Sometime in mid-March.
You sure are walking funny. Are you tired? Do your legs hurt? Do your hips hurt?
Well, I have a little soreness in my hips. It’ll be fine.
A few weeks pass.
You’re still walking funny. It’s like you are dragging your foot or something. Do you think you need to go to the doctor?
No, no, no. It will work its way out. I’m sure. Do worry.
Another week passes by.
Okay, look, you have until the end of April and if it’s not better you need to go to the doctor okay? That’s it. Period.
Okay, I will. End of April. I promise.
A few days later, before the end of April. A phone call. His office.
We’re worried about Doc. He is really dragging his foot. He seems very tired and is having a hard time getting around.
I know. I’ll talk to him this weekend. Maybe he can see the doctor on Monday.
You have to go. I’m worried. They’re worried. Don’t you want to be better for our big trip in July and then in October? You don’t want to go on our trip like this do you? Don’t you want to be able to hike and play with Cupcake and the rest of us?
You’re right. Okay. I’ll go.
I have an appointment at 1:00. Can you go with me?
Sure. I’ll be there.
Later. His office calls.
They moved the appointment up. He’s on his way now. He’ll call you afterwards.
A couple hours later from his office.
Umm, I have to get a stat MRI at 1:00. The doctor didn’t like what he found in the exam. Can you come and go with me? He gave me something to relax me since I can’t be still for that long. Gonna take a nap till you get here.
On my way. I love you.
Later that night. Doctor calls.
Looks like you have herniated discs in you cervical spine and some cervical stenosis. I’m going to send you to a neurosurgeon.
Next day. Neurosurgeon appointment (yes, it was that quick).
The neurosurgeon walks in and says, “Wow! You poor man. You really have elevated hypersensitivity in your feet and legs and you are not walking well at all. I looked at the MRI scan, but I would like to get a closer look at the neck area and I want to get a brain scan as well.”
Oh, golly, here we go again with the scans!
“I found some spots on your brain scan. Before we talk about surgery on your neck, I really want you to see a neurologist. Just need to rule out some things. “
During this conversation, filled with medical jargon, I remember hearing these two physicians (my husband and the neurosurgeon) mention MS. Multiple Sclerosis. Just need to rule it out. Okay.
It’s now April 30. Neurologist appointment. A physician who gets his own patients from the waiting room and does his own history & physical. That’s interesting. His first words….
Well I don’t see any sign of MS. These spots are just……..blah, blah, blah (more medical jargon). Wow! You poor man. You really have hypersensitivity in you feet and legs and you are not walking well at all. (Guess everyone is in agreement that he is NOT walking well AT ALL.) Okay this, and okay that and oh yeah, by the way, you have carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. I want to order an echocardiogram, 48-hour holter monitor and am EMG (for the carpel tunnel). And one more thing, down the road after your neck surgery, I may want to do a lumbar puncture, just to 100% rule out the MS. And we’ll talk about the carpal tunnel afterward too.
During the appointment he calls the neurosurgeon (they’re friends). Yep, those spots are not MS. I think you can go ahead and do the neck surgery. I’ll have them call your office tomorrow. More medical jargon. Hangs up.
May 1. Neurosurgeon’s office calls. He wants to get one last test. A CT scan. It’s set up for May 9. Pre-operative appointment will be May 10, my sweet husband’s birthday.
May 9. CT scan at the hospital.
May 10. Pre-op appointment. Arrive at 8:30. At 8:45 they cancel due to an emergency.
May 11. We find out it was a death in his family. The neurosurgeon’s office calls and schedules the surgery for Friday, May 18. The doctor will call on May 17 to discuss the surgery via phone. They are positive it will be fine. The neurosurgeon wants to do the surgery. Yes, they are sure.
May 12. Bedtime. Browsing the internet. Glancing at the obituaries (yes, I do this occasionally). Oh no. It was his wife that died. The neurosurgeon’s wife. Unexpectedly.
May 14. EMG appointment with neurologist. 48-hour Holter Monitor. Call the neurosurgeon’s office. They reassure me that the neurosurgeon is okay. Surgery will take place on the 18th.
May 15. Pre-surgery testing at the hospital.
May 16. Echocardiogram at another hospital. Turn in the holter monitor.
May 17. Neurosurgeon calls in the late afternoon. They will do an anterior decompression and a fusion of several of the cervical vertebrae. Will probably last between 3-4 hours. And no, you can’t take a donkey ride when you are on vacation in July (more about that in a later post).
Arrive at the Ambulatory Surgical Unit of the hospital at 7:00 am.
My parents drove up and surprised us. They wanted to be there with us. Thank you my sweet parents!
They wheel him back at 8:30 am to the pre-operative area and said they would call with updates. On schedule at 10:00 am, they get started. My parents leave an hour or so later and then I wait. And wait. Updates are about every hour or so.
A phone call at 1:30 tells me that they will be closing in about 10 minutes and the neurosurgeon will be out to talk to me later.
At 2:45 the neurosurgeon appears. Success! Everything was successful!
He is doing very well. I’m going to go back to recovery to see him after I leave you. He will probably be here until tomorrow or at the latest Sunday. Bland diet to begin with and see how he tolerates food. I will also have physical therapy evaluate him and they will tell you what they recommend. If he feels like it he can get up and move around today. I want him to wear a collar, mostly for comfort reasons. His neck is solid and his incision looks good.
I said thank you, but I didn’t know what else to say. Should I say anything? Should I say I’m sorry for your loss. Those words seem so empty, inappropriate, etc. I took his hand said, Dr. G. I just want you to know I’ve kept you in my thoughts and prayers this past week. I also want you to know that people across the country have been praying for you. I mentioned to a group of people, people I don’t even know, in a class I’m taking online, about the surgery and you and your family. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said thank you. Then he left.
I found my sweet husband in his room. He was awake and had a big smile on his face. He was so happy. Euphorically happy! I wondered if it was the anesthesia or the pain medication. It may have been some of both, but it was mostly him. He felt so good! He talked NON –STOP! I don’t think I have ever heard him talk so much. He talked about all the people he met in the pre-surgery room, how nice everyone was, how good he felt, etc. It appears he made several friends in pre-surgery and he wanted me to start a thank you list. I did what he asked. He continued to talk throughout the night. To the nurses, assistants, a couple of visitors, me, people on the phone, and anyone who would listen.
Within a couple of hours he got up and walked to the bathroom (with assistance). He did that a few more times that evening. He wolfed down his bland supper, but around 11:00 pm he was really hungry. His nurse ordered 2 grilled cheese sandwiches. No more bland diet!
He didn’t sleep that night. Not because of pain, just wasn’t sleepy. He kept saying over and over how good he felt. He was so excited and relieved! He even talked to me while I was sleeping! I just know he did.
Sometime during the night the hospitalist came in. I was half asleep, but I know they talked for quite a few minutes. I did hear my sweet husband tell me, add him to the list. I did.
Physical therapist came in for evaluation. Walks him down the hall. The therapist can’t believe it is less than 24 hours post-surgery. Nice!
The neurosurgeon’s PA arrive sometime mid-morning. You are doing very well. You can stay another night or you can go home. It’s up to you.
Okay, I’ll get the paperwork signed, give you some scripts and have physical therapy come in one more time to do a “step-evaluation”. We have steps in our house.
Approximately 4:30 pm we arrive home. A wee bit over 24 hours since major surgery on my sweet husband’s neck.
And now the recovery begins.