So George Lucas was on the Daily Show last night. I know, I know, what the hell does that have to do with anything? He talked about how the script he did for his latest movie (Red Tail, also known as the retread of the good TV movie done a decade ago) was too big to fit into a two-hour movie. I was just about to write this entry when I realize how LONG this could end up being so….here is an attempt at an abridged version of the tale.
Or at least as abridged as I can get. You see this story is now 21 years going (hell its 2012 let’s call it 22 years, I suck at math anyway). I’ll try not to get too wordy (too late!) and I’ll save some of the fun of the actual surgeries for posts down the road.
As best we can figure, yes, this problem started WAY back to that bike accident I had when I was 17. You know the one where I went head over heels on my yellow 10-speed? No? Not all of you were around for that? You haven’t all had to listen to Arthur (the other writer on the Obvious) moan and whine about missing the ambulance ride? Well, it’s a good and funny story…once you get past the broken collar bone, the concussion and the whole “me ending up using a wheelchair” part…but other than that it’s a HILARIOUS story! Really…there’s even a geeky mechwarrior angle…seriously…stop rolling your eyes at me!
Yes, one bike accident 22 years ago, where a 17 year old kid thought he was invincible and didn’t need a dorky helmet (hey I was dorky enough as it was back then, you should have seen the afro) led to all this. How you ask? Well that’s where the story gets long…and I’ll put in some ***SPOILER*** warnings for the boring technical medical bits.
When I did my somersault over the handle bars, I enjoyed a year of recovering from the broken bone and the migraines that came with the concussion, but that seemed the end of it. Over the next few years, into my early 20’s, some symptoms began to emerge that no one was able to immediately pin down. It wasn’t until ten years later that the diagnosis hit, Brown Sequard Syndrome. I was the lucky recipient of a very rare spinal cord issue.
***BORING MEDICAL STUFF***
Here’s a link to the Wiki that describes the Syndrome in WAY too much detail: Brown–Séquard syndrome – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The shorter version is this: Around your spinal cord you have a thin sheath of flesh called the Dura. My accident caused a tear in that dura at the T9 site (another Wikipedia link to see where: Spinal cord – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ). Over time, my spinal cord began herniated out of the tear and pressing against various nerves and even the bone of my vertebra. As best we can figure, the twisting as I landed on the pavement must have caused the tear, but honestly, we’ll never really know for sure.
*** END MOST OF THE BORING MEDICAL STUFF***
As it turns out, there is almost no way anyone would have caught this tear back in 1990, as scanning tech wasn’t precise enough to catch it then and even in 2000 it was pure luck that a neurologist thought to have an MRI scan lower down my spine. You see, at that point they were trying to determine why my right leg was giving out and surprised me with a few other symptoms I had never realized existed…they were exploring if it was MS or Parkinson’s or some mysterious disease eating away at my brain…you know simple stuff.
So if anyone can come up with a better joke about them scanning my brain and finding nothing….have at it!
With a diagnosis in place, I went in for surgery in August of 2000. I should pause for a second because a few of the people I worked with back in 2000 may read this via Facebook. My employer then, simple.com (no don’t go look it up…seriously…don’t) was fantastic in giving me the time I needed to recover, as I was off for three months.
***MORE BORING MEDICAL STUFF***
What did they do? Oh that…well 9 hours of surgery where they pulled out 3 of my vertebrae, flattened my spinal cord and then patched the dura and put the vertebrae back in…no biggie.
Now, to say the least, the surgery was risky even back then, but it was a success. Or so it seemed at the time.
Within six months I was back to playing hockey…at goalie. God was I an idiot. I kept playing for about two years before finally giving it up, partly due to the issues left over from the surgery and partly due to just how bad I was at it! Issues? Oh, did I skip over those? Hey I said it was a convoluted story.
After surgery number one, I was in pretty good shape. I was left with a slightly weaker right leg and, more interestingly, no feeling below the hip in my left leg (no heat, cold, pain, vibration…nada). A bit odd, but nothing that really caused me any big issues. When I started mountain biking around 2002 with Bruce, the biggest concern was Bruce yelling at me that I was bleeding and didn’t know it. Maybe if I’d paid a bit more attention, I would have realized that wasn’t the case.
So much for the abridged version! More to come as we get to 2008, but that’s how this all started. The last four years are where the real fun started.