A Doctor’s Update

It has been 3 1/2 months since the surgery.

My doctor changed practices and I am FINALLY able to see him.

He is very pleased with the progress and pointed to the bone fusion in L5 and L4.

Please see the image that shows the L2-L3 is not fused yet but the lower ones are.

The doc explains that this is how the fusion occurs – the bones fuse from the bottom up.  Hum.  Who knew.

The problem is … my foot and leg are numb.  This is what they felt like last Fall and what led to the surgery in the first place.  The doc advises me that this can change.

Today I am frustrated.

We will see.

20160510 - Ted Coffelt - side - fused

20160510 - Ted Coffelt - front

Getting Run Over By A Jeep

There is very little that will focus a person’s attention as looking up and seeing the underside of a gas tank.

I needed to cross the street to the parking garage.  Yes ! I was jay walking.

I had seen the green Jeep in front of my building.  I followed a young man out of my building and I recall seeing him get into the Jeep.  But I didn’t think much about it.

So, I step into the street and wait for the traffic to clear and the next thing I see is the underside of the gas tank.

I try to stand as fast as I can and there is a gathering of about 5 people around me.  Several witnesses, the driver of the Jeep with the gas tank and the passenger.

I get all the witness and driver’s information.  I think I am okay.

The next day I visit my doc and they review the x-ray of my back.  Nothing out of place and no damage.  Phew.

It wasn’t until the next day that I see my coffee mug that I was in my rolling brief case.  Check out this dent where my left femur left quite a mark.

I end up with quite a bruise where the bumper of the Jeep hit my right leg and another bruise on my left leg where it hit the steel Starbucks mug.

Phew.

5 20160226 - Ted's Dented Coffee Cup

All Going Well Until I Got Run Over By A Car

Please read all the way through.  I am doing fine.

It has now been 5 weeks since my surgery.  I have experienced almost 0 back pain and I believe that the numbness in my foot and leg has been reduced from a 3 (on a 10 point scale) to about 1.5.

Over the weeks the reality of what I had done has come with a great weight.  I have attached two images that were taken yesterday and these show the amount of reconstruction.  By the Numbers:  9 inch incision in my back, 6 vertebrae affected, 4 spacers between the vertebrae (the lowest one to straighten out the spine), 2 10 inch rods and 14 screws!  Two of the screws are in excess of 8 inches long and attach the entire unit to my pelvis.

I call the entire metal construction “The Cage” or “The Basket.”  Not in a bad way of thinking but to help understand what I am feeling in my body.

  1. As I said, the nerve issues that I was having are reducing.
  2. As the healing comes along, I feel different sensations in both my left and right leg.
  3. I have no back pain and stopped all narcotics in about the 2nd week.
  4. I have a strong ache in my hips where they screwed the 8 inch screws into to anchor The Cage.
  5. I am experiencing significant nerve pain in the skin and muscles that were cut in order to get to the spine and are now trying to knit themselves back together.  It is almost like shingles.  It makes putting on a shirt difficult and sleeping can be quite difficult.  The feel is like prickly fire … definitely not good.
  6. This week, I started taking Neurontin for this nerve pain.  This has been fantastic but there are some side effects … like dizziness. But at least I can put on a shirt and sleep okay.
  7. Important milestones.
    1. I can now put on a sock on my right foot without assistance from a sock device.  I am still using the device for my left foot.
    2. I can also wipe my bottom without having to use the special wiping device (this was a very good step).
    3. I am back to work about 1/2 time in Denver.
    4. Unfortunately, the skin/muscle nerve pain caused me to lose some work time.  The good news is that my client is very very understanding.
    5. Instead of a cane, I am using a walking stick.  I look kind of distinctive if I do say so myself.
    6. I still get very tired.  This will come on quickly.
    7. My mood, for the most part, has been good.  I haven’t gotten too overwhelmed by the recovery and the new limitations to my activities.

But then I was hit by a car on this Wednesday.  

Now the net net of this part of my update is that I am incredibly sore but that there is no damage to my spine or to any of The Cage.  Phew.

My Foot is Numb – Just a Little

I am working in a hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  For my work, I often am called to visit a small town and set up shop in a hotel.  I can stay any length of time from 3 days to 2 years.  Usually the small town is really A SMALL TOWN.  But for this gig I am in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs is a great city.  There is lots to do and good restaurants.  I have crew of professional landmen to work on this project.  I work in the oil and gas industry.  A landman’s job has two parts – identify who owns the mineral interest under certain properties and then obtain the rights to access those minerals.  For this project, I am overseeing the ownership portion of the project.

I will be in Colorado Springs for about 14 months and I have now been here for about six months.  The pressure is immense.  I have a two room suite, the living room which I have set up to be a common office, and a bedroom.  My suit door opens at 6:30 and for the next 14 hours I will have my 15 crew members coming in and out.  They will be using the office equipment, asking questions, getting coffee, decompressing from some difficult research and just hanging out.

I love my job.

But the pressure is very immense.  However, I am now setting into motion some business systems and delivery superior product to the client in ways that I have wanted to do since I was 50.  Because of the new methods that I have implemented, what in the past would have taken a landman about 12 work days to complete is now taking about 6.  At about $600 per day, this is a major savings.

Did I mention the pressure of the job.

As I stand in the doorway between the living room and bedroom, there is a tingling in the bottom of my left foot.  Just a little numbness.  Maybe about a 0.5 on a 10.0 point numbness scale.  I am not anxious about this but I notice it for the first time.

This is me visiting the Garden of the Gods.

Garden Of The Gods - Jan 2012

It All Starts

It is April, 1948.

I am conceived to Catherine and OT – better known as Cath and Ted.

I will be born in January 1949 as the 3rd of what will be 5 children and the only boy.

I am told that my parents tried “one more time” for a boy and that my father cried at my birth.  It was the only time he ever cried – so I am told.

A little anatomy lesson which was not learned for another 67 years.

In adults, the sacrum is a large triangular bone that forms the base of the spinal column.  It is made up of the bones named S1 through S5.  It sits between the two hip bones.  It provides support for the spine and accommodates the spinal nerves.

As a child and up until the age of 18 or so, these 5 sacral bones are separated but somewhere between 15 and 30 they become completely fused and are a single bone.

For the purposes of this brief anatomy discussion, there are 3 parts to S1 – the left and right hemispheres and the central core.

Some time between April and my birth day (literally), the S1 vertebrae is only formed on one side, the right.  This is called a hemivertebrae.  As a result of the malformation, my spine above the S1 joint does not go straight up, it extends to the left and then straightens as it continues up to my neck.  Nobody notices for 65 years.  Because I never needed glasses or braces for my teeth, I am considered “perfect.”  (My friends might differ.)  It is speculated that in the womb, there was some kind of a blood supply deficiency to this part of the S1 and it didn’t form.

Just my luck.

My research says that 85% of these anomalies are not clinically significant but for me, it eventually caused erosion of the lumbar disks and compression of the spinal cord.

You could call me “spineless” but I wouldn’t answer.