Put Your Back Into It!

The TableI thought we’d try something a little different this week. Instead of writing about the book as an add-on at the end of the blog, I’ll write about it in the very beginning. Sales are steady – which I find surprising because I have offered no book talks, no book signings, no advertising, no press releases, no public relations of any kind for well over a year. This must be due to word-of-mouth. For that I thank you all and want to keep reminding you that each time you buy a book, it allows me more income to spend on books for donation. Please keep up the good work there, readers

Today, it’s Bear’s turn to have his medical problem examined. Bear is actually Lieutenant Colonel Bear, U.S. Army Retired. (You do realize I’m having a little fun with his name here, right?) Twenty six years ago he had an accident while serving our country that cost him his coccyx and the fusing of two lumbar vertebra. It’s been progressively more difficult for him for him to go about his daily business,  but he keeps on keeping on.spine

When I first met him, I noticed that his body was tilted to one side but didn’t dwell upon it because we were at the age when bodies start to give out. I figured this was just the way that age was treating his body. As we became more and more friendly –  and then more and more loving –  and finally decided that we wanted to spend whatever time we had left together and even married (Thank you very much, Landmark), I asked him what the pills he was taking were. Some of them were painkillers. When I asked why, he told me about the surgery  and the fusing of the vertebra that was performed in Germany –  which had state of the art surgical practices at the time – while he was stationed there.

Some days, he was really in pain and some days he wasn’t. Several weeks ago his pain was so bad, Bear asked me if we could make an emergency appointment with my chiropractor, Dr. Cathy DeVore of Cactus Chiropractic in Peoria out here. He was desperate.  His pills weren’t working and he’d tried everything else: ice, heat, physical therapy, nothing had helped enough to keep the pain away. Dr. DeVore is the consummate professional and, as such, took an x-ray of his back before she even touched him. That’s what we first saw what looked like the top part of his spine sliding off the bottom part. This is one very smart chiropractor who told us we need to see an orthopedist. She could do nothing for my Bear.

aching backDr. Francis Tindall, my orthopedist, rushed Bear in for an appointment and quietly took me aside to tell me this was bad, very bad.  This is an orthopedic surgeon who never once recommended surgery to me the entire decade I’ve been seeing him. Now, he suspected there was no alternative for Bear.  My heart sank as I watched Bear’s face turn whiter and whiter while he struggled into the correct position for the MRI Dr. Tindall ordered.  It was as we had thought.  Not only was his spine twisted, but several of the lumbar vertebrae were, indeed, no longer aligned so they were on top of each other as they should be. The top of his spine turned right, while the bottom turned left. Dr. Tindall was emphatic: this was nothing for an orthopedist to deal with.  Bear needed a neurosurgeon.

I called each of the neurosurgeons on the list Dr. Tindall gave us, including the neurosurgeon who had operated on him.  The closest appointment I could get was three weeks away.  How was Bear going to make it?  No position was comfortable and his spine was in a precarious position. Luckily for us, one of the receptionists told us of a doctor who had just retired from his own military service and could make room in his schedule to see Bear in just a few days.  We thought we had the answer, but he suggested surgery as the way to go and Bear was not willing, despite his pain.  So the doctor sent Bear to pain management.

At Valley Pain Consultants in Scottsdale, Bear had two procedures one week apart.  Before each, he had to fast for six hours and abstain from taking certain types of medication. Each procedure consisted of two (the first time) or three (the second time) steroid epidurals to decrease the pain and inflammation.  The procedures included a local anesthetic before the injections and fluoroscopy {an x-ray of sorts} to confirm the needle was in the proper space. The injections did the trick.  But Dr. Spiro did not seem to believe Bear. Just a week later, we saw why.

Bear was in such agony that we rushed to our local emergency room for a 10 mg. morphine injection.  I can’t figure out if that caused Bear not to care about the pain anymore or if he didn’t feel it.  The P.A. at Arrowhead Hospital in Arrowhead (where else?) out here neglected to give my husband a prescription for an anti-nausea medication, though.  So he was in, shall we say, an altered state and nauseous as all get out.  You may remember my daughter Nima just had gall bladder surgery.  I was talking to her about her own recovery when she asked why Bear didn’t just take the anti- nausea medication.   Bingo!  A call to the E.R. and a trip to the pharmacy took care of the nausea.  the shot

Yes, as far as we know Bear will have surgery to have a sort of metal cage placed around three of his vertebrae to keep them aligned.  Yes, it is serious and dangerous – even in this time.  And, yes, we don’t know what’s going to happen.  So we’ll do what we always do: think positively and deal with it.

If Bear had Chronic Kidney Disease, he couldn’t take all those painkillers on such a sustained basis. For one, morphine is not something you can take if you have kidney disease. But there are other reasons you may not be able to take pain killers.  For example, I can’t take oxytocin because I have sleep apnea. Let’s consider today’s blog a cautionary tale to take care of whatever ails you immediately – as in before you need pain killers on a sustained basis – because you DO have CKD.

Before I sign off, I did receive my blood tests results including my vitamin D levels.  They’re right on target.  I guess I’ll have to accept that I am one of those people who do need vitamin D supplements.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!