Am I going down the proverbial rabbit hole?

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Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 12/21/2017 11:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Newbie here.... been reading posts and getting some great information from everyone, so thank you!

I'll try to make this not too, too long - but I apologize ahead of time! tongue

In Feb of 2014 I started experiencing a lot of lower back pain and was being treated by a chiropractor with very little success. about a month later I slipped on a tile floor with wet feet and landed on my lower back. To say my pain level went up - is an understatement. I got an MRI and found out I had a small fracture, spondolythesis, bulging discs, spinal stenosis and much more. My chiropractor wanted to treat my issues - I opted to have him not touch my back and go to a pain specialist. They began with injections, brace, multiple meds, etc. Ultimately, no relief at all.

I then felt I needed to take this a step further and went to see a neurosurgeon. I feel I went to the best I could find: Lead Trauma Neurosurgeon from Barrows Neurological Institute. He sent me for a CT and had my previous MRI and decided I needed a fusion of the L5-S1. I felt confident in his opinion and decided to move ahead with a TLIF. Long recovery, but my pain was gone!! turn

Move forward a year and a half and pain started up again. The strange new symptom was that if I was sitting on a hard surface or on a soft surface for an extended amount of time and go to stand up, it feels like someone is hitting me in the tailbone with a sledge hammer. This new symptom and all the previous ones (including pain shooting down the legs) keep growing and growing, so I decided to discuss it with my PM I was already seeing for venous insufficiency and knee pain. She started trying different injections, medications and even tested me for a nerve ablation (failed), brace, etc. After all that, she said I needed to go see my neurosurgeon again and see what he says.

I went to my same surgeon, who immediately sent me for a MRI and CT. After being back in the same pain level as before, it was no surprise when he said I was in need of another fusion. I have a pretty extensive curvature of my lower spine, resulting in my lower vertebrae in a vertical position, instead of the normal horizontal formation. He felt strongly this was the reason I was back in so much pain again - too much stress on the area above my previous fusion.

June 2017 I went in for a PLIF where they started with me on my back, put some spacers in the L4-L5 area and then flipped me over and continued the fusion of the same area. Recovery again was pretty brutal, including 5 months of physical therapy (aqua therapy is awesome!). This time I had zero relief. I took it easy as could be, including not driving for months, avoiding lifting, bending, etc, and definitely giving plenty of time for improvement.

As of today, I'm in constant pain even with pain meds, I literally dread every time I have to stand up because of that sledge hammer feeling, I can't stand for more than 15 SECONDS before my pain level becomes a solid 9-10, I can't reach out for something without the same kind of pain. My PM tried more meds, but I became a zombie and no quality of life (not that I'm having any as it is!). I sometimes sit there and cry because I'm so tired of hurting. I can't sit, stand, walk, bend, squat or even lay down for long periods with being in intense pain.

My Neuro send me for a new CT and discovered I have cysts on my L4 and my screws from the second fusion have come loose. I still have spondolythesis, narrowing of the forminal spaces, etc, etc, etc. So, my Neuro said he's so sorry I'm having these difficulties, but it looks like I need to have another TLIF and this time he wants to replace two of the screws with bigger ones and remove my rod in the L5-S1 and put in a longer one from L3-S1. I felt like I had just been hit by a semi truck. I know he has a strong reputation and I feel like I trust him - but JEEZ!!!

I went today for a second opinion (just to do my due diligence) and this Neurosurgeon completely agreed with my Neurosurgeon - except two things. First, he said he would never take on my case because of how bad it is (not that I was asking him to!) and second, he said he wouldn't touch me unless I lost some weight. I felt kicked in the teeth with the second comment. I KNOW I'm overweight!! But I can't lost any when I can't be active. I eat healthily 95% of the time, don't eat large amounts, etc. But I've tried and tried and the weight won't come off with diet alone. I KNOW my surgery would be easier if I weighed less.

So, here I sit, looking at a 3rd fusion, feeling beat up about my weight, wondering if I'm making a mistake doing this and not waiting until after trying gastric surgery and losing some weight. I'm currently on LTD, but they won't keep paying me if I decided to do gastric surgery (which takes MONTHS to go through the process before you're approved for the surgery). I don't know that I can keep going through this pain, but maybe the pain would decrease if I lost some weight and then don't need surgery after all. I feel like it's the chicken or the egg dilemma!

Anyone go through a situation like this? Either facing a 3rd surgery or having problems with weight because you've been battling back issues and can't keep active? Any wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16404
   Posted 12/22/2017 8:33 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello FranInMesa & welcome to the forum. I am so sorry to read about what you are dealing with. You have had a long battle in trying to get some relief.

Let me tell you what I know about the 3rd proposed surgery. When I was working I had a lot of contact with specialists, orthopedics & neurosurgeons in particular. Back then, this surgery was considered radical because it was new & not every dr would do them. I live in a very large city with some of the best drs around. Now they are more common, but again a big surgery. Knowing what I do about this surgery the drs that were doing surgery would not do this surgery on people over weight. I have seen them refuse to do a fusion on someone over weight because the odds of having a successful surgery without a lot of complications were not in favor of the patient.

I would think as long as your drs state you are unable to work as a result of your back condition your LTD should continue to pay benefits. As a matter of fact, I don't understand why the drs cannot recommend a gastric sleeve surgery to help with your back problems. Just my thoughts.

My husband had the sleeve done it will be 2 years this March. It put some years back on his life. His cardiologist recommended it. He is diabetic with a many serious health issues. The sleeve has helped in many ways for his health. He was considered morbidly obese if that tells you anything. He was not always over weight but had some health issues that changed his life style & over time the weight piled on. Yes, it took him 6 months to do the process to have surgery plus his dr requires people to lose some weight prior to the surgery. A very strict protocol, its not a quick fix.

You are in a tough spot & only you can make the decision on what path to take. I do think you need to sit down & discuss this in detail with your surgeon. Take care.
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

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Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 7720
   Posted 12/22/2017 12:28 PM (GMT -6)   
I was having great difficulty loosing weight even while being active -- tried everything I could think of with no results. Finally I wandered into a Weight Watchers meeting and almost immediately started loosing weight!!! With your back being such a huge issue, I would definitely consider WW before I'd think of any kind of weight-loss surgery.

Best wishes
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