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August 28, 2006

An Overdue, but Crucial Update


Well, where to being … guess it should be from where I last left off. Marsha moved into a great new house and already completed some big painting projects involving her bedroom, the living room, and dining room. I got to sit around and watch her paint then watch the paint dry while I spent a miserable couple of weeks on her couch due to the fact that my back was getting worse instead of better. She has taken on an unplanned, but welcome roommate, her former next-door neighbor from her old condo for a few months. They get along great and were already missing each other in the week after the move. She had a couple of dinner parties there while I was there and will be hosting many more I’m sure.

As for me, the last doctor appointment I had in Portland on Aug 10 sent me to be x-rayed, finally, and I was advised to see a back surgery specialist once the results came in. I flew home to San Diego on Aug 15 and had to use a wheelchair to get around at the airport. By this time I could barely walk and my dad handed me down his walker from his hip replacement surgery 5 years ago. Not an item he planned on passing down to me nearly so soon!

I went to a neuron-surgeon that Friday who sent me for a MRI on Monday. He read films on Tuesday and immediately identified an infection in my spine between the L5 and S1 vertebrae (basically at the bottom of my spine). A whirlwind of activity ensued with him contacting an infectious disease doctor and his staff calling the hospital next door to get me admitted. My head was spinning 20 faster than they were moving though with this turn of events.

I'm Trying to Stand Straight

Me Trying To Stand Straight

That night they did a disc aspiration (took a fluid sample from the disc between the vertebrae), took blood samples, and put me on antibiotics to start fighting the infection. The antibiotics were continued for several days while they ran sample cultures to identify the infection. It does not seem to be a run of the mill infection so more time is going to be needed to determine exactly what it is and how to get rid of it. The antibiotics I was on improved me situation and I’m can actually stand up straight and get around, but were only making the infection hide and not curing me.

On Friday a consensus was reached to take me off of the antibiotics to allow the infection to return so that pure samples could be taken again. I was released Saturday and have been home for almost 48 hours now. I still feel good, at least relative to a week ago, and will be taking it easy most of the week. I already completed my fantasy football draft yesterday and will be going to the horse races in Del Mar on Wednesday but that is all I have planned. I’m currently working the phones to set up the next step will which will be a bone biopsy and more fluid samples probably around Sep 6. I’ve got plenty of pain meds here to keep me going until then, but haven’t needed them much yet. My guess is that I will be reverting as the days go on and in more pain by next week. I expect to be readmitted to the hospital after the biopsy and put back on the antibiotics.

This has obviously put a damper on my travel plans since my overseas trip was set to begin in 4 weeks. Right now I plan to be here at a minimum through October and probably more like December. Also the Sep 22 party I mentioned in the last update will be rescheduled.

Surprisingly, I am doing fairly well mentally with all of this. The nursing staff at the hospital was absolutely amazing and did so much to take care of me and allay the fears and uncertainty that I woke up with my first morning in the hospital. To be honest the week (5 days) in the hospital also taught me much of what I hoped to get out of traveling. I got to experience the kindness of strangers, see how I handle adversity, and discovered that my internal optimism can’t be kept to for long. It was certainly getting beaten out of me, temporarily, before the diagnosis was made though.

It is also nice to know that I won’t need back surgery and am completely comfortable with the doctors and nurses that I’ve been seeing. I’m so glad that I came to San Diego to have this done with my parents and friends around in addition to the world-class care that I’m receiving. Guess this won’t be much of a “travelogue” for a little while, but I still plan/hope to be doing some so I will keep updating as I can.

Right now the biggest side effect of all of this is that an area that I previously excelled at, sleeping, is eluding me. The last four nights I’ve only gotten about 3 hours a night and maybe an hour nap during the day. I’ve tried the drugs they prescribed, but to no success. However, I don’t feel worn out during the day and my mind is just wired at night thinking about things to do, ask, or remember for the upcoming days. I’m sure it will work itself out and or catch up to me soon.

Thanks to all of you who knew what was going on as it was happening and called, sent letters, flowers, prayers, etc. It meant a great deal to me and is another large part of the reason that I’m doing so well right now. That’s all for now, but hopefully I’ll have a little more warning before my next procedure and will let you all know what’s going on.


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