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It's finally happened - but way to soon and with complications

Hi all. Long time no read. Sorry, but I've been doing pretty well, got a new decent job and thought everything was ok. Please excuse the long email, but I'm so bummed and worried about what's going to happen.

A little background on my spiney life: in 2008 I had a 3-lvl ACDF (C4/5,5/6,6/7), in 2010 I had a 1-lvl TLIF (L4/5) and in 2012 I had a 1-lvl TLIF (L3/4). At that time, my MRI showed that I had no disc at L1/2, but since it was causing me no problems and my L2/3 and L5/S1 looked good, we weren't going to worry about it. My surgeon, who did all of these surgeries, said that if my L2/3 went bad, we'd have to look at fusing from mid thoracic (L10/11) down to L2/3 for obvious reasons. (If not obvious, just ask.) But our hopes were that if I took care of myself, which I've been doing, it would be years down the road if at all.

So, I went in for my one year x-ray with my surgeon. I've been having more pain and referred pain/tingling/numbness here and there and was fairly sure that one of the screws at the bottom of my hardware was loose. But I was hoping that it was just pain from having so many surgeries.

Well, my doc comes in and asks how I am and I say fine. He says "No, you're not - you're here because you're in pain." I said, "No, I'm here for my yearly checkup." He says, "Well, we better take a look at your x-ray because I'm pretty sure you're in significant pain."

We look at my x-ray and OMG, how could that be my spine? Sure enough, one of my screws is loose (could see gray space around it) causing the shooting pain, but my L2/3 is moving, out of place, the disc is desiccated and it's bone on bone, causing the referred pain. I'm used to pain, but it made me realize the other pain I've been feeling and that's what's causing it. The shooting pain was new, but I'm so used to having pain throughout my body that I just chalked it up to having had so many surgeries.

All in all, doc says we need that big surgery that we had talked about. Plus another one to remove the hardware if I want it. I'm so danged bummed out. I think I'm in shock right now.

To add insult to injury (pardon the pun), with my new job, I'm moving to Kaiser March 1. It's possible that with such a difficult case as I am that they'll refer me out to a specialist, hopefully my current surgeon, but not an absolute. I'm also worried about pain management as my surgeon has been managing it for six years and what we do keeps me moving.

So, as much as I'm venting, I'm wondering if anyone has moved to Kaiser and been referred out to their current surgeon that knows you better than anyone in the world, spine-wise. Also, if anyone has been in this situation with the spine problems, I'd love to hear how you're doing, how your recovery went, etc.

Thanks for listening/reading. Why does a spine have to become so fragile? I feel like I'm a porcelain doll at this point and ready to break at any moment.



  • I am so sorry to read this. I have to think a bit but wanted you to know that I read it......I will post more later.
    Yikes, this is the fear that some of us face, with issues at multiple levels, and worsening that seemingly comes out of nowhere....
  • Thank you Sandi. I'm kind of still on shock and scared of what is coming. Thanks again for reading this long post, I doubt anybody has any suggestions or help, but I'm a bit beside myself on this one. The others were scary, sure, but this is one big bummer and I'll just have to pray I get to keep seeing my current surgeon.

  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 03/02/2014 - 6:27 AM

    I am so disappointed to read your post.
    I know that this is what those of us who have had spinal surgery dread. :-(

    I don't know about the medical insurance system in the US, so don't have an opinion or experience there.

    What I do sympathise with though is how awful you must be feeling about needing more spinal surgery.
    Please let us try to support you through all of this.

  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 03/02/2014 - 6:29 AM
    I can certainly understand feeling overwhelmed and uncertain, especially with the whole new insurance thing on top of what was already nerve wracking news to begin with.
    As far as the insurance thing goes, I think that if I were you, I would contact them now, and explain what is occurring and that you want to know what you would face to stay with the surgeon who is already more than familiar with your case.......at least it gives you some idea of what you need to be concerned about and what options there are available for you to appeal if necessary and gives you a head start on getting what you might need in order to do that.
    As for the surgery itself, it is a big surgery, but there are others who have had surgeries that are comparable and they have recovered as well so it may turn out that way for you too. As you well know, there are no guarantees, but we can do all of the research we can, and weigh our options and go from there.....has he suggested doing any other options to manage the increased pain other than the surgery? If not, it might be worthwhile to visit a pain clinic just to see what they can offer for you in conjunction with surgery or to avoid it.........that way, you can start formulating a game plan .
    Hang in there Cath.......I know that the options that I gave you are probably not ones that you haven't thought about, but it is a road map to start somewhere.
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