Posts Tagged ‘back relief’
email@example.com Twitter @kathleenmosko
I thought I’d engage my readership in this post…. here’s the deal….
I have two trains of thoughts about the issue of injury pain vs surgical pain…. I can give you the short, more “clinical” view of these two issues, or, I can give you the long, personal journey version which may include as many as three posts to get to it all.
I started writing the long, personal version and then I had the thought that maybe some of you may only be interested in the shorter, “clinical” version. So, I’m throwing it out there to you…
YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO VOTE
SHORT, “CLINICAL” VIEW OF THE TWO ISSUES?
THE LONG, MORE PERSONAL VERSION OF THE TWO ISSUES?
HERE’S WHERE THEY WILL DIFFER…
IF I do the short version, I will do a little research, (all online stuff, which you can obviously do for yourself) and I’ll limit my comments to just what I’ve experienced in a clinical sense according to what that research exposes.
IF I do the long version, you’re gonna have to get a cup or two of coffee and suffer through maybe as many as three different posts as I give you my background as to how I came about to have the pain, how it affected me and how I dealt with it until I was surgically fixed and what the effects of each have been in accordance with each procedure.
I’LL KEEP VOTING OPEN UNTIL MIDNIGHT SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2012 WHEN, AT THAT TIME I WILL COUNT UP ALL THOSE WHO COMMENTED ON THIS WEBSITE POST. THIS IS THE ONLY PORTAL I’LL TAKE VOTES ON.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE INPERATIVE FOR ME TO KEEP SCORE ON THIS…. AND I’LL HAVE A SCORECARD BY MY COMPUTER TO ADD A MARK FOR YOUR VOTE.
On Monday, the 16th, I’ll start my research if it is the short version vote that wins or if it’s the long version, I will post the first installment by Monday evening…
So make a comment, let me know what you think… what type of writing do you want to see me doing on this very important subject?
VOTE BY ENTERING A COMMENT!
This should be fun for me, I hope it’s fun for you!
in the meantime, take care of you and yours!
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @kathleenmosko
I normally get up around 3:30 am and the first thing I do is feed my baby bunny, Candi. Now that Skittles is gone she needs some additional loving and reassurances that her routine, the one she had when Skittles was alive will still be in tact. So I keep to my schedule. The second thing I do is check my emails before I go to my website to read and allow all the comments that you post overnight.
I was delayed this morning because I awoke to a very disturbing email. Not that the author of the email sent anything bad, it was the content of his email that just flat out has PISSED ME OFF!
Remember a couple of posts ago when I told you all about the insurance company that denied one of Dr. Smith’s patients the opportunity to have this life-changing minimally invasive surgery? WELL, IT’S HAPPENED AGAIN! AND WITH A DIFFERENT PATIENT AND DIFFERENT INSURANCE COMPANY!
So, as usual, before I go off half-cocked, I did some additional research… yes, I know, maybe it’s overkill but it’s the latest information and it’s definitely cutting edge stuff… pardon the pun… I found the perfect explanation in a video offered by NuVasive, the corporation that manufactured the hardware that’s in my body.
I searched other companies, giving them a fair opportunity to post their stuff here, anything that was even remotely updated… the best I could find was a few things from 2007… if it’s out there, it’s well hidden… so not that I’m trying to be partial, it’s just that THIS information was the most up to date I could find!
Click on this web link below and watch this video about the insurance companies and the developments and technology of minimally invasive procedures.
PLEASE WATCH THE WHOLE THING!
SHARE IT WITH ANYONE YOU KNOW!
THE NEXT PERSON NEEDING A MINIMALLY INVASIVE PROCEDURE MAY BE YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE!
While I was reading the denial letter the patient shared with me from the insurance company, I read a passage from it that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end!
It was in reference to the patient and the guidelines he must follow in order to have surgery a consideration. I am quoting the text directly………:
Surgery is allowed only when….”The individual is a non-smoker, or in the absence of progressive neurological compromise, will refrain from smoking for at least 6 weeks prior to planned surgery… ” What happens to you if you’re in a car accident and need emergency surgery… just asking…?
THIS IS BECOMING THE STANDARD MANDATE FOR THOSE WHO NEED SURGERY ACCORDING TO INSURANCE COMPANY POLICIES. STOP SMOKING NOW! Don’t wait until you need surgery in an emergency and there’s no time for you to stop first. Insurance companies are looking to deny surgeries… and back surgery for a smoker is almost a given failure!
The writing is on the wall folks… between insurance companies flat out denying procedures that are life-changing with minimally invasive procedure to disallowing anyone who is a smoker access to surgery all together, changes HAVE TO BE MADE and in our favor! You have to remember, if it weren’t for us, the people who buy the insurance in the first place, there would be no need for insurance companies!
HERE’S A QUESTION FOR YOU… WHEN DID INSURANCE COMPANIES START TO RUN THE GOVERNMENT AND WALL STREET? OH, THAT’S RIGHT, RIGHT AFTER BIG PHARMA DECIDED WE SHOULD ALL BE ON SOME KIND OF DRUG SO THEY CAN BUMP UP THEIR BOTTOM LINE TO THEIR SHAREHOLDERS AND INSURANCE COMPANIES CAN BROADEN THEIR PROFIT MARGINS IN LIEU OF ALLOWING INDIVIDUALS TO HAVE MINIMALLY INVASIVE PROCEDURES.
PISSED??? YOU BET I AM… AND SO SHOULD EVERYONE ELSE BE!
The more people who know and understand this the more enlightened we’ll be when we go to the voting booths to cast our ballots for those we chose to represent us! Big Pharma and insurance companies pay a lot of money to lobbyists to make sure votes go a certain way in their favor… and wait a minute…. how do they get their paychecks too? On the backs of every working man and woman who struggle to have food on their table, a roof over their head, and health care good enough to cover catastrophic health issues, least they be denied coverage and die before a resolution is met.
GET MAD, MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT, CALL YOUR INSURANCE CARRIER AND KNOW YOUR COVERAGE BEFORE YOU NEED IT! MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR EVERYONE WHO NEEDS IT, FOR IT ONE DAY MAY BE YOU!!! FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW, AS ONE PERSON, OR A GROUP OF FRIENDS OR A CONGREGATION FROM CHURCH OR WORK… HELP RAISE AWARENESS FOR THESE IMPORTANT ISSUES! PLEASE, DO YOUR PART!
And as always, remember to take care of you and yours,
email@example.com Twitter @kathleenmosko
I thought I’d start the year off right by clearing up several issues that keep arising in the comment section.
Let me first preface this by saying: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! I APPRECIATE THE EFFORT YOU MAKE TO COMMENT AND GIVE ME POSITIVE FEEDBACK TO KNOW HOW I’M DOING! THIS IS WHAT KEEPS ME GOING! Thank you for all your compliments about my writing style, I smile each time I read such a wonderful compliment! One of my writing professors just passed away in July this past year and I’m sure she’s in heaven smiling too each time it’s posted!
That being said, here’s some things you may need to understand to fully appreciate this website.
AS LONG AS YOU ARE CITING ME, GIVING ME CREDIT FOR THE WRITING… YOU’RE MORE THAN WELCOME TO POST OR USE MY WRITING IN THINGS WHICH ARE APPROPRIATE TO DO SO.
I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE FOR THIS WEBSITE TO GO VIRAL SOON SO POEPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE CAN BENEFIT FROM THE USEFUL INFORMATION!
IF ANY OF MY READERS ARE IN THE MEDIA, OR HAVE FAMILY OR FRIENDS IN THE MEDIA, PLEASE, BY ALL MEANS, SHARE THIS WEBSITE WITH THEM AND LET THEM KNOW WHAT THE INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE UP TO AND HOW NEW TECHNOLOGY IS GROWING BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS IN THE FIELD OF NEUROSURGERY! THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS TO POSSIBLY HELP TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD FROM SUFFERING FROM BACK AND LEG PAIN! PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG!
I am writing this website as cliff notes for an upcoming memoir I’m doing so not all the gaps are filled in… You’ll just have to buy my book to get all the “juicy” stuff! LOL
I am ONE writer doing all the posting, I do not have help with my writing. I AM NOT LOOKING FOR GUEST WRITERS AT THIS TIME!
This is a closed website without anyone’s help for writing as it is MY story to tell. I understand that many of you want more information and to be a part of my website. However, I will only be entering posts which pertain directly with my life experiences as they pertain to my healing processes.
At some point I may open up an additional website with a forum later this year, but for now, know that this is only as an additional thought, and not to expand my present website.
It’s been hard for me to get all the writing done I have in my que waiting, so for me to be a part of any discussion group would take up every last minute I have. I am healed enough to finally get back on the merry-go-round of life and do some exciting new things. I need time during each day to do them. As I hone my writing skills, I’m getting better and quicker at saying precisely what I want to convey so I have extra time for me to do other things and not neglect this website!
I haven’t looked for any other discussion forums pertaining to these particular issues, but I’m sure they’re out there if you just keep looking!
Someone asked me where I get my information from… PERSONAL EXPERIENCE mostly, the rest was either told to me by my expert doctors, my prior education, or I did a little research online… but very little online because you don’t really know what you’re getting there!
Sorry to the person who wants me to swap solutions to your web problems. First I haven’t the time to delve into it and secondly, I’m the last person you want to be asking for internet solutions…. I’m not savvy at IT stuff at all!
One person keeps posting that I bookmarked my website to increase the volume of traffic of my website… NOPE! I don’t bookmark anything because I have no idea how to do that! Others who have decided my website was worthy of others taking a look at it are the ones who are bookmarking it… Sorry…
Also someone keeps asking me if my titles to my posts should more reflect my post content to drive a higher volume of traffic… to that I say… worry less about your traffic and more about the quality of your content and the traffic will take care of itself. I have not done anything creatively IT-wise to increase my traffic flow so for me, I know the numbers I’m seeing in my analytics are “real.” By that I mean it’s pure data without any bells or whistles. OTHERS HAVE BEEN DRIVING MY NUMBERS NOT ME. Which gives me a much better view of the validity of my writings! “nuff said!
I do not have a hyperlink and I do not have a newsletter…. I am a lone writer barely able to make the posts I do… I’ll be going back to volunteering from a Christmas break so I may have even less time to post…
I do not know how to prevent spam as that is an IT question, but know that however my IT person has set up my website, I can filter it out.
I READ EVERY COMMENT THAT COMES TO MY WEBSITE, I KNOW HOW MANY OF YOU ARE RETURNING VISITORS! I DO NOT APPRECIATE THE ONES WHO HAVE NOT TAKEN THE TIME TO WRITE SOMETHING OF VALUE, BUT RATHER MORE LIKE A COMMERCIAL FOR THEIR OWN AGENDA… KNOW THAT I CAN SCREEN THAT STUFF OUT AND I DO!
As of right now I do not have a Facebook website link… My personal Facebook is just that, for my family and close friends. As I grow in followers I will have a fan page set up for Facebook in the future, but as of now, I have none.
Outside of the really crappy spam, for the most part, you all have been very supportive of my writings.. it’s mostly been very positive feedback and for that I’m very grateful! I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read my posts…and comment! THANK YOU MUCHLY! :>))
SOME “I” “T” KINDA STUFF YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW – I had a very long talk with my IT guy who says the following:
If your readers are having a hard time loading the website, in any given browser, it may be that they need to update to the latest version of that browser in order to view the pics or even just the posts.
They may be using a browser that’s not powerful enough or is outdated and cannot handle my RSS feed. In that case they may need to change their browser OR THEY MAY NEED TO CHANGE THEIR SECURITY SETTINGS IN ORDER TO VIEW MY WEBSITE! Internet Explorer comes to mind as I speak of these things… they are notoriously outdated in many ways!
Also slow to load would signal a sign that your browser is not updated or powerful enough to handle my website. Update or change the browser… I guess the theme here is to have the right browser for RSS feeds or for just loading!
If you are not from an English speaking nation, that’s awesome, but if you don’t turn your English traslator on, I have no way of knowing what comment you want to convey and am compelled to delete your entry…
I have had several requests for people who want me to email them… I have sent several personal emails out and all have been tagged undeliverable because of bad addresses… which leads me to believe they are just spam! So here’s the deal…. if you want to have a private back and forth with me you must email me at my gmail address.
firstname.lastname@example.org OR you can Twitter me @kathleenmosko Although, I am not real certain about Tweeting yet, if I receive one, my IT guy said I should see it on my iPhone so I can return it!
One last thing before I go…. I know the word “guys” is used as a collective term, but, know that first, I’m a lady, and secondly, there’s only one of me! LOL I’m just trying to add a little humor here…
I will, when I can, or if it’s an issue I just can’t keep my mouth shut about, answer back to some of you, but for the most part it will be hit or miss as the awesome volume of your comments have increased exponentially and my time at the computer has been lessened. I’ll attempt to find some kind of balance in the near future, but bear with me until then!
As always, thank you so much for visiting my website, and remember to take care of you and your…
PS: for the person who said it’s a shame I don’t have a DONATE button because surely you’d donate to the upkeep of this website… I took your advice and added a donate button, but I’ve yet to see you donate anything to my paypal account! LOL If I get too busy finding a job or working as a volunteer, this website may have to go by the wayside if it’s not augmented! Just sayin….. :>)
email@example.com Twitter @kathleenmosko
Well, I thought I might tackle yet another difficult post about S E X!
As a mediator, I hold the same rules of confidentiality that a doctor or lawyer holds when it comes to clients or patients, and I do take that very seriously. I guess I convey that to the patients I speak with though I’ve never had to explain it to them. It’s almost like being in a confessional with some patients who are very forthcoming about certain issues. I feel it’s necessary to make each person feel there is no topic taboo to speak about, after all, if not with either Dr. Smith or myself, then with who? I’m ok with a no holds barred kind of atmosphere. That way if I really sense an added concern, I might bring it to Dr. Smith’s attention for him to deal with it before it goes too far. Whatever I do augments his practice in a positive way. So it came as no real surprise when I had this encounter.
I recently had a male patient ask if, at some point after his recovery, would he be able to be the “husband” he once was to his wife. He said he and his wife had talked about it at some length because it really bothers him not being able to take care of her intimate needs. She’s a very understanding partner in the fact that she lovingly told him sex is only a part of who he is to her and that his heart is so devoted to her that’s enough for her right now. WOW! That’s one hell of a keeper if ya ask me!
The vast amount of understanding that goes into a person who cares for someone who has horrendous back pain is unbelievable. So many concerns on the surface run through a patients mind about the mechanics of the condition as well as for the care taker. If it’s a spouse, they have an even bigger vested interest in your wellness. Everthing that happens to you affects them, directly or indirectly. Some good, some not so good. It’s the drug induced lack of desire that bothers many back and leg pain sufferers. And then there are all those underlying issues you hold your breath about because you don’t dare bring them up out of fear of rejection, or anticipation, or unrealistic expectations. Having back surgery doesn’t always mean you can get back to a vigorous sex life. There are other mitigating factors that need to be taken into consideration. A heart condition, diabetic medications which alters your desires, other physical ailments not addressed by your back surgery… the list could go on… BUT, for an otherwise healthy individual who just needs the back and leg pain to go away…. there’s hope.
In any case, thoughts of intimate sexual relations are there in the back of every back and leg pain sufferer’s mind. If they say they don’t think about it if they’re in a relationship, they’re lying to themselves at the very least. Intimacy is a big part of a relationship. It’s even necessary to thrive! To have gone without intimacy for a long period of time, is damaging both to the patient whose self esteem sinks tremendously just because of the lifestyle they loose, as well as those who are watching their loved one go through it who may be in the prime of their life with a healthy appetite for sexual relations. There are unspoken things the sufferer is forced to give up. Between the pain and the drugs to kill the pain, they pretty much put a kibosh on any natural sexual desires one might have as a normal, healthy adult. Given the length of time most people suffer before having anything done is yet another factor on how adverse the condition can affect one’s sexual drive.
For the ten years I suffered with the debilitating pain, I can only say I went through the motions I was required to go through because that was in the fine print of my marriage contract. It came to a point when even the obligation of the fine print didn’t matter to me. And just suffice it to say, the road back hasn’t been easy. I’m not one to discuss my intimate life with anyone, I’m not the kind that kisses and tells. So I won’t be discussing in detail here what has transpired for me. I will, however, keep it as subjective as I can to make it informative and enlightening for you.
According to the research I’ve done, barring any other circumstances or health issues, you are certainly able, once all of the healing has taken place, to return to as normal an intimate life as you can have. By that I mean, there may be some modifications necessary of positions you once did that you’ll no longer be able to do, and the return of your fullest desires may be slow. Have patience with yourself in that respect. Ask for patience with your partner. You were meant to be intimate with another human being, that’s how we were designed, but it may take a larger amount of understanding on both your parts to get back to a place of synchronized euphoria. This condition you were in didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to undo itself overnight either! TAKE YOUR TIME! Any partner worth their weight will just be grateful you are back in the game to any greater or lesser degree, hopefully.
At this point I’d like to talk directly to your partner, the one who tolerated your pain, who, if they are a compassionate person, suffered in many ways, though different, right along with you. Yes, I know you suffered too, as you watched helplessly your loved one slowly go downhill, loosing abilities and vitality for an extended period of time without much hope. It’s just as tough on you as it is on the person suffering some times. It takes a toll on everyone who surrounds the sufferer. As the days pass and your partner gets weaker and looses more and more hope and abilities, often it’s not such a stretch as to want to walk away from the person in pain. Sometimes, though you may want to, it’s not possible for financial reasons. Which puts the partner into a funk as well. That downward spiral goes quickly into an abyss hard to climb out of. It’s hard to stay positive for two people. BUT THERE ARE THOSE WHO DO IT, and do it willingly because of the commitment and love one has for the other.
My son gave up so much of his young life because of my condition. It wasn’t easy or fun to watch at such a tender age your mother, your only legal caretaker, be engrossed in such hainious pain and stand helplessly by, not being able to aford her a measure of relief. I so wish I could give back to him all that lost time. But, it’s forever lost. Pain took away the best 10 years of my life, but not only mine, my son’s. My heart still hurts when I think about how compassionate he was, how loving and caring he was, and how much understanding and maturity it took to watch what happened to me. I gave him the best I could at the time, but it certainly wasn’t the best I could have given him if I had not been in so much pain.
I once had a patient call me and talk to me about how bad his pain was and that his family had gotten to the point they no longer believed it was real. So many doctors he’d seen felt he just had to live with it or that it was psychosomatic. HOGWASH! When he finally was able to reach a doctor who properly diagnosed him, he’d come to the end of his rope with many of his friends and family who would be vital to his recovery but weren’t there for him. He shared that he took a cab to the hospital, and in his mind reasoned that if he didn’t make it off the operating table then he wouldn’t know the difference anyway. He saw this one opportunity to be pain free and took it. The family, including his mother would have to deal with it.
He came through the surgery with flying colors and the day he was released, called his mother for a ride home. He shared she was annoyed that he’d not given her more notice to make arrangements to go to the hospital instead of straight to work. She was more annoyed about being put out than her son not allowing her the opportunity to help. WOW! The coldness of some people! She went but the whole trip home she spewed forth her thoughts on how she felt it was a mistake and that she still thought it was all in his mind… CAN YOU IMAGINE SOMEONE BEING SO COLD? I actually can, and, that’s what scares me most about the patients I see. I don’t want any of them to feel they have no one on their side!
And, then, there are those who have little or no empathy for the debilitating state of the sufferer for they cannot feel the pain, therefore it doesn’t exist. Those are the most difficult conditions to be a sufferer among. Not only do you have to deal with the pain, often in silence, you are expected to do the everyday tasks your partner wants no matter how you feel. The expectations that, you are allowed to be in pain, just be able to function at normal capacity to fulfill all of your duties according to your living agreement prior to your injury, is often not possible to cope with. Depression usually accompanies pain that stays any length of time but is often taboo to discuss in many households because it makes you look weak or looking for sympathy or the “easy” way out. THAT could be further from the truth. There is NOTHING easy about being in excruciating pain or being depressed because of it. The sufferer often becomes numb, to emotions, to the outside world, to what needs to be taken care of for their own sake. HOW ON EARTH CAN A PERSON PERFORM “NORMALLY” UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS? THEY CAN’T! It’s that simple!
So how then can a sufferer be expected to perform normally the intimacy of love and at the very least “sex” as an act, if they can’t wrap their head around it. It’s been said that sex is 90% mental and 10% physical. AND THAT’S A TRUE STATEMENT. (I remember, I had sex once…. or twice! LOL) If that’s the case, and a back and leg pain sufferer is preoccupied with the constancy of the pain, HOW IN THE HELL IS IT EVER GONNA BE POSSIBLE TO HAVE INTIMACY??
Encouraging the sufferer to seek a remedy from the pain is the first step in getting back an active sex life. Once that’s behind them, rediscover on a different plain all the things you found unique in one another. Learn to adapt to the new capabilities of your healed partner. Allow time for desires to come back, give broad understanding to the relationship to accommodate the necessary changes for the sake of the pain sufferer and help them discover a new-found freedom, one that through no fault of their own was taken from them and has been graciously awarded back to them.
EXPERIMENT, SEEK OUT NEW WAYS, FIND NEW INNOVATIVE WAYS TO ENJOY THE PLEASURES OF ONE ANOTHER. You might be pleasantly surprised. Throw out all the old sexual paradigmes you once held and let your new attitude let you explore the human body through touch in a way you may never have looked at it before. The mind is limitless…. let it take you to new heights, new places of pleasure… you deserve it for all that you’ve been through, all that you’ve suffered from, all that you reached the other side from…. fill your days with wonderous exploration, share your fears with your partner, open your minds to endless possibilities but first, make sure you get permission from your doctor that you are healed enough to engage in such wanton abandonment!
REJOICE that you are back among the functional living! ENJOY your new body in such a manner you embrace all that it was, is and can be to you. TAKE CARE of your whole being, spiritually, physically, and sexually… you have a right to do that…. and if no one else has given you permission to do that…. I will… because you are worth it!
By the way, when I was done talking to this male patient, he gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek through his tears, I’d just given him back his life, right after Dr. Smith fixes him!
And as always take care of you and yours,
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @kathleenmosko
Back on December 14th I asked you to help re-post my website to make it go viral…. this is why….
THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT POST I WILL EVER MAKE! PLEASE READ!
Recently, Dr. Smith sent a patient to speak with me after seeing her in the exam room. I’m at the other end of the office and the entire walk back to where I stay, she was crying. Partly in pain, partly out of relief in the knowledge that she found someone who could take her excruciating pain away! I certainly know that feeling!
As we sat I gave her a few tissues and time to collect herself and calm down. I walked every mile she was walking only she didn’t know it yet. I quietly asked her to explain to me what Dr. Smith had told her. She gathered her thoughts and through her tears she shared her pain and what Dr. Smith said he could do for her. I asked her if she understood all that he explained. But she shook her head no. Then she said, “well, partially.” I was so right there in that moment with her. I remember when Dr. Smith said he could “fix” me and as soon as those words came out of his mouth, none after really mattered. But I didn’t have anyone with me just like she didn’t, so I slowly explained as much as she needed that I could explain all over again and this time she was writing things in her notebook.
She was forthcoming about her pain and how her life was so adversely affected by it. It was heartbreaking to hear that someone else had to suffer the same way I did. Lucky for her it wasn’t as long as I had, but, nonetheless, still as debilitating! She didn’t want to book a surgical date yet until she talked to her husband back home in another state. She and her husband run a bed and breakfast and her daily participation in the running of such a place is tremendous. You could say she’s chief cook, bottle washer, laundress, wood chopper, fireplace keeper, snowmobile guide, you name it, and on any given day, she may be called upon to pick up the slack.
I shared with her a little of my history about my back and how I got to Dr. Smith. Because Dr. Smith DOESN’T PAY ME, nor does NuVasive, I’m free to say whatever I need to without any restrictions. I volunteer to speak with patients and it was MY idea not his… he never asked me to do this for him! As I shared what I thought would be useful to her, you could see a calm come over her as though for the first time she was talking to someone who knew her pain. OF COURSE I DID! Unless someone is willing to come forthand share their story, their doctor, in my case, Dr. Smith, would be the only person, and perhaps Joe who would know just how bad things were for me, and for the lady sitting across from me. Everything about the environment I want to be soothing, so I pull my chair around from behind the desk to show I have nothing to conceal from the patients. It’s a mediation technique I find very valuable.
By the time our visit was up she was clearly more in control of her emotions and at ease with what I explained. I always offer my personal business card I had made up as a writer, to give them an opportunity to call on me for further questions and concerns. All of the patients I talk to are welcome to contact me as a liaision for the office.
Days later I got an email from her saying her insurance company would not allow the minimally invasive procedure but rather would only allow the traditional much more complicated, more involved surgery.
WARNING: THIS PART IS VERY GRAPHIC! IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS PART… LOOK FOR THE NEXT SET OF ALL CAPITAL LETTERS TO CONTINUE THIS POST!
I need to make you understand the difference between a minimally invasive procedure vs a traditional procedure.
A traditional procedure should be one of last resort IN MY OPINION! Yes, it does hold it’s place for those few who can’t be operated on by the minimally invasive technique, who, by the way, are few and far between!
With a minimally invasive technique, to enter the body for spinal surgey is through the side. After you are put under, the surgical team turns you on your side. Usually three 2″ incisions are made, and the muscles are separated witht he aid of a PA who retracts the muscles rather than the surgeon cutting through them. There is minimal blood loss ( three tablespoons or less) and the way muscles are retracted vs being cut through are the major differences. A more whole view of the spine is seen since the surgeon is performing it to visually see bothfront and back of the vertebra. In Dr. Smith’s case, he is one of those rare individuals who can operate in 3D but he visualizes in 4D. How’s that? Well, not only can he use everything in the operating room to see clearly what is the problem, he has the uncanny ability to visualize in his mind what the “inside” of the vertebra look like as well. In doing so, he gets a more complete assessment of what needs to be done. Granted, not all surgeons possess that 4D skill, but with the minimally invasive procedure, going in through the side, a surgeon can see enough of the “bigger” picture to properly use the remedies at his disposal to do a more complete job.
During a traditional procedure, major muscles are cut through, often from the front of the body, which in and of itself poses certain risks, and protracted recovery, those are muscles you use for most of your daily activity, not just for ramped up or sports activities, organs must be pulled completely out of the body and set aside so the procedure can take place. Because the access is to the front, it limits the surgeons perspective to only that angle. Unless of course he can move you to a better angle. There is more time in the surgery itself, more risks involved, more blood loss, a lengthier hospital stay, more exposure to health risks in the hospital, and the recovery time is waaaay longer and the rehab MUCH more involved and protracted!
OK, YOU CAN START READING AGAIN!
Some insurance companies, like the one the patient he sent me, would rather pay for a longer stay, more complications, more drugs, more rehab, more everything, than to allow a minimally invasive procedure.
Now, let me explain why. Insurance companies hire doctors to review cases. Often they are NOT well versed on the latest techniques, innovative procedures or the risk vs successes. This being said, some insurance companies have an appeal process which allows a surgical candidates’ doctor to have what they call a “peer to peer review” where the doctor who ordered the procedure has to contact the insurance doctor and defend his reasoning for the procedure, his credentials, schooling and anything else the insurance doctor thinks he should know before he allows the newer, more innovative procedure.
Unfortuantely, after our patients’ “peer to peer review” Dr. Smithwas unable to convince this, this, this, <Grrr> doctor, that the XLIF would really be the right procedure for her. Shooting me an email in panic, she asked me to call her. She’s terrified to have the more protracted surgery, for all the above reasons I listed! AND I DON’T BLAME HER! Especially knowing what I know from personal experience.
Dr. Smith’s experience, his education, his involvement in everything neuro should convince even the most staunch skeptic. He has an impecable record, is world renown, teaches the newest techniques all over the world, and has been instrumental in refining the procedure to the point that what he did for me a year and a half ago is obsolete! I don’t know exactly what he learned by doing what he did to me, I do know it was very unique, but I’m glad to have been the recipeintof such forward thinking from him. His abilities are incredible, and from what I’ve seen, is at the top of his “game” so to speak. He KNOWS without a doubt what he does in that operating room is hold the future of ever person he operates on. HE CARES MUCH MORE ABOUT US THAN WE WILL EVER KNOW!
In one of my recent posts I tell about how during a conversation at the office with Joe, Dr. Smith’s PA I learned that, even after I was put out, Dr. Smith warned Joe not to retract my neck muscles too far because I was a singer. My heart lept with joy when I heard he’d taken that step to care so much about my future. He had not only my life in his hands but my happiness and he cared enough to insure that stayed in tact! WOW! No one has EVER cared that much about me. And he cares for each one of his patients like that!
As part of what Dr. Smith and I have come up with to better serve his patients, he allows me the latitude to write letters of advocacy on patients’ behalf. He further had to defend his credentials, his experience level and his schooling to this, this, this, <Grrrr> doctor and along with his defense, I gave him a three page letter explaining from a patient perspective who’s already gone through it successfully, to be included with his papers on her behalf.
I’ve not been in the office since I wrote that letter and am not sure where the case stands at this moment. As soon as I know something, I will let you all know.
I’m appalled that Dr. Smith has to defend his credentials to this level in order to allow his patients the best treatment available because some out of touch doctor who has not kept up with innovation decides the fate of someone in such a manner. HERE’S THE CATCH…. THIS COULD BE YOU OR ONE OF YOUR LOVED ONES!
HERE’S MY CALL TO ACTION FOR ALL OF YOU!
Get ahold of your hospitalization policy, go over it with a fine tooth comb. If you don’t understand it, call them and MAKE them explain to you what the procedure would be should you need innovative minimally invasive surgery. Find out what their policy is about allowing it not just for back surgery, but for other types of surgery as well. ALL OF MY SURGERIES WERE DONE MINIMALLY INVASIVE! MY XLIF, MY CERVICAL ACDF, AND MY TOTAL HIP WERE ALL DONE THAT WAY!
DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU NEED IT!
If enough people start a dialogue with the insurance companies, they will have to at the very least start a reviewing of their procedures and policies.
As a member of The Better Way Back Patient Ambassador team, I was asked to write a letter to an insurance company out of Florida which was denying about 99% of all back surgeries because they were only allowing the tradional, expensive and often unsuccessful back surgeries with little success. So, their theory was… we just won’t cover any! After that was brough to the attention of The Better Way Back Team, they ramped up a letter writing campaign from all the members of the Ambassador Team about our individual success stories. They could no longer ignore the information before them enmass.
A couple of months later I was happy to get the email stating that particular insurance company has reversed their decision to change their policy and is now looking at back surgeries on a case by case basis. It’s not the best case senario, but it definitely is a win for all the patients who may potentially be in need of back surgeries who are stuck with that company as their insurance carrier!
On the 27th of December I got a call from one of Dr. Smith’s patients I’d seen. I was at home, not in the office. He was calling to thank me for talking to him the way I did in the office. He was scared out of his mind. A few years ago he’d had traditional back surgery from a supposed highly skilled doctor here in Vegas. He shared with me he never really was out of pain and the doctor told him he would have to live with the condition because there was nothing more he could do for him. (so sad).
This patient shared with me his inner-most fear of the same thing happening if Dr. Smith operated on him, but he was in so much pain again he didn’t really have a choice but to trust Dr. Smith and allow him the chance to maybe make things different for him. It’s a hard sell to someone who’s already gone through the process once to convince them they’re in a much better place.
He had another issue to contend with, his insurance coverage was changing at the end of the year, it was already the 15th of December and he needed to get his surgery pronto. His current insurance company would pay for it, the new one would not. Dr. Smith scheduled the procedure on the 21st of December and six days later I was getting a thank you call from this patient and I could hear the smile in his voice.
MINIMALLY INVASIVE PROCEDURES MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!
I tried to lay out what happened to me, my attitude towards my recovery and involvement in the decision-making process and what I’ve done to insure my recovery with him and he stated he appreciated my candor with him about what I did in order to cope. I shared and gave him hope and courage. He was also grateful knowing someone wasn’t paying me to say this stuff which makes the position I hold in Dr. Smith’s office just that much more important… Dr. Smith has no idea what I’m saying to his patients… but, I have to admit, whatever they tell him on subsequent visits must be convincing enough, cause he hasn’t thrown me out yet! LOL
So, again, I ask that you start the dialogue with your insurance carrier before you have a need for it… Get in touch with The Better Way Back Coordinator, Ms. Julia Saba at 858-909-1800, toll free 1-800-745-7099. The Better Way Back, 7475 Lusk Blvd. San Diego, CA 92121 email@example.com Ask what you can do to help further the cause, get involved because it may someday make a difference whether you or someone you love gets a back injury fixed or not!
PLEASE MAKE THE COMITMENT TO PASS ALONG THIS INFORMATION AROUND THE WORLD! NOT JUST IN THE USA. 10 MILLION BACK AND LEG PAIN SUFFERERS AROUND THE WORLD NEED US ALL TO DO OUR PART!
I am one of the lucky ones who got an end to my pain… help others get there too!
As always, take care of you and yours!
Well, today I had my third rehearsal for Christmas Eve Mass at the Cathedral on the Strip in Vegas! LOL
I have to tell you all that if you’d have told me in March it was going to take me this long to get to where I am now with my singing, I might have thought twice about having the ACDF surgery, not that I really had any choice in it anyway…the pain was so bad I couldn’t not do it, but then again I wouldn’t have been able to forgo the hip replacement anyway which meant another airway. Geesh! What my poor throat had to go through!
A little background for those who need caught up. Additional surgery was needed on my cervical spine once I had my minimally invasive XLIF back surgery.(see prior posts about the healing from those surgeries in my archive) That happened in mid-March and 7 1/2 weeks later I was told I had to have another surgery, a total hip replacement. The neck surgery, ACDF, is where the doctor makes an incision in your neck and then pulls back everything in his way so he can get to the area of the spine he needs to correct. Unfortunately I also had my hip done with another airway even though my throat was nowhere healed. this further set me back plus I made a grave mistake and didn’t take the steroids Dr. Smith told me I’d need to reduce the swelling… A VERY STUPID MISTAKE ON MY PART!
As a singer, I had no idea of the recovery I would need to get me back to where I am today. Let’s just say I’m on the road, I’m getting my higher register of sound back, but I’m still having trouble with sound and breath control. My clarity in my voice just isn’t quite there yet either.
Today’s rehearsal was a good one… I was hitting most of the high notes, doing the intonations, and was on pitch… now, I just need to work those inner muscles to get the clarity back. It’s not raspy, but I just don’t hear it as a clear tone… I’m not sure how else to describe it.
I”m also having another problem still. My voice-box gets out of alignment and I have to manually move it back into place. It doesn’t hurt, but it is uncomfortable until I do it. I feel like the more I sing, the more I’m strengthening those inner core muscles inside my neck. I’ve done every exercise under the sun for the outer ones, but the ones you use to speak and sing with were stretched as well and they need to be worked so they’re strengthened too. Each time I sing I feel like they’re getting stronger but not strong enough to hold my voice-box in place yet.
I’m more confident now than ever before I’ll be able to get my old singing voice back. AND, if I use my muscles correctly, I can become more in control than ever before of those muscles… THAT would be good. Right now my concentration for those muscles is to get em working the way they’re supposed to work and I’ll worry about getting em to do the tricks later! LOL
Have I ever told you how much I love to sing? Well, I do… and it kills me that even now I still rarely sing because of timing… my spouse sleeps during the day because he works midnights so my days are mostly quite unless I’m driving in the car. (He’s not that fond of my singing anyway.) THEN I treat myself to some music. I had a disc player for my car but it broke, I had a couple of CD’s made with my favorite tunes on them, (mostly show tunes from Broadway musicals), I used as practice songs. Different songs had different ranges for whatever I needed. When I’d first start singing I’d play the lower ranged songs so I could gradually warm up to the ones that had the higher range singing in them. I stopped doing scales for warm-up shortly after I stopped taking voice lessons. My thought was, I don’t sing like that so why should I practice like that… I just never got scales, except for maybe working on pitch. It’s always good to have pitch! LOL I want to be able to reach the real high notes and do them quietly without screeching, like I used to. THAT would be awesome!
Well, I’ve had to take a step down to Sirrius satalite radio but I can still get Broadway and 60′s and 70′s tunes. That will get me through for the most part. But, should the lights go out on my satalite radio, I’d be reduced to listening to regular oldies but goodies without getting to choose. I would be sad, but at least I could still sing.
I know my days as a performer are pretty much behind me except in a choir but at least I can know that I’m sounding as good as I can… I just have to get my muscles to work.
I can still feel like someone’s choking me once in a while, especially when I get tired. March 16th, 2o11 was my ACDF surgery. That was almost 8 full months and an additional surgery ago. I feel like the more I talk or sing the stronger the inner muscles are getting too. My voice-box doesn’t go out of place as much anymore, and I’m starting to feel like my neck has strength. I no longer even think about turning my head or even about getting up with a stiff neck. Those have pretty much gone away. I don’t have any other latent problems that I have had to tolerate as well. There’s no numbness in my hands any longer and the pain in my mid back is a thing of the past. I have full control of my hands without dropping things and my grasp is pretty strong too. I can open a jar lid without tapping it on the counter too, well, most of the time. My fingers don’t ache like they used to either. I can reach for things without even thinking about it, and I have good dexterity in my fingers when it comes to buttoning or picking up stuff. Pretty much I’m a go.
My voice isn’t raspy, and there’s a certain clarity to it, however, if I don’t speak for a couple of days, which can happen, I find myself clearing my throat more and breathing differently. I know I need to work on my breath release as well being a singer.
With these surgeries, I’ve really had to relearn a lot of bodily functions most people, including me before my surgeries, take for granted or don’t even know certain muscles are used for that purpose. One good example is when I first started to sing again, I couldn’t believe how much I relied on the muscles in the back of my neck to reach the higher notes. I could really feel a pull on them until I got them stronger! I kept at my neck exercises It’s been an amazing journey to find out what’s attached to what! And, just how much work it’s been to get me where I am today.
A writer friend put it into perspective for me seeing him right after my first surgery. He had just had a big operation and additional healing with what he had done. We started to compare notes about our surgery and pain levels and he looked at me after I told him I had real concern for him and said, “oh, yes, I’ve had surgery, but I haven’t gone through anything like what you just went through.” It was my normal and I couldn’t relate real clearly what he meant to my situation. It wasn’t until I went through the third surgery that it finally dawned on me what he meant by that, I guess I really did go through quite a bit. I just took it one step at a time… literally.
Anyway, I’ve gotten back into the swing of singing show tunes. That was my passion before I stopped singing altogether 11 years ago. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and it’s more than exciting! Maybe next year, if my voice is strong enough Debbie the choir director will let me do a solo or maybe at the least a duet. There’s a tenor that sings in the choir who sounds just like the other student I sang with when we took voice lessons from the same teacher. GOSH, that would be fantastic. But I’m still holding out hope that one day, before I die, I get to sing with Andrea Bocelli! (see earlier posts about him) A pipe-dream for sure, but nonetheless one I’ll hold onto just because my days are made better by my daydreams!
And on that note, I will write again, but remember to take care of you and yours,
So many times we wish we had a laundry list of do’s and possible don’ts ahead of our experiences… well today you’re in luck! I was looking through my hard drive and found some writings you may have a need for… let me know if these things are the least bit helpful. I wish I’d have known them before my surgery…. maybe you do too! :>))
TIPS BEFORE SURGERY
Do your own research, browse the internet, ask questions, be informed, knowledge is powerful, empower yourself to make the right decisions for you
Block out all the horror stories you are going to hear about someone’s brother’s uncle who had back surgery and now he’s in a wheelchair, that isn’t you, and you didn’t have his antiquated procedure
Make a list of all your concerns and take it with you each time you go to your doctor, he’s not a mind reader, and often he’s rushed and you can get flustered getting through his exam
Keep a log of any calls you make to insurance providers, doctors’ offices, appliance suppliers and what was said, this helps in the event something comes into question, you can’t remember everything on pain meds.
Have a family meeting or with your caretaker to explain your fears and concerns before and after surgery, they will be your ally when you can’t communicate the way you want while on your meds.
Arrange to have someone with you for at least the first week, knowing you’re not alone is invaluable.
ASK for help, people aren’t mind readers, but will most likely help if you let them know you need it
Enlist someone in your circle of friends to be your sounding board, not to get their opinion, but rather to just listen to hear what’s on your mind out loud, you’d be surprised that some things just don’t sound realistic once they’re said, like telling off your doctor, he really is on your side, he’s staked his reputation on it
Get ice blankets or make them up ahead to have ready when you get home from the hospital, improvise if you must, to wrap your legs in it while your nerve endings are reconnecting and your skin is so sensitive in hyperdrive. Make them by freezing a couple of folded bath or beach towels that were damp, to use put a Chux pad under them so you don’t get wet as they get warm.
Have a network of family or friends or in-home health care professionals to help you through it, and ask them for help
Before surgery, shop around for a good physical therapy place, they can be key to your healing, AND DON’T SKIP Physical Therapy, the stronger your muscles are the more support they’ll be for your spine
Have fresh food in your fridge before you come home from the hospital, it’s an exhausting trip home and have a plan for foods, either frozen, prepackaged or fresh, it’s a little work but pays big dividends when you most need it
Ahead of time, prepare several activities you can do while you heal to break the boredom; maybe choose a book you intended to read but never had that much down time, or learn to crochet or knit, line up your favorite music to listen to or do a mundane activity such as rewriting your address book so all of them are updated, polish your nails, guys indulge yourself to buy a couple of special magazines about cars or fishing or fitness you stand at the magazine rack and read without buying while your wife shops
Have plenty of water on hand before surgery and have some chilled for when you get home.
Purchase items that will help you reach so you can maintain some of your independence.
Use sugar free flavor packets for water so you’ll drink more, just don’t use the whole packet.
Pay attention to your posture; correcting it each time you find yourself not straight up and down.
Get a long shoe horn.
TIPS FOR AFTER SURGERY
Listen to your body and let your body dictate your healing
ASK for help, people aren’t mind readers, but will most likely help if you let them know you need it
Start a notebook to keep track of your meds, figure out when they should be taken and how they should be spaced to give you optimum benefits, ask your pharmacist; make columns for date, time to take, med you took, and a checkoff column or time taken column…this will help if you are asleep or forget to take your meds when it’s time.
TAKE PAIN MEDS, AS PRESCRIBED, THEY’RE ONLY FOR A WHILE Don’t try to be a martyr and let your pain meds go longer than the time allotted, you do more harm than good to your body… it’s been through a major trauma with surgery and you need the pain meds so your muscles won’t constrict and go into spasm…
Be kind to yourself, if you can’t do it today, tomorrow is another day, right now the healing is all about you, treat yourself to make mistakes and not be so rushed to heal
Talk to your doctor about laxatives and take them if needed, they’re only for a while
Keep moving, WALK, it’s the best way to gain back your strength at the beginning
Eat a little bit every three hours, make sure it’s protein and fruit, mostly apples, stay away from heavy carbs
Follow your doctor’s prescribed course of healing, he’s aware of what you need for the progression of your healing
Reestablish your old routine of hygiene, the quicker the better
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER, not only is it necessary for you to eliminate, but it will help flush out all the meds from your system and keep all your systems balanced
Make sure you keep in touch with your general practitioner to keep him informed, he’s there to pick up the slack between the times you see your surgeon, address any concerns with him you haven’t with your surgeon, they’re on your side, help them help you
As you heal, make plans to do something special you haven’t been able to do in a long time, start gaining control of things that for so long were not in your control
Reach out to someone else in need of hearing your experience, you’ll have made a friend for life
This bears repeating again, have a family meeting or with your caretaker to explain your fears and concerns before and after surgery, they will be your ally when you can’t communicate the way you want while on your meds.
This one needs to be repeated as well, have someone with you for at least the first week, knowing you’re not alone is invaluable.
Plan a couple of short outings with help as soon as you’re up to it to break the monotony of being indoors.
Use sugar free flavor packets for water so you’ll drink more, just don’t use the whole packet.
Pay attention to your posture; correcting it each time you find yourself not straight up and down.
Make a calendar on a piece of notebook paper with just the numbers for six months, circle your doctor visits scheduled, your two week, eight week, three month, and six month benchmarks, cross off each day as soon as it happens, at the beginning. put only half an X (/) to show you got through half that day already.
Use short term goals to reach for, like loosing 5 pounds in a month or being able to walk to the corner by the end of the second week.
Plan your shower and lay out all necessary items ahead; wash cloth, razor, & body lotion for afterwards.
Sit squarely on things, making sure what you sit upon has no chance of collapsing.
Ladies, desensitize your skin so you can shave your legs by rubbing the area to be shaved vigorously just before touching the affected area with the razor. It’ll be much less painful.
Use your shower seat, men especially listen to this, don’t be stubborn, it’s only for a while, ladies place a clean wash cloth on it before you sit down.
Sit at the edge of your bed and stand up, then sit down as often as you can from now on. That motion will strengthen your back and your legs as well as your lower abdominal muscles.
ADVICE FOR SURGICAL PATIENTS
Be assertive, not aggressive with your physical therapy, the more you do without overdoing it, the more you’ll be able to do
Your Physical Therapist can teach you invaluable lessons how to deal with your new body for later
Learn from your Physical Therapist how to balance properly so it lessens the incident of falling
If you had bad eating habits and know it, now is a good time to change them, eat healthier
Weight loss is always a plus, but most of all, the less you weigh, the easier it is on your back
Improvise using aids to help you reach for things, and at the beginning, if it drops, leave it for someone else to pick up
Be very careful how you sit upon things like stools, until your fusing process is complete, you may want to avoid them all together, make sure what you sit upon is stable
Pay attention to your posture, correct it as soon as you feel it change, it’s a great habit to get into
In order to get through the first weeks of surgical pain I created a chart for myself out of notebook paper and hung it on the wall. It was a nondescript calendar of the following six months worth of days after surgery. You can use a regular calendar too. On it I placed my 2wk, 6wk, and 2 month checkups, then I put on there goals I wanted to achieve by a certain day, even if it took me longer I left that goal showing but then when I finally accomplished it, I put it on the calendar too. I continually set myself goals to reach, but attainable so I wouldn’t get discouraged. Finally I put at the end of the six months a goal I felt was doable but I had to work to achieve. That goal was me long after the six months came and went. And it didn’t matter to me because I knew I was getting closer and that’s what drove me to keep going.
As those goals were met and the days past, and as my achievements were accomplished, I crossed off those days… some days the pain got the best of me. On those days I took it sometimes minute by minute. I would set my goal for the noon mark so I could cross off half a day by drawing half an X across that day. Little by little I became so busy with my rehab and PT I’d forget to mark the days off and it’d be two or three days before I remembered to even look at my calendar. I always kept that end goal in mind. My achievements were small and incremental but always forward moving. In looking back, it simply amazes me what I’ve accomplished in such a short period of time.
Find nonfat comfort foods that are healthy, filling, and that will be nutritious;
salad greens with canned mandarin orange sections and sliced almonds,
sugar free applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon and chopped walnuts,
100% juices in moderation,
sugar free popsicles or other flavored iced treats,
20 pecans as servings sizes provides important Omega-3′s for snacks,
Starbucks has Lite versions of their drinks that are only 100 calories,
chicken and turkey are high in protein, make sure you are eating lots of that, your body requires more now that you’re going through the healing process.
Use lotion all over your body, it will stop the itching from dry skin.
Eat small meals every three hours, use only one meal replacement bar in a day such as Cliff bars, they’re good, but not better than real food.
Though each person is different, make a new bucket list of all the things you had to give up that you’ll now be able to do, it gives you personal motivation to stay on course with your Physical Therapy.
Make a calendar on a piece of notebook paper with just the numbers for six months, circle your doctor visits scheduled, your two week, eight week, three month, and six month benchmarks, cross off each day as soon as it happens, at the beginning. put only half an X (/) to show you got through half that day already.
Do little things that make you feel good about yourself, meditate, pray, clean out that nasty junk drawer in the kitchen, reorganize your file cabinet, spend extra time with your pets, feed the birds in the yard, they’re fascinating to watch.
Try new activities as you feel better but remember to not overextend yourself, especially in the beginning, it will come soon enough.
Learn to be kind to yourself, pamper yourself a little, no one else will if you don’t.
Get in and out of the car by 1st sitting down with both feet on the ground, then bringing both legs in together… those with SUV’s may require you to 1st bend one knee back and place your foot into the vehicle before sliding your bottom onto the seat. Then lift your other leg into the vehicle.
When opening a sliding glass door, plant your stance at least shoulder width apart before using a pulling motion to open or close the door, use your body weight to the the work.
You can tell I had way too much time on my hands shortly after surgery… and this is by no means a comprehensive list, just some of the things I experienced while I was healing…
I’ll get back to substantive writing soon, I promise, but for now if you can use this information for your own surgery or to advise someone else about theirs’, use this information to make someone’s life a little easier…in the meantime remember to take care of you and yours!
I know I promised to write about Bill Walton and Nate “Rock” Quarry but I’ve been dealing with a family crisis for the last few days which has preoccupied me. They say everything happens for a reason and this in no exception. This just gives me a chance to “show” you how much these fellas mean to me.
Before I went to San Deigo, Julia called me from The Better Way Back to ask if there was anything they could do for me. I was bold enough to ask for three signed pictures from Nate for my three nephews who are crazy about him. And I asked if I brought a ball with me could I have Bill Walton sign it. She shared they didn’t have a problem with the requests but asked if I could wait to get them until after the Cheetah Ball because they were all so busy. Sounded reasonable.
Today, as I was sitting here reading through my book proposal when the doorbell rang. I answered it to find a Fed Ex guy with three LARGE packages addressed to me! I could hardly get them open in my excitement to see what was in them. I started to cry, tears of happiness. In one of the boxes was a poster-size picture of me and a quote from my video, “When I finally did sing, I sang my heart out. It felt so right and it was all because of the XLIF procedure.” It has The Better Way Back logo on it! The picture is the one I use for my profile picture on Facebook. WOW! The next box had a framed picture of me done in caricature from a local San Diego artist who was drawing us at our dinner the first evening we were there. Also there was a professionally framed picture of Bill, Nate and myself! And, in that box was an envelope with the signed pictures of Nate I asked for. He autographed them to each one by name! I got a personal card from him and the President of the Americas as well! AGAIN, WOW! The last box had a plexiglass square with an autographed basketball to me from Bill Walton! WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! He, Nate and I are all part of an elite group of individuals lucky enough to have had the XLIF surgery and are now getting on with our lives.
First let me share with you an incident that happened to a friend of mine. Her husband saw Bill walk into the bathroom at a convention they were both attending. Her husband stopped him and asked for his autograph. Bill said he’d be glad to if he could wait a few minutes. When he came out, Bill signed his autograph for my friend’s husband who said he was very personable. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, he is. He is warm and friendly and just a real nice guy. I was talking with him back stage before we went out for the discussion panel and Bill was joking with us and running through our questions with us, just a real lay-back kind of guy. They introduced him and Nate first holding the other discussion panelist back. I was the first one of the patient panelists introduced and walked on stage. I offered my hand for Bill to shake but he took my hand and raised it to kiss. I was floored! LOL I can’t imagine the look on my face! No one, I mean, NEVER has anyone ever done that to me. <blush> WOW! What a gentleman! Once the panel was over they whisked him away and I didn’t get a chance to see him the rest of the weekend, but would have liked to talk with him in a more social setting.
Nate was next, who I gave a hug to. His strength is tempered by his gentleness, a true gentleman who even believes in opening a door for a lady and holding her seat for her and he’s not ashamed to admit it. It was a warm friendly hug, he gives GREAT hugs! I did get a chance to speak with Nate a few times during the weekend and all I can say is, he’s got a heart of gold and he loves his daughter! He has a great personality, warm and genuine. There’s such a tenderness in his voice when he talks about his daughter, it’s clearly unmistakable she is his driving force. He talked about his fighting but always adding within the context what his daughter thought. He’s almost unassuming in some aspects in that he’s not loud and braggy like I imagine a lot of those guys are.
Nate was actually the force behind the concept of The Better Way Back. He described for us his back situation and how it affected him so profoundly. He came up with the idea of The Better Way Back to help others realize their life didn’t have to be over spent in endless, agonizing pain. He proposed to the NuVasive people to wear their logo on his trunks during his comeback fight after his surgery and rehab. They agreed, he won, in a big way, and the rest, as they say, is history. He thinks fighting was a calling, and if that’s the case then The Better Way Back is his second calling. He devotes countless hours traveling all over the country doing motivational speaking and travels the world to visit our troops overseas; always promoting The Better Way Back as well. I think that even if Nate doesn’t return to the fighting cage, his name will still be in the spotlight for promoting the XLIF procedure and others like it to advance the science of back injury recovery. Kuddos to Nate for having that vision!
So today, all in all has been a GREAT day, one, for receiving all the wonderful gifts from my friends at The Better Way Back, and two, for the opportunity to relive all those special moments once again!
I want to give a special thanks to all the wonderful people at The Better Way Back who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure nothing stood in the way of a perfect event! I’m not sure of each ones’ title but a very special thanks to Liz, Julia & Emily. You all did a wonderful job pulling your part of the weekend together and working alongside the NuVasive team of Melissa and Kirsten. Hats off to all of you!
One more special thank you goes to two men named Rolf Benirschke and Greg Anton who founded Legacy Health Strategies. “They created Legacy Health Strategies because they have a passion for helping patients in their time of need and as they looked at their own business careers, they wanted to make sure they left a positive Legacy in their communities as well.” I have to say both of these gentlemen know their stuff when it comes to putting together an outreach program for people to connect with the right health services. Rolf is also very much involved in The Better Way Back, if I’m not mistaken, I think he’s the director.
The reason I’m a little unsure of what his function is, is because NuVasive has done an excellent job to work in conjunction with these programs so they are seamless. Kuddos to them for such a seamless affiliate program.
Brian just came home and was blown away with the poster-size picture of his mother sitting in front of the fireplace. He said he’s gonna get me a poster frame so I can hang it. He just kept repeating, “WOW, Mom, WOW! OH, WOW Mom!” So I’m thinking he thinks it’s awesome! LOL The basketball is already on the fireplace mantel! And the pictures are already hung for all to see! Brian just kept saying, “WOW Mom, this is AWESOME!” I think he likes the stuff as much as I do!
Well I have to get dinner ready so this is a good time to wrap it up. I’m having a hard time finding the words to express to everyone just how grateful I am for all the wonderful things happening to me. Somehow I’ll find them, and when I do, I’ll express my gratitude.
Until then, remember to take care of you and yours,
PS remember to check back on Friday, my one year anniversary for my website where I’ll be posting the first three pages of my book, For Brian’s Sake and the first page of the second book, Broken. (remember, it is copyrighted material and you need my written consent to copy or do anything with my excerpt.)
I hope while you are reading this you’re at peace with your world. There’s so much turmoil going on in other’s lives and it’s just sad. As a mediator, my heart hurts for all those who’ve died and are maimed and injured needlessly.
As I think about all the good things that have happened to me recently I’m reflecting back on all the “stuff” that goes along with it… and, I’m preparing to share it with all of you in hopes you can feel like you’re not alone. I’m writing my book proposal and should have it done within the next few weeks. I’ll send it off and say a prayer that it’s content will be met with a keen eye and a heart filled with compassion enough to let it come to fruition. I’m just an ordinary person, who recognized I was living an extraordinary life. That is what I’ll share with you in my books.
For now, I want to introduce you to the other people I met at the Cheetah Ball in San Diego. A plane-mate and his wife, Brad and Jeanette were at last year’s ball and added commentary as to what to expect. It’s uncanny how much he looks like an attorney associate I worked with in my mediation firm back in Ohio. Even more a surprise that he too is an attorney. Hmmm, maybe it’s the profession that makes them look like one another. LOL
At any rate, he and his wife were warm, friendly people who made the weekend fun. Brad had surgery on his back two years ago after having gone through a couple which were unsuccessful, to say the least. He also was a patient of Dr. Smiths (my doctor) and was met by him in one of those scooters.
Brad loves to tell the story about Dr. Smith seeing him post-op for the first time and having to ask one of his assistants who the patient was in the exam room because he’d never seen Brad standing! Dr. Smith didn’t recognize him! Brad had the XLIF procedure done on four levels. That was pretty extensive in those days. Most people get one, two or three levels done, but Dr. Smith is on the cutting edge of the most innovative technology which not only addresses the immediate issues but ones he feels that may arise in the near future.
Then came Claire, a gorgeous blond with a wonderful, bubbly personality, who, in the prime of her life was delivered a blow which pretty much put a hold on everything. At 23 she was diagnosed that she needed spinal surgery after picking up one of her toddlers at work. You see she works in a child care center and that is a major part of her job, picking little ones up and wiping away tears, kissing boo boos and reading stories to them on her lap. She could do none of this because of her injury. It tore her apart. Being highly competitive and also a runner, after her surgery was completed, she asked her doctor if she could enter an iron man competition. Without so much as blinking an eye he said yes. She again explained it was an IRON MAN competition, biking, swimming, running… grueling activities for a “healthy” person. She was interested in seeing just how far she could get back to her old life. Her doctor said he knew what they were and it was ok for her to compete. She completed it in like 22 hours. NOT BAD for a first timer, AND an XLIF patient. She has since gotten married to a wonderfully supportive young man, Stuart, and is in anticipation of starting a family some day. She wants people to know you can still do all the “normal” things in life AFTER XLIF surgery that you wanted to.
About the time I was being introduced to Claire in the lobby of the hotel along comes this really cool, big guy with a Texan drawl. “Kathleen, this is Landon, a fellow XLIF patient.” Landon was the epitome of a Southern personality, warm and genuine. He too was an attorney. As I got to hear Landon’s story it reminded me of how fragile our lives really are, no matter where we come from, what our background is, how big or small we are, how purple, white, green, yellow, brown, red or black we are…we still hurt the same way. His surgery was performed 18 months ago and he’s raring to get back to the life he had planned. Landon enjoys martial arts and I think I even saw a picture of him wearing a black belt… he’s also into wrestling… and a whole lotta other stuff! He’s young, energetic and his prior surgeries left him wanting to do the things he’d dreamed about. It wasn’t until his XLIF procedure that he even dare to dream they could all come true. He now has a very deep appreciation for his doctor, the NuVasive family we have and to the opportunity to share his story with others.
There are two other very special people, Nate “Rock” Quarry and NBA ledgend Bill Walton, XLIF patients themselves, I want to talk about but that’s for another day. For now just know that we are ALL very grateful to the dedicated men and women from NuVasive, who, without their dreams and talents, we could not be fulfilling ours!
I’ll be writing again soon about the last two members of the discussion panel Nate and Bill but for now I need to do some housekeeping.
Remember to take care of you and yours,
Aaaaah, but what a memory it will be! From the plane ride to the limo ride to the Hilton on San Diego Bay it was filled with pretty powerful stuff. As luck or fate would have it, my son, Brian, was booked to fly to Phoenix to see his girlfriend, Ally. Our gates were 19 and 20 respectively, an hour apart and it hit me, Brian was going an hour east to continue on his life journey, his future with his girlfriend and future wife, and I was traveling an hour west to greet my new tomorrow. How poignant it was to be at the airport at the same time as our lives are separating. For the last twenty-two years I worked to get him and I to a place of wellness and me to have the opportunity to get on with the rest of my life. That day arrived simultaneously, almost unnoticeable.
There were new people for me to meet, like the attorney and his wife from Vegas who were so gracious to guide me through the steps familiar to them from doing this last year. They eased a lot of fears about what was going to happen but only to an extent. What happens to patients who become Patient Ambassadors is only understandable through experience.
San Diego is the kind of town that if you never get out of your car, the sights from your window are still recognizable from pictures you’ve seen in magazines. The trolley running along the roadway and just a few feet away from the ocean’s edge, it’s all a part of the scene that’s set as you travel to your destination.
Once in the hotel lobby I was immediately impressed with how I was treated. Warm, genuine greetings are met with a surprise bag with my name on it. A welcome to our event gift. As I opened my room door I was greeted with a phone call from one of The Better Way Back folks, Julia. She greeted me and asked if my flight was ok and if my room was acceptable to me…. As long as I didn’t have to cook or clean for the next three days, it didn’t matter to me, but it was a bonus that it looked out onto the Pacific Ocean and the room was gorgeous.
As I was hanging up the phone a knock on my door yielded a young lady presenting me with a “Welcome” tray of goodies! A gift card and a wonderful snack welcoming me to San Diego. It was a really nice touch.
Soon after I was whisked away to dinner at a restaurant in the Gaslamp District with Nate “Rock” Quarry the UFC fighter and the rest of The Better Way Back team. We were ushered into an Atrium for dinner where the New Patient Ambassadors got to meet, share our stories and interact for a while. All around the room there were poster-size pictures of us with quotes from our interviews. We had dinner with Dr. Tormeh, one of the leading neurosurgeons responsible for Claire’s new-found freedom from pain. It was a time for camaraderie and communion welcoming us into the NuVasive family.
Liz St. John, Julia Saba, Melissa Kaysen, and Rolf Benirschke, a former NFL player, rounded out the evening asking us to share our experience with the NuVasive XLIF procedure. Both heartfelt and moving, each one had their story to share. But, with an exciting day ahead it was time to go back to the hotel for some rest before our big day and the ball.
After meeting for breakfast in the hotel we were taken to NuVasive world headquarters in La Jolla. There, we toured the heartbeat of an inner sanctum where talented geniuses are encouraged to think outside the box, making innovation the norm and standard to beat for themselves. A quick look at one of the doctors in action performing the setup procedure on a cadaver moved us on to our purpose for being there. A teleconference took place with us as well as new Patient Ambassadors from Tennessee and from all around the country. There we discussed some of our experiences, then Rolf explained the highlights of 2010 and what The Better Way Back wants to achieve in 2011. They want to have at least 300 plus Patient Ambassadors instead of only the 46 that are now a part of the program. As things would happen, Rolf’s dear friend Mark is to have a six-level back surgery on the 7th of February but is extremely apprehensive about it. Rolf asked if I wouldn’t mind speaking with him after our conference.
Before lunch I took the phone from Rolf and discussed in detail all the pointed questions his friend had about my experience and what he could hope to expect in the weeks and months ahead. By doing this kind of Patient Outreach program, it dispels fears and myths about all the negativity from horror stories of decades of botched back surgeries. It isn’t like that any more. Advances in technologies in neurosurgery have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years and now with the onset of neuromapping, what was done to me eight months ago is considered obsolete as newer, safer, and more streamlined techniques are developed. It’s an exciting time to be a neurosurgeon and a patient who finally has a minimally invasive procedure at their disposal to help get the rest of their life back, pain free!
On the return trip to our hotel we were treated to a “scenic” ride back along the coastal waters, through a section of La Jolla and Ocean Beach. Back by the hotel the aircraft carrier Midway is docked to board and enjoy a lunch or tour of the ship. I chose to be let out a couple of miles away from the hotel to take in the sights before rehearsal for the evening’s events. As I walked, I could see the naval yard across the bay to Coronado Island and the Coast Guard Station where my father’s ship would come into port during the war. There, my mother would wait for him and they took in the very sights and views of the ocean as I now was. I recalled so many of the stories my mom talked about when I was little and now, I could finally put a picture to the scenes I held dear in my mind. I arrived back at the hotel with no time to spare for rehearsal, and with a quick run-through behind me, I was poised to prepare myself for the evenings’ activities.
Each of the New Patient Ambassadors was seated at a different table giving more people an opportunity to interact with us on a personal level. This event is held to award the NuVasive army of sales reps with the year’s best and brightest and to allow the co-mingling of thoughts on how best to represent the company as it grows bigger and brighter on the world stage.
As I spoke with my new Ambassador friend from Las Vegas about the evenings’ events, he didn’t do the night’s affair justice when describing it to me. It’s one of those things where you just gotta be there to really understand the scope of it.
I was seated at the table with two of the board members, and the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of NuVasive. I had no idea who I was talking to as I put my mouth in gear… you’d think that after suffering from hoof-in-mouth disease for decades, I’d learn to tread lightly. But no, I spoke right through better judgement as I explained to Jason, whom by the way only introduced himself as Jason, that I had a meeting with a producer and ghost writer last weekend about getting my memoir written and that I was in need of funding for the project! Nothing like talking about it with the right wrong guy! LOL It wasn’t until much later in the evening, when he was announced to go up on stage that I realized who I was sitting next to. Geesh! I should have been handed a booklet with all the big wigs’ pictures and names so I wouldn’t have sounded so foolish!
As the evening progressed and dinner was served, I was tapped to head to the stage, just after I saw my surgeon get an award for being one of four doctors in the world to have performed more than 1,000 XLIF procedures since its inception. Backstage I patiently waited to be called while Nate Quarry assured me that he would escort me down the steps once we were done so I wouldn’t fall. I am still having some hip issues and I wore brand new two inch heels with my dress. I was the first one introduced and was greeted onstage by Bill Walton, ex-NBA star and now fellow XLIF patient himself. Once we were all seated, three patient advocates and two doctors, a series of questions were posed to each of us. A two minute video of each one of us was played as an introduction leading up to the queries. The questions were a sampling of our experiences and our stories giving a face and character to the metal parts designed and sold by the members of the audience.
Alex Lukianov, CEO and founder of the NuVasive company is an out of the box visionary with a playful streak. He himself is an XLIF patient so he well “gets” what he is doing for people everywhere. There was a performance with a troupe from Circ de Sole, and a 28 piece band with dancers and singers for our dinner entertainment. With a playful heart, Alex let down what little hair he still has along with COO Keith Valentine to do a number of small skits. There was, interspersed during the evening, videos about the company and how it came to be. Hats off to Nadia Scott and Jerry Hana for their professionalism to pull those videos off making us look so good and to add to the variety of media to convey the overall picture of the company as a whole.
It was really cool when I was escorted off stage by Nate Quarry to be warmly greeted by Dr. Smith who conveyed he was totally shocked to see me there. His friends at NuVasive had not shared that tidbit with him. He was also a little surprised because I’ve changed so much physically since he’s seen me in his office. He didn’t recognize me that morning when I spoke to him as he politely breezed swiftly passed me. A little slighted at first, I came to realize my appearance had changed so much he didn’t know who I was. LOL See what he did to me!
I felt like Cinderella and told others as much, not wanting to know when it was midnight! After our discussion panel on stage, people were coming up to me thanking me for sharing my story with them and motivating them to be the best they can be because they have a name and a face to the reason why they do what they do all year long. I was the one who was so overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and camaraderie. I’ve mostly felt like I was the one on the outside looking in and for one of the first times in my life I felt a part of something truly unique and that I belonged.
This past weekend has filled an empty place in my heart that hasn’t known the kind of love and compassion it has long been looking for. It was comfortable. And I liked it. A lot. I achieved something so personal and got to share it with people who understood what it took to get here. That kind of validation isn’t often rewarded to others but I’ve now had the unique opportunity to know what that feels like. All of their love and support are motivation enough for me to continue on my healing journey, and to share with as many people in the world as I can to help them lighten their hearts too.
As I was leaving the ball I was met with a young man from Germany. Standing in the hallway with my shoes in hand, he and I had a lively discussion about the company and the world view from our personal perspectives. It is a conversation I will not soon forget. Once we said our goodbyes, some forty minutes later, I had to pass the Odysea Bar to get to the elevators. It dawned on me I was standing for that long without thinking about looking for a chair!
Of course I was hailed over to speak with others and for the next two hours had yet another lively discussion with a young man named Pete and his wife. Pete was absolutely convinced by the end of our talk he was in the right profession doing the right thing, as his contribution to the bigger picture so people like me and hopefully millions more will have life changing stories to tell as well.
By that time I’d been up for 23 1/2 hours and it was time for me to rest. But before I went to sleep, I sent a message to my ghost writer and told him to brace himself… I had an earful for him and his producer friend, and he better be ready to jump on board for a full steam ahead ride!
This is the capsulated version of a very wonderful evening and weekend that will be forever etched in my mind. It won’t be the last you hear about this weekend because I still have to put my impressions and feeling down in print as well. Since I’m using this website to chronicle my healing journey, there is still much more to come. I’ll keep you posted but for now, I have thank yous to design and get made to send.
I can’t even begin to know how to thank all the people who made this weekend happen and to allow me this opportunity to be a small part of their big picture. I hope I can be of service and am grateful for the trust they’ve placed in me to represent them on a personal level to the world stage. I’ll forever keep that in mind as I go about the task I have before me to get the word out.
I’ve been asked to do a second memoir after I’m done with FOR BRAIN’S SAKE, my journey to my son’s healing, to share MY personal journey about the experience of getting my body back to wellness. It’s an exciting time to be me!
For now I’ll pause to reflect on the past few days to get it into perspective enough to convey my inner thoughts and feelings about what just happened to me. It truly has changed my world forever.
Remember in the meantime to take care of you and yours,
HUGS & Love,