The date: June, 2016. Twenty-three years after the accident.
Out of nowhere came the light bulb moment, connecting a smorghesburg of symptoms to that underlying cause. Then, the prognosis.
Then, the safest solution: Cervical spine surgery: Removal of four discs (C3-C6), then insertion of four prosthetics. Then, attachment of a thin plate to stabilize the entire cervical spinal column.
But, what has gotten her – my mother – to surgery? To that “last resort” choice to treat severe spinal impingement?
- Short-fusing of her patient, caring and creative soul.
- Occular hazing, that cast pre-dawn like mist over her view.
- Sleeplessness and nervousness that defied any Hathi yoga move or position.
- Shutting off air supply, whether sitting, after walking into store, or completing walk.
- Numbness that, for her, forgot her fingers were grasping a cup or salad fork, letting it slide away, onto the floor.
- Tingling that skipped up the nerves in the arms like a wire short-circuiting itself out.
- Sudden runs of uncontrollable fast heartbeats that kicked anxiety into high gear, raised the BP, and led her to the ER at 2:30 am, one or two times a year.
- Burning shoulders and connective muscles and joints, that limited vertical range of motion to 6 inches, horizontal to 4, diagonal to 3, and backward to 2-to-4.
- Weakened muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments, limiting weight bearing to 1-to-2 pounds, pain-free mobility to minus 0.
- Strange, low grade fever that persistently showed up, and hung around every night.
- Chest wall and muscle soreness and constriction.
- Drowning nightsweats that dehydrated the system without a hint of the real cause.
- Dizziness when raising her head from computer or pillow, turning in any direction, or moving it up or down.
- Recurring inflammation and blood oxygen depletion (anemia).
- Uncontrollable, unexplainable swelling (edema) of extremities, hands, and inside the actual cervical spine area!
Not being discussed, nor disputed: the risks of getting surgery, and the risks of not getting surgery.
Not being doubted nor feared: the life-and-death need for the surgery. As laid out by the neurosurgeons in a 20-plus minute joint in-office meet-and-greet.
Not being overestimated nor expected: a perfect solution.
After all, as Chicago friend and physiologist Nathan Lavenda, Ph.D. put it one week after the accident in 1992:
“Always remember, Sandra: You have had something very valuable taken away from you that you will never get back.”
Her spine. Oh, yeah, Nathan!
F.Y.I. ALERT: Your cervical spine, signaled by the brain, controls and affects how your body functions. Each cervical area is connected, one way or another, to the entire cervical spine, and also to the thoracic and lumbar parts of the spinal cord. The list below will give you an idea how.
1. Autonomic Nervous System
A. C3, with C1-C4 linked directly: controls your intracranial vessels, C1 – otis, mandibular, cranial and facial vessels.
B. C4: controls larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs.
C. C5-C6: controls pulmonary system.
D. C1-C4, C5-C8, T1-T5: control the heart.
E. C4-C6: control medial area of dorsal remi, main “supporting column” of spine.
2. Nerves of the Back
A. C2-C3: relates to occipital nerve, and cervical plexus.
B. C4-T6: concerns nerves of medial cutaneous: the dorsal remi.
C. C5-C6: relates to nerves of super and lateral brachial cutaneous – back of arm, rib cage that runs ajacent to the underarm, trapezius (including sub, supra, scapula),
D. C7: helps control nerves in minimal, yet essential functional ways.
3. Sub occipital
A. C3: controls 3rd occipital nerves/dorsal that run along back of head between ears.
B. C2-C3: also control dorsal remi of neck, the great auricular nerve between ears.
A. C2-C6: controls clavicles.
B. C5-C7: controls lateral part of the limbs.
C. C6: controls thumbs; C6-C8: controls hands.
5. Cervical Plexus
A. C3-C4: controls longus capitus coli, also scalene and levator scapulae, muscles.
B. C3: controls ansa cervicalis – the super/inferior root, sternohyoid muscles, and omolyoid/inferior belly muscles.
C. C4: controls the supraclavular nerves.
6. External Crani-Cervical Ligaments
A. C3-C4: controls Zygapophysed (1st) joints – anterior.
F.Y.I. WARNING: Cervical spine damage is irreversible, painful and progressive. Many of its victims, such as my mother, are involuntary. Some persons can choose not to engage in activities that may cause permanent, and serious, injuries to their spinal cord.
CLOSING THOUGHT: The next time you’re behind the wheel, please remember that the spine you save might belong to someone close to you, or to you. Please drive defensively and safely. Please don’t text or talk on your cell phone. Please minimize the in-cabin conversations and activities. And, please relax. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the moment.
Say a little prayer, if you please.
And, many thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.