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Spinal Surgery, Here We Come

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Today was decision day. We finally have some answers on the spinal surgery! This morning we met the famous thorasic surgeon, Dr. Dickman from Barrows Neurological Institute that would be performing the surgery. He at first was ambivalent on if we should move ahead with with the surgery. His thinking was that if I had only 6-12 months to live, then it didn’t really serve a great purpose to do the surgery when a good couple of months of the time would be in recovery.

He explained that the surgery is extremely painful and there are some risks. In order to make a definite decision, he wanted me to do another CT scan.

A CT scan was ordered STAT and I was in and out in no time. A couple of hours had passed by at this point and it was no early afternoon. Dr. Dickman returned saying that he was now confident that we should move forward with surgery. Delaying the surgery could cause paralysis in the lower body. The surgery they are performing is Thoracotomy, corpectomy, screw plate fixation and allograft fusion. The reason for the surgery is because of the spinal cord compression and the tumor growth. Basically what I gather this all means is that they are going to cut into my chest, remove a piece of rib, then do a tumor “debulking” or cutting out of the piece of the tumor (if they can), then inputting a cadaver bone inside my vertebrae with some pins, bolts, and other hardware.

Then they close me back up with several tubes hanging out to get rid of extra fluids. The surgery is 4-5 hours and I will be in ICU for 1-3 days. I will have to wear a really tight back brace for at least a couple of weeks. The surgery will be around 1pm.. I am really scared because the surgery is supposed to be extremely painful…or at least the recovery is. I will have a local anesthetic drip for 3 days just where they cut into my chest. This is in addition to the pain meds that they will be giving me. The major portion of the recovery is about 4 weeks or so and I will be continuing mild recovery for several months. This means that I won’t be doing any sort of activity during these months…what am I going to do with myself?

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In reading this, it sounds like your surgery is Friday. I'm sure today is very stressful for you; I'm glad your family and friends will be around.

Please know that all of us out here are pulling for you -- and that's a powerful force! May the surgery go brilliantly, may your pain be manageable, and may your recovery be swift. Sending all kinds of prayers and healing thoughts your way.

April 2, 2009 - 9:21am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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