I ended up in the hospital again. While my review of Mt. Elizabeth Novena does paint a fairly appealing hospital experience (as hospital experiences go), I wasn’t terribly thrilled to land back there eight days after being released. I even ended up on the same ward (although in a different room). Things went well for the first few days-I’d been religiously doing my PT and had even increased some of my PT exercises. However, the side effects from one of my medications began to make life very unpleasant, and my orthopedic doctor took me off it. This turned out to be a huge mistake, as 24 hours later I could barely walk and was in intense pain. I was immediately re-hospitalized.
The simplest explanation for what happened is that post tearing the disc (the purple bit between the bones in the picture above) I developed a lot of inflammation and swelling, which pushed on and irritated the nerve root. In my case, this then resulted in intense pain down all the way down my legs, straight through to the toes. Muscles in my legs would in turn spasm (if you were to put a hand on my leg just above my knee, you would’ve felt something jumping around, as if I had one of those aliens from the movie trying to burst through my skin). My ability to walk was compromised to the point of needing a walker to get to the toilet.
We had to decide between trying injections of cortisol (a steroid) next to the nerve root and doing surgery (as the disc itself was bulging and pushing on the nerve–effectively the same surgery I had in 2006 on the disc below the one I tore). Surgery is obviously a really major step, and I wanted to avoid the more challenging recovery if at all possible. So we elected to go with the injections. As I have a mild bleeding disorder, we had to bring in a hematologist and do some bloodwork to find out if I would need special medication to prevent bleeding in the spine. So lots of delays, lots of painkillers to the point where I just couldn’t handle anything more challenging than the occasional facebook update. I mostly watched a lot of video on my laptop and slept.
I finally got the injections on Tuesday, and turned out to be one of the 10% of so of special snowflakes who have a bad reaction to the injections. Adding the fluid of the injection just pushed on my nerve more and sent my pain into orbit. I had to be so heavily sedated that they put me on a bit of oxygen to ensure I was breathing adequately.
Luckily it was a short lived reaction and I woke up on Wednesday of this week feeling reasonably good. (Reasonably good meaning there was constant dull pain, but not sharp pain.) We were able to manage my pain using only oral medication and without additional doses/supplemental injections/etc. I was allowed to come home yesterday.
At the moment I’m home, and I’m on a lot of medication still. I’m only allowed to walk for 5 minutes at a time (followed by mandatory resting of at least 45 minutes). I’m tired, but my sleep schedule is (unsuprisingly) very chaotic and messed up. My in laws are taking good care of us, and when they leave my mom is going to come to help, so I have lots of support.
Right now I have about 75% odds of not needing surgery. With diligent PT, not pushing myself too hard too fast (something that may have contributed to my relapse this time), and a bit of luck I’ll be able to rehabilitate the injury. Once our support goes home (late May/early June) I’ll be putting Rhiannon into daycare for part of every day to allow me to continue my rehabilitation process.
Yes, we have considered hiring a maid. It is an option I’m grateful (sort of) to have on the table, but one I am deeply conflicted about, and would prefer not to need. Luckily it is a decision we don’t need to make for a few months, and a lot can change in a few months.
Posting is going to be a bit scattershot depending on how blur my medication is making me on a given day and my rehabilitation schedule. Please bear with me.