Appointment updates…and spinal surgery?

I’ve had a few medical appointments since the last update. Here’s a rundown:

Pulmonary function (lung health) test: Results show I’ve got “restrictive lung disease,” a fancy way of saying small lung capacity. This puts me at higher risk for infections like pnemonia, since my lungs do not have full coughing power (and junk can get stuck in a lung, then get infected). This also means a tougher time breathing clearly during allergy season. I got to say, though, the news was completely expected. Duh. Of course my lungs are low-powered. After all, they are housed inside of a tight, crammed, and curved rib cage. No surprises there. I’m also going to be referred to a lung specialist (so far I just took the lung exam), to discuss options for easier breathing.

Gastroenterologist (stomach/guts doctor): This lady seems like a bitch (hey, I calls em like I sees em). After describing again my eating/nausea/vomiting issues, as well as the newer right abdominal pain, she suggested a drug called Bentyl. Bentyl is a smooth muscle relaxer. Smooth muscles are things like the stomach/guts/some organs. She advised me to take it every 6 hours and see if the ab pain goes away. I gave it a three week trial and that little spot on my right side spasmed just like always. So I’m done with that drug now. Plus, I got to thinking… why would I take a stomach relaxer when I have a (somewhat) paralyzed stomach already? I only thought about that later, and I sent the doctor that question through an online patient messaging board. That was over 2 weeks ago and still no response. Like I said, she might be a bitch. I see her again in a month or so.

Spine clinic: Today I went back to the Spine Clinic for a follow-up. THIS doctor is cool. She takes her sweet time and always seems genuinely concerned. In fact, by the end of today’s appointment, her eyes were about to water. I think my real situation hit her. At one point, she asked if I was willing to consider a straightening surgery (ANOTHER spinal fusion) or if it was out of the question. I said I would listen to any option that might help.

It just so happened that the spinal surgeon was there today (he’s only there Wednesdays), so she asked him to come in and examine me. A few minutes later, he showed up and checked out my back, and also looked at my last CT scan and MRI on the computer. This wasn’t a formal appointment with him, so he did more thinking than talking, but he seemed almost confident some kind of fusion might work. I asked him, “What about working through and around all the scar tissue I must have? I’ve had 3 major spinal surgeries already…” His reply was, “Yeah, but that’s not the record.” I laughed when he said it because it was relieving. It was his way of telling me he’s operated on even more serious cases. At the same time, though, he was careful to not say too much, and he stressed it would be a definite challenge. He said he wanted to present my case before his colleagues at a conference. YES! That’s what I want, an actual team investigating and planning. I will see him again in early June for a real full-on consultation (and hopefully with a much better idea of possible surgical methods and the risks involved). He left the room saying he’d review my files and see me soon.

The lady doctor then sort of summarized my current situation. She said she knew surgery was a great risk for me, but at the same time, she knew what might happen if I don’t do anything. She also suspected (like I have for a long time) that the curvature of my back is itself a reason for my crappy stomach issues. Because of this, what if I CAN’T gain weight with a cramped and curved back/torso? I could tell it hurt her to realize the scope of the situation. This is when her eyes welled up. I knew what she knew: Do nothing now, and I will deteriorate with time and age until a surgery is inevitable. Do surgery now, and take advantage of the youth I still have for the road to recovery. But surgery means great risk.

What to do? For now, wait. Wait, and hope for the best as my case is reviewed by the surgical team. I am very glad this is happening. I’m sure once I know the details, I will move onto the next phase: fear, sadness, anger, torment.

But first comes relief. I’m finally going to be investigated by more than one monkey at a time. Phew.

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