Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Summer of Our Discontent

Pierre LeGros, Saint Stanislaus Kostka on His Deathbed
French, 1702-1703
Rome, Church of Sant'Andrea al Quiriniale, Cell of Saint Stanislaus Kostka
Saint Stanislaus Kostka is a patron saint of broken bones.

With all due respect to Shakespeare, it is not just winters that can bring discontent.  There is no need to mention all the reasons why the summer of 2021, and especially the bitter last days of August, may have caused discontent from a national and global perspective.  But, on the purely personal side, this summer has been one of particular personal discontent for me.

Followers of this blog will remember that three years ago I had a summer and autumn of extreme discontent and pain when my spine finally collapsed after years of growing arthritis.  Spinal fusion surgery in December 2018 repaired that terrible damage and recovery has been steady, if made somewhat uneven by enforced inactivity in the early days of the COVID pandemic.  

Things began to pick up markedly following completion of vaccination in February of this year.  I became almost fully active again, even though some of my most cherished activities, such as volunteering at the Metropolitan Museum, going to the opera and choral singing were still in hiatus.  My walker was finally being left behind and I felt better than I have for several years.

Alas, I may have been too frisky.  Some home projects had been waiting for months and, at the end of May, I started working on them.  Closets got reorganized, donations of the unworn were bagged up ready to go, I began to plan for a summer of sewing.  You get the picture.  

Unfortunately, it was too much.  Early in June I began to hurt.  By mid-June the pain was becoming worse.  By early July I seemed to be back where I started, with the exception of still being able to stand up straight.  An MRI late in June showed another disk had partially ruptured.  I began to have to stay home and rest.  The pain became intense.  Epidural injections were scheduled.

Then, on July 21 I paid a routine visit to my primary care doctor.  She took one look at me and told me she was going to call an ambulance to take me to the ER.  She had noticed that I had almost collapsed during the short walk from her waiting room to her office.  I told her that the pain had suddenly worsened that morning.  She judged me to be a fall risk.  

An MRI done at the emergency room revealed that the rupture had gotten worse in the weeks since the previous one was done.  And I was a definitely a fall risk.  I have had several small falls since that day.  The communication between the nerves of my spine and the muscles of my thighs had been cut off by the flood of spinal fluid released from the disk.  Messages just weren't getting through.  So, commands about standing up, stepping up and balancing were not being received.  The muscles weren't responding because they were receiving no signals about what to do.  This is a terrifying situation to be in, as well as causing minor embarrassment regarding getting into vehicles or out of chairs.  

A second epidural shot in mid-August helped greatly, as did physiotherapy.  But, they made me too optimistic, I think.  I began to plan a walking program every day to regain strength faster.  Instead of that goal, all I accomplished for my first day of the program was another trip to the emergency room -- this time for a broken leg!

So, this is the explanation of some of the sluggishness readers may have noticed in my blog housekeeping.  Sitting at the computer is now quite difficult as the leg has to be kept elevated.  There is also some additional pain, making me less able to spend as much time as I would like doing just about anything.  

So, for the present and for the next month or two things will be in abeyance.  I will still try to do a monthly refresh of the side listings, but there will not be any new material added in the main column.  

I hope that two months will be sufficient to heal both issues, or at lease to make them less troublesome in this regard.  

Have a blessed autumn.