I have been reading with interest the thread on whether to share your back problems with others. My question is closely related to that... how do you handle the advice that others give you? I have surgery scheduled in less than two weeks. Mostly I am getting lots of encouragement and prayers. But I have received negative feedback from three people whose advice I usually value... two are nurses and one is a friend who knows me extremely well. They all think I should go a more conservative route and try all the therapies and injections, etc. My decision for surgery was made after consultation with three different doctors who are considered excellent in their fields... neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery. I need to have a very positive attitude going into surgery, but I am not so naive as to think that other people might not have a better perspective than I do. So... do I listen to advice from others when it gives me doubts???
I went by my own gut feeling. I had all the non surgical treatments for 6 months and this didn't really help. I then went to two different neuros and got their opinions, and I still waited about two months after that to have surgery. When I told the people I worked with about my upcoming surgery, they thought it was so soon. It wasn't, it had been 6 months. If you have tried everything non surgical you possibly could and this has not helped you immensely, then i would say go for it. You are never going to please everybody, and other people really have no idea what it is like to go through treatment after treatment, and their time goes by very fast compared to a person who is suffering with some ailment, so many of our friends or relatives have the idea we are rushing in to surgery, when in fact it has been months of conservative treatment to no avail. They are not living our lives, so I would go by how good you feel about it and in the meantime try to explain in detail what you have already been through for treatment, to your friends who don't understand. Good luck to you. I know surgery is always a last resort and we still don't jump at it, even when it is recommended. I did have surgery, and am glad i did.
Well, I probably need to clarify. I have not tried all the injections and therapies... the docs said they would possibly give me temporary relief, but that surgery was the best solution. If you could see my x-rays, scans and films... it would probably be obvious to anyone that there are problems. I have one vertebra which has put out a hook and attached itself to another vertebra, etc. My condition worsened about six weeks ago when my right leg started going numb and making me walk funny. So some people would probably say that I haven't exhausted all my options before going to surgery.
Texasmary... I was like you. I let the films and tests speak for themselves and didn't mess around with all the conservative treatments. My thoughts were - pictures don't lie and they know the treatment for what they see in the pictures, so there's no question as to next steps.
As for everybody and their 10cent medical advice...I think there's still a definitive answer in your mind after hearing from all those you trust. As it was said already, you go with your gut. You do get to a point where you can't handle it anymore and want your life back...this is when you're truly ready. However, it's ok to not let it get to that point if all indicators point toward surgery. Why suffer.
Everyone is different and I find that most of the people who tried to talk me out of it were people who couldn't handle what I can handle. Plus, remember, it's always easy to point out the disadvantages if you're not dealing with the pain and suffering.
Good Luck from another Texas gal.
Texasmary, I totally understand where you are coming from. I had several people tell me I should not have surgery. That back surgery never works and back surgeons are all crooks. I took offense to these people because it assumes that I am uneducated to my own condition and that I am easily duped. I politely informed them that I have done extensive research into my condition and I understand that if the doctor has a clear idea of what is wrong and I have a surgeon that is confident that the surgery he is recommending will help, the success rates of surgery are actually quite high.
It is funny now that I am recovering quite well that people still make a face and think I must be in terrible shape and will be an invalid the rest of my life. I feel 1000% better than I did before surgery and I fully intend to reclaim my life. I snowboarded before and I will now. I played softball before and I will now. Surgery gave me my life back. If you are confident in your doctor, don't be afraid to tell others and even explain why. If they still don't get it, then to heck with them. You know better than they do. I wish you the best of luck and keep that positive attitude. If people dent it, remove them from your life until after you recover.
Alan says it well. Oddly enough, I've been in the opposite situation. Although I have had considerable disability over the past two years, including nerve damage, no surgeon with whom I consulted thought my odds of benefit versus the risks made surgery the best choice for me. These are all docs I respect and are very respected more generally. I have worked, and continue to work, extremely hard in other ways to get better--it's an everyday commitment, and, very slowly, may be bearing fruit.
Yet I have acquaintances who assume that my not having surgery was going _against_ doctor's recommendations--in essence, that I "wimped out." And so it is not "going for surgery" that I sometimes feel I have to "defend"!
In short, you can't please all the people all the time!