Tuesday, March 20, 2012

# 232 - No, Stefie is Not an Astronaut. Thank God!

This morning, the orthopedic surgeon said that Stefie didn't need back surgery at this time, but she does have a large disc bulge in the lumbar spine and they are trying to relieve the compression in a few ways, so the surgeon had her begin physical therapy that same day. Therefore, yesterday afternoon was her first session in physical therapy.

The orthopedic surgeon also wants her to see a Neurologist because not only are her legs hyper-reflex reactive, but her arms are too...this shows that her spine nerves are injured higher up in the spine or brain. He asked about prior head injuries and the car accident in 2009 included a closed head injury with a brain bruise that he remains concerned about. He said it was imperative she see a Neurologist and have a another brain scan. So, it seems on one had that we're starting all over again.

Fortunately, this orthopedic surgeon was right around the corner from us. We live near NASA and this doctor's office provides medical treatment for the astronauts who train directly across the street from their office.

Stefie coming out of orthopedic surgeon's office, not feeling well.
But, you can see part of NASA complex directly across the street.

I took a few pictures of the NASA memorabilia that hung upon the wall in the patient room. Since I'm from this area and have had many family and friends work for NASA, I've had neighbors who are linked to NASA and have sat talking with astronaut parents as if they were NOT a "space man" but simply an ordinary parent, even though they were sitting next to me in a NASA flight suit.

It seems that this has been the time for Stefie to be connected to all things NASA. Her surgeon's office includes Dr. Santos who is actually a flight surgeon who goes into space as a treating doctor for manned missions.

It's always been interesting for most people in our area to have NASA memorabilia. For our area restaurants, etc., it's a normal way of life for the walls to be covered with photos of the astronauts who trained and entered space.

In fact, Stefie had her MRI last week in a machine that was considered an Open MRI and the high-technology didn't stop there...she was able to have her MRI while sitting upright. In addition, a flat screen television was set up in front of her and the cooking channel was playing with closed caption included so she could focus on the tv instead of the MRI sounds. For anyone with claustrophobia of any kind, this MRI would be a dream.

It was interesting to learn that the astronauts returning from the International Space Station were having MRI's at this facility. After returning to Earth, astronauts often experience great pain in their spine. I can't imagine going from a weightless environment to suddenly entering Earth's atmosphere and the compressing gravity that comes with it. The pressure upon the spine after having a reprieve in space must be horrendous. So, astronauts are being studied upon their return from the International Space Station. They are given MRI's at this facility in which Stefie had her own MRI because they can study the astronauts spine in a sitting position, to better study gravity's impact on the spine before and after their visit to space. An MRI study of the spine in a lying down position might not give a true representation of the spine's anatomy as a person has weight upon it. So, this MRI performed while sitting up would be considered a "weight-bearing" study.

For an old gal who has an interest in human anatomy, this is fascinating to me. Plus, having family members who do NOT like being enclosed in an MRI will be thrilled to have this kind of study instead of being stuck inside a narrow tube; hence, most military trained people and first responders do not like being in an enclosed space, it goes against everything in their training to allow themselves to be in that position, especially with the MRI machine directly hovering over their face.

So, the neurology office is supposed to be calling us today and she already has her first physical therapy appointment this afternoon. She's a bit devastated about missing classes today, which was supposed to be her first day back after Spring Break, but the doctor wants her to have at least a couple of days at physical therapy before she attempts a long drive back to school.

I feel as if everything has been nonstop. We keep going. Our family is VERY accustomed to having health battles, but we keep moving forward and try to do "normal" things in spite of the hurdles. Every family has their own circumstances; I always remember that each of us has our battles. We're all linked in this world and trying to muddle our way through.

As for the house being up for sale, I had to turn down showings this week because Stefie could not easily move around and her comfort was more important than a showing. If a potential buyer was truly serious, I offered an alternative appointment within 48 hours so we could prepare for her to be moved and not set up so comfortable and with the messes that accompany "comfort" so I don't feel bad about my stance.

And today, the weather is horrendous, so there won't be showings. People don't like to go look at houses in tornado kind of weather. So, we can be messy today.


Charade said...

Stay safe - all of you!

LindaG said...

Good news about Stefie then.
And yes, Stay safe in the weather!
God bless. ♥

Kids and Canning Jars said...

This is almost funny to me. We went to Space Center Houston about 10 days ago and have been doing other things and have not done a post about it yet..... As for your daughter, Should we be happy or sad that she does not need surgery? Sometimes it is better and even best for the one involved! How far away are ya'll moving to? I hope your house sells if you need it to!
Best of luck with all in your world!'Melissa

Tombstone Livestock said...

Glad she doesn't need surgery if something else will help. Hope she can make up for missed classes. Looks like you have the best in the way of medical staff. This is a good example of why we all need excellent medical and liability insurance, just testing can be extremely expensive. You never know when you will need it and it is not something you can get after the fact. That is one payment I make sure gets paid on time every month. said...

Charade --- we keep trying! :-)

Linda --- I'm so thankful we weren't seeing her off to surgery in the near future. It's always hard to recover from surgery and the body is never the same afterward, especially applying to the spine. The physical therapy has been eye-opening and will hopefully be able to eventually help her deal with the bulging disc that is so painful. The weather was horrible, we drove in storms and through streets covered with partial flooding all day. So stressful!

Melissa --- my oldest daughter worked at Space Center Houston, in the business offices, during part of her college years. It was a wonderful experience for her and we always got in free through the back door! She loved that job. My brother-in-law works on the NASA complex; it's a wonderful place to work and to visit. I'm glad you went and hope it was thoroughly enjoyable. As for Stefie, I'm very happy she doesn't need surgery, but am worried about the disc bulge that is fairly large. I'm most concerned about the need to see a neurologist. I will keep praying! Our land is nearly two hours from our current house, but only about 50 minutes from downtown Houston. I do hope the house sells quickly, but we are kind of thankful for the bad weather --- it keeps the showings to a minimum and that's great for our situation with Stefie. It will probably be crazy busy with marketing, very soon.

Tombstone Livestock --- I am so glad that she is not having to be rushed in to surgery. She has compression of the spine that can possibly be altered by P.T. knowledge and that disc bulge, well, I am hoping that it might be lessened by her decompression exercises. They had her in the pool today at the physical therapy place...the perfect exercise for decompression. We'll see how it goes.


Vickie said...

Good to hear no surgery for now. I hope that her physical therapy will take care of her aches and pains. AND hope that MRI on her brain will reveal that all's well. Sounds like you've got an excellent medical team working on Stef. Good news!

Texan said...

Hope she can get on the mend! I know the MRI type she had. That is the only kind I can manage as I am VERY claustrophobic even those are a struggle for me. Crazy I know because your barely into the machine itself but well claustrophobic is just that LOL said...

Vickie - The physical therapy is teaching her a lot of strategies so that she can take as much pressure off the spine as she can. This might give the chance for the disc bulge to heal as well. We are praying for full recovery without surgery.

Texan - This MRI was the best "open" MRI I've EVER seen! If you go to the website you can see the machine that is used. It was amazing. Plus, you don't have to lie down. I need an MRI and am thinking of going to them to get it so I can see what the difference is like for myself. The regular machines are TIGHT!