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Thoracic Fusion, solution or the end of life as I know it.
Hopefully I can find some support and answers here, don't have a date yet but staring down the double barrels of a long fusion from L2 on up to T5. It is due to kyphosis, a curvature of the spine which has stretched the spinal cord to the point where damage is starting to occur.
I see the neurologist in about 10 days and they will tell me the progression and how long I can safely wait to do the surgery.
I'm a very active person though I have herniation at several levels of the mod-thoracic. While it does cause soreness and pain I have never allowed it to slow me down. I take a relatively light dose of pain meds and have refused to up the dosage after nearly a decade even as the doctors have offered it.
I am an avid fisherman, fishing for large tuna and sharks up to 100 miles offshore. I am a long time volunteer firefighter and am still able to wear/carry almost 100 pounds of gear at times. I have a 14 month old child and work from home 3 days a week to take care of him. Our home is nearly renovated top to bottom, all done by my hands. From tile to plumbing, electrical to paint and everything in between.
I'm not one that you'd even expect had back problems other than a slight curve, but instead am a healthy 6'4", 220 pound man, just a couple years shy of 40. Maybe that's the thing that really gets me, I had issues but could always work through them.
A month ago my regular check up MRI showed a herniation that had grown in size so that it was impacting the spinal cord a solid bit and had gotten progressively worse than the last images. They suggested strongly that I see a surgeon, and I knew that surgery might be coming though I hoped on every chance that it could be avoided. I did figure based on my knowledge of back surgeries that a discectomy or fusion at that level, even a prosthetic disc could be the answer.
I was floored when they explained at the surgeon's that it wasn't just the disc but the curve of the spine that was the issue. They showed me how my reflexes in my legs were not right and that I had some balance issues in my legs when I tried to walk a straight line. They explained that I had very simplistic choices, surgery or the possibility of waking up one day with major nerve issues from the abdomen down, possibly even paralysis.
So now it's time to start dealing with reality. I've spent a week alternating between sobbing and cursing the heavens. I want to do everything I can for now until they tell me I can't, if the surgery can wait long enough I will push it off for one last great summer, living out a virtual bucket lost of things that I may never be able to do again. I also plan to use the time to do lots of pre-op therapy to give myself the best odds.
All that being said, I've come here more to find others who have been through similar procedures and see what hurdles I really have coming; and which hurdles are more like brick walls.
I want to believe that I will once again fish hard for fish so big people think they are sea monsters. I want to believe that one day I will again ride on the shiny fire truck, crawl through a door into a house filled with flame to save life and property. Most of all I want to believe that I will be able to be an active Dad, coaching sports or throwing a lacrosse ball with my son, even just picking him up and twirling him in the air or going for a bike ride.
At the same time I am not so naive as to think I really will be anywhere near the same afterwards. I am not so naive as to believe it when the doctors can't answer the questions about what life will be like after the surgery or to hear "everyone is different" one more time. I feel like there may be dreams I need to let go of so that I can have realistic goals that I can reach, things that I need to say goodbye to now, to do one last time.
I'm also here to learn how to deal with the reality of a debilitating surgery like this. To find a way to stop thinking it's the end of my life. Sent days I feel like I would rather them say you have 6 months to live rather than the unknown of life after surgery. I want to take advantage of the time I have left but anxiety and depression have me frozen like a deer in headlights.
So that's my story, if you even read this far...
Hopefully I can find some solace and understanding with the help.of others here.