Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To Walk Again

I marked my iPhone Calendar with 2 dates... 3rd and followed my 7th May 2010.

Those are Mom's appointments for her MRI and followed by the Orthopaedic Surgeon's consultation respectively.

Referred to TTSH by Woodlands Polyclinic on 31st March 2010, I accompanied Mom last Friday, 9th April 2010 to the hospital for her first orthopaedic consultation.

Mom was diagnosed with spondylolithesis in 2006 after going through the whole course of investigation when she had painful attacks on her back that made her legs to cramp-up. She has been having these attacks now and then and are having then even frequently nowadays as she ages.

She settled for the physiotherapy route instead of the recommended surgery to fix the easily dislocated 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae that pinch the nerves in her spine. She uses wheelchair since then to get around outside of her home.

The last attack she had was the most painful she said she ever had and it happened twice in one night. Dad is no longer at her side to comfort her, with whatever relief she got with the massages he gave every time it happened.

The attacks scare our niece every time when it happens. We cannot imagine when she is away at work and no one is at home to help Mom when the attacks do come.

These last attacks left both of Mom's legs and her left arm swollen. As suspected, it was not caused by her spondylitis but rather her marginally normal kidney functions.

I took urgent afternoon off work on Wednesday, 31 March 2010 after 4th Sis reported if the attacks Mom got the night before. I took her immediately to Woodlands Polyclinic.

Last Friday, I took an urgent leave the whole day and took Mom to TTSH's orthopaedic consultation. The polyclinic referral appointment was suppose to be on 23rd June 2010 but a sudden cancellation on Thursday afternoon freed a slot opened for Mom instead.

Mom is more receptive to surgery now but given her age and the many medical condition she has now, the surgeon will have to reassess her again before they can know if she is still fit for the operation.

If she goes for surgery, the specialist said that she has 80% chance of recovery. The downside of this is that she might suffer a heart attack or stroke due to the anesthesia. The chances of this may happen is about 2%.

If she refuses to go this time around, her legs will get weaker with every attack and very well loose all functions of one of both if the nerves get damaged from the pinching as a result. Her control of bowel and urine movement will get impaired and she will have to resort to using adult diapers for the rest of her life.

The choice is starkly clear but it still is up to her. There is still this 2% chance of induced complications during or after the surgery... slim, it may be but devastating if it does.

Wifey and 4th Sis will accompany her for her MRI on Monday while I will take whatever annual leave left to accompany her to hear what the orthopaedic surgeons have to say.

There will have to be a family discussion after that consultation, but Mom will have to decide for herself what she wants to do next.

For now, Mom is given pain killers to take if she feels the onset of an attack is coming. She is also given strong vitamin B1, B6 and B12 to maintain and repair her spinal nerves.

We are praying for an answer from The Almighty as to what the best route is for Mom. It is one of my late Dad's wishes he had entrusted it to me before his passing.

I am seeking for a sign, for a right decision... for Mom to walk again.


  1. I understand her concern; Cliff's heart surgeon told us there was a 2% chance he'd die in open heart surgery. Add to that the chances of blood clots and other things, and best I remember, there was a 5% chance SOMETHING could go wrong. Of course he did just fine, but I won't forget that percentage thing scaring me.

  2. Sounds like you and your mother have an important decision to make. I find the very low percentage of something happening during the surgery a positive thing...as compared to the other option she would have to live with..but this is only my thoughts, upon reading this post and all the info you gave about your mother's situation.

    Thinking about you and your whole family. You are really just having to go through so much responsibility for so long now. My heart goes out to you. Stay focused and yet be good to yourself also. What a great son and father you are.



  3. Sorry to hear about your Mum and her condition. The surgeon will be keen to have an up to date mri to have a look at before he consults again with you.

    I think the idea of a family discussion is a great one and it gives your mum the opportunity to raise her concerns, express her needs and to know that you, her family, are all there to support her whatever her choice is.

    In the meantime, take care good friend and know that we, your online friends are all thinking of you.


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Muhd Imran
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