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Old 02-27-2007, 02:24 PM   #1
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cythren HB User
next step

Well, I've been in limbo for about two weeks now about what to do. Last week I went back to my doctor who specializes in treating musculoskeletal problems non-surgically.

I told him how my sciatica pain is gone (since February 9th, almost 3 weeks ago) but I have muscle weakness in my leg and foot. My toes are weak and I can't stand on my toes on the left side.

He said that with partial foot drop, which is what I have, the indications for surgery are about 50/50. If it gets any worse, I'd definitely want to get surgery. He prescribed me a Medrol dosepak, 6-day course of oral steroids.

I just finished that today. I called the doctor to tell him that there is a slight reduction in numbness and tingling in my foot, but that I still have muscle weakness. I was expecting him to refer me to PT. Instead he recommended I see a neurologist or neurosurgeon, and he reiterated that the indications for surgery are 50/50 in my case since I'm not in pain and the foot drop is mild.

I'm so very, very disappointed. Now I have to arrange an appt. with a surgeon again to get another opinion on my situation. He'll probably tell me I need surgery just like the last surgeon did.

If anyone saw my first post here, getting surgery will be very difficult for me. I'm single, live in a third floor walk-up apartment, and am uninsured. I lost my job in December when this back problem first hit. I really don't know how I will manage it if I have to get surgery.

There really isn't anyone in my family to help out. My father passed away in 2000. I have a sister who is due to have her second child in two weeks. She doesn't live in the same area I do. My mother lives in a rural area 9 hours away and she has severe arthritis and back problems. She can't go up stairs, is on morphine for her pain, has limited mobility.

Ugh, just don't know what to do. Really sad.

-C

 
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Old 02-27-2007, 02:35 PM   #2
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ms_west HB User
Re: next step

I am so sorry but please don't mess with that foot drop. That is nothing to ignore!

Is it an option to move home temporarily with your mom or move in with a friend temporarily?

Take care of yourself and I am praying for you.

 
Old 02-27-2007, 06:02 PM   #3
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Re: next step

Thank you 123DietDrPepper. I hope you have a speedy recovery from your surgery.

I really can't think of anyone who would be able to help me, but hopefully the hospital wouldn't discharge a person who doesn't have help until they are well enough to manage things on their own...maybe the hospital would send me to a rehab center.

 
Old 02-27-2007, 06:18 PM   #4
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Re: next step

Cyntren, i agree with pepper in not ignoring that foot drop. i am so sorry about your situation and not having help. But, usually if a patient does not have help at home after surgery they send a homehealth nurse out with physical therapy and even a bath nurse. or like you said even a rehab temporaly. I hope and pray it works out for you. My heart goes out to you, you take care and God Bless.
Rachel

 
Old 02-27-2007, 06:55 PM   #5
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Re: next step

Cythren, I doubt they'd send you home unless they were confident you would be okay on your own. They almost sent me to a rehab facility because I was not doing well post-op, even though I had lots of help waiting for me at home. I suddenly turned a corner and was able to go home, but they were looking out for my best interests.

You might try talking to your local health department and see if there is someplace that will help you without insurance. Do you qualify for disability or medicare?

If you do have surgery and can't stay someplace else for a while, you'll want to really stock up on basic supplies. You won't be carrying anything up to your apartment for a long time. Any chance on moving to a first floor apt?

I'm sorry to hear your situation. You're in a tight spot, but you never know how things may turn around or what unexpected things might happen to make everything work out. I hope you're keeping positive and that you find a good doctor for a new opinion. Let us know how you're doing.

Blessings,
Emily

 
Old 02-27-2007, 07:15 PM   #6
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Re: next step

I'm really sorry that your having to worry about all of this ontop of having to deal with the health issues. I agree with Emily, regarding calling the health dept., and also with the others on the rehab. I truly don't think that they'd send you home knowing your situation.

Just a thought, but when you go to this new surgeon, you can always ask about the Pt, before surgery. He/she might suggest it anyway, if you haven't already had it. But with that said, the foot drop is something that they would want to try and get something done about sooner than later.

If you have to go through the surgery, somethings that will help are to pre-cook and freeze meals, stock up on some bottled water and put by your bed, snacks for the inbetween times. Do you belong to a church?? Sometimes you can get meals, ect. brought to you.

I'll be praying for you that things will work out!! Take care and please keep us posted on how your doing.

 
Old 02-27-2007, 08:20 PM   #7
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Re: next step

Everyone, thank you so much for your kind words and helpful suggestions.

One thing I do have here is food delivery. Groceries or restaurant food can easily be delivered to your door, so in that area I'd be OK, as long as my credit card holds up, heh heh.

I applied for medicaid last month and was denied. The only good thing about that is that it makes me eligible for the last-ditch charity care financial assistance plans that hospitals offer. I requested an application form. Those plans are for people who do not qualify for medicaid or medicare, and who do not have health insurance. If you're accepted, they provide a discount on the cost of treatment (so instead of $40,000 it might be only $12,000 hooray!)

The third floor apartment is one of the big challenges. Maybe I could go home in an ambulance, and be carried up the stairwell on a stretcher. Then once I'm up there, I'd stay there until I was able to walk up and down the two flights on my own. Too bad theres not much room in a 500 SF apartment to practice walking.

Well, no point in worrying about the details yet. I still need to see the doctor and see what he says. I may try to see a physiatrist instead of a neurosurgeon. Still hoping to avoid surgery.

- C

 
Old 02-27-2007, 08:34 PM   #8
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Re: next step

Just know that stairs are doable after a fusion (not something you wanna run up or down with of course, but "can" be managed slowly). I was up and down my stairs on my own several times a day, 4 days post surgery.

I probably could have done it sooner, I chose not to.

I was thinking the same as you.. they do have private transport to/from hospitals and you could indeed get assistance getting upstairs.

Going down stairs is a piece of cake.. you just have to take it slow is all.

You definitely need to monitor that foot drop. Hang in there.. You sound like a strong person.. you will be just fine!
__________________
"believe in the beauty of your dreams"- E. Roosevelt

L5/S1 bulging @ 18, now 46; still there (but no pain)
Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
Solidly Fused Nov-2006
A Success, but still improving!

 
Old 02-28-2007, 05:46 AM   #9
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Re: next step

[QUOTE=Justoneofus;2826262]Just know that stairs are doable after a fusion (not something you wanna run up or down with of course, but "can" be managed slowly). I was up and down my stairs on my own several times a day, 4 days post surgery.

I probably could have done it sooner, I chose not to.

I was thinking the same as you.. they do have private transport to/from hospitals and you could indeed get assistance getting upstairs.

Going down stairs is a piece of cake.. you just have to take it slow is all.

You definitely need to monitor that foot drop. Hang in there.. You sound like a strong person.. you will be just fine! [/QUOTE]

Good to hear about the stairs, Justoneofus. Fusion is a bigger surgery than what I'd be getting, so if you could do stairs after your fusion, maybe it's not so impossible for me. Thanks for your thoughts on my situation.

I'm not strong at all, really - I just have no other choice. You cry and cry, but eventually you have to pull yourself together and try to make a plan.

I have an appointment with a physiatrist on Friday. He's with an orthopedic group, and he does those nerve conduction studies. Maybe he can give me a clear yes or no on whether I have to have surgery to get my leg back to normal. I'll let you all know how it goes...

- c

 
Old 02-28-2007, 05:53 AM   #10
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Re: next step

I would make the appointment with a neurosurgeon not a neurologist just to save you another appointment, thats what happened to me, had to go to one, for them to say yep you have a problem now you need to see the surgeon.

I think at the hospital they make sure you can do whatever you will need to before leaving like stairs etc.

Keep your chin up, and keep looking for the answers. Hope you are feeling better vette

 
Old 02-28-2007, 06:40 AM   #11
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Re: next step

yvette,

Can I ask your opinion about my two surgeon choices?

The first is an orthopedic spine surgeon who was recommended to me by a friend. He's not a neurosurgeon, but he did do a spine fellowship with a neurosurgeon at johns hopkins. He seems to be highly regarded. He does surgeries at a local university hospital for joint diseases. He's on the younger side, and does endoscopic and micro- discectomies as well as open discectomies. The minimally invasive option is why I'm leaning toward this ortho surgeon.

My other choice is a neurosurgeon up in Albany. I know from several different sources that he has a very good reputation. He specializes in spine surgeries, but I think he also does other types of neurosurgery. He's older, and does not do micro- or endoscopic surgery, only open surgery. I have a few relatives up there, but due to their circumstances they wouldn't be able to give me a place to stay if I go there. I'd stay in a motel after the surgery until I was able to return to my regular life.

It seems like lots of people favor neurosurgeons over orthopedics...what do you (and everybody) think?

 
Old 02-28-2007, 10:11 AM   #12
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Re: next step

My doctor is a orthopedic spinal surgeon and I am extremely happy with him.

 
Old 03-01-2007, 05:51 AM   #13
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Re: next step

I really can't answer that question. Both are going to have extensive education in surgery's. I was just recommending not wasting your time going to a plain neurologist then to be sent to a neurosurgeon.

I personally prefer neurosurgeons cause it sounds better to me with all the nerves etc. - But I think what you should look for either way is one who specializes in spines.

Young Doctor vs old. Old ones have way more experience, which is good. Young ones tend to believe in newer technology which is good. I think you need two opinions anyway, why not check out both?

Goodluck

 
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