Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I have been on medical leave (such as it is for a freelancer) since late January while having surgery for spinal stenosis (compression of the spinal cord).

In late January I noticed a little strangeness in my walking, just that my legs weren't quite responding correctly, and I thought I might be having a problem with my hips. But over the next week it got worse, much worse, to where I was walking peg-legged and lurching around like Frankenstein. My arms stopped working normally, and my fingers, too -- I wasn't able to hold a pen or write, or even type. I lost my coordination and was falling down a few times a day and ordinary activities like just getting dressed took five times longer than normal. This all happened in the course of about two weeks and was difficult to grasp.

I went to the ER more than once, and they thought I might have a vitamin deficiency. Finally they admitted me and found, via an MRI, that my spinal column was being compressed in my cervical region from bone spurs growing there, and that I had a congentially small spinal canal to begin with.

I saw a neurosurgeon the next day and we talked all about this, and then he called me at home that night to say I needed to come into the hospital tomorrow or I was at risk of paralysis from the neck down. The next morning I was trying to figure out what to do with my cats and finances and some deadlines, and the hospital called me and said drop *everything* you're doing right now and call an ambulance or the state police and come in immediately. That really shook me up. I drove (slowly) to the hospital, and had surgery ("a laminectomy") the next morning.

I spent a week in the hospital and then a week in a rehabilitation home, and am back home now in a big neck brace that looks a bit like a football helmet facemask, but healing. My motor functions are back to about 75% of normal, and I can type again, and write (slowly), and walk (slowly but mostly smoothly) and am getting a little better every day. The biggest problem is I can't sit up for longer than about 1/2 hour before my neck complains, and my fingertips still lack some sensitivy, which is a bigger problem than you'd think. And I can't drive for two more months. But I'm no longer on the Big pain pills.

Everything happened so fast that I almost feel like I was a detached observer of my own life.

I'm very thankful I found my neurosurgon (Dr. Joseph Sherrill at Pacific Surgery at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital in Portland) when I did. He is the best doctor I've ever encountered in my life -- smart, kind, caring, thorough, patient, direct, understanding, excellent, and a dapper dresser as well. And everyone else at Emmanuel was extremely caring and helpful and generous, as have been lots of people here at home. I couldn't have asked for better.

So I should be back shortly. Hopefully the cesspool that has overtaken climate science will have dried up by then, but I seriously doubt it. I'm not sure I even want to write about climate science any more. The dishonest pukes like Morano and Watts do not even deserve to be acknowledged.

Meanwhile, reading suggestions are welcomed.


Unknown said...

Please get well and recover quickly. Our kind thoughts and prayers are with you.

cleanslate said...

Hi David,

Just hopped onto your blog. Don't know much abt you, but sure liked your recent post on your recovery.

My mom in law had a brain tumour surgery few months back.And we were thankful to have an outstanding neurosurgeon. Can't say i understand the pain, yet can surely relate to your spirit of life.


Jack Savage said...

That is one scary ordeal. This particular puke would like to send you his best wishes and hopes for a full recovery.
All the best!