Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Keep It Positive

Sometimes when I have something on my mind that is important or close to me, I will write a blog entry and then never post it.  I tend to use the blog like a diary and write about what ever is on my mind - but it doesn't mean I post it all the time.  That is exactly what I have been doing the last several days.  I wanted to get my thoughts down "on paper" if you will, but I didn't feel like having everyone read them.  A secret of mine is that I usually go back and then publish those entries several days or weeks later.  Those posts publish out onto the web with the date and time I originally wrote them instead of the current date and time.  You can choose different settings for how the blog entries post to the web.  My default is to publish the article with the date and time I wrote it as opposed to the time it posted.  Given that Blogger.Com stores everything by chronological order the posts I add that way look like they were published a long time ago.  There might be all kinds of things that I have written and people don't know about.....  I might have some pretty interesting secrets out there.  :-)

All fooling around aside, I did write a bunch of stuff over the last 5 days and I just haven't published it.  My mind has been in non-stop action but most of what I have written has been stuff that I keep pretty close to the vest.  Maybe I will publish it, but not this week.

My blog title speaks to an important goal that I must meet.  I normally don't have any problems keeping things positive, but this week my resolve and my general upbeat demeanor is tending to break down a little bit.  The major reason for me having to work at keeping it positive is the situation with my back injury.  It has now been 2 weeks since I had the surgery on my back and the outcomes my surgeon and I sought from the surgery have not been achieved.  The key outcome that was sought from this surgery was the elimination of the "radiating" pain that originates between my L4 and L5 vertebrae and then travels through my left gluteus maximus and gluteus medius (my butt) muscles, into my left thigh, through my knee and goes into my left calf.  The elimination of this pain is important because the pain is debilitating and prevents me from living the type of life that I want as it makes it almost impossible to walk and move.  The only way I can manage the pain is through the use of extensive amounts of Advil and the pain killer oxycodone.  I really don't want to be on either of these medications for any kind of duration.

Today was the 2 week follow up appointment with my surgeon.  So that he could understand what was going on, I first had an MRI.  I arrived at Littleton hospital shortly before noon so that I could be processed and have my MRI.  I know some people have a hard time with MRI's because it is somewhat of a claustrophobic setting.  You have to enter a tube that is only slightly bigger than your body and then you have to lay there for between 20 and 30 minutes while images are taken of the desired parts of your body.  The output of MRI's is really cool looking as the doctors can see just about everything that makes up your body.  It helps them see all kinds of detail that otherwise they could only see by cutting into you.

As soon as I was completed with my MRI, I headed over to the surgeon's office for my appointment.  The first step in the appointment was to talk with the surgeon's assistant or secretary.  (She's not a medical assistant, she just takes notes and does his scheduling.)  She wrote up notes about how much pain I was in, how the incision had healed, etc.  I could tell from reading her body language that she didn't like hearing what I was telling her.  After that assistant, the surgeon's nurse practitioner came in to talk to me as the surgeon was busy with another patient.  I described everything to her about how I had at first felt relief from the pain and then how it came back early last week.  She presented everything I knew from the previous conversations and then she got to the kicker - the findings from the MRI I had just before arriving at their office.  The news from the MRI certainly wasn't good - it was down right disturbing, upsetting, infuriating and unbelievable.  This MRI in comparison to the MRI I had done immediately after my surgery showed that the herniated disc had reoccurred.  Basically this last MRI looked like the surgery had never taken place.  When I heard that my jaw pretty much hit the floor.

The odds of having a "recurrent" herniated disc are only five percent.  The odds of having a "recurrent" herniated disc within 2 weeks of surgery are unbelievably low - but that is exactly what happened to me.  There is no known rhyme or reason as to why this has happened to me again and in such a short amount of time.  Regardless of the odds it has happened to me and now I have to deal with the ramifications from this second herniated disc.

After I had talked to the nurse practitioner for a while, the surgeon came in and gave me a few more details about what the MRI had shown.  Then the conversation switched to "what are we going to do about this".  There are basically 3 different paths that I can follow to resolve this problem.  The first path is to do nothing and just deal with the pain through medication and tolerance of the pain.  The second path is to do a variation of the surgery I had 2 weeks ago.  The third and last path is the most radical and invasive option - it would involve surgically stabilizing the juncture of my two vertebrae with steel rods and screws.

The question becomes what am I going to do?  The first path of just meds and living with the pain isn't going to work.  The lifestyle that I choose to live is full of activity and doing lots and lots of things.  The ongoing pain or pain pills that I would have to take is something that I just do not want to bear.  So this option is not even a real choice for me.  The third path just seems way to invasive and risky to me.  This option is what is normally referred to as "fusing" the vertebrae.  This procedure adds a tremendous amount of stability to the effected area and ensures that you do not have to deal with a herniated disc in that exact place.  However, there is a twenty percent chance that at some point you will have to deal with another herniated disc at one of the anchor points.  In the end run, this solves your problem for a time but in the long run you might be dealing with bigger problems.  That leaves option two which is a variation of the procedure I had done two weeks ago.  This procedure is called a laminectomy.  If you want to read more about what a laminectomy is here is a link to a Wikipedia article about it.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laminectomy   In this situation the surgeon will do a lot more than just take out the portion of the disc that has herniated.  Instead he will take out a much larger portion of the disc and more of the vertebrae itself.  Supposedly this will give the disc more room to expand without herniating. 

To cap everything off, the surgeon wants to do this surgery as soon as possible.  His viewpoint is that the incision from the last surgery hasn't totally healed and the area hasn't formed any scar tissue yet.  If he operates before scar tissue forms then the surgery will be easier and he will have an easier time maneuvering around the vertebrae.  Based upon what I know of his schedule - he only operates on Mondays and Wednesdays, I think it will be at least until next Wednesday for Surgery Take II.

I am definitely not feeling happy with all of this.  I am just tired of living with the pain and all the complications that have occurred from this injury.  Unfortunately this is currently my lot in life.  And so I have to make the best of it that I can.  There is no use in getting all down on my luck and feeling sad and depressed.  It will take work to avoid feeling that way, but it is something that I really have to do.  No one else is going to help me be happy.  So I need to do it all myself.

It's been 5 days since I have posted and to be honest there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot going on.  Obviously the issue with my back has been the primary concern for me.  Last Friday we went to see the Cirque du Soleil show Dralion at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield.  That was a very enjoyable time!  The rest of the weekend was about working and getting things done.

Though today is Valentine's Day I don't have any social plans.  I could have if I wanted to as a female friend of mine wanted me to go out, but I made the decision not to partake in Valentine's Day.  My heart definitely wasn't into it.  And then the real kick in the pants was getting the news from the surgeon.  As I have sat here and thought about it throughout the evening, I have grown more depressed about the situation.  Oh well - I guess time to put on my big boy pants and deal with it.

Tomorrow I head out of town for the next two days.  I am flying to Indianapolis and then I am meeting up with my boss and driving another 70 miles to a small town called Daleville.  Thursday is filled with business meetings all day and then a late evening flight back to Denver.  I am hoping this will be a good visit with our client as I feel I will be doing this trip quite a few times in the coming months.  Zack will be staying here at home and Nancy will be coming over from Cranbrook to spend the time with him.

So what to say to all of this?  More than anything right now I want to two things.  The first is I want to be free of this pain.  The second thing I want is just to be happy.  I think just maybe it is time for these two things to come true.

Hope you all are having a great week so far.

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

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