anxiety · Chronic Pain · Medical · Medical Conditions · neurosurgery · Pain · Spinal Surgery · worry

another surgery

So I had another back surgery the other day. It was the WORST one that I have ever had, and that’s compared to two spinal fusions, three laminectomies, and two discectomies. I had a spinal cord stimulator implanted.

Back in December I had the trial done, and it was so awful. In addition to being awake for the procedure, and it being insanely painful, I had a CSF leak and was violently vomiting with the worst headache of my life. It was a seven day trial and the first five days were complete and utter hell. Only on the sixth day was I able to feel well enough to get the stimulator programed. Once it was programed though, it was like night and day. It was crazy the amount of relief that it gave me. It was only 24 hours of relief but it was so amazing that I agreed to get the permanent stimulator implanted. That was in December.

In mid January, I went to see my spinal surgeon, whom I had not seen since the year prior. I had some scans that he wanted to look at before he agreed to do the surgery, and instead of the quick surgical consult it should have been, it turned into an appointment with some terrible news.

He informed me that in just eight months time, two of my completely healthy levels had completely degenerated, and that he was extremely concerned about how aggressive this degeneration was occurring. He informed me that instead of the spinal cord stimulator placement, he wanted to do a double X-LIF procedure. He also told me that with the degeneration happening so aggressively, I will likely be in a wheelchair in ten years. It was pretty devastating and unexpected news. So he ordered some more pre-op scans, and told me he would for sure fuse one level, potentially two. I asked him if it was possible if the scans would change his mind about the type of procedure he wanted to do, and he told me no.

A week or so later, I saw my pain management doctor, and he was very displeased to hear that my surgeon wanted to do this big surgery. He felt that doing more spinal fusions would only add to the pressure on health areas of the spine and further accelerate the degeneration. He was very insistent on having the spinal cord stimulator put in first. I asked him if he would speak with my surgeon and he told me that he really didn’t feel like he should, but said that he would speak to some other surgeons about my case to get their opinions on it.

Then in the beginning of February, I went back to my surgeons office to review the rest of the pre-op scans he had ordered. He told me that he too had decided it would be best to wait for the X-LIF, and to do the SCS first. So we scheduled it for March 16th.

This was before COVID-19 had really even made the rounds in the US, at least as far as the media and the public was concerned. Obviously you know how bad things have gotten with the virus in our country. I was certain that my surgery would be cancelled, but sure enough, they told me to be at the hospital at 5am. When we got to the hospital that day, they informed me that anyone with me would not be allowed back in pre-op with me, they would have to leave hospital grounds once I was taken back. They called my family member to let them know how the surgery went, and then they called them again when they could come and get me (it was an outpatient procedure). So the protocols were definitely tighter than usual. I was actually told later on that I was the last surgery that my surgeons would do; they won’t consider operating on anyone that isn’t an extreme emergency until sometime in April.

I don’t know if this was lucky or unlucky. I mean, if they hadn’t done my surgery on the 16th, who even knows when I would have been able to get it done. But because they knew they likely wouldn’t be seeing me, they closed both incisions with dissolvable stitches and surgical glue. The glue is awful and painful. They cancelled my post-op appointment where my SCS was supposed to be reprogramed. I have had a really difficult recovery, and my surgeon hasn’t called me back in five days. I’m starting to question whether or not I should have done this in the first place. I have never had any issues above my lumbar spine, and now suddenly I can’t move my neck without nerve pain in my upper back, my entire thoracic section of my back is in an incredible amount of pain, even two weeks post op. Since the surgery, I have had increased weakness in my left leg, and both of my feet go numb randomly when I’m laying down.

In two days I have an appointment with my pain management doctor, which at this point has not yet been cancelled. Fortunately, the people that adjust my SCS are willing to meet me at that appointment since my post-op with my surgeon was postponed/cancelled. So I guess we’ll see!


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