CES | Month 10 with Cauda Equina Syndrome

CES | Month 10

Month 9 came to a close with my wife and I preparing for her knee replacement surgery.  We were well prepared.  Then, as with a coastal dweller riding out a hurricane, it hit.

We arrived at the hospital early and checked in at 6:59 a.m.  She was taken to pre-op at 8 a.m., 30 minutes late and the snowball started rolling.  They took her to surgery at 9:49 and surgery actually started at 10:23 – now some 53 minutes behind schedule.  Why is all of this important?  I have Cauda Equina Syndrome and sitting, especially in uncomfortable chairs, takes a toll on me.

I had to get up and walk around every so often then sit back down, as neither is a good long term proposition for me.  I was hurting more with each passing minute.  At 11:43, my wife’s surgery was done and she went to recovery.  I spoke with the surgeon and then went to wait some more.

I got a couple of calls on my cell phone from a recovery room nurse explaining that my wife was slow in being able to move her good leg.  They had done a spinal block for the anesthesia rather than a general.  After the block, she would have to stay in recovery until she could move legs, feet, and sets of toes.  I hunted down the cafeteria to get some food.  After a long walk, I found it.

The food wasn’t bad at all.  I sat, resting my legs, until my butt & lower back began hurting again.  I dreaded the long walk back to the waiting area, but I had to walk again, so off I went.  I actually stopped along the way to give my hips a rest.  Walking tires out my leg muscles, particularly my hips, very quickly.  I’ve been doing strengthening exercises, but haven’t seen much improvement in several months.

Arriving back at the waiting area, I sat down again for the wait.  Just before 3 p.m., they called me to the front desk and advised me that my wife was leaving recovery for her room.  Off I went, slowly but surely… down the hall to the next section of the hospital, up the elevators, then down a couple of more halls to her room.  On the verge of needing to sit down again, I arrived at her room.  There was no name plate on the wall by the door but I entered anyway.  Nothing but 2 chairs and a nightstand were there.  On the whiteboard, no patient, nurse, or tech names were written.  Did I have the right room?  Just then, a nurse came in and asked if I was in the right place.  I thought of several pain induced sarcastic remarks but quickly quashed those, instead saying, “I guess I beat her here.”  The nurse left.

My wife did arrive shortly, and 1 of the chairs was an ortho chair, which type one of my techs during my stay at this hospital earlier this year due to my CES surgery had swiped from this floor to let me sit in.  I was very pleased with this because they are comfortable.  At last, a comfy chair!  In comes my wife’s nurse and tech, along with the social worker.  I thought I recognized the tech.  When he said his name, Randall, I knew!  He had been my tech 9 months earlier.  He thought I looked familiar too when I asked him if he had worked on another floor 9 months ago.  He still works the neuro floor but does extra shifts on the ortho floor for some overtime.

My wife’s pain was not well controlled the first 24 hours after surgery so she had to stay in the hospital for 2 nights instead of the planned 1.  During this time, my pain was not well controlled either.  The morning after surgery, I got out of bed and hurt so badly that I really didn’t want to move.  Then I had to go to work… ugh!  The next day, I got to pick my wife up and bring her home – Oh Happy Day!  Then it was waiting on her, which was nothing like what she had to do while waiting on me earlier in the year!  But I didn’t get much rest for a few days and I was in a lot of pain.  I felt like I had 4 or 5 months earlier.

Slowly I she and I both recovered.  After about 2 weeks, her recovery accelerated and by the end of 4 weeks (also the end of Month 10 of my CES), she was ready to start driving again.  Only in the last week did my pain subside, in part due to Thanksgiving.

Central Ohio was visited by a snow storm just before Thanksgiving.  With this being the first snow for our Elantra, I didn’t know how well it would do.  I had it parked in the garage which requires a climb up a moderately steep hill for 70 feet, then a 70 degree right turn, followed by another 40 feet of steep hill to get to our street.  Our former ride, a 2010 Prius, made that in 4 inches of snow with no problem… not so the Elantra.  To be fair, the Prius had high end Michelin all weather traction tires on it.  Since we’re not worn out the OEM tires on the Elantra yet, we’ve not replaced the tires so this isn’t necessarily a fair comparison.  Anyway, the Elantra couldn’t quite make it to the turn in the driveway… I was stuck.  My wife’s ’98 Caddy was parked in front of the house with a straight shot up the last section of driveway, except her sister had parked it straight in instead of backing it in – no way to get it out until the driveway thaws.

So, being ever so adventurous, I decide the next day to walk down the driveway to get our snow shovel out of our outbuilding.  Yep, you guessed it, I slipped and fell.  In the process, I injured my back.  At first it seemed to be just muscle.  After a day or so, it seemed like a disk bulging but not rupturing.  Lots of heating pad time and rest helped my back return to normal.  After all of this adventure, I feel better and with less pain than when the month started.

I had pain in the right superficial peroneal nerve since my Feb injury.  Not really raw pain but a tightness, in the front part of my ankle.  When walking and stepping forward with my left foot, if I stepped too far the nerve would bend no further and my ankle would roll to the right. Very disconcerting and painful.  Last week my ankle gave a loud “pop” and the tightness and pain went away.  Evidently the swollen nerve is continuing to decrease and did so to the point where it broke free of its impingement.   Good.  Very good.

Spiritually this month was a learning and testing month.  Everything encountered in Month 10 was a challenge to some aspect of my surrender of everything to God in Month 9.  I was pondering, for a time, the regression of my symptoms.  I had my schedule overloaded.  I was hurting and tired.  A family member turned his back on me after I had been his biggest supporter while he was growing up.  My crime against him was telling him some things he was saying weren’t true and I didn’t want him spreading falsehoods because it would make him look less intelligent.  He told me off and cutoff communication.  I also felt the sting of dishonesty from a friend.  Those who know me know that honesty is an absolute with me.  I give it and expect it.  While I know that most people engage in what they consider small lies to their friends, it is extremely NOT a small matter with me.  In this case, I'm sure they thought nothing of it, not even aware they did it... nor of how my discovery of it would affect me.  My asking God to teach me to have more grace is being answered through this, but it is definitely not the way I would want to develop more grace.

In the end, physically I end Month 10 doing better than last month.  Life is becoming still busier, and that is good due to what is making it that way.  Emotionally & spiritually, I’m battling through the emotional aspects of actions by my family member and my friend.  I have always been one for reconciliation but these will be difficult.  So on to Month 11!  Coming up on a year, and I think coming up on an end to the posts on this blog.  My battle with CES turned into my life with CES, which has mostly pushed CES into the rearview mirror.  Yes, I still have it.  Yes, it affects me every day.  Yes, it will still do so for the rest of my life.  But I’ve come out of my encounter with it.  It is God’s mark of ownership on me and I’m growing used to it being here.  Its impact on me has been to drive profound and beneficial changes in me.  That drive is coming to an end and soon it will be parked by the house, around but not used, destined to become a rusting old junk heap with weeds growing up around it.  Yeah, that’s a good place for it.

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