I am lousy at typing due to other issues so please try and excuse lack of punctuation and other errors. I often leave out important words, so please ask questions if I am not being clear.
I am a 56.5 year old woman, retired medical technologist (4 year college degree, because you WILL question my literacy at some point), who had an L3-L4 fusion on March 6th, 2009.
There were many issues and many incorrect paths taken along the way, due in large part to not being believed by the doctors. I do believe that I had one of the finest surgeons in the country do my surgery and I have absolutely no issues with him nor the surgery he performed. I would be the poster woman for a perfectly done fusion that had a few complicating factors.
Ultimately the surgery was performed because a large synovial cyst had formed and was compressing the nerves.
The cyst was 22mm X 12mm X 8(11?)mm based on the reading of the MRI. The surgeon said that essentially the nerves running through that part of the spinal canal were compressed into about a 2 mm space. As it turned out, by the time the surgery was done, (less than a week after the MRI), the cyst was considerably bigger than anticipated.
It was a posterior incision, about 8-9 inches long, the surgery was done on Friday at around 12:30 p.m. and I was released about 2:30 on Sunday march 8th. Although "given" a brace ($2600.00) , but I have not worn it at all. 5 days post surgery I was doing 2 miles (10 minute miles.. I am not athletic) on my elliptical, and other than the pain associated with sitting and sneezing, I was progressing nicely. I had narcotics and used them, but not excessively as a tiny bit too much for me makes me barf, and I discovered that barfing would be the equivalent of driving a sword through my spine.
So I was taking the mega-doses of vitamin D, the large amounts of calcium citrate/with D3 and by week 2-3 I had a headache and extreme nausea 24/7. This stopped me in my tracks. Any movement, any thinking, any emotion sent pounding pain to my head and dry heaves to the rest of my body. The smell of food was torture. I put up with it for 2 weeks then started eliminating anything that I thought could be causing it including all but 5 mg of the narcotics a day took no Valium. Finally Friday, April 3rd, I called my pharmacist and asked if the vitamin d and/or Calcium could be causing it. Short answer yes. I quit taking the D and Calcit, drank water and decaf tea constantly to flush what I could out of my system and 3-4 days later, the headache and nausea were virtually gone, and the energy is coming back.
Now let me tell you that when the docs saw the MRI, they couldn't believe I was standing. They asked if I had any symptoms.. DUH!!! yes, PAIN!!!!!!!! that is why I had been coming to them for injections,endured a 4 level discogram , 2 years ago, spent hours at PT, gave up every activity I ever enjoyed (skiing, horseback riding,walking in the country, etc etc. It culminated over Christmas 2008 when I collapsed screaming at totally unpredictable times. I kept going in asking for help ( I also have hip bursitis...so of course, hip and si injections and more PT was put on the menu as ordered by the P.A.) I kept saying this was different.. and FINALLY the new pain management doc listened to me and ordered another MRI, discovered the huge cyst talked to the surgeon, who called me and wanted to do the surgery the next day. But the surgeon was called out of town for a family emergency. I was given a script for oxycodone, and orders to be admitted if needed for pain management and emergency surgery if I started to lose lower body functions.
Here is my point and question. I did take the oxy prior to surgery.. not in huge amounts but at least to the degree that I wasn't piercing my palms with my finger nails. After surgery I did take more oxy (not more than presurgery.. just that I continued to take it as needed) for the first week and have cut down a lot from there and almost none after the nausea started. Just 2.5 mg at night to sleep and 2.5 in the a.m. to get up and down the stairs etc. other wise I suffered and complained to my 4 bloodhounds who at least looked sympathetic.
I call my doc April 3rd (read as P.A. ) cuz you rarely see the surgeon much less talk to him to ask for a new plan re: the vitamin D and Calcit. Actually I talked to the patient coordinator who sends an email to the P.A. and then the coordinator calls me back. Well, the P.A. in his wisdom, decides it isn't the vitamin d and Calcit. End of discussion.
Quick aside: [(I also have a problem .. known for 2 years but not real severe..at L5-S1) So the pain caused by the cyst was entirely eliminated, and to my knowledge I had only felt the pain it caused on my left side.. hip, lower back, butt, leg on all sides and knee. But now that the left side is cured, the right side can be felt more. The MRI shows that there is plenty of reason for the pain, but... is it enough to want to do another fusion and disk removal, as the perfectly fine L4-L5 will obviously fail not too long afterwards if I am forced to go ahead with the L5-S1)]
In response to the second part of my concerns in the message to the P.A., he prescribed Medrol whose side effects include (for at least 30% of the people), nausea, insomnia, irritability, increased appetite, swelling in legs and ankles. I shattered.. yes shattered right tibia and fibula in horse back accident when I was 39.. I don't need swelling in that ankle joint). Sleeping is hard enough with bursitis on both sides, and I don't need the weight, I don't need to be more irritable, and I don't need any extra weight.
Also, since I was afraid to take the oxy, but now believe it wasn't the cause of my problems, and have been under medicating the pain I do have, I asked for a refill on the script. I did that today just before finding out the P.A. thinks the nausea is caused by the oxy.
So.. any opinions on what to do about this issue? the vit D, cal cit and request for oxy?
Also, I do bend over and stoop etc when I have to. It isn't easy nor entirely pain free and I often have to crawl over to a stable vertical object to get back to my feet, but is it really damaging to do this? I have had 3 versions from 3 spinal docs on this topic. 1 says let the hardware do its work. Another says wear the brace 24/7. Another says, there is a lot of controversy on the subject. I decided to do what I had to do if I HAD to do it. I decided against the back brace because I knew it would weaken what back muscles I do have, and regaining strength and flexibility was going to be hard enough. Again any opinions or warnings?
Finally, I came up with a great idea for those first few days that some people might have hygiene issues and don't own bidets. If requested I will answer privately, and let those that run this list decide or edit my methods for publication. BTW, the lists you people put together as suggestions should be published and sold to all all spinal surgeons as gifts for their patients. those ideas are GREAT!!!