Hi everyone. Are you like me? Have you suffered a fusion and or spinal disease / disorder? Are you about to get surgery? Have you already had one? Perhaps you're a medical professional with expertise in the field?
A quick introduction, I am a 52 year old male that has worked very hard and been very physical my whole life. I was always very healthy and rarely needed a Doctor. That all changed in my late 40's when I had a symptom of extreme pain in my left shoulder. One thing led to another and here I am today, looking at my second surgery, this time a double fusion on C4/5 & C5/6.
I had my first fusion of C6/7 over 5 years ago. At that time, the disc immediately above showed some degeneration but Neurosurgeon and I agreed not to fuse that disc at that time. I was however, aware that it was a possibility. The rest of my neck looked good at that time with the exception of mild issues at C4/5 and the moderate issue at C5/6. I now find myself in a situation where I have something wrong with every part of my cervical spine. I have numbness, weakness, tremors and lack of dexterity in both arms and hands along with these same symptoms in my left leg. There is a lot of pain involved as well. Heck, I even have numbness and tingling on the left side of my face too!? My symptoms are getting worse, I struggle to do most everything including sleep. I have to use a CPAP mask which is quite difficult already.
I have seen many Doctors, had many tests including MRI's, X-rays, CT, NCV and soon, I'll have an EMG. They told me I didn't have a stroke, MS or a brain tumor but they did discover that I have many issues in my neck like disc degeneration disease. There are two more herniated discs compromising my spinal cord, spinal stenosis with myelopathy, bone spurs and arthritis. The EMG is to rule out the possibility of a movement disorder such as Parkinson's so that we will know what we are dealing with moving forward.
My problem is this, accepting that I have all of these problems and that yet another surgery seems to be my only option. I After the EMG, I plan to visit the Neurologist, the Neurosurgeon and Pain Specialist to review everything before proceeding with the operation, probably in October. I am afraid to do this again as I know from experience that although I did see some relief after the first fusion, it only lasted a few years then things got worse. I don't want to be slowly turned into a 2X4 with fusion after fusion. There is a fairly new procedure where they install replacement disc(s) rather than fuse them. This procedure comes with risks and benefits, but there are very few Doctors performing this in the USA and it seems that insurance Companies are reluctant to approve this. I am not as brave as I was the first time through. I appreciate any and all input. I have been avoiding this for several months. Finally, yesterday, my GP said, this could get worse! Why haven't you had the surgery? It looks like I'll be getting a double discectomy along with removing old hardware in mid October.
Here's to better days and helping each other through this.
Heres to better days.