It was Sunday morning. I awoke to text messages far before sunrise. Danielle described shooting pains down her legs, almost like muscle spasms. She thought she might be dehydrated, I agreed. We decided the plan was water and bananas. By Sunday night, she was in the emergency room, unable to walk and the pain was intolerable. Medications did not touch the pain. Walking? Impossible. We're nurses, backs go out, it happens. However, the CT scan showed possible spinal stenosis. Danielle was discharged home and told to follow up as soon as possible with her primary physician. She could barely walk out of the emergency room. But we figured pain meds, follow up, simple back surgery, we got this. Monday morning brought more misery. The nerve pain continued, and Danielle fell at home due to inability to feel her lower extremities while walking. By Tuesday, Danielle required a wheelchair to get into the office to see her primary physician. She was unable to lay flat or walk or sit or stand without excruciating pain. In fact, mobility itself was nearly impossible. She had an MRI and was referred to a neurosurgeon in Minneapolis for an emergency appointment on Wednesday. Danielle's initial appointment was with a specialist for spinal stenosis. Upon reviewal of the MRI, a far greater problem was revealed. Danielle has an arachnoid cyst compressing her spine, from her lumbar region down through her sacrum. These types of cysts usually occur on the brain, they are far more rare on the spine where this one is located. She was referred to another specialist later that day. By this point, her reflexes were absent in her feet. Surgery was planned for Friday May 4th and she was sent home. The problem here? Danielle is a single mother of three beautiful teenagers living in their own home. And she could not walk. And had zero pain control. How does one tend to a home, and children, and a puppy, with no nerve function lower than L3? Thanks to a kind physician we are blessed to work with, Danielle was admitted to Rice Hospital on Wednesday May 2 for pain control, and because she frankly was not safe to return home. Symptoms have continued to progress. Unable to walk while experiencing numbness and pain, Danielle was transferred by ambulance to Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis where she will undergo neurosurgery in the morning. Danielle has been confined to a bed, requiring high doses of medications, unable to eat or sleep. We don't know what to expect until after surgery and the full extent of the cyst can be examined. We don't know how the nerves will recover. What we do know is that surgery will be at least four hours and recovery will be extensive.
What we also know?
Danielle has devoted her life to caring for others. She is an intelligent and skilled nurse. She returned to school as a single mom to obtain her license as a registered nurse after surviving the unexpected loss of her mother. Danielle serves others for a living. Danielle is a mother. Sister. Daughter. Friend. Nurse. Danielle is kind, witty, and loving.
While I don't know what tomorrow will bring, what I do know is this wonderful, compassionate human needs our love, prayers, and support. Thank you kindly.