Archive | March 2013

Cervical Spine Fusion (C3-C6)

As each day passes the pain comes and goes. Some days I feel like a run and play all day. Yet on others days I can barely get out of bed and I have to push myself to function. It is scary to not to know what will happen next.
A few months ago I faced a new discovery that my spinal cord was being compressed in three areas in my cervical spine. This was discovered after suffering from headaches every day for about 6 mos. as well as diminished function in both arms and hands as well as a visual disturbances. Often I could not even pick up a pen without pain or inability to grab things. My arms often tingled and felt heavy. My vision fluctuated so much that on some days I could not even see my computer or read a book.
I was already taking Gabapentin for the spasticity in my legs. So this was increased to see if it would help. As for my headaches, everything was tried to stop them. I even endured weekly injections of Lidocaine into the back of my head at the base of the skull on each side. The headaches were relieved for a few days at a time, but always came back. I was placed on combination of Amitriptyline and Zanaflex to see if it helped with the pain and muscle spasms. The medications made me so sleepy that I could not function for the first week. After the first week I was able to function a bit better and some of the pain subsided. Losing some of the symptoms was a relief.
The neurologist finally suggested an MRI because the symptoms were getting worse even with the medication. About a week after the MRI I was called and asked to come in. I was told that they had found that my spinal cord was compressed in three areas in my cervical spine. I was referred to a Neurosurgeon.
On my first visit to the neurosurgeon it was suggested that I needed surgery. By this time I was willing to try anything and agreed to have the surgery. It was explained that I would have an incision made to the front of my neck (about 2 inches long), and that three disks would be removed and replaced with cadaver bone grafts. Then the doctor would insert a metal plate with screws and fuse my vertebrae from C3 to C 6. I would have to wear a hard cervical collar and not be able to drive for six weeks. This all sounded scary, but I knew this was the only way I might get relief.
Having the surgery was a great decision. I only stayed in the hospital one night. I was able to get up and move the same day of the surgery. The pain was minimal. I followed what the doctor said exactly and wore the collar and did not drive for six weeks. I noticed immediately that the headaches were gone. After about the first week the pain in my arms was gone. Slowly the strength that I lost in my hands and arms returned. I was told there was a possibility of limitations of mobility in my neck. I am glad to say that I have none. I am so blessed.
It has now been 4 months and I have had no headaches, my vision has finally stabilized, and I can use my arms and hands without limitations. I now have a small scare on the front of my neck, but that is a small price to pay for what I have gained. I am still facing further surgery to correct the Arachnoid Cysts I have in my Thoracic Spine. God had truly blessed me with a great Neurosurgeon and family who are in this with me.

Southwest flare Salad

What You Need

1 bag (10 oz) of hearts of romaine lettuce

1/2 a bag  (5 oz)) of baby spinach

1 small zucchini (diced)

1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed

1 can (11 oz.) Mexicorn, drained

1/2 cup  Thick ‘N Chunky Salsa

1/2 cup Kraft Natural Three Cheese or cheese of your choice

1/2 cup Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing

1 cup broken tortilla chips

Make It

Toss all ingredients together except for chips.

Serve adding chips to top it off.

Cymbalta witdraw is miserable-

After realizing there was no easy answer I have stopped taking Cymbalta all together.  Since the capsules cannot be pulled apart and  put back together to reduce the dose the answer is to just stop.

I woke up twice screaming from nightmares. Not something that I ever had to deal with until now.  I am very over-sensitive to sound…Become easily annoyed with things like dogs barking. Hopefully this will get better as the medication gets out of my system. I still have the nagging headache, stomach pain which feels like I have been kicked, the brain zaps that are slowly getting better, the over-sensitive skin with period of feeling like I am on fire, and the increased over-all body pain. HAving to deal with these symptoms makes dealing with daily life more difficult.

During this process I am continuing to take the vitamins and mineral supplements.  It may be a lot of pills but I have noticed that about 15 to mins. After I take them the over-all pain and fatigue become slightly better.  I am currently taking:

  • CFS/Fibro formula Multi vitamin- These contain a higher dose of A , B, E, Folic Acid, Magnesium, and Calcium)
  • Natural Triglyceride (EPA and DHA)
  • Malic Acid- Shown to reduce the musculoskeletal symptoms
  • Amino Acid (Arginine, Ornithine, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Lysine, Glycine,Leucine, Valine, Threonine, Tyrosine, Histidine, Phenylakanine, and Omega 3)
  • Digestive Enzymes ( Lipase, Protease, and Amylase)
  • P5P

After some research and learning about what other patients have done to reduce the withdraw symptoms of Cymbalta I decided to try taking Benadryl.  I will say it has helped reduce the over-sensitivity of my skin as well as decreased the itching which felt like I had a million spiders crawling on me.

I am forcing myself to excersise to help deminish the symptoms as well. Even if I am tired I am going for at least a mile walk.

I will continue to share the symptoms and the process.  It is my hope that through my sharing of this experience others will strongly consider other avenues before taking medications like Cymbalta. Also, by sharing what works and what doesn’t may in the long run help others find the right regime.

Thankful for each day

Dear Lord,


Thank you for all you have given me. I am so undeserving yet you have blessed me in so many ways. I am truly thankful.

Lord, I asked you recently to heal me and take away the pain and make it so I did not have any more surgeries. You have not taken my pain away nor have you kept me from having to have surgeries. Lord, thank you for that. For you have me in the place for a reason. I may not understand it now but I am positive that in time I will understand.

I remember the day the doctor told me I had Fibromyalgia and there was no cure no real regime of medication that would work. My doctor explained that I would have to try different remedies and find the one that worked best. Well two years later I am still trying to find the one that works.

Next came the diagnosis of Chiari Malformation.  The doctor at the time thought this could be the cause of my progressive symptoms. See by this time my hand and arms were shaking and jerking. I was unable to hold objects without dropping them often. The muscle spasms in my legs and now my arms were getting worse. I was even tested for MS. I begged you to please help the doctor or give me the doctor that would actually figure out what was wrong with me. I struggled to believe I had Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome along with the Archnoid cyst I knew I had and Chiari. I was struggling to function every day. But Lord, through it all you gave me and continue to give the strength to get up each day and to take care of my family. Thank you!

God, we all go through trials and never give us more than we can handle…I truly believe this because in times where I have said out loud to you, “ I cannot do this and cannot take anymore,” you have taken it away and rendered a solution.

Lord, you are amazing and have created the beauty I see very day. You gave me a gentle and loving husband who is by my side all the time. You have given me all of my children and grandchildren.  I am so blessed. So, Lord each day that I struggle because of pain I remember your sacrifice and the pain you endured for all of us. I cannot say thank you enough. Lord, all I can do is offer myself so that you may be gloried through my actions.  I am here to serve you. AMEN.