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Well, hopefully the third time is a charm, as they say (ie I'm hoping this is the last time I do this). Other's may say, oh no "He's baaack". Whatever the response, I'm writing to family and friends again, this time about my Mom. For those who are unaware, just before Christmas this year she was visiting my sister Robyn and her husband Tom in Newport Beach, on a walk home, just a few steps behind and somehow ended up on the ground. Her collapse, or fall, or whatever was not witnessed but she was conscious when they turned around, but on the ground. She said she didn't fall, and thinks she fainted - but no scrapes, bruises or cuts. Unfortunately, she could not move her extremities much, so spinal cord precautions were taken, 911 called and she ended up at Hoag Hospital with a diagnosis of central cord syndrome, compounded by cervical disk disease (bulging) and spinal canal narrowing (old age disease). At some point, she had to have hyper-extended her neck, and given the already narrow spinal canal and disk disease, caused this condition. Central cord syndrome results in upper limb paralysis, generally greater than lower limb paralysis and that is what she was facing at Hoag. Because of the significant cord compression observed on MRI, the decision was made to operate sooner rather than later to relieve the compression. So, she under went an anterior cervical discesctomy, foraminotomy and C4-C7 anterior cervical vertebral fusion. In laymen terms, they reamed out her cervical canal, removed the bulging discs and fused her cervical spine. She did well in the surgery with no complications. My sisters and brothers in law took the brunt of the emotional trauma during that admission and subsequent transport to Casa Colina, which was a disaster. I wasn't there and I own and have to live with that decision. But no use dwelling on the past. Once at Casa Colina, the hard work of rehab began. Slow at first, then somebody here wasn't doing their job and she got dehydrated. That caused significant disorientation, nightmares and screaming episodes so she had a 3 day ICU admission, which my loving sisters kept from me while Kim and I enjoyed the sun in Cuba. However, all is well this week and she is back in a normal room. When I arrived 3 days ago, she had some issues with short term memory, and that is a known consequence of the surgery, anesthesia and trauma, particularly in the aged - and even that has improved over the last 3 days.
So, while I was more of the cup is 1/2 empty when I arrived, my cup is overflowing today. Mom has a long road to hoe and its not clear how far she will go. Cord injuries like hers can take a year or more to slowly improve, so we will take it one day at a time. She can stand with assistance, her left arm is moving well and she can use it to feed herself. Her right arm is pretty much useless right now. Her swallowing is improving every day and they upgraded her diet to minced food today from pureed. As long as she keeps improving she can stay here as an inpatient in the rehab unit. We are exploring options for where to go next - that ultimately depends on her. One step at a time! Visitors welcome!