Saturday, April 28

Phoenix, we will be there soon!

Shhhh.... don't wake Gene. He gets upset when I am on the computer instead of packing.

Sometimes I stay up most of the night before we fly. I've learned that I am a slow, easily distracted packer. And house cleaner. I even read books so slowly that I forget the chapters before the one I'm on (thus the audio books while driving).  Surprisingly though, I have been mostly packed since about 5:00 p.m. I've got to compile the last suitcase with the abundant plastic baggies, make-up style bags with misc. items from the bathroom in them ~ oh, and pillows. Yes, there is nothing like your own pillow at a hotel (especially with a 17 night stay .... give or take).  Don't forget a few edible things!

Gene received his 'packet' of information in the mail a few days ago. Lots of  'don't take these meds and don't eat these foods' two weeks before and two weeks after surgery. Um.... they do know we only had 8 days notice, right? And take off a couple more days to mail the packet to us. Not to worry. Those that know Gene can pretty much rest assured that food list was not hard to follow!! Except for the part about not eating pickles ~ excessively ~ whatever that means. He loves his bread and butter spicey pickles. The daily meds he takes are not any concern. He removed his Fentenayl patch on Wed./Thurs.. They usually get replaced every three days, but he is supposed to be weaning off things before surgery, so no replacement!!

Monday he has an appointment to get blood work done and other items of business at the hospital. Tuesday he will have GOLD put in his back as 'Markers' for the surgery. They say he will be there for about 4 hrs +. Does not sound fun.

Wednesday we will be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. for a 7:30 surgery time. No idea on how long it will take.

We have three family members and a good friend coming out to support Gene and I. Our son Daniel, Gene's dad, Gene's sister Ginny and Beth Chapman. They will all fly in Tuesday and then each has a different time they will fly back. As Gene is sent 'home' to our temporary residence ~ The Hilton Suites (we call them Embassy Suites here) ~ it will just be the two of us. They allow pets, so our two tag-a-long Chihuahua's will have plenty of room!! HA! That is actually for me. That means two t.v.'s too!

I'll try to update again by Wednesday p.m. to let you know how things went.  Prayers are always appreciated. Thank you to everyone who has sent them up already and called and sent messages. We love you all and can't wait for Gene to feel better so we can have some fun!!!


Sunday, April 15

UPDATE on Back situation

There really is no update.But everyone keeps asking "WHEN" is he having his surgery. 
Gene encountered a snafu when the x-ray that was ordered did not show his whole rib cage. Dr. Dickman needs an accurate rib count before he operates (some people have an extra rib). Seeing as he is doing a laproscopic procedure and needs to go between the ribs, he needs to be certain where to venture in.
So... we are waiting on return phone calls to rectify the situation and get another x-ray sent to the Dr..

Meanwhile we are fitting in every event we possibly can before we have to head out to Phoenix. We always intended to make it to our grandson's first birthday this past weekend ~ and did. This coming weekend we are babysitting both grands for 3 nights. Then we have a couple other things on the calendar ~ Mayor's Prayer Breakfast on the 1st of May and an Aldridge Garden's recognition event one night. Hopefully we will make those and the surgery will be right after them. My hopes are for surgery in May, since my first hope was March, and then April, both of which failed.

As soon as we have a date, we will send out a notice to everyone to let you know the plans. So, catch up on Gene's situation here and stay tuned! 

First I wanted to share with you that herniation's in the Thoracic region are rare. Only 1-2 percent of back problems occur there. Also, the following description of the region will show you how hard it is to reach the herniation's:  The thoracic spine is built for stability. The ribs attached to T1-T10 curve around to meet at the front of the body and attach to the chest wall, or sternum. Combined, the thoracic spine and rib cage anchoring each level of the spine from T1 – T10 provide both stability and a protected space for the heart, lungs, liver and other vital organs. So, you see, a major surgery due to the fact the doctor has to come in from the front and deflate a lung and work close to the aortic artery and heart. Normally the surgery is done like a heart surgery and they open you up. The minimally invasive way will still be a serious surgery, but it will involve separating a few ribs from the front side to allow the instruments passage instead of cutting Gene open. Dr. Dickman is a practiced surgeon, who 'invented' this procedure well over 10 yrs. ago and we trust he will be successful in reaching the herniation's without any complications. Side note; there are no guarantees that the pain will go away after surgery. Our prayers will be for Gene to be pain free afterwards!!

Here is an overview of what has been going on for the past year: Note that the first 11 1/2 months of 2011 were spent trying to buy, remodel and move into the Bruno's grocery store bld. for our new location of Hoover Tactical Firearms, to include a shooting range and deli. Can we say stress for Gene?
  • January 16, 2011 slept on a very uncomfortable mattress in LV / 2 nights
  • Brought new mattress, but Gene's back had started hurting
  • Got a massage to see if it would help pain
  • Home on 24th / another massage
  • Jan. 26th he went to his GP doctor / shot for pain
  • February 4th / MRI / he has 2 herniated discs
  • Feb. 7th Gene goes to see Dr. Maher for back
  • Pain is bad & Gene cuts a D.C. trip short this week
  • Feb. 14th first pain block
  • Tried an inversion table but it was too uncomfortable
  • March 9 second pain block / helped with radiating pain
  • March 16th 11:00 p.m. Gene goes to ER for unrelated situation.                                                      He has a staph infection / spends 5 nights in hospital
  • March 29 a Full Body scan is done & Gene cancels a D.C. trip
  • April 20 Gene's 3rd pain Block
  • Manages a D.C. trip with Daniel, but in pain May 8-12th
  • June 24th Gene has surgery for his Ulna nerve (elbow)
  • July is spent working with a neurosurgeon for pain management
  • Pain mng. included the Tene's electrical pulsometer ~ only temp. relief
  • Fall is spent opening store (Nov.19) & trying to find comfort in meds & going to therapy to try and deal with issues related to pain (not very successfully)
  • December 2011 decision is made to look for a surgeon
  • January 24 2012 we meet with Dr. Pritchard at UAB/Kirklin clinic.
  • Dr. P was amazing. Explained things so well. Ordered a Mylegram CT to determine the severity of the herniation's. Also agreed to send records to Doctor's in Phoenix, Arizona to see if Gene qualified for a minimally invasive procedure that was designed by Dr. Curtis Dickman.
  • Spent almost 2 months to get a response back from Phoenix. Yes
  • March 21, 2012 we flew to Arizona to meet Dr. Dickman. It is a go!
  • Orders are to get the x-ray of the ribcage (see above) & to get release letters from doctors in Birmingham (done).
  • As soon as we have a date Gene is going to have to cut back on his pain meds. Dr. D wants him to go into surgery without any meds on board.
  • Gene is prepared for the pain to become intense as he cuts back
  • I am prepared (not) to take care of him during that time