Cervical!

I was discussing my neck issue with a co-worker a while back when another co-worker heard the word cervical, and thought it meant cervix.  Quite a difference there.

I had today off work, as I had a doctor visit in the middle of the day.  After 75F and tornadoes on Friday we had a cooler weekend.  This morning I woke to three inches of snow.  By the time I was up and moving the roads were completely clear.

Snowy Scene
Snowy Scene

I took a meandering route through neighborhoods.  I noticed that my fitness level has really diminished recently.  Every small hill was a challenge.

My last physical therapy appointment was Friday.  I’ve put my massage therapy and chiropractor visits on hold.  These things haven’t been working for me.  Today was the day for me to talk to my doctor about surgery.

Beargrass Creek
Beargrass Creek

I approached Seneca Park and stopped to take the pictures in this post.  There wasn’t any snow falling from the sky, but the trees were dropping quite a bit as it melted.  I was pelted in the face by a piece of ice.

Snow-filled trees
Snow-filled trees

I eventually made it to the office.  Not finding a bike rack, I had to lock to a sign.

The 'bent
The 'bent

As expected, the doctor has said that non-surgical methods are not working.  I’m hoping for one of the “easier” surgeries, as if any of them are easy.

That’s not to be.  He is suggesting anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.  That involves cutting through the front of the neck, removing the ruptured disc (C6-C7), grinding down the bone a bit, and sticking a piece of cadaver bone in to fuse the two vertebrae.  There would also be metal plates and screws put in place to hold it all together.

I would be unable to drive(ha!) or work for at least two weeks.  I’d be off the bike for several months.  It can take a full year for full fusion to take place.

There are risks.  The bones may not fuse, which would require another surgery.  I could die.  It may not provide as much relief as I hope.  I could end up paralyzed.  It’s a terribly invasive surgery.

He isn’t rushing me to make a decision.  At this point, I can’t see going through with the surgery.  I see two options that don’t involve surgery, both involve dealing with it.

Option One:  Give up.  Buy a car and sell the bikes.  Suffer with the pain and continue to deteriorate.  Someday I’ll die and the pain will stop.  That’s a lousy option, but seems slightly better than surgery (at this point).

Option Two:  Attack this thing my way.  I’ve done some research on exercise, stretching, diet, and other things that may help a little.  So, do those things and deal with the pain.  It won’t fix a ruptured disc, but it may provide enough relief for me to keep plugging along.  This keeps me healthy, and still leaves open the option for surgery later if necessary.

I did ask the doctor if the pressure on the nerve would be damage it long-term.  He didn’t seem concerned.  I asked him about the bikes again.  I don’t want to be limited to the recumbent.  He gave me the all-clear to ride what I want, with the warning that I may be quite sore from it.

I plan on riding the single-speed to work tomorrow.  I’ll consider replacing the handlebars with something a bit higher.

Later in the week I’ll get the LHT out and ready to ride.  I’ll look into other handlebar options for that too.

My preliminary decision is Option Two.  Option One is really bad.  Surgery doesn’t sound good.  Option One is the direction I’ll head for now.  I reserve the right to change my mind later.

2 thoughts on “Cervical!”

  1. As you’ve described it, I think I might know someone who has gone through the surgery (or something similar). He’s my former riding partner back when I lived in Houston, and we continue to stay in contact occasionally. If you’d like for me to arrange an interview to help you make a decision, I can do it. Just let me know.

  2. Really nice snowy pictures. I was hoping to get to do some nice winter photography, but this winter hasn’t yielded many opportunities.

    Sorry to hear about the prognosis regarding your neck. I hope you find something that works. Dave G has had some kind of neck surgery, you should talk to him and see if he has any insight.

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