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Is this crazy?

eajosepheeajoseph Posts: 315
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
:H :H :H I had an MRI done in August for neck and shoulder pain. The dr thought I had a pinched nerve or slipped disc. I didn't it was a mild case of whiplash from where I slipped while running in the rain and carrying my 3 year old. They did find nodules on my thyroid. (My mom has this so I'm not freaked.)

I saw an endocrinologist and he aspirated two nodules due to their size. One was a cyst so it's harmless. The other one was indeterminate. He's recommended I see an ENT for surgery and probable removal of at least half my thyroid. Less than 20% chance it's cancer especially since this was an incidental finding. I'm really not worried about this. If it is cancer, they'll remove it and since it's so early it shouldn't be a big deal. Very unlikely that it's spread without having any symptoms or being detectable on exam by my PCP.

I'm having two lumbar fusions (l4-s1) done in January. I would like to do both at the same time. I'll already be under so it makes sense to me. Plus I need time to recover from the back surgery. The endo said that most people are back to work in 3 to 4 days from the thyroid surgery. I'll be in the hospital for 2 to 3 days. I'll have an OT coming to my house after the back surgery so they could check the neck from time to time.

My question is would you push to do both at one time or would you do them separately?


  • On one hand it seems that your recovery will be much harder recovering from 2 surgeries at once but the other hand you can recover from both at once instead of back to back. If it were me, I would probably try and do both at once. Good luck on making your decision. It is a tough one.
    BTW- Did you ask the surgeon if either surgery may increase the risk of complications from the other surgery?
  • I hope ENT do the thyroid surgery this month. I don't know how long it takes to see ENT but it's best to do right away isn't it? I hope everything is okay. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • My opinion... Get both done at once. Most doctors will agree the less anesthesia, the better. The thyroid removal isn't a major surgery, so to combine it with the fusion shouldn't be too hard, providing the surgeon/s are willing to do it that way.
  • Makes sense to us do both at once even though recovery would be alot more intense.. one thing though, Is your insurance willing to approve both at once? Alot wont, so I would check that avenue out first. Good luck to you, if they do one or two!!
  • Shadow, I definitely agree they should check... But it's generally cheaper to combine two surgeries. Less time needed in the operating room for two at once, than two separate ones... ONE anesthesia charge which is a major chunk... One hospital stay, which is another major chunk, etc...

    I'd be curious to find out the price different between the two. Maybe they can let us know. Hehe.

    Speaking of curiosity, how are you doing since your surgery? You had yours 3 days before I had mine... Yours was multiple levels, but just wondering how you are feeling this far post op?
  • are you having an ALIF or PLIf for your back?. If it is a PLIF it may not be good for you to be positioned on your stomach aftert the thyroid removal.

    As these two surgeries are in different areas I wouldn't really think it was that viable to do. Either way it is up to your surgeons and their availability on that day (they may have different surgery days and even different hospitals.
    There is a bit more to it all then do I ir dont I want it.

    Hope it all works out the way you do want.
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Angelback brought up a good point... A lot of times it depends on the doctors... Sometimes they aren't even affiliated with the same hospitals... And if they are, they have to find a way to match up their schedules... Which sometimes are ALWAYS conflicting... Unless they're willing to move their schedules around for you. Thankfully my surgeon and my Vascular surgeon were willing to move around their schedules to get me into surgery 12 hours after my appt with my Neurosurgeon due to foot drop, the urgent nature of the surgery was the reason they both altered their schedules for me.

    But who knows...? You may luck out and find that they are both available at the same time and both willing to do this for you.
  • As long I dont get one of those days where "I feel good so the house has to be clean" then I pay for it for a few days.
    Mine ended up being 4 levels, and honestly at this point I dont have alot of severe pain in my back, just the dreaded nerve pain in the legs that drives me crazy. I think in the end, I will be glad i did this. My goal is to return to nursing in some capacity.
    On a lighter note.... the shaving the leg thing the first few weeks really got to me, however, I have found ways that dont hurt me to shave 'em. Cant stand the nubble, ya know what I mean? LoL
    The weather changes (freezing) here in Indiana have made the back super achy so ya gotta love those heating pads! I see my NS this coming Monday and cant wait to see the xray's. The last time there was slight bone growing ....YEA!!!
    How is your recovery coming along? Thanks for asking how I was. Take care!
  • Isn't L3 to S1 a 3 level fusion? L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1?

    I'm glad to hear you aren't having much back pain! Nerve pain is a B word. Those little S's take a long time to heal! Lol.

    Totally feel ya on the shaving thing. I can't stand it, either. Shaving my legs is actually how I reherniated my disc and had my surgery emergently moved up. Haha. I shave my legs EVERY single time I shower. ALWAYS. I have to.

    Cold weather sucks. Unfortunately for me.. New England is basically the coldest place in the country in winter months (aside from like, Alaska) Haha. We are known for our insane winters, tons of snowfall, and below 0 degree temperatures. It's normal to get 3 feet of snow at -10 degrees, -20 with the windchill. Sometimes you can throw water up in the air outside and it will freeze before it gets to the ground. Lol. I am NOT looking forward to winter.

    I do LOOOOOVE my heating pad. In fact, I am using it right now. Every day. I have to.

    Mine is alright. I also have fusing happening already, which is great. Glad that we're both fusing early! I just still have Cervical issues and a herniation in my T spine that really sucks... I can't do anything with my arms out in front of me, like wash dishes or fold clothes without having to stop every few minutes because I get a huge ache from my spine, the center of my back all across the right in a horizontal line. It's lame. I don't think they'll really do anything for me for that, though. I think since I'm so young they are trying to do as little as possible, surgically. But luckily they put in my Physical Therapy prescription Cervical traction and things of that sort. I have bone spurs there Stenosis, and an irregular curve... So hopefully the P.T. can help with that cause I'm starting to get the sharp arm pain again, and this time stabbing pain in my upper back with tingling and blah. Haha. As for my lumbar spine, it's going.
  • Recovery from a 2 level fusion can be harsh and you will need a lot of help. I know it would be cheaper to have them done at the same time, but you have to consider issues already brought up and the trauma your body will experience. If I was you, I would schedule the thyroid first and recover fully, and then later do the fusion. Give yourself time in between because once you have the fusion, you are going to be down for a long while. Take care
  • The only reason I say you are probably better off doing them both at once is that a lot of us here have had 360 degree fusions and have had them mess with our spines and our stomachs at the same time... And we healed up okay and the recovery wasn't too bad. I doubt after having one surgery you're really going to be mentally in the position to have the next. Even if the recovery was a tad bit harder, it's just better to have them over and done with at once. I totally think it's a logical and ideal proposition and I totally see where you are coming from and I don't think it's crazy at all.
  • I had an appointment today with the surgeon that would do the thyroid. He will be removing the left lobe. It's really just to be certain and careful. He really doubts that it's cancer. I told him that I wanted to see if both could be done at the same time. He was fine with that. He's going to contact my neurosurgeon and see if he will do it. Should know around the middle of next week.

    The thyroid surgery is pretty simple. It's usually outpatient. He agreed with the first doctor I saw that most people are back to work within 4 days. The thyroid dr would probably go last so my neck doesn't get positioned oddly during the back surgery. I said fine. Do the back then flip me over and slit my throat. =))

    Thanks for all your input. If the neuro says no, the thyroid will be done right after Christmas since the recovery is minimal.
  • Yeah,my bad. It was a 3 level. I must of been having a blonde moment! LoL
    And OMG, when had some pretty crappy weather today, but in my town it didnt look bad roads decent.... so I was on the way to get my son's haircut and this gd little green car pulled out in the truck in front of us, then he started fish tailing and too avoid hitting him i had to get in the north bound lane since since no one was coming... he got within, oh probably half a foot of hitting my kia sorento, then he sped up and i fish tailed right into the ditch super fast. I felt ok at the scene, but driving back home I started feeling achy in my lower back (decided no haircut today). Its now several hours later and wow, major pain so that I took 2 perc's, which I hadnt been taking. No one got the dudes license plate number so the cop said there wasnt much they could do. He stayed until the wrecker came. No damage to the car just me, lol. So between the meds and my heating pad, Im good right now. I hope everything is ok in there. We will find out the 15th. Keep your fingers crossed for me! :)
    oh, can I PM you?
    PS: I go for a MRI the 12th, that was already scheduled before today's adventure! :)
  • I personally would definitely not do both procedures together. Your body needs to heal, the more done at any one time the greater chance of slower healing of both. Plus, if they remove a good chunk of your thyroid, your thyroid function will be out of wack - it takes at least 6-8 weeks on replacement thyroid to normalize out. Even if you are hyperthyroid now - the shift can be dramatic and producing confusing systems. However, I would bet on the thyroid surgery to have less risk of complications and a higher "sure" recovery period. From this site you can tell some people are doing great 2 weeks after their fusion, some after a year. So, IMHO, I would do the thyroid first, take six weeks to recover, then do the fusion.
  • Ideally, it would be great if I could spread things out and do the two surgeries after recovering from the first one. But if I do the thyroid surgery then wait 6 weeks I will have almost no help when I have the back surgery done. My mother in law has scheduled to fly in 12/17 (my daughter's birthday and Christmas) and can stay until about 2/17.

    My neighbors and friends are willing to help but they all have families as well. My husband will do all he can but he's got to work. He can work from home but there are times when he really has to be in the office. My family is of no help.

    The best situation I can come up with right now if the surgeries have to be done separately is to do the thyroid right after Christmas. Wait two weeks, then do the back. That way I will have help for just over a month before MIL leaves.
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