Thursday, January 12, 2012

Analyzing Anxiety, Back Surgery, Some News Articles and A Birthday

Today's blog entry has two distinct pieces.  There is a serious section that deals with two major problems that have plagued us for a while.  The second section is a tab bit more whimsical and is about some off beat news stories that caught my eye today.

To the serious stuff first....

Since Sunday morning we have been dealing with a significant upsurge in Zack's anxiety.  At first I did what I normally do in these cases and I put in place consequences and rewards for Zack to improve his behavior.  As is somewhat predictable in the cases of Zack's serious anxiety meltdowns these didn't work.  I kept on insisting that Zack take personal responsibility for his actions and behavior.  It was only this morning that I realized he had no control over the situation.  Zack's brain chemistry has become utterly out of balance and he is not able to bring his anxiety under control.  To help the situation somewhat and get it temporarily under control until his psychologists and psychiatrist can come up with a long term solution, I have given him the drug Klonopin.  This drug is like Xanax and Ativan in the fact that it provides immediate resolution to anxiety related issues.  However it has no where near the sedating and "high like" effects of Xanax and Ativan.  It has seemed to work the last several days and he has been able to function to some degree at school.

This afternoon I spent a large amount of time on the phone with both his psychologist and his psychiatrist.  After much discussion his psychiatrist has arrived at what could be a very radical departure from the line of thinking that has applied to Zack's diagnosis and treatment for a long time.  Since the first time Zack exhibited the symptoms of anxiety back in October of 2006, the assumed diagnosis has been that Zack has Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  (This diagnosis was made by the first psychiatrist he saw back in October of 2006 and it has just by default been followed since then.)  But the fact is Zack's condition has not followed traditional anxiety and OCD progression.  The way things change on dime in the fact that he can go from a really good state to a very bad state so quickly is one major difference.  Another difference is the way that he is affected by a major meltdown every December/January.  It may be that he is actually suffering from what is called a "mood disorder" and the anxiety and OCD are just symptoms of this as opposed to the root cause.  His psychiatrist was willing to speculate that he could actually be suffering from bipolar disorder as opposed to an anxiety disorder.  If that is the case he has been on the wrong class of drugs for this entire time.  It also means that the approach used for his psychotherapy would need to be different than the approach that has been used to this point.

If this is the case it would be a very big deal and would change every that is being done to treat him.  His psychiatrist was going to spend some time this evening reviewing his file and doing some thinking.  She will be calling me back tomorrow to further discuss her thinking.  Hopefully tomorrow this time we will have a new set of prescriptions in hand and it will provide Zack with part of the resolution to this problem that has bothered him for so long.

Additionally, next week I am going to be facilitating a meeting between Zack's 2 psychologists, his psychiatrist and his support team at school.  Hopefully this coordinated effort will allow everyone to come up to speed with what is the true diagnosis and put in place a complete plan to manage this new diagnosis.  I am cautiously optimistic about this new diagnosis and approach.  I just hope and pray that this new diagnosis is the actual problem and we can proceed to help Zack get over these problems and be much happier with life!

This morning I had an appointment with the neurosurgeon.  We spent the appointment talking about what the current symptoms of my back issue are and what are the ramifications of having surgery done to correct the problem.  He confirmed that if I haven't seen improvement after what has been done and after this condition has existed for as long as it has then it is not likely I will ever seem improvement if I just let it go.  The condition does not require surgery as I could go on living with the pain and taking regular doses of pain killers to manage it.  However if I do that it is going to leave me in a situation where my life is restricted by the pain.  For example, I find it hard to walk long distances because after 1/4 mile or so regardless of how much pain killer I take I am normally in great amounts of pain.  Though technically this condition doesn't require surgery, for me to live the way I wish to live - being active, exercising and pushing my body athletically, surgery is the only way the pain is every going to go away.

The doctor explained exactly what will happen in the surgery.  Everything he told me is pretty much what I already understood.  There were only 2 things that were different than my understanding.  First, the surgeon will actually cut me open as opposed to doing everything laparoscopically.  He will cut a 2 - 3 inch incision down the left side of my spine.  This incision will be used to push away my muscles from the vertebrae and do the cutting or pulling of the damaged disc.  The other difference from what I had previously understood is that he will also take off small portions of my bone from two of my vertebrae.  This will give him more room to work and also allow for relief of some of the pressure on my nerves.

My surgery is scheduled for January 30th at 9:00AM at Littleton Adventist Hospital and will take approximately 1.5 hours.  Due to the significance of the incision and the possibility of some pretty good pain while the surgeon is poking and prodding at my nerves, they will use general anaesthesia for my sedation.  Additionally, because it is defined as neurosurgery I will be admitted as an inpatient and will not be discharged until the following day.  However, once I am discharged as long as I feel good I can do pretty much anything I want with the exception of lifting heavy weights.  Six weeks after surgery all restrictions will be lifted and I can get back to normal life. Given my general good health and strong core muscles, the surgeon estimated that there is a 95% chance that I will have complete resolution of all pain associated with this injury.  I am really hopefully that is the case!

Ok - one to the more whimsical stuff....

Each day I scan about 20 or 30 different Internet sites dedicated to news and current events and read some of the more interesting stories on them.  Today there were a number of off beat stories that caught my attention and I wanted to share.

- North Korea is to permanently put Kim Jong-Il's body on display.  Is that quite necessary?  Didn't the entire world see enough of him and his paranoid ways when he was alive?  Please bury him and be done with it!  The story is at:

- Scotland to hold binding independence referendum in the autumn of 2014.  What is the world coming to - England and Scotland are to split?  That just seems wrong to me.  Granted I am not a Scotsman, but it seems like England and Scotland go together like fish and chips.  Sad!  The story is at:

(Scottish national coat of arms)

- Medical team drops heart headed for transplant.  The word clumsy really doesn't explain this one.  Next time put the cooler with the heart in it on a gurney so you can't drop it!  The story is at:

- Size 6 is now a plus size in the modeling industry.  Freaks!!  Yes - freaks!  Anyone who would consider size 6 to be a plus size is a freak!!  I hate the whole thought that for some one (whether woman or man) to be considered attractive they have to be so freaking thin.  This is just insane!  The human body was not made to be like the way these models portray people to be.  To all my female readers - I think this is absolutely nuts and I think the most attractive women are women who look real and who have curves.  (Regardless - the most important thing is being happy with who you and not killing yourself to maintain some image that someone else wants you to have.)  None of this stick model crap for me!  The story is at:

- Guinness Brewing to build massive new brewery.  I personally am not a big fan of Guinness.  The only way I enjoy Guinness is if you use your pint to make an "Irish Car Bomb" (a pint of Guinness with a shot of Bailey's Irish Creme dropped in it and then chugged).  Regardless of my tastes a lot of people really enjoy their Guinness.  So many people enjoy it that Guinness Brewing is building a new plant that can churn out 1.2 billion pints of beer per year.  Yes - that is billion with a B.  Guinness drinkers everywhere are celebrating.  The story is at:

(A perfectly poured pint of Guinness!)

- Astronomers have found a real life example of Luke Skywalker's two sunned planet Tatooine.  Do you remember that scene from the original Star Wars where Luke Skywalker is standing outside his aunt and uncle's home looking off into the distance as the 2 suns of Tatooine set?  Up until now scientists always thought it was impossible to have a planet like that as they figured the gravitational forces of the 2 suns would pull the thing apart.  This planet was found by the Keplar space observatory which is a space based telescope specifically built to search for exoplanets (planets outside of our solar system) and has so far found a total of 2326 possible planets.  For those of you from Colorado, Keplar was built in a joint effort between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Boulder based Ball Aerospace.  The story is at:

(The famous picture of Luke Starwalker looking at the 2 setting suns of Tatooine.)

Hopefully these were interesting stories that you might not have heard on the news as they all seem a little off beat to me.  I really enjoy reading stuff and then being able to share it with my friends and family.  It gives me a little smile and a lot of joy to share stuff like this.  I hope you all enjoyed!

This weekend is my birthday!  So far I really don't have any major plans.  Tomorrow I am picking Zack up after school and we are heading downtown for the RV show.  It's a lot of fun looking around and seeing all the stuff that they cram into those things these days.  Eventually I hope Zack and I can buy some kind of camper to further our hiking goals.  But I won't be buying it at the RV show as those things are so expensive.  Instead we'll probably buy it off of Craigslist or at an auction.  After the RV show if it isn't too late we are going to head over to the Hyatt and get some dinner at the Peaks Lounge which is on the 27th floor and has a wonderful view of the mountains.

Saturday morning I plan to make a birthday cake for myself.  I don't want any store bought cake....  So I am going to make myself one.  I really want to make this chocolate cake in which you put vinegar in the batter, but I don't  have the recipe as it was one that Shelly used to make.  (Let me tell you it was one of the best cakes I have ever tasted.  Plus the icing she would put on it - wow it was to die for!)  Instead I am going to make a Red Velvet cake for myself

Also on Saturday I believe I am getting some decorating ideas about the new kitchen and family room.  I say I believe that because I need to send and e-mail and confirm that my friend is coming over on Saturday.  After that we will most likely head to the Stock Show.  To be honest I don't really care what we do on Saturday, I just want to get out of the house for the day.  Because of the crap going on with my back and leg we really haven't gone out that much recently and I just want to get out.  To manage all the walking there I will either need to take a bunch of pain pills or just drink a lot of alcohol while I am there!  Right now I am tending towards the drinking as for the last month I have really not drank that much alcohol at all.

Sunday we are getting together with my family and some other folks for brunch.  That is the only real formal birthday activity that Zack and me have planned for the weekend.  I am sure if we have time we will watch football on both Saturday and Sunday.  Now that the Steelers are out of the playoffs my interest has dropped off dramatically.

Have a great Friday tomorrow!

Thanks and peace to all!


Mjs said...

Hi Jerry: So sorry to read all the news on Zack. Poor boy - he has been through so much - and I'm sure that your health situation, plus Nancy's move has just added to his anxiety/fears. Hoping that the doctors will finally get to the root cause and get this wonderful child back on the road to recovery.
And, I'm glad to read that your surgery won't be as invasive. Glad that they can do this with minimum hospital stay and recovery. Much better than what I had both times. Still, know that you will still not feel that great afterward, but in time - will be ever so thankful that the surgery is over and your pain is gone.
Have a good day and regards to all.

Elasti-Girl said...

Happy Birthday Jerry!!! I hope that this next trip around the Sun is your best yet!

On Zack, I feel for him, I really do. I have suffered from (I hate to say it that way, but it really is suffering) generalized anxiety disorder since I was extremely young too; even at 33, Klonopin is my friend. I am so happy for Zack, that he has a wonderful Father who loves and cares for him as you do. He's a lucky boy; and I know you probably feel the same way about yourself as his Father. :)
Continued thoughts on your surgery and the pain you are in (boy do I understand it) until then....and thanks for the funnies :)

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