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Thread: What if right now is as good as it gets!!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Palmer, Alaska
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    What if right now is as good as it gets!!!

    Hello! let me just say this site has helped me out alot! I had my surgery when i was fifteen, i'm now 31 and have one broken rod in the small of my back (CD intrumentation main curve 90+degrees now at 67). I was in a car accident last december and every since then i have'nt been able to work because of the pain. I've been going to a pain clinic which helps a little. My doctor is Dr. Eule in Anchorage Alaska, When i saw him he told me my lower fusion did not take and i need to have all my metal taken out of my back and new stuff put in! At first i was totally against having surgery but Dr Eule explained to me my back is progresssing at about two degrees a year and its just a matter of time. My question is if my main curveture is solid and fused...why would it still progress? And also if i had the surgery would it keep me pain free or would it be a big mistake! What if right now is as good as it gets! Well i'm slowly getting up the courage to have it done, I just know that when the time comes to have it done thats when the true decision will come out!!! I might just get up and run! Anyone who as ever had it done knows why!!! MY last question is has pain medication after surgery gotten better since fifteen years ago? Sorry to ramble, and i see alot of strong people in here so dont take me as a complainer.....just frustrated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    Northern California
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    Hi Alaskan...

    Your fusion probably isn't solid in at least one spot, otherwise your rod would not have broken.

    Your questions are good ones, but unfortunately no one has the answers. As you know, although there is a good chance that surgery will provide some pain relief, there are no guarantees. And, there's no way of knowing if your pain will get worse (or better for that matter) without surgery.

    I'm in a relatively similar spot, trying to figure out if additional surgery is in my future. Like you, I ask myself almost every day... "what if it never gets better than today?" I will tell you one thing that I learned recently. C-D rods cannot easily be removed. The rods are locked down onto the hooks, and there's no unlocking mechanism. To remove the rods, they have to be cut between the hooks, and pried out. My surgeon has tried using extension pieces instead of removing the C-D rods, but has had implant failures in every case.

    Regarding pain medication, I think it has gotten a LOT better. When I had my surgery (in 92), I was on morphine for the first 5 or 6 days, then on tylenol with codeine. It didn't have any impact on my pain. Today, both IV and oral narcotics are much better.

    Best of luck with your decision.

    Regards,
    Linda
    Last edited by LindaRacine; 08-10-2005 at 04:39 PM.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2005
    Location
    Palmer, Alaska
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    Linda thank you so much for your advice! It really means alot to have someone know exactly what your going through! I get so tired of people telling me positive things about having it done! What else is someone going to say to you? maybe " your making a huge mistake" maybe after the surgery your really going to be messed up..I have had a bad feeling about having surgery, but my doctor made it sound like i would only live for another 15 years if i did'nt have the operatiion. I feel like i'm the only one dealing with this! My friends get tired of hearing it, i guess i dont need them to say anything, just listen! Well good luck with you Linda! And i would really like to keep hearing from you.... sincerely "in the same boat".

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    NJ
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    1,291

    dilemma

    I faced the prospect of revision at age 60, 3 years ago. It IS scary but based on my good general health and definite future worsening I opted for revision. I figured if God was going to give me 20 more years I didn't want my spine causing disability and pain.

    My un-instrumented fusion, originally done when I was 14, weakened over my adult life, allowing my curves to double.

    I was glad I had the revision and am pain free. It sounds like your doctor has given you realistic advice. My surgeon warned me it would get worse. I had no trouble believing him because it had already worsened.

    Karen
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    913
    Hi Alaskan, I know all too well what you mean about people surrounding you who don't quite understand, and doctors as well. Fortunatley m husband and parents do and I lean on them I myself am now stuck with a broken rod(I'm 34), after 7 years post surgery and have decided to get surgery, but we still have to discuss what will be done, if they take it all out, replace it or what I want them to do is take out the lower part that is broken so that this sharp pain and clicking(grinding, crunching ) is taken care of.

    Linda, how can I know if my rods are CD rods like you mentioned? I had surgery in '97, with Titanium rods.

    As for pain meds, Morphine didn't help in both my surgeries and Tylenol with codeine not much either. I was on Empracet(codeine med) for about a month after surgery. It helped a lot, but is addictive and that's why I wasn't on it for too long.

  6. #6
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    Sweetness...

    The easiest way is to request a copy of your surgical report. They'll also be listed on your hospital bill.

    --Linda

  7. #7
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    Apr 2005
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    Being from Canada, I don't have a bill but I will ask my ortho at my next appointment next month, but one of my orthos said it is a Titanium "Harrington" rod that is like you said, used as a term like Kleenex. Don't know more for now.

  8. #8
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    Hi...

    I'm told that Harrington rods were never made out of titanium.

    Regards,
    Linda

  9. #9
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    Apr 2005
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    Oh ok, I'm confused now

    One X ray says Titanium and another said Harrington(even if I know it isn't), but the ortho had said they were Titanium. Will make sure to ask if they're C-D rods.

  10. #10
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    Sweetness...

    I don't think they can tell from x-ray whether the implants are SS or titanium.

    Anyway, your implants could be C-D, or one of about a dozen similar types of implant.

    Regards,
    Linda

  11. #11
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    Mar 2005
    Location
    Palmer, Alaska
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    I would also like to add....when i was 20 i was involved in a fist fight during which i was shoved into a corner of a couter top! The next couple of days i felt alota pain in the area where i was hit (was backed into a corner had to defend myself)....could that be the cause of why it broke. Will your back naturally progress over time? I just dont want to have surgery and i'm almost to the point of taking this contraption to the grave! Please dont get me wrong i'm a very strong person and have always done well for myself (better than healthy people) I just currently was awarded ss disability and am due a pretty good settlement from my insurance company. I just want to make the right decision!!!! Chris

  12. #12
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    No Chris, an impact can't break a rod. The rod breaks because when there's an area of non-fusion, the rod is flexed a tiny amount at the same spot, over and over again. Just like a paperclip, the rod may eventually break.

    --Linda

  13. #13
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    Mar 2005
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    Palmer, Alaska
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    Linda,

    That makes sense, thank you for resonding!

  14. #14
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    Apr 2005
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    Hey Chris, I couldn't help but chuckle when you said how positive people are about surgeries...I myself did go in the hospital at the age of 18 to get my first surgery but backed out at the last minute and waited until my curve was almost 60 and I was in constant pain, since I wasn't before until I was 25. It was a good decision since I had a very active life before surgery where after surgery, I've had major ups and downs. Of course everybody told me that surgery would solve everything and they're now stunned at all the complications that can occur especially breakage of rods. But you know, you only know what's best for you and we all decide personally just how much pain we're willing to take, as well as the situation is not all black and white, like anything in life

    Anyway, take it easy and it's nice to hear from people that I feel understand and are going through a similar situation

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    19
    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskan
    MY last question is has pain medication after surgery gotten better since fifteen years ago? Sorry to ramble, and i see alot of strong people in here so dont take me as a complainer.....just frustrated.
    One thing to consider. My doctor has encouraged me to take as little narcotic pain medication before surgery as possible because it makes it much more difficult to control the pain after surgery. So, if you can find a non-narcotic pain med (I take Ultram) or some other form of pain management that works fairly well (also use a TENS unit) if/when you decide to have surgery, it should be easier to manage your pain afterwards.

    Hope you get some answers soon!

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