Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Headed Home

The review this morning with the surgeon was informative if disappointing. The LSI procedures will not help me. The surgeon feels I need a much more extensive procedure to "give me space" in the spinal column. It's the type of procedure that takes you out of commission for many months. I will pursue other treatments in the mean time.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Day One Complete

Tomorrow will be a review with the surgeon of the MRI's and X-rays taken today.

The day started with a 7:45AM shuttle ride to the facility. The driver, Ali, is observing Ramadan. We talked about diversity, culture and tolerance.  And the Phillies.

I was told regarding my first day to not worry about breakfast as it would be provided. Upon arrival I was ushered into check-in. Some forms filled out and signed I was handed off to technician Debbie. She took vitals and copies of my EMG reports. I mentioned I was a bit peckish, she said I needed to see the nurse practitioner.

Maria came in and reviewed my medical history forms. Included in this was "nerve man", a map of the body's neural network. I was asked to annotate pain, numbness, pins&needles and burning. As I noted all the regions in the lower limbs she was confused.
"I thought you were here for cervical, this is mostly regarding lumbar."
I knew going in that I am a tough case. The MRI's were subtle as are the symptoms. But I was confident, based on the opinion of my primary care physician and everything I'd read and seen, that I am a cervical stenosis patient. Now was the time for calm advocacy. I explained and she listened.

As we moved forward to physical tests she noted some hypersensitivity in my arms. A reflex test and my leg shot up. I think she exclaimed, "Wow! That's definitely your neck." Validation. She completed her review with the comment that, though she's not sure they can help me, she felt the surgeons were more bold. She led me to the cafeteria/lounge and I snacked while waiting for a driver.

I was then given a ride to Penn Radiology for a new MRI (the previous imaging was over 6 months old) and X-rays. Very prompt and professional. I got the feeling that LSI patients were given priority, exactly the reason why I chose to work with this group. On completion of the imaging I was shuttled back to the LSI facility. Lunch was provided and the disc with my films was taken by the driver, Kevin. He said someone would let me know what was next. I met some of the other patient families and everyone was very positive about the experience and results so far. Later an administrator came through checking people's status. I let her know I wasn't sure and she promptly returned with my appointment card for tomorrow. I called for a shuttle to the King of Prussia Mall. It's enormous! I walked until I couldn't and ended up at TGIFridays in party mode.

All this time, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking of the 2011 Santa Clara Vanguard. Percussion and guard are doing great, one more week to clean brass and visual and jack the GE scores. Take it home, Santa Clara.

  . . well, that and the engineered financial "collapse" . .

I'm prepared for whatever the consensus is tomorrow. Worst case, I'll know more than I do now. Overall, a very positive day and Mrs. Field's cookies for dessert.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Spinal Surgery

Uneventful flight to Philly, checked in to the Scanticon, lovely place, very quiet this week they tell me.

I have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, the level that will most likely be operated on will be the level of C5/C6 with a possible Laminotomy and/or Foraminotomy.

I've had subtle numbness and tingling in my feet as far back as my 20's. I've always been a runner, daily stretching, I've always been very limber, I figured it was just minor sciatica.

I started to manifest numbness in my right hand maybe 4 years ago. I thought it was related to playing the drum set and too many aggressive rim shots and carpal tunnel issues.

Then about 3 years ago, while helping my daughter prep for the coming soccer season, I felt like I couldn't get my feet out in front of me. Later that winter I started having balance issues, especially with my eyes closed. I reported this to my doctor and he ordered MRI's.


So, what happened? Some drum corps people have asked if it was from slinging a contra bass. It looks to me to be the result of a 33 year old cervical trauma.

When I saw the MRI I noted the disc compression and was instantly transported back in time.

I clearly remembered a day on the high school Frosh football practice field. Scrimmaging against the JV, I was playing defensive line. My eyes on the ball carrier, at the last second I saw the blocker. Helmet to helmet contact and I felt like I was hit by lightning. I went to the ground. The ball carrier actually tripped over me and the coaches shouted, "Good tackle!”
I didn't move, flat on my back.
“Get up, Bermudez!”
The coach runs over, I say, "I hurt my neck.” He goes white.
“I can feel everything, move everything . .”
They back-boarded me, the trainer, John Manning, checked me out. They sent me home with a neck support. My father, a physician, checked me out. “You pulled a muscle.”
I played that weekend. There was no MRI, no CAT scan in 1976. There probably wasn't much to see anyway.

I've gotten to the point now where, with minor activity, my legs are so weak I can't stand. I have no significant pain. I look fine. But if you were to walk behind me you'd see that I meander.

Why PA?

People have asked me why not have it done in Boston. Laser Spine Institute are the big dogs, this is all they do. I am very fortunate to have good insurance and am fully covered.

Monday is evaluation, new MRIs. Tuesday is pre-op prep. Wednesday is the procedure. Thursday recovery. Friday post-op evaluation and they kick me out and I fly home. I should be able to be back at work on Monday.

My thanks to all for encouragement and well wishes. I'm an excellent candidate and am in great shape for this procedure. My physician is very positive and kind of excited about my prognosis.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I am not afraid to admit that I watch American Idle. And I realize now that I had Jimmy Iovine, Butch Vig and Steve Albini mixed up in my head. It was Steve who wrote The Problem With Music.