Hooray! I finally got in to see the neurosurgeon this morning. It’s been a long journey: 30 years of chronic, eye-rolling, oy-vey pain.
But I’ve reached the limits of plodding through pain. With the inevitable progression of my spinal disease from bad to worse as I slowly shrivel into the quintessential granny, I’ve made the decision to go under the knife
The MRI I had two months ago plainly showed the pathology. My doc’s only question: “Is this the kind of pain you can deal with through less invasive therapies, or are you at the point that you’re determined to do the spinal fusion?”
Then the doctor spelled out the risks. When I get freaked out, my toes tingle. While the surgeon described possible bad outcomes (I guess they have to do that) I was reaching down to pet my big toe, which was shouting at me, “Are you completely insane?”
“Infection,” the surgeon droned on in an unconcerned tone, ” blood clots, loss of voice, rarely, paralysis (you think “rare” comforts me?) little improvement, bone grafts that don’t graft.”
Now all ten toes were squirming and screaming at me for putting them at such risk.
“I’m ready, Doctor.”
So now I wait for my insurance to give the get-go. Then we schedule the date. Then I black out on my calendar a cushion of date-less days or weeks while I recover.
Of course, I’ve been praying about this for years. I’ve talked to friends who’ve had this procedure. I’ve read up on it—maybe too much—enough to make myself jittery at the thought of a surgeon messing around in my nerve bundles. Eeek!
I think Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos had the same procedure.
Cadaver bone. My disks will be extracted and they’ll take bone stuff from dead people to squish into those empty spaces in my vertebrae. Whoo-hoo!
Titanium. That’s what holds it all together. It’ll cover the three vertebrae that have been fused.
I find myself speculating about life after neck surgery. The following are the questions I didn’t dare raise—but plague me in their silliness—to the doctor or the nurse:
- Will this be a problem for any future x-rays? How about when I go to the dentist?
- Will my metallic neck set off alarms when I go through TSA?
- Do I need a doctor’s confirmation when medical forms ask me, “Do you have any metal parts?”
- What happens at the resurrection? Do I take my metal parts with me, or will Jesus replace them at the millisecond of transformation?
- Will people think I’m rebellious because I don’t bend my head downward for congregational prayer?
- Will I weigh more because there’s titanium inside me?
- Will I be taller? (Can I request extra fat fake disks so I could achieve a height of 5’2′?)
- Can I donate my titanium for research when I die?
- Do I have to stand far away from the microwave oven when it’s running?
- Will my blowdryer heat up the inside of my neck and fry my spine?
Oh, please stop me!
I won’t get to do the surgery for at least six to eight weeks. That’s a whole lot of time to speculate and think up even more silly questions.
The best thing I can do in the meantime is fill my mind with God’s comfort. The knowledge of His unfailing love and presence. That nothing can happen to me that is beyond His control.
And here’s my verse for the next few weeks:
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 130:15,16 NIV Bible)