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August 18, 2008

The Strangest Patient He's Ever Seen

I've been telling this story so much over the weekend because everyone wants to know, so I figured that I should just write it all down in one place. It's pretty long, but it totally insane the more I think about it. There are moments where I wonder if it was all real, but it is, no matter how strange it sounds.

On July 7, I was collecting recycling in the Union and my back got a bit sore. I tried to stretch it out, but it wouldn't ease up. I went home at lunch and didn't come back. I started getting chiropractic treatment for a sprain/strain of the lower back. We tried easing back to work when things felt better but then they'd just start hurting a lot. Finally, I called the doc and asked if we can check something further because it had been too long. He ordered an MRI of my lower back and we officially diagnosed me with a herniated disk. It was the L5 S1. Finally, we had something specifically wrong that we could work on fixing!!

On Friday the 15th of August, I went to Gem City as a referral from my chiropractor. They showed me the MRI and explained options including pain killers, oral steroids and injectable steroids. It seemed to make the most sense to just get the injections in the little pocket between my spine and the nerve, because it only affects the specific injury instead of sending the junk all over my body like a pill would do. We set it up, and I came back that afternoon and had the injections at 4. There wasn't a total relief in pain but it was fairly substantial. Everything seemed like it was heading in the right direction.

The next morning, I felt pretty good. Good enough to go to Walmart and look for a couple things I needed. I got back home and decided to play a little Rock Band while Sandra was surfing the web. I finished a round on the drums, and started to get light headed. I knew this wasn't normal and I told Sandra, "Something's not right." Suddenly, I couldn't hold the drumsticks anymore and started to slouch forward. I stood up and made my way to the couch, which was only a couple steps away and then totally collapsed. I remember having a hard time speaking and being completely unable to control my body in any way. I was totally paralyzed. Sandra kept asking me what hurts, but nothing hurt at all. I just couldn't do anything so she made the call to 911!

They finally got here and did all the checks to see if I could feel in my limbs. The thing is that I could feel everything. No numbness - no tingling. After thoroughly checking me out, they loaded me in the ambulance and took me to Ivinson Memorial Hospital. The ride over was pretty crazy too. I was totally paralyzed for about 20 minutes and then started getting some movement in my limbs, but they were shaking so badly and I couldn't control the movements. The EMT had to give me an IV and grabbed my arm to start placing it, but I couldn't relax it at all. If he put my arm in the air, it stayed exactly where he placed it and shook a lot. This shaking would continue for about four hours.

Ivinson is a great hospital, don't get me wrong, but they had no capabilities to do MRI or CT scans on the weekend. One would think they would need to have that worked out, but either way, they needed to transport me to Cheyenne. It has been about four and a half hours since I first slumped over, and my arms stopped twitching and then my legs finally stopped during the ambulance ride to Cheyenne. At this point, I can move my arms, I can lift my left leg about two inches and just barely get my right leg off the table. This is by far the scariest thing I've ever been through because I have no real answers.

The doctor in Cheyenne came in and said he wanted to ask me a few questions. He said if what he understands is true, then I am by far the strangest patient he's ever seen. I told him everything I could and he said it's true - I am the strangest! He then told me I was beyond his level of expertise and that I was going to go for full MRI scans of my back and I also got a CT of my brain to check for stroke. The scans showed nothing super surprising except that I also had a herniated disk at the T7 level, but nothing that would cause this. The doctors decided to keep me overnight to make sure nothing else happened, but also said that I would probably never know a definitive cause.

Needless to say, I don't know anything for sure, but thanks to my sister, I have a good idea what is behind all this. The drug I was injected with is called Kenalog and is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squib. She started looking into possible side effects and OH MY GOODNESS I probably would never had taken this drug if I'd seen the list first. My blood pressure going through the roof, muscle weakness, diminished muscle, paralysis, insomnia etc. are all symptoms I was experiencing and all possibly related to this drug. Possible effects even go as far as to include psychotic episodes and stuff. It seems crazy to me that this is even legal with all this other junk that can happen. I tried to talk to the doctors about, but honestly, they didn't seem all that interested. They told me it was probably related to the injection, but why it is my sister is the one who had to find the proof?!

They let me go yesterday afternoon with the instruction to take it easy for a week, but don't just sit around and let me muscles get worse. Then I am supposed to start physical therapy to build up my muscles again and get my back in shape. I'm trying to get into Homestead Physical Therapy because I know someone there and it's highly recommended. I can't wait to be back to normal. Right now, if I stand too long or walk a while, I start shaking pretty badly. I look forward to playing with and holding my kids again and just getting back to work. How strange is that? Not too strange seeing as though I'm the strangest patient he's ever seen.


Erin said...

Wow, you have one amazing sister! She must be really special...we'll have to thank her for practically saving your LIFE!

shellycoulter said...

Jon, I could have used little printouts of this to hand out on Sunday. It was much more confusing for me to tell. :)

We're praying for complete healing so you can get your life back to normal.

You're definitely the strangest guy I've ever seen. :)

Scott said...

I was already polishing off a smart-alec comment when I saw the title of this thing, but will obviously hold off. (I'm sure there will be another opportunity later.)

Sorry to hear you had to go through all of that, but glad things are looking better. We're praying for you.

Erin said...

Wow, you have one amazing sister! She must be really special...we'll have to thank her for practically saving your LIFE!