Candace's Favorite Things

Friday, April 9, 2010

"So, What If I Don't Have The Surgery"?

I thought it was MORE than a reasonable question. The answer this time was “You don’t want to do that. You have severe spinal cord compression now. The risks of NOT having the surgery FAR outweight the risks of having it….it’s really not much of a choice now”. REALLY? I mean only five weeks ago (excruciating as it was…hey pain is temporary right?), I was
just going along, teaching killer kick boxing classes and picking up my mileage a bit (49 miles in five days, not bad for the beginning of a build up cycle), when I was sent in for another routine ( at least for me), MRI to check my already train wreck of a neck. Next thing I know, rush rush rush and get her in for surgery and here I sit, 10 days post surgery with a brace that’s so large I swear it can be seen from space, around my neck. Here’s the fun part. I get to wear it 24/7…for 8 weeks! Kid you not! I even have a sporty waterproof one for when I shower! Sleeping in this is non existent and little sleep I do get, takes place every night in a recliner. Spending most of my days in it too, so far, but I’ve worked up a plan of movement and I’ve been at it since day six. Hold that thought….. I was cut at the throat. The fun continues. So, the incision starts on the side of the middle of my neck, wrapping it's way around so that it ends up, smack dab and dead center. It's still covered with tape and Steri Strips so I can’t see what kind of a scar I’ll have yet, but it’s gotta look fierce!! SO how did I end up in this predicament? So glad you asked. You see from the ages of 12 to 18, my sport was show jumping horses and we were serious. I was showing every weekend on the “A” rated show circuit. I was winning and on my way to the top. I crashed more times than I could ever count. It’s a part of the sport. But back in the day as we say, nobody knew about spinal injury. We saw all the BAD accidents. By BAD, I mean if we didn’t get up or if someone was ambulanced off. We heard reports of concussions and head trauma and well, as bad as you can imagine but for the most part, we just got up off the ground, or untangled our selves from the fence we fell into, dusted ourselves off and got back up to try it again. The proverbial “getting back on the horse” routine is really all that it’s cracked up to be. You don’t want to go flying head first over your horse that stayed on the ground and get up picking dirt out of your teeth and decide to leave and try again another day. You don’t want that in your head overnight. Get right back up, do it again, (Smart…humm). But if you didn’t, you weren’t gonna. So I’d known that at 21 when I first visited a chiropractor for lots of head and neck pain that I was in trouble. I’ll never forget it. I walked in and told him everything about my history and my pain. He did a once over and took x-rays and looked at me and said “when were you in the accident”?
“Accident I said, I haven’t been in an accident”, at least at that age I hadn’t. We both dug our heals in and finally he said, “well something happened, cause your neck is a train wreck. You’re 21 and already have degenerative disc disease and miss placed vertebra that look like you have a spoon sticking out of the side of your neck”. I thought his words quite colorful. We set up another appointment for him to work on me and off I went to tell all of this to my husband. “He thought I’d been in some kind of bad accident”, I said, as we walked in and out of the stalls of our horse farm in Florida.” I have no idea what “the heck he’s talking….about”, I stopped mid pour of the water bucket I’d been carrying. “Ya think that…nah”, “What” “Ya think it was all the times I crashed on the fences”? Well folks let me ask you, ya think? DUHH . I never claimed to be the sharpest tool in shed. SO back to the Dr . I went with tail tucked and asked if he thought those crashes could have done it. You should have seen the look he gave me. “ AH YEAH. That would be considered an accident. An accident you experience apparently over and over and over again none the less”. So, I’ve been dealing with this mess FOREVER. It kills. I’d tried everything from acupuncture, to physical therapy to dye guided, nerve wracking cervical epidural cortisone shots and what did I end up with? A painful screwed up neck. Years later, add deciding to become a professional runner. Not just running of course…oh no, I had to do Marathons! Impacting on that already precarious mess added bulging and herniated discs with central spinal stenosis to boot…. whoopee!
SO I kept digging in and thrashing through the pain when I was brought up short. Approximately four and a half years ago on a cold winter’s day, I hit a piece of black ice, popped a skid and lost control of my SUV. I went whipping down a hill turning directly sideways into oncoming traffic. Now I can remember the hits, but it took about a year before I could. I thought I was wearing my seat belt. It is my practice to do so. Whether I did or not, we’ll never know, but I ended up with the vehicle dangling over the railing on the other side of the road by one back tire and about to tumble over it, into a slightly water filled ravine. That’s where my car was. I had been thrown all around and landed on the passenger side of the car with my head having gone through the passenger side window. Gushing with blood and not being able to move my arms, I though I was a goner. They had to do what’s called a “working rescue” I believe. They had to stake and chain the car before they could try to get me out. Once they did, they medivaced me to Shock Trauma. It was so bad that the PV32 Fire department told me to check out the internet as they posted the pictures of my accident and said they’d been using that scenario for rescue training. Happy to help! In the Trauma unit, they ran every test they could muster up only to end up focusing on my neck. I was a mess and after asking for a cosmetic surgeon to sew up my face and head ( a move I consider an act of genius or extreme vanity considering my condition. I’m really sure which..), the neurologist came in with a question. “I’m sorry to have to ask you this at this particular time; I know it’s hard to focus but you may be able to help us. Do you have any knowledge about what was wrong with your neck before the accident that you could share?” Being extremely familiar, between the lightening bolts of pain, I told him the whole deal. “OK then. Well now we have a handle on it. You can now add that you’ve broken C-7”. So I can literally say I broke my neck! I was released without any surgery and with time and a great doctor I healed but was warned that most likely I’d have to have surgical intervention one day. .
Prophetic huh? Stepping back into the surgeon's office.... what I wasn’t prepared for was what my surgeon had to say about my life and activity level after the surgery. Devastating! Too much for my psyche to completely digest until, well.... right now, at least I think . But I’ll tell you about that tomorrow. For tonight, here I sit , in my recliner, in pain, neck swollen and bruised with a space beacon of a brace around my neck and coming to terms with all the things I'll never partake of again…..but, I have a plan and I’m still smiling! Till next time…..


1 comment:

  1. hey girl, this is lajan's sister debbie in dallas. i am so glad you are doing "ok" (that is such a crazy word in the world of never ending pain)i hope you can understand that the few of us in the world with pain can truly understand where you are coming from. i pray for all of us daily, i know some day we will have a non pain place that will last a lot longer than this life. i keep up the faith by just focusing on that reward. you take care and if you ever need an ear i still have two of those and would love to listen.
    love ya,