Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Matter of Time

I give up. I can't sleep. It's 3:45 Wednesday morning and I am afraid it's all over. A week ago, I was queasy. Not consistently, but often. Every now and again, there would be a wave of true nausea. My breasts felt like they were going to pop. They're still sensitive, but it's not the same. And nausea? Even queasiness? Haven't felt it for days.

At twenty-five days past ovulation, it's way too soon for these symptoms to be fading. I hate to read into this in any way. But how can I not? I've been down this road before.

And that's not all.

For the past few weeks, J~ has had a strange weakness in his right arm. A trip to a chiropractor led to Xrays, an MRI, referral to a neurosurgeon.

The appointment was yesterday and it was not good. Even I, having never seen an MRI before in my life, knew this immediately when the black and white image of J~'s neck came up on Dr. S~'s computer screen.

The doctor pointed to the line between the vertebral bones. "This dark area is your spinal cord," he said, "and this white," he said, running his finger alongside the cord, "is your friend. It's the spinal fluid." The fluid cushions the cord inside the spinal column, inside the disks of bone. Here's the alarming part: the white area, halfway down J~'s neck, thins to nothing, then thickens again. The spinal cord itself is narrowed, pinched by ruptured vertebral disks. Dr. S~ pointed to the cord where the pinch was most severe. "See this white spot?" he said, "When we see this, if that was in your brain, we call it a stroke. It means there is already damage." Though recovery of the strength and mobility J~ had just three weeks ago is not guaranteed, Dr. S~ was adamant. "We need to fix this."

"Fix this" means surgery. It means shaving off the blown-out bone and adding artificial material, fusing three of J~'s vertebral disks with a metal plate. The spinal cord will be exposed, Dr. S~ told us, his face grave. "I'll be looking right at it. Everything that you imagine going wrong in this kind of situation, could go wrong. You could die. You could be paralyzed." Without the surgery, he went on to explain, J~ is at risk. Just one fall at home, just one rear-ending on the highway, and J~ could be paralyzed. "I've seen it happen."

On the wall of his office, there is a framed Connecticut Magazine. The cover story is something along the lines of, "Best Doctors in the state, as ranked by Doctors." Dr. S~ is listed, and this is reassuring, but not entirely. Similarly, it is reassuring, but not entirely, that he has done this procedure close to a thousand times without killing or paralyzing a one. "But it does happen," he made sure we understood. "In my case, maybe less than one in a thousand."

The surgery is scheduled for the soonest possible date: Friday, July 20th. If all goes well, J~ will miss work for about a month. In the meantime, he has appointments lined up: a second opinion, a third. A follow-up with the chiropractor, a meeting with the doc who will serve as his primary care provider while in the hospital. There is more, but we were reeling and I can't remember all of it. "Wear your seat belt," Dr. S~ admonished as we got up to leave. "Be careful."

Right now: J~ is sleeping in our bed. I can hear his breathing through the closed door of my office. Our neighbor's rooster is crowing, has been crowing for what seems an hour. Time is moving slowly. Outside my window, it is still dark. The rooster is impatient for morning, the Fourth of July, a holiday oasis in the midst of a very difficult week. Soon, the passage of time will again be brisk and leading unequivocally and without apology toward all things great and small. Although I am not sleeping, will likely not sleep again any time soon, at this moment, the night is a comfort.


Ollie said...

The coming and going nausea is awful. You never really know what it means, so it just frustrates and freaks you out. If you can, call your doctor tomorrow and beg for an ultrasound. If they are worth their grain of salt they will do it. Good luck.

And good luck with J's neck.

Sara said...

Call your doctor and INSIST upon an ultrasound. It won't help you at all right now to have this unknown with you for weeks. If you're 25 dpo they should be able to let you know something. Be demanding.

I'm sorry about J's neck. That sounds positively terrifying.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine which is weighing on you more heavily - another painful pregnancy loss, or the terror of your husband's risky surgery. I have lost a sister to cancer and suffered through infertily, and the stress and pain of both were totally overwhelming and thankfully not simultaneous. I really feel for you. What a horrendous turn of events.
Given the reputation and skill level of your doctor, I am sure your husband is going to come through this just fine. It is good the surgery is in less than three weeks - it is going to be a long and otherworldly three weeks though. I can't even imagine how scary this must feel.

As for your loss of symptoms - you are under terrible stress, and tons of people don't even feel any symptoms whatsoever until past six weeks. That is 28 days past ovulation - so your loss of early symptoms could be entirely meaningless and simply your body adjusting to the increasing hormone levels. If it will make you feel better, go get an ultrasound or blood test. Either should tell you if things are as they should be. Some reassurance might help given what you are trying to cope with.

megan said...

i agree -- get a scan or at least get some repeat betas. it will make you feel better...

crunchywalrus said...

Damn, I was keeping my fingers crossed for you and sending good positive mojo your way - I am so so so hoping that it has worked, and that you're fine and your husband is fine too.

I can't give you much advice, just keep yer chin up and I'll keep you both in my thoughts. Fingers crossed!

Liz said...

I did not have "strong" nausea until well-past week 6 when I was pregnant the second time. (Yes, I did miscarry, but my betas were right smack in the middle of the "normal" range.) It came and went the 5th week, and then got decidedly stronger after week 6, to the point where I had it all the time.

I am sorry about the neck surgery. My mom had to have the same thing done. I didn't realize how serious it was at the time, but a good doctor is essential.

elle said...

I am so sorry to hear that J has o have such serious surgery! If there is a positive to be found it has to be that they caught this now before something really terrible happened. It sounds like you have a pro for a doc. They have to tell you all the possible problems, but keep focusing on the many good outcomes and the experience your doctor has with this. Also, don't forget to look after yourself through this as well. Hopefully this will all be a distant memory by the time the baby arrives. Have that ultrasound if it will set your mind at ease. I'm sending good thoughts your way.

Sam said...

Oh crap. I'm for the ultrasound. Also, be careful at the chiropractor's, it makes me queasy thinking about having J adjusted when he's in such bad shape. I'm crossing my fingers and toes for you.

Patty said...

For no good reason life is hard at times, and it sounds like you are getting a lifetime of hard in a few days span. Not sure if the sympathy of a stranger can be helpful but I offer it in case.

Focus on your breath it will help, and as for the surgery, keep learning. It is often the unkown, the not knowing that is the hardest. The more information you can gather the longer your list of pros and cons can be and might help you two decide the best way for you to go.

Both events are really tough to get one's mind around. Cut yourself some slack regarding your thoughts, feelings, and actions during this time. Hang in there and hold tight to one another.

Andrea said...

I'm sorry about J's neck too. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the both of you. I can't imagine the worry you must be feeling. I agree with the others who say you should insist on a scan. Hopefully that can give some peace of mind right now. Sending good thoughts your way...

Melissa said...

I know it's impossible, but I wouldn't worry about your symptoms fading. That is completely normal. It doesn't mean good or bad. Simply make a doctors appt and get beta numbers and an U/S.

I am terribly sorry about your husband. That sounds horrific and scary. Will send up a prayer for your bean and your whole family.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any advice, just very sincere hopes that you get reassurances to allay your (completely justified) fears soon. I'm hoping for the best for your entire family.

Anonymous said...

Do NOT panic about the baby. I had two miscarriages and now I am 27 weeks pregnant. Still nervous but I have a kicker in here. :-)
I had come and go symptoms too. I did not get bad symptoms until 9 weeks. They did not end until like 18 !! My Dr's had me in for blood tests and ultra sounds early and often-since i had lost two already.
I am so sorry about your hubby-BUT I am SO glad he went to the DR. SO many people blow off symtoms, You two have good heads on your shoulders. IT WILL WORK OUT. You have the best Dr. and caught it before he had a Major problem.
Hang in there both (all 4 even) of you.

Ann said...

Wow that's a lot to be dealing with at once. I don't have much advice, but I wanted to say that I'm keeping you both in my thoughts. I remember vividly a day in my 5th week when I realized my breasts weren't tender anymore. I was working at the reference desk, trying desperately not to burst into tears, sure that it was all over (it wasn't). This isn't a fun place to be, I hope you can get some reassurance about the pregnancy soon. And I hope the surgery for J goes well, too.

Felicia said...

I hope you ok. Did you make it into the Dr. Your silence is a little scary, but I am hoping you are ok.

Sorry, about J. WOW, just what you need more stress. You guys are in my thoughts.