Spine Points

Today was not a Bad News Wednesday!

This morning, I returned to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery or NHNN as it is known in the inner circle, for a follow up appointment to the kyphoplasty I had on 24 August. You may recall that I had fractured my L4 vertebrae and some nice people decided that putting some cement in the fracture was the best option for me. As it turned out, it was.

If you want to know more about the procedure, revisit the post drafted from my hospital bed way back when, when I was a Cancer Novice… https://ejbones.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/cement/

I was nervous about today. Back in August, I was not given a real opportunity to discuss the procedure with the doctors, before or after the operation. In terms of the operation’s ‘success’, all I knew was what I felt and feel. I am talking about the physical here and not emotional; do not be alarmed, this will not be one of those posts. Physically then, I am in less pain than I was on the 23 August. The pain that I had experienced in my lower back has almost gone, sure, some other pain has decided to appear in its place, but the lower back? On the Official Medical Pain Scale of One to Ten, my lower back has gone from an 8 (I am well hard) to a 2 and maybe even a 0.8 on a good day. If I am honest, I also knew that there had been some leakage of the cement during the procedure, and my consultant said in passing a fortnight ago that my spine was now ‘straight’. That was it.

That was all I knew and I have spent the last 33 days wondering whether my spine was still at risk of a collapse, whether there was still a risk of that vertebrae fracturing and me becoming paralysed. I just did not know. Nobody had said. As nobody had said, I did not know how much I could do and I have been overly cautious as a result.

My body, however, had told me that it was getting better, but then, my body has not been too reliable of late has it? So I am not yet willing to believe what my body is telling me. Not yet. We’ll make friends at some point, but right now, I feel like my body has let me down (if at midday tomorrow, my body gives me a ‘normal range’ full blood count result, then perhaps I might, might, start to come round). So, like I said, I was worried about my appointment, worried about what the Doctor was going to say about the long lasting impact of the fracture. Worried about the cement.

I am not going to drag this out anymore…The operation was a success. Hooray.

Today, I was told by an actual Doctor, the Doctor who was responsible for my operation, that it was a success. He even showed me before and after images of my spine to prove that it had been a success. I am just going to keep writing success, because my operation was a success. I still have to go for a further follow up in two months and my spine will continue to be monitored because, let us not forget that I have Multiple Myeloma and multiple lesions in my spine, but the operation was a success. Success, success, success.

It was fascinating to see the before and after scans, and to see why I was in so much pain. I do not know the medical terms, but in the ‘before’ scan my spine looked like it was bent or at least curved, with the L4 appearing to be under a lot of pressure, which was causing the bend. The ‘after’ scan, which for your information was taken on the same day of the procedure, show what appears to be a normal shaped L4, which is just a little bit darker than its friends. The ‘after’ scan also shows what appears to be a straight spine. Middlesborough was right. On the 24 August, she came to visit me in the hospital, as she had done everyday, and I just remember how excited she was when I stood up and she said “Emma, you are standing up straight!”. It turns out, I actually was and I had not been before. The operation was a success.

I like to pay people compliments when they are due, so I informed my Doctor that when on the morning of 24 August, he said the operation would offer instant pain relief, he was right and I thanked him for going ahead with the procedure. I cannot begin to contemplate experiencing the pain I was in a month ago. To say the Doctor looked pleased with himself would be an understatement, but I do not care. Do you know why I do not care? My operation was success. The Doctor said that I can lie down flat if I want to lie down flat. That may be my goal for next week (or the week after) but knowing that it is safe for me to do so, is a tremendous relief.

Now, if only new pains would stop appearing then I would be a happy girl. They are however, and I will deal with them as I deal with everything else. With a smile 😜

I very much wanted to share the scans because they really are that impressive, but alas, I was not at UCH and as I had spoken to my Doctor for all of 5 minutes previously, I was a wuss and failed to ask for a copy. I am sorry. To make up for my cowardice, I have recreated the images for you with my own fair hand. Enjoy.

There are few days when I get to hear that something has been successful, so, let me repeat, my operation was a success. Phew.

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