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Howie's back

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Old 08-23-2005, 08:36 PM   #1
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Default Howie's back

No, he didn't go anywhere...This is about his back. For those who have wondered how he's doing, I thought I'd start a thread.

A little background for those who don't know: he fell and broke three vertebrae and eight ribs back in 1994. After PT, he got back to work, but reinjured his back at work and had fusion surgery on L3-L4 in 1996. Before his injury, he'd gotten down to 299, but after surgery he regained some of his weight, going back up to 420 by 2003. He's lost again, now down to 270 (yayyyyy!), but is having back troubles again.

A July 19th MRI showed areas of concern and today we finally got in to see the neurologist. The doctor we saw today, Dr. M, is a neurosurgeon who no longer does surgeries due to a double knee replacement two years ago. He serves as a neurological consultant at the practice now, acting as a triage doctor, screening patients and reviewing test results. He also helps fill in and do follow-up visits for patients.

Dr. M said the thing of most concern is the stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) at L4-L5. Howie's curvature has the nerves compressing, too. There's nothing to be done about the missing/degenerating discs, he said. The curvature in Howie's spine contributes to the disc problems and also makes the nerves get bunched together; if the stenosis is severe enough, it might require a fusion surgery to open up the area and take pressure off of the nerves.

The MRI doesn't show enough detail for the rest, though, especially with Howie's spinal curvature disrupting the view. We've no truly solid answers after today's appointment except that Dr. M doesn't think Howie has a tethered spinal cord. Thank God for that!

So, better pictures are needed. Howie's scheduled for a mylegram, CT and X-rays this Thursday at 12:30pm. Doctor's orders are for him to take Thursday and Friday off. Then, to our relief, Dr. M's secretary squeezed us in for an appointment on Monday at 1:00pm, so at least it's not another month-long wait after the tests.

It was a bit frustrating to wait over a month between the MRI and today's appointment. Dr. M apologized for the delay in getting Howie in and explained there's been a sharp decline in the number of neurosurgeons practicing in the U.S., from 5000+ a few years ago to 3000 now.

I'd imagine it's because of the lawsuits and malpractice insurance making it so very expensive to practice medicine. I've read stories about general practitioners having to close up shop because of the high costs of practicing medicine. I'd imagine neurosurgeons really pay the piper. It's a shame, though, because in the end it's the patient who suffers from high costs and delays in care.

Off my soapbox now. we're just thankful we have medical insurance and that we've got an appointment set for less than a week away!

That's the scoop.
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Old 08-23-2005, 08:49 PM   #2
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Default We are with you Howie!

Thanks for the update.

I will keep both of you in my prayers. I am taking my best friend to the hospital on Thursday for surgery. Her husband has had fused disks and multiple surgeries. I know from watching her go through her experiences the frustration with how it is just not an exact science. Best wishes,
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Old 08-23-2005, 09:01 PM   #3
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All of that sounds horribly uncomfortable to say the least. I wish you both the best and hope you are able to get all of the answers that you are looking for. It sounds like you have an incredible doctor on your case and that will make all of the difference in the world - even if you have to wait a while for appointments!
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Old 08-23-2005, 09:13 PM   #4
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OMGoodness. Back pain is just awful. I am sorry you are having to dela wiht this. I must say, however, that you are amazing to be losing weight through all of this! Healing vibes...
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Old 08-23-2005, 09:24 PM   #5
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Great news that its unlikely to be a tethered spinal cord (I know that was the worst fear)! Obviously fusion surgery isn't anything to look forward to, but if it comes to that and the pressure can be reduced and the pain drastically reduced, then I suppose the benefits will far outweigh the discomforts (easier coming from someone who doesn't have to go through it...) I'm glad that the next appointment is less than a week away so you can get some definitive answers. Naturally I wish for you both the best results and the easiest treatment to bear. You've both shown this forum so much strength, not only in your collective weight-loss, but in dealing with this on-going problem. Best of luck, always!
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:29 PM   #6
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Thanks for the the update. You'll be in my prayers!!
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:49 PM   #7
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I will keep Howberley (ie, both of you) in my thoughts & prayers.
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Old 08-24-2005, 12:14 AM   #8
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Sending vibes your way for good news and a happy back. Hang in there, you guys. Keep us posted!
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Old 08-24-2005, 12:25 AM   #9
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Aw, you guys -- I'm so sorry you have all of this on your plate. Poor Howie! It's got to be so frightening for both of you -- but I'm VERY glad to hear the good news about the not tethered thing. Whew! I'm glad also that you got an appt. for Monday -- I know very well the misery of having really important tests, and then having to wait interminably to talk to your doc about them. It's really adding insult to injury, isn't it?

Kimberley, what you said about the decline in number of neurosurgeons is very interesting. Thank you for sharing that with us. It makes a lot of sense.

Big, loving, tender hugs for both of you -- and thank you for updating us, Kimberley, you sweetheart. I love you, Howie!!
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Old 08-24-2005, 07:26 AM   #10
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Looks like things will be happening more quickly for you now. You're both in my thoughts.

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Old 08-24-2005, 07:45 AM   #11
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Thanks for the update Kimberley. I'm happy to hear it's most likely not a tethered spinal cord, whew, what a relief! I hope the next round of tests will be able to give you a better view of just what the problems are and what needs to be done about them. I'm keeping you both in my thoughts, good luck!

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Old 08-24-2005, 08:05 AM   #12
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Good luck and all the best!
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:55 AM   #13
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I can't imagine the pain he is in! How frustrating! How wonderful, however, that you are in his life!

All the best!
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Old 08-24-2005, 10:29 AM   #14
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Glad to hear you finally got in to see the doc, even if it was not a whole lot of news. At least the Doc is getting the ball rolling now and you should hopefully have some answers by next Monday.

GL howie with all the tests tomorrow.
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Old 08-24-2005, 11:18 AM   #15
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Your both in my thoughts and prayers.
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