Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rob's Back Fusion Surgery

For the last 8 months we have been dealing with back issues with Rob. Back in June while getting firewood, he hurt his back by lifting a log that was way too heavy. He felt a pop in his back and figured he wrenched it pretty good but didn't worry about it too much. After a few weeks of it just getting worse, he couldn't really stand up straight and he was in so much pain he decided to see the doctor. They thought maybe it was the sciatic nerve so they gave him some pain medication and told him to come back in a week if it wasn't any better. He decided to see a chiropractor to see if that would help. After the chiropractor adjusted him the second time, he tried to stand up and collapsed into the wall. He legs and feet also went numb. I had to help get him out to the car. It wasn't any better in a week so he went back to the doctor. At this point he could no longer walk on his own without crutches or a walker. They didn't want to order an MRI because they are so expensive and they don't do one unless you have been to Physical Therapy several times before. So we made an appointment with the Physical Therapist and went to see them. They checked him out and said with all the symptoms he was having they felt like it was probably a herniated disc and they didn't want to work on him until he had an MRI. So back to the doctor we went with a letter from Physical Therapy. So from there we had to wait for an appointment to get an MRI done. We got that done the following week in Provo. We then waited for results. A few days later the doctors office called. They said it looked like a really bad herniated disc and the disc was pinching off the column of nerves in his back which control everything. They referred him to see a specialist at the University of Utah. So we had to wait another 3 weeks to get in to see them. We finally saw the surgeon the first week of September. They said he needed surgery and we scheduled it for 3 weeks later. We had hoped to do it sooner but the insurance had to have 14 business days to approve it. Surgery was scheduled for September 25th. Rob's Birthday! He was scheduled to have a discectomy which wasn't supposed to be too invasive and would just be either same day surgery or one night. So we had to be in Salt Lake for lab tests and pre surgery stuff the day before. When we met with the surgeon the day before surgery, they told us it looked like it was going to be a lot harder than they originally thought and that he was going to need a fusion. It took us by surprise. He was going to need screws and rods placed in his back along with some tissue from an organ donor. They figured it would take about 3-4 hours of surgery and about 3-4 days in the hospital. We got all of his pre testing done the day before and we stayed the night in a hotel. We had to be to the hospital at 5:00 the next morning. We got to the hospital the next morning and got checked in and they got him all ready for surgery. They took him back to the Operating Room at 7:30. They told me they would keep me updated and that I should be able to see him by about noon. I headed to the waiting room and waited, and waited and waited. They did call out from the Operating Room about every 2 hours to update me. They told me he was ok but that surgery was taking a lot longer than they had expected and it was a lot harder than they thought it would be. Finally at about 3:30 the doctor came out and talked to me. Said that it all went well but it was just a difficult surgery. He was then in the Recovery Room for about an hour and a half. Then they took him to his room and had me meet him there. He immediately said how much better his legs felt already. They kept him pretty drugged up for several days just to keep the pain under control. We were glad to have it done and get on the road to recovery. He had a 5 inch incision with lots of stitches and a drain to collect extra fluid and blood. They got him up the next day and had him start walking. He was in the hospital for 4 days. About a week after we got him home, he had a pretty bad fall outside on the concrete when we had gone outside to go for a little walk. That pretty much started us over with his pain control. We had an appointment in a few days with surgeon to get the stitches out so they checked him out really good. He had more x-rays done just to be sure nothing was damaged. It all turned out fine other than he was hurting all over again. Anyway, the incision has healed very well, and he is doing good now. He had check-ups and x-rays done in October and again in December. The doctor is pleased with the progress he is making. We will go back at the end of March for another check-up and x-rays. He will have a CAT Scan in September to be sure the graft and everything is really healed. He still has a little numbness in his feet. We are hopeful it will get better with time, but it may very well be permanent nerve damage. It has taken a while to gain strength back in his legs but he is improving. He is walking on the treadmill and moving pretty normally now. He has to be careful but he is able to do what he feels comfortable with. We are so grateful for modern medicine and the things they are able to do now. Had this happened many years ago, he would probably have been crippled for the rest of his life. We are so glad he is doing so good now. We will have to update when we have his next appointments.

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