I apologize in advance if none of this makes sense. I just took a very large dose of some big girl pain killers and my finger tips and eyelids are starting to feel all swimmy as my brain turns to delicious warm melty butter watching the pain flutter away from the 2-inch incision along my spine that has been screaming for attention since 3am.
Let’s rewind to last week. The cortisone shot didn’t work. In fact, two days after the shot my numbness actually got worse and then the toes on my right foot stopped working. Not all of them – my big toe and pinky toe jumped like obedient little soldiers when I wiggled them. But my middle three just clung together and looked at me with blank stares when I told them it was time to move now.
I met with the neurosurgeon on Friday – a discectomy was scheduled for Tuesday. I didn’t look back. After three years of dealing with random lightning bolts shooting down my legs, never knowing when I took my first few steps out of bed if the wrench would work its way out or if I would be hobbling around scaring little children all day, or even worse laying flat on the floor flanked in ice, I was ready to get this show on the road. Last summer I spent three weeks in agony. Our family vacation fell in the middle of said three agonizing weeks; my husband drove four hours to Holiday World with me on my hands and knees turned around backwards in the passenger seat. Let’s not even talk about where the seat belt had to go. This was a long time coming.
And what I knew about this newfound numbness was that the longer it went on, the less likely I was to get it back. And I love my vagina too much to never feel it again.
Of course all of those things didn’t mean I wasn’t crapping my drawers waiting to be wheeled back to surgery. I mean… good lord. What a mindfuck. I just kept reminding myself that after a few weeks of suck my life would be better than ever. Worst case scenario I would finally get to meet Michael Jackson.
Waking up in the recovery room, I realized meeting Michael Jackson was not the worst case scenario.
“I’m paralyzed!” I yelled to the nurse.
“I can’t feel anything from my toes to my hip! I’m paralyzed!”
“Okay, hang on. Can you move your toes?”
“Push against my hand.”
“Doctor… I’m not positive, but you definitely paralyzed me!” I slurred as he walked over to see what was going on.
He went on to explain, in no uncertain terms, that things were really jacked up back there. Basically a team of box trolls had moved in and had been wreaking havoc left and right and something about the disc tightly intertwined with the sciatic and having to manipulate the nerve but everything is just fine, and feeling will come back slowly but surely. I made him promise at least fifteen times.
Of course this didn’t stop me from going terror alert orange.
Trapped in my room with nothing but my thoughts and bad TV – I laid in the hospital bed the rest of the day, every moment becoming more certain I would spend my days dragging a lame leg behind me like Quasi Moto. Despite the reassurances of the nurses, my doctor (several times) and his nurse practitioner who assisted him in the surgery, I knew I would never walk again. Maybe I could just go ahead and have it amputated while I was there in the hospital? Save myself another trip back?
I barely slept that night. The combination of being in a strange place, the nurse coming in every two hours to check my vitals, the worry of my leg, enough IV steroids being pumped into my body to grow a thick coat of back fur, and… Screamy across the hall. I don’t know what this guy’s deal was, but every few minutes he would scream things like, “Mother fucker!” and “No more mister nice guy!”. All. Night. Long. I asked the nurse to please, for the love of god, close his door. She asked him. He told her it made the room too hot. I considered going over there myself, but I didn’t know his mental state and if I angered him I sure as heck was in no position to run away.
So, I am sure it comes as no surprise that by the time the nurse walked in to take my temperature for the zillionth time at 4am she walked in on an emotional shit show. Positive the surgery had been botched and there was a massive hospital cover up, positive I would never walk again, positive I had made an awful, awful decision and had ruined my life, she unknowingly opened the door and got smacked in the face with a big dose of crazy that she had to talk off the ledge. I had reached what my sister-in-law introduced me to as “The Female Breaking Point,” or “FBP” if you’re in a hurry.
Exhausted but unable to sleep because “Come on! Make that shot!” was in full effect across the hall. Sobbing to the point I could barely breathe, thoughts forming rapid fire, starting to gather shape but dissipating before I could grasp them in my fist to try to rationalize them. Then sunrise – the world waking up, text and email alerts dinging on my phone, friends and family checking in to see how I am feeling. I couldn’t be honest with them. Making people worry would only make me feel worse.
But then I figured, “fuck it” – join me.
The call went about exactly as you think it did. Me, a blubbery incoherent mess. Her the voice of reason talking me off the ledge. I hung up and realized Screamy across the hall finally piped down, and I was able to sleep for an hour before the doctor came in to make sure I wasn’t whittling my soap into woodland creatures. Or vice versa.
My sensibilities finally starting to take over, I decided to take a few laps around the hall. Get out of my stagnet room and breathe in some of the nice fresh hallway air. Hobbling up and down the hall, my right leg feeling like I was walking on a wooden peg. Frustrating, terrifying, but manageable. It will get better. I closed my eyes and tilted my head toward the ceiling. “Michael Jackson help me,” I muttered, focusing every ounce of my concentration on walking from heel to toe. Heel first, then toe. Heel toe. Heel toe. Slowly. Looking down every few seconds, proving to my brain that the leg is indeed still there.
Making my way back down the hall, I looked up and saw Screamy wheeling out of his room and toward me. I noticed he was a double leg amputee.
“Good morning,” I said. “D’ja get your biscuits?” I (and the rest of the hospital) heard him arguing with food service over their strict two biscuit per patient policy around 5:30am.
“Nah. Sorry – could you hear that? I guess I’m a pretty loud guy.”
“It’s okay,” I said. It was actually nice to hear a voice to remind me I’m not alone here.”