WARNING! TMI…not the inappropriate kind but just lots of detail that will interest only a few. Still…
A couple of months ago, a friend in our church requested prayer for her back surgery to correct spinal stenosis. That sent me to wikipedia, where I read a list of the symptoms I’ve dealt with in varying degrees of severity for the past six years. For a long time I connected my troubles to our bike wreck, since the symptoms began as I was stroking back from my injuries. For six+ years I’ve kept a journal of all the healthcare professionals I’ve seen for pain relief—3 chiropractors, 4 physical therapists, 1 sports therapist, 2 acupuncturists, 1 naturopath, and 1 back specialist. I hung upside down from an inversion table recommended by one of the chiropractors. I bought a funky machine that was supposed to relieve back pain. I wore a Serola sacroiliac belt. I rubbed special sciatica cream on my back. I held true to a restrictive anti-inflammation diet for six months. Anything anyone suggested, I tried. Some things helped for a time, but nothing removed the pain that shoots through my back and hip and down my right leg.
Year after year at my annual physical, my doctor worked his way through a standard list of questions (Do you smoke? Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? Do you take a multi-vitamin?), but my real trouble didn’t measure very high on the scale. Finally, last summer I insisted we skip past that nonsense and talk about my crummy back. I showed him my journal; he ordered an MRI. I usually leave test-result interpretation to the professionals, but one word, used several times, was clear to me: severe. A referral to a neurosurgeon would be my next step when I was ready. Ha! I was ready! Just before Christmas I met with Dr. Rohrer for an evaluation. First he offered me the option of steroid shots. “What’s the success rate?” A third notice considerable improvement, a third minor improvement, a third no change. “If I landed in the first category, how long could I expect relief?” A week to a few months. “Really? What’s the point of that?” He shrugged.
Turns out I’ve lost nearly two inches of height as arthritis gnaws away at L4, L5, and S-1, the technical terms for my lower spine, which causes pressure on my sciatic nerve, which boldly registers its displeasure. And over the past two years I’ve grown noticeably crooked. Pain takes the fun out of walking, yet standing in place is the hardest. Thankfully, my job is mostly sitting, which has been bearable most of the time.
This is getting kind of long. Sorry.
So the doc says he can fix me, and I shout YAY! let’s get on with it! He said I won’t be ducking through any doorways, but I’ll get my lost inches back. If you’re interested, here’s a very short video that explains most of what the doc will do. Choose “Play with narration.” Don’t worry—it’s animated, no gore. CLICK HERE I find it interesting that nothing is wasted. The disintegrating bone he removes will be ground up and reinserted, not only where the video shows but also between the sections of spine to adhere to “shims” (for lack of the actual term) he’ll add where needed.
The surgery will take five hours, and I’ll be in the hospital three to five days. When I was with my “kids” after Christmas and they learned about my surgery, they said: “Research!” I guess they don’t want just any ole neurosurgeon cutting on their mama. Quinn knows someone connected to the medical field, so she asked him to check: “I looked into Dr. Rohrer and he has great results.” So there you go!
Speaking of Quinn, she’s flying up tonight for the surgery tomorrow. She’ll be watching my back. Ha ha. Pun intended. I hope to fare well enough to go home while she’s still here.
A 4- or 5-day vacation at a resort hospital with a round-the-clock trained staff to take care of my every need, full-menu room service, husband and daughter at my side to cheer me on and remind me to breathe. We should all be so lucky.