Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, composer

CURRENTS

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My Back: the nuts and bolts of it

To help provide my life needs - food, water, medicine, taxes, bills, Internet, necessities. It's a very expensive time to be alive for me. Please visit this page for in-depth surgical history. It will be early-to-mid 2014 before I can begin to perform publicly again. Remember, to be fully alive one must take risks, or nothing much in life changes. Life is supposed to change. That's the only absolute. Please don't feel sympathy for me: I am gathering strength, learning skills, playing the piano again, and getting ready to continue along my Golden Path. I am so blessed to have such support. Click here for my latest personal report (Oct, 2013)

Jessica Williams

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  • Jessica Williams
  • PO Box 2391
  • Olympia, WA 98507
  • Voicemail: 1-518-364-6398

 

Post SurgicalPost Surgical

The following is a physical and medical account of my quality of life (QOL) 7.5+ months after a Three Level Lumbar Peek cage fusion — S1 L5 L4 —including 6 pedicle screws, 4 peek cages, 2 radiolucent rods, autografts taken from inside the pelvic illiac structure and a heck of a lot of pain, moaning and groaning

Go here to read a more metaphysically-based account

MEDICAL REPORT

PROCEDURES

    • L5-S1 posterior interbody fusion and posterior fusion
    • L4-5 lateral extracavitary arthrodesis
    • L4-L5-S1 pedicle screws
    • Posterior posterolateral fusion, L4-5
    • Smith-Peterson osteotomy, L4-5 and L5-S1
    • Neuroplasty, adhered nerve root, L5-S1
    • lnterbody cage, L4-5 and L5-S1
    • Bipedicled paraspinal trunk flap
    • Laminectomy with foraminotomies and medial facetectomy L4-5

INDICATIONS

PT had failed nonsurgical management and did not want to risk narcotic addiction to manage her symptoms.

She has had previous laminectomy at L5-S1 in the past and now has persistent radiculopathy from a recurrent or persistent disc herniation at L5-S1 on the right. She also has loss of height from collapse of the disc which contributes to her foraminal stenosis at both levels

She has loss of disc height and postural height which contributes to her hyperlordosis and postural kyphosis deformity.

(I had shrunk almost 3 full inches — I was short.)

DESCRIPTION OF OPERATION

END OF REPORT

Printed on 8/13/2012 5:59 PM Swedish Medical 2B 8/13/2012 6:08:10 PM PAGE 20/0?2 Fax Server, FIRST HILL 747 Broadway Seattle, WA 98122 4307 WILLIAMS, JESSICA J - MRN: 1000327822 - DOB: 3/17/1948, Sex: F

(sounds like it hurt - JW)

 

PERSONAL REPORT

So where am I now, 7.5 months post op?

Emotionally I'm in fine shape. It's made me a better person, it's opened channels to new levels of awareness for me. I'm more able to love. And I have a piano again. The best one I have ever had. There was a lot of scar tissue there from a previous laminectomy done when I was in my early thirties. Dr Rooney removed all of that, thus opening up places of severe armoring (muscle spasms in catatonic lockdown). Chakras. Energy blockages. Simply by opening these areas of blockage by removing the masses of scar tissue and nerve root adhesions, I feel like a teenager again. Just wish I looked more like one.

I don't drive and never have... well, OK, I drove for a few years about 30 years ago, but I was not very adept. I always got stopped by peace officers for doing illegal things, but received no accolades for driving correctly. I drove about as well as Glenn Gould did. Horribly.

My friends take me everywhere I need to go. My one best friend has literally kept me going — from feeding me to giving me showers to keeping the house clean. I can't do a lot on my own yet. There may be a few things I'll never do again. Fortunately my playing is better than ever. It has changed. I sit up very straight. There is a new magic I carry now. I learn through illness. I must have needed to learn a LOT. But driving will never be on my to-do lists.

The roads here are in such terrible disrepair (yes, even I-5) that I can only ride for short trips. I am full off stainless steel and titanium. And those PEEK cages are cylinders that hold bone infusion, which takes forever to solidify. The bone was taken from the inside of my pelvis, the Illiac Crest. That is one darned painful operation all by itself! So — I am trying to avoid the shaking and quaking of the roads that might loosen screws or cause the infusions to somehow become displaced. You think weird thoughts when your body is suddenly not entirely organic.

Some folks might feel like a prisoner in my position, but I have a lot of love and protection around me, so I am quite happy inside. Actually, I find moments of pure ecstacy. I've forgiven people I thought I could never forgive. And some people I've just forgotten. But I understand now, and "fault" is a fiction in most cases. It's chemistry, and vibes, and subjectivity. Most people are good.

The issue of pain is always there. I was on a quite high dosage of 1) morphine, and then 2) a steady dosage of hydrocodone. 10 mg 4 or 5 times daily. I slept a lot, but also woke up a lot. I took valium also to relax the muscles around the wound site. My pain level 4 months ago was 6-9. Now it is 3-6. Sometimes I hit zero! When I play and I am completely in another Universe. My body STILL does my pre-conscious bidding when I am at my instrument.

I developed a sleep deficit which I now am making up for. I keep erratic hours as I lower the Norco dosages slowly (a very addictive narcotic). I have found natural ways to induce sleep, and am doing some very heavy-duty vacationing when I sleep. I go places, meet people, play my music, and am at peace when I awake. I am having REM sleep again and it is like rain, clearing away the dirt and pollution. Dr Hanscom (my new neurologist) believes that sleep may be the biggest single factor in correct healing. But true healing is multifactorial, and many entities play a role in spinal pain: anger, anxiety, and fear being but a few.

I am now down to 2 x 10 mg hydrocodone, one when I awake and one when I go to sleep. 3 on a bad day.

The scar is down my spine to my coccyx and is about 12 inches long. It has healed well. So far, no signs of "instrumentation rejection" or of latent infection.

My pain is not as much of a problem as other matters. I cannot shower myself, and I can't put on my socks or tennies. I can't pick something up from the floor, and I can't stand for long periods. I will never run. I joke that I'm from the East Coast. Nobody runs from anything where I come from. I walk slowly, but with NO cane. I am taller now (nearly 6' tall, and 150 pounds) but am unable to rotate much at the hips. No hula dancing. I am no longer able to hunch over the piano, and must sit up stock-straight like a proper student. Which I always was and always will be.

But I will focus now on what I CAN do. The past is dead. The future is bright.

My body is very well-proportioned now. I wish it had always looked like this. I look like a model! If only I wasn't 65. But 65 is very young and being happy and with a full-charge of future plans and dreams, I often feel very young.

My hair is usually mussed up and it's been forever since I used makeup. My skin and hair seems better for it.

A problem is that I have limited stamina. And most people that have back lordosis and stenosis also have arthritis in their back and elsewhere. I do too, but, miraculously, not in my hands or fingers.

It's only seven+ months. I have a year, maybe a year and a half of healing work ahead of me, including physical therapy and frequent meetings with me and myself. I have a full schedule. Time for only the important things: Loving. Feeling good. Laughing. Playing piano. Playing with the dog. Playing with friends. Making friends, keeping friends. Letting them know I love them. And that one special love that grows beyond anything I ever imagined. That's the diamond at the center of the Universe, the lodestone of my life.

I know I will be fine. Your donations take all the stress off of me. Money equals power to most. To me, it presently equals stress. And stress is a great danger to us all. When we help each other, stress recedes and we gain true power. Not the power over others, but shared power with others as our brothers and sisters. Sharing has to be the missing clue that hangs up most governments and countries and peoples. If we just share, there's enough here for everyone! 8 billion? Bring it on. We are humans. We are so strong and capable and purely beautiful. Especially when we work together.

All I can say is, whatever happens in the future, thank you from my heart for all your help. I would not be here without you.

FATE is for sheep. I choose WILL.

For the full back story with medical reports, CT scans, xrays, MRI's etc, donate here

 

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