Fight of the Syrinx


The Hazy Beginning

Have you ever had surgery and been under anesthesia? It doesn’t matter if its a major surgery or a minor surgery, because when you wake up its all the same. I had never really had surgery before so when I woke up I felt really out of it. Michael and Julrie were the first to come back to the recovery room when I woke up. I kept asking them the same 3 or 4 questions over and over again. It got to the point that Michael actually started counting how many times I went through my loop.

My mom and dad came back next and were so happy to see that I had come out ok, my in-laws came back too. Jasper and Evey were not allowed back to see me per hospital policy. After I woke up more I was transferred to my room in the Critical care unit. While I was being transported my daughter caught a quick glimpse of me. She did not like what she saw and freaked out.

My room in the CCU was dark and sterile, but really at this point all I could see were the ceiling tiles. My family was in and out say they love me and that they were so happy I was through the hard part. I was on strict precautions for the first 24 hours after my surgery. I was not allowed to sit up or turn, so basically I was allowed to lay flat on my back. The reason for this strict precaution was that there is always a rick of a cerebral spinal fluid leak when they open the spinal cord up. It wasn’t too bad though. I was pretty out of it and really only remember Michael feeding me little bites of honey greek yogurt.


When the 24 hours were up I was rolled on my side so the nurse could check my incision. The pain was like nothing I had ever felt before. It was so sharp and shocking that I actually let out a scream. This scared not only my nurses but Michael who was watching from the corner. After they check my incision and it was fine, they eased me onto my back and let me sit up. Sitting up was glorious! Painful but glorious nonetheless. I was fitted with a neck brace that helped with the pain. The 2 oxy and 2 muscle relaxers didn’t hurt either 😜.

About half way through day 2 I started to take note of my situation. I had multiple IV’s, a catheter, neck brace, and SCD’s. SCD stands for Sequential Compression Device. They inflate and deflate a series of chambers to keep your blood flowing in your legs, this  help in preventing blood clots. I told Michael that the left leg was not working and that I was going to call the nurse in to fix it. When she came in I told her that the left leg wasn’t inflating because I couldn’t feel it. She pulled back my blankets and made sure all the tubes were properly plugged in and working properly. We watched as the left inflated all 3 chambers and deflated . I still felt nothing.

The nurse poked around on my left leg in multiple places, still nothing. She asked me to move my legs. I looked at my legs and commanded them to move. The right twitched a little while the left leg just laid there motionless. Michael, who was at my side, said “Just move them Ciera.”. But no matter what I did the left leg would not move, and the right had very limited movement. I looked at my once healthy legs in bewilderment. What had gone wrong? Why is this happening to me? Will I be able to stand or even walk on legs that dont move?


Attempting to stand.

With the news that I was partially paralyzed, my family came in droves to comfort me. But I was numb, my brain was not comprehending what was going on. The physical therapist for the CCU came in on day 3 before I was moved to the Neuro floor. I was helped to a sitting position and she moved my limp legs over the edge of the bed. She fastened a gait belt around my waist and then on the count of 3 she had me stand. Well I wouldn’t really call it standing. She was supporting 90% of my body weight while i was able to put the other 10% on my right leg. My knees buckled and she sat me back on the edge of the bed.

I was moved to my new room, and I have to say at least it was big and beautiful. I was fitted with a nasal cannula that was to monitor my carbon monoxide. It was a pretty funny looking thing! Over the next few days I saw a few physical and occupational therapists. They all tried to get me moving but it just wasn’t happening. My numbness had now moved up to my hips. This included my bladder, but thankfully I was still hooked up to my catheter.


Day five I had a meeting with a doctor in the rehab department. He told me that I would be moving down to the rehab department. I was to focus on learning to adapt to using a wheelchair and being a paraplegic.  Hours before I was moved to rehab my Surgeons PA came in and explained that they wanted to go back in and removed the shunt they had just placed.  The reasoning was that made the shunt had pushed nerves and that was causing my paralysis.

I should mention that my headache that I had been enduring for a year was finally gone. The numbness in my hands was also wearing off and my gripe was getting a tiny bit better, so at least I had some relief from it. The shunt had done what is was supposed to. My Syrinx was drained and no longer pushing on my nerves. So 6 days after my initial surgery I would go back in to have my shunt removed and hopefully get my legs back.

To read about my journey from the beginning click here

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