Decibel (decibel45) wrote,

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Time for more slice & dice

Went to the Dr. again today. He's still concerned about the leg, which isn't really healing yet. He told me to start putting weight on it, enough to be 'uncomfortable'. This should help stimulate bone growth. He also told be to start taking a calcium supplement, and keep using the bone growth stimulator.

On to the back... Personally, I haven't been worried about the leg at all because it's feeling better every day. My back still sucks. Today he told me he thinks kyphoplasty on my L1 and L2 vertebrae would help my back. In a nutshell, this means making a small incision on each side of the vertebrae, drilling or pushing a needle into the vertebrae, inserting a balloon and using it to expand the vertebrae back to a more normal shape, then injecting a quick setting cement to re-create the vertebrae. He said the complication rate for this procedure is 0.05%, but the complication to worry about is this: it's possible for the cement to leak out of the vertebrae. It's also possible for it to leak out near the spinal column. If it does this and they can't see it, it will damage the spinal cord, most likely causing paralysis (this is because the cement cures with an exothermic reaction, so it gets very hot). So, there's a 1 in 2,000 chance that I could end up losing the use of my legs (though after I converted 0.05% into 1 in 2,000 while talking to the Dr., he said he might have that number wrong).

Basically, I don't think I have much of a choice. The pain in my back has been pretty constant, and I don't think it's going to go away on it's own. The vertebrae will not re-form to a normal shape on it's own. Right now, I can't tolerate sitting or standing for much more than an hour; I'm basically stuck laying down all the time. But at least I can get around when I am standing up.

I'm going to do some more reading on Kyphoplasty; hopefully I can find more info on the complication rate. I'm also not certain if all of that 0.05% ended up paralyzed, or if there's other complications included in there. It is a surgery, so there are the normal complications that can arise like infection or issues with the anestetic. I'm not nearly as worried about those.

We also talked recovery time. He expects the leg to take 3 months from now. Here's the amazing thing... if I have the kyphoplasty my back will be fine 2 weeks after the procedure.

Anyway, I need to figure out RSN if I want a second opinion on the kyphoplasty, since he said it needs to be done within 6 weeks of the accident (meaning within the next week or two). Someone from his office is going to get in touch with me about scheduling and cost.

I also asked the doc about how this will affect my skydiving. I suspected it wouldn't, but I'd been too chicken to raise the issue until now. He said (in a pretty serious tone) "Man, if it was me, I wouldn't". Shit, I thought. Did he just tell me I can never jump again? I was devastated. I'm not sure if he read my expression or not, but in any case he then quickly added (in a pretty chipper tone) "But once you're healed you can do whatever you want." Man, that was a close call.

I also just read the stats on skydiving fatalities for 2004: 21 deaths out of ~40,000 USPA members. That means 1 in every 1900 skydivers died. In comparison, in 2002 there were 194 million licensed drivers. Most years there are around 48,000 traffic fatalities. That works out to 1 out of every 4048 drivers. Based on this, skydiving is 2.1 times as likely to be fatal as driving. Based on that, it's not nearly as dangerous as some people seem to think. Something else most people aren't aware of... most of those fatalities were due at least in part to 'pilot error'. There will be a full report out in a few months; I can post info about it if anyone's interested.

In other news, snaxxx made a big honking pot of spaghetti Sunday night, so I've been feasting on that. She also brought some Mangias by last night, so I now have pizza leftovers too. I was actually of the vicodin long enough last night to have some beer, too. Sadly, the Salvator I tried had gone bad; it'd been sitting on the kitchen table for some time and I think it got 'light-struck'. The shiner blonde didn't taste so great, either. snaxx and bovineone kegged the beer I brewed before I went up to Chicago. It's not completely done fermenting yet, but it's tasting pretty damn good. I think I'm going to let it age quite a bit; I'll probably try some this summer, and may hold it until next winter. It's a dopplebock, so it should handle that fine.
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