Ok first questions first...(and you thought the first email was long!)
Here is the whole story!
Well I was working as a welder on an assembly line and one day I had this horrific pain in my back and I found I couldn't lift anything anymore...I thought it was a pulled muscle and so did my doctor. So I took a week off of work and took some meds...no good...still couldn't function...so I had to take the rest of the month off and rest. At this point my insurance company stood up and told everyone they weren't paying me unless I enrolled in physio...no arguments here! I was going stir crazy at home! I don't think I have sat that still in years! Unfortunately, physio seemed to make things even worse. So at the end of the next month(physio completed)...my doctor is still calling it a pulled muscle and I am getting really worried...not to mention I am now in constant pain. So the insurance company once again rears it's head and says no more money unless I get a CAT scan and X-rays...my doctor was mad as H*ll...but he agreed finally. I had to wait 8 months to have the CAT done of course because I was a low priority...and the X-rays came back with nothing. So in the meantime, they tried to send me back to work and I made it 1 week on modified duties and then collapsed. So they yanked me out of work permanently this time!
Finally the CAT scan came back and showed 1 herniated disc. So I was referred out of town to an Orthopaedic Surgeon(we had a doctor shortage here)...that took another 8 months to come about...the surgeon finally saw us and said he didn't like the CAT...he wanted an MRI. Well another 6 months goes by--again. The MRI comes back finally. So we drive another hour out of town to see the surgeon...again. We had already discussed our options with him at the last meeting and he had told us that if it was just one disc we were going to do surgery and fix it...fine and dandy...back to work in 6 months! Whoo hoo!
So we show up for the appointment all optimistic(after this we knew better), he walked in...looked at us...said he was sorry but there were 5 affected discs and he put the succes rate at less than 60%...so he advised us to come back when I was in a wheelchair or couldn't take the pain anymore. He left the room while hubby and I sat there with our mouths hanging open!
Apparently I had a rather high pain threshold...I basically was a workaholic and slowly herniated discs until when I got to 5 it hurt enough that I had to stop finally.
The next five years I spent tracking down various surgeons in Canada that were doing clinical trials, or heading research into disc replacement, etc...they all just kept saying they were sorry but I had too many factors against me...too many discs, DDD, Facette degeneration, OA, the list goes on...and on...etc...
I never thought someone could be injured and NOT get the medical help they needed. The last doc at the Hamilton Ambulatory Spinal Clinic actually told me he wouldn't touch me with a 10 foot pole. Nice...
I was getting to the point that it was getting harder to stay mobile and any upright movement was horribly painful...the whole gamut of radiating pain etc...hamstring issues...I was only comfortable bending forward and even then I couldn't sit up very long...I started to spend more and more time in bed lying down and I was starting to worry that the docs were going to finally get their way...they kept telling me I would be in a wheelchair by Christmas of 2005...but I kept pushing and pushing...I didn't know if I was making it worse but I was trying so hard to kept some of my muscle tone...
At one point in 2004 the insurance company once again decided to get involved and enrolled me in a re-hab program that was touted as a "pain managment" program...honestly for muscle issues it would be great...for someone with herniated discs...it made me so bad I could no longer control my bladder functions...they just patted me on the shoulder and told me it was just muscles keep going...they also decided I was depressed and thought it would be a good idea to put me on Remeron...I went from being a normal sane person to honestly thinking about suicide for awhile...when I realized what was happening I contacted everyone and told them I had to stop the meds and they told me not to! They told me that the meds had a cumulative effect to just push through it! Seriously! I finally grew a backbone (so to speak) and put my foot down...I stopped the meds, quit the re-hab program and went back to searching for other surgeons! In the meantime I also found a new family doctor...the other one was still calling my back issue a pulled muscle...
The insurance wrote me of at this point and stopped offering me re-hab programs. I think I made them mad! lol
So long story much shorter than the real version...a racoon ate all the Koi in my pond! (no I haven't taken my Codone dose...yes it is related!)
I went to a guys house to buy some more Koi from him...his wife is a hair dresser and new a lady whose husband had just returned from India after spine surgery. Slowly my name got passed from person to person until this lady finally called me and we had a chance to talk together...they had seen a special on TV about a man that had gone to India and as her husband was immobile after a botched surgery in the US, they had nothing left to lose...she was afraid he might just give up because of the pain and off himself...so they contacted a program here in Canada that facilitates cross border surgeries and they set everything up...forwarded his files to India for approval etc... and finally they went. He just completed his last de-compression surgery this February just passed and he is now walking and driving again and in almost no pain whatsoever!!!
We sent my files with little or no hope of being approved since 9 doctors here already turned me down...but the surgeon who specializes in spinal disorders said it was a simple surgery and approved me for surgery. Great...now all we had to do was find the money! Our doctor refused to sign the OHIP papers for us because he didn't like the fact that we weren't waiting like the doctors here wanted...so we mortgaged the H*ll out of our house and booked the surgery anyway!
I left here on July 22nd...had the surgery on July 30th and was walking upright on the 31st! Seriously..they had me out of bed and walking the next day! I was taller, and they did it without bone grafting...there have been 6 papers written on the inadvisablility of grafting with bone and 2 have been written by this doctor! He does the surgeries and does an amazing job! (aside from the withdrawl!!) He is such a dynamic person...he walks in the room and just sucks all the air out of you! He is aggressive and confident...looks a bit too much like an Indian version of Eugene Levy...but that is another topic for later!
He decided that the tests we had already had done weren't good enough...he looked at his assistant and told him he wanted a new MRI, CT, and 2 sets of X-rays, cardiology, hemetology, ECG...the tests go on! It was 6pm when I was admitted and spent literally the next 3 hours in one test or another so he could review everything when he started his shift at 9am the next day!
Considering I had to wait 8 months for any scheduled test here...I was stunned!
He was also the first doctor that was able to tell me exactly what was wrong with me...Spondlylithesis Grade1 at L4-5 and Degenerated Disc at L3-4.
I didn't need to have 4 discs removed and fusions done which is what they were saying here...he told me I was going to lose the L4-5 disc since it was completely gone and the bone had started to flake...but the next disc up was still alive but in bad shape...so they decided to do a TLIF L4-5 and Transition Fixation L3-4 (globus). The rest of the discs would righ themselves once the damaged discs were supported properly. So I lost the L4-5 disc and they pulled my spine back into place...spaced out the L4-5 disc space put a spacer in to keep the space and used pedicle screws to hold it in place...the next disc up had a Dynamic Knuckle added to space out the disc space while keeping the disc allowing it to re-generate without the pressure on it and screwed it in place...all without any bone grafts! And with the dynamic knuckle at the L3-4 I still have total mobility...only the L4-5 had to be fused permanently...the rest is completely flexible!
I only gave them 10 days post-surgery and then I told them I was flying back home on the 10th day...It was the longest I could give them...I had to get back home! I was gone a total of 21 days altogether...and I wanted to be back at my house!
Yeah...they wanted me to stay an additonal 6 days but I convinced the surgeon I was fine and he gave me my fit to fly papers...OK to be honest...in retrospect...about 2 hours into the return flight I wished to god I had kept my feet on the ground! LOL
But I made it back and I have been walking trying to build up my muscles again! I have had a few set backs here and there! I can't bend at the waist for 3 months, lift or twist...so I have pulled a few muscles here and there...but it is getting better and better each day...I had alot of neuro pain at first...the nerves were really upset once they were unpinched and had 7 years of B*tching to catch up on! lol But I literally have no pain...muscle yes...but no the pain that I had before the surgery. It is harder in a way because you know your normal pain so intimately...and then all of a sudden it is gone and there is pain from all different sources...but 3 weeks late it is heaven! I can handle what neuro pain there is and I have almost stopped the Codone now...I am down to 2.5mg every 4-6 hours...at least until I am able to walk a bit better...hopefully I'll be done by next week...I hope...
I did see my family doctor today and he asked me about weaning off of Oxycodone...he seems happy with my progress...I am frustrated that I seem to be eating miniscule flakes of this obnoxious drug and my body still craves it...I got good and mad the other day and stopped---again---I was twitching so bad that night I pulled the muscles in my back and have been on bed rest for the last 2 days...so he advised me to keep cutting the stupid pills in half and lengthening the time between doses...because as he tells me I am a drug addict now...<big sigh> I know I can't beat him to death...but is it against the law to poke him in the eye a bit?
He thinks it is funny that I seem to be taking forever to wean off...I mean it was only 7 years I was taking morephine...should be a cake walk right? <disgusted snorting> He's not getting jack for Christmas this year---not from me anyway!
So anyway that is the long story of why I finally gave up and started to look at India...honestly...except for the withdrawl...which I agree they could have handled much better it was a god send for us! I have 3 months to recover and let the back muscle sutures heal...then I have absolutely zero restrictions...NONE. In one year they tell me that it will be impossible to tell I ever had a back injury nevermind a spinal surgery!!! I used to be very active so I covered the full course of things I wanted to do...skating, skiing, rollercoasters, horseback riding, tobogganning! Whatever I want to do...I can do!
Why the hell didn't I hear about this 7 years ago while I was still hale and hearty and could have snapped back right after the surgery...and without the nasty meds???
This is a surgery they do 4-5 times a day in India...whereas the docs here do it 4-5 times a year. It isn't considered a high risk op either...it is a standard surgery!
The hospital wasn't the Ritz, it is pretty old but well cared for...it is India for Gods sake...we were in one of the larger cities...(we were at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai as that is the hospital that specializes in spinal issues)...but you are wheeled into the operating room and all the machines are top of the line...brand spanking new...I can honestly say that the day of the surgery as they wheeeled me to the OR I was totally peaceful...not a worry at all...with Dr. Hegde he doesn't leave room for worry...there just wasn't any...
Now if they could learn to work on the whole withdrawl thing! They HATE HATE HATE anelgesics...they don't prescribe them if they don't have to...so when people come in who have been on them for long term treatment...they consider the Western doctors here to be jerks...lol so they take you off of them..period...
With space and perspective...and knowing what I do know...I think I would have kept a few meds back (the 5 mg tabs) and let the rest go...just to stop the twitching and enough to allow me to eat and not get as horribly sick as i did...so to anyone who decides to go to India...keep this in mind! Keep a few for emergencies! LOL Or even better get your doctor to write you a letter asking them to wean you and set up a program for them to follow! They are very receptive to suggestions...who knows...it might work!
So I will continue to wean...but eventually I will have to deal with the last of the withdrawl since I can't keep mushing the tabs to flakes trying to cut them down! LOL My doctor is happy with the progress I have made so far...so I seriously doubt he will let me see anyone about this(no offense taken! ) ...I guess in the end I will have to suck it up and deal...it just depends how small I can cut the tablets in the meantime!! LOL
Post Edited (Runestonez) : 8/27/2009 10:24:04 PM (GMT-6)