St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Margo's Back is Back in Trouble

MRI view of Margo's neck (cervical) and upper back.  The bones around the central spinal cord are pressing in on the nerves and giving her a great deal of pain.  She had the lower back fixed in early December, and now this area is next for repairs.  The pain is in her right back shoulder and neck with some in the right leg.  Nerves do not like to be pressed against by unruly back bones and disks.  Can you see 4 -5 narrow (stenosis) areas?   One solution is to take great amounts of pain killers and move to a wheel chair and another is to try to have the surgeon remove the pressure.  Margo is in favor of the surgery first before giving up walking.
Two months ago, Margo, my wife, had lower back surgery.  It improved the problem, but she still had pain, but some of it had shifted to her upper back--right shoulder and neck area with still some in her leg.  

So, today she had an MRI on the upper back and found that it too was having severe problems with narrowing the spine and squishing the spinal cord.  The MRI doctor, who looked at the image, called her on the way back home to tell her that she needed to see a neurologist and neurological surgeon immediately.  

There is danger of a fall or other injury to the back of causing paralysis as the bad part of the spine might crush or cut the spinal cord.  She is to be very careful and do nothing physical except walk very carefully until she talks to the next doctor tomorrow.  

The lower back is repaired and doing better, now the neck/upper part is in trouble.  I imagine after getting that fixed, the middle will be next.  She thought the lower back operation was not successful, because, although her leg pain is less,  she still has it.  It appears the stenosis up near the neck may be causing some of that too.  All of the nerves from toes to shoulders all run up the spinal cord, and pressing anywhere on it (top or bottom) can cause pain from top to bottom.  

The doctor explained that Margo, having had birth trauma that damaged not only her neurological system, but broke her hips and caused other spinal damage, it is all catching up with her.  Just trying to walk with the CP causes unusual wear and tear on everything.  Add to that, working many years as a nursing aide with all the physical problems that added, her back has worn out.  

However, surgeons are always optimistic that they can cut, repair, replace and glue, nail, screw and weld in new parts to fix things up. So we are hopeful Mayo will again help bring Margo's back. 

Or could it be that Scott stepped on too many cracks?

I head in tomorrow to see the eye doctor.  My eyes were messed up a little from the prednisone taken in high doses for a year and I have some trouble with seeing the writing on the wall.  

It reminds me when I was in the 7th grade, just before I got my first pair of glasses.  My teacher asked me "Why are you so mean looking nowadays?"  I didn't realize it, but I was squinting, trying to see the blackboard.  In those days, there was an eye chart and the teacher had me try to read it and I couldn't, so she sent a note home to have me see the eye doctor. 

I had the eye test, and I was quite nearsighted.  A few weeks later, I went back and got my first pair of glasses.  It was November, and the first thing I noticed when we left the doctor's office was the amazing complexity of tree branches.  There were limbs, branches, twigs and tiny twigs, all visible.  It was remarkable!

When I was in college, I liked a girl named Ann, a bright, interesting and friendly young woman, who seemed to tolerate my lunching with her.  She usually took off her glasses when I came to join her.  
    "You are vain," I kidded her, "you take off your glasses when I come so you look better."   
   She smiled and said "No, you look better when I take off my glasses."

An update:  my somewhat fuzzy vision is mostly due to cataracts and at some time when they get bad enough, I can have them removed.  However, the doctor said that my vision--at 20-25 (perfect is 20-20) is "not too bad."  

So, I cancelled my appointment with the seeing-eye dog people and am ordering a slightly different pair of glasses from my favorite cheap source -- ZenniOptical where I can buy a pair of single vision specs for $15 with all the coatings and frames I like, and a set of bifocals for under $60.  Heck of a deal if you don't mind adjusting the nose pads yourself.  When my Myasthenia Gravis was active, I bought half dozen pairs of varying types --reading, computer, distance only and bifocal, spending an average of $30 each.