Surgery Log 2013 – Jan 8th – Depression, rage, self-pity

Tuesday January 8, 2013

I actually was walking a bit better today. I really think it is more depressing when I go to a meeting. What usually happens is that I see multiple people who have had surgeries after mine and they are either recovered or on the right road. That just elicits so many emotions such as rage, self-pity, depression, jealousy, etc. Last night I came home in such an agitated and depressed state of mind that I don’t know how I got through the night. I woke up almost as bad, but as I always say, all it takes is just a smidgeon of hope, which I did get today. First of all I called the office who sends out the medical records, only to be told that they don’t even have a record of this request in their system yet; not good. But, he told me that this is probably due to it being New Years Eve when I put in the request. It probably didn’t even get sent to then until this week, which is only Tuesday, because they probably missed the pick up last week, etc. Bottom line, it is severely delayed due to the holiday and there is nothing I can do about that. He assured me that as soon as they get it in their system, the turnaround time is small. He estimated that the new doctor would not even receive it for at least 2 weeks. Then I called the new doctor and spoke with Katie, the scheduler—who actually remembered me. She had spoken to the doctor and he said he would be glad to see me. HOPE # 1 – maybe, just maybe he will find something. HOPE # 2 – I saw Kevin, the PT at Augusta Back and he still thinks I will get better (maybe not 100% but a lot) and that it will still take time. He is more like a psychotherapist than a PT but he just is so nice that I always leave there with a sense of hope! I am scheduled to see someone named Dr. Cable, a pain management specialist, and we’ll see what he does. The PT told me he was surprised that they dismissed me to go back to work on the 11th. He just sat there, shaking his head and said that the criteria they use to determine work readiness is not geared toward the individual but rather the average patient. That is so wrong because each case should be evaluated on an individual basis depending upon the occupation and the patient, not some average value that does not apply to everyone. I felt that they showed so little compassion and were just plain cruel. I am still in pain and off balance but a little better today, so we’ll see. In the meantime I saw my PC physician for some antidepressants because I am finding it hard to keep on keeping on in this world lately.

Surgery Log 2013 – Jan 7th – Appointment about EMG

Monday, 1/7/13 – I had an appointment with the doctor (PA actually) to talk about my stupid EMG. I don’t even know why the hell I bothered for all the good it did me. I waited an hour just to be called into a room where the medical assistant/nurse/or whatever they are just needed to update my file. I was very wobbly on my feet today and getting into the chair, I fell off. I did not even hurt myself at all, but they had to take a least 3 Xrays to make sure I didn’t break anything for liability purposes. So, that will add to my astronomical bill. It looks like 2013 is starting out the way 2012 was, complete with my son in dire straits. Then I finally saw the PA and she told me that the EMG shows only an old chronic injury in L5 and S1, which I don’t believe. My question was why did this not bother me before my surgery; why now. I know it is due to something going wrong but I cannot prove it. I know either that or they just did not correct the source of my problems. Either way, I am suffering and almost cannot bare it. They have dismissed me from their care and referred me to pain management (a doctor in their practice) so we’ll see. I know, in my heart of hearts, that something was missed. But, good luck in proving it and good luck in getting another neurosurgeon or doctor to figure out what the hell is wrong with me. I have pretty much lost hope at this point and that is a dangerous place to be. In the meantime, the doctor has only approved (this is too unbelievable for me) a big whopping 4 more days of disability, until January 11th. Isn’t that generous of them—you would think that they are paying the money out of their paychecks (which are quite adequate so you’d think they would show some compassion). So, this never- ending saga continues into the new year with no end in sight.

Surgery Log 2012 – Christmas is Over

Wednesday – December, 26th

I’m happy Christmas is all over! I woke up with a case of very bad depression. I tried to shake it but it stuck with me all day, even though I went to Starbucks with my laptop and did various chores, I still felt like “everything was wrong” and I just cried on and off, even in the car. My knee started to give way at Walmart (my second home) but luckily the shopping cart (buggy down here) prevented me from going down. Still, it unnerved me and added to my morose mood. I was too depressed to actually make anything for supper so I settled for popcorn and leftover turkey. Also there is so much uncertainty associated with the Aflac disability which I still have not received for December. That lack of money coming in makes me frightened and depressed too. The Aflac agent never bothered to return my call—lovely! I kept calling myself fat and worthless and crippled. My state of mind prevented me from getting to a meeting but on a good note, when I came home, David called and wanted to Skype so I could see Henry. I also received the album that Joanne put together for Christmas; Henry’s first year. I even saw Joseph at David’s who is miraculously staying there for a few days. I ended up feeling a little better and know that God will take care of things if I just get out of the way. So, I will get to bed early and read. When I spoke with Joanne, she suggested that just like other illnesses, I will one day wake up and suddenly feel way better. That would be the best present ever in my entire life. I said maybe that will happen and maybe I should believe it. Maybe I am too negative and who knows what the future holds. It is all a mystery to me but I do know that at this point tonight, I have no more control of anything except what time I will clean the bird cages or go to bed. Good night!

Surgery Log – Christmas Eve

12/24/12 – Monday – Christmas Eve – I woke up with the usual stiff and sore body. I decided I would go to the gym and to a meeting. I also did not feel like doing my usual chores in the house today so I went to Starbucks and just sat down with a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I came home and redesigned some of the earrings that Lisa gave me for my “birthday.” Janet’s family usually celebrates Christmas on the 25th but this year things were very different. Due to all her children having plans on Christmas day, they all decided to come over on Christmas Eve. That was fine but it left Christmas day empty, but this was not my call so I had to accept it. In the meantime, my legs for some reason were especially wobbly and my balance was way off. This was very upsetting and I almost fell while everybody was there. That just made me sick. I totally do not understand why some days my legs don’t feel that bad and even feel strong, and other days, I am so weak. When I came home I watched the tail end of It’s A Wonderful Life.

12/25/12 – Tuesday – Christmas Day – My walking was not too bad but a little wobbly again. I even walked outside with my cane for about 20 minutes or so. Then I got ready and went to a meeting. I was ranting a little before the meeting due to my wobbly legs but for some reason, after the meeting I felt a lot better. I wanted to go to Starbucks with my laptop but when I found one open, it was so packed to the gills that I just left, without even getting anything; very disappointing. I came home and put my leg brace on which helps me walk better—sort of (in a peg leg kind of way). Then more cleaning, something I seem to be obsessed with since I got crippled. Janet thinks this is because I at least have some control of this part of my life, and that seems like a good explanation. I am starting to feel depressed and hopeless even as I write this at 7:00 pm, so I will try to go to bed early tonight. I still think about ending everything each day but if I put it off long enough, I usually find something I can hang on to; some hope to keep me going for yet another day.

Surgery Log 2012 – Pressure, Numbness

Pressure, Numbness – 12/19/12 – This morning I woke up feeling less stiff and off-balance, but with the same intense pressure on my belly. I am beginning to think that maybe I should just accept that this might be a permanent condition. Basically there is no answer as to when or if the numbness, burning and weakness will improve, so it is just a waiting game. I find that when I just ignore it—or about as much as I can—I feel better and can stop focusing on everything bad. Actually there are some improvements, most notably, I can bend over and turn sideways because the actual incision and the back itself are much better. But, internally—the nerve root—is the last thing to heal and it can take up to a year or more. My guess is that the EMG will basically show nothing. The PT made a very important point; if it were peripheral neuropathy, it would most probably be bilateral, but my weak leg is unilateral. I think the test will just prove that the whole problem is still the spinal nerve and it just has to heal on its own. I remember when I had a root canal about a year ago and for a long time I kept complaining that I still had pain, to the point where the dentist went back in to check. He said nothing appeared to be wrong with the tooth and sent me on my way. Boy, I was so aggravated that I thought for sure that he screwed up the procedure. So, since there was apparently nothing else that could be done and they could not find a reason why my tooth still hurt, I had to just live with it. Well, a few months ago when I was brushing my teeth, I suddenly realized that my tooth did not hurt anymore; the pain was gone. It had steadily been getting better, over time and so slowly that I didn’t even notice it. Then one day, it became apparent that it felt normal. I’m starting to think that this is what will happen with this; over time the symptoms will diminish to the point that it will be gone. The question is, can I wait until that happens. I am thinking of filing for disability because my doctor’s nurse seems to think that I will be able to return to work soon. I just don’t think that is reasonable with such a physical job as I have. I will literally fall out in the massage room because of this weak leg. This is not to mention that I can only stand for so long without the fatigue and burning setting in on my legs. She is being a bit of a hard ass about filling out the required forms. I’m still searching for a “reason” for this happening and I just don’t know for sure. As of now I am thinking of calling my primary care physician to put me on some antidepressants, just to get me over the hump. I went to a meeting today and I foolishly thought that I could walk without my cane so I held it up when I came into the room. That was not a good idea because I almost fell into my chair, totally losing my balance. Then for the first half of the meeting, I was on the pity-pot. By the end I felt a little better. It is true that for some reason, I am “walking” better today, but not well enough to do it without a cane for protection against losing my balance. But on a bad note, the burning sensation in both thighs is intense again and I dont not know why. The problem is that these brief periods of progress always seem to be followed with a regression the next day. Each day is a new beginning, as if the progress from the following day never even happened and is so discouraging. As of right now, at 4 pm, the burning in my thighs is very intense and uncomfortable. But if it comes down to being able to walk better and having burning nerve pain, I’ll take the walking better part.

Surgery Log 2012 – Disability

Disability – 12/9/12 – Sunday – Basically I am feeling the same as yesterday, physically. I actually thought that my toes on my right numb foot curled better, but maybe that was my imagination or wishful thinking. It gave me a little hope. You know if I just had even small improvements each week that would give me something to hold onto. But as I usually do, I do too much I guess. I cleaned my bathroom (which took forever because I have to move so slowly), did my exercise, went to the gym with more exercises, and went to Walmart. By then my right leg was feeling so exhausted that I could barely walk. This is what always happens; I feel a little better so I overdo it and pay the consequences later in the day. This is what caused me to have my meltdown the other day—having to do chores by myself and paying for it. I started to get on the pity-pot again because I am really scared that I will have to go on permanent disability and believe it or not, I don’t want to. I just don’t think that I can continue to feel so physically sore and unbalanced each day and go on with this. I can now empathize with Aunt Gladys who had severe pain each and every day, but lived with it. She had numerous unsuccessful spinal surgeries, yet she always maintained hope that helped her go on. She was such a trooper and I always admired her, but now even more for her courage. A number of months ago I was in a funk regarding my job because I was burnt out. I kept saying out loud that I didn’t want to keep doing this job. I kept trying to think of a way that I could go on disability—maybe mental, maybe back, who knows! But the mental disability would stigmatize me and my physical problems were not that bad. But, be careful what you wish for, it just might come true. Remember when I wanted to leave my job in Manhattan and somehow, in a horrible twist of fate, I got laid off a year after the 9/11 attacks. Now, in another ironic twist, I am facing disability. I kept saying, “OK God, this is not how I wanted it to be.” But then I thought that I never really specified how I wanted this achieved so, God has in some ways given me a way out, but not how I wanted it. Disability (if you’re not faking it) means just that YOU ARE DISABLED and unable to work. It does not mean that you get paid for staying home and then can go gallivanting around town, feeling great. No, I am paying for this and I wish to God I never had this. I thought I’d be one of those 60 year olds in great physical shape, exercising and running forever. I never, in a million years fathomed that this would be my life. I am trying to maintain hope that this will get better, but I am finding it hard to accept that maybe it won’t. There is not one day when hope lasts. It ebbs and flows and I never know when a feeling of hopelessness will overtake me or when I can see some light at the end of all this. It is a roller coaster world each day. I must continue to pray for some type of miracle.

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.

Surgery Log 2012 – Recovering

Recovering – 11/13/12 – Tuesday – It has been 1 week since the laminectomy and I am recovering from this surgery. I go for a bone density study since the surgeon mentioned that I have osteoporosis in my back. This was very upsetting to me since I was unaware of this. The study revealed that I had borderline osteoporosis and the doctor started me on pills to treat it. But I am glad that these two upsets are out of the way.

11/14/12 – Wednesday – Ruth picks me up and gets me to a meeting at Midday. It is a step meeting and I am just grateful to be out and about. My friend and colleague, Kay, comes over to help me out. She has a doll for a son who helps clean and set up my DVD downstairs. I have every intention of writing in my Blog and getting “lots of things done” but I seem incapable of doing anything substantial.

11/15/12 – Thursday – I wake up very depressed with a very bad headache so I take 2 useless Tylenols. I am feeling so bad that I literally do absolutely nothing for a few hours until the headache subsides. I did not go out of the house at all the entire day, which also contributed to my feelings of total isolation. As usual, my brain is scattered and I don’t seem to be able to focus on anything at all, resulting in getting nothing done. I resolve to do more the next day. I am totally exhausted and I don’t seem to be able to understand that I just had major surgery and this might be perfectly normal. I am not giving myself a break. Also, my renter who was supposed to move in is still sick and has not done so. I am getting nervous that I won’t get my rent on time. She texts me to reassure me that she will have the rent, which she does. She brings more items to add to the clutter upstairs which she started about a week ago. It unnerves me probably because I am not in a good state of mind. I call various people to see who could pick me up but nobody calls back and nobody picks me up so I just stay at home that night. My friend John calls me and I end up feeling much better before I go to bed.