Spinal Stenosis


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Seriously, this year has been so unpleasant, and not just because Donald Trump is running for President. With Nana going in the hospital, then the nursing home, dad’s health decline, everyone dying (Connie, Jay, Andrea, Joey), my depression coming out to play, the anemia rearing its ugly head, etc., it’s just been quite yucky.1 But it’s had decent moments. I almost had a paid article on xoJane, which encouraged me to submit more pitches & to start entering my poetry in literary magazines. That hasn’t resulted in any publications yet, but I just started. Besides, I know that most writers get a lot of rejections before they get their first acceptance. My time will come.  I’m sorry I haven’t been writing more. I just feel like shit a lot of the time lately. And it’s hard to encourage yourself to talk about how you feel like shit when you’re feeling that way. I also have started feeling like I’m too self-centered and don’t really give enough attention to the people I care about. I will try to do better.  Sometimes the most childish word is the best. ↩

Ready for This Year to Be Over


Nana and Granddaddy's 40th Anniversary
As you may have figured out, members of my family tend to be a little bit challenged in basic coordination. Put simply, if falling on our asses or into the asses of other people1 was an Olympic sport, we would win it every four years. Hell, we could win the summer and winter versions of it, so it’d be like a medal-palooza every two years. Other clumsy families would be so freaking2 jealous.3  Wait. What was this post supposed to be about? Oh, yeah.  On Friday evening, Nana fell at the nursing home. They called us at seven o’clock on Saturday morning.4 There were assurances that she seemed to be doing fine. All that they thought was wrong was some bruising, which is another Olympic sport my family could dominate in.5 Nana was still able to get up and move around.  They weren’t worried. We weren’t worried.  But Nana’s BFF was worried. Mary didn’t think her leg seemed okay, so she called my mom on Tuesday evening. Before my mom could call and let the center know that Nana’s friend was worried, the nursing home called to tell us that they were doing a Doppler study on her leg because (she started complaining about it hurting worse so) they thought there was a blood clot in it.6 But there wasn’t a single blood clot in her leg. Don’t start cheering about that because I’m being really literal. Nana had two blood clots in her femoral vein.7 Now, Nana is going on Xarelto, so obviously… Nana is going to be the next major pro-athlete in the commercials.  I’ve already shown just how much my family could kick ass if everyday things were Olympic events, so the pharmaceutical companies have got to call us, right? Right.8 I’m not sure if telling my doctor that I have yet another relative with blood clots would be a good idea. She may want to confiscate my norethindrone. That would be awful for everyone.9 And it would be a bloody mess. Literally.10 But I guess it’s a case of better red than dead.11 Though I guess it could end in my death via anemia or exsanguination.12 Yeah, so…bleh.  But Nana’s totally okay, except for she’s on total bed rest until the clots dissolve.13 Another story for another day. ↩Did I just do a faux obscenity? God, I hate those. I should’ve just said fucking. ↩Humble bragging is losers. ↩No words. ↩Be jealous. ↩Hey, look at yet another thing we excel at. ↩Go big or go home, amirite? ↩Given how wackadoodle some bloggers have been lately, I feel the need to point out that I don’t believe this crazy shit. Nana does have a clot. My family does have a history of those, easy bruising, and falling. ↩Don’t make me take my earrings out. ↩TMI, sorry. ↩Without the pro-Soviet or pro-Badgers implications. ↩Say that word ten times fast. ↩And I’m okay except my nightly Flexeril is making me a little weirder than usual. ↩

A Professional Athlete in the Making



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I’ve been meaning to write something about what’s been going on with Nana for a while now, but I couldn’t figure out what exactly I wanted to say. So this may be a little less coherent than my already incoherent style of writing. I would apologize, but I figure that you really should know what to expect from me at this point.  Two weeks ago, my mom went to Nana’s to stay for the week. Nana was having trouble getting around and mom was going to help her out for a week. Well, the trouble getting around became pretty much bedridden by Sunday. And totally bedridden by Wednesday. Nana’s home health nurse decided it would be best for Nana to go to the ER near her home instead of seeing her family doctor. At that ER,1 the doctors realized she needed to see a neurosurgeon2 and might need surgery. That meant sending her to Huntsville.3 She got here unscathed.4 The Huntsville Hospital ER got her stabilized before sending her to the neuro unit.  The next day, the neurosurgeon finally came to see her. He had to have her MRI repeated before he came, though. Apparently, the other hospital’s MRI either wasn’t clear enough to be read properly OR there was a compatibility issue between the hospitals. The new MRI showed her stenosis had gotten worse. It also showed a compression fracture of her fourth lumbar vertebrae. Surgery was no longer an option, it was a full-on requirement. Right before five pm on Thursday, she was given the vaguest surgery time ever: around lunch on Friday.  When we got home that afternoon, I was about ready to drop. Just being at the hospital for a few hours at a time was so exhausting. And yet I couldn’t even get to sleep when we would get home. I also couldn’t move much either because my body was turning the emotional exhaustion into physical exhaustion. But Thursday evening was spent informing relatives and friends of Nana that she would be having surgery.  We found out that around lunchtime basically meant after noon. I’m not sure when the surgery itself started. I do know that it was described as being pretty routine. And it took Nana until after 6:30 to get back to her room on the eighth floor.5  When she got back up there, she was so sedated that we figured she would sleep through the night. Aunt Barbara was staying with her and it seemed like she wasn’t going to have to get up with her all that often. Aside from some trouble breathing, which is totally normal post-op in this family, the hospital staff seemed to think that Nana was fine. And we were all more concerned at this point by the number of veins that she’d blown,6 the bruises she developed from the EKG leads,7 and the blood around her lips.8 Guess who I got some of my connective tissue issues9 from. Anyway, no one thought that things were going to go from eh to DEFCON 1.  Clearly, we were sadly mistaken.  Aunt Barbara called my mom at 5 AM to tell her that Nana had had trouble breathing all night. Like a lot of trouble. Like she stopped and they had to literally inflict pain to get her breathing again.  By 6:50 or, as my mom says, 7, when Barbara called back, things had gotten so much worse. Her blood pressure was bottoming out. Her pulse had slowed significantly. The CO2 levels in her blood had gone up. She was going to the neuro intensive care unit. Basically, she was dying. And Aunt Barbara needed my mom there to make end of life decisions with her.    So mom woke us up. Sort of. In case you didn’t already figure it out. I woke up when the call at 6:50 came. And part of how I know is that my pulse started going into overdrive before mom got me up to go to the hospital.  If you think I’m fixating on weird things like my pulse during a scary phone call because I’m grieving, then you’re wrong.  One, I’m focusing on weird things because I am weird.  Two, Nana ended up stabilizing by the time we got there. Aunt Barbara was so apologetic for getting everyone10 to the hospital when Nana ended up being okay. But I’m glad she called. Not just because being there was important because Nana was so sick & we love her.11 It was important that she called because I know Aunt Barbara needed our support. That’s a big deal. Knowing when you need others to help is a big deal for anyone. A lot of people think that they can handle everything on their own, but sometimes the real strength of a person is shown in their admission that they need someone to back them up or hold their hand or make them laugh.  Nana got moved back to her old room the next day. She went to the pulmonary service after that. And now she’s doing rehab at a nursing home for a few weeks. She has a long way to go before she can be on her own again. And she’s on oxygen at the nursing home now.12 But she’s doing so much better now and that’s what matters.  After trying to send her home despite her blood pressure being extraordinarily low—80/34—and the whole fact that she was unable to even sit up. ↩No shit, Sherlock. ↩And these guys are so skilled that they sent an elderly patient with an extremely unstable blood pressure on a 44 mile/49 minute rural ambulance service ride. It’s a wonder that anyone in Marshall County is still alive. ↩Shockingly. ↩Neuro. ↩Three. She eventually got a PICC line. ↩Her whole chest was deep purple. ↩Apparently, when they removed her breathing tube from surgery, it tore up some tissue in her mouth/throat. ↩Bad veins. Bad skin. Bad joints. ↩Eric, Eileen, Deb, Jimmy, Danny, mom, dad, me. ↩That’s super important, though. ↩We don’t know if that will last. ↩

Breathe Again…Please


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When Mom called from Nana’s house this afternoon, she said that Nana is still unable to get up and walk to the living room & kitchen. Nana is still in severe pain from the cramps. She’s scheduled for an appointment with her family doctor on Wednesday, but that’s as much info as my dad shared from their conversation. I doubt that’s all my mom said because, like me, she’s quite the verbose person—only she’s actually vocally verbose, whereas I’m prone to writing my wordage out.1 If I get to talk to her tomorrow that I need to tell her that the spinal stenosis can cause severe cramps that cause mobility issues. I also need to suggest that Nana see a rheumatologist because they can help in the treatment of the condition. Since they deal in inflammatory conditions, a rheumatologist might have a solution for her that other types of specialists didn’t think of when she saw them. I just am trying to find the best solution to lessen Nana’s pain. Fingers crossed, right? If anyone reading this is familiar with spinal stenosis and how to treat it, I’d love any ideas. I just can’t stand to see my Nana suffering so much.  Photo credit: badjonni via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA I’m not sure which is considered more annoying. ↩

The Harrowing, Narrowing Canal