Friday, March 28, 2008

The Beginning

My name is Janice Rucker and this is the beginning of how my life with SM/Syringomyelia began.

In 2004, I started feeling sick every day. Vomiting every morning before leaving for work, severe stomach cramping and mid back pain. My hair started falling out by hand fulls. I didn't want to think about going to the doctor (PCP) because I knew whatever was wrong was probably serious and I just wasn't ready to deal with it.

In September 2005, I went to the doctor but nothing specific was found (only serious possibilities), however the symptoms remained constant so the doctor prescribed meds and kept running tests. I exercised daily and was very fit at the time and began incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables in my diet with little or no meat. The doctor recommended changing jobs and working less hours, which I did (after a vacation) and started to feel a little better each day so I swept it all under the mat. I was still having pain in my mid-back but it was relieved by the pain meds.

Around April of 2006 I started having low/lumbar back pain and upon waking in the morning I would get what I call a "locked back". If I moved a hair the pain was so intense sometimes I would pass out. I thought this was temporary and something that would go away in time, but it didn't.

In June, I hosted a birthday party for my husband's 50th birthday. A week later the pain started occurring throughout the day, not just in the morning. I scheduled an appointment with my PCP and she ordered an X-Ray and Physical Therapy. By July, I had to use a cane to get around because the pain was so bad. The cane relieved pressure from my back and although it felt strange at 43 to be using a cane, I didn't care because it was providing relief.

The physical therapist was upset that nothing he was trying was working. It was to the point as if he were placing blame on me because what he was doing had no effect. He sent a letter back to my PCP stating that I should have an MRI. During this time, the therapist had performed lumbar traction which made the pain worse and I started having back spasms.

Within a matter of weeks, the spasms became so severe and violent I had great difficulty walking and began dragging my right leg. Nothing was helping the pain although I was only prescribed Darvocet and Tramadol. I have always known that I have a very low tolerance to pain medication, even anesthesia. There came a point when the walking was so bad my co-workers would get a chair to roll me around the office with or pick up any paperwork from the printer for me and let me take meetings from my desk rather than conference rooms.

On August 28th 2006, I dropped my spouse off at work and then went to work myself. While exiting the freeway with my right foot pressing on the brake, the car was not slowing down. I didn't have enough strength in my foot to stop the car so while panicking I used both feet to stop. When the light changed, I drove the few remaining miles to work with no additional problems. While getting out of my car, I noticed I was shaking but couldn't tell where it was coming from because it seemed like it was all over my body. I made it to the break area and sat for a while reading and drinking my morning macchiato. After several minutes, I went into the building and the shaking was gone. Two hours later I went to the restroom and everything was fine. A half hour after that, I went on break and when returning the shaking was much more severe than the initial onset. Someone passed me in the hall, went to get a chair and rolled me to my desk. I waited for the shaking to leave but this time it didn't. I called my husband to come get me, I had the car so his boss drove him to my job and we proceeded to the doctors office.

During this time, throughout the morning, my co-workers and boss were very supportive and attentive. One took my car and pulled it close so the other could roll the chair close enough for me to get in the car with no strain or stress. I, naturally, was scared out of my mind. My bosses' boss (a very close friend) had a cold compress to my head and we all waited outside for my husband to arrive. I was truly blessed to have such caring and loving co-workers.