Thursday, February 12, 2015

Moving to Australia?

These past few days have neither flown by or been fun. However, thanks to a story a friend told me, my experiences have been positive.  Like the people in her story, I have discovered that rather than praying the problem goes away, I simply praise God as the "bombs reign down" and reflect on gratitude.  It is with sincere humility that I reflect on my children and husband's shared love and their good health, my children's good health (yes, I realize I listed that twice), David's devotion, patience and seriously good wit during this trying time, my parent's stable health, Kristin's devotion and enduring hope, and my many friends and family (old and new) who reach out, pray hard, and love me in their unique way. Each of these are the essential elements of my constant awareness of being wrapped in His love.

Of course, there are many more people, relationships, events and outcomes for which I am grateful.  I could go on and most definitely will, in the days ahead, as I write more regularly about the challenging stuff I don't like to discuss, much less share.

It has been my experience that "people in masks cannot be trusted" (Princess Bride; Directed by Rob Reiner), so establishing all new doctors and rehashing the past two years' health crises on EACH occasion has been less than comfortable.  However, I am finding that I am trusting them. I don't understand it and really can't explain the transformation.  It is through this revisiting of the past that the doors to the Mayo Clinic have been opened and now, my neurologist refers to me as "Sunshine". What? He also says, "settle down now," a lot.  I keep telling him that I am settled down and that he hasn't met "NOT settled down".  Oy.  I'm settled down, sir. 

I trust and generally like my neurologist (I am envisioning Kathy Gregg passed out - right about... now!) 

Hold on...there is more.

My neurologist's name is Dr. Alireza Minagar.  He is a LSU Hospital doctor and attended medical school in Tehran, Iran. He is brilliant, empathic, and returns weekend crises emails and phone calls HIMSELF.   HE is most definitely: NOT "settled down".  He arranged for me to come to his clinic first thing this past Monday because I was beginning my 5th day of a hellish headache and could not open my right eye without a lot of effort.

Dr. Minagar thought I had a stroke and scheduled my hospital admission for the following morning for an MRI, stroke assessment and prevention protocol. Admittedly, he was concerned about my implanted spinal cord stimulator and the LSU radiology department's sophistication and ability to perform the task.  Still, he felt I needed to be in the hospital to ensure I didn't have another stroke. Panic pants.  Settle down now, Dr. M. He also arranged an urgent appointment with my neuro-ophthalmologist, Dr. Vekovius. Dr. V encourages me to use the "F" words freely in his office and has also, therefore, challenged me to like him.  Shit.

Sorry - off track. So off I went to Dr. V.  We got Chik-fil-A in route, despite Dr. M's histrionic pleas that we rush right over: red rover, red rover! Dr. V is like a bull in a china shop with my eyes. Thankfully though, he quickly recognized that my "eye drop" was not evidence of a stroke, but was indication of an injury or abrasion.  He gave me eye drops, called off Dr. M and my admission and told me to come back in a week.  He also stated that my "eye drop" was in such a state at this point, that even if the gang at the Mayo Clinic finds a treatment: my eye will require surgery to lift the lid open.  Wonderful.

He will have to get in line for surgery because the following morning, I went to see the pain management doctor (Dr. Brewer), who is tasked with monitoring my pain and the spinal cord stimulator device implanted in me about 18 months ago: that resulted in my admission to skilled nursing rehab. Both Dr. M and Dr. Brewer agree that I must have the device removed, as it is likely causing the neuropathy in my core and legs.

Before going into any detail about that, let me say that I absolutely despise going to pain management appointments.  There is a long story there,  but there is too much to tell, so I will sum up.  I deeply valued the PA who worked with me in Austin, because he accommodated my ridiculous schedule, never required me to do UA's to prove I wasn't abusing narcotics, believed me when I spoke, and worked HARD to help me avoid using narcotics entirely.  Arriving at this new office and having it feel like a cattle drive of nameless and faceless suffering people, was awful.  Imagine my surprise when Dr. Brewer spent almost an hour with me, looked at me, believed me and referred me to a Mayo Clinic Med School graduate/neuro-surgeon, because he knew he didn't have the skill set to operate on me!  At this point, it is getting seriously hard to be such a hater. Damn.

I'm focusing, Debbie.

I am waiting to hear from the neuro-surgeon regarding the timeline for surgery. I will definitely wait until I return from Mayo and squeeze in a quick trip to Austin.  All I know for sure is that I am getting the device removed and I am relieved. The surgeon who implanted the device (who I forgive but will not name), apparently did an avoidable "laminectomy" on two perfectly functioning disks (L2 and L3), because it made it "easier" to implant the new leads into my spine. This caused spinal cord injury and crazy pain around the core of my body and down both legs.

Dr. M called me just after my appointment with Dr. Brewer and said, "Hello Sunshine. I think we can avoid hospitalization today and just focus on getting to Mayo and removing the device when you come home."

Yes, sir. 

Coming home is good.

I'm not moving to Australia (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by: Judith Viorst). I absolutely love who I am with and where I am. I am blessed beyond measure.  Some say that I deserve these abundant blessings, but in truth, it is when I consider how completely undeserving I am, that I am brought to my knees in humble gratitude.  My life has been spared because David listened to his call to come after me and because these doctor's are humble enough to acknowledge their need for help, arrange the help I need (Mayo Clinic), and seem to experience empathy and sympathy.  Consider how refreshing it is to find The Physician's Prayer hanging on their treatment room wall and finding that the same genuine need to serve Him exists in the men and women behind the masks.

And that is that...

The Physician's Prayer

Lord, Thou Great Physician,

I kneel before Thee.  Since every good and perfect gift must come from Thee: I pray: Give me skill to my hand, clear vision to my mind, kindness and sympathy to my heart.  Give me singleness of purpose, strength to lift at least a part of the burden of my suffering fellow men, and a true realization of the rare privilege that is mine.  Take from my heart all guile and worldliness, that with the simple faith of a child I may rely on Thee.  Amen.  ~ Author Unknown

Additional Resources:
Educational materials regarding the Medtronics spinal cord stimulator, model #97702, can be found at: