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STENOSIS-The MAJOR Decision to Have Surgery.

John BluntJJohn Blunt Posts: 116
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Spinal Stenosis
The MAJOR decision to have surgery is never easy whatever the situation. I, like most people, I tried absolutely everything out there before making that very important decision.

I suffered the progressive pain of spinal stenosis for around 4 years. It all began with lower back and some sciatic pain. I tried exercise and taking pain killers until I progressed to Cortisone Epidurals. The first epidurals worked well, for a while and I thought that I had the pain beaten at one stage.

True to form though, the Stenosis got progressively worse and with it came more pain. I had no choice so I then moved on from regular Cortisone Epidurals to Caudal Epidurals with contrast and "C" arm guidance for pinpoint accuracy. The Caudal Epidurals were a painless procedure and at first they worked well too, but sadly that was short lived and the frequency between Caudal shots increased. In the end, I ma-x'd out on Cortisone to the extent that I had to suffer chronic pain for 6 months without any Cortisone just relying on oral painkillers which by that stage were mostly ineffective.

With so much chronic pain, I began to think very seriously about surgery which was something that I had been avoiding or trying to avoid at all costs before.

Then my pain management doc suggested that I might try a Neurostimulator from Medtronic by taking the trial and then subsequently having the "STIM" also referred to as an "SCS" Implanted in my butt with wires going to the relevant areas of the spine.

That is when I discovered this excellent website and the wonderful world of "SPINE HEALTH" and some really great and valuable support. It was only then I discovered how important it was to talk to others who had "been there: and "done that". I posted my situation and I got several replies but, I was sent an ANGEL from Spine Health called CHagland who replied to my post and she became my guiding light from then on. For me she walks on water.

It was through "C" that I discovered after several e-mails, that I was making a completely wrong decision for me and that I was doing things somewhat backwards and quite in the wrong order. My pain management doctor, thought that he was giving me the best advice, but after communicating with CHagland I realized that his best advice was really not the best advice for me.

Having done the trial, I was about to have the Neurostimulator implanted but due to the great advice from "C" I took it upon myself and of course completely of my own free will and accord, to cancel the procedure only 7 hours before the surgery was due to take place. "C" Hagland had already been down that road, she had already had the personal experience, which my pain management doc had not, even though he is the Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Management at a major US medical institution.

When I subsequently explained to him why I had backed out of the procedure at the last minute, he saw the reasoning and agreed completely. "C" was absolutely correct.
I was able to benefit from her great personal experience and her experience is legendary, I can assure you. In fact you can see it yourself through the member list.

By this time, my pain was excruciating and that level of chronic pain dictated that surgery was the only option. I had reached the point where the decision had been made for me. After consulting with several surgeons, I chose the one with the greatest experience and the most conservative approach and with "C" really holding my hand, I had my procedure.

I am now over 100 days post surgery and the decompression surgery that I had on L3/$, L4/5, L5/S1, bilaterally, was well worth it. my sciatic nerve pain has gone completely and I am recovering well for a 65 year old man.

Thanks to my angel, CHagland, who's constant help and support was just golden, I genuinely feel that I have been touched by an angel.

For those who may be interested in the medical detail of this success story, I was diagnosed with Multilevel Spinal Stenosis with recurrent and persistent Radiculopathy thigh and bi-lateral leg pain.

The procedure was Hemilaminotomies with facetectomies carried out Bilaterally from L/3 through S/1.

Finally, I have no more nerve pain whatsoever and what small discomfort I do have is due to the whole thing getting better. The only regret that I have is waiting too long to have the surgery. I could have been out of pain ages ago.

I had a great surgeon and thank you Spine Health for sending "CHagland" to me. She is the best.

John Blunt


  • Ok, I stumbled upon this post doing a little research and after I read it I was like, "huh, no replies?" This was very well written, informative and a complimentary post.

    It says a lot for "CHagland." Thank you very much "C" for your PM to my last post by the way. You really do rock. It is also a great post for anyone considering the permanent Neurostimulator implant. (SCS)

    They definitely should be a last resort I'm learning.

    Ah. but I dredge up the past.
  • I did not notice this post was old until I read Frogs post.

    I agree about "C" - she was one of the very 1st people to greet me here.

    John I hope all is well with you :)

    PS: Does anyone know if "C" has seen this thread yet? She may not know it is here.
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • I certainly hope that we can get you some information before your surgery. I hope that John can free up a few moments to go over some things with you. He is a tremendous person, but is dealing with a lot of major issues in his life and doesn't have much time to post here at the moment.

    Beth, I did see this thread when John first posted it. I am very grateful that the outcome from his surgery has been a great success for him. I did thank him for his kind words.

  • I'm typing for Beaver as he is rather challenged in that area and it would take him forever to finish. I'm his wife of 34 years and have watched him deteriorate hugely in the last year. He is still walking but has constant pain and can't do any of the activities he loves so much. He has always been an active person and forced couch potato living is not to his liking. And he does not tolerate pain killers well so has been white knuckling it as long as he can.
    We have just been informed that he will have the surgery within the next eight weeks. He has stenosis in the 4th and 5th vertebrae and has pain radiating down his leg into his foot. Our neuro-surgeon said he found no nerve damage as yet and thinks that he will recover at least 90% of his mobility. And, for a sixty-five year old man, he is in good condition with low blood pressure, no heart problems and no chloresterol. I guess we are just worried that it will not work. Right now they are talking laminectomy and 'maybe' more if needed when they go in. We did do our research and found a really good surgeon but it has consequently been a long wait.
    What I am wondering is "Is there anything we can do to build him up for surgery?'
  • Hi & Welcome,

    Kudos to you in doing your research before Beaver's surgery! Please see the link below for some very helpful info that's continually being updated by SH members:


    Many of the suggestions listed in the above link can also help pre-op as well.

    My OSS kept me off RX pain meds before surgery since he didn't want me to begin building tolerances which would make it more difficult to control pain post op. I used OTC ibuprofen, ice, moist heat, gentle massage and stayed as mobile as I could beforehad though it was difficult. I found when I had a lot of pain, lying on my side in a fetal position w/ a pillow between my knees helped since it realigns the spine.

    Has the surgeon told you what the 'more' would be if it is needed? If the 'more' is fusion, would it be an 'open' or minimally invasive procedure, and what type would it be (TLIF, PLIF, XLIF, etc)? There are many articles on SH regarding the above which can be helpful in understanding the procedure(s) and recovery process(es).

    Spine surgery is frightening, but, it sounds like the surgeon has given a good prognosis for your husband's recovery. The mantras we've learned as spineys, especially in the beginning stages of recovery are:

    no BLT (bending, lifting, twisting)

    walk, rest, walk, rest again. This helps to bring oxygenated blood to the spinal area to aid healing and to minimize scar tissue from entrapping the nerve again

    Be religious about doing the stretches that PT will instruct you on while in the hospital. They need to become a part of the new 'normal' routine that Beaver should follow from here on to help maximize a good outcome

    drink lots of water to keep the discs hydrated

    eat well, and consider adding calcium supplements (be sure it includes D3) and B complex - it aids in fusion and B vitamins are thought to help w/ nerve healing.

    Recovery from spine surgery is slow, it can take a year or more to heal. Try to keep a positive attitude, it's critical to the recovery.

    Hope this helps, all of the people here are very willing to help, share their experiences and answer questions, please let us know more.


  • Because of that advice, my husband was able to make the decision for surgery and he is doing so well now. The pain he had before the operation is gone, he can navigate stairs where it hurt me to see him try them before. He can walk with no pain and each day he is getting stronger.He's up to six kilometers a day in total. For an old guy of 66, he is amazing and our family doctor is astounded at his quick recovery with no pain medication whatsoever. I pray that you can overcome your personal challenges and return to give advice to other nervous souls.
  • Beaver,

    So very pleased to hear this great news! How wonderful.

    This site needs all the success stories it can get. Congratulations. Keep up the great work. It's awesome to hear of your determination and courage.

    Wife of Beaver,
    Thanks for posting on his behalf. What an angel you are. I'm betting your due diligence has helped him tremendously. Let's give some credit where it is due.
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