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    Old 01-10-2008, 08:02 PM   #1
    braveneck
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    Afraid of surgery.

    I've had severe neck pain for many years. A MRI five years ago showed mild stenosis, bone spurs, etc.
    Current MRI show things getting worse, and a cyst that wasn't noticed before.
    My neck hurts like hell, sometimes get headaches and shoulder pain.
    I used to be a gymrat. Now, if I do some pushups I'll have two weeks worth of severe pain. So, I do nothing now, like an old man.
    I'm okay if I keep my head straight and stay away from the gym.
    I tried PT years ago, and they had me do exercises that hurt like hell.
    I went back and did 12 sessions of PT recently, with massage, traction, ultrasound, and it helped a little.
    Out of frustration I saw a neurosurgeon and scheduled a fusion for 56/67, but then I could not go through with it. Actually, it was partly due to the posts I read here about how other areas usually blow out after fusion. Seems like the first one means a series of operations.
    I have no problems with my arms, legs, or bladder. I'm functional, but not active like I used to be.
    I called and asked for more PT today.
    I really want to avoid the knife as long as possible. The more I read, the more determined I am to avoid surgery. The horror stories here had me crapping my pants. All of these poor people in pain, and I've joined the ranks.
    I ******d chiropractic for neck pain, and it seems to be pretty dangerous with the possibility of stroke.
    It's so hard to know what to do.
    I just wonder how long I can manage to avoid the knife, without also compromising the nerves and spine.
    My primary care doc has big back problems, but will not have surgery. He takes meds and surfs, lives with the pain.
    So, that's my story.

     
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    Old 01-11-2008, 07:12 AM   #2
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    unfortunetly,i does appear that you have tried just about every other alternative but the surgical route.one BIG thing you have to remember in all this to keep things in proper perspective is that the people who are posting here are just the ones who had problems and not all the millions of people who have had the surgeries and are off liveing their lives much more normally without pain or problems.my hubby is one of those.he had his fusion done about three years before mine and it went wonderully for him.his pain stopped,his symptoms,like the numbness in his forefinger eventually went away and he is doing just fine now like ten years later.mine unfortunetly didn;t go that way.i know many people who have had the c spine fusions done and are doing great.that is one of the reasons i chose to just do it,without actually exploring other options first(big no no there for me)i just wanted to get it done and not drag it out forever with all kinds of treatments,therepys and pain meds.but that is the route i should have started with.didnt realize that one til after the fact unfortunetly.

    surgery is always a very highly individual choice that should always be the last resort,and not the first.it does appear you are running out of options here tho ya know?whether or not to actually go thru with it all depends on the severity of the problems and how it is affecting you and your quality of life and if by not doing it,you could get much worse.the thing is,you do not want your condition to get to that point where it is really affecting things like bladder control and other progression issues.and if there is any actual cord contact,that progression could become a much much bigger issue for you.

    just what does your actual MRI report state about your biggest issues in that summary at the very end of the report?just how long ago was that 'current' MRI done?marcia
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    3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
    11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
    9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

     
    Old 01-11-2008, 01:41 PM   #3
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    A year ago yesterday, I had a C5 thru C7 fusion. I am TONS better than I was for the 5 yrs. of hell before the surgery. It takes time to recuperate and get better. For me, I wish I did it a lot sooner. I suffered for so long, to the point of my life feeling ruined. It helped me get my life back. I dont regret having it at all. But its not a piece of cake. I went to PT starting 6 weeks post op. That helped me a lot. The surgery itself wasnt at all as bad as I expected. My scar is totally unnoticeable now, too.

     
    Old 01-11-2008, 04:50 PM   #4
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SKZ View Post
    A year ago yesterday, I had a C5 thru C7 fusion. I am TONS better than I was for the 5 yrs. of hell before the surgery. It takes time to recuperate and get better. For me, I wish I did it a lot sooner. I suffered for so long, to the point of my life feeling ruined. It helped me get my life back. I dont regret having it at all. But its not a piece of cake. I went to PT starting 6 weeks post op. That helped me a lot. The surgery itself wasnt at all as bad as I expected. My scar is totally unnoticeable now, too.
    Thank you both for the replies. I just called the imaging center, and it looks like I had an MRI back in 99, earlier than I remembered. I'm going for a second opinion, even though my plan has only one surgeon on board.
    All I know is that my gut told me not to do it.
    The spine is supposed to be flexible, so it seems to me that making one part of it immobile sort of invites trouble down the line. I'm talking as a lay person, and not an expert, obviously. It's just that I read one too many stories about the levels both above and below the fusions blowing out after. The surgeons say that they would have gone bad anyway, due to the overall degeneration issues. I'm not convinced. It seems like a domino effect to me. Until I am much more clear, no way am I getting cut.
    I plan to quiz my second opinion doc very thoroughly as to how long I can hold out without compromising nerves and spine.
    When I agreed to the surgery, I was very cavalier, but knew nothing about it at all. This has got to be one of the toughest decisions that anybody has to make.
    I would love to hear more from folks who are in my spot, considering surgery, alternative medicine, chiropractic, as well as people who have had the surgery, for good or ill. As far as I'm concerned, this is one area where there cannot be too much info.

     
    Old 01-11-2008, 07:25 PM   #5
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    I just happened to read the comments here. I too have neck injuries - I have three bulging and one protruding....but I went to Brigham and Womens Hosp in Boston and they wouldnot operate. my pain comes and goes - as long as I take it easy I am okay. when my neck is bad the pain is excruciating. I had no idea I had any skeletal issues I was going for massages but it was not getting better so my Dr sent me for an MRI - my feeling is if you are able to get by without the surgery then do it. There are many people who have had it and have not gotten better....so its really something you want to think about and get a second opinion. there is so much that can go wrong - now I read some of you have had the surgery and wished you had done it sooner. having a good surgeon can make all the difference - this Dr in Boston was wonderful - he told me he wouldnot touch me and sent me to a pain Dr. but I can honestly say my neck has been okay for some time now. I wish you all the best and I hope you can find the answers you need to make these decisions.

     
    Old 01-12-2008, 10:16 AM   #6
    braveneck
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    The BIG question.

    [QUOTE=feelbad;3385315]unfortunetly,i does appear that you have tried just about every other alternative but the surgical route.one BIG thing you have to remember in all this to keep things in proper perspective is that the people who are posting here are just the ones who had problems and not all the millions of people who have had the surgeries and are off liveing their lives much more normally without pain or problems.my hubby is one of those.he had his fusion done about three years before mine and it went wonderully for him.

    The big question for me is who to trust, and I don't mean that in a snide way. I have no doubt that surgeons really want to help people, but their orientation is SURGERY. That's what they're trained to do. Surgery is their model for fixing the problem. So, if you ask a surgeon if you need surgery, well, it seems to me that you're asking the wrong person. On the other hand, who do you ask? Does the neurologist know better as to whether or not you really must have surgery?
    I'll bet that most, if not all, of the folks who opt for surgery are doing so because they've been told that if they don't have it done then they are flirting with permanent nerve damage.
    The irony here is that there are so many posts that talk about weird nerve changes POST surgery, as well as other complications, further surgeries, etc. That's what stopped me.
    Another question I have regards what was this like in the past? I mean, before the fusions were done, did people simply become paralyzed from DDD?

     
    Old 01-12-2008, 05:10 PM   #7
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    Re: The BIG question.

    lets get real - alot of it is about money. there are doctors that operate no matter what - not all of them - but some. thats why I always tell people to really think about the surgery and the possibility of paralysis. I know a young man who had surgery and ended up paralyzed at 24 years old - he died at 32. went in for a simple procedure. no one talks about it but it does happen.....

     
    Old 01-13-2008, 09:30 AM   #8
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    quite frankly,in what i have found in having to have 6 surgeries just since 01,most surgeons do not want to just cut you open for the sake of doing it.even the neurosurgeons i didn't like really were pretty open and honest about all options BEFORE having to go that route.sounds rather crazy but they really don't want to cut into someone who doesn't need it since everytime they do cut,they have created a possible liability for themselves for the future,you know what i mean?just having a consult with a surgeon does not actually always mean a surgery is going to result.its just a consult about what your particular condition means to you now and in your future and any other options availiable besides surgery.this has really been my experience with surgeons so far.going to a reputable surgeon is the key here.every single surgeon just takes on alot of extra responsibility for you the patient if they should decide that is what is needed,so its not something that they will want to just jump into without exploring other possible options for treatment first,ya know?unfortunetly by the time i saw the surgeons,i had either already put it off so long that things were really bad and there were no other options for me or the surgery was just badly needed.my spinal cord surgery really was not an option for me,it was have it or become paralyzed with the next bleed of my cavernoma,but i had gotten the info from my third opinion and he just happened to be the only one of the three that had resected over a hundred cavernomas out of peoples cords and knew what my real risks were.that one just sucked big time.i was very lucky to have that neurosurgeon do my surgery two years before he retired on me.now i cannot find another who even comes close to his overall knowledge and expertise.

    the best thing you can do for yourself is get a few different opinions from totally different(not affilitaed at the same clinic or branches of it)surgeons for you best possible opinions on what realistically are your best real options.this is what i did with my more in depth scarier surgerys.if you actually know people who have had some level of the same type of surgery that you are contemplating,ask them who did theirs and how well they were treated and the usual questions.word of mouth is one of the best ways of finding any really good doc,even just a primary doc.in my experience with surgeons,i really have not come across one that ever appeared to be 'eager' to just cut me.you know what i mean?just becasue they are surgeons doesn't mean that is what they will autiomatically do unless they feel it is needed for your particular problem.that has really been my experience so far.i have been very lucky with surgeons,which has been huge for me.i am having yet another damn surgey this feb on my rotator cuff.the same surgeon who did my two knee surgeries is also going to be doing this one.he is just a great person in general.because my body systems are sooo messed up and having two untreatable pain syndromes on top of it,i need alot of extra crap that has to be done with every surgery and he takes good care of all that stuff down to always keeping in the hosp at least one night for what normally would be an outpatient surgery just because i need dilaudid PCA to control pain,and the other nasty things that occur because of the spinal cord injury.THATS a great surgeon.one who actually really cares about your pain.

    so just get a few opinions and then weigh your options that you get told and go with your gut.just see what other surgeons all feel about your issues.this really is one of the best ways to really define the need for surgery.if you keep getting told that you do,chances are you probably do need surgery,if there are big differences in what you are told,then try the more conservative approaches first.but your gut will kind of gear you in a direction at some point.that has been kind of my experience after weighing my opinions from all surgeons.i do wish you luck with this decision.please keep us posted on what you find out,K?Marcia
    __________________
    3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
    11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
    9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

     
    Old 01-13-2008, 04:03 PM   #9
    braveneck
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    [QUOTE=feelbad;3388498]quite frankly,in what i have found in having to have 6 surgeries just since 01,most surgeons do not want to just cut you open for the sake of doing it.even the neurosurgeons i didn't like really were pretty open and honest about all options BEFORE having to go that route.sounds rather crazy but they really don't want to cut into someone who doesn't need it since everytime they do cut,they have created a possible liability for themselves for the future,you know what i mean?just having a consult with a surgeon does not actually always mean a surgery is going to result.its just a consult about what your particular condition means to you now and in your future and any other options availiable besides surgery.this has really been my experience with surgeons so far.going to a reputable surgeon is the key here.every single surgeon just takes on alot of extra responsibility for you the patient if they should decide that is what is needed,so its not something that they will want to just jump into without exploring other possible options for treatment first,ya know?unfortunetly by the time i saw the surgeons,i had either already put it off so long that things were really bad and there were no other options for me or the surgery was just badly needed.my spinal cord surgery really was not an option for me,it was have it or become paralyzed with the next bleed of my cavernoma,but i had gotten the info from my third opinion and he just happened to be the only one of the three that had resected over a hundred cavernomas out of peoples cords and knew what my real risks were.that one just sucked big time.i was very lucky to have that neurosurgeon do my surgery two years before he retired on me.now i cannot find another who even comes close to his overall knowledge and expertise.

    the best thing you can do for yourself is get a few different opinions from totally different(not affilitaed at the same clinic or branches of it)surgeons for you best possible opinions on what realistically are your best real options.this is what i did with my more in depth scarier surgerys.if you actually know people who have had some level of the same type of surgery that you are contemplating,ask them who did theirs and how well they were treated and the usual questions.word of mouth is one of the best ways of finding any really good doc,even just a primary doc.in my experience with surgeons,i really have not come across one that ever appeared to be 'eager' to just cut me.you know what i mean?just becasue they are surgeons doesn't mean that is what they will autiomatically do unless they feel it is needed for your particular problem.

    My HMO has only one neurosurgeon on the plan. I went to see him, explained my situation, gave him the MRI's, and I did emphasize that I really miss being active and going to the gym. He said that the fusion was "like going to the dentist". No need to give blood, 40 cc of blood loss. Quick recovery. Before you know it, back to the gym.
    His assistant said that I "might have waited too long." Scared me.
    I was all set to have it done.
    Then, my friend's wife said, "I know people who've had this done. They wind up going back for more surgeries. You better think it over."
    Sure enough, I discovered the possible domino effect of this surgery, as well as some pretty scary complications.
    Now, because of all the drama, they offer me a second opinion, which they should have offered in the first place. I guess that they have to give me the opportunity for a second opinion by law.
    I'm not knocking the surgeons. I'm saying that their training, their way of fixing the problem, is to cut. So, at least in my case, they tend to minimize the downside, or ignore it altogether, while selling the upside.
    I'm functional, though I have had neck pain long term. Arms, legs, bladder okay. Compared to some folks on the site, my problems are probably small.

    My plan is to go all out to stay away from the knife. I'll get a collar to wear while on the computer. I'll buy another neck pillow to replace the one I recently had to throw out. I'll get some supplements that I read about. Probably go back to PT. I hope to be able to manage the pain.
    If the second opinion doc tells me that I should have surgery, well, I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

     
    Old 01-13-2008, 10:00 PM   #10
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    I was just reading this very interesting thread by you folks. I thought I would offer another way to look at it.

    It has been my experience in talking to people that most who easily decide to have surgery do not do it because the dr's tell them they will have nerve damage, but more because they are in very severe pain and looking for a way to feel better. These are the people that seem to have the easiest time making up their minds. I have also talked to lots of people who wait because they "only" have weakness, numbness, or tingling, etc. or have a tolerable pain situation - these are the people that take the longest time deciding - even when their surgeons tell them their spinal cord is at risk of permanent problems. Some even wait years and then expect when they finally do proceed that they will get well, but they don't.

    It is not a line that you can get permanent damage from these problems, I am a person that waited too long, worked like a fiend and tried to avoid the inevitable, and have damage from impingement. All the surgeons I talked to supported my desire to not do surgery in the beginning and offered me lots of alternatives hoping I would at least stabilize. You can't beat mother nature.

    It's likely a person with something simple like one blown disc will recover 100% and it is unlikely that a person with multiple blown discs, congenital stenosis, slippage, widespread DDD, and osteophytes and cord compression is going to get 100% resolution. What you mostly find on these boards are the latter, people who have a multitude of issues. However, thorough surgeons will tell you that the surgery isn't the golden ticket, it is meant to prevent further problems, structurally fix whats wrong best they can, and hopefully improve a good portion of your problems. I don't know one surgeon that says it will give you 100%. If the do go the other way.

    Finally, my theory on those weird post surgery issues: just like a mattress when you sleep on it there is a dent, you get up the dent goes away, but the mattress is never quite as cushy . I feel like that with the nerve/cord that gets indented, when the compression is lifted, there is relief, but how can they predict what miniscule damage will be left? We know even at the fibre level these cells do things.

    It's good to be cautious and get all the data and opinions from multiple dr's. Take care of your most precious asset, your spinal cord and make sure you protect your health either by proceeding or not, whatever is best for your case. But just because you can tolerate it may not be the best answer.

    The surgery itself is the easy part, its the rest of it that is hard. I wish you good luck in your decision.

     
    Old 01-16-2008, 06:21 PM   #11
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    I don't mean to imply that surgeons toss out nerve damage as a line to reel you in for surgery. It probably depends on the surgeon. Surgeons are human, just like the rest of us. It would be nice to think that all doctors go into medicine because they love helping people.

    It's a fair question to ask why a surgeon would fail to disclose the risks of a given surgery. It's also a fair question to wonder why less invasive means are not discussed. From what I gather, some of the less invasive procedures cost more and are less likely to be covered under some insurance plans.

    I'm not knocking surgeons. That's not my point. However, I stand by what I said earlier; if your trained for surgery, that's your way of fixing the problem.
    Have you ever gone to your auto mechanic with a problem, to have him tell you to go and have the car waxed? No. He wants to change the alternator and everything else he can find that's wrong. Mechanics, like surgeons, are only human. No broken cars, no business. Some mechanics have integrity, some don't. I've been clipped plenty of times.

    This analogy would probably be insulting to a surgeon, but again, that's not my intention.
    C-sections were the craze many years ago. I think my mom had one, and there was no reason for it. Eventually, doctors had to back off from that procedure, and reassess.
    I've just come into this crazy painful cervical world, and it's really scary for me. I see my body disintegrating before my eyes, and I was a serious gym rat all of my life. I'm overwhelmed by all of the information. I'm fighting sadness. I don't think that I can be faulted for being cautious.
    Again, I have to say that this is a great site, and a great source for people in need.

     
    Old 01-18-2008, 12:28 PM   #12
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    Hello Braveneck... Well my friend , join the club. This is a wonderful board to be on, and to find some good people who have been there!! This board has helped me so. I use to walk a lot for exercise, and then one day, I started to stumble. Oh no, I thought of MS. After many MRI's, EEG, blood work, on and on, I had spinal stenosis in the lower lumbar. Doc said, lets try other things first.. I did the traction, that helped, then some therapy. In time I got worse. The leg was dragging, heavy, numb. 2003 had a Decompressive Lumbar Laninectomy.. No rods or fusion..They did a pie shape cut on the disc to open up the area where the nerve was being pressed. Also they removed lots of bone calcification. After that, I had good success, for awhile, then it started all over again. I live in SC, but went to Atlanta Ga. for a special MRI, that is a stand up or sit down one. Hate those tube ones, hate them... Anyway , found out I had a very ,very bad neck. Got in touch with a great doc, who spent 3 hours with me on my first visit. Options were to do nothing right now, but in time this would end up putting me in a wheel chair... OR get the surgery. I choose the surgery. I had 4 levels of disc removed, and one whole vertebra. With that bone, they shaved it down , and mixed it up with a mix they use and placed it back into my neck with what they call a cage. I also have plates and screws. I wore a hard Aspen collar for 2 months, 6 days, and 5 hours...lol lol I'm still in the recover stage. For me this will take a good 2 years for my legs to work normal again, and not walk with a cane. That is IF the damage is not all ready done, since I waited for so very long... I have not walked right for 8 years, and it hurts me to not be able to do all the things I have done before... Anyway, No one can tell you what to do. You need info, and that is power. Find out all you can first. Ask a lot of questions, and get answers. Get many opionions...Its a scary thing, but I did not want to be in a wheel chair...At least what they did to me, I won't be getting worse. Good luck and hang in there... Janatee

     
    Old 01-19-2008, 03:51 PM   #13
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    I'm not knocking surgeons. That's not my point. However, I stand by what I said earlier; if your trained for surgery, that's your way of fixing the problem.

    C-sections were the craze many years ago. I think my mom had one, and there was no reason for it. Eventually, doctors had to back off from that procedure, and reassess.

    I was wrong! I looked into it. Doctors have NOT backed away from C-sections, they're doing them more than ever before! And, for the most part, they are unneccessary! It's crazy. Apparently, they do tons of C-sections in an effort to avoid liability should something happen to the baby during normal birth. Nutso. Here's the perfect example of surgery gone crazy. A C-section is four times more threatening to the woman's life than natural childbirth. It's obviously a dangerous and invasive procedure, yet the numbers for this procedure are in the zillions.
    Doctors take an oath to never harm, and yet in this case, they most definitely do harm in an effort to cover their own butts, bottom line being money.
    They're not Gods. They are human, and their decisions can be influenced by things other than what is best for the patient.

     
    Old 01-20-2008, 09:08 AM   #14
    feelbad
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    the one thing you need to keep in mind about the higher C section rate?ALOT of women,for whatever reason(more convenient)are actually CHOOSING this option at a much much higher rate than ever before.either that or they actually 'choose' a date to have the birth artifically inducted.the women who chose this route are usually the ones who don;t want the sudden 'suprise" of what is involved when a baby just decides to come out when they are supposed to.some are very up in the working world and would rather 'plan' their babies births like they plan a vacation or something.this IS what is going on out there,believe me.its rather sick sounding to me,but this is the way many women appraoch this these days.everything is just so well 'planned' in their lives that they cannot let something spontaneous and natural occur on its own,you know what i mean?BUT,this is not about childbirth,its about your surgery or the thought of it and what it is doing to you right now.

    honestly brave,i really am wondering at this point just what it is you really "want' to hear or for someone to just 'do' for you,you know what i mean?this thread is going around and around in circles with people giving you really great advice and you insisting that surgeons are not the way to go.do you see this at all?i know you are scared,really,we all went thru that too,BUT,there comes a time when you just get to a point where it is time to look at what the reality of your situation is and act accordingly.you are at that point hon.if you don't see an actual surgeon for a surgical consult,who are you going to see?(i wouldn't recommend your mechanic by the way(just a bit of humor there)there just realistically is not anyone else out there quite frankly who could give you what you need to actually know OTHER than a surgeon.despite what you seem to believe,not all surgeons just want to cut you and any advice or options you would be given,its all still in YOUR hands,ya know?you and only you are the one who makes the final decision to do or not to do.getting that second opinion really is what you need here and i think you already know that,but are too afraid to go there.believe me,we all have been at that same spot at one point or another.the thing is,before any surgeon can even touch you,you have the right to be totally fully informed of all the risks both in doing any type of surgery or not doing it.

    the very best thing you can do right now,is what you have been doing,research.but also start making up a list of real good questions to ask any NS that you see for that consult.this is what i do with every surgery.i actually keep a notebook sitting out on my kitchen counter(one is there right now since suregry #7 is just around the corner for me)with a pen sitting on it,and anytime,and i mean anytime no matter what i am doing,if i think of a great question,i immediately go to that notebook and write it down,other wise i will forget a possibly really good question.this really does help,alot.then bring in this list with you at the consult.and ask away.

    i do think your biggest fear here is that of the 'unknowns'.there just are alot of things you wont know til you ask or wont really know til after your surgery.but this is just the way things are with any type of surgery.there are certain things that you can do before any surgery that will help alot with your overall outcome.that part is up to you too.but you HAVE to DO something here hon.i know your kind of stuck in this mode of negatives and lets face it,if you are on any spinal boards or backboards,these people are the ones who have actually had issues or unresolvable problems,and not the probaly like millions of other ones who are out enjoying their lives after fusions.my husband has had no lasting problems at all from his fusion of the c 5-6 like back in 97?no other discs have moved or shifted and he is not having any issues with his surgery at all.i also know alot of others who are also doing just great even those whohad this done like back in the early 90s.it comes down to what your actual issues are,how well trained and experienced your surgeon is and how you yourself take care of yourself before,after and later on after your surgery.

    just what does your actual MRI report state about your biggest issues?could you post what is in your actual summary at the very end of your report?it would just help to see what you are actually dealing with up there,thats all.i think your only real true option here is to just have that consult with another NS,really.this would be the only person who could realistically tell you where you are at,and any and all possible options availiable to you.you just really don't have much choice hon,ya know?there are also varying surgical options too.it may not just be a straight fusion that you may need,just some level of of surgical intervention.knowing what your actual c spine issues actually are and what they are affecting would help me alot in giving you better advice.

    unfortunetly,the reality of most spinal issue is that they progress.the sooner you get certain things fixed,the much better outcome you would most likely have.timing is very important with certain types of problems.the thin about pain from like a compromised spinal nerve is that if you wait too long to get it unimpinged,you could end up with that pain becomming a permanent fixture.it turns to neuropathic pain then is soo much harder to treat.the only 'lasting' thing my hubby has,only becasue he waitied til he was like in absolute agony before he went in for that MRI,is a numbness in his forefinger that has never been able to resolve itself.he was pretty lucky that it was not actual pain.you just don't want to take certain chances if you actually have some level of real spinal nerve compromise.i am hoping that you do not actually have any cord involvemnt going on?

    you just have to make that call and just set up the consult.it does not mean actual surgery til you say so.you just really need to know all of your options before you can even begin to make any real decisions here and that will only really come from a surgeon.its just your reality hon.things realistically could be alot worse for you,believe me.you just have to force yourself out of this 'stuck' mode you are currently in.it doesn't seem to matter what anyone here has told you,you still are stuck right where you started.refusing to see the need for that surgical consult.or trying to somehow justify not doing it?one or the other.only you have the ability to do this for yourself.we cannot do this for you,its all up to you.just go in there with that list of questions you want answers to,it really helps tons,espescially when you are already feeling a bit intimidated by the whole situation itself.trust me,i have had to go thru this WAY too many times.they all sucked but they did help as much as was possible considering my conditions.just let your surgeon know where you are at in your head.most do understand the fear level involved in any surgery.once you have had at least the two seperate opinions,then you can decide which surgeon you like better or feel has the best understanding of you and your issues and how you feel.most surgeons are pretty decent people who do care,believe it or not,that has been my experience over these past years and seeing way more surgeons than i ever cared to,or never ever thought i would ever have to.you just HAVE to take that step out of your safe zone here and just go there and talk.like i said,only YOU have the power to say yes or no to ANY real surgery.but being as informed as possible in asking those question will help tons,trust me on that one.sorry if i came off as a ^$%&^.i just think you need a bit of a push here to just do what you already know you have to.you just need to take control here.right now,i don't think you really 'feel' like you have it,and that is part of the problem too.i do wish you luck with this.please keep us posted.just DO,okay?we are always here for ya.marcia
    __________________
    3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
    11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
    9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

     
    Old 01-20-2008, 11:36 AM   #15
    Lilacs&Lillies
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    Re: Afraid of surgery.

    Hi Braveneck,

    I understand where you are coming from. I've had multiple surgeries in my life, but my ACDF worried me much more than the others. Life is unscripted, and being the gym rat that you were, you probably never had this in mind as something in your future. I didn't either. It can be difficult to come to terms with, and even more difficult to decide what's right to do. None of us have a crystal ball. We just do the best with the information we have.

    (No offense, but I'm not crazy about the C-section analogy. Pregancy and delivery are very dangerous times for mother and baby. If there's any doubt either is at risk, the potential benefits of a C-section easily outweigh the potential risks of not doing one.) I understand your concern about treatment bias, and uncessary surgery - but I agree with the others here who have shared that just as often as not, a NS will tell a patient they aren't a candidate for surgery.

    Have you tried epidural steroid injections? I prayed they'd work for me, but they didn't. I'm still very glad I tried though, because they do work for some. A friend of mine has successfully avoided surgery altogether b/c of successful ESI's.

    I had my ESI's done by an anesthesiologist at a pain clinic. It was actually him who told me that it was probably time to consider surgery. He felt that if I were going to have relief from the injections it would have happened, and said nothing but surgery would change my pathology.

    Before going through with the surgery I visited another pain mgmt doc who does injections. I wanted to know if he'd had any other injection tricks up his sleeve, etc. He did not. He told me my neurosurgeon would be the one he'd have gone to himself and also added that my NS is very conservative & only does surgery on those who really need it.

    If you haven't consulted a pain mgmt doctor yet, it might be an idea for you. The surgery had me frightened. Not to scare you more... but to tell you why I was so scared...

    My dad had an extensive lumbar fusion and near catastrophic complications when both a screw & vertebra broke and wedged against his spinal cord, causing unspeakable pain and a repeat 10 hr surgery. So I was v-e-r-y cautious about having a fusion. (The cervical spine is supposedly much easier than lumbar, though.)

    I had no neck pain. It was all in my arm. I awoke without any pain in my arm whatsoever. It was wonderful! The time in the collar was no fun, but it was worth the trade.

    When I was released, the doc made some comment that next time he'd see me it would be for the level above or below my fusion! WHAT?! My wonderful fusion was 1.5 years ago and just now I am getting arm pain again. I am hoping and praying that it's not the other levels (please, God , NO!). I'm hoping it's something that just passes and not the start of the next level going bad. Looking back though, I don't see that there would be anything I would do differently. My arm pain was miserable before my surgery and it has been so nice being pain-free the past 1.5 years!

    You just do the best you can with the hand you've been dealt, really. There are no easy answers. I hope you find something you are comfortable with soon.

    Take care,
    Lilly

     
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