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Nightmare after my 12/20 surgery to remove a synovial cyst

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Old 01-20-2013, 06:59 AM   #1
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Thumbs down Nightmare after my 12/20 surgery to remove a synovial cyst


I had a very easy post op/recovery from my 12/20 surgery. I was shocked at how unremarkable the surgery was. I was released on Dec 22 and was able to cook Xmas dinner on the 25th.

On January 2 my fiancée and I decided to book a hotel to in Carmel to have dinner with friends and just get me out of the house. I planned on having a few drinks so did not take my pain Meds that day.

After dinner, while walking back to our hotel, I fell backwards and smacked my head on the sidewalk. I attributed it to the few cocktails and that I had worn a small wedge heel and assumed I just tripped on something.

The following morning, I was getting ready to shower and my fiancée asked me how my incision was feeling and I told him other than the awful itching it felt fine. He told me I needed to remove my bandage and I reminded him that the Dr told me to leave it on until our follow up on Jan 14. He would not take no for an answer and after removing I realized why. The bandage was full of pus.

I called the Dr. And he instructed me to drive to his office as quickly as possible. After his exam he informed me he would have to do an emergency surgery to clean out the infection and sent me to get an MRI immediately. I returned to him 1.5 hours later with my films and he informed me that not only did he need to remove the infection but that I also had a hematoma and that more of the facet joint needed to be removed. Because of the serious nature of the procedure he wanted his best team in the OR with him so we could not get everyone together until the next day at noon.

On January 4, I had my second surgery and as I awakened I met the infectious disease doctor who informed me the infection appeared to be mersa. This is a form of staph that is very difficult to treat and can be fatal, especially in the spine. He said that it takes about 5 days for the culture to give us all of the information and we should know late Monday as the my spinal surgeon had taken cultures the day before.

As I spent the weekend in the hospital I began experiencing incontinence and the most excruciating left leg pain I had ever felt prior to surgery. By Sunday afternoon I was unable to walk and when I tried my left leg would collapse at times. The infectious disease Dr came in to do his rounds and after I answered him about how I was doing he said, "honey, right now incontinence and leg pain are the least of your worries. We are trying to keep you alive." He reminded me that we should know a lot more on Monday afternoon.

On Monday morning I was in such severe pain I was hysterical. My surgeon came in and immediately ordered an X Ray (my stomach had become extremely distended) and an MRI. While on the X Ray table I lost complete co trol of my bladder. This made me even more upset. They then decided to sedate me for the MRI. I was met by my spinal surgeon when I was wheeled back into my room to be informed that a blood clot had formed and was putting lots of pressure on my nerves. They were just waiting for an OR to open up so I could go back in. At this time, my veins had all collapsed and the anesthesiologist could not get a line started. They called to order me a PICC line (as i would need this once i was released) but if the guy could not get there before surgery they would have to run a central line to administer the anesthesia.

It was another 3.5 hour surgery but the good news is that I woke up. I was scared to death that I would not make it through another surgery. I was also informed when I woke up that I had a bad staph infection but not MERSA. Thank God!

I was released on Jan 11 and am connected to an IV 24 hours a day administering me my antibiotics. My fiancée has been my "nurse" changing my bag every day but needs to get back to work so I will have a daily nurse come in to check on me starting Monday.

I am very sad as the leg pain and incontinence have not gone away it the Dr's now say my nerves looked severely bruised and I need to let things calm down. I need more surgery as the latest scan showed a large cyst has grown on my one remaining ovary and that could be a contributing factor to the incontinence but I need to wait til the infection is under control.

Additionally, more of the facet joint was removed than originally planned and they also discovered I am suffering from Spondylolisthesis and I am now suffering from severe lower back pain.

I have a fantastic support system of friends and family but I get down at times and force myself to be thankful that I am alive.

Thanks for listening as it helps to share my story with people that understand.

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Old 01-24-2013, 06:23 PM   #2
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Re: Nightmare after my 12/20 surgery to remove a synovial cyst

Dear wendiz, Oh my goodness, how did I miss your thread? Im flabbergasted & so very grateful that you are alive! Im so so sorry that you have been through so much and still face another surgery! Hope that you are healing now & that you will contimue to post your progress. I care & will add you to my prayer list. I have had 4 lumbar surgeries & have adhesions squeezing my spinal nerves so i can understand the horrible pain & nerve symptoms that you have suffered but mine happened gradually! So hope this finds you healing & recovering.

Old 01-24-2013, 07:29 PM   #3
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Re: Nightmare after my 12/20 surgery to remove a synovial cyst

Wendiz, I find it a bit outrageous that your doctor wanted you to leave your bandage on for almost a month after surgery! That alone could have caused a staph infection and most of these issues you have been through. I was told to take my bandage off after 24 hours, clean the incision daily and then apply antibiotic ointment.

As for the 50% facet joint removal - I would not worry about it. Our facet joints enlarge anyway as we age to support the spine as our discs start to shrink and lose height. That's just part of normal aging of the back. If part of the joint was pressing on the sciatic nerve, that part needed to come out. The joint should continue to enlarge along with the others as you age. You have other facet joints above and below it doing the job also.

I have spondylolisthesis also (mild) as probably does half the population. What matters is whether or not it causes instability and slippage. They can tell this to some degree with flexion and extension x-rays. Based on my x-rays I had no slippage, and that area of my back feels fine. So I would not jump into a fusion for this before thoroughly checking it out.

I think the blood clot, surgeries, and the infection are what is keeping you in pain - it will take time for the nerve to calm down. You have been through a lot - hopefully it's almost over!

Last edited by CT06405; 01-24-2013 at 07:31 PM.

Old 01-25-2013, 06:19 AM   #4
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Re: Nightmare after my 12/20 surgery to remove a synovial cyst


Sorry to hear what you went thru. It scares me to think of what you went thru. You are in my prayers for recovery and thankful that you have a wonderful support system.

Your story made me think somewhat of a scarey situation. Back in 2000 I went thru cervical surgery for kyphosis which required Harrington Rods. The surgery was to last 6-8 hours and I was expected to be in the hospital for 4 days, then sent home.

Didn't turn out that way. Due to severity of the surgery it took longer then anticipated. They first put in the Harrington Rods whcih took 8 hours. The surgeon didn't want to keep me under anesthesia any longer so delayed the next part of the surgery which would have meant flipping me over to do the fusion from the front.

So I stayed in the hospital and the following week the 2nd part of the surgery was done which was the fusion and another 4 hours. So 12 hours total.

But things became complicated beyond the delay in completing the surgery. I develped pneumonia while in the hospital. I dont recall all the details because I was hallucinating a great deal. But do remember them trying to treat the pneumonia. Trying to clear it out and what ever the method was it was not working. So the treatment of last choice was to intubate me. I was intubated for 4 days.

Again since I was hallucinating I cant separate fact from fiction. But what went thru my mind at one point was that it felt like the tube that they inserted in me moved and I was frantic that I was going to choke. Whether that happened or not I cant say becasue of my mental status.

But intubation itself is a drastic measure to go thru. One thing I remember my sister saying to me afterwards was that things were a mess it appears that I was 1/2 dead when I was going thru recovery.

The 4 day stay turned into a 2 1/2 week stay in the hospital. But then the recovery at home was also a long and slow process. I had to wear a cervical collar for 4 plus months. I had to sleep in the collar or try to. At one point I was allowed to remove the collar for 1 hour per day. But beyond that I had to wear the collar 24/7. It drove me nuts.

But I think while the surgery the 12 hours, the wearing the collar for so long as difficult at that was, the pneumonia really scared me beyond belief.

Glad you have the support system. Dealing with what you did would have been so difficult if you had to do it alone. Sounds like a great fiance to stand by you during such a difficult time. Good luck

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