burning, tingling, numbness as usual. Maybe it is a good sign that it occasionally abates, but I am at a loss. Last night I was absolutely convinced that the doctor screwed up and injured my spinal nerve which is why I am not progressing much or even at all. But I am resolving today to just accept this day as it is because I have no control of anything at all at this point until Monday when the doctor can review my MRI. I spoke with Jane last night who said that the MRI with contrast will absolutely show everything that is going on. If there is a problem, it will show. I don’t want to have to go back into surgery but if there is something wrong and it is pressing on the nerve, I will do whatever it takes to get better. I’m going to try to be free from self-pity today. We’ll see how that goes. It is amazing how a small bit of improvement can cause such elation so maybe if I can look for something that has gotten better I will have a better day. I will keep praying.

Later in the day: I decided to not take the ibuprofen because it doesn’t seem to work on nerve pain. It works great on regular pain, but it definitely does not stop the numbness and tingling. All of a sudden, the symptoms seemed less. Maybe it has something to do with me going to Starbucks (I’m going broke) and just “relaxing” as much as I am capable, but I felt a lot better both physically and mentally. I then took a dose of the Gabapentin which is for nerve pain. I don’t know but maybe I feel a tad bit less terrible. I will take another one tonight before bed and who knows, maybe, just maybe, I will see some progress.

Surgery Log 2012 – Discouragement

Discouragement – 11/28/12 – Wednesday – 2nd entry – For some inexplicable reason, after doing the PT, going to a meeting, and walking in Target, my legs, abdomen, and back are unbelievably numb and tingly. I had to go back to the house suddenly because I felt so terrible I couldn’t really stand up too much longer. It is so upsetting and discouraging. I actually felt halfway decent today, but as of right now, my body from my waist down is totally numb. I’m back to thinking in a negative way again. I told myself to be positive but I’ve had it for the day. I think I will get the chores done early and retire to my bed to read. At least if I enter a world of fantasy, I don’t have to think about myself. At this point I really am wondering if this will ever get better. One day I seem to be making progress, and the next day I feel no better than I did before the damn surgery. Sometimes I wonder why the hell I even had the surgery in the first place. I actually feel worse than I did a few months ago. I am having trouble finding a reason to go on with this whole thing. I hope I feel differently tomorrow!

11/30/12 – Friday – I resolved to be in a more positive state of mind because I know it does affect the healing process, or so I’ve been told. But, as usual I awake with stiff and numb knees, quads, abdomen, back, etc. The only good thing is that the cortisone shot in my knee seems to actually have helped so my knee does not get “stuck” in one position when I sit causing me to limp until it straightens out. I must be at least grateful for something and I truly am. But, my right leg is just so damn weak that I am constantly off balance and must limp. At first I thought my limp was due to the uneven hips but actually it is because my damn leg will simply not support my body. I am very self-conscious when I have to use the cane, but I limp less and don’t feel scared of falling as much. The fear is still there though. I rant and rave today and finally decide that there should have been at least some sort of improvement so I call the doctor’s office and speak to the nurse (of course) who seems somewhat concerned. That surprises me because I am sure she will say, “Oh, it is too soon so don’t worry.” But she decided to put me on a steroid pack to help relieve inflammation. It is day 3 and there is really no improvement so far. Actually I thought I was walking much, much better on Saturday but by Sunday that progress seemed to have disappeared. Maybe it was just wishful thinking or maybe there was an initial improvement, but I don’t understand why sometimes things seem better and then I wake up back to square one. When I get up and I have trouble walking, with the same numbness, I get discouraged.

Surgery Log – 2012 – Thanksgiving

11/22/12 – Happy Thanksgiving, I guess. It is traditional for me to start out running in the morning but that is not happening today. So, I decide to walk on my treadmill, upstairs. I ask “permission” from my tenant upstairs and she agrees. But for some reason my knee and leg are very painful and stiff today (more than usual) so I abandon that idea. I am already discouraged so I go to a 12-noon meeting. I was not planning to go anywhere today since Janet’s Thanksgiving celebration will take place on Friday. I didn’t want to have two pig out days in a row. But everyone at the meeting convinced me to go to the AA festivity at Baker Avenue. It was decent but I would’ve preferred going to the Jet’s house. I still have no idea when I am supposed to grace the Jet with my presence on Friday. When I come home I do chores and start to get more and more agitated and upset, complete with crying, at my (you guessed it) knee’s lack of progress and even regression from the day before. That’s when I luckily decide to go to the Evans meeting at 8:00. That is a good decision because it gets me out of my head and saves me, as it always does. For some inexplicable reason, my stupid knee is not too bad. I jump on that good feeling and it helps me for the rest of the night. I am freezing in bed due to my numb legs; something that is a recent occurrence. David calls me to tell me that everything was really nice at his cousin Teresa’s house for Thanksgiving and that Joe looked good. It is a shame that his son, Aaron, could not be there with the other kids. Henry, of course was a big hit because he is super duper adorable. I am feeling glad about Joseph being part of the family for the day yet I am sad again about being apart from my family. I begin to think that moving so far away was a curse, but that was my decision so I have to live with it.

Surgery Log 2012 – Regressing

Regressing – 11/18/12 – Sunday – I think I am programmed to be depressed on Sunday because that ray of sunshine I had the day before did not last too long. It just seems that I am regressing, rather than progressing. I woke up with very bad knee pain. Definitely on the Pity Pot today. My knee is unusually stiff and sore. I went with Joyce to the Church today and felt OK afterwards, except that my knee is still stiff and sore and I had to use the damn cane. I worked myself into a real STATE this evening. I decided that I would exercise the garage option if I don’t get better or at least have some hope of getting better in the somewhat immediate future. I cried hysterically and then called the Jet. I spoke with her and John, two people who I can really let it all out with, and they both get upset when I tell them I don’t want to live anymore. I was so upset that Sunshine would not stop SCREAMING—something she seems to do more often when I am upset—and I slammed the bird food plastic bin down on the counter and it broke. Then I went over to her and literally waved my grabber stick at her. I am truly out of control. God forbid I actually hurt her; I would never forgive myself. I am just so depressed and frustrated I can hardly bare it. Please God; give me HOPE for a recovery. My back is getting better—at least the incision is—but my right leg and knee are regressing.

11/19/12 – Monday – I wake up feeling hopeful because my knee seems stronger and I have an appointment to get the staples out of my back. I have intentions of speaking to the surgeon but of course I see the nurse and then the PA. I am annoyed but she is nice and takes lots of time to address my concerns about my knee. She explains that because of the back surgery, my knee’s progress has been put on hold and the muscle leading into the knee (the Quads) is becoming weak so my knee is weak too. It makes sense so I will accept that explanation. I make an appointment for PT with Kevin and a follow up surgical appointment to speak to the actual surgeon—amazing. She says I am doing well and my stupid knee will get better in TIME; no telling when that will be. The numbness will resolve in TIME; no telling when that will be. I will be back to work in TIME; it will be addressed after seeing the doctor in a few weeks. In the meantime, I will do my PT, my limited exercises (some treadmill and maybe recumbent bike) but not much more. I am feeling hopeful again. It is amazing how your outlook on life can change from one day to another. I have no idea how I will feel tomorrow so I might as well enjoy a day of hope. I am now able to drive although it takes a lot out of me and I am still very tired. I am going to a meeting tonight alone.