Category Archives: Surgery

Ding, ding, ding round 3!

So I will be having surgery 3 or 4 if you want to be technical since I had 2 surgeries last time-they just happened the same day. The big issue this time is my risk for a blood clot has increased significantly. So in the surgery plans we have to talk about how can we reduce the possible risk of another blood clot. What can we do to have the best possible outcome? This means more appointments with specialists who can give consults and their expert advice/opinion on the best course of treatment.

I have met with my surgeon, I am going to set up appointments with some specialists and I have some imagining that needs to be done. We are going to take everything step by step. I had someone ask me are you sure you need this surgery? Yes, I’m sure! I’ve had a couple doctors look at the film they all agree I need the surgery. It’s hard when you have had surgery every year for the last 2 years and you need another one this year. HOWEVER I am taking this all in stride. I know all is well.

I know things are good, we have a solid plan. I’m glad I have a solid team of doctors to take care of me. I will be glad to get the rest of these ducks in a row and have this surgery, I’m at the point where I just want it over with! The prep for the surgery is the worse! The longer we go the worse the possible nerve damage can be, which I know from my leg.

Speaking of nerve damage in my thigh…so the other day the doctor was doing a check of the blood flow in my legs and he pressed right above both knees and it was the weirdest sensation for me because in my left leg I could feel him pressing, but in my right I couldn’t. I knew he was because I could see him, but my right thigh is still numb from surgery. I will never get the feeling back in my thigh at this point. They were hoping I would, but at this point the nerves have been damaged for so long I am as good as I will get.

Right after surgery I would drop my right foot a lot when walking and I have built up the strength that I don’t do that now (unless I am really tired), but I still do not have the same muscle tone/strength in my right leg like I have in my left. I have been working really hard in physical therapy to try and build up those muscles in my legs to help support my body because I want to be able to move again. Moving after this next surgery is going to be critical in preventing a blood clot.

Let’s Move It, Move It!

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The Anticipation

When I say I am ready for this next surgery, what I really mean is I am past ready for this surgery. This morning my hips, knees and feet are all reminding me of my back and how much it loves me…Because I am less than 2 weeks out from my surgery I can no longer take the pain cream which was the only pain medication I was allowed to even be on, so once again I am sucking it up, putting on a happy face and telling my body we are going to have a good day!! At least yesterday pain level wise I DID have a good day. My wife’s birthday is coming up this week, but we had a Labor Day/Birthday Party yesterday. We got to see some of her family and some of my family. One of my dear friends hosted it, and we’ve known each other so long we are family. They have a pool, so while I did not swim my wife got in the water with my sister and our niece who is a waterbug! She loves to swim and play in the water, and they had a really good time. I got to sit and hold our 8 month old nephew and talk with a variety of friends and family members which was nice. There was a ton of great food, good music and lots of laughs watching the kids play in the kiddie pools, sandbox and variety of other toys.

Sometimes we have plans and I wake up and my body just can’t make it. I have nerve pain, my joints are too swollen, my legs are spasming, my back is spasming, or some combination of all of the above and we have to cancel plans at the last minute, but yesterday I actually got to go and be with everyone and really ENJOY myself. Sure I’m paying somewhat today for it. I know the increased pain is from walking around and moving around so much yesterday, but right now it’s a small price for all the smiles, laughs and just FUN. I think that is the hardest part about having chronic pain is I hurt 365 days right now. There isn’t a day I wake up to some level of pain, and that’s really hard for people to understand…unless you live it too. I try really hard not to allow the pain to rule my life, but over the last couple of years I’ve learned that you have to listen to your body and NOT push yourself. Sometimes you have to say no and stay home.

The times I have to cancel, I feel horrible, but my body just can’t do it. It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s not that I don’t want to be there. Most times I end up sobbing over not being able to go, not that I would ever tell you that. Chronic pain sucks. I really wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I remember when I had my psychological evaluation for my spinal chord stimulator trial and I was asked about how much pain decrease would I need in order for this unit to feel like a success? I looked at the woman and said 30%, if I could have 30% I would consider it absolute 100% success, but at this point if I could get rid of 10% of my pain I would be doing cartwheels…well if I knew how to do one, and if you would be allowed to do one after you were healed, and giggled a bit. She was shocked at my answer. I went on to tell her that I just needed some relief at this point, any relief at this point. That interview was in May of this year. So yes I am in countdown mode. I am past ready for this surgery. I am ready to have this spinal chord stimulator implanted so they can program it so I can see how well it works with the real deal, because I had very positive results from the trial.

Surgery Number One

After months of being told the damage was soft tissue damage and it would get better with time I thought I was going crazy. I would cry because I felt like what I was feeling wasn’t matching what I was being told, not that I had any faith in the doctor at that point. So when the spinal specialist told me the MRI wasn’t normal I was so happy because finally I felt like someone besides my primary doctor who always listens who referred me to the spinal specialist was listening. So we scheduled me to have a spinal fusion of the L3/L4 which is the lumbar (low back) region. What was problematic for me and the doctors is that my symptoms crossed the L3/L4 and the L4/L5 regions. So when they did the lumbar discogram (for more information on discogram tests here is a link to the Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/discogram/basics/definition/prc-20013848 ) they found that my L3 and my L4 discs were torn. This explained why my symptoms crossed both regions. I had more pain on the L3 disc so we decided to remove the L3 disc even though the L4 disc was more badly damaged. The hope was by removing the L3 disc and fusing the L3/L4 region I would be pain free.

The first week of September 2014 I had the spinal fusion of the L3/L4 and the surgery could not have gone any better. My surgeon is known for his minimally invasive spinal surgery technique and by using a side approach he pushed the lower back muscles aside verses cutting them, and I was actually up and walking the halls without a walker the day after surgery. The physical therapist and the occupational therapist were highly impressed at my level of mobility. I was in a lot of pain, but I knew that I needed to use the IV pain meds carefully because the sooner I could wean off the IV pain meds the better. I was able to go home after 2 days in the hospital, which was fantastic because we all know that you heal better at home any way.