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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blindsided - A Paralyzed Moment of Shock

There are times in your life where disaster was just missed. Where that close call could have been one of the worst moments of your life but for some twist of fate or divine intervention you were spared. Today was one of those rare moments when we got the worst best news ever.

Mr. Rogue has been having some mild neck pain. It hasn’t been anything serious but the ache just didn’t seem to be going away. Since my mother has chronic neck pain I insisted he see the doctor and so two months ago he went to his general doctor for some x-rays and an MRI. The doctor called us back and told us that he thought we should see a specialist. But he didn’t seem too concerned so we weren’t too concerned. A month went by and we still didn’t get the referral for the specialist and after six weeks I was sick of waiting. I called and found a specialist myself and made an appointment for today.

I remember walking into the office hand in hand talking about the baby and carrying his MRI scans. Life was happening as normal, things were good. We were shown into the exam room. The doctor walked in a few minutes later and loaded up Mr. Rogue’s MRI scan on the computer. Questions were asked, weird questions. Was Mr. Rogue sure that he wasn’t having leg or hand issues. Did his limbs often go numb. Was he in a massive amount of pain. Did he drop things often or did he sometimes trip and fall.

No, no and no again were the answers. It was just a little neck pain, why all the strange questions.

Apparently the doctor said Mr. Rogue has a ruptured disc. One of the squishy pieces in between his spinal column he explained had broken. And those broken pieces were imbedded so far into Mr. Rogue’s spinal column that he was surprised he wasn’t paralyzed from the neck down. He showed us the MRI but I was in a blaze of shock. Paralyzed, from the neck down, as in a quadriplegic. My husband! This was something beyond the scope of comprehension.

040213_SpineDiscRupture01

Apparently the ruptured piece (above photo the yellow arrow is pointing to it) is blocking approximately 80% of Mr. Rogues ability for his nerves in his spinal column to work. The doctor said that he had seen some cases out of the thousands he has treated over the years where the patient wasn’t completely paralyzed but that these patients also had severe pain and very limited motor skills with their arms and legs. Mr. Rogue is what he called an anomaly; he was asymptomatic which means that none of the symptoms of the spine trauma were showing up in limited movement or pain. On one hand we should be grateful that his symptoms are so mild, on the other hand the doctor said that Mr. Rogue could cough wrong and be paralyzed for life. He used the words ‘ticking time bomb’. Surgery he urged needed to happen as soon as possible.

We talked to a technician about options right then and there. We came up with a plan for two potential surgeries and scheduled a date on the doctor’s calendar. It was all moving so fast. The surgery Mr. Rogue gets will depend on what we can get our insurance to approve.

The first option included removing the ruptured disc and fusing the two bones together with pins and plates. It is the tested tried and true method that has been around for decades. Fusing bone to bone however will limit Mr. Rogue’s range of motion in his neck. Also over time pins and plates will need to be re-operated on. Pins and plates also is a much more painful surgery since you are drilling pins into the spinal column and the recovery time is much longer with a greater potential for negative side effects. With Mr. Rogue’s age the doctor was hoping that the insurance company would approve the second option.

The second option included removing the ruptured disc and replacing it with an artificial spinal disc. Although relatively new this procedure has several advantages over fusion. Greater range of motion and less of a chance to need additional surgeries in the future along with a less invasive procedure and faster recover time make this in the doctors mind a better option for Mr. Rogue.

Of course after talking with the doctor the second option sounded best but we have to wait for the insurance. Either way we got a date scheduled for the surgery, we filled out forms for insurance approval and received a long list of pre-operation appointments and things we needed to do. 10 days from now we were scheduled for surgery and we walked out of that office, only an hour later, dazed.

It felt like we had just run into a brick wall. Sure we were happy Mr. Rogue wasn’t paralyzed but neither of us imagined that Mr. Rogue’s little neck pain was going to result in something so serious; a spinal surgery, removing part of his spinal column and putting a synthetic piece inside. It was all too much to process. We are thankful for the near miss of a horrible tragedy and will move forward to hopefully fix this problem for good.

1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

I guess this surgery is more common than we knew. I've already met at least nine other people who have had some kind of disc replacement surgery, usually in the C-4 to C-6 sections.

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