Posts Tagged ‘leg pain’
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WELL! There’s been some real buzz about my e-book, BACK SURGERY FOR 2012!
I so appreciate those of you who have purchased the read through Amazon Kindle. I condensed all the medical information about my first surgery into an easy read where it’s all in one place. That way my readers don’t have to sift through my memoir stuff to find out what they want!
For those of you who don’t know, you don’t have to own a Kindle to get the reader. There are FREE apps you can download for your PC, iPhone and many other electronic devices! Exciting, I know!
There’s also a lot that’s been going on in my life personally and I’m going to get back to sharing stuff with you… in the meantime, I’m still writing so it’s really hard to know how to spend the same 24 hours each day….
I got a vocal coach who, was very pleased with my singing and offered me to sing in one of his productions he produces here in Vegas when he feels I’m ready! I can’t wait, but there’s much work to be done! I’m also meeting with a songwriter who has put together a few different tunes for us to use as a basis for a couple of new songs I wrote lyrics to… GOSH! it’s exciting to be me right now! I know it wasn’t alway so but we do have to suffer through the hard times to enjoy the good ones. AND to know the difference! Right now, I’m just taking all that life has to offer!
This is just a quickie message to let you know, I’m coming back and a little about what’s happening… I’ll talk with you all soon, in the meantime, you know what to do…
Take care of you and yours,
Installment 9 of Q & A for those who had or will have an ACDF, XLIF or total hip replacement and I’ve added a new one DVT! OR HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE ME? LOL part one…
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @KathleenMosko
Hard to believe it’s no longer January! GEESH! The older I get the faster the time goes! The holidays were a blurr since being sick right before Christmas and losing our family Therapy bunny, Skittles, 3 days after Christmas. His bonded mate, Candi, has been just as lost as I’ve been without him, and she and I have taken some time to get to know one another again without him around. It’s been painful to watch how lost she is, it’s sad, just very sad.
Anyway, I’ve had this to do for a while but I never realized how much had piled up for this post or how long it’d actually been. I must apologize and then I thought no, I had some living to do, as you all have, and this website in an extension, not an appendage of me and mine! LOL I have several irons in the fire, one very big one, and several small ones and a couple medium-sized ones so it’s no wonder time has just flown! I really do love being busy… although, I finally learned how to take time to stop and smell the roses… they’re wonderful to smell!
Well, I went back to October and looked at my analytics to see what questions you folks were seeking answers to. I can’t believe I let it go that long! Hmmmm. I’m gonna break it down for ya into the different surgeries, first the XLIF, then the total hip and lastly the ACDF. There’s a reason the ACDF will be that last one. It’s because I’m still having some issues with mine and I’ll be doing these topics in separate posts but want it close to this one so you can have the information all together, sorta… LOL I am always surprised at some of the questions, some are similar to ones already asked and answered in my other posts, but I’ll answer them again here just in case I put a little different twist on it that might be beneficial to you in a way I didn’t cover the last time.
SO HERE GOES – XLIF FIRST!
Q: ARE THERE ANY PROBLEMS WITH AN XLIF? A: The short answer to that is, probably not. The XLIF can be explained that it’s the procedure used to get the doctor into the middle of your body with the least amount of damage to other tissue, muscles and maybe even organs. The XLIF is a procedure or technique designed to get access to the spine. What a doctor does once he’s in the middle of your body at the spine is different than that. There are several procedures available to your doctor to fix any number of problems once he gets in there and sees what’s really happening. I happen to have the good fortune of my doctor being the leading neurosurgeon in the US who not only sees your spine in 3D once he’s in there, it has been told to me he can actually envision in his mind what may be going on in the interior of the spine as well or 4D. Most doctors only need the 3D version for their work to be successful. There are few questions you may want to ask the physician doing your surgery. One, is he NuVasive trained? The reason I share this question is because NuVasive docs are trained on cadaver bodies in an intensive, extensive lab environment. They also are trained to use an advanced version of neuromapping, much like an EEG only MUCH more sophisticated. This is where wires are hooked up to your legs at critical spots and held into place with a plastic sleeve. While undergoing the operation, the doctor is trained to utilize this neuro aide so he can tell exactly what nerve is being touched, drastically reducing the chance of further nerve damage. A doctor who uses this pretty much knows exactly where he is in your spine. One other question you may want to ask is how many of these procedures has that doctor performed. I know that everyone has to start somewhere, but I was one of the last of my doctor’s first 1,000 patients. He’s now working on his second 1,000! In otherwords, he’s had plenty of experience before doing mine! That is not to say all other doctors are not as good as mine, yes, I am partial, but there are plenty of really great neurosurgeons who do excellent work. Problems arising after an XLIF procedure are usually from some other complication such as drug interactions, body systems malfunctions, or some other unknown at the time of the surgery that manifests itself post-op. The choice of your physician is a determinant here as well. I personally wanted a neurosurgeon, hands down, no ifs, ands, or buts. That being said, I know there are many orthopaedic surgeons who have gone through the NuVasive training and are well qualified to do the XLIF procedure.
Q: WHEN IS A PERSON A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR THE XLIF PROCEDURE? A: Any number of stars must be in alighment for you to be a candidate such as insurance carriers allowing the procedure, and your body systems all working as well as they can, but from a strictly medical point of view, the doctor makes the final determination about your condition from a series of tests, mostly, at the very least, an MRI. This allows him a peek inside your body and see as to what’s happening in there and what if anything he feels he is capable of doing to fix it. One look at MY MRI’s and my doctor looked back at me and said, “My God girl, you’re a mess!” (those were his exact words) He makes the determination from what he sees internally no just by you coming in with a few old x-rays and telling him you have a pain. He takes many things into consideration before suggesting minimally invasive surgery. Usually he and the insurance company want to see if more conservative non-invasive measures can correct the pain prior to using surgery as a last resort. Some choose not to go through surgery at all for whatever reason, some can’t because of other medical conditions, and still others who won’t give up smoking which pretty much takes back surgery off the table for them unless they quit. (Please referr to a couple of earlier posts about smoking and surgery for more details about this issue.) This is due to the very low success rate of bone fusion while smoking.
Q: HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME FOR ME TO HAVE BACK SURGERY? A: The short answer to this is, WHEN THE PAIN IS SO ALL-CONSUMING YOU CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE! When it taints your thoughts, your sleep, your intimacy, your social and work life, yeah, then it’s time to do something about it. Afterward, if you have the XLIF done, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to have it fixed! THESE ARE WORDS RIGHT FROM THE HORSES’ MOUTH! My circumstances were such that I couldn’t get fixed until I did but I did it as soon as I could! And, it wasn’t a moment too soon! HONESTLY!
Q: WHAT IS THE MORTALITY RATE FOR AN XLIF PROCEDURE? A: In Dr. Smith’s practice, there has never been a death due to an XLIF procedure. That being said, there are certain unknowns which may adversely affect a successful outcome, such as complications of drug interactions, body systems malfunctions, or some other unknown determinant which causes death post-op. One in particular that comes to mind is MRSA infection. My particular doctor wants his patients in and out of the hospital as quickly as possible and often will perform the surgery on an outpatient basis, greatly reducing the risk of infection and possible other complications. I can only speak for him at this point, so I’m not sure what other doctor’s statistics are.
Q: IS THERE DEEP TISSUE INJURY FROM AN XLIF? A: I wouldn’t classify it as injury, but there is a certain amount of pain or discomfort from the core muscles being pulled apart in order for the surgeon to get to the interior of the body. That being said, I shudder to think of the pain associated with the actual cutting through of all those muscles in order to get to the interior as is done in the waning traditional procedures. Since the “stretching” is far less destructive, I am perfectly happy to recover from that vs actually having my muscles being cut through!
Q: DOES IT HELP TO HAVE THE XLIF DONE FIRST IF THERE ARE OTHER SURGERIES PROPOSED? A: That will strictly be up to your personal condition and how unstable one area is vs another. Often when a person, especially with a scoliotic condition, is faced with multiple surgeries to correct or improve the condition, the surgeon will take into consideration many factors such as, the area most unstable, lifestyle or activity level of a person’s work, or the acuteness of the pain. There are many others as well, one in particular is if the patient is a smoker. This is a very big issue for a surgeon when making a decision to perform surgery. (see earlier posts on this website for details about smoking) Another consideration upfront is your insurance carrier and what they will allow. If all things are equal and your surgeon is a go… in my particular case, my lower back posed the most immediate of problems, so the XLIF was my first surgery. I have known other surgeons to do a cervical correction first because the neck was more unstable than the lower back. I can’t address the reasoning for this or the particular condition of the patient; not enough information was shared.
Q: WILL A BACK FUSION LAST? A: The short answer is, YES! HOWEVER! There is evidence that certain activities will aggravate the areas directly adjacent to the fusion causing arthritis or other conditions. A modification of certain activities should be discussed with your surgeon so it is perfectly clear to the patient which activities to avoid and the ones which can be resumed after recovery.
Q: HOW CAN I IMPROVE THE BOND OF MY FUSION? A: The time to do that is long before you need surgery. The higher your bone density the more successful your fusion may be. The number 1 thing a person can do for themselves is if they are a smoker; QUIT SMOKING!!! Exercise is the second. Those who do impact exercises, even the low impact, are in a better position to have a more successful outcome. If that’s not possible, as it was in my case, then doing passive exercises to strengthen the muscles and surrounding tissue of the painful area by doing water exercises is always a plus. Additionally, there is some indication that if you can slow or reverse osteoporosis it would help in the healing of your fusion. CAFFIENE has been linked to the onset of osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis) or osteoporosis itself. Some studies have shown that more than 300mg of caffeine, or more than one cup of coffee per day increases your chances for those onsets. Also noted is that fact that several non-coffee related foods are high in caffeine and may also be ingested throughout the course of one’s day adding additional caffeine to their intake. Mixed in with all of this is the lack of Vitamin D which is needed for the body to increase it’s metabolizing of calcium. When a person drinks coffee, it acts as a diuretic which also increases the amount of calcium expelled by the body. Caffeine also interferes with absorption of Vitamin D in the bones. So my take away from this is, eat more calcium and Vitamin D enriched foods, and drastically limit your intake of caffeine. And by the way, that means chocolate too! ALTHOUGH TEA HAS CAFFEINE, IT DOESN’T HAVE THE SAME EFFECT ON THE BODY AS COFFEE CAFFEINE DOES! GO FIGURE! (some of this information was taken from my search on the internet)
Q: HOW IS THE BONE HEALED IN AN XLIF SPINAL FUSION? A: Once the doctor implants graft material along with a “growth medium,” it should start to take hold right away. Graft material may come in the form of a non-bodily produced agent or, like mine, was the scrapings off my ribs to insert so it was my own body supplying the material. At about 6 weeks post-op a bone growth stimulator, a simple device designed to send electrical signals to the healing area to increase the rate of stimulation of growth. As one rep put it, If you took the time to have the surgery, and your doctor suggests a bone growth stimulator as part of your recovery, it’s just one more tool in his arsenal to help you heal quicker an more completely. My particular bone growth stimulator was provided to me by Biomet. (go to www.biomet.com to learn more about the science and how it works. Aslo it gives you questions to ask your doctor about the device.) It’s a little device no bigger than a deck of cards with a case that attaches to your clothing or belt and attached to some wires with patches that have a sticky gel on them that stick to your skin where the doctor wants the healing, not where your scars are. All things being good, the total fusion takes about six months to complete. In the meantime, your body should be pampered somewhat. The surgeon will track your progress by a series of x-rays done at certain intervals of your healing to make sure the fusion is complete. Once the healing is complete, you should be able to resume most all of your old activities. I’m still learning what all I can do that I had to give up for so long.
Q: ONE PERSON ASKED ABOUT HAND PAIN POST-OP, AND ANOTHER ABOUT FOOT PAIN FROM AN XLIF… A: My take on this is that there are other underlying causes to those conditions which can only be addressed by your surgeon. If you haven’t made him or her aware of this condition, please do at your earliest chance. It may be something simple he can address to alleviate the discomfort.
Q: I HAVE PAIN IN MY LOW BACK AND BUTT AREA AFTER MY XLIF. A: This person doesn’t say how long after the surgery so I can only address it from my experience. I don’t recall having much butt pain at all but yes, there was some low back pain. Mainly this was due to a couple of things. First, my muscles were weak from non-use all those years prior to my surgery. Secondly, my back muscles were stretched and I had to allow time for them to work themselves back into place. As I increased my activity levels and my exercise regimine, my discomfort with my low back muscles became a thing of the past. So much so, sometimes I now have to really think hard how much pain I was really in.
Q: WHAT ARE THE NEGATIVES FOR AN XLIF PROCEDURE? A: I will only be able to address this as I know it from my experience with Dr. Smith. As far as I can assertain, there are none. Dr. Smith is very careful to screen his surgical candidates for the XLIF due to their other medical and physical conditions. I spoke directly with Joe, Dr. Smith’s PA to get his perspective about negatives. He shared with me that just on the merit of the condition of the patient and the quality of the procedure, one can expect to have recovery to a greater degree. There are no guarantees with any surgery and there are those cases where, inspite all the best efforts, some nerve damage is irreversable. Dr. Smith has an outstanding recovery rate, far higher than anyone, to my knowledge, performing the surgery to date! (other than Dr. Pimenta who pioneered and perfected the procedure)
Q: IS IT OK IF I PICK UP SOMETHING WEIGHING 10#? A: Depending on where you are in your healing process the answer is yes, and no! LOL For the first six months of my recovery of the XLIF, I was not allowed to pick up anything heavier than 5#. My son, Brian, jumped at the chance to get me a Coach purse, which I vehemently resisted, until Dr. Smith told me I would have to reduce the weight of my purse. Brian nagged me for two years prior to get me a Coach purse but I kept telling him no. After the Dr. Smith directive, he showed up one day with this 10″x8″x2″ purse. I have had more people ask me why I even bother with such a small purse, and it being a Coach purse and all, so then I have to stand there and explain to them it was Dr. Smith’s fault and what Brian did for me to acquire it! I don’t have a limitation now but Brian spent so much on it, I don’t have the heart to not use it. He’s told me it was ok if I didn’t but, it was such a fun gesture, I can’t put it away. It came in handy after my ACDF surgery anyway because I wasn’t allowed to lift anything but 5# or under then as well. Now it’s just a novelty! A gallon of milk or water weights approximately 8.5 pounds which, at the beginning of your healing will be too much to lift. For a while I suggest buying your milk in half gallons if you want to lift it yourself. And ladies, change the size of your purse!
Q: DID ANYONE LOSE WEIGHT AFTER THEIR XLIF? A: I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me the answer is a big fat YES! I lost 29 pounds. My doctor of physical therapy told me it was due to muscle mass loss. BELIEVE ME, if I could have gained back the muscle mass without gaining back the weight I would have given up my eyeteeth for the trade! Once you are done with your slow pace and you go back to physical therapy, you should regain most of the weight back. I didn’t take it off all at once and it came back slowly as I increased my exercise program. I have hamstrings now that actually do what they’re supposed to so I’m ok with gaining back the muscle weight. NOW, if I could only lose the fat weight, I’d be in great shape! LOL
Q: I HAVE A LARGE LUMP UNDER MY XLIF SCAR AND THE AREA IS TWITCHING… A: The lump can be one of several things, a cyst, sometimes caused by trapped fluid or blood, a growth of tisssue under the skin, or it could be the scar, which is what they call keloiding. A keloid is when scar tissue manufactures too much skin to repair itself. It’s more annoying than anything else, and it sometimes makes the scar wider than the original inciscion. If a keloid becomes unsightly, you can see a plastic surgeon to repair it. It isn’t however caused by anything your original surgeon did or didn’t do. It has to do with how your body repairs itself after a wound. In the other instances as cited above, each should warrant a visit to your surgeon to address them so he can assess what needs to be done to correct the lump, if anything. As for the twitching, although it is probably associated with the healing process of the wound itself, you may want to address it at the next regularly scheduled office visit unless you feel it’s so annoying it warrants its own visit.
Q: I HAVE SWEATING POST-OP OF MY XLIF… A: Your body has experienced an induced trauma with the XLIF surgery, although it was a good trauma in order to fix the pain. Some people react differently to that trauma and their metabolism is thrown way out of whack. I too, had the very opposite effect, I sat chilled to the bone though it was 110 degrees outside! (Remember, I live in Vegas!LOL) I would be sitting in sweatpants and a sweatshirt covered with a blanket while the rest of the household members were in shorts, T-shirts and the air conditioning was running! It was a bazzar time for me and my metabolism but it got better as I got further out post-op! I am now back to my “normal” if one could call it that… I can sit in a room in a pair of shorts and the heat doesn’t have to be blaring for me to be comfortable. It’s mostly part of the process. As your metabolism returns to a normal state, the sweats should reduce in occurance. IF for some reason you are having sweats with a fever, by all means seek medical help immediately. There may be an infection which needs addressed STAT! Take your temp and see if it’s normal or if you have a fever, then act accordingly.
WHEW! This concludes catching up with the questions concerning the XLIF PROCEDURE asked on this website as concerns and followups to the different posts. I will return shortly with a continuation of Installment 9 of Questions and Answers to address the ACDF procedure.
In the meantime, you know what to do, take care of you and yours,
email@example.com Twitter @KathleenMosko
Since we’re on the subject of post-surgical stuff, I was thinking about my expectations. Also, I’ve listen to a lot of questions about what others’ expectations are for their post-op experience.
It didn’t hit me all at once. Call me naive. I guess I had this ah ha moment ‘long about two or three months into my recovery. I was sitting at Dr. Smith’s office and it hit me when the TV in the waiting room showed a commercial for a law firm handling Social Security Disability cases. I won’t have to file for SSI! That was certainly a light bulb moment!
I’ll tell ya why. All along the before thought I held deep in me was, I would get a wheelchair, get on SSI, and live what life I had left out and settle for whatever moresels life would hand me in the way of attention and companionship. I’d given up on life, on ever owning my own home again, of ever being out of pain, of possibly facing giving up driving, of ever not being co-dependent on another human being. What I felt I was facing was the rest of my life in a downward spiral. At some point I figured I would become bedridden and it’s not a far leap to the coffin after that. Yet, through all those thoughts, there was a burn deep within my soul. It was still that last flicker of hope. I was born an optimist, so how could I possibly not hold out even the slightest chance of hope.
I’ve shared with you in the past I never gave up hope on Brian, no matter how hopeless it seemed, and if that was within me then, then why should I be any less of a person to deserve that same power of hope? I honestly can’t tell you HOW I managed to muster the courage any other way except, I prayed. Mom always said, “Prayer is powerful, Kathie.” I prayed long, and hard and oh, so often for God to show me a sign, just like He did in the past with Brian. I asked Him to guide me in a direction of wellness to skilled hands who could rid me of my torture. And then, I gave my expectations to Him.
As I found my way, at first I had certain hopes, wishes really, because those hopes seemed so far removed from what I could possibly achieve. I’m talking about just being out of pain. My original thoughts surrounded the idea that the doctor, any doctor I could find, would take away even half the pain. It would eventually return but it would buy me time of some relief. That’s being in accordance with all the horror stories I’d heard about back surgeries over the years. I was open to at least that by the time I finally got to speak with doctors.
When I went to the first doctor and he shared I was so deformed he wouldn’t touch me, my heart sunk. That, for me, was one of the lowest points of my life. To know it had gone so long without treatment, that it was now beyond treatment was truly a devastating blow. When he offered up a colleague as an alternative, my hopes flickered a little. It would take a lot for me to come out of that funk. For another week until his office visit, I waffled back and forth between doing nothing and accepting my fate as it were, or giving it another shot. I always knew in the back of my mind I wanted a neurosurgeon to do my operations if it could be done, but the first doctor didn’t give me much to go on in the hope department!
Since I saw the second surgeon, an orthopod, he gave me a smile as he delivered what he thought was good news to me; I thought that’s all I could hope to achieve. He could reduce my pain by about 50% and I would have 3 major surgeries tearing up my flesh and rendering my muscles pretty much useless. I can see why so many people swore if they had to do their back surgery over again, they wouldn’t.
BUT, March 8, 2010 is my day of mercy and redemption! The day emblazoned in my brain. From his very first words, I knew Dr. William Smith was going to be very special to me. Succinct and charismatic in demeanor, he knew intuitively and listened intently to my story of pain. One he’d heard so often he could recite it just by looking at how a person was walking and standing. My expectations rose considerably as I floated out of his exam room. It would take me days to digest what all was said, and I did hang on his every word simply because I was alone, no one else came with me to the exam. The only thing that kept resonating in my brain, pinging back and forth like a tennis ball, was the words, “I can take away your pain, do it in a minimally invasive manner and have you back to life activities in a matter of months.” It was almost beyond comprehension.
As the days past waiting for my surgical date, I had to pack and move and be host to out of town visitors. But I’d catch myself when the pain became so overwhelming, thinking of how it just might be to do that very task WITHOUT THE PAIN. As hard as I tried, I just didn’t have a single experience in my recollective past I could relate that thought to. So I simply endured, edging ever closer to my goal, one I pledged to God I would not take for granted should He so grace me with a full recovery. This website fulfills one part of that pledge.
My expectations grew thinking of all the endless possibilities, first little ones, then the “what ifs.” You know the ones you’ve dare not dream. Instead of dreaming about not being in pain, what if you were to dream about being able to sit through an entire movie pain free at a movie theater. ( I tried it at home first) Then, “what if” I could go to the mall and just window shop, or better yet, go to the Fashion Show Mall and walk ALL FOUR FLOORS with no pain! Or linger in a store just to check out everything that caught my eye because I didn’t have to leave because of the pain. And “what if” I could go with my guests to the Hoover Dam and walk around with them, climbing all the steps and walking across the bridge, and feel no pain. “What if” I could finally go back to work and be a productive member of society? WOW! The possibilities were endless… my expectations soared. I’ve eventually been able to do all my “what ifs.” The greatest of these has been being able to physically kneel in church and thank God for all His many blessings.
Early on though, I realized those were somewhat distant goals. Things I could eventually achieve. My condition didn’t happen overnight, and it was going to take some time to undo it. I had no clue how much healing was involved or how long it would take. I simply dedicated my every ounce of being to becoming well again. I had to, I had HOPE, and God was on my side and He wouldn’t let me down if only I would put forth the effort and do my part.
I”ve said it before, Dr. Smith is not a god, but an “instrument” of God given special gifts to share with the world. His time and talents are so rare and unique and it hasn’t been wasted on him. I know several people in my close circle of acquaintances and family that have the IQ of genius, but have done nothing with it, wasting their lives in mediocrity. Such a shame, and frustrating for me to know how hard I’ve struggled to gain each bit of me through endless trial and error, working hard to grasp every ounce of knowledge I come by. With a reading disorder and being ADHD, one would think I couldn’t focus long enough to write one paragraph, let alone undertaking the task to write three books. And a lot of people have sold me short because of it. (They are now getting quite a surprise!)
As my surgical date approached, my expectations grew. I would need those thoughts to get me through to the other side of my journey. Those expectations weren’t lost, but rather utilized as a way to motivate me to keep at the physical therapy, to do the things necessary for myself to achieve my ultimate goals.
I’ve talked with several people who have a wide range of expectations post-surgery and for their recovery. Some with as narrow a focus as just getting out of a wheelchair and maybe going to a movie. Others envisioned a two or three week recovery. One that would put them back to all their daily tasks within six weeks, and were angry when they weren’t, however pain free they may be. I keep emphasizing how critically important it is to engage in as much formal physical therapy as possible to return your body to a state of new normalcy, free from pain with muscles strong enough to support your repair. But that takes time!
Some are very lucky to have the experience as one gentleman did after his surgery that within two or three weeks was completely pain free from the pre-op pain AND the post-op pain. Another was angry at Dr. Smith that he still had a twinge in his side from the surgical site, although Smith got them out of a wheelchair and was walking upright without the severe pain that put him there. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Dr. Smith, it’s that he loves smiles. Especially when they erase the furrows of pain on a person’s face. NO, there are no guarantees when he performs the surgeries, but this is a world renown surgeon who doesn’t do something first, unless he sees it needs done and then, thinks it will alleviate the condition that sent you to him in the first place. Again, HE LOVES SMILES! And he has a very long list of admirers.
But your expectations for your “after surgery” recovery should be balanced with certain expectations of the amount of effort you personally put into it. The old adage, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” comes to mind in this instance. Dr. Smith(minimally invasive procedure)+personal dedication with a positive mental attitude+motivation=a healed body as pain free as possible! This is a great formula, one you are expected to be an integral part of. Your doctor is only one part of your healing, and your expectations should be the focus of your recovery as a participant. He can’t do the physical therapy for you! YOU are the only one who can fulfill those expectation! But remember… it doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes concentrated effort on your part!
I made a pact with Dr. Smith on March 8th. I pledged to him I would do everything he asked of me, and I wouldn’t complain no matter how difficult it was to do. If he would keep his word to me, then I would keep my word to him. He smiled. I think he knew how serious I was and how important it was for me to make that pact with him. He agreed and it’s kept me going through the tough times all the way to now, as I become a productive member of society, ready to give back.
Just remember to keep your expectations within what you know you are willing to put forth the effort for. Don’t make them so unrealistic they become unattainable. No one wins then. YOU ARE A WINNER, YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU CAN BE PAIN FREE!
And on that, I will just remind you all to take care of you and yours,
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @kathleenmosko
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you, are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
I never thought much about being an inspiration to others. Or, for that matter, a leader. I was just busy trying to make my way through life, meeting each challenge with as much gusto as I could muster. I’ve always kind of known I was living in a movie, but always felt I was just an ordinary person. I was raised like that; to not think of myself as someone special; you were just a part of the bigger picture according to my parents. They worked hard, and set a great example of how to just make sure you kept your own doorstep clean and didn’t stick your nose into anyone else’s business.
I still consider myself to be an ordinary person who just happened to recognize she was living an extraordinary life. And once I realized it, I felt compelled that, at some point before I died, I was going to share my life with the world. It will be my legacy of information and know-how and determination to FIND a way when a person thinks there was none. In sharing my journey through every experience, I plan to leave a legacy to my beloved son, Brian. He, was the reason I survived when I came close to believing there was no more reason to exist. All those times I just wanted to give up and let someone else take care of me, those times when I really felt there were no answers to the questions and challenges I had, and yet, somehow, with God and a few amazing people, I saw the light. Not the one at the end of the tunnel, because for a lot of years I was so far off from reaching the end. I’m still not at the end by any stretch of the imagination… as a matter of fact, I’m just gettin started…. AGAIN!
But as I’m reading the comments from the posts in response to each of my articles from all over the world, I, am inspired to do better, to be a better writer, to give a little more, to reach a little further, like my parents did. And in doing so, I’ve become a richer person, a more well rounded person, a person who could observe at a distance and just know, instead of seeking out a meaning…. it was just there because my parents taught me that to understand. And like them, giving all that to me, I in turn can give that all to you.
And I’m getting my reward back already… the one where you’re letting me know just how much you value me as a writer, an instructor, a mentor, and a leader. And that’s a good place to be… it feels wonderful! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I know I’ll miss the back and forth and some of the personal messages some of you took the time to send me, but I’m having a hard time doing too many things, which means I can do none of them very well. I would one day like to be on a few talk shows, sharing my experience with as many people as I can so that many more can know the information I know and become well again. That’s how I want to lead, by example.
You all have inspired me to be a better person, to not think so much of myself in terms of me, but rather in what I know that I can give back to you, and in turn inspire you to do the same in your little corner of the world! What a cool place to be, at the beginning of a huge wave of help! If every one of you contacted 10 friends with the information shared here, and they in turn did the same, just think of how many people we could all help!
I read somewhere there are over 9 million people suffering from back pain, who, with minimally invasive back surgery could be functional human beings again. IF only 1/3 of those people were reached and helped, just think how many people could once again be productive. Yesterday while volunteering, I spoke with a lady Dr. Smith will be operating on. She is in so much pain she’s in a wheelchair. I explained in detail all the “stuff” I thought she’d need to know and when I was done, her friend who brought her was in tears, and she asked for a hug. The relief she feels from the knowledge she acquired is empowering her to have a positive mental attitude to do what it takes to get her out of that chair. Just hearing me tell her what a difference the operation has made in my life and can make in hers moved her to start dreaming about going to a movie with her friend and taking her precious puppy out for a walk. It hit her friend more than it hit her, but this is one patient I want to see post-op. The one I want to see 6 months or a year from now. With activity she will loose weight, and gain her self esteem back. Right now she can’t even wear shoes and someone else must put her slippers on for her.
Recently, just before Christmas, a gentleman had come to see me three or four times, frightened by all the horror stories but knowing he had no other recourse. Seven days after surgery, he called to thank me for taking the extra time with him to put his mind at ease. He was only seven days post-op and felt no original pain. There was some surgical pain he shared but it was nothing like the pain he once suffered with. You could actually hear the smile in his voice!
I want more, more, MORE of those kinds of experiences! And you too can help. I can understand why Dr. Smith is so driven to do more surgeries, to teach more doctors. It’s almost intoxicating to hear the words of patients who once were in so much pain start leading productive, full lives again. It’s personally rewarding and totally inspiring! People come back with tears of joy in their eyes thanking Dr. Smith for the measure of relief he was able to give them. The gratitude I see pouring forth from the work he’s done, is nothing short of miraculous! That in and of itself prods me on to do more, give more, share more and be more.
There are some unsung heros in the cogs of the wheel to wellness. I’m talking about all the dedicated women of the office who quietly spend hours on some cases to get insurance approval and all the paperwork in order to do everything in their power to make it happen for Dr. Smith to work his magic! I’ve seen his assistant answer her phone, write up hospital orders, answer Dr. Smith’s directives, answer a patient’s question and do it all at the same time with a smile on her face. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned by just watching what goes on behind the scenes to make what Dr. Smith does happen.
These women inspire me to want to know more, to understand the inner workings of a doctor’s office and to understand the heartbeat of what it takes for a successful outcome. As a patient and silent observer, I get to see both sides of the story. I’ve been enlightened and motivated to do more, to help more people to feel the outcome I have. I would never want to pass on false hope, but I’ve seen hopeless cases be whole, pain-free human beings who are productive.
You can do your part too. I bet right now if you really thought about it you can think of at least one person close to you that has limited activity due to chronic back pain. Pain maybe not bad enough to put them in a wheelchair, but bad enough it makes them think twice about the activities they participate in during the course of their day or week. Those people are the ones that can use the information I’ve been sharing and will continue to share, and that YOU should be sharing this information with!
Get your friend, family member or loved one to the information about minimally invasive back surgery! Allow them the knowledge that there’s a better way to do back surgery than what they’ve heard about in the past. Help them to seek out a NuVasive doctor trained in the techniques Dr. Smith employs to alleviate their torture. Help them with the lives they can lead vs just offering sympathy as you sit by and watch them suffer. You can’t feel their pain, but you can certainly educate them to put an end to it.
So if being a leader means inspiring others to do good when they can, then, yes, I will take on that role. If I can put one person’s mind at ease as they make a life-altering decision, then I’ll have accomplished a worthwhile goal. By inspiring others is the only way I can see to aspire to my more lofty goals, to take myself out of me, walk a mile in another’s moccasins, and be empathetic towards those who need to take the leap of faith that there’s a better way to live and to heal.
With that I’ll leave you to seek out someone you know, tell them what you know, encourage them to put the pain behind them and have a fulfilling life. BE A LEADER TOO!
Go to The Better Way Back website, find out how you can help someone who is suffering in pain, find them a doctor in their area trained to do the minimally invasive techniques that can change their lives.
email@example.com or call 1-800-745-7099
THEY DO NOT PAY ME TO SAY THIS, I just feel they are the leaders in minimally invasive techniques with cutting edge technology to change the world for how back surgery is done. I was a tiny little part of that innovation and I’m proud to pass it along!
I WANT EVERYONE TO FEEL AS GOOD AS I DO! AND IT CAN HAPPEN, ONE PATIENT AT A TIME!
In the meantime, take care of you and yours!
firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
email@example.com Twitter @kathleenmosko
I’ve been going along just fine with all my healing… I’m doing bunches more than I’ve done in a decade! I even go to the mall on a regular basis! My world is so full of activities and new places and things to do… I am so happy this is my new life! AND I DON’T WANT TO DIE, NOT NOW, NOT AFTER ALL I’VE BEEN THROUGH. I have way too much to live for, way too much to do, and way too many people to help! THERE IS LIFE, AND A GOOD ONE, AFTER BACK SURGERY!
Well, I’m not sure I ever wanted to write about this particular health issue. Blood clots or the more medically correct term, DVT, Deep Vein Thrombosis, which comes in two varieties. There’s the Chronic DVT type and the more serious DVT type, the one that can kill you if you don’t do everything to the letter the doc tells you.
I’m not going to post this until I get everthing done and a final diagnosis… but I am writing this in real time so you understand what the steps are and how I arrived to a final diagnosis and treatment.
As a precaution after my last surgery, my hip surgeon, Dr. Michael Crovetti prescribed for me 325mg of aspirin, some docs use Warfarin, and there’s a couple of other drugs that are blood thinners that they commonly use. Mine happens to use the easiest on the body, aspirin. I was to also wear those compression stockings during the first 30 days. When the allotted 30 days for taking the aspirin were up after the hip operation I took myself off of it with little more thought.
Within three days my left leg started a deep ache below the knee and I was adverse to going back on any other pain meds so I just used the aspirin. The pain went away. I did that for a few days and then again took myself off the aspirin. Again, the leg pain returned. I wasn’t due back for another checkup for a while and since our insurance changed, I decided that maybe I’d do some research and see if I could just use up the bottle of aspirin. I felt fine, more than fine… like I’d just won the lottery on feeling great!
When the bottle ran out, I didn’t replace it, but the leg pain returned and there was stiffness at my knee unless I did some leg exercises. I decided not to take any more aspirin but the leg pain still didn’t go away. One evening on a weekend I started to have chest pains as if I was having a heart attack. I told my spouse he needed to get dressed and drive me to the hospital cause I didn’t think I could do it on my own. Until he got dressed, the pain subsided and I felt a little better. I know how he feels about going to the ER and on a weekend and that our insurance changed, I decided I didn’t really need to go. But I did realize I, at the very least, needed to stay with the blood thinner. By accident my son had bought a bottle of 81mg of aspirin when I first started the regimen, so I decided to take one of those a day. The leg pain subsided but not all the way.
In the meantime I was still having ear aches even though I hadn’t been swimming since August! It was finally time to see my general practitioner. I figured that while I was there, I’d talk to him about my leg pain. Which I did. I totally forgot to tell him about the chest pain incident but told him everything else. He said it’d been so long since my hip surgery that he didn’t feel I actually had DVT. He said the quickest test was (as he was leaning over to press his fingers on my shin bone) to press on your shin bone and hold it down for a few seconds then let go. If you have at the very least Chronic DVT, there will be an indentation left in your skin where the fingers were pressed. Sure enough, there was an indentation. He sat back, look surprised at me and said, “Now there IS such a thing as “Chronic DVT.” I want you to continue taking the 81mg of aspirin. So, my worst fears were realized. In the back of my mind, I knew I was seeing Dr. Smith on the 5th of December so I didn’t press the issue and figured I’d just discuss it further with Smith.
I did my research and found that worse case scenario is I’d have to have a stint put in where ever there was a need. It sounds like a pretty simple procedure and should not give me any downtime or problems afterwards. If I should need the stint I will just have to resign myself to the fact that is what it’s going to take to keep me alive. I can’t possibly turn my back on this now.
During my check up exam with Dr. Smith, I shared my concerns over the DVT diagnosis Dr. Sparling gave me and I wanted to discuss it with him. He was all ears. I told him after all the research I did, my feeling is that I don’t want to die. When I was done he said he wanted to do a venogram with contrast to see just what was happening, if there are any clots and where. He added he didn’t want me to die either. WHEW! That’s a relief! LOL OF COURSE HE DOESN’T WANT ME TO DIE! That wouldn’t look too good for him!
He also ordered for me to have a full spinal x-ray done of my middle back to see what if anything is happening. He said before I even got started with my first surgery he was going to leave my middle back alone and hopefully it would start to correct itself back to a more normal position. I’ve been feeling a LOT of movement in that area. That being said, I’m coming on to the point where there may be signs of my middle back shifting back to that place. One could only hope… or at the very least catch it before it shifts out of place more horribly and I have to have additional surgery to stabilize it too. I’ll know more on the 15th!
On the flip side of things he took a look at the x-rays I brought with me and he’s quite pleased my spine fused very well. My neck he said is fusing nicely, although it’s only been 9 months. He will keep checking with x-rays to see what kind of progress each site is making during a 2 year span. So even though I’m closing in on my 2 year mark with my 6-level XLIF… I still have a ways to go on the 3-level ACDF… and even longer still with my total hip…BUT THAT’S OK, I’M ON THE DOWNHILL SLIDE OF THINGS! I just pray that my DVT problems are minor. Otherwise, from what I’ve read, I’ll be having yet another surgery.
I feel like I should be posting this as I go, but then again, a lot of you have asked me to write longer posts and I wanted to share it all at one time so you’re not jumping around to find it all. So please, bear with me. If I get feedback that you want to be kept updated in real time, then after this, I’ll see to it I write my updates in real time and let you fend for yourselves to find it all… LOL
It’s now Wednesday the 7th of Dec. and I still have 7 more days to go before I get the results of the DVT venogram. I’m am starting to get antsy, and, as like a religion, I’ve been taking my aspirin therapy as soon as I get up. Sometimes as early as 4am. My mind starts to race the moment I’m awake and I thank God he gave me another day to be here. If it weren’t for my faith in Him I don’t know how I could’ve gotten through all that I have. My gratitude toward Him is ever humbling as I realize there’s only been one set of footprints in the sand and He has carried me all the days of my life.
I’m speaking about my beliefs from the heart because waiting is such a hard thing to do. I go inward like I’ve shared before, because that’s where I find my strength, that’s where I find Him. I take comfort in knowing I’ve left it in His hands, my life that is, and that I can worry about other human things, but sometimes when the waiting is long, like it is this time, I’m quieter than normal, I’m more introspective, and I have a focus for my healing.
I keep feeling like I have to rededicate myself to the mechanics of my healing. That somehow I’ve lost my “edge” by not doing everything I can or should be doing. But, in other respects I’ve been doing so much more for myself than I’ve ever done before.
For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m worthy of good things, and that I don’t have to “settle for” anything less than what I want or need. In some aspects, I feel like this is “MY TIME!” And as I’ve said so many times in the past, if I don’t do it now, THEN WHEN? When is it ever the best time to do it for yourself?
After you gain employment? There’s something to be said about having a good source of income… money can be evil, but it takes money to have a quality about your life.
After you have someone special to share your life with? Some people wait a lifetime for that one special person, that one special moment to be with someone who really, truly believes in them and loves them, not for what they have, but for who they are.
After you fulfill all the needs of everyone around you? Giving and sharing is one thing, and the more you give, the more comes back to you tenfold. But be wise in your giving, because so often we end up giving the most precious thing we have away, ourselves. It is our most precious commodity and, if we lose ourself, then you have nothing left to give others. This is one of the hardest things I’m dealing with; finding the old me, the one I gave away without really realizing I’d done it, the one full of life, and excitement, and adventure. I’m sure she’s in there somewhere, I just need someone to help me get her out! LOL That one “special” person who will accept me unconditionally, without resevation, with all my flaws and can walk beside me and call me friend, not two steps ahead or make me walk two behind.
This waiting just sucks! In the meantime, I’m doing busy work and taking my aspirin!
CAPTAIN’S LOG STARDATE…..December 14, 2011 LOL
I went to my appointment with the radiologist… WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!
OK, sometimes you just have the gods looking down on you saying…. “You’ve been doing some good work so we’re going to reward you in a small way”…. DID THEY EVER! I must say this was the most enjoyable testing I’ve EVER had done! LOL
The young man who called my name was just too darn cute. Cut jaw, clean shaven, short curlish sandy blond hair, the prettiest color blue eyes and the darlingest dimples when he smiled. Aaron was his name, and I might add, VERY polite! He knew his stuff and walked around the x-ray suite with ease. I had to do my standing x-rays first. They’re the ones that will tell Dr. Smith what’s happening to the vertebra between the fusions. I don’t suppose there are too many left!
Today has been a very busy and tiring day for me. I think I’ve overdone it but my “adopted” son just landed a couple of hours ago from Ohio and I’ve been trying to get the house looking Christmassy even though I’m just not at my best. So after I got done with my tests I had to go to Walmart for a few things and then went right back at it. I had to get bunny greens and make them their salad! LOL Skittles did better today and has been eating on and off all day. Ok, back to my story!
The x-rays Aaron took of my back were done in a couple of different ways , some standing, some laying down. Aaron took them from my neck where you can see my plate for my ACDF fusion, and also the whole of my spine all the way to my tailbone. You can actually see all of my XLIF fusion. I’m still pretty crooked but at least I’m not in pain where he did those! I guess I’ll hear what he has to say about that in the morning seeing as how I’m his first patient again!
Then Aaron took me to another suite with a different setup and told me a doctor would be doing the next test. He had everything laid out he’d need for the procedure. He would assist the doctor. He was so cute and so pleasant the time just flew. Aaron was so kind as to help me swing onto the table to lay down because they wanted me from my right hip to lay down and I don’t really do all that well on a hard surface from my right. But he was cool about it when I asked for help. There was a glitch in administering this particular procedure because it’s not often done any more. Either Dr. Smith is so specific about his care that he will do what’s best for the patient no matter what, or the procedure was warranted because I have so much metal in me they had no other way to do this test but the old fashioned way…. it really doesn’t matter to me, as long as tomorrow I get results that’ll be helpful to Dr. Smith to determine what’s going on with my leg.
When Aaron had everything ready, he called in one of the guys from nuclear medicine to do the IV which had to be put in on the top of my foot. I ask you, when was the last time you had an IV in your foot? That’s ok, he sprayed it with some “freeze” from a can before he put the needle in so it wouldn’t hurt so bad. The top of the foot is a very sensitive spot! Sure ’nuff, it worked… all I felt was a quick pinch. didn’t feel much else.
After that was all done, it was time to call the doctor in. It’s a good thing I was laying down, cause I’da fallen over if I hadn’t been… O M G ! I had to blink! In walks the doctor with a particular swagger, who happened to look a LOT like Matthew Mcconaughey…. I didn’t care if it hurt or not! Between Aaron, and Dr. Brian Schulz, it was ALL good! He even looks like a Brian! My son’s name is Brian and I know what a Brian looks like! LOL He never looked over at me so I can’t tell you what color of eyes he had but he had a full head of curly brown hair. I just wanted to stare! I know, I know… I sound like a dirty old lady… eh, that’s ok…. after all I’ve been through…. the least I can have is ALL good looking doctors… AND I DO… ALL OF EM… EVERY LAST ONE OF EM…. it somehow makes the medicine go down a little easier! LOL OK, OK… enough drooling! I’ll get on with it…. now, where was I… Oh yeah….
While the doc was shooting the dye into my veins, Arron was manning the x-ray unit and taking pics of my leg from my groin all the way to my ankle… Dr. Schulz had Aaron tip the table back and forth to work the dye into my veins. He also took his gloved hand and started pushing the dye by wrapping his hand around my leg like he was at a butcher store grabbing onto a leg ‘o lamb. His grip was very tight and he worked his way up my leg to the knee. My knee’s been tender and that was quite breathtaking and not in a good breathtaking way! It only lasted for a few seconds so I didn’t mind just grinning a little and bear in mind now who was doing this…. LOL Dr. McDreamy Schulz kept asking me if I was hurting, or if I was doing ok…. I was fine… no, really I was FINE! LOL
On a serious side of things, Dr. Schulz said I was lucky to have had it scheduled today since he’s the only one in that practice that can still do that type of procedure. I’m not sure what the new protocol is but this didn’t seem all that bad to me! I have a high tolerance for a lot of things! LOL
As we were getting started I explained to the doctor about my book and how I was writing about it in real time. I asked permission to write about the experience. He asked for my card and said he’d read it but only if I said nice things about him! LOL AS IF I COULD SAY ANYTHING LESS! :>) He defies his age because to me, he only looked like about 28! I’m guessing actually in the 40ish range but he’s very well preserved!
I feel like Dr. Smith commands the respect of his colleagues because of his impecable reputation and agility in the operating theater and I’m comfortable he’s sent me to the best of the best. Believe me, because of my son’s conditions, I’ve spent MANY an hour with a boatload of doctors who have been far less than what I have now! I don’t know, I guess I feel like mine just care more than the ones I experienced back in Ohio… and I’m sure there were some good doctors there, Brian had two of the best, his pediatrician and his infectious disease specialist. But a lot of em were just mediocre… The ones on my short list now are incredible!
Quickly Dr. Schulz did what he needed to do, then left… this testing was MUCH more pleasant than I thought it would be… once again, thank you Dr. Smith…
CAPTAIN’S LOG STARDATE…… December 15, 2011
I got to the office early today just in case Dr. Smith wanted to see me earlier than my 8am appointment. Often he will come in before hours to do dictation, or calls or catch up on some paperwork. Today was no exception. I told him I was his first and that I had my films. When he was done with whatever he was doing, he told one of the girls to put Kathleen into a room. That’s actually the very first time I’ve heard him say my name. HONESTLY! I’ve been volunteering there since June!
As I had a back and forth with him, he looked at my x-rays pointing out to me I have what he calls a “double S” or compensatory scoliosis. A curve at the top of my spine, and a curve in the opposite direction at the bottom of my spine. Because I was so deformed, his intent was never to fully correct the bottom curve but rather give me back some height and release my pinched nerves, which he did both, giving me back 2 1/8 inches! The pain I was feeling that concerned me is from it retuning to a more normal position. By which I mean, he explained that as he corrected the lower back, the upper back would slowly do a shift to more naturally match the new curve he made for me in the lower back. It’s pretty cool stuff! Especially when you think of how deformed I was and how amazing the human body is to compensate both to accommodate the injury and to re-accommodate the healing. The more I trust Dr. Smith, the more I trust him. It’s happened just the way he said it would. I just wasn’t sure if it was doing a good shift or the bad shift. I can still feel it nonetheless.
NOW, to tackle the DVT thingy. After looking over the report, Dr. Smith said he was a bit concerned about something Dr. Schulz noticed. He didn’t feel it warranted anything more than what I’m already doing so I will once again trust him. Who am I to question him? I will continue to take my 81mg’s of asprin and feel confident that I see him twice a week most weeks being in the office and if anything drastic changes, at a moment’s notice I can see him in a professional capacity.
It was nice to talk to him these last couple professional visits. We speak on many things while I’m in there and I’m feeling more and more comfortable with my place in the office, with him, and my handling of the cases he sends me. I think I’ll miss those chats, but if I’m well then there’s no need for me to really be in his space. He’s just really enjoyable to talk with and be around.
I would imagine he can be a task master and a perfectionist, but I feel he has this uncanny way of knowing when he needs to do what. And, I might add, as a patient, I can certainly appreciate the fact he does take things to task especially in the OR… that person on the table may only have one chance at his expertise and it damn well better be his best. Just sayin… Arron even said, “Dr. Smith is quite particular about everything, but that’s the way I’d want it if I were the one on the table being operated on!” NICE!
So there you have it! Another concern under control! I love knowing the unknown… it’s much easier than worrying about something and fretting over it… like I’ve said in the past…. JUST DO IT! BUT DO IT NOW!!!
Remember, take care of you and yours,
I’m sure someone you know, a family member or friend is suffering from severe back or leg pain… this book can certainly point you or your loved one in the right direction!!! DO IT FOR YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR LOVED ONES…. MINIMALLY INVASIVE XLIF BACK SURGERY IS ONE OF THE BEST KEPT SECRETS… LET’S GET THE WORD OUT! http://www.amazon.com/Back-Surgery-for-2012-ebook/dp/B008CTT7Z0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340216908&sr=8-1&keywords=back+surgery+for+2012
Back Surgery for 2012: A Patient’s Perspective
Back Surgery for 2012: A Patient’s Perspective
Back Surgery for 2012: A Patient’s Perspective
Back Surgery for 2012: A Patient’s Perspective
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!
Here’s round 5 of questions and answers about the XLIF, ACDF, and Total Hip Replacement surgeries. Remember the statements I make are general and pertain to my direct experience with them. EACH CASE IS DIFFERENT and you should seek medical advice from a medical professional. This is merely an extension of the questions I’ve been asked on my website but my responses are not medical advice.
Do I need a walker after my XLIF? The short answer is YES. The reason for that is so you don’t loose your balance. Your surefootedness is not stable right after surgery and trust me, you’ll want something to lean on for a few weeks. (4-6 actually) And most of all you don’t want to screw up what your doctor just did to fix you. It’s only for a short while, so just suck it up even if you don’t want one, and live with it… you’re not going to be using it for long!
XLIF and airline security… I just got back from traveling east and I assure you it was no big deal. Even with my total hip implant. I told them I had surgical metal in me ahead of time and the TSA just asked me to go through the x-ray instead… no pat downs, no hassle, nothing, quick pic and moved on through. It was no big whoop and I never set an alarm off.
- How long does it take to heal? Well, since this person didn’t specify which surgery he/she was referring to, I’ll tell you what I know about each one… there are some general statements that can be made for ALL surgeries…
1. it’s standard that after a major operation, it takes up to six weeks or so for the wound to close completely from the skin. HOWEVER, you have to keep in mind that wound is still weak and can take as much as 6 months to feel like it’s OK. By that I mean there’s nerves that have to reconnect and your scar will be sensitive for a while. I’m now 16 months post-op with my surgical site still numb somewhat, and I can still feel the nerve endings they cut through are reconnecting by the twinge every once in a while, it feels like I got poked with a needle for a second. The wound also still itches. That’s a good sign.
- 2. it’s not unusual for a surgical site to take upwards to 2 years to fully regain it’s prior status. If feeling is going to come back to the surface of the wound site it will be within that time frame. That being said, I had breast surgery 11 years ago for a tumor and it took I’ll bet every bit of 7 years to regain all the feeling at that surgical site, but I did get it back. I’m thinking that too, it was because of the sensitive area of the body it was at. Every body is different!
3. each person heals at their own pace. General rules apply as just that. No doctor can pin-point a day and time you will be deemed “cured” from your condition. The longer you are post-op from your surgery, the better you should feel, keeping in mind your share of the responsibility for physical therapy and recovery… YOU have to take control of your aftercare. Don’t blame your doctor that you’re not feeling well (unless other problems arise) if you haven’t done the prescribed aftercare diligently. He’s not God. The surgery he performed may well have been successful but you need to look at yourself and ask if you’ve done ALL you could to aid in your recovery.
For healing from my XLIF, I didn’t feel the same pain I had just hours prior to surgery and for the last ten years, that pain was gone immediately post-op. However I did have surgical pain and the reconnecting of nerve endings that for so long were being pinched. This is an altogether different kind of pain. And the good news is…. it eventually goes away!
By my 3 month checkup I was feeling good. The nerve endings were still reconnecting so I was still dealing with that, but overall, much better. By then I was able to drive and able to resume a more normal life. By my 6 month checkup I was pretty much good to go. I was out of my back brace in 4 months although the Dr. Smith originally wanted me in it for 6. Dr. Smith is an amazing observer. He realized I must be spending more time out of my brace than he had told me to be. I know why he took it off me at 4 months was because he saw how much stronger my back was, that I was standing well on my own in the office and my movements were more fluid not so rigid. He slyly asked me how many hours a day I was out of my brace in an upright position and I said maybe 2 or 3 but he knew human nature well enough to know that it was more like 4 or 5… I guess that was good enough for him. But, it showed that the grafts took, and that my spine was fusing nicely. A fusion of my size, 6 levels, is most unusual and it will take ever bit of the two year mark to be completely healed… that being said, I’m doing things I haven’t done in years! I feel terrific in that part of my body!
As for my ACDF healing, I am now just shy of 7 months post-op. I’ve had my share of difficulties throughout those months and have shared them with you in previous posts on this website. Each day I feel my neck getting stronger, and my throat muscles are coming back slowly. A little slower than perhaps I expected or would have liked, but nonetheless, they ARE coming back. The surgical site is still somewhat numb but that will just take time to dissipate. My neck overall does get tired yet and the muscles when I first wake up, have to be stretched to get the blood flowing properly into them. It takes all of maybe 5 minutes to do that by some simple stretches. I feel confident more now than ever before I will regain full use of my singing voice and of the range of motion in my neck without the stiffness and aches at present. IT JUST TAKES TIME… BE PATIENT! I know that’s hard to do, trust me!
Lastly, my total hip replacement performed by Dr. Crovetti is a marvel! I’m now days away from being 5 months post-op. I still have some latent stiffness if I sit at the computer too long, and I do sleep with a pillow between my knees if I’m on my side. Other than that, I even had a pleasant surprise at mass the other day when, I never even stopped to think about it and, I did a partial genuflect before getting into the pew! I can’t tell you how many years, or decades it’s been since I’ve been able to do that! My PT doctor, Amanda Scott, taught me how to do a lunge, which is basically a genuflect! IT WAS AN AWESOME FEELING! I walk with a normal gait and stride. I don’t have a waddle to me either. When I walk I feel I stand tall and straight for the first time that I can ever remember. I still have a slight numbness around the incision on my leg and just below it but it’s a small trade off when I think of what I’ve gained in return. I understand that it too will go away in time. I AM A NEW PERSON IN SO MANY WAYS!
I want to add something here. This comes from Amanda Scott, my Doctor of Physical Therapy at mattsmith Physical Therapy. She was overjoyed when she saw how much effort I put into my recovery because so often she sees people who’ve taken the time, and, spent the pain and money to have an operation, just to come to physical therapy and not take it seriously. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” comes to mind. These are the people you see half-heartedly doing the exercises, the ones who don’t remember them from one visit to the next because they aren’t doing them at home enough to remember them. They are the ones who only want to come one time a week, not getting the biggest bang for their buck by doing several days a week to jump-start their body again. These are the people who want to be pampered at all costs. I have a newsflash for you… your therapist knows without you even saying it if you’ve been doing your therapy at home! They can tell by your range of motion progress, and the pain levels you complain about! They KNOW what you are and are not up to! And I’ll let you in on a secret, the more effort they see you put into your therapy, the more apt they are to help you become more confident in your movements. The bottom line is…. IT’S ALL UP TO YOU!
Yes, the physical therapy was boring, and sometimes grueling, especially at first. Then I hit my stride, and I enjoyed going to PT, I felt better, and the better I felt, the more I wanted to go… I knew I wasn’t always going to be there and I wanted to make the most of the time we had together so I could take that knowledge into the future. I haven’t been near as diligent as I could be since leaving the physical therapy sessions, but at least I have all the exercises written down. I do them more often than not, and my body is constantly thanking me for it. So, I guess this is the long answer for how long does it take to heal… it all depends on how much you’re willing to put into it.
What’s the best exercise for XLIF 6 mos post-op? Well if you don’t want to do anything else to help your body heal, at the very least, WALK! And I mean every day…. the use of many muscles when you walk will be beneficial to you if you walk. You can also do water walking if you have a public pool that they don’t keep too cool, 83-85 is a good temp for water walking… and by water walking I don’t mean putzing!!! I mean vigorous walking, pushing your limits just a little each time in. USE YOUR MUSCLES!!! The thing I love most about water walking is that it takes away all the gravity. You feel so much lighter in the water and therefore are more apt to do more exercise. Stand on the side of the pool and do some leg lifts, but know your limits! You want to be able to come back the next day too! You can’t do it all at once, and pushing yourself too much will only lead to a setback because you’ll stop what you were doing to rest and heal the soreness, putting you at risk for not wanting to go back because you’ve gotten out of the habit of going…DON’T DO THAT! A good rule of thumb for recovery is when you can do your exercises, have pushed your limit slightly and wake up the next morning knowing you can do em all again without aching! And it DOES happen that way!
What if I’m still having headaches 6 months post-op after an ACDF? TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR!!! There might be some underlying issues that still need to be addressed! That’s not something you should just accept. At any post-op measurement! Your doctor should be investigating other causes for your headaches until he’s satisfied that it could be just a negative side effect which is rarely seen in ACDF post-ops. HAVE THAT CONVERSATION WITH YOUR DOC!!!
Will another disc go bad after I have my surgery? That’s hard to answer. There is definitely the “risk” of that depending on what type of activity you resume after your operation. But I wouldn’t get all doom and gloom just yet. Our bodies are marvelous organic machines with many capabilities to heal from the abuse we deliver to it each day. Could it happen, yes, will it happen, maybe, can my doctor say for certain that it won’t, NEVER! Our body is aging all the time, and with that comes the throes of arthritis and degeneration through either no fault of our own or through the abuse we continue to pummel it with, totally disregarding cautionary advice from your doctor, ad campaigns about food, alcohol, drugs etc., or chiding from your loved ones who can see the toll your poor choices have taken on your body; things you can’t see for the simple reason you’re so close to the situation. We must all be our own best advocate, because, everyone else is worried about their own self, so much so they aren’t going to invest more time in you than themselves… it’s human nature!
I hope this segment has again, informed and inspired both the patient who’s already gone through the surgery looking for additional answers and for those in fear of the unknown. The “old school” method of back surgery where the doctor cuts through the back muscles and damages more than what he fixes are fast coming to an end as newer and more innovative techniques for accessing the middle of the body are invented. My best advice to anyone in need of these types of surgery is to be your own best advocate by being informed. I love to hear patients when they come in talking about their condition in medical terms because they’ve done their research. And still I love to talk to those who haven’t got a clue about what’s going to happen to them. It lets me help them through the often confusing process of surgery by giving them a lay person’s understanding of what’s about to happen to them. They walk out of the office feeling they have been heard, their concerns are addressed and they have someone to lean on should more questions arise. I offer myself to be available to them at any step of their healing process.
I will be adding more to this website in the way of sharing my healing as well as answering question I get. I also plan to post some exercises I did for the different conditions. Make no mistake, you MUST CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO DO ANY OF THEM. Each persons’ condition is different and what the doctor had to do to fix your problem. Only he’ll know which ones will be good for your body.
In the meantime, remember to take care of you and yours,