Hello! I am new to the site, and amazed that there are so many people out there like me! I am 33 years old, and have been through several back surgeries. I was a gymnast for many years growing up, which seems to have caused some developmental problems as well as herniated disks. I started with my first back surgery in Sept. of 2004. I was supposed to be out from my job as a teacher for a couple of weeks, and it ended up lasting until the end of February due to a staph infection in my spine. I had several back surgeries during that recovery process to remove infected tissue and scar tissue. Shortly after returning to work as a teacher, a student broke my back where the new fusions were growing and back I went to the hospital for another back surgery. That recovery lasted through the summer, but I returned the following school year to teach kindergarten. Six weeks into the school year I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I recovered well from cancer and am still cancer free, but still had residual back pain that was increasing by the day. The surgeon said I had bulging disks but they weren't anything serious and sent me for epidural steroid injections. They were good for putting on weight and causing terrible mood swings. That's about it! After going through another mylogram, my surgeon said there was nothing wrong with me and he didn't know what to tell me. He gave me this great news after I had waited for my appointment for over an hour. He stayed in the room with me for 5 - 10 minutes. However, his PA had completed a thorough exam, and noted increased weakness in my left leg and was very concerned. I spent several months on pain meds and trying to cope, until I couldn't take it any more. I finally went to another surgeon for help. He reviewed my case to decide whether or not he would treat me. I just knew he wouldn't, but I received a call from his staff that he reviewed my films and felt he could help. My first visit with him was not a minute shy of 2 hours. He showed me, using the same films as the previous surgeon, where I still had spondelolythesis, fusions that had not grown, bone grafts that were off in the middle of nowhere, and hardware that had moved both into my abdomen and out to the back sticking out under my skin. He felt that the multitude of problems was causing my increased pain and weakness, and that he could fix it along with the assistance of a vascular surgeon. The surgery required him to make both anterior and posterior incisions, upon which he and the vascular surgeon remarked at the number of errors they immediately saw. He removed all of the hardware and bone grafts, which had the nerves to my left leg sandwiched tightly. He placed a new screw through the front after removing the screw in the abdomen, did further lamenectomies and removed part of a vertebrae, corrected the spondelolythesis, completed the necessary fusions, and placed the screws and rods necessary to hold it all in place. The surgery was just short of 7 hours much like my other back surgeries. When I woke up, I could feel the difference immediately! It took a few weeks before I could use my left leg, but it is doing very well now.
This last surgery was in January 08. Just a couple of months ago, I started with sharp pain in my right side that radiated around to my abdomen and into my glutes. It seems that the screws are rubbing on the muscle because of my size. The surgeon said that my fusions have grown very well, and he will take the screws out in September. Does anyone know what type of recovery this might involve? I understand from reading other postings that this has relieved the last bit of pain caused from bulky hardware. I am interested in any information I can find about the process just so I can be well educated and prepared. I am hopeful that this will be it, and I can permanently move on from these back surgeries.