I live in Toronto and am planning to have a L4-5 laminectomy & microdiskectomy in Chicago (wait times at home are very long). I was wondering if I could get some input in terms of how long I will have to be there before I can fly home? The flight is about 1.5hrs.
Also, how long will I have to have someone with me during recovery? I am 43; in decent shape.
Finally, I've read a bunch of threads on recovery times and it seems to be a bit mixed. Is there a rule of thumb that I can use to plan?
Recovery time is hard to predict --really impossible to predict. They never know until they get in there what exactly they are going to find. If things go absolutely perfectly and there are no issues with recovery, general rule of the thumb is about six weeks to safely resume most activities. But you will not be fully healed for six months and the risk of reherniation is greatest during this time period.
It is handy to have someone around for the first week to ten days...depending on how involved the surgery ends up being.
Now, regarding travel...most surgeons tell their patients to limit sitting to 15-20 minutes at a time...so getting home will be a problem. I would suggest you call the surgeon's office and discuss it with them. Obviously people travel to have spine surgeries, so it is possible...you just need to know what your surgeon recommends.
I'm curious why you decided on Chicago? As I think we talked about earlier, there are some docs in Buffalo that are well-credentialed and would be more convenient. Who are you seeing in Chicago?
The doc said it will depend on how things look. The range was wide. I thought I would ask folks here because it seems that the advice of surgeons can be somewhat cavalier. I really want to be careful, but reasonable (I will be away from my wife and kids), as I can't afford to do this more than once - for a number of reasons.
I chose Chicago because I have a friend who lives there (3 days a week), and because I found a surgeon whom I thought had good credentials and experience. His name is Dr Frank Phillips, and he practices at the Rush Orthopedic clinic. Nevertheless, I must admit that selecting a surgeon is an unfamiliar art for me, so I hope that brother Google delivered the goods I need.
I thought long and hard about Buffalo, but the time to travel home would be three hours to drive, versus an hour and half to fly to Chicago.
The cost of the adventure is forecast to be less than I had feared, perhaps in part because it is being done on an outpatient basis. In any event, I'm pleased with this part at least.
I have become unexpectedly nervous about the surgery over the past two days. I'm obviously anticipating relief, but I'm praying that it doesn't leave me worse off...
If you can stay with your friend, I would think if you can stay a week or so, that would be beneficial to you.
Rush Memorial is a good place. I can see why you chose the surgeon. He is well credentialed and very experienced. He was associated with the U of Chicago. (Many of their doctors associated with Rush...I don't think their programs "merged" but it was something similar.) Several of my doctors trained at Rush and they are all very excellent. My spine surgeon did his residency there (he trained as a trauma surgeon). Then when he decided to go into spine work, he did a fellowship in Toronto.
Did you send him your MRI and he has seen it? I gather that is the case since you are going for surgery and not just a consultation. I gather it will be done as an outpatient or will you be in hospital overnight?
I did take my MRI results with me when I went for my consultation, but they did another one as my condition had worsened since my last result. We did a follow up by phone, during which he recommended the surgery.
Not much can be done about my stenosis per se, as it is mostly a congenital problem. All the same, cleaning up the disc will give some me some much needed space down there.
I appreciate the feedback with respect to the surgeon and clinic. I think I will take two weeks before I go home. Intuitively, I think I herniated and then reherniated the disc already (it got worse), so I think I am proned to this. We'll see how it goes.