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Vikings 4th of July

VikingVViking Posts: 128
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I was at my spine clinic on Friday, for my long awaited X-ray and MRI , which was previously delayed due to the nurses strike over here. It is 14 months since I had a fusion - L4 to S1 with own bone graft, 4 screws and rods to stabilize a very mobile and painful spondylolisthesis and bi- lateral pars fracture and two ruined discs. I had an appointment with my surgeon 2 months ago and he prescribed Neurontin ( Gabepentin ) to combat the nerve pain and he ordered an MRI in addition to the X-ray which was not possible at the time due to the strike. At that time without an X-ray all the surgeon could say was "something isn`t right here"

The MRI was quite an ordeal, as it was a hot, humid day and the MRI room was dry and quite perfect conditions for an asthma attack, I had taken my inhaler a short while before, but after 40 minutes of stifling the urge to cough, having a dry mouth and throat and fighting for breath, I had to ring the button to tell the nurse I had problems , luckily she told me if I could cope 30 second more, then there was a chance to take a pause when she would be administeing some contrast in my arm , so she held my hips still on the rock hard table for me whilst I took the opportunity to have a good cough, blow my nose and use my inhaler again. Then the contrast needle went in without me noticing a thing and I was fine for the remainder of the MRI . I was tired and aching by the time it was over and walking to the x-ray room was very difficult , but that went well enough due to yet another super nurse there.

I was called up to the surgeons office shortly afterwards and he talked me and my husband through all the picture results on the screen , firstly on the x-ray where there was absolutely no bone graft what so ever to be seen,and he said the bone had been totally reabsorbed by my body and that this is called a Non-fusion. On the MRI, he pointed out a shadow behind first the one, then two, then 3 and 4 screws, saying that this indicated that all the screws were loose and were making larger and larger holes in my vertebrae and that he could measure, a tiny 2 millimetre space between the lowest left wobbly screw , which he said is the reason I have intermitant sharp Zaps of electic nerve pain which I get from my incision site , across to my left hip and down to my left heel, and the constant discomfort of pins and needles and aching.

So I was given the choice of going home and putting up with the unacceptable life of limitation, frustration and pain I have now and to slowly detereorate over the years as my left leg becomes useless and my brain is so mushy from the pain medications, that I could just as well give up and..... well obviously I didn`t go for that option and I am now written up for a new operation, The timing depends upon certain other tests and investigations the surgeon has ordered. He also suspects I have osteoporosis, so I shall be tested for that, and a CT scan to finalize the placing of the new wider and longer screws ( which he ordered whilst we were there !) If the local hospital can fit me in and do the tests in good time for me to start on a fossamax treatment at least 4 weeks before September, then he should beable to do the pre-med appointment together with the anaesthesiologist, get my blood work done and then do the operation in mid-September- If not then he has time again in mid October. He stated a 70% success rate.

I have only had 2 days to let it all sink in so far, and its not quite registered with me yet, only the short term and the relief that all the pain is not just in my head has registered and I have decided to only work 2 to 4 hours per day in future , although I am not sure what my case worker and the sick pay rules will say about the situation, as the job I have, has a job plan written by the sick-pay office which states that I should raise my hours by five hours per week every month, I am a little behind in this plan but some days I have managed to work through the pain , until mid-day or even 1. pm, I start work at 8 , but my day starts at 6 am with breakfast eaten for the sole reason that I have to have meds at that time to ensure I am painfree enough to take the walk to the bus stop and stand and wait for my bus to work. The surgeon said I should carry on being active , but not to force myself through the pain barrier.

I asked about the condition of the disc above all this mess and it is in perfect health, which is one bit of good news !

The surgeon has prescribed Oxycontin to take in the evenings to help my poor night sleep, I have inflamed hips,sleeping on my sides or my back for any length of time is limited and he has doubled up the Neurontin dose to 600mg x 3 daily.
So now, yet again I am eagerly waiting everyday for the post to arrive with appointment dates and waiting to get my life back, I have had to give up my job as a nurse, and greatly limit my love of gardening and am once again going to be relying on my dear husband to take care of me and limit his life as he always has to take my differing daily pain level into consideration.I feel like this can`t be happening to me and have to talk it over fairly often with my husband, just to confirm it is real and not just some awful dream. I am really fed up and have the feeling I could cry, but I have not, not even when I told my mom and dad on the phone. Perhaps I just don`t know how I feel about it all yet as I was hoping and praying that it was just some scar tissue making a misery of my life,Maybe I will explode with emotion in a few days and I should just enjoy the mental numbness for now?



  • WHAT A TERRIBLE WAY TO SPEND THE 4TH! :( well I'm sure you are in shock after all that news!!!!!!!!! I remember being told I had non-fusion and was bone on bone and the screws were hanging on for dear life inside me and rubbing and squeezing nerves. That explained so much to me, all the pain and pins and needles and numbness, and when my NS said well you have 2 choices.........living a very poor quality of life or having another fusion, if you feel like chatting or venting feel free to get ahold of me ;)
  • I want to say something encouraging here, but its very hard sometimes to choose the right words to convey a message. I want you to know if you need someone to talk to I'm here for you. I think right now you are in shock from the news, and in a few days it will hit you full whammy. I'm sending big hugs and good vibes your way my friend, your in my thoughts and prayers....m
  • Thankyou Cherry, for your very kind offer, I am starting to get my head around it all now and also after some wonderful supportive chat last night at 4.am my time, I am feeling a little better. Thankyou so much to all those in "chat" last night too, I slept 5½ good restful hours afterwards.
    I even had the energy to tackle the receptionist at my doctors this morning and have been out and fetched my meds myself and am confident of a good nights rest with an oxycontin inside me. I am sorry you have been through all this stuff twice too Cherry, but glad I am not the only one who has had this disappointment.
    I also rang my case worker down at the sick pay office and to my relief she told me not to work more than 2 hours a day in my 4 hour week, and informed me that the Danish law allows for me not working at all under the plan I have, so the financial side is covered,whatever happens over the time I am waiting for my re-fusion.
    Thanks again , Viking :)
  • Wow Viking I am so sorry to hear about your failed fusion. I hope they get it right the next time,

    Hang in there,

  • i am so sorry for you to be going thru all this, i will pray that it all works out for you!!!!!
  • I'm just glad I was there for you v when you needed someone to talk too. big hugsss.....m
  • Oh Viking, sounds to me like you are living in a nightmare. :jawdrop: :sick: :jawdrop: :sick: Righ now all I can say is how sorry i am that you have to go through this painful experience.

    But then, my optimistic side kicks in. Maybe this next surgery will achieve what this last one did not and much, much more.

    If you have a chance to talk to your surgeon, ask him if it is possible to use bone cement to reinforce your vertebrae so they would hold the screws better. That is what my OS did when he saw in what poor shape the S1 vertebra was when he performed an L3-S1 fusion on me in May. The other thing he did, he inserted under my skin a battery pack spinal fusion stimulator, with the electrodes extending from it connected to the fusion site. These things all are suppose to enhance your chances of fusion. So talk to your doc, and ask him how he could increase your chances of success.

    Right now, just try to think clearly, and gather as much new information as you can.

    Good luck. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you.


    Kin :) :) :) :) :jawdrop: :jawdrop:

  • I am so sorry you have too go through all of this crap.
    I had not talked too you in over a month and was shocked too hear this crappy news.

    I'm so sorry hun........really I am !!!

    Prayers and warm happy thoughts sent your way.
    Big hugs.
    Dan :(
  • I can't even begin to imagine how hearing all of that makes you feel. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I'll be keeping my eye out for other updates from you.

    Take care of yourself,
  • you offered me kind words for me. Im doing same for you & your not alone. I know the feeling. Things here have been turbulent for months now too. I have you in my prayers, that God will take care of you. Things will work out in the long run.

  • Thankyou again everyone who has relpied here.

    Kinpin the surgeon said, he plans to use larger screws and some kind of all sythetic cement, he also said it was possible that some of the screws may be applied from the front, I will quiz him a little more about this by E-mail and I may also write and ring to my contact nurse who has been present at every single visit I have made to the spine clinic since February 2007.
    I am starting to get used to the idea of yet another operation, and more and more, as I research I find explanations as to the sorts of pain I am having and why it is so intermitant and no day is the same or can be planned. The slow release oxy is helping and I am sleeping better although, I find I still need a sleep in the afternoon, which I think is more acceptable now ... I always felt such a baby having an afternoon nap, now its legal I suppose.

    I am also humbled by those who have so much else going on in their lives with very ill family members, and yet you have time to give me your encouraging words, you all know who you are, the love you send means so much more because of that.
    It is a blessing to have this site!

    Viking :)
  • I hope all goes well with your second fusion, you deserve it. I'll say a prayer and send good wishes your way. :)

  • Hi V,

    I'm really sorry that you are having go through all this, however, at least you have answers now. It also sounds like you have an excellent team at the hospital. It's also good that you have support at work (you really don't need any additional nonsense from there) and I know that Mr Viking the Impaler is going to be right there with you every step of the way.

    I'm also really sorry that I wasn't there for you when you needed your friends. No surprises there though }:) .

    Take care matey, I'll do my utmost to catch up with you over the next couple of days.

  • A letter arrived from the local hospital this lunch time .
    My CT scan appointment is on Friday 18th . Thats the appointment I was most worried about that would take so long to come so , some good news at least.

    Thankyou to all who have sent good wishes and prayers my way, they seem to be working so far !

  • My CT scan went well yesterday and without incident, at the local hospital, just 15 minutes away , so the drive there was no biggie !
    The results will be up to my spine clinic in 8 to 10 days , so the surgeon will see them when the clinic re- opens after the annual holiday on August 3rd, so I am crossing my fingers and hoping all the other appointments come through pretty soon.
    The extra oxy and neurontin is playing havoc with my sleeping patterns and I have a fight with napping too long in the afternoons,then not being sleepy at night , my body is tired enough , but mind is working overtime, so sleep doesn`t come easy. BUT my pain is a very copable 2 or 3 dispite being able to feel the screws move about at times and I am coping with the 2 hours work and the bus ride there and back, which in all makes it a nearly 4 hour trip out. So now I wait , oh how I hate to wait !
  • Oh my, you've had some bad news. Or is it good news--at least you know what is causing your pain now. I've just gone through a revision for a non-union, among other things, and if you need to talk, feel free to PM me.

    Sometimes life isn't fair! But you seem to have a good attitude and that is a big part of recovery.

    So sorry you are going through this.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!

  • I have had a little panic attack today, odd feeling , nausea, butterflies in my stomach, my whole body coiled like a tight spring, joints aching and feeling a little dizzy and odd. It happened after I put the phone down and I ignored it, thinking I was just hungry. Its 11pm now and I feel sort of ok again. The phone call came at 5 pm.

    It wasn`t some silly sales person trying to get me to order a newspaper or simular as I had thought it would be.
    It was my surgeon ringing to say he had spent the afternoon studying my CT scan and other pictures with the surgical team and they all agreed the original diagnosis was clear and a new op was needed and he could offer me an op in the week beginning 15th September :O I was so shocked to have him ring and chat to me at home, I forgot all the questions I have , but there will be a fair amount of meetings with him before I go in for the op .

    He said, he will be taking blood and cultures frequently as they have a theory that the non-fusion may be due to a mild infection, which is a theory I have never heard before . I think the panic business may partly be due to knowing what I have to go through yet again and also my loved ones have to endure it all again too. I have so much I want to get done before the op and only 40 days to do it . Sounds ages to a normal , but us spineys know the drill ...1 day doing practical stuff equals at least 1 days bed rest.

    I do take great comfort in that I am not the only one going through all this and am more grateful than ever that my spiney friends are all there to support me, in fact 3 of my closest spineys were all on line at the same time shortly after the call (fate?) and I had a good chat with them whilst my heart was beating out of my chest.

    Well, thats my up-date for now, I am feeling a little teary, but I suppose thats to be expected when faced with yet another life changing challenge and not being quite over the last one !
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