Monday, January 7, 2013

No longer a pain in the neck

The first week of December, Bryon was in New Mexico for work.  While there, his left arm started to go numb and was very weak.  Dr. Google had him worried it was a heart attack.  So, he went to the urgent care in Las Cruces.  If you've never spent much time in New Mexico, you should know that some people there are big believers in things like "organic", "natural", and "homeopathic".  Western medicine shares an equal spot with Eastern medicine.

So, the urgent care doctor in Las Cruces examined Bryon and informed him he had a muscle spasm in his upper back.  He was sent on his merry way with a prescription for yoga, massage*, and a chiropractor.  Gee, thanks...Would it have been too much to ask for at least a little ibuprofen or Tylenol?

By the time he got home a few days later, he was in extreme pain.  One look at his MRI results, and his local back doctor sent him straight to the surgeon's office.  By this point, I was really getting worried.  The idea of back surgery was really going to put a kink in our holiday plans.  But, seeing him unable to hold anything in his left hand was even scarier.

Finally, 10 days after being told to try Yoga and see a chiropractor, Bryon was seen by a back surgeon.  We could not have asked for a better fit with Dr. Clavenna.  He informed us 80% of patients he sees with the same symptoms can improve without surgery.  Bryon was not in that group.  He had a herniated disk between C6 and C7 that was compressing his spinal chord by 1/8th of its diameter.

The surgeon advised Bryon that he needed a disk replacement.  He wanted to use an artificial disk, as opposed to using some bone from Bryon's hip and fusing the two vertibrae together, pending insurance approval.  The surgery would be performed through the neck, leaving just a tiny scar.

After sleeping on Dr. Clavenna's recommendation, getting a second opinion from Dr. Google, and seeking counsel from a good friend of mine that is also a pain specialist, we decided to go through with the surgery just as soon as possible.  Insurance even approved the artificial disk at the last minute.

Sparing you the boring details of the big day, the surgery was a big success, in more ways than one.  See post operation x-rays of Bryon's new bling:
Side view of cool new bling

front view of cool new bling

Bryon had some feeling coming back in his fingers immediately.  His recovery was very fast, with only an overnight stay in the hospital.  Per his doctor's orders, he had to stay home for at least 2 weeks.  Since I was already off for a couple of weeks for Christmas, we were able to spend more time as a family than we had ever.  Surprisingly enough, we weren't ready to kill each other after so much together time!  My sweet hubby even sent me flowers for taking such great care of him.

The girls got a kick out of the neck brace on dad.  Shelby even drew a picture of our family, with dad in a brace.  I'm not sure what the alien in the upper right hand corner has to do with our family, but the whole thing cracked me up!
Dad's new necklace rocks!

We were really sad that the surgery forced us to cancel our trip to New Mexico to visit Bryon's family, but in the end, we were really thankful for living in a city that believes in Western medicine that was able to fix him fast!  

*Why hasn't my doctor EVER prescribed me a massage?  I think it's time to see more Eastern medicine doctors!

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