I am very lucky.

After a soccer accident, I had a sore neck. I thought that it was seriously strained. I went to an urgent care facility and was given some pain killers, muscle relaxers, and steroids. The usual to conservatively treat a strain. I did not think that X-rays were necessary. A couple of weeks went by and every morning I would wake up feeling a little bit better. The end of the day was tough, but I have been injured enough to know that these things take time to heal. I was feeling a bit nervous as we were studying muscles and bones in class and I had a nagging feeling that I had done more damage than I would have liked to admit. I went in for X-rays. The PA (physicians assistant) checked my X-rays and wanted a radiologist to look at them. The next day, I got a phone call saying that I had done some serious damage and I should get myself to the hospital as soon as possible. This sort of news is difficult to take in. They tried to explain things on the phone, but I had stopped listening.

I went to the Swedish First Hill Emergency Room and was well taken care of. They took more X-rays and didn’t like what they saw. My C6 vertebrae was not aligned with the others. Most notably, the C7 below it. If the C6 fell off the C7 I could be paralyzed or dead. For two weeks, I was walking around, working, digging in the garden, and had no idea how seriously injured I was.

I was transferred (my first time in an ambulance) from First Hill to Cherry Hill and put on the neurosciences floor. The memories of my brother being on a neuro floor came flooding back. I kept telling myself how lucky I was to catch this before I was seriously injured. My brother is also lucky to walking and alive.

So I arrived at 1am and was put into a bed. I was told to keep my big collar on, not get up, and pee in the urinal. It took a couple of hours for the doctors orders to arrive. I was given a saline IV with 20 mEq/L of potassium. Apparently, my potassium levels were 3.3 mEq/L (normal is 3.5-5). Here is where my nursing friends and I start to geek out. My nurses and NACs that I met were all great. They treated me well and kept me updated before my surgery. One of the surgeons came in at about 3am to tell me that the team would be meeting in the morning and would get me into surgery the next day.

The next morning (really just a few hours later) I met with the surgeon and I immediately liked him. He showed me his scar where he has a similar surgery. It was nice to be able to ask real world questions like, “What will my range of motion be after the surgery?” and get a true answer. Instead of a textbook answer, he would move his head around. I was nervous most of the day just waiting for the operating room to be ready, but I had some great friends keep me company. My crew of support has been fantastic. I cannot thank Derek, Casey, Stefanie, Ed, Patty, Jenn, Adam, and of course Amanda enough.

I was eventually led into surgery and the staff was all great. They calmed my nerves and we made small talk until I slid onto the operating table. My neck was still in a collar, but I couldn’t bring myself to look around too much. The cold sterility of the room made me more nervous than I would like to admit. Surgery was apparently a success. I didn’t do much for the 45 minutes that it took, but I woke up glad that it was now time to start recovering. I was up walking around later that day. I am able to drink fluids and eat soft foods. They discharged me the day after surgery. Now I am at home recovering.

Standard ambulance selfie.

It is nice to sit by the fire sometimes. Before surgery.

Happy after surgery.

In summary, I had an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

ACDF

3D medical animation, not the real thing, can be seen here.

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November 15th – My Uncle John and Aunt Linda.

This is a continuation of things that I am thankful for. This month, I will be adding one thing every day that I am thankful for, happy about, or lucky to have experienced. I hope that it helps me realize how happy I am.

My aunt Linda and uncle John. These two have done so much for our family. Without them, my father most likely would not be alive.

Here we are at a USC football game. To say that they are fans is a bit of an understatement.

Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 6.40.06 PM Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 6.40.17 PM

My Dad had cancer. He has annual check ups every year. Linda and John made sure that we had the best treatment.

Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 6.41.06 PMAt least until I got a hold of him!Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 6.41.25 PMI cannot thank these two enough.

November 2nd – My Brother’s Recovery.

It has been one year since my brother nearly died. I feel a bit like most people in my family have nearly died. Today’s thankful post is for the fact that my brother is alive. One year ago.The big sign that says, “NO BONE FLAP ON RIGHT SIDE” is true. They removed part of his skull for more than half a year. And yet, he is still alive. Rumor has it that is “normal”
again. For that I am thankful. The good old days.This is Max before his accident.

“Thank you” doesn’t express the feelings for everyone that has helped out my family in the last year. People opening their homes to let us stay with them and be close to the hospital, organizations that run on volunteers to help with paper work, accommodations, and moral support, doctors, nurses, and the whole medical team that took time to explain as much as we could understand. Thank you all.

One month in.

The first month has been rough. Maybe it is the content (tedious). Maybe it is the hours (many). Maybe it is the social life (none). The first thing that we are tested on is the necessary and not fun things. Laws, critical thinking, and the nursing process are all filed away somewhere in the back of my small brain. After the first four weeks, we were finally allowed to learn how to put on (and take off) our PPE (personal protective equipment). My life is filled with abbreviations and mnemonics.Nursing learning occurring.Speaking of mnemonics, we are starting our clinicals at the VA. For those of you playing along at home, that means I pay the school, they find a teaching hospital for us so we can follow a real nurse and learn about what they do. Before we get that far, we also get to do a small kine urine analysis.pee pee

Your health is your wealth.

I took a quick trip to San Francisco to see my brother who was in a recent skateboarding accident. He suffered a severe head trauma that required surgery. They removed a part of his skull to relieve the pressure from the swelling. He is nearly out of ICU and looks like he will survive. We are all thrilled about that. I heard today that he is eating solid food. That is a big improvement from when I saw him heavily sedated with a breathing tube down his throat.I was able to drag my mother out of the hospital room for short periods of time. She is staying near the Castro District, so we found lots of fun things to take pictures with.