Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I'm still shaking

This morning Chris and I went to see his orthopaedic specialist, Dr. Recknagel (the same wunderkind who patched up Paige's broken wrist) for a follow up visit to Chris's shoulder surgery (which was a radical reconstruction in lieu of a complete joint replacement). Chris and I both let Dr. Recknagel know how much pain he is in everyday. "As a matter of fact, my neck hurts worse than my shoulder," Chris said.

So Dr. Recknagel ordered neck x-rays in addition to Chris's shoulder x-ray. The minute he put the neck x-ray up on the big white glowy view thingy, he said, "This is bad. We will have to get this taken care of today." He turned to his assistant and told her to get Chris an MRI and an appointment with the spine surgeon today and start scheduling a neck surgery.

After saying that to his assistant, Dr. Recknagel pointed to the obviously jagged black line going through Chris's neck and said, "Your neck fusion is broken. We need to repair it immediately or you will most likely be paralyzed." Apparently, all it would take is for him to move the wrong way or trip and fall, and he would be permanently paralyzed.

You have no idea the terror of hearing a statement like that.

"I don't understand!" I said, "Why didn't the ER doctors see that when we were in there just a few weeks ago?!?!"

Apparently they were only looking for NEW fractures. To see a fracture in an old fusion was apparently not worth the trouble to consider a problem, despite the fact that Chris told them about the numbness, the tingling, the light-headedness. No, they sent him home to not only suffer, but potentially a lifetime in a wheelchair.

You see, Chris has broken his neck twice before and his back once. His first injury was when he was 15, and he broke his neck playing football. When he broke his neck again in his twenties in a car accident, the doctors finally went in and put in what is called a butterfly clip (not to be confused with those pretty things little girls like to wear in their hair, of course). We don't know if the fusion failed to heal or if the fusion was rebroken in the rear end collision a couple weeks ago. Judging by the pain and symptoms he's been having since then, however, it is a likely culprit.

So, we expect Chris to be in surgery sometime next week, and Dr. Recknagel told him outright that he won't be back to work for at least a year. A year. On top of which, he is facing either a re-scope on his shoulder or the joint replacement.

I'm still shaking.

However, having said all that scary stuff, as I explained to Chris, this is very hopeful news. To continue living with the pain he has been having was not an option. To be able to look forward to even reducing his pain by 50% would be a significant improvement for him. Between his neck and shoulder, he can no longer do the things that he loves; playing golf, hunting, fishing, playing football, working out, even riding his bike. But if he were able to get his pain under control, life would be so much more enjoyable and he might even be able to participate in all his favorite pasttimes.

As scary as it is to hear that that person you love has a broken neck and could become paralyzed, it brings a huge measure of hope that now that we've caught it, his life could take a huge step in the right direction with these surgeries. Let's pray!


DaveM said...

all the best to you both

Chill Daddy said...

So so sorry to hear that. Bad news indeed.

I'd love to scrub his neck surgery, but I'm horrible at spine and I'd probably make it worse.

Tell you what, though, I'll make sure a really cute nurse puts his catheter in.

shortensweet said...

I'm sorry Sista, I know this is a lot for your to deal with. I really believe that God wouldn't bring something like this into your life and then to take it away.

Marcheline said...

Here's to Chris' speedy and complete recovery! (And your peace of mind.)

- M

bunnyjo georg said...

Thank you, Dave, I'll pass along your good wishes. At a time like this, it means a lot!

Ray, when I mentioned to Dr Recknagel that I was your sister, he got a kick out of it. His one question for me was...has he always been calm? Something about you throwing a beeper down the hallway....Oh, and forget the cute nurse. It might interfere with Chris's recovery! ;)

Shorty: Honestly, all I'm focused on right now is getting him through this and on to better times ahead. He's wonderful in every way right now in spite of his pain; if he can get to a place where living isn't so painful, just imagine how much more wonderful life will be with him!

Marcheline: Yes, here's to his super-speedy recovery!!!

grandlar said...

We all here in tulsa want things to go well for Chris and feel that its a bonus that he has gotten to the root of his pain and that they can do something about it. Thank God.....we will be with you in thought and prayer. How soon will the surgery be? Please let us know....

VeeFlower said...

He is a trouper, for sure, to put up with so much pain for so long. Our thoughts and good wishes to you all, and hopes that you help each other get through this so you can look forward to better times ahead. Keep us posted. If you don't, we will call and annoy you.

V J.D. said...

Did they catch the driver that hit him? Do you guys have medical insurance? Underinsured Motorist Insurance? PIP? Good Luck!

bunnyjo georg said...

Thank you, Grandma for you your prayers, thoughts and good wishes. Now that the shock has worn off, we are pretty much taking it in stride. Chris is insisting on working today *of course* He's just not good at sitting around.

Mom: Trouper is one word for it....honestly, though, like he says...he daily deals with pain that would put a lesser man in the hospital. He just doesn't want the pain to win so he insists on working through it. But at least he gives himself the evenings to rest. I insist on that!

VJD: No, they have not caught the driver, if they ever made an attempt. We don't have medical insurance at this time, but in Michigan we have no fault insurance which means that your auto insurance pays all bills and then goes after the at-fault driver's insurance company. However, since this was a hit and run, our auto insurance company won't have anyone to go to.

DCveR said...

Glad they noticed that on time.
There is a guy this side of the big Atlantic pond hoping it all turns out ok.

Chill Daddy said...

You know Dr. Recknagel really likes Chris. Especially the straight-shooting-tough-guy-with-integrity-slightly-Jack-Nicholsonish manner in which he speaks. He's gonna hook him up with Dr. Eyke for his surgery, and that's exactly who I'd pick for it.

The attractive young nurses that work with him tend to wear their scrubs too tight, though.

bunnyjo georg said...

Update: Chris still has his insurance! We were quite relieved to hear that, I'll tell ya! We will be seeing the spine surgeon today and should have a better idea of what to expect and when he will be going to surgery. I'm nervous and hopeful at the same time. If anyone has any good drugs, let me know!

DCvR: Thank you for your caring. The support of all the friends and family we have has really meant a lot!

Chill Daddy: Yeah, Chris is a trip. He is sitting there in Dr Recknagel's office with his Led Zeppelin t-shirt telling him how after his neck surgery, he was back at work two weeks kicking ass, and then later when talking about no longer being able to hop around scaffoling and carry hundred pound loads on his shoulder, he said with utter sincerity (speaking of his construction manager position), "But you can only lead by the integrity of your actions. I can't ask my guys to go where I won't go." One thing about Chris, he's absolutely the same person regardless of who he is talking to. He is probably the most sincere and integrity-driven person I've ever met in my life.

Bonnie Blithe said...

sorry to hear about your b-friend. I hope he gets well soon!

Chill Daddy said...

Good news on both fronts - and really, you should see the hotties that work with Dr. Eyke.

shortensweet said...


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