Category Archives: News You Might Have Missed

Eight Weeks Since My Surgery And All Is … Well…

It’s been eight weeks since my surgery. I’m cranky and I have a litany of woes. For example, taking a shower hurts my skin. My knee buckles randomly and unexpectedly. My balance sucks. I’m still numb in my entire left leg, my right underarm, across my upper back and in my lady bits. (It dawned on me yesterday that list comprises half my stupid body.) I don’t know if I should be doing something I’m not, or stop doing something I am. I have very little core strength. And yesterday I realized I could rest my finger in the indentation of my incision and feel the upward splay of my back on either side. It feels like the Sydney Opera House back there.

Shall I go on?

I feel weak, flabby, confused, frustrated, and pissed off. And I’m tired of feeling weak, flabby, confused, frustrated, and pissed off.

But before anyone gets twitchy with the platitudes, yes, I know how lucky I am. I can drive. I can type. I can walk, talk, squawk, doubletalk, and jaywalk around the clock while I listen to Johann-freakin-Bach, but I can’t clip my toenails.

And, yes, I know it’s only been two months “and these things take time” so I should have patience. But I don’t. Not one thing has changed in the last couple of weeks. Except maybe my optimism.

So if you feel the urge to remind me that I’m lucky or that I should just be patient, well … don’t. Just don’t. It’s not helpful and makes me go all spider monkey. And if you do, I will be forced to creep through the cover of darkness and stab you repeatedly in that well-meaning place where your wisdom, compassion, and common sense resides. Repeatedly.

And I simply don’t have the energy.

Instead, tell me, you know, something else. And while you’re considering your comment, please enjoy these exquisite demotivational posters from Despair.com that seem appropriate today.

How To Clear Your Schedule in One Easy Step

Maybe “easy” isn’t quite the right word, but now I can boast that I have a leaf guy, a doggie dermatologist, AND a neurosurgeon on speed dial.

spine clinic

I’ve been whining for several months about a pain I’ve been having in my upper back. It started as a knot under my right shoulder blade. I assumed it hung around so long because nobody could reach it — not me or my trainer, chiropractor, or massage therapist. Eventually it moved from there, but still we couldn’t pinpoint exactly, nor treat it effectively.

I wasn’t particularly worried. The pain stabbed me early in the morning, but always let me sleep. Worst pain was when I had to blow my nose. Luckily that only happened once or twice a day. Exercising didn’t hurt, and if I set my timer to remember to move around every hour or so, I was fine. A couple of ibuprofins did the trick to alleviate most of the pain. And I didn’t even need to do that every day.

But clearly, something was wrong, since it was hanging around. I went to my doctor who said it sounded like some nerve damage, maybe a pinched nerve. By then the pain would occasionally shoot around my right side, under my arm. We set up appointments for lab work, an ultrasound to check my gallbladder, and an MRI.

Labs and ultrasound completely normal. My MRI was scheduled for 6pm on Friday, January 6, 2017.

Halfway through the MRI a radiologist and nurse magically appeared and they and the technician started acting differently. Their cryptic “noncommunication” spoke louder than any words.

I got home, knowing something was wrong. Before I left the imaging department, they gave me a CD with the MRI on it. My husband and I plugged it into the laptop. Nothing jumped out at us. No neon-colored blob with flashing arrows and aa-oog-ah horns like I expected based on the technician’s cryptic warning to call my doctor before noon on Monday if I hadn’t heard from anyone.

Within a couple of hours — 9pm on a Friday night — a doctor called. She scared the shit outta me by telling me I had a 2.3cm mass pushing on my spine, “probably a benign meningioma” but it “can’t wait until Monday.”

Ay caramba!

She said she’d talk to the neurosurgeon on call and report back. She called me 30 minutes later, less frantic now. The neuro will call me on Monday to schedule surgery. Because I was walking and talking fine, and not in serious pain, the impressive size of the mass is less worrisome. I could have been growing this thing for years. Apparently, I’m only “urgent” and not “emergent.” Pfft.

I checked my calendar. I have stuff to do In January, not the least of which was going to see the Tony award-winning “Fun Home” at the theatre, something I’ve been looking forward to for two years!

On Monday, January 9, I spoke with the neurosurgeon’s nurse who answered my immediate questions and set up an appointment for Friday 13th (which she assured me was the luckiest day).

She said after that appointment they’d schedule surgery within 2 weeks. We discussed the fact that they’re not worried about delaying like that, so I decided I wouldn’t either.

I felt much more calm after talking to her, finally feeling brave enough to google “spinal meningioma.”

Turns out I’m not such a special snowflake after all. Read this and this.

All week I’ve been back and forth in my head about whether I’ll be able to get to the theatre on Sunday the 15th. (Tomorrow for those of you keeping score.) The doctor who called the night of my MRI told me that I need to call 911 if I have “tingling, weakness, numbness, or loss of bladder/bowel control.” But that last one is kind of a no-brainer, don’t you think?

However, all week long, little by little, like an incoming North Sea tide, I’ve had a creeping numbness spreading over me. I didn’t call 911 — surprise — because I knew I was seeing the neurosurgeon at 1:00 on Friday the 13th. Besides, I’ve been told that’s the luckiest day. It’s not a numbness that renders me paralyzed or anything. More like I’ve had novocaine shots all around my torso down my legs to my toes. To see me walk, you might not know I’m doing it a bit goofy, planting my feet very methodically and a bit wider than normal. But just like an inflamed taste bud on your tongue, it seems like it’s a thousand times worse than it really is.

But I still packed my hospital Go Bag with all the important stuff — books, Kindle, charger, pens and notebook, comfy clothes for when I’m discharged. I was sure when the neurosurgeon saw me and I described my numbness he’d scramble his staff like so many fighter jets and I’d be whisked across the street to the hospital.

But you know what he said?

“Yeah, your spine’s not working so good right now.”

Kinda love him.

He’s calm and very, very patient. He answered all my questions and told me how many of these operations he’s done before. I told him I wished that number was higher. He deadpanned, “I do other stuff too, you know.”

He told me to go to the theatre on Sunday. So I will. And I’ll enjoy every minute.

I’ll spare you all the gory details of the surgery, although I want to remember to ask somebody to take photos for me. Suffice it to say, this tumor is in my upper back, filling the space in my spinal cord between T2 and T3. It’s pushing the nerve way off to the side. He’ll go in, snip it out, then smooth everything back where it goes, all over the course of three hours. Remarkable, eh?

Surgery isn’t technically scheduled yet but I suspect it’ll be late next week. I’ll be in the hospital about 4 days, depending on my pain (again, ay caramba!), but no bed rest afterward. Up and at ‘em, with restrictions like no lifting, no exercise other than walking, and such. Follow ups at 3 and 6 weeks.

I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon January 13th and I’m beginning to find the humor in most every part of this situation.

For instance, in the shower this morning I was irked that the water wasn’t getting hot enough and kept nudging it up. Then I remembered. “Oh yeah. I’m numb.”

They gave me some special soap to use before I come for my surgery. Because apparently, my homemade lard-and-dill pickle shower gel suddenly isn’t good enough.

They told me I’d be able to do light housework. I told them they were wrong.

They told me it might take up to three weeks for the anesthesia to clear from my system and that until it does, I might find I get weepy or angry for no reason. I caught my husband’s eye and said, “See? It’s been the anesthesia all these years.”

I’ll be here all week, folks. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

And I got to make one of my favorite stupid jokes. I asked the doctor if I’d be able to play the piano after my surgery. He said of course I could. “Great! Because I couldn’t before.”

He laughed and all was right with the world.

nala1nala2

It’s been suggested that Nala can be my service dog while I recover. But in her befuddlement that I was trying to nap the other day — something she’s never seen before — she literally jumped on the bed and sat on my head.

I’m thinking her talents are better used elsewhere. Not sure where. Just elsewhere.

While this is major surgery — very delicate and very scary — I don’t really have a choice about it. As with all experiences, I’ll blog and write about it because that’s how I process and remember information. I’ll post updates here and on Facebook. I’ll also keep trying to find the humor in my situation. Mainly by encouraging my surgeon to do this …

hahaha

Think he will? What should I tell him to write?

 

 

 

Newspaper Stories You Might Have Missed 9/19/16

  • Five years in a row of record tourism revenue makes the Colorado business community happy, but not the locals who have to mitigate the impact of all those people. I think we should change our state motto to whatever is Latin for “Stay Home and Just Send Money”
  • In a related note, the CO Tourism Board will not be actively promoting marijuana because, shh, it’s still a federal crime. The Board will continue to remind people they can’t smoke in public and to paaaassss the dutchie on the left hand side.
  • Tommy Chong and Marky Mark both wanted pardons from Barack Obama for their youthful crimes. Marky Mark dropped his request, but I don’t think Tommy Chong will get his. Have you seen “Up In Smoke”? Some things simply can’t be forgiven.
  • Exorcist Reverend Gabriele Amorth died at age 91. He served as the official exorcist of the Rome diocese since 1986 after facing “true demonic possession” 100 times. The editorial board here in BeckyLand wonders if he simply rode in a Roman taxi 100 times.
  • The FAA is registering 2,000 drones per day. Time for everyone to step up their crop circle shenanigans.
  • So many of us are binge-watching Netflix while we eat that TV trays are making a comeback. Get your set of four burlwood or mahogany trays for only $685 so you can eat your bowl of cereal and watch reruns of Star Trek in style.

Newspaper Stories You Might Have Missed 9/13/16

• As part of their settlement in the food poisoning case with Chipotle, one client asked for “Free Burrito” coupons. I suspect their attorney donated his 33% to a worthy cause.

• The first Pizza ATM was installed by its French manufacturer at Xavier University in Cincinnati. For $8-$10 you use a touchscreen to choose a pizza, it’s heated, dropped into a cardboard box and ejected through a slot. Finally. French food for the masses.

• The “Five Second Rule” was found to be five seconds too long.

• Shanti, the 41-year-old elephant at the National Zoo, received size-20EEEEEEEEEEEE custom made Teva sandals to help with her arthritis and foot problems. They’re like rubber bird baths without the pedestal. She also has some custom boots made from the spray-on lining used for truckbeds. They have red soles, Christian Louboutin-style. Like most reasonable women, she likes the more casual sandals better.

shoes

• July’s marijuana sales hit an all-time high. Even better than, you know, April’s.

• Left Hand Brewing is recalling Milk Stout Nitro because, despite it’s fully-disclosed name, it’s too fizzy when ‘hard poured.’ I guess I’ll just keep mine to drizzle over my cereal.

• Olive Garden is offering 10x the number of Pasta Passes as last year. The pass costs $100 and lets you eat as much pasta as you want for seven weeks. The time limit makes sense because they realize you’ll be in a carb coma and won’t be able to roll in until next year.

• Dennis the Menace had to sit in the corner. Again.

• 3,000 people participated in Philadelphia’s 8th annual Naked Bike Ride. Some wore undies, some wore body paint, some just wore a smile. All had to be treated for cooties.

• On this date in 1959, Elvis met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu and a tiny crack appeared in the Universe.

• A bigger crack appeared when we learned a fertility doctor used his own sperm more than fifty times instead of the donated sperm. At least 8 people are now searching for just the right Father’s Day card.