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mdtaffet
02-13-2012, 04:37 PM
Hi all,

You asked to see my before and after X-rays; here they are (surgery on 1/23), and yes, I know they aren't all thoracolumbar views. The first three are the most recent images I have from before surgery, while the last two are after surgery.

I saw the surgeon's fellow on Thursday; he took part in my surgery, and mentioned that my doctor was one of very few who would have even attempted to work on my spine, and he mentioned something about 80 degrees, which I'd never heard before (the highest number I had heard previously was 42 degrees). Anyways, I'm told that they spent an evening together planning how to do my surgery.

12121211121312141215

I hope these came out in the same order intended. If not, the images from 09/12/2011 were before surgery, and 02/09/2012 were after surgery.

-- Mary

mdtaffet
02-13-2012, 04:44 PM
Trying again:

1219

1220

1221

1222

1223

rohrer01
02-13-2012, 05:44 PM
Wow, it looks great!

golfnut
02-13-2012, 06:18 PM
Mary,
You look perfectly straight! I hope your recovery is going well.

jrnyc
02-13-2012, 06:45 PM
hi Mary
congratulations on successful surgery!!

but where was the 80 degrees?
i re read your posts from beginning...i saw no mention of a large curve, though you wrote of leg
problems, nerve related problems, if i remember correctly...
your pre op X rays don't look like you had large curves...???

hope your recovery is entirely smooth and your life becomes pain free!

jess

titaniumed
02-13-2012, 07:03 PM
Wow! Your L3 area went from looking really bad, to looking pretty good. That had to have been extremely painful before your surgery....

Ed

mdtaffet
02-13-2012, 08:28 PM
hi Mary
congratulations on successful surgery!!

but where was the 80 degrees?
i re read your posts from beginning...i saw no mention of a large curve, though you wrote of leg
problems, nerve related problems, if i remember correctly...
your pre op X rays don't look like you had large curves...???

hope your recovery is entirely smooth and your life becomes pain free!

jess

Jess,

I don't know, but I'm guessing that a more recent image closer to the 01/23 surgery would have shown a larger curve. I know it degenerated quite a bit between September and January.

My lumbar curve progressed from about 25 degrees in 2003 to about 42 degrees in 2011, but that's all I know. I think the thoracic curve progressed from 19 degrees to 22 degrees or something like that between 2010 and 2011.

But the surgical fellow most definitely stated something related to 80 degrees, though he was pointing to the outside of the lumbar curve instead of the inside of the lumbar curve when he did so. And he definitely stated that very few doctors would have attempted this type of surgery on me due to the "extreme curvature" (his words, not mine). He might just have been referencing the other pool of spine surgeons here in Syracuse, or he may have been making a more general comment, but I can't say for sure.

Fortunately my pain level decreased substantially after the dressing came off on Thursday; it had been pulling the skin between my shoulders so tight that I was in a lot of pain every evening, and ended up dealing with two separate bouts of constipation because of that. Now I've backed off on the medication again (the first time because I almost ran out), this time because I don't need it as much.

My big problem right now is sleeping; I can't sleep for more than an hour or two at a time. Right now I can only sleep on my right side, and that's not comfortable through the entire night. It puts a lot of pressure on both my right hip and my right shoulder. A mattress topper wouldn't really help me at all with that.

I'm considering getting either a bed wedge set, so that I can be on my back but not flat, or a zero gravity recliner, in the hopes that one of those two options would allow me to sleep more soundly. My husband wakes up almost every time I wake up now (even though he put a flashlight on the walker so that I no longer have to turn my bedside lamp on every time I get up), and it's not fair of me to wake him up 4 to 6 times every night. We didn't even have to do that when our son was a baby.

Yes, I had a huge problem with neurogenic claudication (leg pain caused by pinched nerves) prior to surgery. We went to the closest mall on Saturday and I went walking there with the walker. I was able to walk about 2/3rds of the entire mall; before surgery, I would have had to stop after the first store or two and go back to the car.

Currently I have very numb feet (both -- as if somebody else's feet were attached to me rather than my own -- it's really weird), and a very weak right foot/leg. My right foot and leg have about 60% to 80% of the strength I currently have in my left leg. I find that interesting, since my left leg was my problem leg before surgery. The surgical fellow tells me that this is most likely the result of a combination of (a) nerves that were previously chronically pinched and chronically shortened now needing to be longer, and (b) nerves that had to be moved aside to allow them to inert the cages in the front of my spine from the back. The fellow tells me that nerves tend to complain loudly when they have to deal with this type of interference, and that this should improve over time. I hope he's right.

The other possibility he mentioned was a screw pinching a nerve, but he said I would probably be in a lot of pain, or have no right foot movement at all if that was the case.

My next checkup is on April 5th; I hope that this numbness/weakness subsides by then.

-- Mary

jrnyc
02-13-2012, 10:30 PM
well, i am glad your spine looks so good now, no matter what size the curves were before...
i hope the nerve issues resolve with time...
i had a nerve in my right foot die...after foot surgery...years ago....
hurt so bad i cannot describe it,...nerves scream when they die...not aloud, but from the inside....
demerol shots every x number of hours barely helped the pain!
and from my scoli and related problems, i know what nerve pain can be like....so it would be great
if your surgeon can figure out a way to help the nerves heal faster...& the numbness to go away...

i hope that you can find a way to get more sleep...sleeplessness makes everything harder, no matter
what is going on....
i have a gravity free chair....it is great, but i don't know that i could sleep in it...
maybe with a lot of pillows....
Relax the Back is a good store to visit, if/when you are up to it...

sending you thoughts and prayers that you feel better every day....
jess

mdtaffet
02-18-2012, 10:39 PM
Wow! Your L3 area went from looking really bad, to looking pretty good. That had to have been extremely painful before your surgery....

Ed

Ed,

Sorry, didn't see your reply before now.

My big trouble spot was L3/L4 and L4/L5, though when they did the nerve conduction study, they identified only L5 as being "suspicious" in terms of nerve compression. I had severe disk degeneration there.

And yes, it was very painful, and getting worse and worse as the days went by. Especially once I started having to drive an hour each way to work back last September (the day after the before X-rays as a matter of fact), and had to start walking through a very large building with very long hallways every day. During that contract, my daily step count increased from an average of 1,000 when I was working at home to an average of 6,000 in that big building with long hallways. That's what finally drove me to request a temporary handicap parking permit -- so I could park as close as possible to the building. And as my surgery drew near, my hip started catching on my ribs just about every time I stood up. It was very uncomfortable, as was the drive.

While I'm looking forward to getting back to work some day, I'm not really looking forward to resuming that long drive and long walk everyday.

Hopefully before I get released to drive and to go back to work, I'll have found a solution to my sleeping problem.

-- Mary

rohrer01
02-18-2012, 11:59 PM
I know that I replied that your "after" x-rays look great, which they do. I didn't comment on the "before". I'm surprised that you were even able to stand. It doesn't look like a typical case of scoliosis to me. It looks like you lost all stability in your lumbar and they just jumbled up, like kids blocks when they fall. I can't imagine the pain that caused and yet you continued to work. That's totally amazing!

mdtaffet
02-19-2012, 12:10 PM
I know that I replied that your "after" x-rays look great, which they do. I didn't comment on the "before". I'm surprised that you were even able to stand. It doesn't look like a typical case of scoliosis to me. It looks like you lost all stability in your lumbar and they just jumbled up, like kids blocks when they fall. I can't imagine the pain that caused and yet you continued to work. That's totally amazing!

Yes, it was very painful. I started feeling the pain in December 2003, but it was somewhat intermittent at that point. By late 2006, it was becoming much more constant. By summer of 2008, I started having the early symptoms of neurogenic claudication, which were at their absolute worst in February/March 2009, when it was excruciating to pick up my left leg high enough off the ground to move my left foot forward one step.

I had constant pain from about 2007 on, every minute of every day. Colder days were always somewhat worse, so the winters were more difficult than the summers.

When I first saw the surgeon in February 2011, he told me that my spine was collapsing. I assume that this explained why my curve increased from about 25 to 27 degrees in 2007 to 42 degrees by September 2011. The surgeon hinted that it might be possible for my spine to snap completely at some point due to the continuing degeneration, which played a big part in my decision to go ahead with the surgery -- that and the progressing curve. I knew that surgery would be inevitable, and decided to go ahead and get it out of the way rather than continue to let things progress to an even worse state when I would be much older and less able to handle the surgery and recovery.

Yes, I continued to work until Friday 1/20, with the surgery on the following Monday. But I was very uncomfortable every minute of every day I spent working. Sometimes the work would take my mind off the pain, but generally it didn't.

When I saw one of the best chiropractors in town in January 2010, she was amazed that I was even able to walk at all.

Hopefully that constant back pain is mostly behind me now. I haven't felt any of those same symptoms since the surgery.

Part of the reason that I somehow managed to tolerate the pain is that the back pain was the third painful condition I'd had to deal with since the late 1980's. First was foot problems -- plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and heel bursitis, which caused great problems for me from January 1989 through at least sometime in 1992. Then after a really bad fall on the ice in January 1993, where I landed on my butt with my right arm stretched out behind me, I had a constant battle with shoulder pain for several years; it was eventually diagnosed as Fibromyalgia. I was out of work on disability for at least 2 to 3 months after that fall, because it was too painful to use the computer keyboard that was a necessary part of my job at that time. I started taking an NSAID pain reliever in 1989 for the foot problems, and it then expanded to cover my shoulder problems. That medication probably helped with the back pain initially. I had to go off the medication for a short time while participating in a clinical trial for Fibromyalgia, and my pain level in my back increased dramatically during those 6 weeks.

Another condition which has bothered me 24/7 since March 2004 is tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but that one doesn't cause actual pain.

I'm just glad that at least one of my chronic issues has now been addressed with this surgery.

Fortunately the foot and shoulder pain haven't yet returned after having to stop the NSAID medication in preparation for this surgery and now the fusion process itself. I'm hoping that they don't start up again, because I won't really be able to do anything to help them in the short run as the NSAID is contraindicated at this point in time.

-- Mary

rohrer01
02-19-2012, 02:12 PM
Wow, what a story. I'm sorry to hear that you have all these other issues. I can only take NSAIDS very intermittently, as I've been on them since I was a kid and they have taken their toll on my stomach. I can only usually get away with one dose before my stomach pain returns. I had an ulcer in 1998 and ever since then my tummy is just so sensitive. That leaves me not many choices when it comes to pain meds. I hope you continue to heal and not have those former issues return. It could be the current pain meds that are holding them at bay, but at least you have relief for now. Take care!

GOE
02-20-2012, 01:33 PM
Hello Mary -

Can you please share how you were able to upload your pics onto the forum. I was checking my settings and I assume I do not have permission to do this cos when I look at my settings it does not have the permission to upload attachments checked.

I think I only posted once on the forum before my surgery cos I was sooo pertified about getting this surgery and deluded myself into thinking that if I stayed silent it would all dissappear and I would not have to do it. I was however always greatly encouraged by pples before and after pics cos it made it all seem so real and made me feel I could actually do this. Now that it is behind me I would like to hopefully encourage someone else that way by sharing my before and after pic but can't seem to figure out how to do that.

Thanks for your help and sending healing thoughts your way !

mdtaffet
02-20-2012, 04:19 PM
Hello Mary -

Can you please share how you were able to upload your pics onto the forum. I was checking my settings and I assume I do not have permission to do this cos when I look at my settings it does not have the permission to upload attachments checked.

I think I only posted once on the forum before my surgery cos I was sooo pertified about getting this surgery and deluded myself into thinking that if I stayed silent it would all dissappear and I would not have to do it. I was however always greatly encouraged by pples before and after pics cos it made it all seem so real and made me feel I could actually do this. Now that it is behind me I would like to hopefully encourage someone else that way by sharing my before and after pic but can't seem to figure out how to do that.

Thanks for your help and sending healing thoughts your way !

Look under "My Settings" > "General Settings" > "Miscellaneous Options" (down at the bottom of the list) > "Enhanced Attachment Uploading"; make sure that the "On" button is checked. I don't particularly remember choosing that setting, but that's how mine is set up. You might also need to have "Standard Editor -- Extra formatting controls" selected rather than "Basic Editor"; this is also under "Miscellaneous Options" on the same page.

Then all I did was click on the little paper clip icon to add an attachment, which I first had to upload. Alternatively, I could have selected the "Manage Attachments" button that shows up under "Additional Options" as I'm composing a message. The hardest part for me was figuring out which image icon was for which image, because I couldn't see the entire file name. I ended up using the sort options to place the images in the desired order before selecting them, since I couldn't really tell which image I had selected until after I had already selected it.

-- Mary