Advice on Back Surgery

Discussion in 'Health Tips for the Martial Artist' started by Master Dan, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. Master Dan

    Master Dan Master Black Belt

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    Lost flexibility this last year, Worked 6-7 days a week last 2 years. Just three weeks ago could not stand, walk or sit with out very bad pain, could only lay on side. Took three weeks to find a doctor that would take the time to examine me and take X-rays. Before that all I got was Tylenol. Found Osteopath who started minor treatment until he reviewed the X-rays. He called me at home said he could not believe I was that tough and he was tearing up the prescriptions and writing new one's and shoving them under the Pharmacy door to fill the next morning.

    He prescribed a muscle relaxer 3 times a day, 12 hour Oxytocin twice a day, Gabapentin 3 times a day and Percocet as needed Average of 4 a day. He referred me to a Orthopedic Surgeon for MRI and Surgery last words was sooner than later and left on vacation two weeks. I have to fly 600 miles and called the clinic and I have two good insurance policies and they are not set up for any and want cash up front, also get to see a PA only then schedule MRI who knows when and the doctor will not review for at least 2 days while I am staying in hotel??

    After investigation many people say back surgery in Alaska is a bad idea? Lower 48 cheaper and my bosses wife went to Virginia Masson Medical Center in Seattle, said she was treated like a queen, insurance covered 100% and they even supplied free housing for whole family while there.
    Talked with the hospital and after telling them I had spinal stenosis with degeneration of L1-5 they said I did not need an Orthopedic Surgeon but the spinal clinic and a Nero Surgeon.


    I can do nothing until my doctor returns because he has to refer and send my medical records.

    Question is? Have any of you dealt with Virginia Masson Medical Center in Seattle?

    Have any of you had back surgery and how are you doing.

    I want to work 10 more years and be able to stretch do forms and self defense rest of my life??

    Thanks
     
  2. donnaTKD

    donnaTKD Master Black Belt

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    under no circumstances let them put rods and pins in your back.

    the best you can prolly hope for is that they put a cage on your back and fuse the vertebra but either way your gunna lose the versatility you've got --- you'll get some back but it won't ever be as good as it was.

    the rods and pins thing will keep your spine straight but it won't allow the degree of flexibility that you need to perfom your MA studies. the fused thing will in time give you most of the flexibility that you need to do your stuff.

    either way you're looking at a very long layoff and i'm talking maybe upwards of 12 months out of action..... :(

    i'm talking from the perspective of having rods, pins, plates and screws holding various bits of me together along with a 20 year old fused L4-L5 :) and the fused bits work better and cause a lot less pain than the metalwork bits :)
     
  3. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    Just get as much information as you can before you commit to any form of surgery. When I was working I had a lot of clients who had back surgery, mostly fusions, and 90% of them stuffed their backs again after the first surgery. If I had to have surgery I think I would be giving up my MA training. If I did decide to continue I would be doing an extra hour a day on core exercises to ensure I had the most muscular support for my spine possible.

    What tends to happen is someone has endured months or years of debilitating pain. They have surgery and feel fantastic. Now they think they can do the things that they used to do but it isn't that simple. By fusing two vertebrae it fixes the initial problem but if you stress the back it puts pressure on the next vertebra and often that is a disaster just waiting to happen.

    Anyway, all the best for whatever you decide to do.
    :asian:
     
  4. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I know nothing about that particular hospital, but I will say this: being "treated like a queen" is irrelevant. Actually, several good studies have linked the current efforts to make hospitals a cross between a luxury hotel and Disneyland to HIGHER mortality rates. People get drugged for every little twinge, and so much time is spent fluffing and buffing that nobody notices that they're not actually getting better. But hey, they die happy.

    You do need a spine surgeon, but that may be either an orthopedist or a neurosurgeon, or both; this is an area of overlap between the specialties. There are places online that purport to allow you to investigate the performance of your surgeon, but use them with caution. For one thing, some of the negatives are from people with unrealistic expectations. And too, the very best surgeons are going to be the ones working on the highest risk patients. Which means that they generally do NOT have the best numbers. Working on only the simplest, lowest risk cases will give you good numbers.

    The specifics of the repair you need cannot be determined except by the specialist after examining both you and your records. An MRI will absolutely be needed, so get it done now; waiting will only make the whole process take longer.

    I'm glad to hear that the narcotics are a recent thing. Most people, by the time any repair is done, are also physically dependent on narcotics. That complicates the recovery. Personally, I do not like these drugs at all. I despise them, and despite my oncologists frequent offers, I won't take them.

    After we were involved in a motorcycle accident, Sue had extensive surgery, including a thoracotomy (removing a rib to work inside the chest cavity) and T5-6 corpectomies to replace two shattered vertebral bodies with hardware. I had broken ribs, a small pneumothorax, and a few spinous process fractures at T3-6. I took anti-inflammatories. Sue took narcotics. Getting her off them after a period of just 5-6 weeks was difficult. Part of the problem getting off them is that the first symptom of withdrawal is pain, which prompts people to take more. I believe we, as a profession, over-prescribe narcotics.

    Get the MRI done. Get the referrals and move things along.
     
  5. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    As Dirty Dog said get your MRI done, get referrals as well as a second opinion. Cover all your bases and then you can make
    an informed decision.
     
  6. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    Good luck with whatever you do Master Dan. Must admit that I did wince a little when seeing the title. All can say is that as an adult, it is an informed choice.
     
  7. Master Dan

    Master Dan Master Black Belt

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    Cannot thank all of you for your advice enough. Here is where I am stuck for now. My doctor left for two weeks right after he made the diagnosis and left a note to my wife who is a nurse at the hospital to get with another doctor to see about my med levels and refills until he gets back. The clinic he referred me to in Anchorage for the MRI and Surgery is not set up for my insurance Athem Blue Cross Blue Shield plus Atena Signature through my wife's hospital, they wanted cash up front screw that however they referred 3 other doctors that do accept it but I prefer VA Masson in Seattle. My wife and all others say health care is much cheaper in the lower 48 and that many even compete for your business.
    Bottom line I can do nothing with out my doctor getting back to make referrals and need to talk about Orthopedic or nuero Surgeon. He could be back tomorrow because he is on the schedule but he told me the 16th.


    Drugs, I would have no life without them, I could not walk stand, sit or make a sandwich without severe pain. I had no idea I was not supposed to work because original consult said no heavy lifting before the Dr. saw the X rays. I worked 7 days strait it took 2-3 perks to get to work and a 4th at about 4-5 hours after work another 4 to get through the night a lot of restless pain. did not sleep for three days afraid to go to sleep maybe not wake up? after that a few hours a day. Side effects horrible had to use Glycerin three times a day you know what for? my mouth for first 7 days not just dry but actually hurt and my teeth also afraid going to loose my teeth. I drank tons of fluids brushed use mouth wash and Peridex oral mouth wash nothing worked? Took my daughter to a dentist and appointment and asked about my mouth and teeth and she said use Biotene mouth wash. Fantastic from the first use got better I even have a small spray bottle I keep by the bed for night time.

    When I was working pain got bad enough I thought about cutting one of the 12 hour Oxytocin in half and adding at 6 hours and 18 hours in a 24 hour period maybe I screwed up but at work two hours I became really ill throwing up could barely drive home laid down 2 hours tried to work and after 1 hour that was it. I took nothing for 8 hours had no pain at all. After that I have watched closely now if not working at all I can get by with only 2 perks 1 morning and 1 late afternoon or evening. I don't feel addicted since I can cut back if pain is bearable? However I do not want to be on these for months??

    My second daughter was born terminal I managed her health care hired and fired the best doctors in the country for a total of$4 million in cash before she died at 8 years old. so I will take your advice and look at all the information and try to get more than one opinion. Soon as I get my MRI I will tell you guys what the results are and what they recommend. My insurance will send me a referral list of many doctors in that area and I want ones from the VA Masson but my experiences had been word of mouth from patients and other doctors has been the best. I have had a doctor a pediatrician grab me before surgery and say that doctor is not good they will choke in the room fire him and get this guy. I found a site that gives patient input so I just have to wait and see. Pain meds do make it tough to deal with complicated paper work with multiple insurance companies and multiple health care clinics and issues. Hate to admit it but it gave my benefits people a laugh trying to help me. They wanted to communicate by email and also sent me a referral list on doctors. I tried to reply or send email to noreply thinking it read nore ply<at>anthem.com Sad but they did give the agent direct email address.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2014
  8. donnaTKD

    donnaTKD Master Black Belt

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    good luck for surgery and for getting sorted :)

    sounds as though you've had a bit of mare with it so far so yup go and get it sorted cos otherwise you might end up in wheelchair :(
     
  9. Master Dan

    Master Dan Master Black Belt

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    What a circle jerk this week. Still on pain med 24/7 and no appointments because my doctor here is gone until Monday. He has no less than 6 medical forms and certifications that effect my employment and disability claims as well as 3 referrals that have to be made before the insurance companies can do anything about certifying care and payment.

    Good news my wife's insurance is actually self insured through the hospital. We had to met with the local rep that helped us with signing authorization to pull funds out of her retirement so we could afford expensed for travel and such. She told us go any where you like bring the plane expense to us and we will pay it. That was totally different than talking to a third party rep that said it could only be for the closest care and had to be certified by the doctor?

    Also turned out I was right about having to go to spinal clinic and neurologist Surgeon. After talking to the hospital VA Masson medical center in Seattle they said get the MRI in Anchorage then have the radiologist do the report which my doctor has to forward requesting a referral to the Spinal clinic in Seattle and I guess the Spinal clinic will make a plan for what type of surgery and what doctor?? This will take another two weeks? We will also find out if I will need an escort?
     
  10. Master Dan

    Master Dan Master Black Belt

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    Well just got back from going to Alaska Spinal Institute for MRI and consultation. I did not get to see the MRI but was given a disk to take home. The doctor there said hey you do not have any degenerated disks just arthritis and an Epidural between L4-5 will do just great you could go back to work the next day???? My Osteopath here claimed after seeing my x rays that I could have spinal cord damage by working if not resolved by surgery. The Epidural doctor does not do surgery and of course he makes no money if I do not go his way. He made one valid comment, try this first because what if you do surgery and it does not work? Would he be so greedy that he would risk my health knowing I should have surgery? One thing for sure the Epidural could last a year or 90 days? I have no problem doing it once a year for the next 10 years if it allows me to teach and work?

    I have to get his report and MRI to my two doctors here for opinion and the information to OPA a clinic with surgeons here in Alaska the Osteopath wants an opinion from and I should also send it to VA Masson in Seattle before a decision can be made. I am all for the Epidural he says I can go right back to work? Of course he is telling me what I want to hear?

    Again sad to say this could take two more weeks on these heavy drugs which I am pretty tired of but what is the choice. It worth the time to make an educated decision but hard to just watch hours and days go by just to get the local doctors here to take the time to review and communicate.
     
  11. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    Thankfully you do have degeneration in the discs. I **** myself silly thinking about the day that I will almost certainly succumb to that and end up in a chair. I have been told about the epidural route, but unfortunately cannot say yay or nay. Why won't they show you the MRI scan, not something that is acceptable IMHO. So glad that in the UK we have the NHS. Keep going man :)
     
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  12. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    #bump "Thankfully you do not have degeneration" bloody word blindness :(
     
  13. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    You can probably play the MRI disc on a computer but it may not mean much without expert eyes. If you don't trust the doc, take your MRI to another and see what they say. I would generally encourage starting conservatively.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk
     
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  14. Master Dan

    Master Dan Master Black Belt

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    Well started the thread on September 8th, started the serious problem on August 8th. It has taken until October 10th to get MRI and opinion of a Spinal clinic which only manages pain by Epidural's and now an Osteopathic clinic doing Neuro Surgery. The bottom line is L4 is way out of line with L-5 and an narrowed passage for the spinal cord. Both my Osteopath here and the surgeon want it fixed by fusing L4-5 and enlarging the spinal passage. I am looking at 1-3 weeks to get the written report from the clinic to my doctor then six weeks out for surgery in Alaska. Also the surgeon said his fee was $30,000 and the hospital will be $60,000 for a total of $90,000.
    I am going to send my recap of what the surgeon wants to do and why to Virginia Masson Seattle Washington who has all my info to date just lacking a face to face consultation. I feel I have no choice but to do the surgery because of financial reasons. Right now I have a great employer, two medical insurance policies and two disability insurance policies that pay me 60% of my income. 1-4 years from now I could be unemployed or have little or no insurance. Also currently VA Masson will do procedures with far more experienced surgeons and at the price stated by the insurance companies which could be as much as $30,000 to $40,000 less than what is stated for Alaska surgery?
    I am told 6 week recovery and 3 months light duty then full work at 50lb average which is no problem since my current employer will give me what ever help I need for freight. I do not look forward to this surgery but long term financially it makes more sense to get it done now.
     
  15. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    Best of luck with the surgery and recovery.
     
  16. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    As someone with intimate experience with the L4 and L5, it is a shame that finances dictate over the ability to walk. Good luck man :)
     
  17. Master Dan

    Master Dan Master Black Belt

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    its not just walk its sit be able to stand to make a sandwich, walk the dog. It took about 10 days for the pain meds to kick in to give me the ability to drive walk do most everything but not stay on my feet to much maybe 30 minutes at a time not over 30 minutes in a chair either. Its possible I could get by with injections but they may not work at all or again at 62 2-4 years later I may not have insurance or the same employment. What is horrible is living like a vampire for 2 months now on these heavy drugs and it could be 6-9 weeks more before even getting to surgery. I am going to call Seattle and see if I can get things rolling? I have always been able to self heal by diet and training but doc says you cannot beat genetics and to be frank a lot of full contact years of 1000 kicks a day on heavy bag and a lot of breaking took its toll end to end some of you young people should take that into consideration for your future some day?
     
  18. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    I think for me that I was quite lucky in the sense that nerve damage lessons the constant pain. As it happened at six months old I probably had learnt to adjust into young age. Still though, I have been forced back onto plutonium grade tramadol again. Don't like and don't want it. Thankfully only at night, but I feel like zombie very quickly. The doc would be right with genetics, but I'm sure the research that could be done for the future where minor bone damage and such like could be repaired.123
     

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