In the ER, one thing led to another pretty quickly. One of the quickest was a CT scan.
As I recall, I was in the ER about ten minutes before I went to CT, which was right down the hall. I vividly remember looking at the ceiling tiles while traveling there via stretcher and thinking, “The remodelers should look UP.”
One-two-three onto the CT table and then a few seconds in-ing and out-ing of the machine. Back onto the travel stretcher, more ceiling tiles, then…
My nurse got paged by CT before I was back in the ER. Seriously. No more than two or three minutes could have elapsed since the CT was finished. The tone of my nurse’s voice on the phone made me think, “Uh oh.”
(Let’s just pause for a moment to acknowledge the wonders of denial. I had lost feeling in my arms, gotten it back, had Mike decide that I needed to go to OHSU because of what he felt on the back of my neck, had an ambulance ride PLUS morphine, been admitted as a trauma patient, had my underwear cut off… but it took this phone call for me to think something might be wrong.)
Then I was back in the ER. In my hazy-from-lots-of-medications-between-then-and-now memory, about 30 seconds later, Dr. Ching walked in.
Dr. Ching is the spine surgeon. He came in, we shook hands, and he looked at me for a second before he said, “I’m just going to go double check your Xrays, and then I’ll come back with a plan.” He walked out.
Then, about a minute later, he walked back in. He said, “I needed to look at your films again because usually when I’m looking at films like that, I’m looking at a quad.” Then he said, “You might be the luckest person I’ve ever met.”
(At the bottom of this post is my ‘before’ picture. You can look at it if you’re not squeamish. Actually, you can look at it even if you ARE squeamish, but I take no responsibility for what happens.)
Then there was a whole lot of stuff really fast, like him pushing other surgeries back and taking me right to the OR and signing a consent form and oh, by the way, there will need to be TWO surgeries, one today and one tomorrow. One thing I remember for sure is him telling ne this:
“Don’t let anybody move your head or neck before you get to the operating room. You’re going right to PACU (where people go before surgery) and they’ll be good about it, but, if anybody tries to move you, don’t let them.”
Then I was out of the ER and viewing more ceiling tiles on the way to somewhere else.
Oh, also I remember the anesthesiologist telling me that I would have to be awake when they put the breathing tube in so they could make sure things went well, which is code for not damaging anything. And it would have to go through my nose, because they couldn’t move my neck to put it in that way.
It seems like I was in PACU for five seconds, then they were wheeling me into the OR. Halfway there, they stopped because Dancing Fairy had just called NT to say she was almost there. We waited in the hall for a couple of minutes, then DF appeared in my vertical field of vision. I think she looked tearful or maybe I did, because one of us said, “We’re not doing the teary thing.” We told each other that we loved each other and then I watched more ceiling tiles pass.
Not safe for the squeamish:
The red oval points out where the problem is… the bottom and top parts of my cervical spine got going in slightly different directions. The red arrow points to the part of one vertebra that broke off. The dark vertical part just to the right of the oval and arrows is the spinal canal; that’s where my spinal cord was lying. The white things to the right of that are the back part of my vertebrae.
That’s all I’m going to say about that. Except to remember the part where Dr. Ching told me I was the luckiest person he’d met. Now, three weeks later, this picture scares the bejeebers out of me.