Paralyzing Fear

I went to the ER around 6pm on Oct 23rd. I woke up that day with a stiff neck and an appointment to go to the VA in Brockton, MA. I remember working that morning then heading to my appointment at the VA around 1. I remember the campus being huge and offering a lot of services. I enrolled into VA system and am guaranteed up to 5yrs of low cost Healthcare through the VA only. David and I decided to give the VA health services a try since Tricare Tamp will be over in December. The drive was about 2hrs to and from the facility.

When I got home I decided to treat myself to some self care. Stretch, foam roll, and take a nice relaxing bath. I did some light gentle stretches (I normally do for physical therapy) and foam rolled my upper back and neck. Laid down in the tub and started to relax. I had lavender incense, candles, relaxing spa music, and a nice bath bomb. I just put on a clay mask and was going to release all of my stress. As I laid, I started to relax my breathing. I wanted to meditate on what my body needs to heal and tried to really listen to my what it was telling me.

Oddly as I started to listen I noticed that I wasn’t in any pain but realized where the pain could be felt on my back. I started to bring awareness to my legs and then noticed that they were slightly twitching. I thought, that’s strange. I started to wiggle my toes and lift my legs and realized that it was really hard. I realized that I was trying so hard to lift my big toe and stretch my leg forward. I then suddenly got extremely concerned.

After reading so much about herniated disc and my condition; foot drop immediately came to mind. I got out of the tub nervous, naked, cold, and shaking.

I managed to shuffle to David a few feet in the other room. I told him we should go to the ER. He helped me get dressed.

The crazy thing was, I was not in ANY PAIN what so ever. I was just dealing with weakness, unsteadiness, headache, and dizziness. As I tried to get down the stairs things started to get worse.

I was starting to go through a lot of numbness and slowly I was not able to FEEL my feet. I started to feel very scared and ended up at the bottom of the stairs sobbing. I didn’t know if this numbness and paralyzed feeling was going to away.

I gathered my composure and medical documents while David and I slowly made it to the car.


The ER

My first ER experience at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.

Barely walking into the ER they took me in the back to get some vitals. My headaches were getting so bad they turned into migraines. The headaches felt like pressure so intense that I had to close my eyes. I had extreme dizziness which made it hard to walk on the feet/legs I could barely feel. My knees would buckle and the nurses seemed less than caring. They gave me a wheel chair but I ended up sitting in it awkwardly as I didn’t want to aggravate any sciatic or nerve pain.

When it came time for me to put my feet in the footrest, I could not lift or feel both of my feet.

Once again the fear came back and I couldn’t help but get emotional. I was so SCARED. The nurse told me to calm down.

I then felt that I was in a place where no one really cares how you feel. You are just a body that can be fixed for a price.

David placing my feet into the footrest glared at the nurse with an upsetting look.

I was wheeled into the waiting room. My vision was getting blurry and was only noticeable when looking at words or print. I had this overwhelming sense of feeling tired and wanted to pass out. I wasn’t able to keep my eyes open but David kept patting my face. He would tell me not close my eyes.

Closing my eyes felt like drifting away. I managed to keep them open.

We ended up waiting maybe 30 min. where I was then transported to the back. I was wheeled into a room. There was a bed, medical equipment and a curtain for the door. The room and staff were great, but behind the curtain laid a different story. It seems the modern ER nurse pushes around a standing rolling desk and laptop and works right out side of patients rooms. That is great and fine but the worse part is that I could hear them talk (badly) about not only me but other patients as well. Hearing this made me feel like my pain was a burden and I felt bad for asking for help. I was so glad that David was there for me.


Medical Care

As a medical team came to asses my condition and review my medical documents they ordered blood work and MRI of lumbar. The blood work came out fine with a few minor low readings. I was given magnesium and potassium. My MRI came back with some few minor changes of my L3-L4 (also herniated no nerve symptoms) and a better detailed report. In between waiting and the test, I ended up passing out and slept. I felt bad for David as he tried to get comfortable for hours in cold metal chairs. Sitting by my side wondering what is happening to me and if I will get better. I get news around 4am that I would be admitted into the hospital for observation. I told David to go home and get some rest and I will let him know when I would get moved. It was then 8am, not knowing when I would go into the main hospital I then began to wait for information. By 10am I was put into a room in the Main hospital and was kept there for 2 days. The idea was to keep me for further observation for Cuadia Equina Syndrome, which calls for emergency surgery. My symptoms of numbness seemed to improve with rest, to the point where I was restored to full strength in the foot and leg. Though I could feel that something had happened because my body changed.

Happy that this was not a permanent event, I was then left with a lot of anxiety of what is going on with my body and how I need to move forward.


Welcome Home

My recovery from this event has been a struggle. I learned that I need to listen to my body and I need to treat it right.

First Week

My first week back from the ER was slow and steady. Back pain, blurry vision and migraines were worse with activity. I avoided driving, bending, stooping, sitting, reading and standing for long periods of time. So basically I spent 3 whole weeks relaxing, no work what so ever. Self care of rest, stretching, walking and ice. All of the lights were dim as I played soft spa music and indulged in aromatherapy. I wanted to make sure the migraines were not due to stress so I needed some time for reflection. By the end of week 1 the dizziness and headaches went away.

Second Week

The second week I noticed that I was getting my strength back. I started to do small tasks around the house such folding clothes or washing dishes. Keeping track of how long I do activities before symptoms set in. I was able to work in short breaks. Same restrictions applied. By the end of week 2 I was able to clean the first floor of my house. Though I had to take frequent and long rest breaks I found a way to adapt to my condition and really listen to my body. Blurry vision was still present but I felt hopeful that it will get better.

Third Week

The Third week I notice that I am getting so much stronger. I am able to lift and carry the vacuum and laundry. I was able to do some yoga, sit and bend very mildly and my pain seems to going away. My vision on the other hand is concerning me as it has not returned to normal function. I feel I may need to seek assistance from a neurologist or an eye doctor soon. As I take my time with activity I seem to be less irritating on my body and believe I have found an answer to my stress and concerns.

Conclusion

After this debilitating episode I have come to the conclusion that I have been dealing with this condition for overall 2 years now, but this re-herniation has lasted at least 8 months. Since I have been improving due to rest, I have decided to seek help from a neurologist and pursue holistic care options for my future. I am not looking for another surgery unless it is an emergency. I do worry about the future but am hopeful for new beginnings and really listening to my body.

Published by connectedpines

Disabled Veteran traveling with chronic back pain & practicing Ayurvedic self care routines

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