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Archive for August, 2008

Sharon’s Blog : The Back Surgery

Posted by Sharon O'Donnell on 2008/08/07 21:25:27

Sorry to be AWOL from the site the past few weeks, ladies.  I’d been having pain in my left shoulder blade and arm since mid-July. I eventually had an X-ray and an MRI that showed a large herniated area from a disc in my upper back (cervical spine region, which is confusing, since cervical has always meant something else to me). Anyway, there was weakness in my left arm, which concerned the doctor so I had back surgery this past Monday, August 4th, which was one day after my youngest son’s 8th birthday party and a few weeks before the chaos of a new school year.  Isn’t this the way moms always plan their own schedules — by how it will affect the kids?  Anyway,

During a consultation with a neurosurgeon, he noticed the weakness that I had felt in my left arm, in addition to the pain. His concern was that steroids might help the pain, but they would not help the weakness and that the nerve damage could actually become worse.  He also said that in a situation involving weakness, surgery was almost always done for the best outcome.

O.K.,  I thought.  Back surgery – I could handle that.  It wouldn’t be pleasant, but it would alleviate the pain I was feeling and I could stay in the hospital overnight, which meant for at least several meals, Kevin would have to figure out what to feed the guys. Then the doctor explained that since the disc was in the cervical spine region that they would “go in through the neck.” He paused and then added as gently as he could, “the front of the neck.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  We were talking back surgery here, right?? As in back of the body, not the front of the body.  So what was this cutting the front of the neck thing?  I was beginning to feel very Jack the Ripperish. Surely I must have misunderstood something.  So I asked for him to repeat that part again, trying not to appear too panicky: “What was the reason again for going through the front of the neck for back surgery?” I asked, hoping the doctor would say, “Oh that’s right, you’re here for the back surgery; I was confusing you with the woman in the next room who has to have invasive tonsil extractment.”  Or something.  But nope, there had been no mistake. The doctor explained that since my herniated disc was high in my shoulder blade area that it would be easier to go in through the front of the neck instead of through the bone in the back.  I decided not to ask exactly howhe would get to my back once he was inside my neck; this was one of those times ignorance was indeed bliss.

Bottom line is the surgery went well, and I no longer have the pain or weakness, but I have had trouble swallowing and talking because of the entry at the front of the neck.  I feel better today than I did yesterday, so I hope I’m improving.  No driving for two weeks, which as you all know with kids, is a real inconvenience.

I think I have to have better posture when I type on the computer.  That’s the only thing I can think of that would have hurt my shoulder.  So, I’m trying to take it a bit easier, though I will have to soon write an essay about my hospital experience in the room from hell (last room available and it had a toilet you pull out from under a sink rather than an enclosed bathroom within the room with a sliding glass door instead of a wooden door that closed, meaning there was always light and noise from the hallway, resulting in a sleepless time for me the led to a migraine headache– I felt like I’d been put out on the patio or something).  Anyway, it’s over now.

Take care and hang in there,

Sharon