Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Hello everyone

There have been some huge changes in our lives in just a brief time and we need to catch y’all up with those happenings.

Contrary to the previous report, we continued on to Vero Beach and spent a two nights there. Sailing friends took us to breakfast and loaned us a car to re-stock the boat. Once fresh vegetables graced our larder, we pushed on and arrived at the marina by Wed, March 30th. On the journey, I called and booked our haul-out for the following Tuesday. But, once again, our sailing family changed those plans. I had called friends to let them know that we would only be at the marina for a brief period, the weekend, if they wanted to come up for a visit. Our explanation of my health concerns mobilized them. They arrived and stayed to help until we hauled out on Sat, April 2nd. I wasn’t allowed to go aboard when W4 was hauled as it was deemed to dangerous for me.

Perhaps an explanation of my medical issues is appropriate at this time. Before the family joined us in Grand Bahamas, I was investigated for a stoke or CVA in the cerebellum. I was having difficulty walking and increasing numbness in both hands. The MRI didn’t show a stroke, so no definitive diagnosis was made. But the problems persisted and, in fact, increased in severity. Crossing back to the US was accomplished with me sitting tucked in a safe spot and seldom moving from there. Thus the reason for our rush to return home – I needed further testing.

By Monday, April 4th, we were home and sleeping in our own bed (although, with a motorhome and sailboat, we are always in our own bed! ) , Thursday, we visited the family doctor who explained that I must have had a TIA – Transient Ischemia Attack. He ordered a Doppler, an ultrasound of veins in neck to look for blockages, and an echocardiogram. We didn’t accept the diagnosis of TIA as the first word is Transient, usually quick and showing no symptoms after a few days, and this was getting worse!

So, on Thursday April 21st, we drove to University Hospital in London, ON and checked in with ER. They ordered another CT and called for a neurological exam. The neurologist was very concerned about my gait and the likelihood of falling. I was admitted to Neurology that afternoon. Lots of blood tests were ordered and, eventually, they found a slot for another MRI. This one was done of my head and neck. That took place about lunch time on Sunday. Just before dinner, a neurologist came to give us the results – I needed immediate surgery! Maybe even by tomorrow. Dr Ng came the next day, showed me my MRI and explained what had been happening to me. Due to arthritis, my vertebrae were compressing my cervical spine. That was causing the symptoms that I had been experiencing. He was concerned due to rapid advancement of my symptoms and would be doing the surgery as soon as there was a spot on the OR schedule. They would be opening and fusing four cervical vertebrae. If left untreated, this condition would result in partial or complete paralysis.

Surgery was eventually scheduled for Wednesday morning at 0900 and was to take about 3 hours. That schedule got re-arranged when it took an hour and a half to get a second iv line in. Thank goodness, by then I was knocked out. It was a geneIMG_0021_2ral anesthetic and surgery was done with me face down on the operating table.

I came to, wearing the hard collar depicted.

By Sat, I was allowed to go home to complete my recovery. The collar stays on, except for showering, for 6 to 8 weeks. Yes, there is pain, but there is also an increase in feeling in some fingers and maybe more strength in my legs.

My sister, Karyn, has been a great support through this trial. First, she popped down for a visit – from North Bay to London. That is quite a “pop”. Then, when surgery was planned, she came down and stayed nearby until I came through.

And, my rock, Murray, came to visit every day, although he hates hospitals. He held the basin when I had to vomit, avoided the rough roads on the way home, woke every two hours through the night to give me my meds, is doing the cooking and cleaning and basically taking wonderful care of me. Thank you so much my darling!

The outlook? Well, the surgeon’s hope was to stop the advancement of the condition. Then perhaps, some improvement might be noted.

Maybe we will manage to get that 20th year of cruising under our belts after all!
Hugs to all
Murray & Heather
hard aground again

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