Friday, May 24, 2019

Even More Blessings

In my previous post I talked about how happy I was that the severe nerve pain in my neck was relieved by a prescription from my neurosurgeon.

Now I need to write about how I am doubly blessed. Back in August 2017 I stepped on something small that went up into the ball of my foot. It was painful. It bled. I couldn't see anything in the wound. The doctor couldn't see anything in the wound either and doubled that it would show up on an Xray unless it was metal - in which case we would be able to see it ourselves.

So... nothing to do but to wait for it to come out on its own.

It hurt everyday. It was especially bad if I tried to use my treadmill. It acted up if I mowed the lawn. It throbbed by the end of the day each Sunday after I was wearing dress shoes and was on my feet all day.

I limped. I walked on the outside edge of my foot and scrunched up my toes to take pressure off the ball of my foot. Any misstep and I would have a sharp pain in my foot. I was reminded everyday for eight long months.

FINALLY, it began to come out. First it formed a pustule on the bottom of my foot that burst. After that I kept a bandaid with drawing salve on it. Lo and Behold! After about two weeks I felt something rough at the edge of the hole that had formed from he broken pustule. When I looked at it, I saw it glint and I was able to pick it out.

INSTANT RELIEF!  Praise the Lord!  That was the end of that sad saga. Now I have my foot back. No more limping. No more excuses to stay off the treatmill. Hallelujah!!

Friday, April 26, 2019

My Pain & God's Blessings!

For the past two years I have been having a very painful problem with my neck.

I had X-rays that led to Physical Therapy. The therapists were great young people, but the exercises they had me do were counter productive and my neck pain got worse. They realized it was just aggravating my problem and sent me back to my doctor.

The next step was an MRI and a referral to a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon told me that I have arthritis in the joints of my neck that causes narrowing. That in conjunction with a slight bulge in some disks were causing pain in nerve branches that came move through those narrowed spaces.

It is difficult for me to express how much pain this was causing me.  If I moved my neck, it would snap and I would receive a painful electric shock that would literally make my eyes cross. If I made the wrong move I would be paralyzed with pain that would bring me to my knees. For a year people have been asking me if I have a stiff neck. The truth is, it is not really stiff. It is just that I can move it without significant pain.

So, we tried pain management. In pain management they do an epidural injection into the spinal column in my neck. They do one a month. They said that needing more than three of these in six months is considered a fail. I definitely failed. The first two were minimally effective. The first week or two after the injection I had less pain. After the second injection I felt pretty good right up to the third injection. But after the third injection I got a terrible headache that lasted over a week. And my neck pain was back to its terror inducing normal. (Rats.)

So, back to the neurosurgeon. He tells me about a spinal fusion. I would need a relatively long fusion. The fusion itself will definitely limit your range of motion. There is a 70%-80% chance that it will reduce my pain problem. There is also a 10%-20% chance that it will cause the discs at the top and bottom of the fusion to rupture and cause worse pain. (Yikes!)

I asked about the "Artificial Disc Replacements" (ADR) that I had read about. He said I'm not a candidate for that because I am a "non-young" person with "facet disease" (arthritis in the joints of my neck). The ADR is for younger people who have otherwise healthy bones in their neck. Because the ADR would restore full range of motion in my neck, it would cause more damage to my neck bones. (Who knew?)

"So," I asked, "are there any other options?" "Gabapentin," he replied. "It is a nerve drug." I seized on that idea. I had heard it mentioned in forums. It is pretty common, but gets mixed reviews. It helps some people but other people say it is not effective. I think, "It is worth a try!"

I picked up my prescription that afternoon... 100 mg 3X a day.  I took took two pills that day and got on a schedule to take three each day after that. For the first two days it made me dizzy. But it also started making my electric shocks of pain disappear. By the third day the dizziness was gone and so was the terrible pain. I still had a low grade of pain in my neck - right in my spine when I move turn my head. But the terrible shocks that reached out around my neck and down my shoulder are gone!

As I was setting the table for dinner on the third day I had a sudden realization that I had briefly forgotten all about my neck for a few moments. That was the first time in a long time that I had no thought of my neck while I went about daily tasks.

Well, am I thankful?  You better believe I am thankful!!  I am thankful for the people who invented this drug (originally an anti-seizure drug). I am thankful to my neurosurgeon for suggesting it and prescribing it.

ABOVE ALL, I am thankful to God who is OVER ALL!  I am thankful that God has ordered these events in my life to accomplish is purposes for me. I am thankful that in his mercy he has given me relief from the severe pain that has been troubling me for so long. Every time I move and do not have pain, I praise God. What a deliverance.

I am fully aware that the effects of this drug will not be fully realized for at least a week. I also know that mediations like this don't necessarily continue to be effective as our bodies adjust to them. My pain could come back. But even so, I am grateful for the relief I have today.  Thank you, Lord!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Beautiful Spring Morning

Spring is upon us.
The robins are chortling.
The grass is green and getting long.
The sun is bright in the eastern sky.
The dew is glistening, the porch is beckoning.
But it is still too cold.
Fifty-one degrees.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Fall & Bad Drivers

Fifty years ago when I was taking driver's education they drilled us on following the rules of the road. 
  • Know the speed limits for different roads (e.g., residential, school zones, in town, highways) and OBEY them.
  • Know the signs (e.g., Stop, Yield, No Parking, One Way, Speed Limit, etc.) and obey them.
  • Make right angle turns at intersections into your own lane without cutting across the other guy's stop line.
  • When you merge onto the highway, match speed and move into a space between, in front of or behind the highway traffic. (Don't expect them to move for you.)
  • Use your signal lights.
  • Turn on your lights to be seen even more than to see. (i.e., Turn them on at dusk or in storms even if you think you can see ok.)
  • Drive defensively - expecting the other drivers to do something erratic and with a plan for what you would do if it happened.
  • Drive cautiously - slow down if the roads are slippery or vision is limited or traffic is heavy.
  • Maintain a safe following distance - and increase the following distance when speeds increase or in bad weather or poor visibility.
Either they are not teaching these things anymore, or the students are not paying attention.  The roads these days are crowded with very bad drivers!  

I like watching YouTube Clips of police officers arresting people for drunk and impaired driving, and/or for having illegal drugs and paraphernalia or weapons, or for having outstanding warrants. What is fascinating to me is that most of these police stops begin with someone speeding or rolling through a stop sign or turning without signaling, or having a light out.

Evidently, people who drive according to the rules of the road would never have an encounter with the police and would get away with carrying all sorts of contraband in their cars. I'm glad that they get caught and arrested, but I wish they would drive better.

Besides that, it appears that every third driver is distracted. Usually by his or her phone. I long ago lost count of the times the person in front of me at the intersection failed go when the light turned green because her head was down while they looked at her phone.

What are the chances that drivers will get better? About the same as the chance that the human race will get better to be more peaceful, kind, loving, thoughtful, generous, diligent and responsible.

The fall affects us all and it affects us in every area of life - even driving.