Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2nd Opinion a Success

Last Tuesday I went for my 2nd opinion on my neck. It was insane trying to get there. There was a wreck in Southpointe and 79 was backed up past Canonsburg. For my 9:00 appointment in Sewickley, I left the house at 7:30. My mom went with me and we ended up taking 19 to Bridgeville and getting on 79 past the accident. Ugh! The receptionist called me and told me I'd have to reschedule and I pretty much went postal on her. I took a half day off work and had this appointment for 4 weeks. I'm not rescheduling because an accident happened of no fault of my own. She insisted I would have a long wait. We arrived at 9:10 and they saw me at 9:27. Ya, real long.

I immediately liked Dr. David Oliver-Smith. He had a fantastic personality and was so kind and warm. He pulled my MRIs and we looked at them on the board. He explained exactly how the pictures worked and what they were showing and it was very obvious I have a herniated disk at the C5-6. He asked how much pain I was in and I told him it varies greatly but when I feel fine I could probably do cartwheels and when it's pinching a nerve I consider suicide. (Not really, but yes. It's excruciating and I've told Ryan multiple times I could not and would not live with pain like that)
Dr. Oliver-Smith said he understood exactly and that while a pinched nerve from a herniated disk is unbearable, it is quite fixable. What he couldn't understand is why my nerve is only getting pinched occasionally and isn't constantly painful. He said most people are living on painkillers until their surgeries because their nerve is constantly being pinched. Mine gets pinched and then is fine for weeks, months even, before it is pinched again. So although I've been dealing with this for 15 months, it isn't constant and I have more good days than bad and therefore surgery shouldn't be considered at this time. Great news! I was really worried his opinion would match the 1st neurosurgeon's who suggested I would need surgery by the end of the year.

I also asked Dr. Oliver-Smith about what the first neurosurgeon said- that trying to conceive and getting pregnant would be a huge risk and he advised against it. In all the doctors I've seen for whatever medical reason, I've never had one give such a sincere smile that reached his eyes like Dr. Oliver Smith's. He said that a herniated disk can be fixed at any time but that starting or having a family can take who knows how long. He said he can fix my disk tomorrow, next spring, next year, or in 5 or 10 years from now and said to not put my life on hold or worry about anything involving this herniation. It was definitely the best news I've received since beginning this journey 15 months ago! 

So that's my appointment. Continue living life to the fullest and know that the herniation probably won't go away on its own, but until it starts getting worse, becoming more frequent, or lasting longer each time the nerve is pinched, to not worry about it. The extrusion isn't pressing on my spinal cord so there is no immediate damage.

I'm posting some pictures below of what exactly the MRI shows. These aren't my images but they look like mine did.
You can see where the white narrows and the black bulges that there is a herniation. The gray running through the white is the spinal cord. This MRI is also showing a lot of disk degeneration.

The picture on the left is a non-herniated disk. The picture on the right, where the light blue is pushing out of the teal is the extrusion pushing on the nerve (dark blue). My MRI looked exactly like this.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I have been awful at not posting lately! In my defense, ever since we got home from Mexico (which was awesome and I'll cover in another post!) my life has been a disaster.

About a week after we got home my neck and shoulder started acting up again. I tried to get in with my normal chiro and it's a blessing in disguise he's out of office. I ended up seeing Dr. Webb and I've never been happier switching practices. I immediately liked him and the entire staff.

I saw a massage therapist who insisted my shoulder was one of the tightest she has worked on in awhile. After some stem and traction I saw Dr. Webb who asked how I managed to make it through the day waiting on an appointment! He promised it would feel better after a couple of visits and I set up another appointment for the following Monday.

Same on Monday, saw a therapist and did stem and traction, but when I saw Dr. Webb he asked if I'd be willing to get an MRI. He said all that tightness wasn't compatible with Cervical Torticollis (my first diagnosis a year prior). Dr. Webb said the worst he thought it would be is a bulge on my disk. I reluctantly agreed and had an MRI on Tuesday. Don't ever get an MRI if you don't need one. I'm not claustrophobic and I wanted to die. It was awful. 

Wednesday I met with Dr. Webb to get my results and the first thing he said was, "Well the good news is we got some great shots of you neck." Um, that's the good news?? "The bad news is it's worse than I anticipated." Turns out I have an extruded c5 disk. In short it means it's herniated and blown out and pinching my nerves and bulging into the spinal canal. Oh, the fun never ends, does it?

Dr. Webb referred me to Dr. Oliver-Smith, a neurosurgeon. Since we all know I'm Type A, I called a neurosurgeon in Washington who agreed to see me without a referral. I met with him this Monday. After reviewing my charts, MRI, X-rays, etc. Dr. Prostko said it is highly unlikely my body will repair the disk itself. Normally if a disk will be repaired by the body, it will happen 4-6 weeks after the first incident. My first incident was 14 months ago.

So now I'm left in limbo until I get a second option from Oliver-Smith at the end of the month. My options are surgery or a life of pain killers and muscle relaxants until one day it's so bad I won't have a choice but to do surgery. I have an appointment in early November with Prostko to make a decision (unless Oliver-Smith agrees those are the only two paths and then I would need to decide on a surgeon) and until then I am doing pre-op treatment twice a week. Basically it's building muscle strength around the disk so my post surgery therapy time is diminished. 

Please keep me in your thoughts for the upcoming weeks. This decision is weighing heavily on my mind and I'm extremely nervous for mostly likely an impending surgery.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Staturday! Week 7 Aug 26-Aug 31

Yesterday was the end of week 7 for me. Last week I was unable to post my stats since I didn't have Ryan measure me until later in the evening. I lost another 2 inches for 10 inches total. I can totally tell by the way everything fits.

I'm not going to do the usual run down of the week's workouts because they were all easy and I nailed them all. I was reading a few forums about the beta cycle and it seems that beta is more  toning while alpha was the work. This REALLY disappoints me because I thought beta would be the killer. Plus I gave my friend the alpha workouts so I'll need them back to burn them. I'm thinking when we get back from our trip I'll start over with Alpha again or mix the most effective Alphas with Betas. Ugh. I feel like beachbody totally tricked us here. It was all "you have to do alpha and master it to complete beta" and I had this feeling all along that beta was easier. Some people disagree but the majority thinks alpha was the tougher workout.

Besides that, nothing much happening. Everyone's back to work because of school starting so the office is packed again but it's nice to be back with my co-workers. Now that I have my own office it's really nice to be around with everyone!

 I am just counting down the days to vacation!

Custom scarf! (Fleetwood Mac's Rhiannon lyrics), yes, another batch of pretzels, selfie!, pastel flowers blooming, Coala photobombing a could've been cute pic, new gel nails I found in the clearance bin, and my mom's wave petunias that come back every year and grow like crazy. Even our family dog Buddy made the cut this week!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Week 6 Aug 19-Aug 23

Back to work! I was called back to my previous job and I started school on Thursday. I cannot even believe the summer went by that fast. The leaves outside have already begun to turn. Only a few more days until Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back :)

Here's how this week's workout went!

Monday- Dynamic Core- This video is the beta version of alpha's ab intervals. I love this workout. I ended up switching Core Cardio and Dyanamic Core's days.

Tuesday- Core Cardio- Easy!

Wednesday- Rip't Circuit- This isn't easy. I want to say it's easier than TBC.

Thursday- I ended up doing doubles on Thursday because I knew I'd be beat on Friday by the time I got home from work. I did Upper Focus first and then Speed 2.0. By the end of Speed I could barely move. It's a circuit of repeating moves and the end is super fast.

Friday- Rip't Circuit.

This was a busy week. On top of going back to work, my co-teacher's wife just had their first baby so I ended up handling the bulk of the work load this week. It wasn't bad just unexpected. On Friday I met up with my friend that I worked with last year and I sure have missed her! We try to get together monthly and I always look forward to seeing each other. We talk almost daily but it's always nice to be together in person. I gave her the Alpha round of the dvds so it'll be interesting to see what she thinks of the program!

Today is the end of week 6 so I am 66% of the way through the workouts. I do not have any measurements because Ryan's working, but I am down 1.2 lbs from last Saturday meaning I've lost 13.2 lbs total. I know it is a lot more inches though because of the way my clothes are fitting. I'm surprised I lost this week after plateauing and being stuck for 3 weeks. We ate at Cheesecake Factory with our friends Tuesday night and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we ate after 7:30 because of other things going on. Obviously it's not as great as I was hoping but I guess I shouldn't be too shocked because of my poor eating habits this week.

I don't even have a photo dump!

Smores Cheesecake which was ah-mazing. And Nittany showing that although the flowers are still blooming, all the leaves from the buckeye tree have started to fall. Yay!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Staturday Week 5 August 12-August 16

This is a tough post to type. Last week I decided to move onto the Beta round. I'm glad I made that decision because I was starting to get burnt out on Alpha and I really, REALLY love Beta. I was so scared to start it because of all the reviews saying it was so much harder, but I actually think it's easier. It is more fun and I feel like I'm getting a great workout.

Core Cardio- There's not a single move I can't do. It was fun.

Speed 2.0- Easily my new favorite dvd!

Ript Circuit- I was terrified on Wednesday to try this because it's the grown-up version of Total Body Circuit from Alpha. To me it was better than TBC. There's not near as many planks either.

Dynamic Core- Again, easier to me than Ab Intervals from Alpha.

Upper Focus- A lot of lifting. I used a resistance band AND Core Cardio (double Friday). My legs were on fire trying to get through Core Cardio.

And my results. This week I didn't lose a single pound. All along the way I have been documenting and taking pictures so I think I can tell a difference. The pic on the left was taken almost 2 weeks ago and I saw some definition. The pic on the right was taken last night pre-workout and I think my stomach looks a bit flatter. I love how there is a different dog sleeping in the background on both pics :) The difference in these pics is about 2 lbs. I also feel stronger and my endurance has skyrocketed. I can do all the workouts without being completely exhausted at the end. As I've said all along though, I'm someone who needs to see the scale move. I may try doing doubles 3 x a week next week. I'm also going to work on cleaning up my diet. My friend ordered Shakeology so although I said it wasn't worth it, I'm thinking of taking the 3 day challenge with her again.
This week I went back to my job. They called me back for a middle school position. I was definitely in for a shock when I transferred from K-3 to grades 7 and 8. I cannot even believe the amount of disrespect the kids have for themselves, their peers, and their teachers. Towards the end of the week they realized I was serious and started listening a bit more. It's going to be a long year if I had to constantly remind them to stop their back-talking. Two girls got in a fight on Monday and voluntarily chose not to return for the rest of the week, and on Tuesday the principal suspended a boy in our program and a boy in another camp for fighting. I think I have my work cut out for me trying to raise enrollment when I heard every student say how dumb school is. It makes me sad to think these kids are our future.

Here's this week's photo dump:

I had this created before posting the top pic so the one is a repeat. Sunset out the road, spider web in the grass, Coala taking a selfie with me and finally (finally!!!!) some work being done on the backyard where the new septic system went.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Staturday Week 4 Aug 5-Aug 9

How is everyone's August going? I can't believe we are almost halfway through! This summer absolutely flew by and I didn't do a single thing, haha.

So I decided this week would be my last week of Alpha. I know you are supposed to do 5 weeks then 5 weeks of Beta, but I only have 9 weeks instead of 10 because of vacation. Also I just felt off this week. I can do 95% of every move and workout so I think I'm ready to move on and be challenged. I'm not saying the workouts are easy...I'm still sweating hardcore and exhausted at the end but I can do them all without breathers or modifying anything.

This week I just felt off. I ate clean all week. If anything, I had trouble getting 1200 cals in some days. You know I weigh myself daily so I knew something just wasn't happening. By Thursday I was only down one pound and I fluctuated all week 4-6 ounces. On Friday for doubles I decided to push myself and do the Core Speed workout in hopes it would give me a boost, but waking up this morning I knew the scale wasn't going to be a huge budge.

Monday- Cardio. Simple, easy, can do it all. Like I said, exhausted by the end, but no longer feeling like collapsing.

Tuesday- Total Body Circuit. Just like last week I liked it. Pike ups are insane but I feel like I'm working which is what I'm lacking with Cardio and Speed now.

Wednesday- Lower Focus. I LOVE this workout. During the deep lunge pulses my quads and calves are screaming at me and I am all kinds of wobbly after but it feels good.

Thursday- TBC again. Nailed it.

Friday- You were supposed to do Speed 1.0 and Ab Intervals. I ended up doing Core Speed which is a bonus dvd. Wow. This dvd was no joke. It's a circuit of about 16 moves. You do the first 8, 3x each shortening the length of each move as the rounds progress, and then the next 8 moves you learn in the same fashion. By the end you are doing all 16 moves in a 2 minute span with a jog recovery in between. I almost gave up at 15 minutes, then again at 7 because it was insanely hard but I pushed through and finished. I had to stand in front of the a/c and catch my breath for probably 3-4 minutes at the end. I told Ryan I liked it because it was crazy hard but I NEED that burn. I easily get bored and having mastered the moves in Cardio and Speed 1.0 I just need the challenge.

I did Ab Intervals after a breather and it definitely still kicks my ass. It's probably my least favorite workout right now. It's not a challenge in a good way.

I'm scared for Monday and looking ahead at the same time because I know I can get amazing results once I master the Beta moves. 

So for this week's results I lost 1.2 pounds. This means I've lost 12.2 pounds total in 4 weeks. This is pretty consistent with how I normally lose weight so I guess I can't really be disappointed but I know I am someone who needs to see the scale move. As far as inches lost I also measured this week and I've lost 8 inches total.

Saturday night we met Ash and John for dinner and then they came back here. I couldn't stop singing Blurred Lines. It was so much fun to hang out with my sister and BIL and I wish we saw them more often! The four of us always get along so well.

On Tuesday I got a surprising phone call from my old job calling me back to work. It's a middle school position and it sounds like a lot more administrative communication than teaching but I'm still happy to go back. I really liked my job before and this is working with someone new, so hopefully he and I can get along great and make this program successful.

Wednesday I went with my parents to visit my grandma. I am always happy to see her and it is bittersweet because the person she is now is still my grandma but not at the same time. I remember my grandma for the 20+ years I saw her almost daily. This woman now is fragile and cannot hold a conversation very long. She is still active, healthy, and most importantly, happy but she is a shell of who she used to be. My cousin and her family take amazing care of her. They are always taking her along everywhere they go and I think that helps that she is so active. We also were able to view my other cousin's new house. It is his other grandma's old house and he and his wife have completely remodeled it and added a beautiful addition. I could live in their kitchen! It was amazing to see someplace completely reformed and it makes me so excited for work on our house to begin next spring.

This week I started listening to The Civil War's new album and it is amazeballs. There are a couple songs I cannot stop listening to! Actually, there's 3 songs this week that are on repeat for me.

The Civil Wars Dust to Dust

Robin Thicke Blurred Lines (warning: NSFW)

The Civil Wars The One That Got Away

Here's this week's photo dump. I know...I was awful at documenting anything this week.
Seeing definition, Pumpkin cookies, and my new favorite thing- Chobani Coffee Yogurt.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

STATurday! Week 3 Progress, July 29-Aug 2

Week 3 is already done! I cannot believe I've been doing this program for three weeks already. Yesterday I had some swimsuits arrive for our upcoming vacation and I am determined to rock them! Here is this week's updates:

Monday- Total Body Circuit. Killer. I almost feel like I need to do another workout with this because it's so hard. I had to force myself to do it.

Tuesday- Speed 1.0. For some reason I didn't enjoy doing Speed today! For a workout that I really like it was difficult to finish through it. I think partly I also had the a/c off in the house because of how nice it is outside and it was much warmer than usual inside. I definitely need to remember to keep the air on while working out!

Wednesday- Lower Focus. I am beginning to really like this. A LOT of squats and lunges but the break from cardio is appreciated.

Thursday- Cardio. Nailed it. 

Friday- Double Day! I did TBC first because I just know how I dread it and wanted it get it done. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I enjoyed it! I never ever like this workout and for some reason I really got into it. I still can't do the running lunges on the floor without my sciatic nerve screaming, but I moderate by sprinting during that part. Ab Intervals was the next workout and I was able to do about 90% of them. I actually had sweat drip onto the floor while doing oblique push-ups. I can't tell you the last time sweat dripped onto the floor from a workout...that's just not me! Proof that I was nailing it!

And this week's results~ I'm unsure about inches lost because I'm only measuring every two weeks, but this week I lost 2.6 pounds meaning I've lost 11 pounds total in 3 weeks! Insane, insane. Thank you, Shaun T! 

Nothing very exciting happened this week. Monday we met Ryan's brother Julian before he went back to Juniata for his new grown-up job. We went to Harry's Pizza and normally I can eat 4-5 slices and I could barely finish two. Eh. Tuesday Ryan was gone all day for the Pirates double header and Wednesday Ryan and I went to the Pirates game ourselves. I spent almost all day Thursday online job searching and Friday night we went to our friend Ramsey's house. We haven't seen Ramsey in almost two years!! It was really nice to see his family again and I forgot how sweet his entire family is. 

So that's about all! The weather is fantastic, not a single day over 80 degrees for the next 10 days still (which would bring us to halfway through August!) Honestly, I can deal with 75 every day in the summer :o) Have a good week everyone!


Funny picture of Nittany!, Chalkboard I found at TJ Maxx, Chicken and Avocado Sandwich, Ryan and I at the Pirates game, Diesel!, Cinnamon and Sugar Chocolate Pretzels, and the new living room