Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I feel honored and humbled

I received a notice today from a fellow blogger that really made my day and was very humbling. I big thank you goes out to Heather who is the author of the blog http://www.myhusbandateallmyicecream.com/ She gave me an award today for my blog. Now I wasn't alone in her recognition but I was very surprised and extremely honored to be recognized.

Check out Heathers site and the others recipients of the blogger awards. You won't be disappointed.

So, Heather, thank you so much for the award. I will work diligently trying to live up to everyones expectations LOL.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Finally....Some Answers

In 2006 I was diagnosed with acute degenerative peripheral neuropathy. The collective response muttered under most peoples breath is; What the hell is acute degenerative peripheral neuropathy? Good question.

Neuropathy is a condition that affects over 20 million Americans and is typically associated with diabetes. It is nerve damage. Basically the nerve endings die due to lack of circulation. It primarily affects the feet and legs and causes numbness and severe pain in the affected area. And it really goes beyond that. The numbness and pain are hard to describe. One of the comparisons that I often use is the that it's almost like the pain and burning sensation that you get when you put your frozen feet in hot water after playing out in the snow. Except it's a constant pain. I can step on glass or a sticker and not feel a thing. But if I step on a rock it feels like someone is sticking a knife through my foot. I can't feel someone touching my feet but rubbing my feet is extremely painful. What really sucks? I can feel the itch but I can't feel the scratch to get rid of it.

The biggest danger that people with neuropathy face is sores. Since there is little or no feeling in the affected area, it is easy for a minor sore to turn into a serious issue. A shoe doesn't fit right and it rubs a sore on the foot; you step on something and don't realize that it cut your foot, etc. Poor circulation to the area doesn't allow it to heal as quickly as it normally would. If the sore isn't noticed it can get infected easily and left too long it can eventually lead to amputation.

Neuropathy is very debilitating and often leads to permanent disability. I my case, I am unable to stand for very long and I have difficulty walking for any distance. My posture is reminiscent of a swan in heat. My arms stick out a little and the pain in my feet tends to make me bend forward a little. My balance is affected and my bad knees don't add into the mix well.

My neuropothy has puzzled my doctors since day one. I am not diabetic and I haven't had other issues that typically cause neuropathy. They have even told me that they think my height may be the cause. I have had several nerve conductivity tests performed on me, part of which includes a needle test. Basically they take a needle and start poking you in several different spots to see if you can feel it. The Dr. asked me to close my eyes and before I knew it she was done. I didn't even realize that she had done the test. I felt about 3 pokes out of about 50-60. My legs were covered with little red blood spots from all of the sticks. 

In February I had a CT Mylogram done. That's where they inject dye and then take a series of x-rays. They did this to see whether there was an issue with a pinched nerve in my back. Then in May I had a nerve block (epidural) done in my back to block the nerve to my right leg. It worked almost immediately. It didn't help with the numbness but the pain was almost completely gone. I felt fantastic...For about 3 weeks. Not near long enough. After the shot wore off I went back to my "swan in heat" posture.

Today I had an appointment with a neurologist to see if they could shed some light on my problem. I found out a couple of interesting tidbits.

The neurologist informed me that the CT Mylogram wasn't done correctly. They didn't inject the dye into the the correct area and because of that they didn't put the nerve block in the right area either. Like I said, it worked temporarily, but they think that if it would have gone in the right area then it might actually work the way it's supposed to.

After running some more test and taking x-rays that required me to bend every way possible and assume positions just shy of sticking my head up my ass they came back with a possible cause. Since the CT Mylogram wasn't done correctly they didn't get a clear picture, but he was able to see enough to think that I may have Spinal Stenosis.

According to the Mayo Clinic;

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of one or more areas in your spine — most often in your neck or lower back. This narrowing can put pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves at the level of compression.
Depending on which nerves are affected, spinal stenosis can cause pain or numbness in your legs, back, neck, shoulders or arms; limb weakness and incoordination; loss of sensation in your extremities; and problems with bladder or bowel function. Pain is not always present, particularly if you have spinal stenosis in your neck.

Spinal stenosis is commonly caused by age-related changes in the spine. In severe cases of spinal stenosis, doctors may recommend surgery to create additional space for the spinal cord or nerves.

I had back surgery in 1995 and 1997 and had a fusion done. I have hardware in my back and right above the hardware there appears to be a narrowing of the spinal cavity which the Dr. believes is pinching the nerves running down my legs. That may not be causing the numbness but it is public enemy #1 in the pain area.

When the Dr. told me this I felt a huge weight lifted off of me. I have lived with this pain for so long, not knowing what the cause is and to hear that I may have a way to alleviate the pain was fantastic news. I have always felt that there was something going on but no one could pinpoint it. Hopefully this is it.

The neurologist wants me to get another nerve block done. This time in the correct area. He said that I will need to get another CT Mylogram done but he wants to get the nerve block done as soon as possible to help with the pain then go from there.

Hopefully it will work. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 1st

I meant to get to this blog on the 1st but one thing let to another so it is a couple of days late.

It used to be that the 1st of July was just another day. Well. I'll take that back. It was kind of a special day because it is the day that they start selling fireworks around our area. It meant that July 4th was right around the corner. The sounds of firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles and other pyrotechnics reverberate through the still night air into the wee hours of the morning. The ritual lighting of BBQ grills, the smells of charcoal, grilled food and gunpowder wafting though the air; the sounds of children playing in the pools, the gathering of friends and family for the holiday.

However, July 1st, 2008 will be a date that sticks with me forever. It is one of those days that when it happens, you know that you will always remember where you were.

It had started as an ordinary day. My son, my best friend Alvin and myself had some running that we needed to take care of that day. We did our running at Walmart, etc. then decided to drop by World Buffet in Wichita and take advantage of their all you can eat happy hour lunch buffet. Between the 3 of us we could put a serious hurt on a Chinese buffet. We were all sitting around the table laughing and eating when I received the call from my wife, Julie. What she said in that 30 second phone call changed our life, and many others, forever. I told Alvin that we needed to get home as soon as possible. Trying to keep my emotions in check, I paid our bill and we left.

When we got home, I took my son Chance back into my bedroom and told him that his best friend, Cameron, had committed suicide early that morning. It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. I could tell at first that the words didn't register. It sounded to insane too even believe. I noticed the change in him as the words sank in and when they went from disbelief to reality. It hurt my heart to see my son in so much pain.
His often asked question of why? was answered with the only thing that I could say; I don't know. I held my son closer than I had since he was a baby and together we cried on each others shoulders. Him, for the loss of his best friend. I, for the loss of a young man that I considered a son myself. I cried for the loss and pain that I knew his family had to be going through.

Cameron was a one of a kind boy. I know that this description is used all the time but it's true. He always had a smile, loved to joke around and was loved by everyone. He was outgoing, funny and smart. He loved to make people laugh and he was always up for a dare. He was one of the first kids that Chance met when we moved here and they became fast friends. Cameron was the big brother that he never had. Cameron never had to knock when he came over. He knew where all of the junk food was stashed and he knew that the kitchen was open to him. He would often come over, walk in, grab to pop, say hi on the way to Chances room and hang out with Chance for hours on end.

When Julie told me the news, I have to admit, we were scared for Chance. He was going through some very stressful times himself and we were afraid that this was going to be too much for him to handle. We were afraid that Cameron's death would cause a depression for Chance that would make him want to suicide as well. It is not uncommon or unheard of. I wanted to stay up 24/7 and just hold him. Watch over him and protect him. We knew that the only thing that we could really do was try to talk to him about it and let him know that we were there for him. He had to grieve in his own way.

The funeral was a couple of days later. On our way to the funeral we noticed a group of girls, his classmates, walking together, holding hands and candles, making their way to the church. As I said, Cameron was liked and loved by everyone and the turnout at the church showed. It was standing room only. Different colored markers placed on Cameron's casket gave everyone the opportunity to write their final farewell to this incredible young man. From the church, we went out to the cemetery and said goodbye to our friend.

This last Friday, July 1st, marked the 3rd anniversary of Cameron's death. That night we took the girls and gathered with his family, friends and classmates at the cemetery. We shot roman candles and lit sparklers, said a prayer, laughed, cried and told stories of Cameron. After a while we left and let his classmates and friends gather around his grave to celebrate the 4th of July with their lost friend.

There is a hole in my heart where Cameron used to reside and I will forever hold him in my memory.

Cameron Thomas Crowl was 16 years old when he died. He touched many lives while he was here. I wonder if he realized just how many people loved him.

Rest in Peace Cameron. We love you and miss you very much.