Monday, March 16, 2009

Back Watch 2009 Update - Complete System Failure

Total spinal failure has finally arrived. Slag can no longer stand or walk. Records are being gathered even as we speak. It's likely that we'll be heading off to the top spinal surgery center in Texas very soon. It's about a 3.5 hour drive from here, so getting him there is going to be a challenge.

Hell, getting him in the car is going to be a challenge, but in the car he will go, even if I have to strap him onto a dollie, a la Hannibal Lector, and roll him out to the driveway.

He's remarkably calm and good-tempered, even as he keeps his life in running order from a horizontal position on the couch in the living room, with only the occasional Vicodin to keep the pain to a tolerable level. He's got all three phones within easy reach and has been fielding work calls all morning. Not sure what he's telling his clients. I am hoping he's telling them something like "I can't walk right now, so no, I won't be able to inspect that house this afternoon. "

Thank Zeus I can do my job completely from home, as long as the internet connection stays functional, so I don't have to leave him stranded.

And I am calm because I have a valid prescription for the good pills.

"Drugs are bad, but the good pills are good, m'kay?"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Back Watch 2009, Episode 1

I just brought Slag home from his most recent “procedure.” He got another needle shoved into his spine, but this one was in a slightly different place than the last one. They gave him a copy of the fluoroscope image, but looks just like the last one to me.

I wish I didn’t always come home from visits to the spine doctors feeling stupider than I was when I left. I just don’t get it. I don’t think I’m stupid, not when I’m really trying not to be. And I know the doctors are busy and don’t have time to cover Anatomy 101 with all their patients during every visit, but I wish someone could just point me to a web page or something. I would read it. I swear.

I never intended to be one of those wives who follows her husband to all his doctor’s appointments and keeps track of all his symptoms in a little notebook and generally hovers. Slag is a grownup. I don’t want to be his mother. He doesn’t want me to be his mother. But things are different with the spine and those who treat it. It’s complicated. Slag takes me along so there are at least two sets of ears listening and trying to remember, but the two of us together still have a hard time understanding what exactly is going on. We always debrief during the drive home while everything is fresh in our minds.

“OK, he said x. Is that what you heard?”

“Well, sort of. He implied x, but I don’t think he actually said those words. I wonder if he really meant y?”

“Hmm, yeah, I can see that. Maybe he meant first x, then y if x doesn’t work?”

“Is it possible to do y after you’ve tried x and it failed? Didn’t he say something about y being impossible after x because of scar tissue?”

And so on.

I started to ask a couple of questions during the consult today, and the doctor stopped me and handed me a pamphlet. “This is what we’re going to do today.” And then he handed me another pamphlet. “This is what we’ll do in a couple of weeks if today’s procedure results in a and b.” And then a third pamphlet. “This is what we’ll do later if the results of the two previous procedures indicate that he is a good candidate.” And then he disappeared.

OK, sounds good. We’ve got something in writing to work with. I can do that. Only I screwed up and didn’t number the pamphlets. By the time I got the book and the water bottle and Slag’s wallet and phone and all our copies of the consent forms shoved into my purse and made it back to the waiting room, I got the order of the pamphlets mixed up and I don’t remember which is which.

And even if I did get the pamphlet order correct, I still don’t understand. Two of the pamphlets essentially say the same thing. They even have the same diagram of cartoon needle poking a cartoon spine, only in one the point of the needle is about a millimeter away from the point of the needle in the other. I honestly can’t see any substantial difference, certainly nothing that would warrant a whole separate pamphlet.

And, to top it all off, all three of them basically say “We’re going to lay you out on a table, sedate you, and stick a needle into your spine. We’ll put medicine through the needle that will hopefully make your back stop hurting. You will need someone to drive you home.”

This is not helpful information. I think he gave them to me so I would shut up. And I wasn’t even being obnoxious or anything!

OK, enough whining for now. It’s time for the nagging part of my day to begin. I’ll work on filling in the background of the story later. Now I’ve gotta go make sure Slag doesn’t do anything he isn’t supposed to do. Toodles.