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Thread: Back surgery?

  1. #16
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    oh dearest Pat i am so so sorry to hear you are in so much pain, thats awful, sorry i dont get to stop by much these days, but i am still here, i am thinking of you and i am glad there is something that can be done to help ease your pain, i wish you all the best for a very positive outcome, i can imagine how scarey this must be for you, i really do, you know when i was nurse aiding when i was 16 i was lucky enough to be allowed in theatre to watch a back operation a laminectomy, i have never forgotten the experience, it was amazing to see and i looked after the patient afterwards, i certainly had a lot of empathy for him.

    That was a very long time ago and i am sure they have really up to date methods especially in the US and you will be just fine,take care and let us know how you go with your decision, HUGS.
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  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by phesina View Post
    Thanks, Lut.

    I know you live in Belgium! I was so surprised when the site links you gave me went to this place in Texas. I wondered, you went all the way to Texas to get this done? When ever would this have been, because in all the time I've known you here, I've never seen any mention of a trip to Texas.

    I'm sure you had a fine surgeon there in Belgium . His clinic or hospital doesn't have a web site telling about it?

    That's weird.....! I had it done here in Belgium, in Ghent !
    I added this link which I found in Google; maybe that is the reason, because the article was from a clinic in Texas??
    I don't know if my surgeon has a website, but I will look for that and add that link here too then!

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pomtzu View Post
    Been there, Pat. I had a lumbar fusion and laminectomy of L4, L5, S1 back in Dec 2010. I had pressure from narrowing and degenerative discs, and pressure on nerves that was causing a great deal of pain in my hip and thigh - down to my knee. Doc went in and cleaned up all the junk and "frayed areas" and fused the vertebrae with rods and screws. I was in the hospital for 3 days, and had hardly any discomfort at all from the surgery. It was about 6 weeks till I was back to full function, and I never even did the physical therapy that I was supposed to have. Bad me - and doc just shook his head in disbelief that I did so well even without it. Anyway - I was finally pain free. That is until last November when I took a nasty fall when I was in NC. I was in misery and I knew I did some major damage. I finally got to see my spine surgeon in Baltimore when I got back here in January, and the x-rays and MRI confirmed the damage. The hardware on one side of the fused area collapsed and pulled the vertebrae above it out of line and to one side, so now it's more surgery to repair all the damage and stabilize the newly messed up vertebrae. I was scheduled for this surgery on March 24th, but had to postpone. I just called doc's office today to get the ball rolling on a new date, since I just can't continue to function like this much longer. I can't walk without a cane now, and I'm on some fairly potent pain killers. I need to get back to "normal" - whatever that may be. Doc said I'd be in the hospital for 3 - 5 days for this one, and "maybe" some inpatient rehab - depending on how things go.

    So if you need to have this done, then don't hesitate. I guarantee that you'll be pain free, and then kick yourself for not having it done sooner. It's really not a painful surgery at all - at least it wasn't for me...

    I'd refer you to my surgeon, but he's in Baltimore. Long drive !!! You can go to the Univ of MD Medical Center website and read up about the various spine surgeries. Or you can just Google doc's name "Dr Steven C. Ludwig", and it will take you to that site too
    Hi Ellie, I am reading your message again, more carefully now that it is getting closer to my second visit with the surgeon and my consult with the second surgeon.

    Dr. Brodkey, the neurosurgeon I saw, wrote in his letter about his consultation with me:

    --------------->
    Impression:
    Lumbar spinal stenosis L4-5, L5-S1.
    Spondylolisthesis L4-5,L5-S1.
    Degenerative disc change L3-4.

    .. In her case I would recommend a decompression and a fusion, and the difficulty is to decide what levels to include. In her case, based on her curve and the disc degeneration and facet arthropathy, my feeling is a decompression from L3 to the sacrum would be best for her.
    This is certainly a huge undertaking and does carry risk... [and he goes on to detail these..]
    -------

    Is this like what was going on with you and the kind of surgery you had?

    My brother and sister both advise strongly against having surgery, before exploring and trying every possible non-surgical alternative.

    Thanks!
    I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by phesina View Post
    Hi Ellie, I am reading your message again, more carefully now that it is getting closer to my second visit with the surgeon and my consult with the second surgeon.

    Dr. Brodkey, the neurosurgeon I saw, wrote in his letter about his consultation with me:

    --------------->
    Impression:
    Lumbar spinal stenosis L4-5, L5-S1.
    Spondylolisthesis L4-5,L5-S1.
    Degenerative disc change L3-4.

    .. In her case I would recommend a decompression and a fusion, and the difficulty is to decide what levels to include. In her case, based on her curve and the disc degeneration and facet arthropathy, my feeling is a decompression from L3 to the sacrum would be best for her.
    This is certainly a huge undertaking and does carry risk... [and he goes on to detail these..]
    -------

    Is this like what was going on with you and the kind of surgery you had?

    My brother and sister both advise strongly against having surgery, before exploring and trying every possible non-surgical alternative.

    Thanks!
    Yes Pat - this is/was precisely my issue too. The surgery in 2010 fused the vertebrae of L4, L5 and S1 - just as you describe your issue. Normally this would have been the end of it, but my bone density is so ultra crappy that the hardware failed on one side when I took that very hard fall in November. Now that has to be repaired, and L3 will be fused also - some kind of crap going on at that level too.

    I'm wondering why you elected to see a neurosurgeon rather than an orthopedic surgeon. I had a neurosurgeon do a number on me (almost paralyzed and could have killed me) when I had the cervical fusion in 2006, and it took my current spine surgeon (the orthopedic surgeon) to repair all of that damage to get me back functioning again. Even with that, I still had to retire early on disability since it left me with limitations, but at least I was alive - no thanks to the neuro doc. My entire cervical spine had to be fused from C2 to T2 - he actually saved my life. So when I had the lumbar issues, of course I went back to him. Unless you have some other issues, I don't know why your doctor says it's such a big risk. And I don't understand the 3 or 4 weeks in rehab that you mentioned earlier also - that's over the top. But of course, every doctor is different in how they do things. I had no rehab and didn't even do physical therapy. Heck - when I broke my hip I was in rehab for just under 2 weeks and the same with the cervical spine fusion.

    I don't know what other options you would have other than physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. Doc said I could try the injections, but no guarantee I would get any relief if they worked at all, and it would be a temporary fix at best - he compared it to putting a bandaid on a gaping wound. I've had steroid injections in my knee and elbow, but with no relief - just a waste of time and $$$. And not to scare you, but just last week I read where the FDA issued new warnings on the epidural steroid injections - "rare but serious neurological effects, including loss of vision, paralysis, stroke and death". Nope - no way I'm going that route, no matter how rare these complications are.

    I personally wouldn't let family influence any decision either, but that's up to you. You and your doctors know what's best. This condition isn't just going to go away by itself.........don't we wish, tho??? !!

    My surgery has been rescheduled for May 28th. I could have had it on May 14, but then I wouldn't have been able to attend my granddaughter's graduation from college on May 21. No way I'm missing that.

    So this is my side of the story - hope I shed a little more light on it for you. I just wish you lived closer - I'd take you to Baltimore to meet with my doc. He's tops in his field (specializes in all spine issues), and is very well known and respected in the area. He's a relatively young guy - in his late 40's but looks like a college kid, but he's head of the spine surgery department at the Univ of MD Med Cntr - definitely knows his stuff ! I trust him 1000%.

    Keep me posted on your progress. Here's hoping and praying that you can get this taken care of soon, and successfully, and with as little inconvenience as possible.
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  5. #20
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    Pat, I'm just now seeing this. I'm so sorry to hear that you're in so much pain. I sure hope that if you end up having surgery that it'll go smoothly and you'll finally be pain free. My mom, my aunt, and my cousin all have spinal stenosis. My mom has tried almost everything without any luck. I've also been having some lower back pain recently but I'm trying physical therapy and so far the exercises that I've been doing have really helped. The PT said that my
    L4 and L5 were very stiff and my lower left side is worse than my right side. I also asked him what kind of lumbar seat cushion he'd recommend. He showed me an inflatable kind that you only blow up a little bit. It can then be strapped to your chair and will conform to your lower back. I bought one for home and one for work. So far it's also helped a lot. I go back to work on May 7th whether I'm better or not because I just can't afford to take any more time off. Good luck with everything.
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  6. #21
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    Thank you so much, Carole and Ellie and Tracey. I will write more when I have a little more time (especially about surgery and surgeons, etc., Ellie!). Meanwhile, I really appreciate all your good thoughts and wishes and advice!

    from Pat (and cats)
    I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by phesina View Post
    Hi Ellie, I am reading your message again, more carefully now that it is getting closer to my second visit with the surgeon and my consult with the second surgeon.

    Dr. Brodkey, the neurosurgeon I saw, wrote in his letter about his consultation with me:

    --------------->
    Impression:
    Lumbar spinal stenosis L4-5, L5-S1.
    Spondylolisthesis L4-5,L5-S1.
    Degenerative disc change L3-4.

    .. In her case I would recommend a decompression and a fusion, and the difficulty is to decide what levels to include. In her case, based on her curve and the disc degeneration and facet arthropathy, my feeling is a decompression from L3 to the sacrum would be best for her.
    This is certainly a huge undertaking and does carry risk... [and he goes on to detail these..]------

    Is this like what was going on with you and the kind of surgery you had?

    My brother and sister both advise strongly against having surgery, before exploring and trying every possible non-surgical alternative.

    Thanks!
    Oh boy, Pat, that is a huge undertaking. If it would relieve your pain, though - it would be worth it. You might want to think about seeing a rehabilitation medicine specialist - two reasons: they might be able to offer you injections or other techniques to decrease your pain. Also- they could give you a feel for what a program of rehab after spinal fusion might look like. (on this point I'm biased; I worked at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for 8 years ) You'd have to figure out if the benefits would outweigh the risks of surgery. Sending many hugs and will be praying too ..... elyse
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  8. #23
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    Dear Elyse, thank you for your message, and I've already seen a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist, Dr. Steven Harwood. he was referred to me by my Primary Care physician, and he referred me on to the Neurosurgeon.

    Dr. Harwood referred me to the Pain Center at St. Joe's (St. Joseph Mercy Health System, with which all these people I've seen so far are affiliated), where I had the steroid shots, three times so far now. They've helped some but not 100%. Dr. Harwood referred me on to Dr. Brodkey, and then after I got Dr. B.'s report, which horrified me, I asked Dr. Harwood what else might be possible. At first (he was on vacation, and my request was relayed to him by his assistant Rebel [yes]) he said, in effect, decide on the surgery or not. I said I'm not ready to decide on the surgery without more information, which she again relayed on. The next day I had a message from her saying he would send me a physical therapy prescription. I got that, called them, and I have my first PT appointment May 14.

    Meanwhile I have my follow-up appointment with Dr. Brodkey on Friday, May 2. My sister is coming with me.

    I have some questions to ask him, like just how much time do I have before the situation becomes critical. He had said after the first visit that I do have time to explore options.

    I also want to ask if he has any successful patients I could talk to .. What is the failure rate, where it doesn't make things better afterwards for the patient.

    I will bring up what Ellie said, that she had surgery for the same problem but hers had nothing like my proposed recovery time. Why is there such a substantial difference? What is the difference between a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon, in terms of treating this?

    I have a second-opinion appointment next Tuesday with an orthopedic surgeon in Southfield, MI (Detroit suburb). I can't go to Southfield, or Novi where they also have a branch, for treatment any more than I could do that extensive time stretch of treatment here. This guy is just to get some other surgical information. I'm writing more in my response to Ellie.

    Thanks again, and thanks everyone ,,,
    I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by pomtzu View Post
    Yes Pat - this is/was precisely my issue too. The surgery in 2010 fused the vertebrae of L4, L5 and S1 - just as you describe your issue. Normally this would have been the end of it, but my bone density is so ultra crappy that the hardware failed on one side when I took that very hard fall in November. Now that has to be repaired, and L3 will be fused also - some kind of crap going on at that level too.

    I'm wondering why you elected to see a neurosurgeon rather than an orthopedic surgeon. I had a neurosurgeon do a number on me (almost paralyzed and could have killed me) when I had the cervical fusion in 2006, and it took my current spine surgeon (the orthopedic surgeon) to repair all of that damage to get me back functioning again. Even with that, I still had to retire early on disability since it left me with limitations, but at least I was alive - no thanks to the neuro doc. My entire cervical spine had to be fused from C2 to T2 - he actually saved my life. So when I had the lumbar issues, of course I went back to him. Unless you have some other issues, I don't know why your doctor says it's such a big risk. And I don't understand the 3 or 4 weeks in rehab that you mentioned earlier also - that's over the top. But of course, every doctor is different in how they do things. I had no rehab and didn't even do physical therapy. Heck - when I broke my hip I was in rehab for just under 2 weeks and the same with the cervical spine fusion.

    I don't know what other options you would have other than physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. Doc said I could try the injections, but no guarantee I would get any relief if they worked at all, and it would be a temporary fix at best - he compared it to putting a bandaid on a gaping wound. I've had steroid injections in my knee and elbow, but with no relief - just a waste of time and $$$. And not to scare you, but just last week I read where the FDA issued new warnings on the epidural steroid injections - "rare but serious neurological effects, including loss of vision, paralysis, stroke and death". Nope - no way I'm going that route, no matter how rare these complications are.

    I personally wouldn't let family influence any decision either, but that's up to you. You and your doctors know what's best. This condition isn't just going to go away by itself.........don't we wish, tho??? !!

    My surgery has been rescheduled for May 28th. I could have had it on May 14, but then I wouldn't have been able to attend my granddaughter's graduation from college on May 21. No way I'm missing that.

    So this is my side of the story - hope I shed a little more light on it for you. I just wish you lived closer - I'd take you to Baltimore to meet with my doc. He's tops in his field (specializes in all spine issues), and is very well known and respected in the area. He's a relatively young guy - in his late 40's but looks like a college kid, but he's head of the spine surgery department at the Univ of MD Med Cntr - definitely knows his stuff ! I trust him 1000%.

    Keep me posted on your progress. Here's hoping and praying that you can get this taken care of soon, and successfully, and with as little inconvenience as possible.
    Hi Ellie, wow, isn't that a difference, all right, for treatment for the same problem!

    Thank you so much for your detailed and thoughtful response. I was referred to the neurosurgeon by the non-surgical (Physical Medicine and Rehab) specialist I saw, after I'd been referred to him by my primary care physician. I didn't know there were different surgical possibilities at this point and assumed I had been referred on to the best type of surgical consult.

    The one I am seeing next week is an orthopedic surgeon, an "Orthopedic Spine Surgeon" according to the paperwork that clinic sent to me. And I just now noticed that he is not an MD but a DO. He was highly recommended to me by a fellow volunteer at the local Humane Society.. she said he operated on her husband in time to save him from paralysis.

    Maybe I should come to Maryland to see your doctor! I'd like to see someone at U-Michigan, but I was told, when I asked the PMR guy for a referral there, that it take two to three months just to get into their system. Maybe it would be worth the wait. Dr. Brodkey did say I have plenty of time to check out all the options I wish.

    When I see Dr. Brodkey on Friday, I will ask him why the long rehab time. And then there's the question, how do I manage after i get home from that long time there? There's no one who can stay with me or with whom I can go live as I recover enough to function on my own.

    I also plan to ask, since I'm about to turn 70, what does age have to do with all this?

    My brother Dan, who is 10 years younger than me, has extensive spinal deterioration and damage. For a long time he was involved in intense martial arts, and as my sister said, he's broken just about every bone in his body. He has been researching this quite thoroughly. He saw a surgeon at one point, said the guy told him "We can get you in in three weeks!" (At least my guy told me, take your time deciding, this is a major undertaking..) Dan said, wait a minute.. He has been doing chiropractic and getting the shots and walking and everything else he can come up with. He says he actually has been improving. He's talked with some people who've had the surgery done.. one who was happy with it but one who is much worse off. And he said he knows a guy who was a football player at one time but now after having this kind of surgery, and then other surgery to deal with complications, he's like a shriveled-up old man now. So Dan is deeply opposed to surgery as long as there is anything else you can do to deal with the pain.

    I'd wondered that about the epidural shots.. seems to me I'd heard somewhere along the line that steroids are not something you want to be taking permanently (same warning re: pets) even if not very often.

    I've also thought, this deterioration doesn't stop happening or get better on its own. So it's just going to keep going on.

    Thanks again, Ellie!
    I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by krazyaboutkatz View Post
    Pat, I'm just now seeing this. I'm so sorry to hear that you're in so much pain. I sure hope that if you end up having surgery that it'll go smoothly and you'll finally be pain free. My mom, my aunt, and my cousin all have spinal stenosis. My mom has tried almost everything without any luck. I've also been having some lower back pain recently but I'm trying physical therapy and so far the exercises that I've been doing have really helped. The PT said that my
    L4 and L5 were very stiff and my lower left side is worse than my right side. I also asked him what kind of lumbar seat cushion he'd recommend. He showed me an inflatable kind that you only blow up a little bit. It can then be strapped to your chair and will conform to your lower back. I bought one for home and one for work. So far it's also helped a lot. I go back to work on May 7th whether I'm better or not because I just can't afford to take any more time off. Good luck with everything.
    Dear Tracey, thanks for your message and good wishes. I'm going to be trying some physical therapy soon too, and I'll see if that helps too. A friend recently gave me what I think is one of those cushions; it has an inflation opening that blows it up a bit. She didn't give me any instructions on just what to do with it, so I've been sitting against it with it both crosswise and upright. It helps some. It doesn't have straps to attach it to a chair.

    Thanks again, and best wishes going back to work pain-free!
    I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by carole View Post
    oh dearest Pat i am so so sorry to hear you are in so much pain, thats awful, sorry i dont get to stop by much these days, but i am still here, i am thinking of you and i am glad there is something that can be done to help ease your pain, i wish you all the best for a very positive outcome, i can imagine how scarey this must be for you, i really do, you know when i was nurse aiding when i was 16 i was lucky enough to be allowed in theatre to watch a back operation a laminectomy, i have never forgotten the experience, it was amazing to see and i looked after the patient afterwards, i certainly had a lot of empathy for him.

    That was a very long time ago and i am sure they have really up to date methods especially in the US and you will be just fine,take care and let us know how you go with your decision, HUGS.
    Hi Carole, thanks for your message and your loving good wishes. That is really interesting that you got to watch a laminectomy. Since you looked after the patient afterward, did it seem like the surgery helped him? That was what the surgeon I saw was proposing for me when I was there, but in his follow-up letter he changed his recommendation to more extensive surgery. I'm only beginning to learn about what all is involved in this kind of thing and what are the possibilities.

    Thanks again, and I'll keep you all posted..
    I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

  12. #27
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    I wish you the best of luck. my dad broke his lower back when i was a kid an i remember them hours in the hospital still an the long recovery processes afterward. whatever meds he was turned his normal laid back self into a big grump. we were all so glad when he got off the meds LOL

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  13. #28
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    Pat I'm sorry.i Can't remember how successful the op was,but he walked out of there ,I think back ops can be tricky,have you made any further decisions re your surgery .
    Have fun at the Rainbow Bridge,Zara,Rusty, Juliette ,Romeo,sweet Tessa,wee stray and Harvey you all will never be forgotten.

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  14. #29
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    I think I am going to explore non-surgical alternatives thoroughly before deciding on surgery, Carole, thanks.

    Pat
    I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vette View Post
    I wish you the best of luck. my dad broke his lower back when i was a kid an i remember them hours in the hospital still an the long recovery processes afterward. whatever meds he was turned his normal laid back self into a big grump. we were all so glad when he got off the meds LOL
    Thank you, Vette. That must have been a terrible experience for your father (and your whole family) to go through back then. I take it he recovered with full functions?

    Pat
    I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
    Death thought about it.
    "Cats," he said eventually. "Cats are nice."

    -- Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

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