Thursday, July 8, 2010

Big News

I have a surgery date. I am booked for Invasive Cervical Traction 8/17/10. If the traction test is positive for instability, they will go through with Cranio-Cervical Fusion Revision on 8/19/10.
My pre-surgical testing is 8/16/10. So, we will be flying into New York on 8/15/10. It is uncertain how long I will stay in New York after surgery at this time.

That's the schedule.

There's a lot of pre-operative planning to be done. All of the paperwork is done online now, so I can gradually chip away at that over time. I need to get a pre-operative physical with my general practitioner and I need cardiac approval with an echo-cardiogram with my cardiologist. I'm also supposed to have at least a few weeks of physical therapy. We'll see how much there is time for.

Plenty of preparation.

In terms of my feelings, I completely understand that this is good news. The best news I've gotten in a long, long, long, long time. My stagnant life will finally move forward. Something will change. In the big picture, this is a good thing, because my quality of life is likely to improve...eventually. When I first got the news, I was ecstatic. However, my enthusiasm was short-lived.

Please don't accuse me of being pessimistic here, because we all know that would be the worst thing in the world. I'm just human. I'm facing the scariest surgery I've had so far. I've been through a similar operation in the past, so I know approximately what to expect...torture, a living nightmare. Remember, I'm allergic to all of those wonderful pain meds that ease the process for most. And the allergy meds don't seem to help me. So I feel the full reality of what they do to my head unarmed. It's a battle.

So I know I should be the happiest girl in the world right now. But I'm scared and anxious. It's making me irritable about the whole thing. I don't like to think about surgery or hear about it or talk about it or plan for it. But I understand that I have no choice. I just don't want to be happy about it right now. I'm so glad that the time has come to get it over with. But am I really happy about giving up my mobility for the next year of my life? About facing pain levels above an 8 possibly for months on end, like last time? About being restricted to bed for several months, maybe more? After the fusion surgery, the never-ending pain pushed me to suicidality after 5 months. It's hard to be happy when facing this again.

Now, my life has been so restricted for so long. With many symptoms and much pain. And I'm about to tell the doctors to go ahead and make it worse?

By the way, if a patient does not have POTS, the recovery from this surgery is expected to be about 2 months. Unfortunately, I have POTS, which is a chronic illness. It may become "easier to manage" with this surgery, but no one expects it to go away. Any surgery causes a POTS relapse: the more invasive the surgery, the worse the relapse. This is an 8+ hour reconstructive cranio-spinal surgery. They will remove my current hardware and replace it with all new hardware and bone, completely rebuilding my cranio-cervical junction. This essentially "resets" the nervous system. That's as invasive as it gets for POTS.

No risk, no reward. Right?

So, I completely understand that this is wonderful news. I just don't feel it. The long-awaited surgery has just become very real.