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    Old 06-24-2009, 08:05 AM   #1
    nancy94011
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    Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Hello everyone, I am brand new to this forum so I will try to give everyone a quick and dirty update of my condition and the possible solution.

    I am a 42-year-old female that has been having trouble and pain with my back and neck for the past 3 years after a very bad car accident in 2005. The MRI results showed bulging of my disks at C3-C5 & L4 -L5. My doc wants to do surgery right away, which is a little scary for me to say the least. He said he wants to do both the Cervical and Lumbar areas at the same time so he does not have to schedule me for more surgery in the 6 months + he is concerned about the injury getting worse if it is not taken care of right away. He said it will be a little more difficult to do both now but it is definitely better than going under the knife twice. I think I agree with him, any thoughts on that?

    Recovery time is 6 -8 months he informs me, and this is the part I am most concerned with. He said I would need a turtle shell type body jacket with a neck brace attachment. (Turtle shell for the lumbar and a neck brace for the cervical region) I think he called it a CTLSO Brace. Has anyone had any experience with this type of brace, or know where I can find more information/pictures on it (Books, websites, etc) I have looked into it and the info seems limited on it. It would be nice to know what this brace looks like before I make my finial decision!

    My pre-op brace fitting is in 2 weeks and surgery is scheduled for July20th, so I guess I still have time to chicken out!

    Any information would be appreciated! -- Please HELP.

    Thanks for everyone's input

    Nancy

     
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    Old 06-24-2009, 08:20 AM   #2
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Nancy,

    Is this doctor suggesting fusions or just decompression/laminectomy surgeries? Doing both cervical and lumbar at the same time would be a big surgery to recover from regardless of what types of surgery he/she is recommending.

    If I were you, I would get a second or even a third opinion before proceeding. If your surgery isn't even scheduled until July 20, then your surgeon obviously doesn't think it's an emergency. After visiting several spine surgeons myself, I would only have surgery done by a fellowship-trained spinal surgeon. I prefer orthopedic spine surgeons who only work on the spine, but I know some people like neurosurgeons better and some of them only work on the spine also. I have been amazed at how the opinions of different doctors can vary so much, and visiting another surgeon or two would ensure that you get a skilled doctor that you can best communicate with.

    Best wishes!

     
    Old 06-24-2009, 10:36 AM   #3
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Hello Brenda and thanks for your message.

    Let me first say that I did misspeak when I said bulging disks -- I meant herniated discs (opps Sorry, I am a newbie here!!) at C3/C4 and C4/C5. This is causing some real pain and numbness in my right arm and some weakness as well. -- Thatís the neck. As for the lumbar, the MRI showed a Herniated Disc at L3-4 which is causing a lot of pain and numbness in my backside and my left leg, also weakness there. Actually I have seen 3 different specialists (one Neurosurgeon & two spine surgeons) over the last 3 years and all of them have recommended fusion surgery, however, this is the only one that wanted to do both at the same time. I should also mention that my health insurance will run out at the end of August that is why he is pushing to do both the cervical and lumbar regions at the same time so we can make it within that insurance window.

    The Doctor ( a spine surgeon who has done two of my girlfriends surgeries, one neck and one back - both were very successful so I feel comfortable) says that if I am in another car accident, even a minor one, I stand a good chance of paralysis. This is the other reason why he wants to do both now. I am torn on this now but am really leaning toward the surgery. The 20th was the soonest he could fit me in for the surgery but his office just phoned and said they want me fitted and in the brace ASAP (before the surgery) so my first fitting appointment has been moved up to next Tuesday. - Yikes!

    I am still looking for info on the CTLSO brace so if anyone out there who can offer any information, I would really appreciate it!

    Thanks again,

    Nancy

     
    Old 06-24-2009, 10:49 AM   #4
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    All I can say is that I had my T-ll -L3 fused and then I had to have the titanium removed because I broke. I have been in constant pain ever since the surgery and I can do the things I one loved. I have a much differed situation than you becuase I broke my back and had to have the surgery to walk agian. So in that respect I am in much less pain than I was when I was hospitalized with a broken back.
    I was very active in sports prior to this and now I cant be but if you cant do things you love now because of the disc pain then you might as well do it because I could help a little to alot.

    Its not that bad either the recovers are long but it is worth it.

    good luck

    Last edited by kasey138; 06-24-2009 at 10:49 AM. Reason: Oh I ment I can not do things I once loved

     
    Old 06-24-2009, 02:33 PM   #5
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Nancy,

    I really feel for you and it stinks that insurance issues can control the health care we get and put us in less-than-optimal circumstances. It sounds like you have really done your homework and that this surgeon is someone you are comfortable with.

    For the brace, make sure you ask lots of questions about other people's experiences or problems when you go for your fitting. They might also be able to get you in contact with someone who has had one so you can talk to them.

    Best wishes to you!

     
    Old 06-24-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Hi Nancy, and welcome to the board!

    Okay now, you made your decision for good reasons and you trust your surgeon, right? So don't chicken out! Don't second guess yourself now that you've come this far!

    I had a TLSO brace, actually several different ones between my two fusion surgeries. Mine were all from right under the arms to my hips, and they went up a bit in the front and back, that is, they had a cut-down for my armpits. They were all secured with Velcro. One type was two halves like a turtle shell. The other type had an opening in the front and you pull it open a bit to wrap it around yourself. I've seen quite a few different models by different companies, but they all do basically the same thing: keep you from accidently moving in a way you shouldn't while you're healing!

    We aren't allowed to post websites, but if you do a search for "TLSO" you'll come up with lots of sites and pictures. Depending on which search engine you use, you may see one with the cervical part, too. I did when I just did a search. The brace is hot, so I hope you have air conditioning, but I was really glad to have mine. I felt supported even when I was weak and tired, and it kept me from forgetting that I shouldn't try to bend or twist.

    If you have other questions, we'll do our best to help.

    Take care,
    Emily

     
    Old 06-25-2009, 04:37 PM   #7
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Hi Emily and thank you for your email.

    Sounds like you have some experience with spine surgery and post-op recovery so it is really nice to hear from you and your experiences as well as others.

    So I have done my homework and I am not going to chicken out and am going to move forward but I have decided to just relax this weekend and not look at anything on the we b that may scare me off. I know the surgery is going to be painful and I know the post-op recovery is going to be long and difficult but the end result will be (I hope and pray) well worth it!

    I talked to the brace people today and I am set for my appointment on Tuesday at 10:00 am. They said it will take a few hours for the measuring and then they will need a week or so to build the brace. After that she said I will need to be back a few ore times for additional measurements and final adjustments and then I will be set to go. Like I said before, the Doctor wants me braced ASAP (even before the surgery) so I think his target date is no later than July 10.

    Scared but trying to keep a positive attitude!

    Nancy

     
    Old 06-26-2009, 09:42 AM   #8
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Due to my own expereince I am such a big advocate for a second and more opinions. Been there - done that, you know? Trust is good when it comes to you family and friends, when it comes to such huge surgery you must have more opinions.
    I don't want to go on details, this is not a proper thing to do, but many of us here gave you an excellent advice - see someone else to confirm Dx and confirm the need of surgery.
    I know many people on this board, include me, who went to see another opinion and we all were very surprised... The only thing the best to go not same area where this first Dr practice since they all know each other and they can't say something different than your Dr told you already.

    HOney, this type surgeries is not a walk in a park; I had 2 major spinal surgeries too. My heart goes out to you, but don't worry, you will be OK.
    Recovery is not an easy thing to go through, but we all do - so will you.
    Just make sure you prepare your house and freezer for the time when you come home; make arrangements needed.

    Best wishes to you!

     
    Old 06-26-2009, 11:02 AM   #9
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    I couldn't agree more with Moldova. Especially the point about seeking other opinions outside the area of your other doctor. Also, if your surgeon i.e., is from a more privatized hospital, you might want another opinion from a county hospital. And, vice-versa. My surgery was done @ a leading Cleveland hospital. Later, when I had problems, I went seeking an opinion @ a county hospital where I used to work. They said they would NEVER have advised me to have this surgery-they were right!! Remember: Knowledge is Power!! Take Care, ----janiee08.

     
    Old 06-26-2009, 12:48 PM   #10
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Janee08 just gave you the best advice ever...

    We all here for you and to share with you our own experiences b/c we don't want anybody to make mistakes. This is not just a mistake, this is your health...

    Best wishes to you, honey!

     
    Old 06-28-2009, 08:25 AM   #11
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Hello Moldova & Janee08 and thank you so much for your messages and your concern.

    I know this is a very difficult decision and let me tell you I have laid awake too many nights (in pain) thinking it over and over again. Actually I have been considering this for more than 3 years and I have consulted with 3 different specialists (one Neurosurgeon & two spine surgeons) in 3 different areas, the Neuro was back in 06 when I live in Orange County, he was in San Diego, the spine surgeon at the end of 07, he was in Los Angeles and finally the spine surgeon, who is schedule to do the surgery, in San Francisco. All 3 Doctors basically said the same thing about needing surgery in both the cervical and lumbar regions of my spine. I guess the biggest thing I regret is that I should have done them one at a time over the last few years but I back out and hope the pain would just go away and I would get better on my own. Now we are up against the proverbial time clock and with the whole insurance thing and that getting ready to expire, the time is now for me to do this so I have decided I have to move forward with this. Like I mentioned before, I feel very comfortable with this Doctor and he has actually done two of my girlfriends surgeries, one neck and one back - both were very, very successful.

    Now if I can get my head around this whole brace thing, I am schedule for my first of three appointments on Tuesday so I think I am going to start a new thread about what to expect at the brace fitting and what kind of questions I should ask the brace people.

    Nancy

     
    Old 06-28-2009, 02:01 PM   #12
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Nancy, I can honestly say I loved my brace! I hated it, too, of course. But it gave me support and kept me from accidently bending or twisting. My situation was quite different from most on this board. I have a severe scoliosis which wasn't treated in a timely manner when I was a teenager. By the time I was treated, it was too late to straighten my spine out and I was fused with a 75 degree curve. I've had pain since I was 14. In my early 40's, I developed osteoporosis, which broke down my spine and I lost 3 inches in height. The pain was horrendous! Along with DDD, I was in bad shape and heading quickly for a wheelchair. It took some looking to find a doctor who would touch me, but I found a fantastic, skilled, and compassionate surgeon who came up with a solution. He re-fused a bunch of sections and continued it on down all the way to the sacrum. Because I still had that huge curve, I was very concerned that during the months it would take to actually fuse, my deformed torso would be putting sidewards pressure on my spine, as always, and move me back the little bit that my doctor was able to shift my whole spine. The brace kept that from happening.

    I've heard others here say they loved/hated their brace, too. I'm sure it varies by person and by situation, but you may find it's really not bad at all. It just takes some getting used to.

    And by the way, once you feel up to being out and about again, when people see your brace, they're quick to help you with doors. Most people are very kind when they see that you have a need. (Except for the teenager who watched while I struggled to get a heavy door open, then as soon as I had it open pushed past me as I "held" it for him and told me thanks!)

    Really, it's not bad!!!

    Emily

     
    Old 06-29-2009, 11:36 AM   #13
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Hi Nancy,
    Have you had ur brace fitting?
    its perfectly normal to feel scared about going under the knife but if your pain is so bad its affecting your quality of life and surgeon thinks its best to do surgery sooner rather then later then you should go for it. If its gonna improve ur quality of life, 6-8months recovery is a small price to pay.
    I underwent my second spine surgery recently and like you i was scared and anxious about going under the knife, im 13 weeks post op now and altho still in alot of pain, the surgery has definately improved my pain levels and what pain i have while go away in time when nerves recover. my surgeries didnt involve back brace so i cant help u there but as i said earlier if its gonna improve ur quality of life and improve ur pain then its worth doing. no one enters into spine surgery lightly, its a massive decision but only you can decide what is right for you.
    let me know how you get on
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    Old 07-01-2009, 07:00 PM   #14
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    Re: Back & Neck Surgery -Scared & ??

    Hi Emily and Jo and thanks for your messages.

    Emily, That is a real comfort to know that you actually liked your brace, that really has put me at ease , thanks for that.

    Jo, I appreciate your email and your right, they amount of time the surgery and recovery take are small compared to living the rest of my life in pain.

    I did have my first brace fitting and that was quite the experiance -- read my post on the brace fitting thread.

    Talk soon

    Nancy

     
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