This is how I am now
This is how I am now: a fact I tried to explain to the physical therapist, as she sat chirping about "my goals for physical therapy" while I lay crumpled on the table, unable to sit up, crying that I wanted to just walk, walk to the bathroom or kitchen without holding on to the sofa, walk my dog, just walk for Christ's sake like a normal person, waiting for her to say she was discharging me because I had failed her, too, by not making "progress."
The pain is constant again, hot screws going into my back and hips, drilling on down my legs. Tylenol helps somewhat, chasing the pain temporarily, but I still have what's known in back-pain circles as "breakthrough pain," crashing waves of pain that appear with no warning, tsunami-like, and are just as devastating. I'm left flattened and without air. Nothing takes those away; I just have to wait for them to go on their own.
Dr. Balderston says the old solution would have been to fuse the rest of my spine. This option would leave me with no mobility in my lumbar region, which at this point is no great loss, I can't move that area anyway. But they've just finished clinical trials on artificial disc replacements which are now in the final stages of FDA approval. When I asked what the next step was, he said to wait for a phone call from him saying that they'd gotten approval, then we would set about seeing if the insurance company would pay for it, then we'd schedule the surgery.
He explained the surgery like this: he'll most likely replace two discs completely, and at least one other disc will be fused. Tyler asked about recovery time; Dr B said it will be much faster than the onerous healing period that I experienced for my first spinal fusion twenty years ago for scoliosis. Then, I was hospitalized for 9 days, (on morphine for all of them, discharged with a woefully inadequate script for Darvon and a really long shoe horn) and in a body cast for 6 months. Apparently the time for recuperation has been reduced to mere weeks, thanks either to medical science or the insurance company's mission to kick everyone out of the hospital as soon as your eyes are open.
For now, the world revolves around my bed. Time is measured by when I took the last dose of Tylenol and when I'm due for the next one. I'm hooked on NYPD Blue reruns, craving glimpses of the city streets I can no longer wander freely while I wait for a phone call giving me notice I'll be cut open, yet again. I'm not complaining, just stating facts; this is how I am now.