I remember clearly when my old NSG in NY told me in January of 2007 that if I were in a car accident, my C1 would slice through my cord and kill me. He also told me if I fell off a horse again, I'd die. That was the day I gave up horseback riding. I never rode a horse again when I got home and still haven't.
When I sat in his office last June with my sister beside me, and he was telling me that my C1 was all healed, that bone had grown into the empty spaces in my C1 ("spontaneously healed", he wrote in the report), my sister asked if there was still a concern about my being in a car accident. He answered, "No, that has all healed, has all filled in with bone."
My sister asked that, I'm sure, because she is always so nervous driving me anywhere, feeling like she has my life in her hands. You know, the white-knuckled ones gripping the sweaty steering wheel!
When I saw Dr. R in Portland on March 8, he told me that if I fell off a horse, I would not be killed, I would not break my C1 again (how can it break again, it's still in 4 pieces, he tells me). He said I wouldn't die of a broken neck in a car wreck, either. My husband had told him what the NY NSG had said, and he'd asked the Portland NSG if he agreed with that. Dr. R was quick to disagree with the NY guy.
"Naw, that's not true!" he said.
Then, I got my hands on a copy of his report to my PTP today. I read, "She asked about cervical spine instability, I explained that the flexion extension views of her cervical spine from 11/09 did not show any evidence of instability, so I believe her chronic bone non-unions of her old fractures of C1 are not grossly unstable, but could potentially be at risk of catastrophic failure under the right conditions (e.g. MVC)[sic]."
Did he tell me that and I have forgotten it? My husband doesn't recall it either. I suppose he reported that he told me something he didn't because he was so busy. Remember, he was in surgery that day and I had to wait four hours to see him. I know all the other patients there must have backed him up late into the night and then to dictate his reports from the consults, it all probably means fatigue was a factor.
But it looms kinda dark in my mind: "catastrophic failure" under the right conditions, e g motor vehicle crash.
Catastrophic Failure of the C1. Vivid imagery indeed!
I have to admit, yesterday, I remembered the NSG saying I would not necessarily die from falling from a horse and my husband was sitting right there, so he heard it too. In my brain yesterday, that meant (I must be slow, since I was connecting the dots ten days after seeing the NSG) that I could get a horse some day! If I got better and stronger and could take care of one, I could get a broke horse and ride again!
My mind leapt from possibility to gleeful possibility. The door seemed to open into a whole new future and it included HORSES again. I'd forgotten the doctor said that, and now I could take those words out and have fun with them, glean future hopes from them. And I did so, with gusto, sharing my feelings with my husband who just remained silent as we were driving along.
This morning, I considered our fenced, back 3 acres and how great they'd be for a horse!
I got to enjoy those hopeful thoughts for about 15 hours, until I read the NSG's report and saw the words "catastrophic failure." I know my husband will not want me riding horses again because of those 2 words.
Up until now, nothing had been put into writing. Though the NSG in NY had said those words about hypothetical car accidents and horse wrecks 3 years ago, he'd never written it out.
I am leaning more and more toward having the surgery. I don't know this doctor much at all, though I did a bit more research about him online and did find he authored a paper on occipital-cranial fusions in infants. He's authored a lot of other medical articles, as well.
I perhaps don't have the faith in HIM that I had in my last nsg. Maybe that's a good thing. Having a ton of faith in the last one didn't do me a whole lot of good, frankly speaking. And I need to be having faith in God above, need to keep my priorities straight.
I'll let you know what I decide, you can be sure of that.