Monday, June 27, 2011

Back Recap: Nov 09 - Jul 10

It's been almost a year now since my back surgery. I was thinking the other day that I didn't write very much about it at the time. It's almost a blur-dream now, and I don't want to forget, so here is a rough outline of my journey from November 2009 - July 2010.
  • It all started in the fall of 2009. I had been feeling slight twinges in my mid/upper back for the past few weeks, but on November 8 "something" snapped. I bent over to dry my hair after taking a shower and felt something shift and audibly "snap" in my back, near my spine. I screamed and fell to my knees. And then I cried just getting out of the bathroom and into bed. No church for me that morning. I lay flat on my back for 48 hours, applying ice and taking meds to ease the pain. It hurt to cough/sneeze and I couldn’t take a full, deep breath all week. Thus began my 9 month journey.
  • First, I needed to find a general practitioner. My boss is on the board of one of the major hospitals in Indianapolis, so he was able to get me in with someone quickly. The doctor thought it might be a herniated disc and gave me a steroid pack. Next I saw a neurologist on December 2 (my favorite doctor ever - really, she was wonderful) since I was also having migraines and they thought it might be nerve related, but my exam was normal.
  • On December 8 I had an MRI to check for a herniated disc. And I also started physical therapy to help with the migraines and shoulder/neck pain. Got a call from the neurologist on December 17 that the MRI was normal – no herniated disc. But they did find a bump/mass right where the “pop” happened – on my spine in between my shoulder blades (left process at T7). The neurologist checked with two radiologists and they didn’t know what the mass was. Her guess was a benign bony tumor or a fracture. She said that I needed to have a CT scan to double-check.
  • Scheduled the CT scan for December 22. And then received a call from my neurologist a week after the test saying that the mass was still showing up and she/they still did not know what it was. I was referred to a bone specialist/surgeon. I was still in pain at this point.
  • My appointment with the bone/spine specialist was set for January 18. The spine doctor confirmed that I had a tumor on my left process - most likely non-cancerous and not dangerous to my spine (just painful). The decision was made to wait for 6 months to see if anything changed or if the tumor grew.
  • But I was still in pain! It got so bad that I couldn't even grocery shop by myself or empty the dishwasher or clean the house. I called my neurologist on February 17 and she scheduled an EMG nerve test for the 18th, just to make sure there were no other issues. But it was all completely normal. Continued to check in with the neurologist and she eventually scheduled another CT scan for March 31 (the guys in the radiology department at the hospital knew me by this time). Come to find out: there was also a fracture of my T7 left process (the little bone that sticks off of the spine). I knew it! No wonder I was in so much pain. That must have happened when I bent over back in November.
  • April 19 was my next scheduled meeting with the spine specialist. He still didn't want to operate until necessary and nothing was dangerous at this point with the fractured bone (just painful). May 17 I called the spine doctor with an update - still in pain most of the time. He scheduled my next CT scan (3rd one!) for June 29 and we met on July 6. From March 31 - June 29 the tumor had grown noticeably. He wanted to operate right away and the date was set for July 29.
  • It was an early morning surgery. Bryce was at the hospital with me the entire time. Such a surreal experience - I've never been a patient at a hospital before. The surgery itself only took an hour and a half (to remove the tumor and the piece of bone that fractured) and they sent me home soon after waking up. Most of that first day is a blur - my parents came to visit that evening and I wasn't in much pain yet because of all of the surgery meds.
  • I was off of work for 3 weeks of recovery, plus 1 week of part time. It felt like such a long road at the time. I was on Vicoden for 3 weeks to manage the pain. I couldn't lay on or use my left side at all - could barely walk without pain at first. Bryce was very patient and wonderful during the whole process. My mom came to stay with me for a few days, too. Lots of book reading and napping and Hulu-watching.
  • I started physical therapy a few months post-surgery to build up strength and flexibility in my upper back and left arm again. And now, nearly a year later, I have absolutely no pain in my back (I'm dancing again - enough said).
Looking back, I'm so thankful that the entire process only took 9 months from discovery to surgery, although I admit it felt like a life-time while I was going through it. Praise the Lord for orchestrating the whole process and bringing me through to complete health on the other side.

1 comment:

  1. Amen - Praise the LORD, Jana! I'm so thankful that this journey has come to a place of healing and DANCING again!!! That is so wonderful!
    Much love.