March 29, 2011

Talked to the neurosurgeon today. He did some tests and we studied at the MRI together. My lower back is a mess. In addition to the bulging disks putting pressure on the sciatic nerve there are also degenerative issues. He said by the looks of things I’ll soon start having problems in the left leg as well. He indicated that without surgery, I’d most likely be in a wheel chair in a couple of years. This didn’t leave me any options as far as I was concerned.

The surgeon told me that we would make a 6-7” incision and fuse three vertebrae. The surgery is called an “L4 to S1 Plif.” He would remove the degenerated disks and replace then with plastic spacers to hold the vertebrae apart. Then he would use titanium screws and plastic rods to hold the vertebrae together. He would also do some bone grafting between and around the vertebrae. Eventually the three vertebrae will grow together as one long bone.

Needless to say, I was pretty apprehensive about such an invasive surgery. But this particular surgeon does an average of  150 such surgeries per year and he has a 90% success rate. We scheduled the surgery for April 22.

December 9, 2010

The pain is starting to return. I had a follow-up meeting with my doctor. I asked about third injection. He didn’t have very good news.

He said I should hold off for as long as possible before getting the third injection. As it turns out, they can only do three such injections in a year’s time. His thought was perhaps the nerve would heal over time, but he wasn’t very confident.

I asked him where we might go from here if the nerve doesn’t heal. His answer: surgery. Spinal fusion. But he encouraged me to hold off as long as possible before the third injection.

October 29, 2010

Got the injection today at a surgical center. I didn’t know it was such a big deal, but apparently it is. It wasn’t a pleasant experience; they had to give me an IV of some kind of tranquilizer to get me through it. One the way out, a nurse told me, “If you have to come back for another injection, ask for the IV right off to help you calm down.” If I have to come back? I certainly hope not! No immediate relief; the surgeon said it would take 3-5 days or so.

October 22, 2010

Met with my doctor today regarding the results of the MRI. The pain is getting worse. As suspected, the MRI revealed bulging and compressed disks. She referred me to a specialist for an epidural steroid injection in my lower back.