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The anniversary of when it all began

dbarbeau48ddbarbeau48 Posts: 318
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I tell this story every year, mostly for the new members, and also for me I guess.

In February, 2006, I had just started my school vacation week. Out of nowhere, I started having back pain. Within 24 hours, I was having the back pain, a raging fever, vomiting, and total body convulsions. I was home a week like this, even after seeing two different doctors who told me I had the flu. Eventually, I was taken to our local hospital by ambulance and admitted for Pneumonia. I don’t remember most of my stay in the local hospital because I was so sick. My wife and her family tell me I was so bad they were sure I was going to die. After 4 days, an infectious disease doctor took over my case, ordered a CT scan of my back, and it was discovered I had a large spinal infection in the L 2, L 3 region. I was sent off to Mass General Hospital in Boston and had emergency surgery. Because of my weakened condition and bowel and bladder issues, I was sent to a Rehab Hospital. I was sent home mid March and for 6 more weeks was on IV antibiotics and PT. I went back to work in May but was far from right. I was still in constant back pain and terribly weak. By August, my surgeons determined that my spine had become dangerously unstable but surgery would have to wait because of the spinal infection. I guess it lays dormant and surgery could have stirred it up again.

On April 2, 2007, I had my first spinal fusion surgery. My entire lumbar region was fused together with screws, plates, and rods along with some of my hip bone. Ten days later, surgery was done through my abdomen and another piece of my hip was fused into place. I was again sent off to the Rehab Hospital and got home the end of April.

It took me 13 months to begin to take control of my life again. I began walking, a few hundred yards at first, until I could walk 4, sometimes 5 miles a day, 5 days a week. I will always have some pain, mostly from nerve damage, but its a pain I can live with.

I write this, not to scare people but to give them hope. It takes time after a fusion for everything to settle down inside your back. The surgery itself will not cure your back problems. All it does is give you the ability to heal, the rest is up to you.

Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.


  • I am impressed by your story and of your determination and recovery.

    I wish you continued success on your journey, thanks for sharing,

    Best wishes,
  • Thank you for sharing.It will does give encouragement that eventually the good days outweigh the bad.You have been through an extraordinarily difficult time,and have come out ahead!Congratulations!!!!!!
  • Hi Dick - I'm one year out from ALIF and while you've had a tougher road for sure, I totally agree - surgery is not the "fix" but the catalyst or tool to get you to better health (if its the right option for the individual situation). It took me a year to determine that it was the right option, after exhausting other treatment options, and now I am lucky to say my life is fairly "normal" or as normal as it will be for a person with a genetic predisposition for spinal issues :)

    Thanks for sharing. Anniversaries are a good reminder of how far we have come.
  • Glad to see you are on the other side of the hill called recovery. I like to call myself "abnormally normal" when people ask how my back is doing.
    As of today, I have no restrictions for bending lifting or turning. I can and have even played golf again. Played lousy which I can't blame on the back, but played. I am fortunate in the sense that if I overdo my activities, my back lets me sit in my recliner or lay in bed and the next morning I am as good as new. I am considered a chronic pain patient by my primary care doctor and have Percocet to take for breakthrough pain. My prescription for 120 pills hasn't run out in 7 months.
    You are right, anniversaries do remind us of where we were and where we are now.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • Your story really gives me hope.
    I had spinal fusion from T2-L4 about 6 years ago and 2-3 years ago a sinus tract formed that was about the size of a quarter. Another one just recently formed right below it. Both on my incision site.

    It took 2 years for any doctor to even diagnose it as a sinus tract. And when he did cultures on the surface, MRSA was present. He flipped out on me when I told him I'd had it for over 2 years. He did some tests and what not to confirm but definitively confirmed that I have a deep tissue infection that may have either been caused by or spread to my hardware and/or bone/spine. He found it last week and now I have to go in on Monday with my mother to schedule an emergency surgery and I'm a little freaked out by everything happening so fast. He told me that I should be dead already.
    So it's actually a bit relieving to hear your story and to hear that you're doing so much better. It really gives me hope.
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