Click the picture for the story of Calypso, the Three Legged Green Sea Turtle, and why she's my symbol

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The 'Does it hurt HERE' game

For all of you out there I hope you had a happy turkey day. I usually look forward to the food centered coma that takes up most of my day. Unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy the time after Thanksgiving. Many of you know that I have a neurogenic bowel, meaning that the nerves to some of my intestines do not function. Some of you will remember me explaining the painful process of being FOS. Now thanks to a hearty turkey dinner (and an over-fondness for cheeseits) I am once again suffering from FOS. What this means in practical terms is that my ribs and back are extremely sore. That's about it.

I bring this up because whenever I am sore and have to explain this to my parents (both of whom have medical backgrounds) I have to show where it is that I am sore. This inevitably leads to the game I've named "Does it hurt HERE?" This leads to them poking me in the back in places that are almost guaranteed to be sore already. And now you want to poke them...

This game does have real practical uses. It helps doctors and nurses ascertain where the problem is and what can be done. The frustrating part is having to be told "well, it could be a lot of things...". UNHELPFUL!!! Why couldn't you have said that before you starting hitting the spots that are already uncomfortable?!?

Now, to change the tone of this post, here is a dancing lizard:

I hope that improved your day a little. It sure improved mine.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Surgery... Again

This December, when I visit Baltimore, I am going to undergo my 4th back surgery.

For anyone who missed 1-3, here's a quick recap:

After my accident in December 2009 I had two rods inserted into my back. These served to stabilize my spine, allowing my shattered vertebrae time to heal.

In April 2010
, scans of my back showed that the broken pieces of my spinal column were pressing on my spinal cord. I am lucky that that my spinal cord didn't get severed but the continued pressure on my cord kept my from nerves from operating correctly, leaving me mostly paralyzed. I went in for two surgeries, spaced out over a week. They reconstructed the shattered vertebrae, putting the broken pieces of bone in a metal framework and placing them back in my back. The broken pieces of spine grow into the shape of the metal cage, providing me essentially with replacement vertebrae. They also shaved off some of the bone of the vertebrae, which was putting pressure in other sections of the cord.

The end result was that the nerves in my spinal cord had more room to regrow. It is a commonly held myth that nerves do not regrow. Cranial nerves (the ones in your skull) don't regrow but others still have the ability to regenerate. Given enough time nerves will grow and reconnect to the entire body; mine have, just very slowly.

Thanks to surgeries 2 and 3 I have increased function of both right and left legs, allowing me to walk with a simple ankle brace or AFO.

In surgery one, the spinal rods were put in place by drilling the screws directly into the bone. After two years the screws have started to loosen up. This process has not been painful at all... yet. There is the possibility that when the screws completely separate that they could bounce around, causing internal injuries. Before this happens, the rods and screws will be removed and replaced by more stable, permanent hardware. This surgery, while sounding ominous, is only minimally invasive and will only set me back for a few weeks. I will still be allowed to walk and I will be able to start back in physical therapy the very next week.

I'm not really happy about being cut into again but it beats the alternatives. I was seriously scared before the last set of surgeries, which ended up returning more function than I ever thought possible. And at the end of the day, who is really surprised that Peter has a few screws loose?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I am a paraplegic

This site is devoted to the journey I've taken to start walking again. That being said I want to embrace the title I've been given: paraplegic.

Now once you've been injured you don't simply stop being one, your life is fundamentally altered. Now this doesn't mean your life gets worse, though some times it can seem that way. It means simply that how you viewed the world, how the world viewed you, and how you viewed your body is fundamentally different.

And you think you're cooler than this guy. REALLY?

My goal is to walk without the assistance of canes, to have the use of my ankle back, and to walk so that I can go once more into a crowd without being noticed. Even after accomplishing all this though, I will still be a paraplegic. It's kind of like being a marine, in that there is no such thing as an ex-paraplegic. (though we DO get better parking than most marines)

This being said I want to put the word out about, a spinal cord support group. I shied away from this kind of sight because it's still hard to look back and admit what I am. But I'm finally getting rid of that.
This site is for those with new spinal cord injuries, family and friends of SCI, and people who just want to learn more about what this entails.

Please, do yourself a favor: Take five minutes of your time and educate yourself. Find out something you didn't know about paraplegics and quadriplegics. I've had countless people say to me, "I can't imagine what you must have gone through." If you want a glimpse visit this site.