Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy Holidays

It's been over a year since my last post, time seems to fly by, there have been lots of changes, some good some not so good. Even though life is difficult I still feel blessed in many ways, two of the greatest blessings are the birth of my first grand baby and a home for my family.  I'm so grateful to Redwood Christian Park and it's staff, for letting us stay in our home, not having to worry about the roof over our head is such a burden lifted. I don't have adequate words to express my gratitude but I thank God every day for this blessing. We have a new addition to the house, Janea had a baby girl 7 months ago, precious Isabella. Having a baby in the house has added so much joy, it brightens my morning waiting for pumpkin to come up and see me. Janea and Pepe are doing such a great job parenting, I'm very proud of both them.

It's been 16 months since Jerry had stem cell treatment and he continues to get new feelings or sensations that he didn't have prior to the stem cells. The changes were not drastic, he didn't regain the use of his arms as we had hoped however the changes he did get were encouraging enough to consider going back for a second treatment. Prior to stem cells Jerry could not feel anything below his chest line and now he has some feeling. Jerry can feel some pressure from pinching or poking in his arms and legs. Before stem cells Jerry couldn't feel the water at all when taking a bath, within a few months of the treatment he began to feel the water but it felt cold to him. Now he can feel the warmth of the water when he takes a bath, the feeling is not as strong for him as it is for you and I but he's very thankful to be able to feel something. We've done an experiment with Jerry blindfolded where we have a hot pad and a cold pack, I'll place one of them somewhere on his legs or feet. Jerry then has to tell me where it's placed, right or left and if it's hot or cold, he's been able to answer getting it correct 8 out of 10 times. Jerry also gained bowel and bladder sensations as well as the ability to move his big toes, the toe movement is not consistent but encouraging none the less.

Jerry continues to work hard going to SCI-FIT in Pleasanton twice a week for therapy. There's a new machine at SCI-FIT that simulates walking called the locomat which Jerry was very excited to try out. Jerry's been on this machine three times now and every time he's done he says his whole body tingles. Below is a video of Jerry on the machine.

So now for the not so good news, Jerry touched based on it in his post, he will be having neck surgery January 8th. Jerry's C-Spine (neck) has collapsed and is pinching his spinal cord at the C7 level. Jerry's original break and damage to his cord is at C4 he now has sustained significant damage at the C6-C7 level. Jerry had a bone density test which confirmed he has osteoporosis from lack of weight bearing exercise. The cause of the new damage in the neck is unknown, one theory is that C6 could no longer support the weight and pressure from the fusion and hardware at C3-C5 because of the osteoporosis so it burst under the pressure. When C6 burst C5 and everything above went belly down into C6.  C5 has screws from previous hardware which went down the center of C6 and to complicate matters further everything fused this way. Jerry was referred to one of the best surgeons in our area which felt that this surgery was to complicated for him so he referred Jerry to UCSF. The surgeon at UCSF will have to remove the old hardware, break apart the fusion, remove C6 completely, put in spacer and then fuse all the way down to T3 which is between the shoulder blades. This will be a posterior / anterior procedure which basically means they will operate from the front and back. The surgeon anticipates a 12 hour surgery and a 5 day hospital stay if all goes well. I know this all sounds very confusing, I attached a snap shot of his MRI which shows the damage. It may be hard for some to interpret the image but everything above C6 is not supposed to be forward it's supposed to be back in the opposite direction. The risks range from losing the ability to speak, becoming ventilator dependent for life, stroke or death. The risks are terrifying however the surgeon has assured us the percentages of these happening are low. I'd like to say these assurances give me some security but quite honestly they don't, I'll need lots of prayers on the 8th, I won't rest easy til Jerry comes out OK.

I'll post after the surgery to update everyone on how he's doing, until then please keep Jerry and our family in your prayers.

God Bless!!