Sunday, May 30, 2010

Treat this like any other Surgical Procedure: Panic Completely

Friday was the big day. Six injections into the Facet joints in my C-Spine. I've canceled this procedure three times because I was either too scared to get the injections or I couldn't find five days in a row to lay around and do nothing. They were going to do this procedure under general anesthetic, and in the past, I've taken at least 48 hours to recover from those drugs, let alone any recovery from the actual procedure. So I was nervous.

But it was time to get it done, my neck isn't getting any better, it feels like I have sand paper between my joints, and it hurts to look down or flex my neck to the right or left, or look up, or to have my kids hug me around the neck, so... time to suck it up and get the work done.

I wrote earlier about the nightmare of getting the procedure set up, and we didn't know until the night before whether it was going to be paid for or not, so there was a huge amount of anxiety leading up to the procedure about whether it was even going to happen or not. I had to have someone who was willing to watch my kids for three days, someone to drive me to the surgery, and wait for me, and bring me home, and had to take a few days off of work, so arranging my schedule and everyone elses for something that might not even happen was also stressful for everyone!

In the end, we got the procedure confirmed, and I went over to Kurt's at six am, and we took off for Vail. The closer we got, the more nervous I got. I was talking myself through the situation, trying to tell myself that its fine, lots of people do this all the time, its not a big deal...

But being put under general anesthetic is absolutely scary to me. I'm so sensitive to drugs, and it takes me a long time to wake up from it, and I'm also a huge baby about throwing up, and general usually makes me puke for a few days. Then there's the whole idea about having six huge needles put into the facet joints in my c-spine.

I wasn't THAT nervous about it until I had to fill out an advance directive, living will, power of attorney... We got there and went upstairs, and waited for a little while. Quite honestly, I wanted to hide under Kurt's chair, I felt like Bodhi when we used to go to the Urgent Care to get his face super glued back together when he was younger (that's another story, we used to call him "wrecking ball" because his head was so hard and he'd smack it on everything...)

They finally called me in, Kurt gave me a reasuring hug and went off for breakfast in Vail, I followed the nurse into the curtains. As soon as we walked through the doors, tears started running down my face. I couldn't stop it, I felt so sad, and so worried. I wasn't sobbing, just leaking.

She handed me my gown and said, "Oh, honey, are you okay?" I said yes, I was, but I was just really really nervous. She was so nice, said that everyone would come by and talk to me, and explain what was going on.

I tried to explain to her that I wasn't really nervous, I was just incredibly nervous. It didn't come out right, obviously, because it doesn't make any sense. She led me into the bathroom to change and as soon as that door closed, I fell apart crying. I was so ashamed of myself, why was I crying?

Well, there's the whole needle into one of the blood vessels, bleed into the spinal column, not waking up from the general, or spending two days throwing up and feeling terrible after the procedure when right now, I feel pretty good.

I let myself cry in secret for a few minutes and then got myself together, changed and headed out to my bed, #17. We were really on our way now, almost as soon as I sat down, the nasal cannula and IV went in, I sent a few texts, in went the drug to relax me, and we were off.

They gave me Verced, so I'm sure there was more to it than that, I vaguely remember getting off the bed and onto the operating table, because I had to lay face down, and I vaguely remember Kurt coming back in with some orange juice and a bagel for me.

The next thing I remember is deciding to drive home over the pass instead of on I-70, which was lovely. Kurt used to live in the Vail Valley, so I got to hear a bunch of stories, some of which I remember, and he pointed out a bunch of peaks and lines he's skied while I pestered him for more.

We stopped in Leadville for lunch, and wandered around the town while we waited for my prescriptions to be filled. I've started collecting bumper-stickers, and I got a fun one from the mountain shop there that says "Just because I slept with you last night doesn't mean I'm going to ski with you today." I cut it up so it says "Just because I skied with you last night doesn't mean I'm going to sleep with you today."

Leadville is a cool funky town, and the surrounding mountains look incredible to ski, once again, I got a tour from afar of the peaks, and we headed off over the pass. It was an incredibly beautiful day, bluebird and warm. We stopped at the top of Independence pass to check on the ski conditions for the following day (which I wouldn't be participating in, obviously), took some pictures and headed into town.

All in all, it was an amazing way to spend what should have been a really scary day. The next day, Saturday, Kurt came back over to check on me, and we spent the warm day walking in the high fields, and I laid in the grass while he and the kids played on the slack-line. I took a couple of naps, and a couple of painkillers, but all in all, it was another gentle, beautiful day.

Today, I woke up feeling SO much better, I have more range of movement than I've had in a year in my neck, and its only getting better. I still have to be gentle with my activity, I'm hiking on dirt trails that aren't too tough right now, no running, but I did get on the slack-line tonight, and that felt good. (Step off, don't fall off!)

It looks like my neck is responding well to the treatment, and so we will probably do two more injections into the C-Spin and then a series of three into my SI joints over the next year. Fingers crossed for healing!!

Thank you for all the emails and good wishes on Facebook, you all made me feel very brave and loved!!

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