La La How The Life Goes On

Back in the Swing

Posted on: September 24, 2010

As many of you know I have had ongoing back problems as a result of being on prednisone for so long. Prednisone is the Wonder Drug in that it does what it’s supposed to do in spades. It is also the drug from hell because it makes you fat, bloated, sleepless and osteoporotic. Yep, it leaches calcium from your bones double time, causing them to crumble. Which is precisely what happened to my spine: six compression fractures. Of course I went for months (including a trip to China) not knowing about the fractures and assuming that I’d just really pulled some muscles or something. When my Primary Care doctor (who I’m ditching, but that’s another story) finally referred me to a physiatrist, I got an MRI that showed a fracture. But then she said it would heal on its own and prescribed more physical therapy. Not until my transplant doctor’s Nurse Practitioner took a look at my MRI did anything of note happen. She took one look and said, “Yeah, you have one fracture but you have a few other areas that look like they’re going to go at any minute. And, btw, while you’re on prednisone, this will not heal on its own.” Next MRI, I had 6 fractures. Which led to yesterday’s kyphoplasty.

Kyphoplasty involves them inserting long needles on each side of the collapsed vertebrae, inserting a balloon to reinflate it, then pumping in some polymer cement to rebuild the collapsed area. I was SO not looking forward to having that done, but at the same time I was desperate for some relief from the pain and the general limitations I’d had to put on my life (ie, couldn’t bend over to empty the dryer, couldn’t sleep lying down, couldn’t wear anything but sneakers, couldn’t really lift Baby Sister, couldn’t lift grocery bags). I seriously was living like a frail 80 year old rather than a 38 year old mother of two.

So yesterday was the big day, and it was a prescription drugfest. I was given fentanyl so I could actually withstand lying on my stomach for the 3 hour procedure. Then I got the “conscious sedation” anesthesia (the kind where you are able to hear and experience everything; you just don’t care because you are sleepy and happy). Hoo boy. They do not fool around with that. At first I was sure I was going to feel everything because I felt very awake and very not anesthetized. The nurse asked how I was doing and I was certain that the drugs were not getting into me because I felt completely normal. Which is why I’m not a medical professional, because I don’t recall the next five minutes, and I don’t totally recall the next two hours. I remember feeling something hurt at one point and saying so, at which point I think they upped the IV, because it is a total blur. I do recall thinking, “What if I fart while they’re doing this? Oh my god! I hope I don’t have to pee…” Truth is, while you’re under (although I guess in the case of conscious sedation, you are over/under, right?), going to the bathroom is the last thing on your mind, if anything is on your mind at all.

So the procedure ended and I was wheeled back to recovery, where time seemed to warp…and the drug aftermath began to take its toll. I arrived around 10am, then I opened my eyes and it was noon. Then I barfed. Ate some crackers and ginger ale. Woke up, it’s 1pm. Barfed again. Got some zofran for the nausea, got picked up by the Dada and the girls around 3:30. Tried to talk myself down from barfing the whole ride home. Felt certain that I would get home and go straight to bed because I felt so unpleasantly unwell from the drug withdrawal. The Dada then mistakenly gave me straight-up cranberry juice (I had asked him to kindly give me half cran/half water just because I was so thirsty from not eating or drinking since the previous night). I immediately started saying, “Oh no, oh no oh no,” ran to the bathroom and barfed.

The bad news: I had to do it in the sink because I still could not bend over because of my back. The good news: I immediately felt better. The further good/bad news: My kids apparently are not at all concerned about me, even as I retch green bile into their sink. No indeed. As I was upchucking, the Dada was trying to get them away from rubbernecking at the door. I was saying, in that nasty mid-gurgle voice, “It’s okay; I just don’t want them to be frightened or alarmed. Mama is okay, girls. (Bleaaaaah! Retch!) Mama is just (Bleeeaahhhh!) fine.” I needn’t have worried. Baby Sister was up on the step stool watching the whole thing with great interest, seemingly unaffected by the grossness or drama of it all–and clearly not at all concerned about me in the least. Bambina was in the hallway watching, I thought out of concern and maybe from her past anxiety issues. Nope. She was simply waiting for me to finish barfing so she could ask if she could eat the crackers the hospital had sent home with me.

La la how the life goes on. 🙂

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