Spinal Surgery = Nightmare Fuel

Last time I posted, I had just received my long awaited MRI, and was going to see the orthopedic surgeon the following day. That day came, and went, and I’m still reeling.

I have four degenerative discs in my neck that are giving my spinal cord, what looks like, an internal knuckle sandwich.

For those of you who aren’t really sure what the discs are, or how they work, imagine an Oreo cookie. Preferably a stack of Double-Stuf Oreos. Like this:

The white “stuf” is the discs, the cookies are the vertebrae. When the discs are healthy, they have no problem making sure the cookies don’t meet, and they stay nicely tucked in each section.

In my case, the “stuf” has been out in the sun too long, and has become mushy, and unable to hold the cookies apart or straight. The discs are smooshing out the sides, and into the lane where my spinal cord is supposed to be chillin’, getting all up in its grill. The spinal cord doesn’t like this intrusion, and is telling the rest of the body that by shutting down my arms.

So how do they fix this? Do they add fresh “stuf” between the cookies? No, not quite. What they do is fuse the cookies together at the correct spacing by using cookie dough from a cadaver.

Yes, you read that right. Dead people cookie dough.

Now, that’s not really the disturbing part. I’m an organ donor myself, and have no personal issue or aversion to sharing healthy body parts to help other people heal. It’s the method that is keeping me awake at night.

You see, in order to form the notch in which to plant the seeds of the fusion, they have to take a grinder to my spine. A Dremel tool, basically, much like the ones they use at nail salons. That, in itself, is not so bad either. A bit like having a root canal, of which I’ve had many.

It’s the method of access to the spine that I wasn’t really prepared to imagine. You see, they can’t go through the back of the neck, because it’s actually a big pain in the ass to get at the spine that way. Nope, they’re going to go through the front of my throat. They’re just going to scooch a bunch of very important stuff, like my larynx and carotid artery, off to the side, and jam a camera, a dremel, and a few other odds and ends through my neck to reach my spine from the inside.

They’re also going to need a special monitor to make sure I’m still alive during the surgery because apparently, it’ll be pretty damn hard to tell, what with looking like I’ve had my throat torn out by a jackal, and all.

After that, the recovery period will be six months limited mobility – more limited than what I’m already experiencing. Plus neck scars. Sexy.

But hey, somebody else’s bone bits will live on in my body. I just hope they weren’t an asshole. -K

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