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Thread: My first St. Louis consultation with Dr. Buchowski

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Grove City, OH
    Posts
    275

    My first St. Louis consultation with Dr. Buchowski

    Dear Forum Friends,

    Rick (husband) & I met with Dr. Buchowski today - Dr. Lenke referred me to him.

    Deep breath - surgery has been scheduled for St. Patrick's Day, 2014!

    The appointment went smoothly. I didn't have any 'down time' from xrays to interns to dr to nurse to more xrays. Dr. B is going to be more aggressive than my Columbus surgeon. He will fuse from T3 or T4 to the sacrum.

    I had an extensive list of questions (from reading this forum) that were answered & I never felt rushed. I don't like the part about staying in St. Louis for 3-4 weeks after surgery, but if that's what it takes, we'll figure it out.

    I'm scared & I'll be on here a lot more often in the next few months! It helps to know how others have handled recovery. I appreciate everyone's openness.
    Peg
    61 yrs old
    75 degree lumbar curve with thoracic kyphosis
    T3 - S1 surgery with Dr. Buchowski in St. Louis, on 10/27/14
    Working on healing in Columbus, Ohio!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    570
    Peggy, setting the date is the hardest part. At least it was for me. Deciding to pull the plug and move forward with this surgery was emotionally harder then a recovery.

    We are all here for you - ask all the questions you have and congratulations on taking this important step!
    I am stronger than scoliosis, and won't let it rule my life!
    45 years old - diagnosed at age 7
    A/P surgery on March 5/7, 2013 - UCSF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Warsaw, MO
    Posts
    373
    Exciting! Setting the date is like a relief of finally making a set decision/plan! Now I found the waiting to be the hardest part because our minds begin to roam with too much. Good luck! I will be praying!
    Tamena
    Diagnosed at age 12 with a double major curve

    Braced till age 15

    SSBOB T12-L2 Anterior age 34. (October 22,2012) Dr. Robert Gaines Jr. ( Columbia, MO)

    Revision Surgery T2-Sacrum with Pelvic Fixation Prosterior age 35 (November 13,2013) Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, MO)

    Revision Surgery L4/L5 due to BMP Complication age 36 (November 20,2014) Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, Mo)

    Revision Surgery due to broken rod scheduled for October 19, 2016 with Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, MO)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Columbia, SC
    Posts
    75
    Glad you have set a date. I had surgery with Dr. Lenke in July of 2012 at age 67. I was fused from T4-sacrum and had a 68 degree lumbar curve. I have had a very good uneventful recovery. I stayed in the hospital for one week after surgery and then in the adjoining hotel for one more week and then flew home to SC. Perhaps you won't have to stay any longer than that after your surgery.
    Jane

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    3,261
    Peg, there are many of us T4 - Sacrum fusions here, and as far as I can remember, we're all doing great! So will you. The waiting's the worst. Keep busy, exercise if you can, let time fly by and before you know it, you'll be healing. Ask as many questions as come into your head. The more you know, the more comfortable you'll be with the prospect of this surgery.
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,690
    Peg,
    Setting the date for surgery had mixed emotions for me. First, the reality of it terrified me but also excited me. I was looking forward to the possibility that I would no longer have to worry about the progression of my curve and would actually be able to no longer be self conscious of my crooked back and rib hump. I never talked about to any of my close friends about my scoliosis until the date was set. I was absolutely terrified and worried about my decision for surgery for 13 months while waiting for the scheduled date. I prepared myself for surgery by getting in the best physical condition possible. I also was constantly asking questions on the forum and reading David Wolpert's book and other books to educate myself a little more about the surgery. It was by far the best decision of my life. I was fused by Dr. Lenke on January 5, 2011 from T4 to sacrum. My 3 year anniversary will be on January 5, 2014. I am doing absolutely everything I could possibly want to do and with no pain. After almost 3 years, I still occasionally have someone comment on my improved appearance since surgery. Don't hesitate to ask your questions on this forum. The people on the forum were unbelievably supportive of me and everyone else going through this. In my signature, there is a video of my first swing on the golf course after spinal fusion. I wasn't allowed to play for a year, but I am back to close to 100% since the surgery and swinging better now. I never would have believed it possible.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Grove City, OH
    Posts
    275

    Smile Thanks!

    I really appreciate all of the encouragement & hearing about how others felt after 'setting the date'.

    I'm trying to wrap my mind around how I'll be moving, sitting & sleeping differently. Right now, my pain is manageable, however I've noticed a major decrease in stamina when it comes to walking without leaning on a shopping cart for more than 5 minutes. Also, standing in line for more than a minute or two is intolerable. I've known this surgery would be in my future for the past 9 or so years, but I keep thinking I would be satisfied to be in my present condition for the rest of my life. When I face reality, that 'present' condition keeps deteriorating . . . So, it's time.
    Peg
    61 yrs old
    75 degree lumbar curve with thoracic kyphosis
    T3 - S1 surgery with Dr. Buchowski in St. Louis, on 10/27/14
    Working on healing in Columbus, Ohio!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Grove City, OH
    Posts
    275
    Quote Originally Posted by golfnut View Post
    In my signature, there is a video of my first swing on the golf course after spinal fusion. I wasn't allowed to play for a year, but I am back to close to 100% since the surgery and swinging better now. I never would have believed it possible.

    Karen,

    The key part for me, of your golf swing video, was watching you pick up the ball afterward!

    I'll be re-reading David Wolpert's book. It was very helpful the 1st time through.
    Peg
    61 yrs old
    75 degree lumbar curve with thoracic kyphosis
    T3 - S1 surgery with Dr. Buchowski in St. Louis, on 10/27/14
    Working on healing in Columbus, Ohio!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    El Centro, CA & Baja California, Mexico
    Posts
    193

    My 1st anniversary is end of November 2014

    Some suggestions based on my experience.
    1. Make sure the insurance approves the procedure because in my case, they denied at first and my date got cancelled and Dr Bridwell had to appeal after I put the 'guilt' on him that if he gives up on me then there will be no one capable of helping me. I investigated the doctor who denied the case; a pediatrician working for the insurance.

    2. We rented an apt ( 2 months ) across the street from Barnes Jewish for various reason.
    a. we had maxed out on deductible from our insurance thus the whole thing was covered
    b. our youngest is a PhD research candidate at WashU thus I would see her daily
    c. locally convenient - however expensive (winter time) but the kitchen is important
    d. was at the hospital for 10 days because the bowels would not function
    But, getting a place is important because we live south of the California border by the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Travelling was not easy even now for over 2 hours trips. You will never know how you will tolerate the ride unlike many others who do just fine right after the surgery.

    3. I was able to walk the hallways constantly during the first 6 wks and that helped me recover and rid of medications.

    Good luck, I am painless since day 1 concerning my back pains. There are other issues but we all have to share the suffering one way or another, I guess.
    Gardenia
    Baja California, Mexico & El Centro, Ca
    pre-surgery 75 and 89 - post ?
    Dr. Bridwell Nov 27, 2012 @Barnes Jewish @62yrs
    T11 to Sacrum Dural leak at L2 & L3 ccmail4g@gmail.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,690
    Peg,
    Before surgery, I had thought that I could live with what little pain I had as long as it didn't increase too much. I could identify with what you said about leaning on a cart or standing in a line. Funny, I could play golf and walk without pain, but could barely stand to go shopping or stand in a line. Since my surgery, I feel like I could stand for an hour and it wouldn't bother me. I was 60 at the time of my surgery so we are close in age. I will send you a PM with my email.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,525
    Setting the date brings surgery from the hypothetical "maybe surgery would be a good idea, and maybe I will do that in the future" to the concrete reality of "a surgeon is going to cut on my back on ....days in the future and all of the things that I want AND fear will come true".

    Like everyone before me has said, it is difficult to wrap your head around having an actual date. Wolpert's book is great except somewhere where he says that older persons should not have surgery. He is behind the times and I was going to send him a note about that. There is a study about older persons and surgery and they compare QOL (quality of life) among the group that chose to have surgery and those that did not. The older persons that actually had surgery were significantly (statistically) more functional and happier and in much less pain at a point in the future than he people that did not have surgery.

    Feel free to read my entire thread of my experience. I remember spending so much time going through the thread "I wish that I did not have surgery" or whatever it says. I spent more time initially there instead of looking at the happy group. I worry that I would be posting there. I worried that I might die and then I worried about being more disabled. I worried and I worried. Way too much time on the dark side. You need to decide when you are going to STOP reading the bad outcomes thread. I finally stopped.

    Then, I saw a older woman in the X-ray department as if she had been planted there for me to see. She was humped over and could barely walk. I wanted to take a picture of her and write the caption, "Susan wake up, this is you in 10 years".

    As far as needing to stay in St. Louis for weeks after surgery, looks like you are feeling ok about that. It is what it is. You do what you need to do. I spent 6 weeks at my son's house near San Francisco, so I was lucky that I had relatives near my surgeon. I could have gone back to Home earlier, but I chose to stay until my 6 week checkup.

    I asked far more questions than I should have from my doctor, but she was very patient. She gave me all the time that I needed. I wanted reassurance and I got some of that. What i realized is that i wanted her to say that i would be as happy as i am about having the surgery and that almost all of my pain would be gone. Of course, she would not say that, but somehow i wanted her to say that. I wanted to just relax and have trust in the surgeon, and that finally came to me 2 weeks before the surgery. Like you, I only saw my surgeon once before setting the date. I thought about flying down to SF and meeting with her again, but I decided that it was OK not to, but did meet with her the day before the surgery.

    Everyone here is very willing to answer all of your questions here and I have not found anyone who was not willing to give me his or her phone number and I called a couple of people. That was very helpful. Send a PM to someone to you want to talk to.

    We are here for you. Waiting is awful. I spent more time in dread than in celebration of the life that I could have. I am happy with my results, and will post in that column after 1year.

    Take a deep breath, keep a journal of your feelings and pain. That was helpful for me as postop, I forgot how I felt when I was limited before surgery.

    I started a thread with the dates of my surgery and surgeon and posted there frequently in addition to asking specific questions in starting other threads. You might want to do that as it became my diary in addition to everyone remembering my dates. I received such wonderful entries from my friends on the forum when i had surgery which my husband read and posted on while I was in the hospital. It was so touching to read now that Jennifer was going to be away for 4 days or so, and would not be able to read how I was doing. I am in a group of wonderful friends! Thank you everyone again!

    Again, we are here for you and will answer any question that you have either on or off line from"how do you have sex afterwards" to "how do I put on my socks". This group is awesome!

    Good luck with your journey. Susan
    Last edited by susancook; 10-25-2013 at 02:07 PM. Reason: Can't ever seem to get it right the first time!
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    570
    Hi Peg,

    I can also relate to how I could not stand still for more than five minutes or so. I needed to lean on a shopping card while standing in line. I remember first time when I went grocery shopping with my husband after the surgery at about 2 or 2.5 months. We stood in a line and I thought: "Something is missing, something is missing, what is that?" and then I realized that I was standing straight and tall WITHOUT leaning on a shopping card. The leaning part was missing. That was a very liberating feeling! Think positive thought and try not to second-guess yourself. Once you set the date and if you have trust in your doctor, do not look back. Good luck!
    I am stronger than scoliosis, and won't let it rule my life!
    45 years old - diagnosed at age 7
    A/P surgery on March 5/7, 2013 - UCSF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,525
    Quote Originally Posted by Irina View Post
    Hi Peg,

    I can also relate to how I could not stand still for more than five minutes or so. I needed to lean on a shopping card while standing in line. I remember first time when I went grocery shopping with my husband after the surgery at about 2 or 2.5 months. We stood in a line and I thought: "Something is missing, something is missing, what is that?" and then I realized that I was standing straight and tall WITHOUT leaning on a shopping card. The leaning part was missing. That was a very liberating feeling! Think positive thought and try not to second-guess yourself. Once you set the date and if you have trust in your doctor, do not look back. Good luck!
    Amen, sister! Have trust and do not look back!
    Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Warsaw, MO
    Posts
    373
    Gardenia,

    What is the trick for getting insurance companies to approve the BMP?

    Tamena
    Diagnosed at age 12 with a double major curve

    Braced till age 15

    SSBOB T12-L2 Anterior age 34. (October 22,2012) Dr. Robert Gaines Jr. ( Columbia, MO)

    Revision Surgery T2-Sacrum with Pelvic Fixation Prosterior age 35 (November 13,2013) Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, MO)

    Revision Surgery L4/L5 due to BMP Complication age 36 (November 20,2014) Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, Mo)

    Revision Surgery due to broken rod scheduled for October 19, 2016 with Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, MO)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Columbia, SC
    Posts
    75
    My insurance company did cover the cost of the BMP for my surgery with Dr. Lenke but before we knew whether they would or not we were told that if they didn't that the hospital there would absorb the cost.
    Jane

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