That day is April 2015 is one I'll never forget. Laying in that MRI machine I got "that feeling", something that I almost never get but when I do it's never wrong.
After the 45 minutes of the constant banging sound the MRIs make I jokingly asked the technician if she found any aliens in there I should be made aware of. She laughed and said no. But there was something about the way she said it that didn't make that feeling go away. Mr. Coffee, my 2nd and current husband drove us home which took less than 10 minutes. We weren't even home an hour when the doctors office called and said I needed to call the neurosurgeon and make an appointment and that they have already called ahead to get me in as soon as possible. That's never a good sign, and I've never been drama free as evidenced by my wedding and pregnancy. Oh and did I mention I just got a major promotion less than 2 weeks before the MRI… yeah I'm a magnet for really weird drama that you only usually read about. I still can't be sure if I have the worst luck or I'm just drama magnet.
While I poured over my MRI images and the subsequent report that was posted within the hour, it didn't take much googling to figure out that half of my discs in my neck were ruptured and compressing the spinal cord – and in some areas the signal was compromised – or in an easier way to explain it, constantly misfiring because of the damage. Damaged that only occurred over a significant amount of time since there was no acute trauma to account for it.
Within the week I found myself sitting in the office of an renowned neurosurgeon with my sister in law in tow. While I wasn't scared or terribly concerned, mostly because I had done enough research to know that surgery was going to be mandatory, and the only real question I had going in was regarding that signal change that was going into overdrive.
I wasn't expecting to hear that he was surprised that I walked into his office let alone how lucky I was because it was so bad that a little fender bender or a slip and fall would've certainly led to 1 of 2 things. Death or paralyzed from the neck down.
I think this freaked my sister in law out way more than me because I was so calm and collected and wasn't freaking out over a 4 hour surgery which happened to be my first surgery ever. As to the damage that was already there, he told me essentially if it's been there less than 6 months it should be reversible, if not then the chances were slim that I would get full functionality back.
The odd thing was that despite some tingles and numb feeling in my legs and feet with some occasional nerve pain and of course the ever present throbbing pain in the neck and shoulders, I didn't have the severe symptoms one would expect to have like bowel and bladder functionality issues, gait issues, and the like. But since I'd survived my pregnancy complications, I figured: "Ok. This is bad timing but I'll have the surgery and be back to work and that will be that." Because this was extremely urgent, I was scheduled in the first opening for surgery, slightly less than 3 weeks from my doctors appointment.
Then I stared to notice the subtle things that passed my attention: my walking was a bit off and sometimes I felt like my right foot would give out and become a tripping hazard…. that happened all along but again, wrote it off as me always in a hurry and being a klutz. Then it really gave me a punch… less than 10 days until surgery.
It was an early Sunday morning about 2:30 in the morning when I sat up and quickly became aware that I could no longer swallow. Because Mr. Coffee had to work, I called my parents a mile away to take me to the ER less than a mile from my house since Mr. Coffee is a lineman who works with high voltage lines, I thought it was best that my father take me, since Mom overreacts and Mr. Coffee goes into panic mode and grills the doctors so he is never my first pick; just because he's so argumentative with my medical staff – which is ironic because even if his leg got cut off, he would refuse to go to the hospital and try and superglue that damn leg back on as if it were that easy.
So I explained everything to the triage nurse which helped that my entire medical staff is a part of this hospital which is incredibly stress free in avoiding telling the entire story to the variety of my team of doctors – so it was easy for the doctors to see my entire medical history and images.
One resident , an IV drip, a diagnosis of inflammation that was putting more pressure on my spinal cord, some prednisone and opiates shot into said drip and that was the first time in 6 years I'd been completely pain free in my entire life – especially the last 6 years. The down side is the prescriptions they dole out are never as potent. But my parents took me out to breakfast, laughed at me the entire time, and then proceeded to work from home so they could keep an eye on me.
It was decided at that point to yank me out of work and try to get my surgery in earlier if they could, as the symptoms became more severe and worrisome. Mothers Day fell on the before my surgery so as my last meal, my parents took me out to Outback – because if I had to pick a last meal before I had to fast and then deal with post surgical pain, then I was going to do it right and fill my stomach to the brim.
To Be Continued …