There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sideways













Let me start at the beginning. Last summer I had an episode of torticollis. I swear, my neck hurt so badly if someone had led me to a pasture with a shotgun over their shoulder I would have happily gone. The aftermath of that left me with my left shoulder about 3 inches higher than my right with intermittent spasms, shortening of tendons and ligaments and haircuts that are always lopsided....really.

Then last fall, October 3rd and 4th to be exact, these two adventures happened. Remember? I was digging the 5 foot hole required to fix the water pipe Steve had crushed when he was using the auger to put in a post for the satellite dish. And then, I had voiced my last bitch about all of Steve's fucking boxes sitting in the middle of the garage. Yeah, that was a good idea, rosemary. Let me haul the boxes to the bucket on the tractor, I'll climb up the ladder to the appropriate shelf and then haul the boxes out of the bucket onto the shelf.....while Steve sat in the cab of the tractor (because his back is all jacked up) moving the bucket with a lever.

A few days after these brilliant exercises in stupidity my fingers started tingling and going numb....and then it went away, then a few days later tingling again and then it went away. Early November the tingling and numbness came back and has been there since. I thought it would go away eventually, but it hasn't.

Then early December I woke up one morning and felt clumsy, lopsided, drunkish. I was listing to one side or the other and if I moved too fast I fell over. It wasn't in my head or my ears, it was my body. Sometimes my arms and hands went slack and my legs felt like they were steel pipes. I finally had to tell Steve when I took a header in front of him in the living room. I saw the doctor mid January and had an MRI on the 20th.  Here are the short results.

Severe, multilevel discogenic, spondylitic and facet joint degenerative changes in the cervical spine as delineated above. 2.  Mild to moderate central spinal canal stenosis at C3-4 and C5-6.3.Central disc protrusions at C3-4, C4-5 and C5-6 abutting and mildly deforming the ventral aspect of the cord. 4.  Moderately severe narrowing of left C4-5 neural foramen. 5.  Moderate narrowing of left C3-4 neural foramen. 6.Moderate narrowing of right C5-6 neural foramen. 7. Prominent arthropathic changes at the atlantoaxial articulation, manifested by capsular thickening and/or pannus formation and a relatively gracile appearance of the odontoid process.

The doctor said I needed a neurosurgical referral. Well, I live in Sandpoint, Idaho. My sweet Steve has a crumbling back and waited 3 months to see a neurosurgeon who referred him to a pain clinic for steroid injections before proceeding to surgery correction. Said pain clinic is so backed up (and probably badly managed) he can't get the first injection until mid February because the clinic cancelled two previous appointments. I was referred to the same neuro guy and have yet to get a call.

I am frustrated at not being able to do the things I do every day timely and without hurting myself....vacuuming, exercising, walking, taking the dogs out, just pretty much anything. After my heart attack I worked my ass off to lose weight, changed my dietary habits, exercised daily and felt great. Now, it is almost dangerous to get on the treadmill and my legs can't handle the recumbent bike for more than 20 minutes. Forget getting on the elliptical. That frustration, no anger, reached maximum levels because I had a melt down Wednesday night and when I saw my doctor yesterday I totally fell apart in the office. I am not sleeping well and spend most nights wandering around the house, watching snow fall, petting the kitties....no reading or computering because then I will never fall asleep. I'm not in real pain although my neck bothers me sometimes, but the clumsy shit is just way out of control.

Let me complicate this a bit more. I was an ortho-neuro nurse all of my nursing career. I realize that my experience was almost 20 years ago, but I took care of patients that had surgery for what I have and not all of them had good outcomes. I realize that medicine has made HUGE advancements. But, I am not really excited about an anesthesiologist sticking needles in my spine to inject steroids or a neurosurgeon slicing my neck open even with a tiny, teeny incision to do whatever. Not that any of this is a concern right now. I have no clue when I will see the neuro doc, if I am even a fair candidate for surgery because of my heart, or if the sun will ever shine again because I live in Sandpoint, Idaho and that is not the mecca for neurosurgery. As for the format of this post.....fuck trying to align anything because my fingers hit all the wrong keys......sorry.   It was all I could do to click spell check and be sure caps were in the right place.   On a positive note....I got a script for Restoril and slept like a baby last night. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Waiting

Here I sit waiting for Steve to go through yet another MRI.  I'm worried about him in general.  He is overweight....again....because he can't exercise without pain and he won't change his diet.  After I had my heart attack he was doing great.  We exercised together, rode our bikes in good weather, walked the trails and he was happy. Then last year everything changed.  I want my old Steve back.  Added to this.......


His cousin, Jeanie, is dying.  This is no run of the mill cousin.  This was Steve's best buddy, best girl cousin, his get into fun trouble cousin, the first person he told he loved me was Jeanie. I love Jeanie. She is the coolest person ever.  She has a gypsy soul, wanderlust, and is a true 60's free spirit.  Until she went into hospice care she kept her hair bright red, dressed in gauzy skirts and peasant blouses, wore as much silver jewelry as she could cram on to her arms, fingers, ears and neck and always...and I mean always....wore red cowboy boots.  She carried her look beautifully, never looked gaudy or eccentric.....she looked like a fuck-you-I-am-a-kick-ass-redhead and you'd better get out of my way. That's all over.  She has days left, her husband is talking about the movie The Notebook, and the family has gathered.  She wants all of us to get together at the river by her home in Montana this summer, at least be barefooted or naked if we want to, and put her ashes in a special paper box she has picked out and let her float away.  I can't imagine being without Jeanie, and Steve is mourning......deeply.  

We have talked seriously about getting our affairs in order....finally......and talked to the vet when we took Emma in for her lab work yesterday.  All of our possessions and bills aside......and the shit pile of Steve's "inventory".......our biggest concern is what will happen to the dogs and cats.  Violet is old and not healthy, Petey is depressed and submissive, Wesley is a forever puppy.  Emma and Guido can't be separated and of course Emma has special needs, and Izzy needs to be an only child.  Who would want this menagerie? No one.  The vet said we could put instructions in whatever we have in place....a will or trust.....to contact her and she will help should we both be gone, but we are both worried the pets will outlive us.  For all of my wanting kittens, at this point in my life to bring in any other pets would be irresponsible.  

So, here I sit.  Thankfully, I'm  alone in the waiting room because just thinking about all of this is making me cry......but, what else did anyone expect?  You can always count on me to write something like this, right?  Every group needs a Rosemary.