Have I had a chance to tell you about the back surgery that I had on May 18, 2015, at the Cleveland Clinic, by Iain Kalfas, MD, who happens to be the head of the Spine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic?
I was suffering from severe spinal stenosis, which is hereditary. My father suffers from it as well. I suspect the spinal stenosis has actually been causing me pain, since I was a small child. I always begged everyone to rub my lower back, even as a small child. As a teenager, I took long soaks in the tub, hoping the heat of the water would soothe my lower back. Later came multiple rounds of physical therapy, chiropractic treatments and shots of steroids put right in my back at the Cleveland Clinic’s Pain Management Center.
I suffered from two herniated disks, L4 L5, while carrying my twins around, in and out of the car, and such. It became especially prominent when they were two and three years old, with accompanying sciatica. By the time they were four, I was a basket case.
Somewhere in the mix, I developed spondolythisis or slippage of the vertebrae. Taken to its extreme, spondolythisis can lead to complete loss of bowel and bladder control, although I understand this is rare, thank goodness.
So the surgery I had took 7 1/2 hours to complete and was designed to fix all three problems. They did decompression for the spinal stenosis, fusion for the herniated disks and fixation for the spondolythisis. The fixation involved putting in two titanium rods and a few screws to keep the rods in place. That should prevent further slippage of the vertebrae overtime, which makes me quite happy.
The pain that I had from these three conditions is not yet gone. I am hoping that I am simply a slower healer. The doctor told me that I would have 12-16 weeks of horrific pain after the surgery. He further told me that the full recovery would take a year. That said, many walk away from the surgery without any pain to speak of. This has not been my experience. I am more than 16 weeks out and still waiting for that to be my reality.
Regarding results for a surgery like this, 85% experience relief, 14% are neither better nor worse, and that unlucky 1% that is left over are actually worse. I clearly want to be in the majority group! Before it is over, I expect to be!
Interestingly, after my surgery, my internist, whom I love and adore, Dr Elena Borukh said to me, “You know, you are so brave!”
My reply, “Really? What makes you say that? Brave in what way?”
Dr Boruhk went onto explain, “So many of my other patients have a great need to undergo one surgery or another and they can’t, because they are too afraid. You are different. You are brave. You already had the surgery you needed. I really applaud you.”
So I ask you in turn, what surgery have you been avoiding and why? Do you think you don’t have the time for the surgery and recovery? Are you afraid to have the surgery? How could you summon the necessary courage to actually do it? How does not having the surgery limit you? What are all of the costs? What could you stand to gain by having the surgery? Are you sure you can afford to continue to put the surgery off? What is the worst thing that could happen by postponing? Are you really willing to pay that price? Are you sure there aren’t more possible consequences? Are you willing to do some research to be sure?
Now, get out a piece of paper or your cell phone or tablet and write out a list of pros and cons regarding the surgery you have been putting off. Has your position changed any as the result of taking the time to put your ideas down on paper so you can look at them frankly and honestly!
Best of luck to you and your loved ones, should you choose to have you surgery! Every surgery has risks, but you can research the risks, weigh them and make the best and most informed choice possible about whether or not to have the surgery that has been recommended to you. Should you choose to move forward, I salute your bravery!
Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Wellness Coach from Building Better Bodies Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
ASingle Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
One Woman’s Experience Recovering from Near Medical Disaster
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio
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