First of all, THANK YOU for your prayers, as well as your thoughts, phone calls, texts, messages, etc. We greatly appreciated everyone’s acts of concern during my unforeseen surgery last week.
The last time I blogged was while I was on the plane on Thursday, July 10, headed to the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA) for my appointments with plans to return on Friday, July 11. My appointments were a result of the persisted pain, burning and numbness in my left hand and arm, which was also were beginning to affect my right side. It began about the middle of May. After my surgery the end of May, Dr. Chris Stephenson, D.O. took all the pain away through his miraculous manipulation, but unfortunately, it returned.
I saw him again during my post-op appointment the middle of June. Once again, Dr. Stephenson was able to help alleviate the pain to a degree but no entirely.
After returning, home the pain continued to persist and worsen. So Scott made me an appointment with Dr. Stephenson the first of last week for July 10 with plans to return home on July 11. One night, not ten. With Scott’s schedule and Austin’s football practice, he elected to stay home.
After I saw Dr. Stephenson on Thursday, he wanted to see me again Friday morning before I left. I was scheduled to leave the CTCA at 11:30 a.m., headed to the airport. Instead, we are sitting in his office with Scott on speaker phone as Dr. Stephenson wanted to get an MRI of my neck. Since his manipulations were not working, he was almost certain there was something else going on in addition to my neuropathy. Unfortunately, we could not get the MRI completed until 5 p.m. so he told Scott he was going to keep me an extra night.
While Dr. Stephenson began some manipulations to provide me with some temporary relief, I could hear my phone buzzing. When we were through, Dr. Stephenson looked at his phone and had a text from Scott, saying he and Austin were on their way. And my two missed called? You guessed it! It was my husband. We called Scott back and he was adamant they drive up so I would not have to be alone . . . that’s my husband!
The MRI took about two-and-a-half hours. As the tech was helping raise me up from the table, I looked in the mirror in front of me, expecting to see my glare but there stood Dr. Stephenson, texting the radiologist and neurosurgeon. I could not believe he was still there! He told me it appeared I had a couple of disks on the spine, which could be causing a lot of my pain but he would let us know when he heard from the other doctors and what the treatment options would be.
So, I returned to the hotel, checking in for the second time, had dinner, then became very fidgety awaiting the arrival of my boys! Scott had anticipated an arrival time of about 10 p.m. and within just a few minutes, they walked through the doors – I was sooooo excited to see them!
The next morning Dr. Stephenson called us with an appointment on Monday morning to see a neurosurgeon, someone who he trusted greatly. So we tried to enjoy the rest of our weekend despite the level of pain I was experiencing.
On Monday morning, we checked out of the hotel as we were off to hopefully find out what was going and what could be done. Dr. Alzate showed us the MRI on his computer where two disks were pressed up against the spine, not the nerve, referring to it as cervical degenerative disk disease. The treatment? An ACDN: Anterior Cervical Discectomy Fusion where he would remove the two degenerative discs in the neck area of my spine. The incision is made in the front of the spine through the throat area. After the disc is removed, a bone graft is inserted to fuse together the bones above and below the disc space. Scott and I discussed it and decided to move ahead with surgery. We had hoped to do this week (week of July 21) but Dr. Alzate was not available then; however, he did have an opening on July 17. Oh wait! July 17 . . . the day we were going to the beach for a long weekend. I was and had been in so much pain I agreed to the date just to get this all behind me/us.
After we left his office, we then followed up with Dr. Stephenson. While talking with Dr. Stephenson, he encouraged us to seek a second opinion. But, I’m thinking, my surgery is scheduled for Thursday!?!? A second opinion could take days, weeks. In addition, he decided to get an MRI of my left elbow just to make sure there was nothing else going on there.
Then Scott and I talked about and agreed he and Austin would return home then fly back Wednesday if in fact we were moving forward with surgery. And if not, then I’d use my return flight home. It was so hard to see them leave, but we had peace we were doing the right thing. Scott had several appointments he needed to follow up on plus Austin had football practice. But I have to give Coach Newberry a shout-out for his understanding and allowing Austin to miss practice on Monday. As he told Scott, “. . . family first . . .” And there are so many people there who we’ve become friends with, I don’t always feel like I’m 10 hours away from home.
On Tuesday morning Dr. Stephenson called to let me know I had an appointment with another neurosurgeon. Unbelievable! That quickly! This doctor had not reviewed Dr. Alzate’s notes so he was providing a very objective opinion. And guess what? Everything he saw on the MRI and his recommended treatment plan was in line with Dr. Alzate.
So I texted Scott to tell him their flight arrangements were being made so they could return on Wednesday. Our original plan was to have Scott and Austin come to the hotel on Wednesday morning, but the limo had to stop at the CTCA first. I told Scott that was fine. I was thinking in my head . . . if I can get ready in five minutes to be in the lobby to catch the hotel shuttle I could get there in time to surprise them! And I did! We could not have timed it any better.
Wednesday was filled with pre-op appointments then Thursday came rather quickly. When I tried to wake up from surgery, it was as difficult as always. I just don’t wake up well from the anesthesia. Given the type of surgery I had, Dr. Alzate normally admits his patients to ICU, but I did so well, I was admitted to the step down ICU.
Since they were still trying to get my pain regulated, they decided to keep me an extra night. This would allow me the opportunity to spend one night at the hotel before returning home on Sunday. And that’s what we did! We will return in three weeks for my follow up.
One of my biggest disappointments? My neck brace apparently does not come in pink. No sparkle, no bling, nothing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything given the comfort it provides.
Although I was originally scheduled for one night, which turned into ten, I was reminded of Genesis 1:10: “. . . and God saw that it was good.” It was amazing the turns and hills and bumps in the road the last week-and-a-half but God saw that it was good. I cannot remember a trip to the CTCA where I had the privilege of meeting so many people . . . the opportunity to minister to others, pray with them, cry with them. I was even able to attend a women’s breakfast group last Friday morning led by our chaplain, Toi Thomas. I was so blessed by this trip in so many ways . . . and had it been up and back overnight, I think about all the blessings I would have missed.
So, remember, it’s God’s plan and His timing, not ours, even if it goes from 1 to 10 . . . Amen.