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I've been told I'm inoperable....

caitycccaityc Posts: 268
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:33 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been a member of this board for about a year and a half. I pop in and out occassionally as I need the love and support you all offer here.

I have been told in the past to lose weight for my fusion by one surgeon. After an insurance change, I was told by a new surgeon to try all conservative treatments first. I got an epidural that failed. Now a third surgeon (because we moved to AZ) has told me that because I have degenerative disk disease, surgery won't help me. At L5 S1 I am completely collapsed, and have a minimul bulge at L1 L2. I thot fusions were for people exactly like me that have collapsed disks, and live in daily pain. :''( :crying:

I am so discouraged! Do I see a fourth surgeon now, or just accept my fate?

When I walked out of his office yesterday I felt like I had been handed a death sentence. He explained to me that both prior surgeons must have also known I was inoperable, and thats why they didn't operate. They led me on with weight loss talk and concervative treatment talk. He said the bottom line is, as a surgeon, if you see something that can be fixed, you fix it. If it can't be fixed, you don't. He told me that I was not that big (bless his heart) and that he does surgery on patients my size and bigger all the time.

I just don't know what to do. Thank you all for listening. It is so appreciated.



  • That is discouraging news, particularly since the surgeon sounds like he was really leveling with you.

    It may just be the way he was trained. If I were you, I would get a new opinion.

    The first surgeon I went to (the middle of Jan.) told me to lose 30 pounds and come back to see him April 1st. At that point I could barely move, so of course the only way that was going to happen was if he wired my jaw shut! I had consultations with seven specialists after him and no one else mentioned weight to me. Several times I brought it up and it was immediately dismissed. I had my pick of those seven surgeons. Any would have operated on me.

    And yes, they operate all the time on patients with DDD...at least from what I hear!

    from the Spine Health website under DDD:

    "While it is a major surgery, fusion surgery can be an effective option for patients to enhance their activity level and overall quality of life. This is particularly true now that minimally invasive techniques are available to decrease post-operative discomfort, preserve more of the normal anatomy of the low back, and result in higher rates of fusion than previous techniques."

    Was this guy a neurosurgeon or an ortho spinal surgeon? If I were you, I would get another opinion with an ortho.

    Please keep posting so we know how you're doing.

    xx Gwennie
  • Definately get a fourth opinion, every surgeon is different.

    Some will attack your weight instantly others will tell you to get it off if you want a normal life without more surgeries (spine surgeries, knee replacements).

    As far as the DDD I am not to sure, perhaps they are afraid fusion will only cause further instability with the discs above requiring further more invasive/radical surgeries.

    Most surgeons will tell you fusions can often lead to future spine surgery due to increased instability above the fusion site.
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  • Do not give up! There is a right surgeon out there somewhere for you. Just gotta keep looking.
    Keep fighting!

    I went through 7 before I found mine.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Been there but not with as many DR. Tell you what it is pretty hard to lose weight while living in pain let alone the physical disabilities. I regained weight that took alot of exercise to lose when I herniated my discs only now post op can I get back on track but it is still a huge mental and physical battle due to the effects of the whole process (injury - waiting - surgery - recovery - acceptance - disability)

    Best wishes to you and just remember even with surgery it is hard to get back to 'normal', it may never happen but I feel that you should be in less distress. I hope you can find a good DR. I also saw musculoskeletal specalists, PT, counceling and osteopaths to help with all the other areas of the body.
  • all very much. This surgeon has been a surgeon since the 80's. I'm just not sure what to do. This would be a 4th opinion. Maybe something is trying to tell me not to have this surgery. I just don't know.....

    I will keep you posted. Thanks again.

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  • I went to 8 different Drs , everything from nuero to orthos and it took 2 1/2 years before I could find someone who could find what was causing my pain. I had 3 torn discs. I thought I was going nuts cause they couldnt find it. I finally went to a Spine Clinic in Mpls MN which is 3 hours away. I suggest you find a spine clinic to be reffered to. They deal with this stuff day in and day out, hundreds of surgerys a year. If anything can be done, they should know it. Another avenue is a University Hospital Ortho Surgeon. It sounds to me that you really need to go on for help. I feel bad that you have problems finding someone to help you. But dont give up the fight. You want to feel better and live a somewhat normal life, and you just need to keep going. Thats the attitude I had and it kept me going until I found the right answers. Good Luck and if I can help in any way, feel free to PM me. Hang in there! I will be thinking of you. :?
  • My docs tell me I'm in-operable too (because they can't find what to operate on) and I just cannot accept that. I'm off to see yet another doctor next week. Probably around my 8th opinion. If I don't like and/or don't accept what this doc tells me I have more lined up. I know every doctor can see the same thing just a little differently, I'm just waiting for the one doc to see it the right way. Hang in there and don't give up. I know that's hard advice to follow, but I'm walking the same mile(s) in your shoes.

    I hope you have good luck in finding that right doctor!
    Spiney hugs :hug:
  • I had a surgeon tell me there was nothing that could be done for me. I had all the conservative treatements done and I was running out of hope. I have DDD and he said I needed 3 lumbar levels fixed. I went home and felt defeated. I got on the internet and looked up a doctor that several people told me about and e-mailed him my diagnosis. He told me he could help me and he has. I am 3 months post op from a 2 level lumbar fusion. I am 90% pain free. Don't give up until you find someone to help you. I would recommend that you go to a Spine Center where that is all they do. I did not give up and I am glad it didn't. Hang in there
  • People always say, if you look hard enough you will find someone to say what you want to hear. In your case, I think you found the one that is saying what you don't.

    You have had surgeons who think you are a surgical candidate and just one who doesn't. Get another opinion because I think the one you saw isn't the doc for you. If your disk is collapsed, your vertebrae are going to rub together and fuse themselves into a bad position as well as causing nerve compression. If anything, I would think you are an emergent surgical case.

    Good luck to you and may the pain angels stay near.
  • OMG I wish I could wave a magic wand when I read posts like these.

    I think if it was me, I'd try a fifth doctor and maybe a sixth. Surely there is one who's willing to TRY to help you.

    Do they offer alternatives or just send you off with your pain?
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