I often complain about neck pain. I usually share this with people soon enough because people ask me why I hurt, so I’ll just save my breath a little and tell everyone. It still hurts, but it isn’t like it used to be. On January 17, 2011, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a guy pulled out of a parking garage and attempted to make a left on a four-lane road, K Street in DC. There was a bus blocking his view of me coming down the road, so he hit my passenger side. I didn’t notice the pain at first. In fact, it was several weeks later when I was driving on the highway and sneezed. Half a minute later, I felt this electrical pain going down my left arm. Considering my family history, I thought I was having my first heart attack. I pulled over and started to cry. I thought it was over, my life was done, no one could save me now. After two minutes of some excruciating pain, everything was normal again. No pain. Laughing hysterically, I knew I dodged a bullet but needed to see my doctor.
Long story short, my neurosurgeon figured out it was because of the accident. He eventually gave me a cervical fusion of C5, C6, and C7 by going through the front of my neck and pushing my throat to the side. I was off work for six weeks. My daughter was just six months old at the time of my surgery, eight months after the accident. The doctor forbid me from picking her up for months. Some of the drugs made me feel just stupid. I’d stop in the middle of my sentences forgetting what was going on. I went back in periodically to get a check up. Each time I got new X-rays. A little more than a year after the surgery, I was starting to feel a lot more pain without any more activity. My X-ray showed something scarey. One of the bottom screws in C7 had come out a little bit. I literally have a screw loose.
The doc decideded I needed another surgery to put to metal rods in my neck from the back instead of the front. Because the penticles (pieces of the vertabra that extend horizontally) at C7 were too thin, he needed to jump down to T1 and T2. C7 essentially floats now like a busted kitchen cabinet hinge. I can feel it sometimes when I turn my head moving when it isn’t supposed to. I feel better, but I still hurt. Most of the day I have a dull pain that gets progressively worse until I can lay down. If I look down too much from reading or cooking, it gets bad quickly. Before the surgeries, I wouldn’t feel much pain at all most of the day, but I’d fall down on the ground and cry like a baby if I sneezed. Successive sneezes were awful.
The scar on the back of my neck is pretty awesome. I want a tatoo of a couple battery symbols or “Warranty void if opened by unlicensed technician” next to it. Any ideas?
So you know how the doctor asks you to rank your pain on a scale of 1 to 10? I have a new reference point for what a 10 is. Makes you think about what is important in this world.