I’ve resumed my daily walks with a new vigor. I’d been sputtering for a bit, but seem to have gotten back in stride and am fully enjoying them. I’ll share with you, a thought that I had this morning, near the end of my walk:
This morning, as I was finishing my walk, I was making a decision as to turn left and head home, or to continue straight for a couple of more blocks. A simple decision, then it hit me, a deep sense of gratitude.
Back mid/late February of 2003, I was having some acute leg pain in my left leg, starting in my lower back. This only happened when I walked a few blocks or more, but it was troublesome. Later, it progressed into a general numbness, particularly in the back of my legs and lower back. I was having trouble feeling heat, cold, and even touch.
One particular day, I had taken Tony to soccer practice. There are many errant balls flying to and fro. One of them landed in front of me, I attempted to kick it and fell straight to the ground. I thought that my knee had given out, but actually, my legs just collapsed. Scary. That was the impetus to cause my trip to the doctor.
I thought that perhaps I had a pinched nerve and went to a chiropractor. After a few treatments there was no improvement. He did an x-ray and it was inconclusive. He was concerned and decided to refer me to a neurologist, just in case. A few days later, I went to see the neurologist. He asked about the problems, then set about doing his work, hooking me up to an oscilloscope and poking needles in various parts of my body.
When he finished, he had a concerned look on his face and explained something to this effect:
Paul. I’m very concerned. Actually, I don’t know how it is that you are walking. You’re not getting any signals to your brain from your legs. You shouldn’t be walking. My only guess is that your eyes are working in coordination with your legs to keep you balanced and walking. I’m not surprised that you fell when you tried to kick the soccer ball. I want to schedule you for a myleogram*.
(*Worst test ever! They take a bit of spinal fluid out, inject that same amount of dye into your spine, place you a table, face down, strap you in, tilt you down so that the dye runs towards your brain. Your whole body feels like it is on fire and you break out into a sweat. After the test, you have to remain in bed for 24 hours).
The results of the test were pretty stark, telling. Several vertebrae were pushing on my spinal cord, especially around C3 & C4. The neurologist said that this was very serious and that he was going to get me an appointment with a surgeon. He called and I got an appointment the SAME day, with the best neurosurgeon in Dallas, Dr. Michael Desaloms – funny, all of the nurses were in love with this guy. He was quite the heartthrob. LOL http://directory.dmagazine.com/doctors/J-Michael-Desaloms-MD/6652
We went in to talk to him. He evaluated the x-ray, said that if I didn’t do the surgery, that probably the discs would continue to encroach into my spinal cord, damaging it beyond repair and I’d be paralyzed from the waist, or perhaps neck; however, if he did the surgery, there were risks, too. He told me to take a couple of days to think about it. I think, if I remember it correctly, it was a Friday. I asked him, right way: Can you do the surgery tomorrow? There’s nothing to think about. He laughed and said that he could do it early next week.
Wednesday, I went into surgery, came out with flying colors, feeling restored in my legs, feeling good!
I was told that I couldn’t play football or any other contact sport because I still have some discs in my back that are close to touching, but they weren’t bad enough to warrant such a difficult surgery. Much easier to do the neck than the thoracic spine! So skydiving, either.
Anyway, that’s what popped up when I thought about doing that extra half mile. I was happy to do it. Happy that I could do it. Grateful, full of gratitude!