Hello! I am KC, and came across this site while looking for recovery information about my recent TLIF surgery ~a week ago (12/14/09). I have read some of the posts and cannot tell you all how comforting it is to find others who have expeienced the same, if not similiar back problems!! I definitely now know that I am not alone! By way of introduction, I am giving my story below in case any of you have the time & are interested in hearing what I went through. While I will try to keep it condensed as possible, I believe it is theraputic for me to tell it even if no one reads it ;-). However, most importantly, I want to tell it so that ANYONE else going through a similiar experience can gain knowledge and/or benefit from my exprience.
I have had back issues off and on since childhood; never having received an exact diagnosis until recently. Over the last 2 years my lower back pain worsened. After X-rays, my primary physician concuded that I have arthritis in the right SI joint. Additionally, due to lower back overuse and an injury; I found out just 2 months ago that I have had Degenerative Spondylolisthesis all these years (I am 39 years old). The injury from 2 years ago left me with an annular tear on the last disc in the lumbar area of L5-S1.The annular tear led to leakage of disc fluid onto surrounding nerves causing for me very painful sciatica. Prior to my surgery a week ago, I had tried ALL conservative treatments. Just within the last 2 years I did, or have had the following treatments to avoid surgery:
a) 6+ weeks (3 x a week) Physical Therapy
b) Pain Mgmt Center: gave me 6 epidurals - the last of which left me with a spinal fluid leak & a 3 day hospital stay exactly 1 year ago over Christmas
c) Trigger point injections
d) Chiropractor adjustments
e) Acpuncture treatments
f) Specialized Exercise program developed by Physical Therapist and a 24 Hour Fitness Personal Trainer
g) Pain Mgmt Center referred me to an in-house Psychologist for which insurance paid $150/hr. to help me learn how to live with chronic pain. I met with the doctor there 1 -2 times a week for 6 weeks.
Thank GOD that I have THE best Primary Care Physician in all of Kansas City!! So many of the doctors/folks at the pain mgmt centers think that it is all in your head - DON'T LET THEM try to tell you your pain is not real if it is!! My Primary Care doctor listened to me and told me that we would try a back specialist and referred me to a local spine center. I went through the most PAINFUL diagnostic procedure there called a DISCOGRAM. After more X-Rays, MRI's and this Discogram, doctors there recommended an Artificial Disc Replacement. After several months and the insurance company losing paperwork twice, we finally got an answer back that the artificial disc replacement surgery was denied. Insurance personnel called me and requested that I get a 2nd opinion from another board certified Spine Surgeon. I had them (Ins.Co.) give me the name of the surgeon, and I was referred to Dr. Edited of the & Scoliosis Surgery, Inc. It was my meeting with him in October of this year that after 2 years I finally was given a diagnosis of what I had: the degenerative spondylolisthesis. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to finally have a diagnosis!! Dr. Edited sent me for bone scans, X-Rays, etc. and had me meet with his colleague Dr. Edited, an Orthopedic Surgeon who does Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) procedures. After meeting with Dr. Edited and Dr. Edited, I was SO GLAD I GOT A 2ND AND 3RD OPINION! They both said I was NOT a candidate for artifical disc replacement as all structure around the disc must be stable for that to be effective, and spondylolisthesis is just the opposite of stable - I have Grade 1 slippage. I was given three options: do nothing and live with the pain (ok, NOT an option); try spinal fusion through one of two MIS procedures: AxiaLIF or TLIF. At first my surgeon Dr. Edited thought the AxiaLIF would be the most appropriate; however, after he ordered me to have extensive MRI's (over 1 hour in closed MRI - i yi yi!); he found that my tailbone anatonomy was not conducive to that procedure. Therefore, we decided on a TLIF. I was thrilled that he was able to get it scheduled within just a few weeks! While apprehensive, I have honestly feel that I have exhausted ALL OTHER conservative options, only to have daily chronic pain. My surgery took about 3 hours on Monday 12/14 (surgery was 7:30 am) and I was discharged from the hospital a week ago today actually - Thursday. I have a brace that I am to wear the second I am out of bed. I am now looking to this forum and other sites to find out what kind of recovery timeframe to expect; it's one thing to hear from the doctor or surgeon what to expect - but a completely different thing to hear it from someone who has been there - done (or doing) that! I KNOW you know what I mean! :-) I have a list of questions I have prepared for my doctor for next Monday morning, when I go to have my stitches removed. I hope to learn so much what others here have experienced! Additionally, I hope anyone who reads this and has ANY questions feels free to let me know. I want to help others however I can. :-) Thanks to any of you who stuck through and read this whole post!! :-)
Post edited by Authority Member haglandc names of medical professionals removed