The Right Perspective

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Surgery #4 is Done

The fourth surgery of the year (since May 30th, if we're being technical here) is behind me....literally and figuratively, I do believe.  I had the hardware that had been installed 3 months before on the left side of my vertebrae removed along with a bone fragment.  The surgeon (who has done all of my surgeries) said the nerve was still really red and irritated so he thinks something was probably still rubbing against it, but he didn't actually see anything at the time of surgery.  That being said, there is nothing left to impinge that area of the nerve any more, which is good. 

He also told us that I was healing really well and that when he removed the screws there was no movement, so the fusing is apparently going well.  All good things. 

I did not, however, wake up miraculously healed with a fully functioning foot.  It's probably still a bit too soon to say that there was no improvement, but thus far, there hasn't been any change.  My back hurts and feels like it's been through a war (which it has this year).  Percoset is my friend and I discovered that miscounting how many hours it had been since my last dose (erring on the long end) does not feel good.  I also have external stitches for the first time since apparently super-glue doesn't always work as well the second time in the same spot. 

I go back on the 13th for my first follow-up appointment.  The surgeon told me we'd know by then if the surgery was going to fix my foot or if it still needed time.  He also said that in three months, if there was no improvement in my foot, that is was likely going to be permanent.  I haven't completely given up on healing, but I'm realistic.  The surgeon told Andrew and I both that he would feel better about my chances if the issues I was having went down my entire left leg.  That would be a more normal presentation.  However, with it only causing problems with my foot, there's a higher likelihood that this is permanent. 

It's a tough pill to swallow at times, but it's also not the worst thing in the world.  Frustrating, to be certain, but things could be so much worse and I am reminded of that quite often.  It's hard though.  It's humbling to be the only mom who walks into the preschool with a cane.  All the other moms are in their fancy clothes or yoga gear and while I might be in yoga pants, it's because I'm headed to physical therapy.  Of course, all the kids in Ethan's preschool class instantly recognize "Ethan's mom".  It's frustrating when "Maude" (the cane) falls over approximately 76 times a day and I have to slowly squat down to get it (because I'm not supposed to bend).   It makes the possibility of looking for a part-time job quite a bit more daunting as well (something I was actively doing before this whole ordeal began). 

But I know that if this is my future, it will be ok.  I still have my family and friends.  I've had people praying for me for nearly a year now and that's something sweet and humbling and wonderful as well.  I've learned just how disabled-unfriendly the world is, despite all the "handicapped accessibility".  I've learned to detest the electric carts, and in particular the back-up beeping sound.  I've learned that people can be very loving and understanding or completely lacking in compassion and couth.  I've learned a lot about myself .  And I'm pretty sure that the learning experience is far from over.  Please keep me in your prayers.  Pray for healing from the surgeries.  Pray for healing of my nerves.  Pray for improved function of my left foot/leg.  Pray for encouragement.  I try to be a "glass half full" kind of person and most of the time I succeed, but Satan creeps in from time to time and starts throwing doubts and frustrations my way and it helps to have an army fighting along side me with prayer.  Pray for my family as they adjust to a new normal.  It's not easy for any of us, but we're doing the best we can.  Thanks for listening.  Sometimes I just need to write things out so that I can get it off my chest.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Life Is Full of Surprises

Life is full of's just that most of mine this year haven't been good. 

I started off last week with my first ever experience of being pulled over by a police officer.  It was still dark outside, about 7:45 am, Monday morning.  I was trying my best to get both kids to two different schools on time and myself to physical therapy.  I had just turned onto a road after stopping at the stoplight when the flashing red and blue lights blinded me in my rearview mirror.  Since the police car was directly behind me, I immediately pulled over, hoping in vain that he was just in a hurry to get somewhere else.  Alas, he was not.  Both kids got silent in the backseat and I rolled down my window to accept my shame and reproach with as much dignity as possible, all the while hoping that the officer would be merciful and fast because....well, we were going to be late to school!

It turns out that I wasn't pulled over for speeding.  I got pulled over for having an expired license plate registration.  In other words, I didn't have the right color sticker on my license plate.  And apparently I hadn't had the right color since it expired in May.  Oops!  Of course, I had a few other things going on this May (like the almost complete inability to move without searing pain), followed by spine surgery.  But that didn't matter.  I suppose the officer didn't really have much choice in the matter and he wrote me the $143 ticket and sent me on my way.  

We got to Emily's school 6 minutes late.  She had to sign in to explain why she was late.  I told her to tell the office that my alarm didn't go off (it didn't) rather than have her try to explain the whole expired registration thing.  Turns out, she went with the much more dramatic explanation on the sign in list that everyone sees.....Reason for being late  "Police". 

I spent the rest of the day attempting to correct my registration mistake (did you know that in my county, NONE....not one, of the license branches are open on Mondays?...Yeah, neither did I.)  I had to drive 40 minutes (each way) out of my way to get current and then drop off the registration for Andrew's car, since it too was expired, then go pick up Emily from school again.  It wasn't my finest day.

Tuesday wasn't much better, but nothing worth writing about, just boring annoyances that I didn't need. 

And then came Wednesday.  I had a follow-up appointment with my neurosurgeon.  He wanted to check on my continuing symptoms and see if anything else needed to be addressed before the end of the year (and our insurance deductible resets).  Back in November when we met for the same reason, he was pretty sure that everything was going to be fine.  So imagine my surprise when he walked in the room, shook my hand, looked at my cane (because my foot is still mostly not functioning) and said, "We need to talk about removing the screw and bone fragment on the left side."  I wasn't exactly expecting that. 

So to sum up a very long explanation, he gave me the option of going back into surgery (outpatient), opening up the left incision, removing the screws on that side and fishing out a bone fragment that he is suspicious of causing some (or all) of my continuing concerning symptoms.  He said we could do this before the end of the year, in 5 or 6 months (if things hadn't improved) or not at all.  But he gave me somewhat higher than 50% odds that this might improve my symptoms.  Of course, it might also be another surgery with absolutely no positive outcome and more recovery.  Or it might be that the nerve needs more time to heal and only time will accomplish that....or, the nerve might simply be too damaged to heal and this is my new reality.  I told him I was going to need to think about it before I could give him an answer.

After much thought and debate and prayer and discussion, I decided to go for the FOURTH spine surgery in a 6 month period.  Ridiculous, I know, but in the end I decided that I didn't really have a lot to lose by having the surgery (although it may somewhat weaken the healing fusion, but the surgeon seems to think it shouldn't), but I could potentially regain all or most of my foot function (and lose the old lady cane!).  I had to take the chance because I am not enjoying this whole "disabled" thing one.little.bit. 

And so, if you think of it and can spare a few moments over this Christmas/New Year's season, say a prayer for me on Monday, December 29th around 11am.  I should be back home the same day and the surgery should be a piece of cake compared to the last one, but the odds haven't really been in my favor lately, so I'll accept any prayers you can send my way!!  And in case I'm not around for a bit....Merry Christmas!