Sunday, December 27, 2009


I had a post in my head. I swear, I did but now it is gone. I'm not even 100% sure what it was supposed to be about, but I'm pretty sure it was good. I think there might be some permanent brain damage. Sometimes there just aren't words.

A few things I've done for the first time all over again

-danced with the girls in the kitchen
-gave the girls a bath
-gone to 2 movies (New Moon and Alvin and the Chipmunks)
-D.R.O.V.E my car. Yes, windows down and music up. Alone.
-put Layne to bed
-cooked dinner
-trip to the new K.roger
-gone to church
-walked up stairs

By the way, it is really cold outside! When you miss the weather transition it is kinda harsh. Oh yeah, and Christmas is did that happen? I was just looking over my posts from this time last year. It is all different now. All of it. Here we go again.....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Waking up

I lost a week. An entire week. It is gone. Just fleeting moments of memories here and there but basically gone. A little bit comes back here and there and I have to ask Mere, "did that happen? What happened? Did I dream that or was it real?" I am waking up and really feel sort of shell shocked. I didn't even know that Christmas was Friday until yesterday. It is impossible to describe how it feels to drop out of life and then come back.

LA seems like it happened so long ago. Surgery seems like a million miles away. The hospital, the ER, the MRIs, the myelograms. It was a string of events that seems so distant, but it was just a few weeks ago.

Basically, what happened was that I quit taking my pain medications. I had been on a cocktail of narcotics, anti-nausea pills, and various other meds for over a month. Once we got home I felt so much better so I quit taking the narcotics. Monday afternoon I started to feel like bugs were under my skin (similar to my reaction to c.ompazine). I went home and took some of the meds that I had taken for the dyskinesia reaction and some pain medications. I felt better that night and actually slept ok. The next morning, it was back. I felt my heart racing and I couldn't sit still. I felt like bugs were under my skin. It was SO uncomfortable, I could not sit still. I called my PCP and she told me to go to the ER. That is when they told me I was going through withdrawals. That was Wednesday. That is when I dropped out of life and didn't get back until yesterday (Sunday). The doctor offered to keep me in the hospital for the withdrawal process. They also offered m.ethadone and/or c.lonidine (a blood pressure med that has additional properties that help the withdrawal process). I had just gotten out of the hospital and didn't want to go back (but I would have stayed if I had any idea how miserable the withdrawals would be) and I didn't want to have to get on m.ethadone and then withdrawal from it so I agreed to go home with clonidine and wait it out. Keep in mind they had given me some IV a.tivan so I was already feeling better. I had no idea what the following days would be like. The ER doctor basically told me that I would not die but I would feel like I was...that was an understatement.

Apparently, Tommie and Meredith banded together that night and decided to get rid of all the drugs and make me tough it out, figuring that I would be 100% by Christmas. The alternative of weaning me and going through a long process didn't appeal to either of them. They just wanted me back to normal as fast as possible and they knew that once the withdrawals got bad I would be desperate for ANYTHING to make them stop. Their logic was sound and I'm glad that they did it that way. Tough love was what I needed, even though I spent a few days hating them both. The days that followed made everything up to that point seem like a cake walk. I don't remember much about the first 2 days except that I stayed in bed and just took c.lonidine and tried to sleep as much as possible. I didn't eat or drink. I sporadically remember Mere and the girls coming in and out of the bedroom. I remember Tommie telling me just 24 more hours, just 24 more hours, tomorrow will be better. The next 2 days Tommie basically became the drink Nazi, pouring fluids down every minute. If I wasn't drinking, she was telling me to drink. And the more I drank, the better I felt. Then the stomach cramps started...that was fun. Everything that went in, came out. Then Tommie made me eat...bland cookies, toast, and of course more fluids. Everyday got a little better and by yesterday I was actually starting to feel human again. My sleeping patterns are still really messed up and I'm still not able to eat much. G.atorade is my friend. At least now I can interact with my family and be present.

I'm still in shock over the entire experience. It still seems like something that happened to someone else. Our lives are just starting to get back to normal. There are tons of presents to wrap (we haven't even started) and the medical bills are starting to pile in (there are a lot). We are going to be climbing out of this hole for awhile, but I know we are on the right tract now. I am thankful for this experience. It has changed me in ways that I can't translate into words. It has strengthened my relationship with Mere in ways I never thought possible. I KNOW what love is. I know that I am loved. I know what is important to me. I know that there is some cosmic reason that we went through all of this. I know that it is my job to have fun and enjoy this life. And, PAY ATTENTION!

There is still a tiny little part of me that wants to crawl into a little hole and hide out....I've been so sheltered and out of the loop for so long. Now that I'm back, it is weird. Don't get me wrong, it is WONDERFULLY weird. I am so happy to be here. I'm happy to be alive. I am blessed with amazing children and a wife made of steel. Now I have to go cuddle with my girlies....ahhh....heaven.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just say no (to c.ompazine)

HI guys! Thank you to all my cyber friends for all your prayers and good vibes. I am doing much better and feeling almost back to normal.

My surgery went well. I have a C5/C6 fusion and a 2 inch scar on the front of my neck, but am otherwise doing good. The first night in the hospital was HELL! The neurosurgery resident was not very forthcoming with pains meds. They had me on IV d.ilaudid and o.xycodone. Which sounds like a lot, but I have a tolerance for drugs because I have been on narcotics over a month. Unfortunately, i have since found out that I am allergic to D.ilaudid. It made me super hot, flushed (and very RED), and restless. And I was supposed to lay flat. I would get dilaudid, pass out for about 15 minutes and then we would start the pain cycle all over again. Granted, I was pretty doped up but every time they gave me D.Ilaudid I felt worse. Making matters worse were the most uncomfortable compression stockings all the way up my thigh, the foley catheter, AND having to lay 100% flat for the entire night. Poor Tommie was with me and trying so hard to keep me positive. Every time I moved or made a noise she jumped up and tried to help. Mostly, she had to "baby" me and just be sympathetic. She didn't get any sleep the first night either! That first 24 hours will always be etched in my mind and one of my worst moments of my life. Luckily, when Dr. S rounded the next morning, he changed my pain meds around, let me get up, and took of the terrible compression hose. Finally, things were looking up. After I took a shower (basically, Mere gave me a shower) and worked with the physical therapists, my pain level was starting to inch upward. I called for another dose of d.ilaudid (since it was to soon for o.xycodone).....once it hit my veins, my heart rate went up, I got extremely hot, and I felt TERRIBLE. That is when it occurred to me that maybe I have a d.ilaudid allergy. D.ilaudid will never go in my IV again. EVER. Period.

The following 2 days were pretty uneventful. Tommie, Mere, and I played games and just hung out and then discharge! Yeah! Unfortunately, our time at the hospital was not over because we ended up taking a trip the ER last night. Around 2pm yesterday I started to feel funny. It felt like there were little bugs under my skin, my mouth got really dry, my neck and jaw stiffened, and I felt TERRIBLE. So, Mere took me to the emergency room. By the time we got there, I could barely talk. The triage nurse took my vital signs and my heart rate was racing at 151 bpm (normal is 40-100, I usually stay around 80). Within 15 minutes I was in a bed, with an IV, and waiting for the doctor. When the doctor came in and I explained my symptoms he said, "have you been taking c.ompazine?" Yes, Yes, Yes. I have been taking it for nausea for about a month. He said, "you are experiencing dyskinesia." And c.ompazine is one of the drugs that leads to dyskinesia. They gave me IV b.enadryl and C.ogentin and I was better within a hour. Talk about a miracle drug. Oh yeah, I will never allow someone to give me IV b.enadrly really made me feel funny (bad funny, not good funny). I have sense found out the c.ompazine cause irritability, mood swings, double vision, and severe constipation...all things that have been happening since I started taking it. All of which explains a LOT. It takes 2 days for the c.ompazine to leave your system so in the meantime I am trying to stay relaxed and take b.enadryl and c.ogentin. But dyskinesia is pretty painful/difficult/strange! It scared the shit out of Mere.

Did the surgery work? I think so but cannot be 100% sure until all the post op pain is gone so I can tell if the headaches are from surgery or a leaky spine. But, I do feel like I am fixed. But, if I'm not then we will come back and do it all over again. Dr. S said my success rate is about 87%, which includes people that he has had to operate on more than once. I like 87%. I will take it. If we have to come back, then we will come back. We are beating this thing for sure!!!!

I think that is all I have to report right now. I will keep you all posted.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Today's the Day

This is Mere posting for Jess.

Surgery is today at 11:45am PST. So for the sake of not having to double post, I'll be putting updates on my blog. So head on over there. I'll try to update this evening after surgery (should last about 2.5 hours) and Jess is out of recovery and all settled into her room. If I don't post tonight, I'll post first thing in the morning.

Send your positive thoughts Jess's way!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thank God it is me!

Today was the day. The day to get some answers, the day we met Dr. S (the neurosurgeon that we came to see). He was super nice and my appointment went great. The best part of it all? He was not impressed with me.....he has seen plenty of patients like me and operated on over 100 of us. FINALLY, a doctor with answers instead of questions. It was refreshing and made us both feel good. Here are some answers we got during our visit:

- Mortality rate is 0 (yeah!!!!)
- Risks include paralysis, loss of my voice (if he has to go anteriorly), decrease in neck mobility, etc, etc. He has not had any of the aforementioned outcomes in his patients.
- I probably will not have to be in the ICU after surgery and can always have someone stay with me in my room
- I will be in the hospital for 4 days
- I have to stay in LA for at least one week after surgery
- The success rate for my case is about 87%, this includes cases where he has had to operate more than once. Hopefully, I won't need more than on operation. What happens to the other 13%? Who knows...not gonna be me!
- My operation will be at 11:45 am on Thursday and last approximately 2.5 hours so please send me all of your good vibes during that time!!

After the visit I had to go pre-register, get my blood drawn, and then have ANOTHER MRI. Apparently, Dr. S wanted a brain MRI in addition to the spine MRI I had yesterday. Luckily, this one only took about a hour (thank God). I was walking back into the MRI and I saw them bringing out a little girl about Syd's age who was sedated and had just finished getting her MRI. All I could think was THANK GOD I'm the one who is sick. Those poor, poor parents with a sick baby girl. In that moment I was overcome with gratitude. Amazing how things happen. The MRI was uneventful and quick. Oh, and they played the B.lack Eyed Peas song again while I was getting scanned. It was hard not to dance.

Tomorrow is my myelogram. UGHHHH, not excited about it but hopeful that this is the last one, EVER. On the flip side, Tommie comes in good thing and one bad thing. I know Mere is ready for her to be here because I will be on my best behavior. The pain medications make me SO grouchy!!!!

I stand corrected

Ok...I have mentioned before that I like the MRI machine. I think I even used the word Zen. Maybe that is just U.AMS's machine or maybe it is impossible to feel zen when you have to lay perfectly still in an uncomfortable position for 3 hours. Either way, it is down, 500 to go! At least there was music. They had headphones that go on top of the ear plugs for you listening pleasure. Just when I thought I couldn't make it through, the B.lack Eyed Peas song, M.eet Me Halfway came on and made me smile. I could picture Tommie singing it and I knew I could make it through the rest of the MRI. Music can get you through anything, and X.anax. God is everywhere, sending me signs (or maybe I'm just going crazy).

Speaking of signs......
After checking in at the front desk of the imaging center a man called me back to register me. His name? Rudy! Rudy!!! Can you believe it? If you are confused then check out my post titled, Where the Beautiful People Are. Anyway, I was smiling from ear-to-ear. Seriously, that is a sign, FOR REAL!!!

Today is appointment with Dr. S. Hopefully, my next post will be packed full of useful updates.