I had intended on finishing the “how this all happened” story a few days ago but then this thing got in the way….work! Now that my partner (that’s business partner…strange how I have to clarify that) is on vacation for two weeks, I’m SURE work won’t interfere again. Really. I am.
So when last we left our tale of adventure, yonder Lore was enjoying life after his first surgery, given up the puck shots of hockey for the tree dodging of mountain biking. Why is he speaking of himself in the third person? Cause its late and its my blog so you keep up with the vagaries of my mind. In all honesty, mountain biking is one big thing I miss now, but that’s another story.
Flash forward again to 2008. I’ve met Shannon (now my wife and at that time fiancée) and we’re on a trip to VEGAS BABY!! Woohoo!! A group of old friends hitting the big time in Vegas, rocking the clubs, gambling our socks off, eating…well ok we weren’t and aren’t club people…no one won squat, but the food was amazing! And so bloody much of it…no wonder you couldn’t turn a 360 on the strip and NOT be shoved over by body fat (go ahead say it…ewwwww). It was on that trip though, we really began to realize something was off. On the long walks up and down the strip, everyone could see I was walking with a swing kick to my right leg. News to me at the time and the start of a new investigation!
So, after getting married that October (see she knew was she was getting into and STILL said yes!), it was back running the doctor circuit. Now 8 years later, my original surgeon was on the verge of retiring, so after seeing the insides of more MRI machines than ANYONE should ever have to, I finally saw a new Doc in early 2010. Yep, it took that long…that’s ANOTHER story for another time. Just one question…why the hell do those damn loud tubes have to be so bloody skinny?? Unfortunately, the news from all those scans revealed something I already knew. Something was wrong. It’s amazing what can happen if you really do try to listen to your body, and I don’t mean in any new age, listen to your bio-rhythms kind of way. Just simply pay attention when things don’t seem right. A long-standing “what if” question for me is a simple, “what if I’d done something sooner?”
The long and short of it was that in the decade since the first surgery, twenty years since the accident, my body turned out to be REALLY good at making scar tissue. So good in fact that it was strangling my spinal cord at the site of the surgery. This was causing more nerve damage, weakening my right leg further and causing the left leg to show similar weakness to the right. Surgery was needed once more, this time in trying to clear the scar tissue from around the site of the first surgery. It was by no means a slam dunk that it would work…or even a slam dunk that I’d come out of it able to walk. The choice, however, was slow degradation of both legs, with no time-table for how long it would take before I was in a wheelchair, or risky surgery that could halt the process.
After a lot of discussion with Shannon (and a lot of growling at the world), we decided the surgery was the best option. That wasn’t an easy decision. After the first surgery in 2000, which I made light of in my part one, I had sworn I wouldn’t do it again. It wasn’t…pleasant Let’s just say I learned to REALLY dislike morphine. I wasn’t a very good person to be around for the months before that surgery…irritable would be putting it mildly…and somehow Shan stuck through it. It’s amazing the strength we gain from those we care about during our most trying times. Shan was my rock…but so were the rest of my family and the close group of friends who never let me get too down and out. So in May of 2010, ten years later, I went under the knife again.
At the time, it seemed to be a complete success. I was out of hospital 3 days after the surgery (something my GP was NOT happy about…and honestly it was too soon). I had amazing support, though I’m still trying to figure out how several teachers from St. Raphael’s got lost in construction at the hospital (you know who you are!). Three weeks after the surgery we moved into a new house, a bungalow that would be easier on me with less than the 100 plus steps our stacked townhouse had previously had. Really I did try to help with the move…but for some reason everyone kept telling me to sit my ass down and get out of the way. I did my best to NOT comply but eventually had no choice. The summer of 2010 moved on as I recovered and we settled into the new house. Things were looking up, Shannon’s brother got married in Banff, Alberta and I even climbed up part of a mountain not two months after the surgery. We swore we were going to come back once I was able to get back on my bike and get in shape so I could take advantage of the incredible riding in the region. For a while things were looking up.
Now bear with me, as obviously since this is more recent the details are easier to remember…but like anything when things look great, beware a coming fall…wait I’m sure I just messed up a metaphor that would have Twain rolling in his grave.
In October of 2010, a bunch of friends went to the States for a weekend of shopping at one of those obscenely massive outlet malls. It was a lot of walking and I actually handled it quite well. The Sunday coming home, we stopped at another massive mall in Erie, Pennsylvania. I took that as my first try in months to walk around without my cane, only occasionally using Shannon for some steadying. It felt really good to be on my own two feet, instead of feeling like I was the last part of that old riddle about “what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three legs at night.”
The next day, I had a fall at a client. I do wonder if it means anything that it was the night Rob Ford got elected.
We’ll never know if the fall was where the problems began, or if it was just a symptom of it. Within just a few weeks though, it was obvious things had taken a turn for worse. By January of 2011, I had a followup MRI (you really do start to hate that pounding noise that is deafening even with earplugs in) and saw the surgeon once more. The look on his face told Shannon and I all we needed to know. The scar tissue was back and worse. The options were similar, yet riskier. Do nothing, knowing that very quickly I’d probably lose the use of both legs, or do a very risky surgery to place a shunt in my spinal cord. I’m REALLY simplifying the surgery, mind you. Think of it as placing a tiny straw into your spinal cord, just above where the problem was, to bleed off excess spinal cord fluid and reduce the swelling that was causing the damage.
We went with the surgery again. This time I was a week in hospital and a month in a rehab hospital after that. I’ll write about rehab another time…it was really where a lot of my attitude changed…I think…not like I can pinpoint when in time that happened. I did confirm once more how much I hate morphine (as apparently I IM’ed Arthur at 3am, just hours after the surgery, to tell him how high I was…and I don’t remember anything other than spending hours staring at the ever more intriguing lines in my hands).
The results though, are what they are now. Left leg much the same, no feeling at all, with the right leg being virtually useless. I can hobble short distances, and I make sure I do it around the house. For anything longer than that however, the wheelchair is needed. It took some time to get used to the notion that I would need it, but in the end I was the one who convinced the doctor’s at rehab that I needed it. Why? Well that involved a big change in thought, and a shift in thought that is hard to explain (is it getting a bit redundant to say I’ll perhaps write about that another time?)
So now I’m back. Working, with a lot of changes, I am still using a loaner chair as I await my VERY cool (british racing green, THANK YOU!) real chair. Come out, how geek out cool is it that it has wheels with Kevlar spokes and puncture resistant tires? I’ve even got the Firefly bumper sticker all ready to paste on it! Just need the bloody wheels to arrive!
Thanks everyone who has commented so far and encouraged, I hope to keep this up for a long time to come. If you have questions feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer directly or in a future post.
That’s how a Geek gets on Wheels.