Thursday, November 5, 2009


Dear friends, I am sad to report that the day after my last post, my sister's wonderful fiancee, Johan, was in a bad motorcylcle accident where he sustained many injuries. The wreck occured late at night on a windy road up in the montains notoriously called "The Dragon". Due to weather, he could not be flown to the hospital but he had to wait nearly an hour and a half for an ambulance. Luckily his best friend Svend was with him the whole time. If you havent noticed, Johan is not a southern boy. He was born in Denmark, moved to the states (California) around 10 yrs ago, then to Tennesee. Once he moved to TN, he was in a relationship and had a beautiful daughter named Silvia who is almost 3. Johan and Katie met back in January when he came into the red cross where she works to fufill a new years resolution to help more in the community.

So back to the wreck, he had a collasped lung, broken pelvis, broken vertabrae, tore a hole in his bladder, tore pretty much everything possible in his right knee. Then, a few days after the crash when he was considered stable but still in the ICU, my sister noticed his eyes not tracking and his speech more slurred and he was noticable more confused. The doctors and nurses blamed in all on the pain meds but after much pushing, and MRI was done and it was found that he had a minor stroke. At this point, I went home for almost a week to be with my family and support johan and my sister. He was moved recently to a rehabilation facility and is doing remarkably well. He is a fighter and the doctors are confident he can make a full recovery. You can follow his progress through is caring bridge site:

Please pray for his progress and my sister and entire family while they support and take care of Johan. Johan's mother Lillian is in town indefinitely right now so she has also been a major part of his recovery.

I willl try to update on myself soon, there is alot to report. Its been a horrendous week and I have mostly been bedridden. I am excited to be in one of my best friends weddings this weekend but I am unsure how much I can participate in at this time. Please pray for me this weekend and I will update next week. Thanks.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lots to share

Preface: this turned into a long as much or as little as you like.

Ok, ok, so i'm not as good about updating the blog as I want to be. Its hard for me sometime to even put my feeling into words somedays. Somedays, i'm in too much pain to sit up in bed to type on a computer. Excuses aside, here I am. So lets see whats happened lately....On September 29 marked my official "6 month leave" from work so I applied for long term disability. They are still in the process of reviewing my claim and I am still waiting to hear whether or not I will be approved. Of course the doctors didnt fill the form out correctly the first time so they had to resubmit it which has lengthened the process. There shouldnt be any reason why I'm denied but I'm still nervous and just ready to have the weight lifted. I completed my post op rehabilitation therapy but was still having pain so my therapist referred me to a different group of physical therapists still within vanderbilt that practice a different kind of pt called myofascial release. Its kinda a big long word that mean massage. Basically in my case, i have so many muscles and muscle groups that are literally tangled in knots because they are so tight and have been for long. So myofascial release uses manual techniques to get the muscle groups let go and relax. It usually feels good during but afterward i experience pain because it changed the dynamic and the make up of that whole area and my spine is having to learn to support itself more. The night after my first real session, I actually ended up in the ER. This would be visit #4 for those keeping count. We went to vanderbilt this time and had to wait a couple hours, but once i got back to a room and they looked up my history, they treated my wonderfully. We ended up staying for about 7 hours and I was given pain medication through and IV as often as I wanted till I was comfortable. We got home at 5 30 the next morning. Needless to say it was a long night.

Two days later I FINALLY got an appointment with a new pain specialist, Dr. Sun who is not associated with Vanderbilt. He also was wonderful. He said that his first priority was to get my pain under control with the use of medications. He added some, increased some doseages of others. I wont mention specific names of medications but I'll just say they are very strong. I have one medication that last 12 hrs that I take twice a day and I have another that I take when I have "breakthrough pain". Then I even have another that I take when I am having my involuntary jerks and spasms. I'm still on the nerve medication twice a day as well. My bathroom looks like a pharmacy at this point. The long term plan is to try another round of injections and minimally invasive procedures over the next couple months. If that doesnt work, we are looking into what is called an implantable intraspinal stimulator and/or implantable spinal pump for medication. The spinal stimulator is "the pacemaker for pain" and the doctor said he has good results with it his failed surgical patients. Basically what it is is they implant this device in my lower back and run wires with electrodes on it up into my neck. The electrodes will give gentle electrical stimulation to my nerves which will block my nerves from sending pain impulses. My next appointment with Dr Sun is October 23, so pray for all these little procedures I'll be having and for my family and I as we decide on the spinal stimulator and or pain pump options.

Since I've been on the new medication protocol, it has definitely helped. Overall I am taking less medication for breakthrough pain but the daily medication is very strong and I do have days where I feel kinda loopy. I absolutely can not drive on these medications so I am back being stuck at the house most days. My wonderful husband drives me to all my appointments each week, usually 2 or 3. I can not even express in words how amazing Harrison has been. As a caretaker, as a husband, as a friend, as a driver....everything, he has been my rock and the main reason I keep fighting through this. I can't imagine having anyone else support me any better than he has.

I also have had some amazing friends who have been very supportive as well but with my friends, my family, and Harrison, i deal with alot of guilt that I am putting my loved ones throught this. I feel guilty that Harrison immediately after saying "I do" had to deal with the "in sickness and in health" part. I feel that I am not able to fulfill his needs as his wife right now so I struggle alot with that. With my friendships, I also feel that I cant reciprocate much right now. I feel that I have been stripped down to very minimal version of myself. I feel like part of my struggle comes from the fact that with my job, I felt I had so much purpose. I was saving babies, I felt so much worth and so much that I was leading the life God planned for me and I was fulfilling His calling for me. Slowly over the past 6 months, i have lost alot of that self worth, value, and purpose. So when my wonderful friends offer to help me, I have a hard time even saying yes because i dont feel like I am worth them wasting their time and putting the energy into being my friend right now because i dont feel like I dont have alot of positivity to add to the friendship. I apologize for going so deep into this. I didnt expect it. I never really know what to expect when I start blogging these days. Please pray for me as I deal with all these emotions and feelings. I do want to say though that I am seeing a therapist as an outlet to be able to talk about these feelings.

Today I had a fairly decent day and was able to go to a baby shower for a girl that works in the NICU. I was very nervous walking up to the door and I just said a little prayer that it would be ok. I didnt know how I was going to be received after not seeing these wonderful girls in 6 months. Everyone seemed glad to see me and asked how I was doing. A few people seemed genuinely concerned and I was able to talk to more in depth which was nice. At times it was bittersweet when they would mention happenings at work and I felt a little out of the loop but that was minimal. We've had alot of girls at work have babies in the last year so there were several kids there ranging from over a year down to only a few months so it was fun to just watch all the kids. That made me happy.

Another joy that I have had the past couple weeks is we have some friends who had a baby back in August and they litterally live in the neighborhood across the street from ours. They are fellow UT fans and we have goten together with them several time to watch the games. Once I see that sweet baby boy, I usually hold him till they leave 4 or 5 hours later. I think the parents love getting a break for a few hours. He's still little and fairly light and so it doesnt hurt for me to carry him around. When sitting, I grab a pillow or something for support and I just hold him and love on him for hours. It give me so much joy and brings me so much happiness to just be around a baby, even a crying one. There is nothing better than having a baby lay on your chest and nuzzle up to your neck and have them fall asleep. Feeling that precious heartbeat and their breath rise and fall as they sleep is the best feeling. Can you tell that I want to be a mother more than anything? God is a great provider and not only has the baby given me joy but we have also been able to become better friends with a wonderful Christian couple.

This has turned into a long post and for that I apologize. Again, feelings come over me and somehow I have to vocalize them. Nighttime can sometime be hard for me. My poor husband is always exhausted so he sleeps soundly but I usually only sleep for an hour or so at a time because I often wake up because of pain. The silence and darkness leaves me no escape from my thoughts and feelings. My prayer tonight is that I can become more excepting of help and more willing to reach out to some amazing people who have offered their help. I want to be able to call these great people and say "hey, i'm having a hard day and could use a friend." Right now, that is so hard and painful for me to do because of the guilt I deal with. I pray that God can take that guilt and replace it with feelings of worthiness and self value. I also want to be a better friend, wife, daughter, and sister to those that love me and have helped me through this and somehow, someway be able to reciprocate to these amazing people my love, appreciation, and gratitude. These are my prayers.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2 months post op...good new bad news

So it has now been 2 months since I have had my surgery and the last month has been a roller coaster. The bad news is I am still having pain which is very frustrating. I never know if I am going to wake up and feel good, ok, or horrible. I had another CT scan, this time with contrast solution which shows the nerves in more detail. While I havent heard the official results from my doctor, my physical therapist told me the report didnt say that anything specific was wrong which basically means that everything with my surgery looks good. While that is good news, its also discouraging to not know where the pain is coming from. I've been waiting for a couple weeks now to get in with another pain clinic in nashville and I'm still doing physical therapy 2 days a week.
On September 29, I will have officially been gone from work for 6 months....a milestone I never thought possible I would reach. At vanderbilt, if you have been on leave for 6 months, you are terminated and therefore loose your benefits. For months I have been so fearful of this. Well the good news is that i found out that if i qualify for long term disability (which there should be no reason why I wouldnt) then I am not terminated and I will keep my health benefits. This is an answer to prayer. While Harrison and I would be ok on his income, its helpful to be getting part of my income from my disability.
Harrison and my family continue to be my rock during all this. I dont know what I would do or where I would be without them. Thanks for reading and your continued support and prayers.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

One month post op today...

It has been a month today since I had my surgery. The past week or so was very difficult. After returning to Nashville a couple weeks ago, I had multiple days of severe pain. I had been doing so well in Knoxville and was even having some days where all i had to take for pain was tylenol! This was huge for me since I have been taking narcotics pretty much every day for the past 6 months. After coming back to Nashville and having so much pain, I was very discouraged. Not only was I in pain, but I was also very depressed at the thought that the surgery might not have been the cure or fix for my pain. I didnt even let myself voice these thoughts and fears because I was afraid to actually say it out loud. After a couple short phone calls, my mom could tell something was wrong and finally got it out of me. It was at this point when I pretty much broke down. I had a good long cry and then took a good long nap. Being able to talk about my fears did help but it did make it more real. I emailed the surgeons nurse practitioner and she told me that revision surgeries can take longer to recover from and that this could be my nerves just kinda rebelling against everything and beginning the healing process. I had my one month follow up appointment this past monday. My mom came in town and harrison went as well. I voiced all my concerns to the doctor and he again was not overly concerned. They took x-rays, which looked good. They felt good about me starting physical therapy but not comfortable yet with me driving since I am still on alot of medication. The other change they made was to my medication for the nerve pain called Lyrica. Lyrica is an anti seizure medication but it also has a great use for fibromyalgia and nerve pain. I have been on 75 mg for several months and since my pain has been so severe, they wanted me to triple my dose. I have been titrating up this week and have started to feel a little better although the medication makes me tired. I seem to still hurt alot at night so i dont sleep well. During the day, I still tire very easily. My mom stayed till thursday and I did alot of activity but after being out of the house for a few hours, I get exhausted. My body is still not used to activity so thats something I will just have to gradually work on.
As far as physical therapy, I start aqua therapy this week where I will do therapy in a small pool. Once exercises in the pool get easy, I will then start doing strengthening and exercises "on land." I have exercises I do at home that I started this week at home for range of motion. They estimate that I have permanently lost about 20% range of motion since my cervical spine is (hopefully) one solid bone from c 3/4 to c6/7.
Harrison continues to be an amazing support and the best husband in the world. I honestly dont know how he puts up with me. He is so caring and is always asking if I need anything or if I am doing ok. At night, when I dont sleep, if i even get out of bed to go to the bathroom he wakes up to make sure I'm ok and if I need anything. He is so so sweet and has taken such good care of me. He has been my rock through all this and I dont know what I would do or where i would be without him. While getting married in the midst of all my health issues and pain was difficult, having him beside me as my husband has been the best blessing. He works so hard during the day and then comes home to take care of me. He continues to be very successful selling signs and is on the verge of closing on a huge project that he has worked termendously hard on for the past month. I am so proud of him.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Recovering well

Hello all. So sorry for lack of updates. All my energy has pretty much gone to recovering the past couple weeks. My surgery on July 15 went very well and the doctor was pleased. I spent the night in the hospital and was able to come home the next day. The pain after surgery was pretty bad...not only in my neck, but in my hip. To replace the disk that were removed, they chiseled bone off my left hip. I have about a 2 inch incision on my hip and about a 3 inch incision on my neck where my previous incision was. The doctor did find that I had not healed correctly from my first surgery so he did redo those levels as well. My mom was in Nashville for the days after my surgery and on the sunday following surgery, I went home to Knoxville with her to recover. Harrison had to get back to work and with him needing to be gone all day for work, it was better for me to be in knoxville where my mom could take care of me. I spent 11 days in Knoxville with my parents and just got back to Nashville Thursday night. Its good to be home and definitely good to be back with my wonderful husband who i missed terribly. I seem to be recovering pretty well, although I still am having some pain. I can't drive for another 2 weeks till I go back to the doctor and I also have to wear a soft collar neck brace till then as well. All in all, things are going well. After i see the doctor in a couple weeks, I will get back into physical therapy. My recovery time is supposed to be about 8 weeks so hopefully I can go back to work around the middle of September....thats the hope and the goal at least so we'll see what happens. I want to thank everyone for all the well wishes and prayers. I have definitely felt so much support and love during this time. I'll try to update sooner next time!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Surgery is a go for tomorrow at 11:30. It will take about 3 hour and I will spend a couple hours in recovery before I will be put in a room where I will spend at least 1 night, maybe 2 depending on how I am doing. The plan for surgery is to go in a first remove the metal plate and 6 screws from my first surgery. The doctor will then assess my fusion of c4/5 and c5/6. There is concern that I am not fused from my surgery, meaning basically that I could still be experiencing some pain from that area. If needed, he will redo my previous procedure and incorporate the c 3/4 disc as well. They will take bone from my hip to place into the areas that previously contained my discs or cadaver bone from my last surgery. I'm really worried about the pain in my hip after surgery because i've heard its pretty bad.

I know that this is the right decision but it doesnt make the idea of surgery any less scary. My knowledge as a nurse isnt necessarily a good thing in this situation because i just worry about all the things that can go wrong. I know that God will take care of me and that I have alot of people praying for me. Its been a long, difficult 4 months that I have been struggling with this and I'm ready to get it over with. I'm ready to get back to life and to work. As far as recovery, they said it would be about 8 weeks before i could get back to work, and even then I might have to go back doing paperwork type stuff, not patient care because I may not be able to lift and stuff yet. We just have to take that as it comes.

I ask for prayers tomorrow for me, my surgeons, nurses, and the whole medical team that will take care of me tomorrow. Please pray that I dont have major issues with pain post op and that things go smoothly. I will post as soon as I am able. Thanks for the support.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Needing lots of prayers

I write tonight to ask for some strong prayer. As I mentioned in my last post, Dr. Davis, the orthopaedic surgeon I saw at Vandy, did recommend surgery and my original surgeon in knoxville throught as a diagnostic, i should try traction first. I have been back in physical therapy for the past 2 weeks, 3 days a week. My physical therapist has done manual traction and today i was put in traction using the machine. Traction does help relieve the pain as do other things they do at PT but the relief is temporary....lasting minutes to hours after an appointment. I had decided last week that I wanted to go ahead and get on the surgery list since Dr. Davis's wait for surgery is about 6 weeks out so i figured it would be good to just go ahead and get on the list that way once i did PT for 3 or 4 weeks I could decide about surgery but I would have already gone through most of the waiting period. I went to physical therapy this morning and I talked to my therapist at length. She said there are lots of exercises she wants me to start but cant yet because my pain is still not under control. So she is limited to what she can do till my pain gets calmed down. I heard from the ortho clinic today and my date for surgery was put in the computer as August 19....6 weeks away. I asked to be put on the cancellation list. If there is a cancellation, the Dr. considers me a good candidate for short notice surgery since I am other wise healthy. The huge concern about waiting that long is my job. As of right now, I have been out of work for 3 and a 1/2 months. It is vanderbilts policy that if you are on a leave of absence for 6 months, you are terminated. To get my job back I would have to go back through the whole interview process. I would loose my insurance, tuition benefits, etc. This is a terrifying thought for me. So with this in mind, I sent an email to Dr. Davis and his nurse practitioner about this dilemma. Well I just checked my email and I had an email from Dr. Davis saying he would check into getting surgery moved up and a second email from his nurse practitioner saying they may have a cancellation next wednesday. So in a matter of hours I have gone from the thought of having surgery in 6 weeks to thinking there is a possibility I could have a major operation in 6 days. While I feel that surgery is the right thing to do, I am scared. I know more now then I did the first time i had surgery about the risks and stuff since I have been a nurse for 2 and a half years. I will find out Monday for sure if I will have surgery on wednesday. Harrison and I are going home to knoxville this weekend so my family and I will talk about all this. I just really need some prayers right now about this whole process. I will definitely update if I do in fact have surgery next week. Pray hard. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last couple weeks

Again, sorry so long since the last post. Its been a rough couple weeks. About 2 weeks ago, i ended up having to go to the ER one night because the pain was so bad and the percocet was not doing anything to ease the pain. They loaded me up with diladid (stronger than morphine) and a few other things and i felt much better. Apparently I have just gotten tolerant to my dosage of percocet. I went back to my primary care doctor that week and she put me on oxycontin. It was a big step but its been a very good drug for me. Oxycontin has such a stigma because of all the people that abuse it but it really is a great drug for chronic pain. They are extended release tablets so i take one every 12 hrs so it keeps my pain better under control. I still have to take the percocet when i have "break through" pain which is usually once a day but there have been days when i havent had to take anything which is a big improvement. Last week was a big week as far as doctors appointments and information. First, i met with a orthopaedic surgeon at vanderbilt. He has a great reputation. He is the head spine surgeon at vanderbilt and does all the surgeries for the spine trauma cases. I got some additional x-rays done and saw his nurse practitioner and then he came in and talked with me, my mom, and harrison. It was great because he addressed all of us, not just me which is so important to address the family as well. From his expert opinion, i DO need surgery. My c4 vertabrae is misaligned from my c5 which is where my fusion is. Because of this, the vertabrae is rubbing against the disk and is misshaping the disc, causing and bone spur, and thus irritating nerves and causing pain. While he said he can not 100% guarantee this is where the pain is coming from and that I would 100% wake up from surgery pain free, he said that he was very confident this was the case and that surgery would cause drastic relief in my pain. Then on wednesday, my mom and I travelled back to Knoxville to meet with the nurse practitioner of my original neurosurgeon. She did a very thorough exam and we went through step by step what all have happened the past 3 months. My doctor was in surgery all day bit she talked to him by phone, and left my x-rays, mri, and ct scans for him to look at along with her notes. He called me the next morning (which i thought was amazing that a doctor especially a surgeon tool the time to call me on my cell phone!) and we talked for about 10 minutes. He said he was also confident that my c4 disk was the pain generator and he wanted me to try traction at physical therapy for a few weeks as a diagnostic tool (a weird contraption you put your head in and the machine pulls on your head and lengthens your spine to take pressure off your disks). He said that if this relieves the pain, even if only temporarily, that would be a good argument to go ahead and fuse the c4 level. So I start physical therapy this week at a new place who has a different approach to PT. They do "manual therapy" so its very hands on. I am going to try this for a few weeks and then decide if I am going to go through with the surgery. Right now, my gut feeling is that I will probably end up having surgery.

So thats the latest news and update from the past few weeks. Harrison has kept busy working. They recently moved offices so that has taken alot of time just to get organized and everything. He is making alot of sales and is still doing very well. Besides having to deal with everything goin on with me, we are loving being married. He takes such good care of me when I am not feeling well. He has been great about cooking dinner on nights I hurt and has even vacuummed when I have asked him too. He has been very supportive and has gone with me to doctors appointment. He remains very involved, loving, caring, and just overall has been a wonderful husband. I am very blessed.

Just keep praying please. I'll have to make alot of decisions the next few weeks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just needing to vent...

Preface: A post about how I'm feeling at this moment....mostly venting emotions. Feel free not to read, but read if you like.
I know alot of people dont follow our blog, which is fine, and I mostly just use it as an outlet to write how I'm feeling. On the one hand, I feel incredibly selfish in a way...I know there are other people out there, even people I know, that are going through much more difficult situations than I am. I know I am unbelievably blessed. I have an amazing family, husband, job (that I am dying to get back to), a beautiful home and I want for nothing except to feel better. I've gone through such a rollercoaster of emotions since all this started over 2 months ago. I have gone from feeling like it was just a temporary set back of a couple days, to adjusting to the fact that it may last longer, to feeling very discourgaged, to feeling hopeful of the end in site, to being overjoyed at the wedding, to yurning to get back to work, and now I'm back to feeling very much discouraged. I had an appointment with the pain clinic again, who has been unbelieveable. The doctor there overbooked her schedule on multiple occasions to fit me in to have procedures in order to make me feel as good as possible before the wedding. The past three or four days have been very bad as far as my pain level. I have been in bed pretty much non stop and havent gotten out of the house since saturday except for my doctors appointment this morning. While my doctors appointment today was much better than my appointment a few weeks ago with my neurosurgeon it was still somewhat of a let down. I guess I am wanting so much for a "quick fix." I would love it if a procedure or even surgery would fix the problem. Today, Dr. Jackson said there were other procedures she could do but to keep sticking my like a pin cushion is not her first choice. So once again, I have been passed off an referred to someone else. This time I am being referred to the Center for Ingergrative Health at Vanderbilt. This clinic is a center that treats pain in less conventional ways, accupunture, myofascial release (basically massage that insurance covers), behavioral therapies, relaxation techniques, etc. While I'm not against these forms of treatment, I guess i am just tired of being passed off to someone else. I just want someone to figure out where the pain is coming from, why I've had it for 4 years, and how to fix it. I just want a simple answer and nothing about this whole process has been easy or simple. I'm tired of doctors appointments, I'm tired of being at home in bed, I'm tired of not working, I'm tired of being on the phone with my insurance company, the disability company, and my work trying to explain why i've been gone for almost 10 weeks. I am worried about my job at this point, and I'm worried about my life and my future. I know it seems silly but I worry how I'm going to be able to carry my child around the house once it weighs more than 10 pounds. (no i'm not pregnant, just things I think about). I worry how long I'm going to be able to be in the field I love if it takes this much of a toll on my body. Like the title of the blog says, I just need to vent. I'm feeling very helpless, hopeless, and discouraged. Physically I feel beaten and broken, but emotionally, the whole situation has taken almost as drastic of a toll. I can only pray for relief and for God to heal me, mind, body, and soul. Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mr. and Mrs.

Hey everyone....sorry its been so long since my last post. Harrison and I are finally married! The wedding was absolutely wonderful. It was the most perfect day for both of us. I had some pain during the wedding day but I was running off adrenaline so I didnt hardly think about the pain. I want to thank all of those that were a part of it or came to support us. The pictures are done so I'll post some whenever I get the disc. Harrison and I went to the Cayman Islands for a week for our honeymoon. We had a great time. We had perfect weather and I felt good enough a couple of the days to do some activities like Sting Ray City, the Sea Turtle Farm, and some shopping in Georgetown. It was a wonderful week but we were ready to get back to Nashville and setting into our life.
All the procedures I had done before the wedding met my goal of getting through the wedding and the honeymoon but unfortunately the effects have worn off and I'm still having pain. The Tuesday after we got home, I had a doctors appointment with my neurosurgeon. I had never actually seen him, I have just been seeing his Nurse Practitioner, who is very thorough, compassionate, and helpful. The neurosurgeon was the exact opposite. It was a very disappointing appointment. I didnt feel like he cared at all what I had to say. He just said that he didnt think I needed surgery, so he didnt need to see me anymore and he wouldnt extend my disability. I've been back to my primary care physician and we've decided to get a second opinion from and orthopaedic surgeon and a third opinion from my original neurosurgeon in Knoxville. I have an appointment with the pain clinic this week so we'll see what they have to say and what my options are.
I'm feeling pretty discouraged and hate that I'm still not able to work. I miss the babies and all my friends at work and I am really eager to get back to work, but physically I'm just not able to yet. For the few people that read this blog, I just ask for prayers that of all these things I'm doing and all the doctors I'm seeing, we will find something that will work to relieve my pain more permanently than just the narcotics I'm on. Thanks again for all the support!

Monday, May 11, 2009

5 days!

Here we are folks! The week of the wedding. Its not exactly how I thought I would be spending the week of my wedding, but God wont give me anything I can't handle. The past week or so I have been feeling better. I am able to be out of bed, up and around for a couple hours before I start feeling alot of pain and have to lay down and rest. I am still taking pain killers but not as much. The past 2 weeks I got 2 medial branch blocks, followed by radiofrequency (burning of the nerve endings) on the left side. This morning I had the block done on the right side and wednesday morning I will have the radiofrequency done. These procedures are uncomfortable but I am sedated. They had some trouble the first couple procedures getting me sedated enough because I have a high tolerance to the medications since I have been on narcotics for almost 2 months now. I was feeling most everything they did which was not fun. The third procedure and this morning we have figured out what works for me as far as sedation and it has been a much more pleasant experience. Like I said, Wednesday morning at 11 am i will have the radiofrequency done. My mom will come up for that tomorrow and then will drive me to knoxville after the procedure. I would not be able to drive myself, even not having the procedure done wednesday morning because driving is painful for me and takes alot of strength which i dont really have. My prayer requests are that the procedure on wednesday relieves my pain on the right side and that it doesnt make me too sore. Usually, I am very sore for a couple days after the procedure. I know I will be sore on Thursday but I'm hoping it wont be too bad because Thursday is such a busy day. I have a couple girly appointments and we are meeting the the minister. I hope and pray I can make it through all this. Please pray for strength, pain relief, and energy for this whole wedding weekend. On sunday we will leave for the Grand Caymans for our honeymoon. I am worried that I wont be able to do all the fun activities that Harrison has planned for us. I dont want to have to be on lots of pain killers and be in bed alot on our honeymoon. I want to be able to be outside and enjoy all the Caymans has to offer. Please pray for this as well. Thanks again for all the prayers and support recently! They have helped. The next time I post I will be a married woman!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

16 days...

Hey everyone. So its been a little over a week since my last post but lots has happened. Last friday, I saw the pain specialist and it was an extremely productive appointment. She changed and added some medications and scheduled me immediately for some procedures. She knows the ultimate goal is to get my pain as minimal as possible by the wedding. On monday I had my first medial branch block. A medical branch block is like a typical nerve block in the sense you are trying to "block" the nerve impulses but more invasive because of the area they work on. On the front of your vertabrae, you have joints called facet joints. Off of these joints are tiny little nerves called facet nerves or medial branch nerves. On monday and wednesday I had this procedure done on my l eft side. It is done under continous xray while I am mildly sedated. I am place on my stomach, put on a little bit of oxygen and monitors and they insert 4-5 needles with lidocaine and steroid into the medial branch area. The recoveries from these procedures is short but I get very very sore. On Monday I also had14 trigger point injections of botox into the muscles of my neck and shoulders to help with my muscle spasms. The next step is on Monday where I will have radiofrequency done on the left side to essentially burn the end of the nerve fibers. Then we will probably repeat these procedures on my right side. We wil most likely be cutting it very very close to the wedding but we are just trying to make my wedding an honeymoon as enjoyable as possible. If these procedures work, they can last for up to 3-6 months. I have had to apply for short term disability because I have been out of work for so long and have run out of sick time. I have mixed feelings about this but it was the best decision as I deal with all this.
In other news, I have officially moved into the townhouse Harrison and I are going to live in for our first year of marriage. My mom, dad, and harrison moved everything while I was instructed not to lift anything heavier than a pillow and just offer moral support. This was very hard for me to just give up all the control and let them do literally everything. I am so thankful for my wonderful parents. My mom has been in Nashville basically the past 2 or 3 weeks with me for all my doctors appointments and procedures. She's cooked, cleaned (both places), run errands for me, and pretty much been at my beck and call.
We are down to 16 days till the wedding. Its so hard to believe it is so close. The engagement has flown by. I am so ready mentally, but physically i'm not quite there yet. My hope and prayer is that in 16 days I will be close to pain free....even if it only lasts for a couple weeks to get me through the wedding week and honeymoon. I literally havent been pain free or even close to pain free for almost 4 years and the past 6 weeks or so has been mostly miserable. I do feel that I am making progress and I feel blessed to have found a doctor who is so proactive and really understands the sense of urgency and the goal.
Thanks to everyone who has been praying for me. I really do feel that the power of prayer has helped, especially emotionally for me to feel more positive, hopeful, and experiencing less worry. Many many thanks. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Countdown begins

So we are officially less than a month away from the wedding. I can not believe how quickly our engagement has gone....i just hope the next 4 weeks go by as quickly. I am so ready to be married to the man I love. All the final details are falling into place. I think the wedding and reception are going to be absolutely beautiful and so much fun. My hope and prayer is that I am feeling ok with little pain to deal with.
As far as my neck, not much has changed. I'm still going to PT 2 times a week. Last week I was still having alot of pain and not feeling any relief from the steroid injection so I called my neurosurgeon and after waiting for 3 days for a call back, they finally called and said that as of right now, it doesnt appear that I am a candidate for surgery...(Thats also what I heard 2 years ago, then after my surgery, my neurosurgeon admitted he was wrong). I was only able to work 12 hours last 8 hr shift and a 4 hr shift. This is very discouraging for me. I feel like I am letting down my managers and the baby and family I have been taking care of since January 1.
This week I have an appointment with a doctor at the pain specialty clinic at Vanderbilt, then I will see my neurosurgeon again. I'm interested to see what the pain specialist can offer me in lieu of traditional pain medication. While the medication helps, I can not take it while working and it makes me kinda loopy so I definitely dont want to take it on my wedding day.
Harrison and I are both in the process of moving. Last week Harrison was making small trips to take things over to our townhouse (it took 4 trips just for our gifts!!) and this weekend he painted the master bedroom and upstairs hallway. My mom has been in town packing my stuff, and organizing and unpacking our gifts. I'm going to officially move this weekend and harrison will move the week before the wedding when I am already in Knoxville. It will be nice to come back from the honeymoon and already be moved and unpacked for the most part. I havent been able to help move very much at all because I am not allowed to lift. I mostly point and direct and offer moral support. Again, this is hard for me. Please continue to pray for my neck and for me to let go of control and let people help me. This is a challenge for me because I do not want to burden anyone. My mom and Harrison have both been so amazing, helpful, and supportive. I dont know what I would do without them. I am truly blessed. I will probably always need help lifting and carrying anything that weighs more than about 10 pounds (groceries, heavy laundry, etc) which is hard for me to admit. I asked Harrison if he still wanted to marry me, knowing that he will have to help me with things around the house for the rest of his life, and without hesitation, he said "of course I do." I am a very lucky girl to be marrying such an amazing man.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


So since my last post, alot has happened. I had an appointment with the neurosurgery group on Thursday April 2. The doctor I was supposed to see was out of town, but I saw the nurse practitioner who was wonderful. She went through all my MRI slides with me and explained there could be several possible reasons for my pain. First, My C4-5 disc (the one above my surgery site) is pretty bad. A normal cervical disc is supposed to look like a long oval. It is supposed to be very white on xray because it is supposed to be filled with fluid. Well, mine is long and flat and gray so I basically have no shock absorption in my neck. Second, my C 4 vertabrae has changed shape because of the change in my disc and I have bone spurs off my c4 vertabrae. The NP said eventually it is most likely I will have to have surgery. Its just a matter of when. The last possible reason for my pain is beause of a partial fusion. Basically, they were worried that my first surgery didnt really "take". That instead of having one solid bone, that i could have areas that did not fuse or grow together. The only way to tell that is from a CT scan. So I scheduled a CT scan. The NP also wanted to start physical therapy and do a round of steroid injections. So I made those appointments as well. She also told me not to work the following week and to basically do nothing to see if we can get this under control. Luckily, my work is very understanding. The following weekend was a very busy weekend. Harrison and I had a couple shower, and our engagement pictures done, we picked out tuxes, i met with the florist, and I had a shower for me. It was a fun weekend but very hard for me since I was in alot of pain. I didn't want to be all drugged up for the parties so i just kinda grinned and bared it. Between everything we did, my mom was addimant about me resting. My mom and I left Knoxville on Monday morning and head back to Nashville and straight to my 1st physical therapy appointment. On Wednesday I had my CT scan and my steroid injection in my neck. On Friday I got a call from the doctors office and the nurse said it "appeared" i had a solid fusion but the doctor is out of town and wont get back until Monday. So I have to wait for an official read. The cervical steroid injection made me sore for a couple days but i still really havent felt much relief. It can take up to 5-7 days to feel relief so I'm hoping it will still help. I really want to try to work some this week but i just have to see how I feel. I'll start going to physical therapy twice a week. I'm just praying something we do helps. Lord knows I just want to feel good when I walk down the aisle in 5 weeks.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Prayer requests...

Wedding planning is still going very smoothly. Invitations have been sent and my final dress fitting is next week. Our engagement picture session (better late than never) is most likely going to be this weekend. We have had two incredibly wonderful showers. One was thrown by my parents friends and the other was thrown by our college friends in Birmingham. We had a great time at both. We have 2 more showers this weekend. One thrown by Harrison's parents friends and one for me given by 2 of my wonderful bridesmaids. We are really getting down to the final details now and its been really exciting.

On another note, I've been dealing with some health issues the past few weeks. Some of you may know that about 2 years ago, I had neck surgery to remove and replace 2 herniated discs in my neck. While I've never been completely pain free, my pain is usually minimal and tolerable. I sometimes have flare ups if I work too much, lift something too heavy, or overwork my self with housework like vaccuuming, laundry, etc. Occasionally I still have "flare ups". I'll take some pain medicine, take it easy for a couple days, and I'm usually okay. Well about 2 weeks ago, I started having what I thought was just a flare up. After some meds and rest, I wasnt getting any better and the pain was different. More intense, more localized in one place, and not really relieved by medication and rest. Its a little bit of a complicated story but I have been trying to get in with the neurosurgery group for sometime but cant because I needed a referral and an updated MRI. I took a sick day from work to try to get in with a primary care physician but couldnt get an appt till April 15. I thought I could manage till then but last Tuesday at work, I was unable to cope with the unbearable pain and went the the ER. I got more pain medication and and MRI that showed worsening changes since my last MRI a year ago. So long story short, I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon on Thursday. I have pretty much been bed ridden and on pain killers for 2 weeks. That is my current state as I write this. I tried to make it through work today but was in tears after only 5 hrs so I had to come home. I write all this to ask for prayers. I am really having a hard time. Physically I am in alot of pain and emotionally I feel very defeated. I hate not being able to work, because I love my job and I feel pretty worthless just laying in bed. I am also overwhelmed with things that I need to accomplish (school work, thank you notes, packing for the move, wedding details, etc.) I worry how I will accomplish all this in my current state. I pray that the doctor will have answers and options for me on Thursday. Thanks for reading. I'll keep you updated.

Friday, February 6, 2009

So far so good...

So the past couple weeks have gone pretty well. School is back in full swing for me so I've kept really busy with work and school. I had my first test today and it went well. Harrison has had a great week at work this week and brought in a lot of business so he has been in a good mood this week! I'm still waiting on my dress to come in. We've got several showers planned so far so we will be travelling alot the next couple months to and from Knoxville. We will also be heading to Birmingham for a shower and a wedding in March. We both still love going to back to Birmingham to visit all our friends. No other big news to report as of now! Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trying something new...

So, with the upcoming wedding and so many of our friends starting blogs, I caved and decided to start one! The wedding is less that 4 months away and its crazy to think that in 3 1/2 months, Harrison and I will be walking down the aisle! Planning has been going pretty smoothly with no major probelms so far (thank goodness!). My mom and I got the invitations orderd last week and met with the florist. Both the florist and my mom have such great ideas that I know it is going to be such a beautiful occasion. When we were at the church and I walked down the center aisle, I couldn't help but imagine myself making that same walk in a few months!
I hope to keep this blog up to date and post often!