Thursday, November 08, 2012

To sleep - perchance to dream!

Election day rolled around and I had the day off to worry, vote, go for my surgery post-op and run other errands.  I came home with my prescriptions refilled for Prozac and Adderall, three bags of candy to get us through watching the returns and a 12 pack of Leinenkugel's Snow Drift Vanilla Porter because it sounded yummy.  I'm not much of a beer drinker and had no idea if I'd like it, but I knew that even if I didn't drink it Thanksgiving is coming and no beer ever goes to waste on a family feasting holiday.

Well, it turns out that I did like it.  I liked it so much I drank TWO beers, which is unheard of.  Combined with the pound or so of  mini Heath Bars, Butterfingers and Paydays, the whole thing led to being VERY tired as the night wore on and the returns came in. I remember Ev "wooohoooooooo!!!!!"ing frequently and I remember speeches were made, but I'm afraid I slept through a lot.

And wow, what dreams I had!  I dreamed that Romney went down in flames and Ann looked like she'd been pulling her hair out in clumps when he gave his concession speech, Obama was re-elected in a landslide, nearly sweeping the swing states, while cheering throngs of happy people of every description wept and waved flags just like last time!  I dreamed that Tammy Baldwin was elected the first openly lesbian senator and Tammy Duckworth beat the pants of that shithead who said she wasn't a hero. I dreamed that Alan West ended up on the unemployment line and that awesome Alan Grayson came back from the Tea Party Oblivion he was pitched into two years ago.  I dreamed that the "Legitimate Rape" and "Rape is God's Will" candidates were kicked to the curb, even in such fiery red states as Missouri and Indiana. I dreamed that Elizabeth Warren shoved that pickup drivin', mud-slingin' weasel out of Ted Kennedy's seat and went on to kick so much major ass in the Senate that SHE held the seat until she died at the age of 115 and they built a freakin' monument to her on the mall.

I dreamed that Ruth Bader Ginsburg could finally feel safe enough to retire from the Supreme Court and enjoy the last of her life knowing she wouldn't be replaced by an ultra-conservative activist judge in the pocket of some corporation or another.

In short, it was just about the most perfect day I could ever have imagined. It was an AWESOME dream!

And then I woke up and realized that it wasn't a dream after all!!  (Well, except for the Elizabeth Warren Monument on the mall, but that's probably pre-cognitive.)  And the world didn't end, and the earth didn't open and swallow us all, and the oceans didn't turn red with blood, and zombies didn't apocalypse and America wasn't invaded by the Chinese or the combined forces of Muslim evil, and gays can get married with the VOTER'S permission in Maine and Maryland, and you can kick back and enjoy a doobie whenever the hell you want to in Colorado and Washington, and holy crap it really WAS the best day I could ever have imagined!!  Okay, almost the best day. Michele Bachmann is still the craziest woman in Washington and we still have to put up with Mitch McConnell's assholery and Weeper of the House Boo-hooner (at least until that cocksucker, Eric Cantor, takes his gavel away from him).  But those are small prices to pay!

And speaking of toupee .... wtf??  With all Donald Trump's money can't he buy a head of freaking hair that doesn't look like it needs to be fed and walked several times a day?? The damage from Hurricane Sandy may be irreparable!  

Oh, and my hardware looks perfect and I got to throw away my cervical collar and I can do whatever the hell I feel like doing as long as I don't lift over 20 pounds for six more weeks. I told you it was the BEST DAY EVER!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

In which Kwachy gets a new bionic neck!

I was born with the good fortune to look like my handsome, blond, blue eyed father.  However, I also inherited his sway back, pigeon toes and bad hips. He was an active guy, did a lot of yard work and played tennis a couple of times a week into his 70's, but for as long as I can remember, my dad walked like someone who hurt .... a lot .... and finally he didn't walk much at all anymore ... and eventually he couldn't walk from his apartment to his car and his last vacation was taken in a wheelchair.

When I was in my twenties I had my first really bad fall and back injury.  I had a few more over the years, and sometime during my pregnancy with my son I ended up with a really bad hip. It ached and burned and tingled constantly, the skin on my leg was numb around it and I could barely walk the length of a mall ... but standing still was even worse.  It didn't go away after my son was born like several doctors said it would, and over the intervening 26 years it slowly got worse. Then, about eight years ago I developed a constant muscle twitch in my right arm and spasms in my hand.  I eventually gave up working as a surgery tech  because I involuntarily jerked an instrument right out of the surgeon's hand as I was trying to pass it to him and I couldn't stand for hours at a time.

Ev and I used to go places like walks in the woods and festivals and street fairs and the DuQuoin State Fair, but I got where I just couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't walk more than a few minutes without being in excruciating pain.  Hell's bells, I couldn't even walk the whole length of the ramp from the casino entrance to the slot machines without stopping to sit and rest. I was really not much fun on a date.  We moved into this house and I toughed my way through some floor refinishing and a little gardening and the occasional house cleaning (omg, sweeping the kitchen floor hurt so bad I can't even TELL you).  I was pretty sure I needed hip replacements, but instead of doing anything drastic like that (or, you know, going to a doctor at all about any of it) I just stopped going anywhere and sat down at my desk and thought that maybe I would die young because I sure couldn't imagine living another 40 or so years like that.  Ev went on backpacking trips with her brother and I lived online.

About a year ago Ev asked me to please do something pro-active about my health, so I asked my doctor for an order for a series of spine and hip x-rays and then carried it around with me until the order expired.  About three months ago Ev more fervently requested that I do something besides end up in a mobility scooter, which she was totally not in favor of, so I asked for another order and actually had the x-rays done.  Then came the MRI's and the CT scans and the consult with the neurosurgeon who told me not to ride roller coasters or get in a fender bender or I'd be a quadraplegic. Turns out I had three bad discs in my neck, my spinal cord was squashed flat against the bone, there was no cerebrospinal fluid around it in places and the next thing you know I was scheduled for a four level cervical spine decompression, fusion and plating.  I understand that a four level fusion isn't exactly commonplace. In fact, it's mighty rare.

To say that I was a little nervous about surgery would be way under-reporting. Terrified comes closer.  Panic stricken may approach the truth.  I finally broke down and accepted a prescription for anti-depressants.  I stopped smoking cold turkey one month before surgery so my fusion wouldn't fail.  The morning of surgery I woke up unable to breathe and my throat felt like someone had their hands around it choking me to death.  I think that may have been anxiety.  I would have backed out but Ev was there.

They told me I would spend a couple of nights ... or maybe a week ... in the hospital. They told me I would spend several months in a cervical collar, then several months in physical therapy and that I would lose most of the ability to tilt my head upward, some ability to tilt it downward and some side to side turning.  I envisioned living the rest of my life as stiff and inflexible as if my head were a cherry on a toothpick.  He could not guarantee that any of this would help the pain in my hips, but he said that it was too dangerous to anesthetize me face down to work on my low back with my cervical spine that compromised and my spinal cord that compressed.  So I got a miraculously pain relieving pre-operative steroid injection in my low back instead (a week or so before the tainted meningitis injection scare, I might add).

I had surgery on October 2nd.  They told Ev my surgery was trickier than they thought it would be and they didn't have much space to work with and I'd probably be pretty miserable and stay in the hospital about three days.  I went home the next day, completely pain free.  I returned to work two and a half weeks later.  I have lost exactly ZERO flexibility in my neck.  I only wear the cervical collar to sleep and at the office to keep people aware that I have some lifting restrictions and they shouldn't knock me on my ass.  I feel like several million bucks.  The list of things I no longer have a problem with is ridiculously long and goes from the top of my head literally to my toes, which no longer have Reynaud's phenomenon.  My arm no longer twitches, my hand no longer has spasms, my kidney function has improved, I never have a headache, neck ache, mid-back or low back ache, I can walk all over the place without pain and I am a happier, nicer person than I've been in years. I have energy I didn't know existed.  Ev even likes me again, and lemme tell ya, she was getting pretty damn tired of my moody, disengaged, "everything hurts all the time and I'm depressed" negativity and I do not blame her.  I would have probably killed me two years ago if I were her, but she's not much of a giver-upper. And boy, am I grateful for THAT!

Oh, and kids shut your eyes for this part:

The killer sex?  It is SO back on the table!

Next week I get x-rays of my hardware,which is going to look pretty similar to this (from the innerwebz):

PS:  In addition to having the best, most patient partner in the world, a HUGE thank you goes to my surgeon, Kyle Colle, DO - Brain and Neurospine Center, Cape Girardeau, MO.  And the anesthesiologist who was so handsome I couldn't stop coming up out of a drug-induced sleep to tell Ev about it and then passing back out ... repeatedly.  Also a huge thanks to the pre-op nurse, Rodney, who showed my HIS ACDF scar and proved that he could still move HIS neck right before they put me under.  And the nurses and staff at Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau. And my mother and my father and the baby Jesus.  And the Academy.