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» Made in USA
Random ramblings from Papa Don
Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

A medical tale

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Posted 11-25-2010 at 10:58 AM by PapaDon

As some of you know, besides my PTSD, anxiety, and depression, I also have some fun knee, hip, back, and spinal conditions. These bother me in random ways, so I can't always guess which knee, arm, or hand is going to work properly. So sometimes I walk OK, sometimes I stagger like I'm drunk, and sometimes I just plain fall down. I bet it would make some fun videos to watch!

Also, with 5 fingers out of 10 with no feeling, some loss of strength, and not the best guidance systems in the world, it can be rather entertaining to watch me try to handle buttons on a shirt, use a knife, fork, or spoon, turn a screwdriver, etc. Button-down collars are generally beyond my capability, but sometimes I get lucky after 8 or 10 (or 20+) tries.

After my head-on greeting to the guard rail last year (the loop-de-loops that totaled my pickup truck after finding an exciting patch of "black ice"), my neck and right arm have been worse, which was later exacerbated by attempting to turn a screwdriver with my right arm. I felt the grinding and scraping in my neck that time, but my friend, Adam, standing beside me, heard it and said, "Oh, that didn't sound like it felt good."

Of course, he also reminded me that I should have let him turn the screwdriver, but, sometimes, one gets so frustrated at not being able to do things that one will go ahead anyway, knowing the outcome will probably not be good.

In the meantime, having caught the nasty cold-like flu that's going around up here, the orthopedic surgeon delayed the 1st of my 3 steroid injections into my cervical spine (neck, for you non-techies). I believe that, besides their concern of my having an infection, they also didn't want me coughing violently (which I most certainly was doing) as they tried to place medicine delicately into my spine via a long, thin needle so it could try to do some healing in there. If I coughed too hard, perhaps they might have injected directly into a nerve, perhaps killing it. Since space in the cervical spine is limited, and not being fond of paralysis, I applaud their decision.

The other day, I went in for that 1st shot. Now, I've had this done before. I got 2 of these shots into my lumbar spine (back, that is), and 1 in my neck before. The lumbar ones pretty well cleared up most of my lower back pain (well, unless I actually use my back, say, by sitting, walking, standing, etc.)

So I didn't expect anything unusual this time. My mistake.

The entire staff at the Ambulatory Surgical Center (which, in theory anyway, means you walk in, get whatever procedure you need, and then walk out after a short recovery time) was very cheerful today, as always. Naturally they were - they make money from things like this, whereas in some third-world countries they would be experts at torture.

After signing all the paperwork (you know the drill), they took me in to the Prep Area. My wife works in a commercial kitchen and they have a Prep Area too, but the connection escaped me at the time.

One of the nurses took pity on me and fastened the back of my gown for me. Don't you hate those things? Let me rephrase that: If you like those tie-in-the-back gowns, please leave a comment below telling me so and be sure leave directions on where I can send those nice young men in their clean white coats to come and take you away.

The surgeon came in and went over all the standard stuff, like, anytime they cut or make a needle hole in the skin, there is a chance of infection. It's sort of like the fast wording on TV ads for prescription medicines, in which they say if you don't die from the side effects, this has a remote chance of making you feel better (not cured, just feeling better).

With the formalities out of the way, the nurses took my vital signs (fortunately, I was alive).

Then began the fun. The 1st nurse started the IV on top of my left hand. It blew out and began pumping saline into a cute little bubble under my skin. So then she apologized and took that IV out, bandaged it up, and started one at the bottom of my left wrist Note: from this point on, I will use the acronym BOATS to save space - that stands for BlowOut, Apology, Tape, and Soft cotton with a bandage over it. Same results, BOATS. Nurse #2 asked if Nurse #1 wanted her (#2) to try it. Nurse #1 said she would try once more in my left elbow. Same results, BOATS, and I began to consider collecting apologies, bandages, and saline bubbles as a new hobby.

Nurse #2 took over. First she yelled "Free wax job!", which I understood only after she had ripped the bandage off my left wrist, taking a certain amount of my now-less-plentiful arm hair with it. Free beauty treatment, wow! At least she had sense of humor. As #2 tried anew to start an IV my left wrist, Nurse #1 said "Oh my, look at that blood gush."

This is not a sentence one likes to hear, especially from a medical professional. It was my left elbow, resembling a huge oil strike in Texas. Nurse #1 stuck another bandage on it to hide (I mean, contain) the flow. BOATS. Meanwhile, the left wrist vein collapsed as before and I got another new subcutaneous (under-the-skin) saline bubble. BOATS.

Now Nurse #3 said she would try. She hovered over my right wrist and started another IV. Same results. However, this bubble was a good bit larger than the previous ones, and it was exciting to watch it grow. I began to wonder how much of my wrist it would take with it when it exploded. I also began to feel a little nervous. But, not to worry, Nurses #1 and #2 discussed the growing blob, thumped it a few times (yep, it was pretty taut - looked like I had sprained my wrist almost). Well. Nurse #1 resolved that easily and quickly; she magically produced a syringe and sucked the saline out, & BOATS. Darn, that was my biggest and best bubble, too.

The surgeon approached, initially thinking we were all set to go into the operating room. Surprise, no IV yet! Naturally, the expert surgeon offered to show the nurses how it was done. He chose an as-yet-untapped spot on top of my right hand. BOATS.

Finally, one of the nurses (I'm not sure which one, since they had all moved around kind of like the shell game con - OK, now guess which one to sue!) got an IV started on the top of my left hand, the site of the beginning of this biogeological expedition. It was, however, "positional". That means it worked if my left hand was in a certain position only. They decided that was sufficient.

So now they took me into the Operating Room, where this same surgeon would be injecting steroids into the tight quarters of my cervical spine. I had a moment of fleeting doubt, but since my right neck, shoulder, arm, and hand have been in so much pain, I decided that perhaps paralysis with no pain would be a satisfactory outcome. I decided to put my fate into his hands.

Once they got me situated in an seemingly unattainable position on the table to keep the IV flowing, they numbed the back of my neck with either a rubber mallet or a series of injections, I'm not 100% sure which.

Just before the injection was to be given, I noticed that their equipment was contained, I kid you not, in a red-and-black wheeled toolbox labeled "Craftsman". Before I could get up and attempt to stagger away, however, they had begun the injection. I wondered briefly if Sears warrants their needles as well as their needlenose pliers.

Now that things were over, they escorted me to to the Recovery Area. We passed yet another Craftsman toolbox on the way. I relaxed in a reclining chair, ate a blueberry muffin, and drank some apple juice. Then I got dressed and my wife drove me home, kicked me out of the car as we neared the front door, and took off for work, to which she was already late.

My post-op instructions say I should have someone with me for 24 hours after the procedure. I'm fortunate to have both our dog and cat home with me.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how many new pathways into my body for for infection were created today, but so far, everything seems

Hi, this is Winter, the dog. Don't worry, the cat, Smokey, and I will have Don back up and going soon. We're licking all those fresh, new bloody pinpoints, so he should be as good as new soon.
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  1. Old Comment
    Rattlesnake Gal's Avatar

    Holy Wow!

    What a tale. I'm so sorry that you had such troubles!!! Sending healing thoughts your way. Hope you are feeling better!
    Posted 10-24-2011 at 05:59 PM by Rattlesnake Gal Rattlesnake Gal is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Your problems sound familiar. I've had an operation in two places on my cervical spine and one on my lumbar spine after injections didn't help. I can't walk right and My fingers on both hands are both numb and very painful. Hope your operation gives you some relief.
    Posted 01-17-2012 at 08:46 PM by bclaker bclaker is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Sorry that your having so much pain. I also suffer with spine pain, mostly lumbar and S-I. Try ice followed by a quality topical creme.(not the stuff at CVS) 3x a day. Also try to take a ten minute break every hour. Don't try stretching or exercise until you feel better and then go on line for proper stretches and exercises for your condition. Start very slowly and easy. No sudden jerky movements & brace yourself when you sneeze. There is no cure for your condition, but you will eventually discover what works and what does't. If the injections fail try PT or Chiro, Good luck buddy.
    Posted 09-10-2014 at 07:25 AM by bigtuna bigtuna is offline
  4. Old Comment


    Hi, First I would like to ask where that was? Doesn't sound like a place I want to go! Your pains and such are a great combination of me and my hubby. Just be careful with those spine injections! Both my hubby and I have had them some years ago. We stopped. A week after my husband had an injection, he came down with spinal meningitis. He was very ill for about a month! Naturally, that doctor told him there was NO connection! WHAT???? What a coincidence, huh? We found out later by a "real" doctor that it was most definitely caused by that injection! It was not a pleasant side effect, believe me!! For your own good - please be careful or even rethink getting them in your spine!!
    Just sayin.........................
    Posted 04-20-2015 at 04:00 PM by kashanh kashanh is offline

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