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Spinal Surgery

sschambersssschambers Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Hello everyone. I am a new member on this site and this is my first post. I am making this post in hopes to get an answer. First off, my father (who will be 63) was the one who had spinal surgery, not me. My mother and I were the ones who had to deal with the mental anguish. I apologize if this post is really long but I just want to describe as much as I can to get some good answers.

February 12th 2010 - my dad went in for surgery to get a spinal cyst removed. The doctor said that he probably had the cyst his entire life and never had any problems with it up until a couple of months before his surgery. The surgery supposedly had went fine. He stayed in the hospital for a total of 2 days, then was released to come home.

My mother, who is an RN, was worried that 2 days wasn't long enough after a surgery like that. She was concerned that his back needed to be drained of fluids longer.

A few weeks go by. Everything seems ok. He's slowly recuperating. (This is where things start to happen for a reason).

March 1st, my girlfriend and I have an arguement. I decide we need a couple days apart. So I stayed at my parents house that very night. The next morning (at around 6:30a.m) I hear groans/moans. They get louder. Initially I thought I was still half-asleep and dreaming. Until the groans turned into screams.

I jumped out of bed and ran into my dad's room where I found him screaming in excruciating pain. It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on (being that I just awoke from a dead sleep). By this time my mom had plowed into the room. The pain was coming from his upper back, right where the surgery was done.

After trying to comfort him and ask questions, he started to go into paralysis within just a couple of minutes. I quickly ran across the hallway, grabbed a pair of scissors and cut his shirt off to find a grapefruit sized growth inside of his upper back.

My mom was instantly on the phone with 911 to get an ambulance. He was rushed to the local hospital. He arrived, still in paralysis up to his chest, to find out that no one at the hospital would even touch him. They wanted him life-flighted back down to Pittsburgh for emergency surgery by the original doctor.

When he finally got to Pittsburgh, the surgery was done immediately. Hours later, we were told that he had develpoed a spinal hematoma. (Gee, could it be from them not completely draining his back?) What had happened was it slowly started to develop after his initial surgery. Eventually it had gotten so big, it had nowhere else to go. It started pressing on his back, compressing his spine, making him paralyzed.

Luckily, after the second surgery he slowly started to regain feeling throughout his body in the ICU a couple hours after. This time, they kept him in the hospital for about 2 weeks; ensuring that his back is drained and that he wouldn't have another episode like this.

To make a much longer story short, he's doing MUCH better so far. He is able to walk by himself and be (mostly) independent.

Obviously I have a few concerns, especially after talking with him earlier today.

He told me today that lately when he gets up from a sitting position, he feels like he loses his balance a little. He hasn't fallen. But he said he didn't want to tell his doctor or my mom because he doesn't want to go back to the hospital. I respect the fact that he wants to stay home, BUT at the same time, if he's having problems he needs to talk to someone. So this is why I am here posting this; before I tell my mom. He describes it as not feeling dizzy, but as if someone came up and pushed him off balance.

Also, since the emergency surgery, his speech seems different. Almost as if he had a stroke. I mean we can understand what he says, but it seems like he almost slurs a bit.

I realize that his spine had quite a bit of trauma and that he may never be able to do ALL of the things he was able to do before. But like I said, every day since then he has gotten better little by little. I am just concerned about those 2 things I mentioned.

If anyone has any input or advice, I would greatly appreciate it and I thank you in advance.


  • Hi & Welcome,

    I do have to commend you for trying to help your dad, and what he and your family has gone through must have been a horrific time of it. I'm not a doctor, but the loss of balance & speech slurring IMO should be brought to his doctor's attention ASAP so that it can be properly assessed. It could be side effects from two very traumatic surgeries very close together, reactions to medications, etc. I understand his hesitancy in returning to the hospital, but, I think it best to err on the side of caution in a situation like this.

    Please keep us posted

  • I also think that given the circumstances, contacting the doc would be a prudent thing to do. I can understand your dad not wanting to go back to the hospital, however his doc really should be informed about any issues he's having.

  • It sounds like you and your father have a wonderful relationship. PLEASE convince your father that he needs to contact his physician today. These symptoms may be due to his surgery or another problem occuring.

    Best wishes and please keep us posted on his progress.

  • with the others, and that it would be wise to speak to the doctor.
    It may be nothing serious, but you don't want things to escalate to something more. Your Dad's doctor should know what is going on. Hopefully he'll say there isn't a problem. :-)

    Do let us know how you get on.
    Wishing your Dad a good recovery and well done to you and your mum for supporting him through all of this. :D
  • Thank you all for the responses and I apologize I didn't get back on here sooner.

    The past week, he had a sleep study to see if he had sleep apnea (they had taken note on how he was sleeping in the hospital and were concerned he might have sleep apnea). He said the test turned out to be ok.

    He is now waiting to get some sort of test to tell whether or not he had a stroke sometime after the second surgery. After me, him and my mom had talked recently, it does seem like it is very possible that he might of had a stroke; which would explain some of the symptoms he is having.

    Other than everything else, he has been doing ok. Me and my girlfriend try and visit him and my mom at least once every day. I will keep this post updated with any new information.

    Thanks again for the replies everyone.

  • You are giving great support to your parents. :-)
    That will help your mum as well as your dad, as she will feel she is not alone in caring for your dad.

    Wishing you all well. :D
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