Tuesday, September 6, 2011

1 Year checkup

Saw the surgeon today for my 1 year checkup. Seems that I am fused well on the right and fair on the left. My pain is still the same as before the fusion. He asked if anything was better. I told him yes that I can stand up straighter. I told him that my problem is that I am retired (disability @ 50) and I have a high speed internet connection! I search everything, XLIF, artificial facet joint replacement etc. He said XLIF could be part of a larger surgery and artificial facet joints have not been successful.

He told me that the surgery was a success because I fused. The pain is a different story.

He has given me 3 options. Do nothing, and live with it. Have minimally invasive surgery to fuse and straighten out my spine from L-4 to L-1 (already have fusion at L5-S1). Or an "open" surgery for the same thing. Open = filet me like a fish!! He says if it is an open surgery he would be able to "see" my spine and can't see it with minimal. Both surgeries would be 360 degree. In through the front (stomach) and back. LONG surgery and even longer recovery.

My insurance has changed. My old insurance was GREAT, meaning better than Cadillac. New insurance is not as good.

No guarantee and maybe 50% chance of it relieving my pain.

How am I to make this decision!!??? Especially after the problems with my last surgery! :(

It's been a while, here's an update

Sorry, haven't posted in a while.
In August I found a surgeon in North Jersy that does XLIF surgery. This is the surgery where they go in form the side and take out the disc material and replace it with plastic spacers. Small hole fast surgery etc etc. I drove two hours to meet with these guys and they kept me waiting 2 hours and 15 minutes. I met with the 2 surgeons and was told that I am a perfect candidate for the XLIF. They had already seen my CAT scan and MRI. They asked me if I had any questions. I took out a full sheet of paper double spaced. My biggest concern was that they wanted to do the surgery in their surgery center and not at a hospital. I told them that a) I'm a big guy (6'5" and 300 lbs.) and b) I have sleep apena. They told me that would not be a problem. Even though my current surgeon wouldn't do my laminectomy at his surgery center because of this. I asked how the plastic spacers that they hammer into the empty disc space are kept in place. They told me that there are "barbs" on the spacers the "dig into" the vertebre. I told him that I read many cases on the internet of lawsuits for the same spacers that doctors did not use a type of fixation (screws plates etc). I got a 10 minute song and dance. They said if they do the surgery it would take 3 hours to do three levels, then I would recover at the surgical center. And get this.. because I live so far away I should get a hotel room for a day or two to make sure that there are no problems. Isn't that what a hospital is for???

The assistant called the next day to see if I wanted to schedule the surgery. I told him that the XLIF procedure was interesting, but that those surgeons weren;t going to touch me. I wasn't impressed. I want my SURGERY to be done in a HOSPITAL.

I have my 1 year surgery checkup soon, so I will ask him.