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surgery update

happyHBmomhhappyHBmom Posts: 2,070
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Spo I wanted to share updates about my surgery. There was so little info when I went into this that I wanted others doing this to have more info. I amtyping onmy nook so forgive Typos!

My surgerywas planned as a L2 vertebrectodmy/corpectomy and 360 degree fusion of L1-L3. As it turned out I had a thracotamy, which somehow didn't click when mythoracic surgeon explained it to me.

The surgery turned out more complicated than my neuro had expected. He had to basically scrape the brokenbone fragments off of the spinal cord , and after 7 hours they'd completed only the anterioror portion so I still had the posterior to look forward to on Wednesday.

To be contindued


  • great to see you posting

    bet your relieved thats over, now for the healing,
    thanks for sharing what your surgeon has done, yes, please let us no more when you are up too it

    take care, rest and heal

  • Well done for posting yourself so early!!
    I admire you for that! :D

    It sounds like you have had an enormous surgery (or 2!) and your recovery is going to be hard, but you are strong (must be to be posting already!) and can do this.

    There are lots of spiney friends here with you to cheer you on and listen to you when you need us. We are looking forward to hearing more.

    Get plenty of rest and allow your body to get over this major trauma.

    >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • Sheesh, that sounds like a really tough surgery! Glad you're well enough to post (even with the typo's..haha)! Get well for round two.

  • Hey there HB!!!

    Welcome back woman!! *HUGZ* Congrats on finally getting to "the other side" of this! Sorry the surgery was more intense, but glad that they saw the issues, and fixed them. Now try and rest and start the next important part - healing! Thanks so much for letting us know how *YOU* are doing. Again, congrats!! *HUGZ* :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • It's soooo good to hea from you again! Sorry to hear that it was more complicated than you'd expected, with two procedures instead of one. Get lots of rest, and I'm sure you've been breathing many sighs of relief that's it's over. Love, Essmoe
  • Glad to see you well enough to send a post. Guess it is not surprising that this was such a complicated surgery considering how your images looked preop.

    Hope that they are keeping your pain under control. Now you are on your way to recovery. Have you been up and moving around yet?

    Take care,

  • Sorry, I'm still very groggy.

    Anyway, the first day my neuro was able to remove the L2 vertebral body I woke up in a lot of pain, and spotty pain control. It wasn't my doctors who were the issue. It was mostly nurses combined with miscommunication with the on-call PM doctor.

    But the positive was that he'd wanted more than plate fusion for me overnight, so in addition to the expandable titanium cage, he'd put one rod and screw in anteriorly.

    So the posterior surgery was a minimally invasive plate fusion. It only took 2 hours.

    After some wrangling I finally got my pain under control sometime around the 3rd day (mostly great nurses, but my day nurse for 2 days had a pretty negative attitude toward medication and wasn't interested helping me get my pain down). I got to move today to the less intensive unit, and am now up and getting myself to the bathroom (but still with the nurse there just in case!)
  • Howdy HB!!!

    I got a wonderful smile when I saw you online. I think you just dropped off. I'm glad to see you got your pain more under control.

    I guess when you get your initial x-rays for post op, your avatar will change? Or are you going to post the x-ray for us to see? It's also good to see you are getting more mobile.

    Have you noticed any changes beyond the surgical pain yet? Fingers staying crossed. Gentle *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Oh my gosh, that post made no sense. I was so out of it this afternoon- and it was the Benadryl they gave me for a rash on my back that put me over the edge!

    My pain is pretty well controlled now. The main point was that I was not expecting a full thoracotomy, which has been really the hardest part of the recovery. And that since the first day was so grueling, he put things together differently than he'd planned.

    I did actually, though, hear a nurse say "well, she's on the max doseage." (as we all know, there are max doses of policy, but there is no set max dose, and I wasn't even close). And I had a day nurse that decided I was taking too much and said negative things several times.

    But I also have had tons of great nurses and respiratory therapists (they turned out to be the bane of my existence, trying to get that lung reinflated!) But now I'm starting to doze off again, see you later!
  • HB,

    I'm guessing by them doing it that way, they were able to get better access since you had bone fragments and such, plus to stabilize your spine better?

    I am glad your pain is under control. How many days do you think you will be in there? Check the other site, I started a thread for you there when you were fixing to enter surgery. I think you will be pleased at the responses. I cross posted your first "post op" update there too. *HUGZ*

    You're sounding better and better by the day! Keep it up woman!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks, Brenda! I'll get over there eventually. I was barely capable of posting here ;)

    I got so much great advice, especially in my "what to wear" post. We didn't bring anything with us the first day and my hubby has been bringing stuff here and there. I only packed my one pair of jammies and have, of course, not worn them yet.

    But Brenda, you'll love this. One of the things keeping me in the SICU (the surgical ICU) was a very high heart rate- like 140. I kept asking these questions, like "what about the meds I was on before?" They had not been giving me any of my pre-surg meds, for various reasons.

    Anyway finally one nurse was puzzling about it on Saturday, and I mentioned that two of my meds really weren't meds they recommend suddenly discontinuing. When I mentioned "beta blocker" she hit the roof. And sure enough, when I got my toprol for 2 days, my heart rate when back down to about 90!

  • Oh, and yes, the thoracotomy was to give him the best access to the area- besides getting the fragments out, he wanted a good access to realign the spine as well as possible.

    I was just remembering the girl who had the thoracotamy for thoracic surgery, and I really hadn't identified that I'd be getting the same thing! I need to go back and read her recovery notes.

    But my thoracic surgeon is awesome, and they've been very proactive with the lung. I've had to get albuterol through a positive pressure breathing machine and now must remember to use the incentive spirometer or whatever it's called. I'm told I'm way ahead of the game, and so am hopeful of quick recovery!
  • It sounds like, considering the enormity of your two surgeries, you are doing extremely well.

    Be proud of yourself! =D>

    I wish you well in your continuing recovery, and remember it is likely to continue for a long time. Take it one step at a time, and be prepared for those set backs. There are almost bound to be some.

    Keep updating on how you are doing.
    We are proud of you :D
    >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • HB- Wow- you poor thing! 7 hours! Yikes.

    When you get more rested and recovered I would love to hear more details about the thoracotmy/recovery.

    I am sorry that some of the nurses have been lousy. That has happened to me each time and one of the reasons I don't want to go through it again.

    Feel Better,

  • Yes ma'am I hear ya there!! Wow! Mine goes to just over 100 resting without it. That's sad that they didn't catch that initially. Oh by the way, if you get a detailed bill from the hospital, they (dig this crap) charged ME $180 for ME to take my Toprol in front of the Nurse!!! I was floored when I read that!!

    Mine keeps me around 65 BPM when not stressed, so sounds like you're doing good there! :) Wow, still shaking my head! (G) Good for you for keeping up the questions. I feel like crap without my friendly Betas!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • HB,

    If memory serves... "AngelaTalley?" She was full thoracic, like T5/6/7? She posted her post surgery incision scars pics on here. Wow that looked brutal, but too, she was in her 20's, not old like us! (EG)

    Have you noticed any positive changes at this stage yet? You've been with this for what, 3 years? I am guessing some of the relief might be slow in coming. I just hope you see positive nibbles so far? Gentle supportive *HUGZ* :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • to hear that you are on the mend again and sending up good thoughts for current and future healing!! As I was laying here in the middle of the night (feeling a bit sorry for myself I must admit) I wondered how in the heck do people survive this type of pain and major surgery without the support of others? My family is great - but they don't really know what I am up against!
  • Julie, I will not lie to you. The thoracotomy is a very painful surgery. I don't want to make it seem like my doctors didn't warn me ahead of time or tell me what they were doing, but I just didn't make the connection that this surgery was THAT surgery.

    After the first surgery, I came out of anesthesia in incredible pain (my new 10 for sure). I got a stingy recovery nurse, though, and it never was well managed. So that's something I'd ask about- who decides your post-op pain control? The dilaudid only approach that first day was not nearly as effective as the dilaudid/fentanyl mix I got after the second.

    There is a pain management doc here at the hospital, but I was so dependent on nurses to communicate with him. That was frustrating too!

    The two issues are pain with breathing, and pain when moving. The breathing issue is a big one, because you NEED to re-expand that lung, but if it hurts you won't.

    The moving issue has to do with the cut muscles, I think. No advice there as I've not resolved it yet.

  • Don't get me wrong, I'm recovering! I should be discharged today. I have already walked over 350 feet and done 2 flights of stairs. I'm ditching my walker more and more, too.

    Preece, I am so dependent on my family! They are my lifeline through this. My husband and kids have been here every day and my hubby is learning to do homecare so he can take care of me for the next week or so.
  • Hi guys, I'm home now. I am so glad to be home! I stayed one extra, boring day in the hospital because the doctor filling in for my surgeon (on vacation this week, but his associates are all highly regarded surgeons) wanted me to see a pulminologist about my extended need for oxygen and periodic oxygen sat problems.

    He basically told me he'd bet me lunch that I have a significant case of obstructive sleep apnea! He linked many of my recent health challenges to it. So, I got a new diagnosis in the hospital ;)

    My left leg still is significantly weaker than my right (I think I mentioned that he had to do a lot of work around those nerves and although I had the neuro monitoring done, they were not going to be happy for a while).

    Walking feels good! Not up to full strength obviously, but my spine is holding me up just fine :) My family is holding me to my BLT limitations- I'm not currently allowed to bend, lift, or twist *at all*. Still log rolling out of bed, etc.

    I mentioned in my thoracotomy thread that I have a large numb patch on my abdomen due to the nerves cut. That's weird. I still have internal pain where the muscles were cut and the ribs spread. The pain from my posterior fusion is really moderate. I don't feel much pain on standing or walking in the fusion area, just weakness- much less painful than my original accident at this point, although the 2-3 days post op were really an experience I'd rather not repeat.
  • Whoopee-doo, I'm soooo glad you're out of the "big house" and doing okay. When I first saw "BLT limitations" I wondered if that had something to do with your cholesterol (bacon and low-fat diets don't mix), but it's altogether different. Take good care of yourself, and no BLT, ya hear (LOL). Hugs, Ess
  • Glad you made it home for the holidays...and let's face it, home is so much more comfortable than the hospital. You sound amazing considering all you've been through.

    I hope each day gets better!
  • Hooray HB!!!

    So glad to see you're out of there and back to the comforts of home! Hopefully the leg issue will resolve as you heal. You've probably got tons of swelling going on in there, and the nerves are probably going crazy as they start to heal and relearn to do their job!

    As for the numbness from the abdominal scar, where they sliced me hip to hip is still numb 8 years later! You may get the feeling back, but don't be surprised if it doesn't.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Wow you have been put through the ringer. Glad to see you are doing well, now. Keep your chin up and have a great Christmas with your family. I know it is hard to have fun, but just being home with family is what it is all about! Take care and no BLT's and I am not talking sandwhiches! lol
  • Wow you really have been through it have n't you. Must have been a bit of a shock when you realised the surgery was not as you had envisaged it!

    I know it's is fantastic when you get home at last. Look after yourself and don't push yourself too hard to quickly. I know what horsey ladies are like!! :D

    Have a good Xmas, Maxine =D>
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Sounds like it was a painful and tough experience. Although I didn't have a thoracotomy I can tell you that my surgeon and his partner decided at the last minute not to do a 360 fusion but to make a side incision instead. It's about 6 inches long and sits above my hip. The area around that was numb for a few months, which they said was normal, and even sometimes intermittently. The pain doc said that when there was more inflammation I'd get the numbness or an increase in numbness if I was already feeling that. The incision also affected a nerve that goes to the thigh so I had thigh nerve pain for 3 months (not awful but pesky pain that sometimes made my right leg feel weak). So expect some numbness at the incision site and in the surrounding area. It may come and go, increase and decrease, but should slowly clear up over time.

    Glad to see you are home. Take care and get some rest!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • that's the new gizmo that hospitals are pushing. I had a hard time waking up from anesthesea and the first thing was I needed a sleep apnea machine. Of course I said no, and for the rest of my stay at ST. ALEXUS they kept doing a high pressure sales pitch about how I had sleep apnea. They even tried to sneak a sleep test in. I literally told the nurse that I wouldn't pay for it, and she had the nerve to say "the hospital will forgive the debt, just call them when you get the bill". I told her to go down right now and get it waived right now or else no test. It's a gimmick that the hospitals use now to make money. Sad and sounds paranoid, but it's true.
  • I was expecting the lateral incision but I guess I zoned out when he told me he was going to spread my ribs and detach my diaphragm (he did tell me this, I just didn't translate it into a more significant surgery than the standard mediolateral incision). They didn't really warn me about the pain- but maybe that's just as well. I would have gone ahead with it anyway, of course- my surgeon needed to have full anterior access to L1-L3 to realign my spine properly, which was my main concern.

    I'm just really grateful to have had a surgeon qualified to take on the extra complications and deal with them. If finding out I needed 2 days of surgery would have been a shock, imagine finding out they couldn't really fix what they went in to fix? *shudder*. How many surgeons would you feel comfortable having scrape adhered bone pieces off of your spinal cord?

    Anyway, 10 days post surgery- I can get up and down stairs easily, but can still only sit for 20-30 minutes at a time in any position. I'm wearing a "california brace" which is a soft brace. I can really see the difference in the length of my waist! I am very happy to have that 1/2 inch back :)

    Pain levels about the same today as they were yesterday. Really looking forward to a reprieve.

  • Howdy Ms. HB!!!

    It's so good to see that you had "the right" surgeon, especially when plan "A" changed to plan "B." :)

    Sorry you're still in about the same pain. Remember you are still very early in recovery, so there will be some set backs as you heal. I'm of course watching anyone with L2 or L3 issues - as mine stinks.

    It looks like your spirits are up and staying up. How did Christmas go with all this since you're home? I so hope it was a joyous day, even with the pain. Still on the road here. All went well, and Santa was very good to all!! *HUGZ* of continued support HB!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Christmas was a fun time. I can't pretend I didn't wish I was whole, but I think the kids were just glad to have me home.

    I am not a patient person, so this recovery is bound to be full of grumbling ;)
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