3-2-19 9:00 am Wednesday night Nita had trouble sleeping and was up several times during the night. On Thursday morning she woke up with pain in her arms, chest and back, and she called me around 9:00 am. I was out of town, so I called Karen, and Nita called 911. Nita was taken by ambulance to Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, where she and Karen met Dr. Nwilow (pronounced “Willow”), a doctor of internal medicine, who was the doctor on duty at the time. They ran some initial tests, made sure that Nita was stable and admitted her to a room. Yesterday they performed a stress test to check her heart, as well as an MRI to check out her spine. (Karen was there during the stress test and Pam was with Nita at the time of the MRI and they may be able to share some additional information on this.) The stress test went well, and no weaknesses were found in her heart. In fact, her “EF” (ejection fraction, which measures the strength of the pumping of the heart) was exceptionally strong, at 85 (normal EF is 55-70), so the doctors feel good about her heart.
However, the MRI indicated swelling in the spinal cord (primarily in the neck area), which was being restricted by the spinal column (described as like a “ring” on a swollen finger). With that assessment, a couple of new doctors have become involved; Dr. Ganana Tesfa, MD, a neurologist, and Dr. Dilip K. Sengupta, MD a spinal surgeon. Yesterday they began treating Nita with a steroid (“decadron”) to reduce the swelling of the spine. While most of the pain in Nita’s back and chest have subsided, she does continue to have some pain in her arms, weakness in her arms and legs, and an inability to open her hand. She also had some problems with normal bladder functions, which caused her some pain, but that has been addressed. Dr. Sengupta believes that the symptoms are caused by the restriction of the spinal cord, and may improve if the swelling of the spine subsides with the steroid. They plan to continue to observe Nita, and make a determination as to further actions needed on Monday or Tuesday. It is a possibility that Nita will require spinal surgery to “clean out” the area between the spinal cord and the spinal column, and possibly to insert some posts within the spinal column to improve the space available for the spinal cord. As with any surgery in the spinal area, the doctors have reminded us that there is always a risk of paralysis. Nita has been asked to drink a lot of water, continue to take the medications administered by the hospital, and refrain from unnecessary movements of the head and neck. She is in pretty good spirits, and is able to eat normal food. While she has not spoken about it in my presence, I believe that she is probably feeling anxiety about the possible surgery.
For everyone that has been up to the hospital or called, “Thank You”. I won’t try to list the names, as I am sure that I would forget someone. It is a little hard to reply to each of the phone calls and texts, so we are going to try to send an update once a day, generally at the end of the day. Of course, if something develops that needs to be sent out immediately, we will do that. Otherwise, we do appreciate your patience. Nita is in room 3003 at the Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, and the address is 2700 East Broad Street, Mansfield, Texas 76063.
3-2-19 3:50 pm
The doctors have decided to schedule Nita's surgery at 1:00 pm on Monday, March 4th at Methodist Mansfield Medical. Dr. Sengupta has one surgery earlier in the morning, so the exact time to begin Nita's surgery may be a little before or after 1:00 pm. Keep her in your prayers, and we will look forward to sharing positive comments on the surgery as soon as it is possible on Monday.