Monday, February 09, 2015

Mistaken identity and no lumberjacking for me…

Since the weekend after Christmas, when I started experiencing pain that I thought was around my lungs, I have had an electrocardiogram, two chest X-rays, and an MRI, all in an attempt to get to the bottom of what is causing the pain.

At first all of the symptoms pointed to pleurisy, but then as the days passed and the pain did not resolve, it appeared that something else was going on. When not-a-doctor Bob looked at the second chest X-ray last Monday, he said it looked to him like there was problem in the spacing between some of the vertebrae in my upper back, which has developed the unmistakable curve or a dowager’s hump.

And so the next day, I had the MRI, and was quite impressed at the array of banging, buzzing, and knocking sounds that accompanied the scan.

Today the hospital faxed me the results of the MRI, and I had a follow-up appointment with not-a-doctor Bob. But before I got to the examination room, I got to wait a while in the waiting room, and something truly hilarious happened. I wanted my dearly beloved to be there for the appointment, but since there were a few errands to run in town. we arrived in separate cars. I got there first and had settled down with a Stanley Kaminski paperback about Lieberman, the Jewish police detective in Chicago.

I was sitting against the wall a few feet from the door. I looked up as he walked in and was quite puzzled when instead of turning right and sitting next to me, he headed off with great purpose across the room toward an elderly woman who was looking down at a magazine. I was very surprised to see him stop in front of her and pat her on the head. She certainly was surprised, and so was he, I believe, when she looked up at him and he realized he was patting the wrong woman on the head. He laughed and apologized. She laughed. Everyone else in the waiting room laughed as well. She was a good sport about it.
But that was about the only funny thing that happened today. Fact is, the news from the MRI is not good. A short version of the report says:
  • Burst fracture of T8 that impinges on the spinal cord.
  • A compression fracture of T7.
  • Disc bulge lateralizing to the left of T5-6 and impinging on the spinal cord.
Cutting through the medical terms: my upper back is a mess, and I could be in for some trouble, potentially serious trouble, if my spinal cord becomes damaged from the impingements by these vertebrae that are fracturing.This is almost certainly the result of osteoporosis in my spine—there is no other injury to explain them—so I will have to have a DEXA scan and start treatment to see if the osteoporotic process can be stopped or reversed.

I will need to have a procedure done by an interventional radiologist where a type of cement is injected into the vertebrae to lift them up off the spinal cord. Not-a-doctor Bob says it is very effective.

He warned me that until this is fixed, I needed to be very careful. No heavy lifting. No mountain climbing. No lumberjacking. I can walk the dog.

For years I have gone to the Y and done weight-bearing exercise and lifted weights to try to help my bones be strong. Was all of that a waste of time? Bob says just think where you might be if you had not done any of that. He has a point.

Richard says, “Don’t worry. We can fix this. Be thankful it isn’t your heart and it isn’t cancer.”

I am thankful…. But still…


Paula said...

Prayers that you can get this all fixed without too much stress.

Linda Kay said...

So sorry for your pain and the diagnosis, but at least you now know the cause. Miracles can happen, and I'll remember you in my prayers.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Ack one of those getting older things...I hope you have the procedure and that your Bone Density scan is good. I think there is a shot out there for help with Osteoporosis ...yes becareful out walking. Your not a doctor Bob is taking good care of you. :)