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Had a thoracotomy fusion on 2-17-10.!.!

angela_talley03aangela_talley03 Posts: 110
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:43 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Hey Everyone.!.! I wasn't aware that there was a forum for the thoracic spine on here.. I have been posting on another forum.. If you are interested here is the link to my post following my surgery and recovery..

http://www.spine-health.com/forum/back-surgery-and-neck-surgery/thoracic-surgery-2-17-10
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Comments

  • Hi Angela,

    I just got done reading through all of the posts from the link you provided above. I was SO GLAD to have all that information!! Like everyone was saying, finding information on thoracic surgeries is very hard. I really enjoyed reading along as you made that long journey pre- and post-op. And the recovery..... I'm sure you are still in that phase for sure! haha.

    I am so very scared because my pain and right leg symptoms are getting so much worse. My specialist has asked a specialist surgeon to review my case to see if I am a surgical candidate. He has told me all about the surgery that you had and made no bones about the fact that it's a biggie! I think he's leaning in that direction for me because I am having so much trouble as time goes on.

    My biggest fear (and probably his too) is that I am 56 years old. I'm in good shape and most people think I'm in my late 30's (big smile). But this old body really IS 56 and I wonder about the risks, etc.

    I am so glad you are over the hump and getting your life back again. Your story, as well as the others who posted, moved me a lot. It was an answer to prayer. Thanks.

    So, if there are any older gals (or guys) out there who have had or are considering this surgery, could you check in and give me your ideas? I know my doctor wouldn't suggest it if he felt I'd croak on the table (haha), but I still worry about the long recovery time and all of the potential complications that can occur long after I get out of the hospital.

    Hope you are all having a lovely spring. I live at 3000 feet, so our spring is just starting. Yippee!! Bless you,
    Connie
  • to Spine Health.
    You will find a wealth of information here and also a lovely bunch of people who will give you lots of support and empathy.

    I am hoping that I won't need thoracic surgery but, as you can see, I do have problems in that area. I am getting various symptoms (tightening, pain and muscle spasms around my abdomen.

    I am recovering from a lumbar PLIF fusion with decompression. I am 54 (don't tell anyone :jawdrop: )
    and apart from several complications, am recovering well. I do realise that thoracic surgery is a much more difficult recovery.

    If you have found a surgeon who will do the surgery and you feel happy with him, that is part of the battle. I believe that it can be hard to find a surgeon who will tackle the thoracic area of the spine.

    Do keep posting here and let us know how things progress. Have you tried conservative treatments and if so what are they? So far, I haven't really spoken to anyone about my thoracic problems. My lumbar spine had been getting all my attention!!
    I am also having problems in my neck, but haven't had tests there, so who knows what is happening there!

    I am hoping that my physiotherapist will be able to give me exercises for my neck and thoracic spine, to relieve symptoms there. :-)

  • It was good to hear from someone. I wasn't sure I would. Wow, you have been through a few things (duh)! I do hope your thoracic symptoms will magically go away...it would make life so much easier.

    I did try many other therapies: PT, ultrasound, epidural sterioid injection to T67 which gave me almost 100% relief...but only for 1 week. I also have a lumbar brace that sort of helps. I have this thing I call the "butt bucket" that you put in your chair and it helps keep my spine in better alignment. I bought a "posture bra" to try and get some thoracic support, but it was way too uncomfortable to wear. They don't really make thoracic braces except for those big plastic "turtle shell ones", I guess. I have some special stretches from the PT folks. I've had massage which helps until I get in my car to drive back home! : )

    So, since it's getting worse, I figure I should do the surgery if my specialist decides I should. Mostly because I'm getting older and don't want to wait too long. I'm glad to hear you are in my age group and that you did OK with your lumbar surgery. This is all so hard!

    Thanks again for your response. I hope to hear from you again and others in this "special" group of thoracic gimps! That's not very nice of me....oh well, I'm grumpy today. haha. Have a great day.
    Connie
  • I am so glad to hear from someone on this post.. But I am sorry that you have to be here because that means you arew having some bad times.. I did my post just for this reason.. I could not find anything before my surgery so I felt that I could really be able to help some people out.. Sorry it took me so long to answer.. I have been playing a mew game on Wii.. I know that sounds funny but it's about all I can do right now that is fun.. Ha ha ha.. So do u know when you should fine out if you will have surgery? I hope it is soon so you can get out of this pain.. Have you had a MRI? Do you know what levels need to be fusion? I would ask about the bone.. My lumbar fusion used cadaver bone (done from someone who passed away) and shaved bone from my hip grinded it up and layed it where my robs are.. And of course my last surgery they used a piece of my rid so I can still feel where it isn't attched to my spine anymore.. Well I hope to hear from you soon and if you have ANY questions please feel free to ask.. You can message me also.. What state do you live in? Just wondering if you many be near my surgeon.. There is another lady on here that is using the same Dr.. He is great, awesome, and comforting.. Ok well I hope to talk to you soon.. Good night.. Bye!!!
  • Thanks for your response. I don't know much about those Wii things, but it sounds interesting. I've heard you can do all kinds of "sports" on it, but didn't know you could play games. I understand, though, how limited we are with being able to do anything "fun". I'm really tired of having to plan when I can vaccum my carpet so that I have time to "recover" from the pain it will cause!! GEEZ! I used to take this simple task for granted! The only thing that helps my pain is lying down. BORING!!

    Anyway, you asked which disc is involved....it's T67 and it has a tear in it. I think the tear is anterior (towards the front) which I've heard is bad. But I'm not exactly sure. I see my specialist next month. But I do know he talked about the same surgery you had (chest tube, etc.). I live in Oregon and my doc said the only surgeon he knows of who is familiar with this surgery that he would trust is a EDITED by Z06 in LosAngeles. My doctor is a Physiatrist in the Portland area. He is wonderful!!!!!

    I had the MRI but it did not show the tear. It wasn't until I had discography that they were able to identify the exact disc and that there was a tear. Wow, did that ever hurt when they found the "hot" disc!! But it was worth it to find out what was causing all of my pain.

    I don't know about surgery. This injury is due to a work injury (I'm a nurse) and it is getting complicated with the Worker's Compensation folks. Even if my claim can include this treatment, I still want to know more about it before I do it. Your posts really helped a lot!!! I'm just worried I'd get some hideous infection or something. I'm 56 but otherwise very healthy. I'll trust my doc to help me weigh the risks vs. benefits if it ends up heading that way.

    Right now, I am in such pain. It's awful. I don't tolerate narcotic pain medication and the ibuprofen and naproxen have started causing stomach problems, so I have to use them carefully. They don't help much anymore, so I rarely use them anyway. It's mostly rest and being in the best position (lying down) that helps me right now. I have one of those electrical nerve stimulators which helps for about 3 hours and I use that. I'm thinking about paying for a massage. I wonder if that would cause problems with the "leaky" disc? I'll ask the doc. Have you done any massage? Did it help? What did/do you use for pain?

    Overall, are you glad you went through that surgery? I know it was quite a big deal, but did it help enough that you felt it was worth it?? Just curious. I'm at the point with my pain that I'd pretty much try anything. It didn't used to hurt all the time...only if I moved a certain way, or sat too long, or overdid it. Now it hurts all the time.

    Did you have pain down your leg with your disc? I have right leg pain and weakness/numbness. It's also getting worse. I worry that it will permanently impair my ability to walk. Did you have that issue? I will have so many questions for my doc when I see him next month! I live in a very rural area, and I have to travel 5 hours to get to my specialist or to have any tests. So I don't get to see him as often as I'd like. Driving the 5 hours is a killer, but I stop a lot and rest my back.

    Well, thanks for writing and I hope to hear from you. I asked a lot of questions! I'm just so glad to know there's someone else out there who's had this particular problem and the surgery.

    By the way, how did you injure that disc? It's not easy to hurt the thoracic spine, so it's usually some kind of traumatic injury. Mine was. OK, thanks again and I look forward to your posts!

    Connie

    EDITED by Z06, removed Doctor Name and Hospital, against forum rules.
  • Good to hear from you again.. I have been on my 1st family vacation since either one of my surgeries.. We went to Pensacola, FL which is about 3 1/2 hours away.. I did ok.. I of course pack all of my pain meds just in case.. The drive was ok.. We stopped a few times for me to rest.. We got there Sat night and went fishing.. It was awesome fun with the kids.. I tried casting a few times but I just couldn't do very well.. At one point I tried to cast my 2 year olds little Dora pole and ended up just throwing it into the lake.. We were on a bridge so needless to say it was gone for good.. And we had any bought it about 1 hour before.. So my husband took care of the casting and I did pretty well with the reeling in.. Sunday was the beach and man oh man did I under estimate the power of the ocean.. Last night was the most pain I had been in since my surgery.. But I have to be honest and say I would do it again in a heart beat to see my kids have so much fun.. The ride back home today was harder on me since I was already in pain.. I am hopeing to be a little better tomorrow or I my have to call into my pain management dr..

    So now to answering your questions:
    I would have the surgery again no doubt about it.. As soon as I woke up my previous pain was gone.. Of course I was in alot of pain but it was new surgical pain that I know will go away with time and work.. My spinal pain was gone.. I didn't have any leg pains.. My pain was going around to my chest... The hospital was very careful with me and my wounds so I wouldn't worry about any infections.. I know exactly what you mean about the disography seeing as my sedation didn't work.. That is how they found my tear also.. I am not sure which side the tear was on just that it was through and through completely.. I am very sorry to hear about how ayour dr is and how far you would have to go for the surgery.. I was in Houston for mine and had to make a 6 hour drive home and it was very hard even with my morphine I was on.. How for is Los Angles from you.. I would say my look into getting a hotel room for a night or 2 are maybe driving as far as you can handle and stopping for the night and starting again the next morning.. I was on 2 kinds of morphine and had a hard time.. My husband has a Toyota Tundra crew max which is a very large back seat and I used it all with all the pillows and blankets I had.. I am not sure what happened to cause my injury but I do know thaty almost every disc in my thoracic spine is hernated.. All but I think 2.. I am not having any problems with them through so hopefully it stays that way.. I also had a pain dr near my home so she takes care of all my med needs.. I would really suggest having one of them.. I didn't my 1st spinal surgery and I can say that I really missed out on having so my different options opened for me.. I am on cymbolta once a day, flexeral (muscle relaxer) 2 at bedtime, and nyscenta (new scent a) which is my pain med 1 pill 3 times a day.. It has really been good for me.. I think that it just isn't strong enough for my pain now because I really over did it.. But normally it helps me fully.. The one thing I wish I had known ahead of time is the time it would take my lung to heal... I still have alot of lung pain.. Sneezing or yawning is extremely painful still.. It's the sudden expansion of the lung that hurts.. I also still have alot of pain on my cut where my bra lays.. I still can't wear a bra all day.. I have to do what needs to be done out of the house and then get home and change to a sports bra or nothing at all.. I am very large breasted so my bras put alot of pressure on my back.. I am a 38 F and I have tried buying bigger around but then you don't get the support that you need and that makes my back hurt just as bad as wearing my right size bra.. So I highly recommend lots of sports bras.. And lots of things to entertain you while you are stuck at home healing.. I was right where you are before my surgery and I am extremely happy I did it.. If you also make the same choice I hope that you are up and back to normal in no time.. If you have anymore questions just ask.. I am always open to answering.. Hope you are having a good holiday.. Talk to you soon.. Bye
  • FareedFFareed Abilene , Texas Posts: 61


    I am so glad to hear from someone on this post.. But I am sorry that you have to be here because that means you arew having some bad times.. I did my post just for this reason.. I could not find anything before my surgery so I felt that I could really be able to help some people out.. Sorry it took me so long to answer.. I have been playing a mew game on Wii.. I know that sounds funny but it's about all I can do right now that is fun.. Ha ha ha.. So do u know when you should fine out if you will have surgery? I hope it is soon so you can get out of this pain.. Have you had a MRI? Do you know what levels need to be fusion? I would ask about the bone.. My lumbar fusion used cadaver bone (done from someone who passed away) and shaved bone from my hip grinded it up and layed it where my robs are.. And of course my last surgery they used a piece of my rid so I can still feel where it isn't attched to my spine anymore.. Well I hope to hear from you soon and if you have ANY questions please feel free to ask.. You can message me also.. What state do you live in? Just wondering if you many be near my surgeon.. There is another lady on here that is using the same Dr.. He is great, awesome, and comforting.. Ok well I hope to talk to you soon.. Good night.. Bye!!!

    hi Angela , I have some damage at T5 and T6 , would you pm me to ask you some questions plz? by the way Im Zak from Abilene , Texas . Thanks 
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