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    Old 04-28-2008, 11:06 PM   #1
    Wymom94
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    Postpone low back surgery???

    Hi all, please read even if it's a little long --and especially if you are a parent with DDD & stenosis. I'm 2&1/2 weeks into my recovery from my ACDF and am scheduled in 3&1/2 weeks for my lumbar laminectomy. I am full of doubts as to when I should have the low back surgery, keep the scheduled date, move it to summer, move it to before the holidays, next year??? I'm trying to picture living w/ the lessened mobility in my legs for a few more weeks, months, to several months or even a year, trying to picture my family's life with that change (it's a new change for us... my problems showed up last fall). My son is the reason I am full of doubt and I just don't know what to do. I know this board isn't a therapist or anything like that, but it just seemed the right place to come with this. My son is 13, has numerous health issues, and has been homeschooled for 7 years. We are looking into a school for him next year b/c my health issues thrown into the mix w/ our son's (and my husband's) has just made life absolutely crazy.. homeschooling included. Right now, while I'm unable to drive and recovering, we are experiencing absolute craziness trying to get rides to all the myriad medical and health appts for our son every week, plus his 2 on-campus classes (and rides to the school campus for state testing). The school we've homeschooled "through" is in another part of town, 20 minutes from our house southwest. The medical and health appts are 20+ minutes from our house northeast, others are 20 minutes away south. We're normally all over town every week, that's our life, but now we're asking family and friends to cart us there --almost everyday of the week.. each week until I can drive again. It's not working out and our son is missing classes, missing testing dates, and missing out on a lot right now. We thought I'd be driving by this Thursday, but I don't think that's going to happen. As a passenger, I'm not doing so hot at this point.. don't see myself driving in a few days... maybe even several. Our son fell apart today, just fell apart and I feel so rotten. He admitted that he feels I can't take care of him anymore --and he's right. His medical needs are real and constant and he's having a lot of trouble with one of his medical issues right now (and a lot of pain --and his own lessened mobility that has been part of his life since last year, but is recently worse rather than getting better, as it had been). I know that he just wants his mom to help him and get him through things right now and I'm not able to, not the way I was last year when things got really bad for him. I'm even not able to do the schooling with him as we had been, not since my problems got really bad this second semester. I feel awful and I know he feels awful. I can't picture adding in the longer, harder recovery from the 2nd surgery when it's scheduled.. or even later in the summer, before the holidays, etc. But, I know I will be better able to take care of him (and my husband, house, pets, everything) after I do have that surgery and can walk and stand normally or close to normally again. I just don't know what to do --as a mom as well as a patient. My son is due to take special courses at a college campus this summer and I don't want to have to cancel that b/c I have no way to get him there b/c I'm unable to drive while recovering from surgery. I also don't want to have the same problem if he starts at the 'real' school this August --not be able to get him there b/c I had surgery in the summer rather than May. But, if I wait 'til December or next year, how do I work with the need for a walker? My son sometimes needs to use a wheelchair; not often and not even for a while, but lately he's having a lot of problems walking again, even standing (his problems isn't DDD like it is w/ me). How do I push his wheelchair while pushing my walker? Sometimes I can't push my walker and need to use it as a wheelchair (it's a seated walker). When that happens my husband or son have to push ME, so how can I push my son in a wheelchair if I need to be pushed in my wheelchair-walker? I have no idea what to do and I just feel like crying my eyes out. If I have the surgery as it's scheduled in May, I don't see us having any real help to get us through the many weeks of my not being able to drive post-op. The problem we're having now w/ how to get to the 2x/wk PT and 1-3x/wk medical appts and 1+ appts w/ our son's Orthotist, plus his academic on-campus classes... how do we do that w/o people to drive for us when I can't drive?? I need a wife, but I'M the wife. Sorry, I know this is turning into a 'vent', but I'm open to ideas, honestly, and do not see what the answer is.. if anyone else does or has any ideas. My husband commutes to work out of town daily (about 1--1&1/3 hrs, depending on traffic, each way). He has taken more time off already than we'd intended and we get very nervous about job security. We are worried about him taking more than we expected he would for my 2nd surgery --I"m certain he'd have to b/c we just don't have the help we need if he doesn't, no matter when I do have that 2nd surgery. Also, my husband may need surgery this summer himself and, if he does, there is a very scary risk that comes w/ it that may entail a major, majory recovery on his part and some huge changes to his life from then on. He's been tracked since January for his health problem and we are hopeful it will work out so he doesn't need surgery, but it just hasn't worked out so far and they kept expecting it to. We are a jumble of nerves, anxiety, stress, and fear --all 3 of us. I just want to do right by my son --and my husband, but I know I need to take care of my health, too. I don't know what to do, I just don't know how to make this work out all right. Please don't read and skip answering, I need some kind of response even if it's just 'I don't have any ideas, sorry and good luck to you'.
    Thank you,
    (once again, ) Meghan

     
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    Old 05-01-2008, 01:49 PM   #2
    Wymom94
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    Okay, short and updated change --I had my post-op today and was told that recovery from the lumbar laminectomy will NOT be 'harder and longer' and that I will be able to drive by 2 weeks post-op. That changes a lot. Is it true? Is the recovery easier from a lumbar laminectomy than from an ACDF? I thought that cutting through back muscle alone was going to make the recovery harder and longer, but that's not the case then? I thought I was going to need a lot more in terms of home health aids in recovery with the lumbar surgery-recovery, but, again, was told that wasn't the case. I was told I would be able to sleep a lot easier in the lumbar recovery and would not need any special kind of bed or mattress for this recovery (have been sleeping upright w/ my ACDF recovery) --also that I'd be much more mobile b/c I should wake up w/o the pain I have now and b/c sitting will actually be what's painful and hard in the lumbar recovery (not sure how that equate w/ being able to drive in 2 weeks, though... am just now realizing that doesn't perfectly fit). Anyway, is it really an easier, shorter recovery than an ACDF and would I really be able to drive in about 2 weeks? This is very significant in our decision for 'when' to have the surgery. I'm 20 days out from my ACDF and scheduled for the lumbar laminectomy in 3 weeks (have not cancelled it at this point).
    Thank you.
    Meghan
    f.y.i. p.s. --I'll be seeing a neurologist next week to discuss the strange body spasms and twitching I had post-op for a while. It is mostly gone now (one brief episode two days ago, otherwise nothing since about day 12). I wanted the 'why' of that cleared up before going under anesthesia and the knife again and my neurosurgeon was quick to recommend his favorite neurologist. I'll have a consultation w/ the anesthesiologist before my 2nd surgery, too, since I had some problems with the anesthesia for my ACDF. I am not having another surgery before knowing 'whats' and 'whys' from this first one. I don't like 'unusual' reactions and prefer to understand them even more when they are outisde the norm.

     
    Old 05-02-2008, 10:24 AM   #3
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    Even with all the stuff you have going on it sounds like nothing will get "back to normal" until you are better yourself. Are there any social service agencies that can assist with your son? Or would you be able to hire someone as an aide for him (perhaps again with the help of a social service organization)?
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    Old 05-02-2008, 07:26 PM   #4
    Wymom94
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    Thank you for responding Spine. My husband and I have been considering hiring someone to help us out.. just trying to figure what we could afford. We recently received a small inheritance, but had earmarked it for medical bills and future billings (or the new roof we need --to avoid a loan/debt). It's set aside right now and it isn't that much, but we could use it if we had to. I don't think we'd qualify for any social services. Our income is good and we'd be a happy middle class family financially if not for the cost of medical (overt and hidden costs). THAT tends to bump us down to the thin balancing line between middle class and working poor. But, we are working w/ some numbers and logistics to see if we could swing it.
    If the lumbar surgery will be easeir than I thought, we are heavily leaning towards just going ahead w/ it in 3 weeks. 4 weeks post-op from it (from the scheduled May date), I will have an obligation that I need to be 'up' for physically, so I want to make sure the lumbar surgery is really what my neuro's nurse was telling me it would be yesterday. If our son's health 'tanks' before the May date, I won't go through w/ that date --of course. My husband got great medical news yesterday and he may likely NOT need surgery himself this summer, which is not only great news, but also makes things easier.
    Thanks again --and, any idea about the length of recovery on lumbar laminectomies, or on the length of time before driving after one??
    Meghan

     
    Old 05-02-2008, 07:48 PM   #5
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    Just a laminectomy (no fusion)? And at what level(s)?
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    Old 05-02-2008, 10:46 PM   #6
    Wymom94
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    Yes, just a laminectomy, no fusion -at the 3-4. I have severe stenosis there clamped down on both sciatic nerves and no spinal fluid, only a bulging disc there, no herniation. The goal is to decompress off the sciatic nerves.
    -Meghan

     
    Old 05-04-2008, 10:31 PM   #7
    stoutsabout2
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    Dear wymom,
    I went through an 8 hour, 2 level plif, with removal of spurs and 3 level laminectomy. I was up and showering 10 hours later. I went home 2 days after surgery, used a walker and cane for less than 2 weeks, and was driving 2 weeks after I got home. And like you , I don't live near anything. Kids school, dr office, town, all 45 minutes away. I had to go slow on the twisting hills of our country roads, and I was very cautious of other cars. But my fusion worked, and my spine is in perfect alignment.
    After surgery I was much relieved in the fact my legs did not tingle or ache from stenosis anymore, and i could rest so much better. I hadn't gotten more than a couple hours sleep at a time for 7 years. thats how long i put off surgery.
    You can put it off, but it will only get worse. I would loose all feeling in my legs at times before surgery ( and thats bad if you happen to be driving when it happens)
    After the first 2 weeks, and the staples came out, I had to be carefull how i moved and wore a corset type brace for a month or so, but shopping and errand running was so much easier.
    Now I am back at work, and saving up for the acdf surgery as my neck is in the same shape my lumbar was.
    Good luck to you and your family. Can your son get disability and benifits to help with his care?
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    Old 05-05-2008, 11:39 PM   #8
    Wymom94
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    Thank you so much for responding, stoutsabout. It helped a great deal to read about your recovery. I understand that our surgeries won't be identical and that no recovery is identical even when the surgeries are, but I hoped to hear an account that gave me a rough idea of how things might go --and you did; thank you.
    We haven't looked into disability benefits for our son at this point. He ranges on a scale at this point and is not set at a point that would qualify him. If he persists in his current 'backstep', we'll see if there is something available to help temporarily, though.
    If it's okay to ask, do you have to pay out of pocket for your ACDF? I noticed your wording of 'saving up' for it. Did you mean w/ comp time from work? It sounds like we're very similar w/ both the lumbar and cervical, just doing the surgeries in reverse order. fyi- I'm 3&1/2 weeks out from my acdf now and I'm really beginning to feel a lot better now. I can feel the 'turn a corner' kind of feeling --it's welcome and nice. I didnt feel 'bad' before, but I notice the difference the last couple days compared to earlier days --as just a real improvement. I'm not physically doing all I use to do, but I FEEL so much better. I wish you the very best w/ your acdf when you go in for it --and hope to heck you aren't paying out of pocket for it.
    Thanks again,
    Meghan

     
    Old 05-07-2008, 01:18 AM   #9
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    No , wymom, I'm not paying all costs, just the "co-pay" ( still making payments on the plif). my neck has 2 bulging discs, a spondylolisthesis, spurring, stenosis and enlarged ligimentum flavum, and so did my lumbar from L-3 to S-1. If I do too much or work over 8 hrs i get some swelling and irritation of the S-1 and L-5 nerves ( the doc says from the hardware) I worked 13 hrs tonight ( I work at a newspaper and it's election day) and could hardly make it in the house. But I still have plenty of pain meds, I hardly needed them after the first month after surgery.
    Yes everyone heals differently, and some have had to undergo extensive treatments, and had more problems come on after surgery. I had mine in Oct. '07 and went back to work in March. So really , it's too soon to tell if I will develop new problems. The exercises are important to keep up when they say you can start them and show you how. I had been "compensating" for so long, I had to re-learn how to carry myself and still "correct" myself. Will you have hardware ( rods and screws) ?
    Do you have hardware in your neck? Are you in a cervical collar?
    I will have questions in a year or so. I plan to try pain management first, but it really didn't help much with my low back, it just postponed surgery.
    I wish you continued better health
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    Old 05-07-2008, 12:32 PM   #10
    Wymom94
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    Re: Postpone low back surgery???

    Whew, stoutsabout, I'm glad to hear you aren't paying out of pocket. What a whopper that would be.
    I hear what you are saying about re-learning how to do things and how to do them 'correctly'. I want to make sure I 'baby' my other lumbar and cervical disks and vertebrae (as well as the 'fixed-up' ones), so as not to have them degenerate rapidly and leave me where I was w/ the ones I had to have operated on. Several are already 'dinged' up --I'd like to keep them where they're at or even improve them if I can.
    I do have hardware in my neck, but I shouldn't be getting any in my lumbar, as long as the surgery goes as planned.
    I am still wearing my cervical collar (a Miami J collar) at 3 & 1/2 weeks, but am not wearing it 24/7. Two nights ago, I started trying a portion of the night w/o it (carefully), but not the whole night. Before then, I wore it all through the night every night. I take it off to eat now, but eat w/ amazing neck posture b/c of that (I'm sure it looks silly). I kept it on to eat the first 2 full weeks, then began experimenting w/ having it off. I wore it 24/7 the first 2 weeks 'cept for when I was fully supported in my recliner and fully awake -then, I'd take breaks w/ it off. Now, I take it off a lot more during the day and when I'm up and about, too ("up and about" w/ my walker). It's ALWAYS on (snug) when I'm in the car (I'm not driving yet --not confident about being in a car w/o it on, so I can't drive yet). I may take a very short drive w/o it to my sister's house nearby this Saturday, but I honestly feel 'safer' w/ it on in the car. That may just be my quirky self and not at all indicative of acdf's and driving post-op. You may feel fine to take it off and drive sooner than I -when you have yours. I'm pretty pleased w/ my recovery in general (and wish that was indicative of anyone having an acdf).
    Again, I wish you the very best w/ your spine, health, surgery, and recovery, everything. And, try not to work so hard. 13 hrs is a long day even if it is an election day.
    Meghan
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