Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Best Medicine

[This post was published in Facebook and in essentially this form on June 12, 2015, but I neglected to include it in my blog at that time. I am adding it here so that it appears in my blog in proper chronological order. This is not a new post, although I added an update at the bottom so that readers will be aware that the outcome has been very positive.]

Ashley, age 7, is Papa's best medicine

On Monday, I had a Minimally Invasive Lumbar Laminectomy. I had always wanted to have one of those until I discovered it wasn’t a dessert served at a chic restaurant on the Plaza. You know what I mean. — the kind of thing they set afire just before bringing it to your table.

But NOOO! It turns out that it’s a surgical procedure on one’s back to address a nasty little situation known as spinal stenosis. For the past several months, I’ve been experiencing an extreme amount of pain in my back and difficulty in walking. After x-rays, MRIs, and consultation with a neurosurgeon, this seemed to be by far the best alternative.

Surgery was scheduled for yesterday morning, and during the prep time I met with the anesthesiologist and she discussed the possible side effects of the procedure. They included short-term pain at the site of the incision, nausea, loss of appetite, and dizziness. Death was also mentioned.

Upon hearing of that potential side effect, I immediately experienced nausea, loss of appetite, and dizziness. But I decided to go ahead with it since I had already been fitted for the gown.

So far, the results are encouraging, although my Decathlon plans have been put on hold. My legs are feeling better than they have for a while, but I am experiencing pain in the lower back around the incision, which is normal and expected. As of this writing, the post-operative pain has become more severe and I am reluctant to walk without assistance. I am told by the medical staff that this is not unusual. Obviously, this is a process that needs to be played out. As to the death thing, I appear to be within the survey’s margin of error.

I am grateful for the support from so many friends and family. My wife Joyce tagged along after me making sure I was properly cared for. I spent one night in the hospital and was released the day after the surgery. I cannot say enough about the physicians and staff of the Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute, located within the St. Luke’s Hospital complex on The Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

During the course of that first day, I had many medicines put into me by pill, injection, IVs, and any other mode you can think of. But the best medicine of all was when my son Brian came up to see me at the hospital. I knew he was coming, but what I didn’t know was a surprise he had planned for me.

There was a knock on the door and I looked up and in came my seven-year-old granddaughter Ashley, chocolate milkshake in hand, fearlessly weaving her way through the hospital paraphernalia to give me a big hug.

I cannot find the words to explain the unconditional love that swept over me when that little girl came through the door. When I felt both her arms around my neck holding me tight, it was a transformational moment. Then she handed me a handmade card made by Ayla, her four-year-old sister, making the circle complete.

Modern medicine can do miraculous things, but healing begins with love.

[Update: As of 7/14/15, I can report that the nerve pain that was the occasion for the surgery has completely subsided. I wouldn't have minded if one procedure could have fixed all that ails me, but that would have required a full-court press by physicians representing a variety of specialties. We all have our aches and pains and I cannot adequately express how grateful I am to walk again without the debilitating pain that set me bopping off to the spine center. Thank you, Doc, and you too, Ashley.]