Chiropractic Injury, Part 2: Saturday

Hi again everyone,

So, first of all– thank you so much for all of your kind comments and well-wishes.  It really means a lot to me to know people care and also to know my message is getting out!

As I explained in my last post, on Friday night I went to the emergency room after a chiropractic adjustment left me with trouble balancing, and unable to stand up for more than a few minutes without my legs shaking and feeling like they were going to collapse underneath me.

I had an x-ray and an MRI of my lumbar spine (which is where he adjusted me, and also is the part of the spine that corresponds to the nerves that go to the legs).

However, unfortunately, my journey was not over.

What happened next?

On Saturday morning I woke up thinking all was well.  I was still having trouble walking normally, but believed with the ER doctor had told me, which was that no permanent damage had been done.

However, Saturday night was a different story.  I went out to meet some friends at a restaurant.  The place was pretty crowded that night.  My friends were sitting in the bar area, and there weren’t any seats left.  I actually didn’t know this group of people super well, so at first I didn’t want to impose by asking for a chair.

But after about ten minutes, I felt my legs start to get really weak.  And not a normal weakness for my body.  It wasn’t as though I had just done a really crazy workout the day before or something.  There was no reason at all for my legs to get as weak as fast as they did.

But as I was trying to figure out who to ask for their chair, my legs got weaker and weaker until I felt I was about to fall over.  So, with no time left to worry about being awkward, I asked one girl for her chair and of course she gave it to me.

I sat for about ten minutes and just started to feel worse and worse.  I definitely wasn’t going to be able to go out dancing with them.  I started to wonder if I’d even be able to make it back to my car.

And next– this is incredibly TMI, but at this point, I don’t care.  I feel grateful just to have gotten through this ordeal and to be able to tell my story to others, without it being permanent.

What happened is I realized I had to go to the bathroom.  I asked another girl to come with me to the bathroom because I wasn’t even positive I’d be able to make it without falling.   And as soon as I got to the toilet… I started having stabbing pains all through my lady parts.

That is when I really freaked out.  Although the emergency room at Newton-Wellesley had cleared me of any serious damage to my spine, they also hadn’t mentioned that I might start developing any new symptoms.   They had told me the problem was musculoskeletal, and I knew this wasn’t… these odd pains were neurological symptoms, and in a totally new part of my body.

At that point, I didn’t think I was even going to be able to walk back to my car, or even to one of my friends’s cars.  So I called 911.

I have now joined the club of people who’ve been wheeled out of a bar on a stretcher.  Except I was totally sober. 

Now, before I go on, I want to say that I am really thankful for the MassHealth system (and, in turn, the Affordable Care Act) for allowing me to call 911 when I needed it, without having to worry about an ambulance ride sending me into debt for the rest of my life.  Otherwise I might have used another option that would have added more time on to my trip to the hospital.  But thanks to my insurance coverage, which covers all emergency services, I didn’t need to put finances before my health.

So… I spent Saturday night at Mass General.

Although I had been happy with Newton-Wellesley, I knew that Mass General Hospital, which is one of the best hospitals in the world, would likely might have more resources and staff members available overnight.  So I asked the ambulance drivers to take me to MGH.

And I’m happy to say they took me really seriously.  

Things happened in stages, though.  First I had a neurological exam by one doctor (possibly a medical resident, I’m not sure).  Her goal was to make sure I wasn’t having a stroke, which can also cause problems with coordination.  Since I passed that exam, and they could see my lumbar imaging results from Newton-Wellesley, this first doctor thought I could go home.

However, her supervisor was a lot more thorough.  

I was sort of in a weird gray area, where the most likely causes of my symptoms had already been ruled out.  But everyone could see I was walking strangely– from the waist down, it was like I was drunk.  I felt like a toddler learning to walk again– like this wasn’t my body.

So thankfully this supervisor decided not to let me go home without any new information.

My instincts about Mass General having more specialists was correct– I did end up meeting with an actual neurologist at 2 am.  His exam was more thorough than what the regular emergency room doctors did, and thankfully that was also normal.

But this tenacious supervisor– I love her– was really looking out for me, and, just to be safe, still ordered MRI’s of my cervical (neck) and thoracic (mid and upper back) spine anyway.   She also said they were going to admit me into the hospital for real, to keep me overnight for observation.

I was at this point panicking beyond belief.  I was glad to be taken seriously, but also… scared that I warranted being taken so seriously.  Thank God one of my friends came in to wait with me (and she ended up staying until 3 am.  Thank you Lyzz!!!!).

Thankfully, the MRI’s end up coming back normal as well.  

Now we had imaging of my entire spinal cord, which meant that we could definitely rule out damage or impingement of any of it, and the thought that something catastrophic could be happening was finally taken off the table.

In the end, the best answer I’ve gotten thus far actually came from a physical therapist.  

They had a PT come in and work with me the next morning.  Mostly, he was there to evaluate my balance and ability to walk, to make sure it was safe for the hospital to discharge me.

But he also had what I felt was the best explanation for my symptoms that anyone had given me so far, which was that the chiropractic adjustment had, in the moment, compressed the nerves that go to the legs and to the groin (even if they were no longer compressed in the imaging).   He said the nerve was probably irritated or inflamed, but would calm down over time.

And honestly, as I sit here and write this, I really hope he’s right.  It’s really hard to believe you’re going to be okay, when you still have strange neurological symptoms going down your legs as you sit in a chair.

But everyone has reassured me that having a normal MRI is key.  

So… I will certainly keep you all posted with what I learn.  I am definitely going to be following up with a spine specialist to make sure there is nothing else more subtle that has been missed.

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