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Old 04-08-2007, 10:31 AM   #1
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Chris1964 HB User
Help with Questions for my Surgeon

Hello Everyone! My name is Chris. I am a 43 y/o father of 3 beautiful girls and am blessed in many ways. But, I have had back problems for 5 years now. I am very bummed at the moment and could use some input from anyone who can relate to my current situation.

I had a L-4/5 Laminectomy/Discectomy and L-5/S-1 Laminectomy in 2005. I did ok after surgery and went back to work a few months post-op. My left leg pain was greatly reduced, but my back pain following surgery has progressively gotten worse. In recent months the left leg symptoms are now back while my back/hip pain is unbearable. I was finally able to get an MRI and to be brief it revealed a 10.2 mm disc protrusion at L-4/5 with nerve entrapment, a 5 mm disc protrusion at L-5/S-1 with nerve encroachment and now a protrusion has shown up at L-3/4 for the very first time.

My doctor took me off work about a week ago and I have an upcoming appointment with my neuro-surgeon. I am very worried about the possibility of another surgery. In fact you could say I am basically terrified. I read about so many good people who seem to have started out like me and now they have been through several surgeries which finally led to a fusion with pins and rods implanted. I can't go on taking the opiates forever, even though they basically kept me working for the last 6 months. But I can see where this will lead and the possible outcomes are pretty scary.

I would be grateful to hear anyones thoughts. Especially on what I should now be asking my surgeon. I am afraid I might blow L-4/5 out completely right now and I am trying to do nothing until I get in to see him. My mood swings are terrible, I am seriously sleep deprived and can't do so many things that I used to do it is totally depressing. I know I am going to get a second opinion no matter what the surgeon says, but I want to make sure I don't overlook something. As many of you know we only get a brief few minutes when we visit the surgeons of this world so I have to make sure I don't forget to ask something. I have started my list of questions and look forward to any and all input.

Thanks for listening! Chris

 
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Old 04-08-2007, 10:35 AM   #2
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yvette777 HB User
Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

Wow sorry you are going through all of this!!! I think I would ask him, for one, if you don't have surgery what are you chances of getting better, or will things get worse. If you do have surgery what are your chances?

Getting off the meds was one of my reasons for going ahead with the surgery, I just had fusion.

Also, If he suggests a certain surgery, ask how many he has done, what the recovery will be like etc. - But make sure you get several opinions.

Wish you the best, vette

 
Old 04-08-2007, 10:38 AM   #3
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clover60 HB User
Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

Chris
Welcome you have come to the right place for support. Everyone here has different issues with their back but do share and it does help all of us.

I know I lived on the pain meds just for quality of life and to be able to work for over a year. I finally made the decision to have surgery and believe when I am healed it will have helped. There is no promise of this but I felt it was better than nothing.

I took my spouse with me and we did have a list of questions. The questions are individualized so what I used may not work for others. The main question I believe is what kind of quility of life can I expect if I have surgery or what are the chances of living a normal life after surgery.

We are all here for you. Good luck and happy easter

 
Old 04-08-2007, 10:54 AM   #4
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Chris1964 HB User
Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

Clover - Thanks for the support. You're right, posting about my problem and reading others does help. I realize I could be much worse off and sometimes think I am feling too much pity for myself when I see what others have been through. I just need to work through this one step at a time and again, thanks!

vette - I agree, taking these pain meds for so long needs to stop. But then again I'm just not sure having a fusion verses stopping the med's is right for me. I really don't know what is best. I have an intense job and need to be pretty sharp. The pain meds have definitely impacted that. But they did keep me working and I could not have worked with the pain I am in without something to at least take the edge off. I'm prety confused right now, but I do very much appreciate your support. Good luck on your recovery too!

 
Old 04-08-2007, 12:45 PM   #5
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ms_west HB User
Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

Chris - I am so sorry. As briefly as I can, here is my story. I had a transitional vertebrae (born with two vertebrae sitting on top of one another with no disc) and had a fusion of s1/s2 at 17. I lived happily with no pain - lived a full life for 23 years than BAM here came the [B]sciatica/hip pain[/B]. After trying the epidural injections, phyiscial therapy, and oral steroids with no success, I had a laminectomy on L5/S1 with bone spurs/spinal stenosis. After the surgery, I felt okay for a couple of months - then the whoa here came the [B]back[/B] pain. (Sound familiar??) To make a long story short, I ended up with a spinal fusion on L5/S1 on the disc above the other fusion. Apparently, after the laminectomy the l5/s1 blew out when I was emptying the dishwasher of all things. I am currently out 9 weeks. Do I feel 100% better? No. Do I regret having the surgery? No Do I feel any better? Yes. I don't have the back pain. It is to soon to rule on the sciatica pain.

From your description it sounds like your disc may have become very unstable. I pray that it does not mean more surgery for your sake.

I would go in and ask the obvious/not so obvious questions:


*What will the limitations be after surgery?
*How long will recovery be? Work? Driving? Bending, lifting, and twisting?
*Physciains Access after surgery ie. weekends if change in meds are needed?
*What will I likely experience if I don't have surgery?
*If I do have surgery, what will I likely experience a) immediately afterwards; b) over the next few months; c) over the next couple of years?
*Might I be likely to need further surgery in the future?
*How many of these surgeries have you performed?
*Do you have any statistics about outcomes, i.e. how have your patients done with my diagnosis and the treatment you are recommending?
*Can I talk to one of your patients who had this procedure?


That is about all I can think of for right now. Good Luck!!

Last edited by ms_west; 04-08-2007 at 12:46 PM.

 
Old 04-08-2007, 06:08 PM   #6
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Chris1964 HB User
Wink Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

1-2-3, thanks so much for sharing. It does sound like we have very similar histories and I'll say a prayer for your continued recovery. Great questions, I'll print and bring them with me. From what I do know about fusions the first 12 weeks are the most critical. Take it as easy as possible so the bones can completely fuse. I am sure you know this already, but I also know how it can get after a back surgery, wanting to do too much.

Thanks again for the input, it's greatly appreciated! Take care, Chris

 
Old 04-09-2007, 08:55 AM   #7
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Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

[COLOR="Navy"]Chris,

Welcome to our little bit of back heaven. We all here have issues one way or another. I had scheduled my surgery twice...and cancelled it twice before I went through with it. The reason I finally went "under the knife" was that my quality of life was being affected to the point that the dog wouldn't even sit with me...and she was my dog! I had a 3 level fusion done 2 years ago. The fusion was successful. My back broke the day they got me out of bed after the surgery. Failed to listen to me and continued to get me up to walk for a week twice a day with a broken back....One week after the first surgery I was back in for another 6 hour bout. That's the short-as in REAL short version.

Am I glad I had the surgery done? I am still mixed on that one.
Is the pain gone? The pain that I had is gone. I now have a different pain from the back breaking that I will live with my entire life.
The fusion was a success and it is clean and neat.
I do have 2 15' titanium rods and 20 screws (the really big ones) that will be mine to have and to hold forever....

So, as everyone has said, you need to decide what the driving question is for you. Is it quality of life? Relief of pain? To not take pain pills? Total removal of pain is something that all of us wish for but are realistic enough to realize that that doesn't come to people who have done long term damage to nerves and muscles..

You will get lots of points of view. Remember, there are lots of success stories around, but alot of folks leave when they get healthy as this reminds them of a time in their life that they don't care to think about.....
Keep posting, and welcome[/COLOR]

 
Old 04-09-2007, 11:06 AM   #8
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Chris1964 HB User
Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

Thank you for the kind words iBake.

I am totally in tune with your comments on the "quality of life" subject. The most depressing issue for me is I thought I was in the clear as I was doing pretty good following surgery. Then it started again and eventually become worse. I just can't imagine now needing a second surgery to only go down the same path.

Wow, 20 screws and 15" rods! You are to be commended that's for sure. It seems you can tell exactly what I am struggling with, although my dogs still love me. The little I know about your struggle kind of makes me ashamed to feel pity for myself and believe me when I say that's a good thing. It's so hard to stay strong as I have been maintaining this false persona for about a year now. Those closest to me have known about the pain I've been in and thank God I have a great support system in place. My wife is fantastic and going through this without her would be absolutely terrible. Getting support from others in similar situations helps me tremendously. My wife would do anything for me, but I know she can't relate like yourself and others can. That's why this message board has provided so much enlightenment for me and the support I feel really warms my heart.

I see my surgeon tomorrow and will know more then. I have a bunch of questions, but I've narrowed them down quite a bit. I appreciate everyones comments as it really has helped me focus. I'll post my results and I hope to hear from you again. Thanks again for the support, it is very much appreciated. Take care.

 
Old 04-10-2007, 07:11 AM   #9
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Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

[COLOR="Navy"]Chris,
Please take your wife with you tomorrow, or today as it is....a second set of ears is imperative for hearing everthing that the dr. says. I know that I often hear things "wishfully" as my hubby says... I too have a spouse that has gone above and beyond the call to help me (not that I'm not worth it! ) I tend not to complain overly much as it doesn't help much and only makes everyone uncomfortable. But I will let folks know when it is really bad-just because some people need to learn some tolerance for other folks.

Never feel ashamed for having your own pity party. We all have those times when we need to have those moments that we collapse and look for support from others. I am normally a strong woman. I rarely fuss, in fact it is difficult for me to express discomfort and pain and to ask for help and support. I am a provider, not a taker. This has probably been the most difficult thing for me to learn to do with this surgery..ask for help. The way that I looked at this surgery is that God knew that it was time for these issues to arise and he knew that the people that were in line to get these problems couldn't handle them, but I could...so he passed them on to me...but I'm done now, thank you very much.

You are right. This is where we let down our guard enough to say, Hey, it really hurts! This is where we can go... I don't know that I want to go on with this any more. This is where I came to say My surgeon just told me that I will live with some degree of pain the rest of my life...thanks much doc. This is where I can say...this sucks. Why isn't it someone elses turn?

That being said I will now get down off of my foamy soap box and let you go. Let us know how your dr. visit went and keep your chin up...it's one of the few things that you can keep up easily!

Jill

 
Old 04-10-2007, 08:54 AM   #10
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Chris1964 HB User
Re: Help with Questions for my Surgeon

iBake - hello,

My wife is going with me. She was going to leave work early, but she decided to ditch altogether. She is great let me tell you.

I know what it's like to be so strong willed before this injury and then it just beats you down. That is my biggest issue. It just eats away at me and I hate that I can't do some things at all, or other things like I did before my back injury, Everyone can surely relate to that one. But I'm still going to keep putting one foot in front of the other as that is all I know how to do right now. One of these doc's will help me I know, it's just a matter of time.

Thanks for thinking of me and I'll let you know how it goes with the surgeon today. Take care, Chris

 
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