Thursday, April 06, 2006

This is how I am now

We drove down to Philadephia on Tuesday to see Dr. Balderston. I felt like such a failure, bent over and begging for drugs, like I had let him and myself down by not getting better. Facing up to the fact that it is not going to get better (at least till surgery); 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.


Blogger stureyk said...

Thanks Ingrid - when finished reading this I'm really sad about your situation and over the fact that this is happening to such a wonderfull person.

Don't feel like you are complaining because I (and I think many more) are thankfull for that you are sharing this information to your friends and if there where anything in the world we could do to help you get better I'm ready and I belive all your friends are feeling the same.

You are strong Ingrid and you will make it through the night !


1:30 PM  
Anonymous George said...


I visited your Flickr pages without checking my email. (That was a break in routine - why?) I did read Sturla's comments there, and it dawned on me that there must be news of your battle. Anyway, my comments on Flickr were made before reading this webpage.

I was so gratified, turning next to my inbox, to find your email. I think of you often, and wonder how you are, every time I visit Flickr, which is every day, even though I am not posting often now.

Yet, reading about tsunamis does sadden me tremendously. I am SO sorry for all the pain. No amount, of studied philosophical observations on the role of pain in life as perspective-gaining experience, can make me wish to ever have to go through it. Though, I do hope I can take it if I have to.

You are one of very few people who have become real to me through only this one, infant communication form. I feel I do know you, and I know you will endure this beautifully. Whatever you share through writing, I will gratefully learn, wincing along.

I will check back soon. Keep on hanging on; it WILL, it MUST get better.

Love, Geo (ranabass)

6:12 PM  
Blogger md said...

Thanks for sharing your struggle with everyone Ingrid. You will get through this rough patch and do those things you hope to do. I hope you are laughing & watching some Curb Your Enthusiasms (- it's kinda crass & cringeworthy & painfully funny too I admit). Your comments on my pics are always appreciated! best to you ~ Michael

12:49 PM  
Blogger David Ramage said...

Hope you don't mind that I linked to this on my stream. Feel better. You have to come visit again!


8:41 PM  
Blogger David Ramage said...

Hope you don't mind that I linked to this on my flickr stream. Feel better soon.


8:43 PM  

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