Saturday, June 21, 2008

Never an end to health issues

Once again the ugly side of growing older raises its head and points me in the direction of yet another doctor. This time an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Cartwright at KSF.

My "Mad Max Disease" (affectionately named after my good Egghead friend Mad Max whom I charged with giving me his back problems over two years ago via email) has reached the point where I have to do something besides get epidurals for relief. My treating doctor suggested that I see Dr. Cartwright for a consult.

I had to undergo another MRI, this time an open MRI which was not as "challenging" as the one I had two years ago. I have claustrophobia. But with the open MRI I managed to sleep through the process.

Dr. Cartwright reviewed the MRI results and pointed to three areas where the spinal channel containing my nerve bundle was narrowed and probably putting pressure on the nerves thereby causing the constant pain and occasional loss of control of my legs. The condition is fairly common, especially in older and larger men. Genetics also increases the chances of having the problem called Spinal Stenosis. Surgery is the only way to correct the problem.

He went on to say there may be other problems and he wanted to arrange for a CT Myelogram, a procedure where dye is injected into the spinal column in order to enhance the images through X-ray and CT Scan. I underwent the process yesterday and I'm still suffering from it. That had to be one of the top five pains I have ever suffered. Double doses of Vicadan is all that got me through the night. Even now I'm having serious hearing problems and a headache of the worst kind. Hopefully it will clear up before the day is over. I may just go back to bed and sleep.

If the additional data supports his diagnosis I will likely be scheduled for surgery, a Laminectomy. This procedure involves the removal of the lamina that overlays the spinal canal. It enlarges the spinal canal and is performed to relieve nerve pressure caused by spinal stenosis.

I'm told that I can expect to be laid up for many days, but within three months I should be able to lead a normal life.

An update will follow as soon as I know what the next step will be.

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