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I have been asked many times in my life if given the chance, would I change all that I have been through just to be normal and pain-free. My answer has ALWAYS been the same; a very adamant "NO!". If I had not been given these wonderful rare chances to test my perseverance, I would have never discovered my amazing capabilities. I would have never fallen in love with myself. I wouldn't have found myself down the path that I am on now, and possibly wouldn't have even discovered my love of blogging, herbs, and essential oils. That would be a real bummer, to say the least!
These little tidbits are just pieces of the puzzle of how I survived. Strength, will, attitude. They all made a difference in the outcome of my story. All of the seemingly negative things that have happened to me in my life, were the cause of all the greater things that have come to be true. I am EXACTLY who I am RIGHT NOW because of EXACTLY who I was YESTERDAY.
Dallas, TX was where I needed to be
In my last post, we left off with me noticing neurological abnormalities starting to show up within my arms and legs. The electrical shocks down my arms and hands were becoming more frequent, my nerve pains had not gone away, and constant migraines were really starting to affect my daily life. We had just moved to Texas, so my parents had to do a hunt to find me a new Doctor. Even though I was a Shriner's Children's Hospital patient, the closest one to us was in Houston and I was not willing to skip my senior year of high school just for my back. The local Scottish Rite is an affiliate of Shriner's, but because I was a month away from turning 18 they did not want to deal with a difficult situation like this. Somehow, my Dad found me a neural surgeon that was better than any other Doctor that I could have ended up with. Dr. Moody was definitely the best of the best. I attribute my recovery and that I am walking today, 50% to ME and 50% to DR. MOODY. Without Dr. Moody, I likely would have become at least a paraplegic, if not worse.
My Doctor was unsure how I'd been walking all these years
After thoroughly going over my medical history and taking new MRIs, my parents and I sat down with Dr. Moody to discuss how severe the situation was. "Frankly, I am surprised that you are even able to walk. You need to be admitted IMMEDIATELY for surgery to un-tether your tethered spinal cord." He explained to us that it looked like my dural sack was torn when the bars had been removed from my back. This, quite possibly, caused my spinal cord to be tethered to the wall; being pulled on every time that I moved. That would completely explain the electrical shocks down my arms as well as the massive migraines I had been suffering. I was warned that the damage that I had suffered from previous surgeries, I had a very good chance I wouldn't come out of this surgery able to walk again.
I had no one who understood what I was going through
After hearing this diagnosis, everyone kept looking at me with sad pitiful eyes. They all told me that I seemed so happy, but I could talk if I really needed too. I didn't want to talk about how I was feeling because I had no one to talk to that understood what I was going through. What was there to talk about? Not only was wakeboarding out of the picture for good but just about every other thing that I loved to do, would be changed forever. "Lose the use of my legs." I have mulled that phrase over in my mind for a little over 10 years now. I have been told several times over the years, that I would lose the use of my legs. I have seen SEVERAL miracles. I could not bear to let anyone see me as anything other than "fine", so I spent most of my time coming to terms with my future, within the confines of my mind. I had taught myself how to meditate with the use of music and found myself addicted to the feeling of escaping the chains that this dimension provided. It made me realize that the pain was separate from myself; through this realization, I could eventually learn to push the pain out of my body by using my mind. This would be a great skill that would help me tremendously, later on.
Happy birthday to me!
On the Saturday before my surgery, which was scheduled for first thing in the morning that following Monday, I had my 18th birthday. It was October, and in the state of Texas, that means it was still somewhat warm outside. To celebrate, my then boyfriend and I, went to my first 18-and-up club, on Friday night at midnight. The next day he never showed up to my birthday dinner and went completely AWOL for the rest of the weekend. On Monday morning, surgery day, I had first-day-of-school jitters in my stomach on the quiet ride to the hospital. It was 5 am, but I was wide awake for the day. I had no idea what to expect from this surgery, but I knew that no matter the outcome, I would be fine. I had to be fine. I still had not heard back from Matt, and I was starting to get upset about his disappearance that weekend. What could possibly be more important than holding my hand right now? I was absolutely terrified, but I told no one.
More complicated than they thought
I was told that I was in surgery for several hours longer than was expected because of the amount of scar tissue and jumbled up problems inside of my back. They also said that the sensors that they had attached to my legs to monitor my nerve activity, immediately went dead when they opened me up. They had thought that I did, in fact, lose all feeling in my legs. I got lucky and it turned out to be just ANOTHER thick layer of heavy numbness that made my feet feel even less. The pain, as with all surgeries on your spine, was excruciating, so I was given Demerol to keep the pain at a minimal.
The boyfriend from hell
I remember the next 5 days on Demerol like it was fragmented scenes from many strange dreams at once. I remember waking up in so much pain, I was screaming for more medicine and crying my eyes out. I remember slivers of truth that weren't filtered because the drugs made me extremely uninhibited. I mostly remember getting a phone call from Matt, breaking up with me so that he could go to Homecoming at his ex-girlfriend's school. I remember the drugs playing that single moment over and over again for at least a day. He had hoped that doing it while I was drugged up would make the blow easier on me, but it had sliced me much deeper instead. It was like the movie Groundhog's day, the same thing played over and over in my mind until I awoke from my drug induced delirium.
Too much too soon = more problems
Even though I had to have a major surgery, my stay in the hospital was very nice. My nurses loved me because I always greeted them with a big smile and offered them any number of the many yummy treats that had been brought to me by visitors. These offerings always got me extra pillows and all the ice cream that I asked for. After ten very long days, I was finally released to go home. Walking was still very difficult, so I was sent home with a walker. I refused to use it, and would go so far as to hold onto my Mom's arm out in public instead of bringing it with me. Against the wishes of my doctor, I worked harder than I was supposed to, to get better. Everyone was always watching my every move to make sure that I wasn't overdoing it. I hated being waited on and couldn't take it anymore, so in the middle of the night, when no one else was around, I threw my pillows on the floor and practiced walking. No one was there to tell me not to. Now as an adult, I understand that this was brave but stupid. I applaud myself for trying my hardest to overcome such difficult situations, but not at the detriment to my own recovery. Two weeks after that surgery, a very large bulge of fluid started growing under part of my scar. Something was wrong.