Checking things off the List

I am a list maker and find it very gratifying to check things off as I have them completed.  Inevitably, I also add to my list on a regular basis, so it is much like a revolving door with 1 thing checked off, 2 things added.

As I’m working down my list of pre-surgery details this week, I’m also trying to find peace about this whole process.  As you can imagine, I’ve had many conversations and have relayed information to friends and family repeatedly.  I’ve shared which hospital I’ll be at, who my doctor is, what procedure they are planning, how many nights I’m expected to be in the hospital, and what the outline of my recovery should look like.  I’ve received plenty of opinions both for and against surgery in general, the doctor I’m working with, and all the miracle remedies that people have used to relieve their own back pain – the have you considered…. statements are well intention-ed, but after a while, they do become rather draining, I must admit.

I’m firm in my decision that this is the right step.  I’m confident in my doctor and the hospital.  I know I’ll have a tough couple of weeks immediately after surgery, and I know I won’t be fully healed for many months – but this is still the right choice in my mind.  So I’m just continuing on with my list.

  • Ride to and from the hospital – check
  • Pre-op Labs and EKG – check
  • Cook and freeze – ongoing
  • Laundry – ongoing
  • Shower Chair – check
  • Ice packs – check
  • Make a batch of lotion – check
  • Set up computer for remote access (telecommuting) – check
  • Shove 6 weeks worth of work into 2 weeks for my job – ongoing, but closer every day
  • General cleaning and recognizing trip hazards in the house – ongoing
  • Clearing off the nightstand except for bare essentials – check
  • Pre-pack and packing list – ongoing
  • File nails short and trim toenails – check
  • Remove toenail polish – Saturday
  • Haircut – check
  • Clean makeup brushes – check
  • Dig out gram’s grabber tool and adjustable hiking cane – check


I’m sure as the next few days tick by, I’ll be adding more things to the list.  Still waiting for the nurse to call me for the pre-op call to set the time for my procedure NEXT WEEK!!!

In the meantime, I’m spending my devotional time in study for the reassurance that God’s got this, and his plan is perfect, no matter the earthly outcome.

No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus  ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Have a blessed day, friends!

Pre-Op Labwork and EKG

So after sharing my surgery news with my colleagues today, I went ahead and stopped by to have my pre-op testing done.

I started at the lab where I got stabbed in both arms (poor young kid didn’t have much luck with my left arm), had to pee in a cup, and have a swab up my nose.  Good times.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have a mighty bruise to show for his digging around in my elbow-pit before finally switching to my right arm.  The nose swab thing was a MRSA screening test.

My next stop was radiology where I had 10 stickers attached to various body parts, and then probes attached to those, and 30 or so seconds later she pulled them all off.  And that was my EKG.

I don’t have any other pre-op testing to do, so I’m glad that’s been checked off the list anyway.  I’m now under doctors orders to stay off all medications and supplements that are known blood thinners.  I don’t generally take a lot, but the Vitamin E supplements, and my random use of aleve.  Apparently most of the NSAIDS like aleve, motrin, etc. are a no-no pre-surgery.  So I’m relegated to tylenol for the next couple of weeks if I need to take something.  I generally avoid taking much anyway, so it shouldn’t be much of a challenge.  I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and I’ve been living with chronic aches and pains my whole adult life, and so I generally only take something during a bad pain flare.   I also went ahead and cancelled my physical therapy appointment that was scheduled for later this week.  I figured I would just save that co-pay for my recovery time in a couple months when I will be doing the rehabilitation side of recovery and in there a couple times a week for a while.

So now I just have to continue to tackle my to-do list to make sure I’m as prepared as possible before going in for surgery.  A bit of random cleaning projects, a batch of lotion and probably some salve, cooking ahead and freezing leftovers, and making sure I have a back up supply of toiletries and paper goods since I won’t be able to stop and pick stuff up on the way home for a couple of weeks.  It’s not unlike planning for a vacation – making lists, packing stuff, cleaning stuff, etc.  It’s just the destination is a hospital bed and then my couch for a few weeks.

The verse I’ve chosen for today is Psalm 20:4 May He give you the desires of your heart, and may all your plans succeed.

My desire today is to be free of radiating nerve pain, muscle spasms, and grinding bones so that I may serve my Lord with greater focus.  I desire to be a blessing to those around me, and to serve with kindness.

What is your hearts desire today?



MRKH Type 2 – Surgery Required

So I got the phone call yesterday afternoon from my neurosurgeon’s office – insurance APPROVED my surgery!!!

While I maintained my composure (barely) while talking with the woman in the office and asking a few questions, as soon as I hung up the phone, I lost it.  I know, I know – I cry about everything!  But I was holding a tremendous amount of tension over the pending approval – so getting that call was monumental to me!!  I knew that it had set in motion a whole lot of things needing to be done in a short amount of time.  But let’s back up a few steps…

If you don’t already know, I was born with MRKH – 4 letters that would define much of my adult life.  I was born without a uterus and would never be able to carry a child.  I have MRKH Type 2 which means that I also have a pelvic kidney, a mild curvature in my spine, and apparently – I tend to wear out my joints and connective tissues in them much sooner than most people.  As I get older, the spine and joint issues tend to come into my awareness more and more, and the issues of not being able to carry a child are less of my focus.

Many people, even those very close to me, do not know that I live with chronic pain.  My body hurts somewhere most of the time.  As the pain focuses in a particular area and I become aware of the fact that it wakes me up at night, or I am taking something for the pain every day, I have learned to be a good patient and talk to my doctors about it.  Over the years this has lead to surgeries on both shoulders and both feet.  I’ve gone through many MRI scans, rounds of physical therapy, visits to the Osteopath and Chiropractor, and had steroids injected into joints all over my body.  I do everything I can to keep myself healthy and mobile within the limitations my body sets.  Currently, I’m dealing with pain in my low back – and that is my current focus and why I’ve dusted off the blog to tell my story.

You see, I’ve always found great comfort in writing – it helps me to heal and to process what I’m feeling with greater clarity.  I’ve also found that reading other people’s accounts of their own recovery gives me an additional level of comfort when I’m facing a new challenge.  So as I embark on this latest surgery journey, I made the decision to use my blog to document it,  and as a way for family and friends to stay informed.  If you want to stay up to date, I encourage you to subscribe to the blog using the buttons over there on the right side>>>>> so you will receive an email when I post something new.

Ok – the nitty gritty of what I’m feeling, what I’m doing about it, and why I’m headed for surgery.

Generally speaking my back hurts – low back pain is very common and there  are any variety of causes.  My specific diagnosis is Degenerative Disc Disease, Spinal Stenosis, and Spondylolisthesis.  I did not have a specific injury that caused this, it’s just been brewing for most of my life.  I have general boney aches in my low spine as a result of the discs not providing the cushioning they are supposed to, and there is very little space between the vertebrae.  What once was memory foam is now rough cut lumber.  The Spondylolisthesis comes into play as displaced vertebrae which adds to the Stenosis or narrowing of the spinal column.  These things are causing pinched nerves – which in turn cause both radiating pain and muscle spasms, oh…and numbness in my toes.

So what am I doing about it?  Well, as much as I can.  I take joint supplements and NSAIDs.  I use a heating pad to help release the muscle spasms.  I see a massage therapist regularly. I do gentle yoga stretching and flows to keep moving as much as I am able.  I have a few additional spine stability and core strengthening exercises I learned from physical therapy that I do throughout the week.  I eat well, and try to get cardio in by either walking or riding my spin bike a few times a week.  But I don’t sleep well and wake often in the night.  Standing for long periods of time makes my muscles lock up and legs ache.  I can’t lift heavy stuff without pain.  But I try and do as much as I can, and live as normal a life as I can.

So why surgery?  Why now?  Well, because it’s affecting my daily life.  As my doctor said – my spine is all jacked up.  No amount of physical therapy, injections, and adjustments are going to fix the bones that are the root of my problem.  After a long discussion of pros and cons, what to expect for recovery, and additional options to consider,  he put in for pre-approval for spinal fusion.  Yesterday I received the call that my surgery was approved.

On your mark,

Get set,


Next week I will get a variety of lab tests done, and an EKG. Those results will be sent to my neurosurgeon and to the hospital where I am scheduled.

I already signed all the consent forms, and received my pre-op instructions when I saw the doctor 2 weeks ago, so I don’t need to go back to their office for anything.  I have my pre-op shower soap stuff already, so once the lab tests are done I just wait for the phone call from the nurse for my pre-admission conference.

I am scheduled for surgery August 13th.  I will likely spend 1 or 2 nights in the hospital before being discharged.  Since the hospital is about 2 hours from home, I’ll stay in the area an extra few days before venturing home to continue my recovery.  I expect to be off work for 3 weeks, and then slowly return to full time as I feel ready – and when I can comfortably drive myself too and from work.  I will have movement restrictions as my fusion heals – no lifting more than a gallon of milk, no bending, twisting, stretching of the lower spine – and just generally REST and HEAL for the first 6 weeks.  I will be encouraged to walk often, several times a day even at the very beginning.  After 6 weeks I’ll begin physical therapy.

Alright, that’s what’s going on and why.  This blog will serve as the primary way of keeping in touch through this adventure, so be sure to subscribe if you want to keep tabs on me from a distance.

Having MRKH has added quite the variety to my life – with both challenges and accomplishments.  I can celebrate my differences, and embrace the life I’ve been blessed with….even when it means another surgery.

Psalm 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.