Tuesday, July 10, 2012

6 week surgical follow-up

6 week follow up went great! As you can see, the disc is sitting in there just perfectly and when I flex or extend my neck it behaves exactly as an organic disc would. And just look how perfect the other discs are! It's a beautiful sight to me. This is the last section of my spine that's not fused.

The knots, or adhesions, in my shoulder area remain, leftover from when the nerves were causing muscle spasms constantly. I bought some tennis balls and am rolling around on them trying to work the knots out, also doing lots of stretching in that area. Dr. Spivak was impressed with the range of motion that I've already been able to acheive, movement that was impossible or impossible without pain before. No more pain going down my arms, yay!

I've got an appointment with their pain management specialist for a shot or two next month, as I'm more concerned with the pain in my legs coming from my lower back than I am about the neck.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Post op news

Ok it's already two and a half weeks post-op and I'm just now posting, bad me! After getting stuck in the elevator on my way to the hospital the morning of the surgery, (yes, firefighters had to come and get me out) I must admit that everything else once I did finally get to the hospital went smoothly. 

I was taken to the pre-op room where everyone is waiting to have their procedures. The great equalizer this room is, as we're all in those horrible gowns, ugly tube socks with treads and those white thigh-high support hose that keep you from getting blood clots. Oh, and the bouffant shower caps. 
Dr. Spivak came to see me and initialed my neck (!) so he wouldn't forget what body part to operate on (some of you may remember this) and I asked to smell his breath and to extend his hand to make sure he wasn't shaking or hung over. Yes, I really do this to everyone's amusement. Apparently I'm a card. 

Then the anesthesiologist came to talk to me. They were very concerned about my penchant for vomiting after coming out of the anesthesia in the past because the incision would be in my throat, so I was given a sea-sickness patch behind my ear. She said this would also help with the dizziness that people sometimes get with strong pain meds like the ones I'd be getting after the surgery. (PS to the patch, threw up everything down to the acid in my stomach on Thursday night after getting home, so not sure how effective the patch really is.)

After one last trip to the rest room, I was led into the OR (you're not wheeled in on a gurney, that's for TV, though my last surgery with Balderston I was prepped and groggy and wheeled in, probably because it was a more serious procedure, or to save time?). I walked in, looked around, said hello to all the OR staff and looked at my Xrays and CT scans hanging in a corner. It's always really cold in those rooms, I presume because of the equipment, hopefully not to combat flop sweat on the doctor, so as soon as I hopped up on the table I asked for a blanket. The anesthesiologist reappeared and started to administer the good stuff, meaning I pretty much passed out cold. 

Woke up feeling ok, surprisingly, in what NYU HJD calls "special care." It's a glorified term for overnight recovery. Instead of being in a big room with other people like when you have out-patient surgery, you're on a floor of the hospital but not in a room, separated from other recovering surgical patients by only curtains. Nurses were ok, lots of ignoring of call bells, as usual, cause they're overworked and all. I was able to pee using the bedside commode instead of the bed pan, and then later on Thursday morning, I was able to walk to the bathroom. PT came to see me, as well as the pain specialist to talk about what drugs I'd be going home with (was offered Dilaudid, turned it down, got Nucynta). Spivak came in last, and up to that point I still didn't know if I'd gotten a fusion (which I didn't want) or an artificial disc, which I DID want) and was sooo happy when he said he was able to get the disc in. 

That was it! I got my scripts and was cleared to leave. After being wheeled to the exit, I went to the corner in my neck brace to hail a cab. I did ask the driver to take it easy and try to drive smoothly and the first thing he did was gun it to get out into traffic then slam on the brakes at the light. I guess some things will always be a pain in the neck. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Skin wipes verdict: not that bad

Well after all that building up I did, the wipes are not THAT bad, actually felt rather cool (temperature wise) going on, but now that my skin is dry, it's tacky and sticky and I smell like a hospital bathroom. The instructions  said to use one cloth for my neck, chest and arms, one for stomach and groin (!), one for neck and back, one for each leg and one for the buttocks INCLUDING THE SKIN FOLD. Not sure what they mean by skin fold but I ASSume (see what i did there?) the bottom of the butt. So I did it and it felt ok while I was doing it, but then as soon as I stopped and it started to dry on my skin, the stickiness and discomfort started. Not sure how I'm going to sleep  as it's hot as hell here in NYC and I can't wet my skin or take another shower and I don't have my air conditioner in yet. Incidentally all this does not bode well for my hygiene tomorrow morning before surgery but I guess they know what they're doing. So I'm now sweaty on top of being sticky and bathroom-y smelling, but the bright side is only 7 more  hours till I get to use them again!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bactroban Nasal ointment

The Bactroban Nasal video! NSFDT (Not Safe For Dinner Table).

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Pre-surgery wipes.

Pre-surgery wipes. This is weird wild stuff.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pre admin testing in two days! Surgery on the 30th.

I spoke with Dr. Spivak on Monday night. He now thinks the chances are very very good to get an artificial disc in there. He explained that once they start operating and going in to take the bone spurs out (they're in the back) they can't leave the OR without either doing a fusion or getting a disc in. I had expressed to him before, in his office and in the email he was responding to, that I didn't want a fusion, but now I understand better what will be done and how it can't be avoided but is the second option after the artificial disc.
The recovery time is much shorter for this, as I noted before; only in the hospital overnight. Also since they have to go in from the front, they'll put an incision in my throat. I'm upset cause I have a nice neck. He said they usually like to incise in a neck crease, but I don't have a neck crease, ha! Suck it all you creased-neck bitches!
More after the tests on the 24th. Pray my insurance pays for the artificial disc.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Give it up cause I'm BACK

I wish this pain would give it up already.
I had a couple good years. I don't mean to sound defeated and pessimistic, and I'm not saying that the surgery wasn't worth it, it def was. Without it, I'd still be walking with a cane, unable to stand up straight or hold up my upper body. I am having leg pain, throbbing pain, like a heartbeat, after activities that require lots of walking or standing on hard surfaces. Had to coat my legs in Tiger Balm last night and use my fists to pound some additional circulation into my muscles in order to relieve it somewhat. For some reason, I have in my mind that pain can only be relieved with something equally as violent, hence the fist pounding, and before you make an assumption of masochism or anything, I learned it from a yoga instructor (the fist pounding, not the weird idea about pain relief). This was after a day of running errands and doing an hour yoga class in the morning, not exactly running a marathon. Incidentally, I'm wondering out loud here why the hell I need to cram all my errands into Saturday when I'm unemployed and can go to the post office and CVS and Bed Bath and Beyond during the week? W/E.
I also have sciatica pretty bad again, and I when I say pretty bad I mean moving a certain way which I might add, is still completely unpredictable, gets me a lightning bolt of pain down my leg, like a filament of an old light bulb, white hot and quivering.
The other large issue now is my neck. A few weeks ago I had xrays and an MRI. I'm now able to read xrays and MRI films pretty well, and I was shocked, as I was 20+ years ago when I saw my thoracic spine twisted like a vine around a tree in that set of xrays, to see my C5 disc completely collapsed. The physiatrist I saw was a joke, writing a script for muscle relaxers I can't take for obvious reasons and NSAIDS that I can't take because of stomach problems. Dr. Spivak, who was recommended to me by Dr. Balderston, says he can go in and TRY to fit in an artificial disc, but, like the sitch with my lumbar spine 5 years ago, it's collapsed and he probably won't be able to pry it apart to fit the disc in. Aside from that, I have bone spurs and arthritis in there and he says he can clean it up and I may get some relief.
I need relief. My left arm and shoulder kill me a lot, and I can't depend on the left side for anything (which makes chaturanga dandasana a challenge and sometimes a comedy routine and sometimes just a balasana (child's pose) until I'm able to use it again.
But I keep going. I keep doing yoga, I keep hiking, I keep trying to lift stuff with my left arm, cause if I don't that'll mean I give up and I don't.

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