Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Bill Kistner Cancer Fund

As many of you know, our friend Bill Kistner has terminal cancer. I spoke to his wife Wendy yesterday, and I asked how Bill was doing. She said that the cancer is spreading and Bill is not doing so well. He recently had some tests done, and the Oncologist’s report showed that he has more tumors developing in his lungs and that he has also developed a tumor on his liver. She mentioned that Bill simply wants to do two things while he is able, and before he gets too ill. Bill really would like to go to the AA Founders weekend in Akron, OH in June. He would also like to go to Niagra Falls. In order for him to do this, he would need to rent an RV as he cannot travel well due to the colorectal cancer. Traveling this way, he can also use the bathroom and shower without concern. He also gets tired and needs naps, and can have his dietary needs met with less disruption. Seeing Bill fight cancer is an inspiration to us all. We all have the ability to make his final wish come true. Terminal cancer is hard enough on Bill and his family, not to mention the burden of financial worries. The fact that one of his final wishes is to attend the AA Founders weekend speaks volumes about Bill’s character and integrity, as well as his priorities in life. Please donate whatever you can to The Bill Kistner Cancer Fund so that we can make his wish come true as well as help his family during this difficult time. Bless all of you that donate, no amount is too small, and collectively we can all make a difference. The greater the donation you can make will of course help us get closer to making Bill’s wish come true. Again Bless you all, you really can make a difference.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Finally Answers, but more Back Surgery

I am writing out this blog just so I can keep a journal of times and dates about all of my recent back surgeries.  Probably boring to most, but more of a reminder to myself about what is happening and when.  Time passes and details become so fuzzy.  I am going to come back to this with my other surgery dates, but for now I am filling in the present while it is fresh in my mind.

I have had three back surgeries so far at Massachusetts General Hospital due to degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis along with a whole list of other conditions.  The first one was a discectomy of the lumbar spine at discs L4/L5 at a fairly young age of 32.  Then a redo of L4/L5 as the pain came back.  My doctor couldn't understand it, said I was like "The Princess and the Pea" he said, as it was so hard to find on any images.  Once he went in, it was more like the Princess and the lima bean a large but very hidden piece of disc was sitting on a nerve.  Then after an auto accident that jarred my already degenerating spine, I had to have a spinal fusion of the L4/L5 discs and bone taken from my pelvis grafted onto my fusion site.    
I have been having upper back pain, as in "Help there is a knife in my back" kind of pain.  I met with my doctor today, and we went over the MRIs I had last week. The cervical spine C5/C6 has a spur and a bulge, and C6/C7 is bulging very badly. He wanted to have me have a nerve block to determine if that indeed was where all of this pain was coming from, the MRI showed the real picture, which is so much that the xrays couldn't capture of course. So I ended up having this procedure that I hadn't planned on today, it was not fun. Like a facet block only more uncomfortable. Using flouroscopy, 3 docs performed this procedure passing a very large needle for the short-acting anesthetic, and corticosteroid for longer relief. I swear this was so much more intense than the lumbar facet blocks? I'm working on one hour's sleep and its a much smaller space for that big needle to go. I think not anticipating this procedure happening today may have thrown me off too. I felt light-headed, woozy and almost fainted, I think it was lack of sleep from endless stabbing pain. Anyhow my doctor is notoriously conservative, holding out surgery always as a very last option. After he saw my Cervical Spine MRI though, he went into straight talk about confirming the MRI results, then planning the next move. Looking right now like he is going to have to fuse C5, C6, and C7 and remove the bone spur. I'm the first to admit that I thought cervical spine stuff was easier to deal with than lumber and other areas of the spine. The recovery period after surgery is much shorter than other spine surgery, but this hurts like a knife in my upper back and now left arm. I can't even turn my neck to the left, which is hard as pulling onto a highway requires you to look back to your left and I can't do it. So right now I'm out of commission for a few days, can't drive and Sean's birthday party is Sunday. Okay, Vicodin kicking in, glad I got all of that in while semi-coherent. Need a bone graft from my hip I am guessing to have bone to fuse this with.  It's that or cadaver bone or synthetic bone.  Cadaver bone honestly creeps me out to no end.  As it comes in second place to having your own bone grafted from your hip, I think I will stay with my own bone and bite the bullet on the bone graft.  Synthetic just doesn't succeed enough, and to go through an extensive surgery like this, I want to have the best "materials" possible.  

Anyhow very happy I have answers as well as the nerve block to confirm that yes, that's exactly where it hurts. Very wiped out, in pain, and down for the count for the next few days.  I can't drive, have to keep a pain log. I have an entirely different issue I am going to see a physician at on Monday at Mass General, as if this isn't enough.  Not complaining, just stating the facts.  Okay, I would say that the Vicodin is kicking in, not a lot to kill this pain but enough to make be kind of loopy.  I will enter more information later, right now I need to crash ...