Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Back to STL for Cervical Surgery

I've made my decision not to compete at the Ohio event simply because I found out yesterday I need cervical surgery. After meeting with a local cervical doc, he said there are 4 levels that are compromised. He was shocked at how bad my neck is and said I am way too young to be having this type of deterioration.  He's never done a 4 level fusion which is fine because I'll be on the road again for STL soon to meet with Dr. Riew (my spine surgeon's partner for cervical issues).  The local doc said my clock is ticking and to get to STL asap.

We decided to make the trip into a vacation since we've always been pressed for time with prior visits to STL. Since Dr. Riew has better availability to schedule surgeries (within 6 weeks) compared to Dr. Lenke (12+ months), I'm hoping to schedule a late July/early August surgery.

It will be interesting to see what Dr. Riew recommends for the procedure: anterior only, posterior only, or a combination of both. Dr. Riew's nurse said that depending on how many levels need to be corrected, surgery can take anywhere from 1 hour - 5 hours with one night in the hospital. Big difference to what I've already been through. Total time in STL will be one week.  Out of state patients are encouraged to stay in the STL area for a few days after discharge from hospital.

Depending on which levels will be corrected, my movement limitations could be minimal to severe. It will be nice if I can still turn my head to the left so I can continue shooting!  :)

Am I surprised that I need surgery?  No. I find a tremendous amount of comfort knowing that I'm in great hands with Dr. Lenke's colleague.

Monday, May 27, 2013

If I Had Told You... 6 Week Sprint Results

I've truly had a remarkable 6 week sprint that included many surprises.  So let's see which goals were hit, which ones were missed and lessons learned along the way.

Goal #1 - Shoot 75 arrows on shooting days, 288 arrows per week
Actual - Shot on average 88 arrows on shooting days, 328 arrows per week

Goal #2 - Shoot 6 days a week
Actual - Shot on average 4 days a week

Goal #3 - Shoot 50 arrows blank bale as warm up
Actual - Shot 30 arrows blank bale as warm up. 
Coach Randi recommended 30 as a good number until I work up to shooting a lot more arrows per day.

Goal #4 - Weight train x3 days a week @ 25#
Actual - Trained x3 days a week @ 30#

As you can see, the goal that I didn't quite hit was goal #2.  After the fall, I had to stop shooting for a few days until x-ray results came in, in addition to a few days of not being able to shoot because I simply had too many errands to do.

When I started shooting with my bow in Feb, I told myself that my first tourney would probably be in December 2013 so I could give myself sufficient time to build strength and muscle over the year.  So, the MOST EXCITING update was after learning all x-rays did not show fractures, I thought long and hard about the Georgia Cup tourney on May 25 & 26, 2013.  I didn't want to fall into the "getting ready to get ready" mindset where people actually don't take action on their goals.  What better way to close out the last week of my sprint than by competing!!!!

It was a glorious weekend, perfect weather and even had a flock of geese do a morning fly-by over the field each morning.  The Georgia Cup was a two day event that concluded with Olympic Rounds on Sunday: short, fast rounds, head-to-head, winner advances to next bracket.  Practice began at 8a and the competition started at 9a.  I was so nervous with excitement that it was a bit comical how my bow arm was shaking.  I thought we would wrap up day #1 about 12p and was feeling really good after shooting 72 arrows which I thought was the total amount needed to shoot on Saturday.

Well, let me tell ya, I was more than shocked when I found out that the total amount of arrows needed to shoot on Saturday was 144, not 72!!!!  Slight miscalculation, eh?  The tourney was only half way done at 1p.  What wha??!!  I'd never shot that many arrows on one day before so I immediately turned my concern over to God and asked for Him to keep me strong and healthy and to keep my groupings tight.  Well, not all of my groupings were tight, but the important part of my prayer was answered (stay strong and healthy).   I immediately set a goal of finishing Saturday with a score of 1,000 (a perfect score is 1,440).  I came close to hitting the goal at a score of 951.    :)    We finished shooting at 4p on Saturday.  I shot a total of 156 arrows (including x2 practice ends) for over 7 hours with one 30 minute break!!!

When we arrived on Sunday, for a split second I thought I wouldn't make it past the first elimination round.  Again, I submitted to Him and asked for strength and good health and that whenever my time was done on the field, so be it.  Again, I was totally shocked when I won the first elimination round!  Advancing to the next bracket, I was paired with Griv (who happens to be a pro shooter and our buddy where Lizzie and I bought our bows).  Although I didn't win, it was really fun shooting next to him.  :)   I told Coach Jim that I was amazed that I survived the tourney.  He explained that full FITA (this was the type of competition) tourneys are normally split up between two days, so the 144 arrows are shot 72 on day 1 and 72 on day 2.  I didn't realize I had just finished a full FITA and that is when Coach said, "If I had told you it was a full FITA, you would have talked yourself out of it."  I smiled and said, "You're a smart coach!"

1st elimination round

2nd elimination round with Griv

We headed home at 11a and had a celebratory lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant that included a most tasty margarita!  Later that afternoon, Griv sent me a message saying that I received an award and that Coach Jim brought it home for me which I'll pick up from him in a few days.  Turns out I took 2nd place female compound division.  Not only did I place in my first tourney, I placed in an able bodied tourney too!  Not all tourneys have para-archer divisions.  There were two other para-archers competing this weekend shooting recurve bows: Paralympian Lee Ford-Faherty and Kinga Kiss.

When I started my sprint 6 weeks ago, I had no intentions of competing, but I'm very thankful plans shifted and unfolded in a different way.

Next goal: need to decide pretty quick if I want to compete at the Easton Nationals in Ohio with Lizzie.  I'll need to shoot at two new distances, 60m and 70m.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me on this journey!  The tourney directors and judges were incredibly kind and helpful: Mechell Pruitte, Kenny Compton and Kenny Withrow.  Big thanks to my agents who helped me pull arrows and helped me score: Jim Pruitte and Scott. Coach Jim, yer da best!  My loving team Bionica: Jeremy and Lizzie, everyone else!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week #5 Progress

Shot well this week:
Mon - 84 arrows, weight training
Tues - 84 arrows
Wed - 114 arrows, weight training
Thu & Fri - too much running around, no time to train
Sat - 78 arrows

I decided to compete at the Georgia Cup tourney May 25 & 26, excited!  I'm shooting from a stool now because of increased numbness in right foot and persistent heel pain. 

After looking at old MRI from July 2011 and recent MRI, things that said mild/moderate on the old report now say moderate/severe. It looks things are moving in the wrong direction and my neck is collapsing. I have an appt with a local cervical doc to find out how fast things are deteriorating and then I plan to get a second opinion from Dr. Lenke's colleague, a cervical specialist, in St. Louis.  Quite honestly, if I need surgery, I only want someone that Dr. Lenke recommends doing the procedure.

I talked with Dr. Riew's nurse in STL and was trying to make an appt to see him at the same time I see Dr. Lenke in October.  Unfortunately, Dr. Riew will be gone the entire week that I will be in town.  The nurse was very nice and asked a lot of questions about where my numb areas area, balance issues, etc.  She said that I probably want to come in sooner than later because of the increasing numbness.  She explained that if the damaged nerves are left too long, they may result in permanent numbness. 

There are 7 bones in the cervical spine and discs are the spongy areas between each bone.  Healthy discs are plump and have a whiter appearance in the middle area.  Unhealthy discs loose their height and the middle areas turn solid dark in color due to the watery gel deteriorating. 

You can see the upper discs have lost their height and lost the healthy white core (you can see the whitish core in the healthy bottom two discs).  The upper vertebrae are shifting into the spinal fluid area (white areas on each side of the dark gray spinal cord) and there are three levels that have bone spurs caused by cervical degenerative disc disease.


Archery has been a nice distraction from all of this stuff.  A few more test results are due soon from Neuro and she will make a diagnosis.  I think it will be nice to be able to pin point all my issues to one source, possibly my neck, but who knows.  Praying for God to keep me strong and at peace, to place the right doctors in my path and give them wisdom to make an accurate diagnosis.

July 2011

May 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

Week #3 & Week #4 Updates


Things were going great during week #3:
Mon shot 84 arrows, weight training
Tues shot 84 arrows
Wed shot 120 arrows, weight training

After Wednesday night's fall, I spent Thursday and Friday at different doctor's offices getting x-rays and MRIs.  I was quite sore until Tuesday of week #4 and ended up taking several unplanned days off from training.  :(

Docs found no fractures in knee, hip, shoulder or spine, thank God!  Since the fall, my right foot feels like it is buried in sand and there is pain radiating from my lumbar into my gluteus maximus.  Dr. Lenke (spine doc) wants me on steroids for 6 days to reduce the inflammation caused by the fall.

Other updates include my neuro not find any lesions in my brain - no MS!  :)  She did see that my neck has deteriorated more since the last MRI in 2010, but nothing is pinching the spinal cord.  I'm waiting to get the 2010 and 2013 reports to see which disc(s) are the problem.  I have a few more tests with her before she can make a diagnosis.

Yesterday, I saw the RA doc and she said while she sees slight inflammation in my right hand, she wants me on arthritis meds for 3 weeks and she'll do another ultrasound on the sore joints. If the meds don't help me and if she sees more inflammation, she'll treat me as RA patient.

I started training again this week:
Wed shot 84 arrows
Thu shot 90 arrows
Fri weight trained

I have a shooting stool now and shot with it yesterday.  It is SO comfortable!  I'll take the weekend off from training and am excited to get back on track Monday.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Week 2 Recap

It was a busy week last week as I closed out Week #2 of my sprint.  Last week's results:

1.  Shoot x4 days a week at 30m (blank bale in AM) - DONE
2.  Shoot at least 72 arrows each shooting day for weekly total of 
     288 - DONE AND THEN SOME!
3.  Weight train x3 days a week - DONE

I actually shot an extra day last week because I was feeling really good.

Mon - 102
Tues - 112
Thu -    72
Fri -    124
Sat -     85

My original goal for last week was a weekly total of 288 arrows.

Coach Jim had me shoot 50m last week and I was so tickled I actually hit the target!  Hubby was such a sweetie; extended my shooting lane to 50m by clearing out more trees. :)

Last week's 30m shot:

I hate when this happens!  Let's just say, arrows and trees are not a good mix:

It is still a challenge to make my scapula move since my back is numb.  Anyone have advise on how to make a numb body part move?  I'm working on lowering my elbow and slowing down my shot.  Another challenge I have is, if I hold a shot too long, my bow arm starts to fatigue.  I'm sure this will improve over time as I gain strength.

Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall, Humpty Dumpty had a Great Fall...

One of the worst things than can happen to a person with a fully fused spine happened to me the other night.  I was getting ready to head up to bed and was heating water in the microwave. I turned to get the water and didn't look to see if there was a dog laying near me. I took a sideways step and quickly realized our biggest dog (9 month old German Shepherd) was laying next to me, I tried to recover my failed first step, but my other foot got blocked by Indi too and down I went. My knee took the hit full force and then my hip and shoulder as my torso hit the floor. Hubby was out of town and thank God Lizzie was home!

I didn't feel anything pop in my back (popping means a rod snapped), but my knee is swollen. It was a helpless feeling when I didn't know how to get up off the floor. I landed on my right side. Lizzie slid a chair over, put a pillow under my head and knee and then pushed/lifted my lumbar area while I tried to log roll onto all fours. PAINFUL! From there I pulled my torso up with the help of the chair seat.

Dr. Lenke and my local doc had me take x-rays (spine, hip, knee and shoulder) yesterday so I'm waiting for the results.  I'm not an expert, but the crack in my pelvis by the bolt has me a bit concerned.

MRI results are due next week, too,  Stay tuned.