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Monday, June 5, 2017


We just got back from Bill's appointment to discuss back surgery.  (He has spinal stenosis, 4 bulging discs & ligament hy[ertrophy)  We expected to hear about minimally invasive surgery.

But, no.

The stenosis is severe, pinching the spinal cord in one spot & crowding it through the entire lumbar spine.  The MD says the surgery would involve a 6 inch incision through which he would remove*(see update below) 3 of his 5 lumbar vertebrae, partially remove  one other, trim the s1 vertebrae, remove  parts of the damaged ligaments, & something else.  (The voice in my head shouting "Wait! What?"  blocked out the third thing.

The MD listed risks, but said that more than 90% of this type of surgery for this problem are very successful and restore full functioning.  He said that Bill would be in the hospital for 2 or 3 nights, barring complication, and then be restricted in activity for one month. 

He will not be permitted to lift more than 5 pounds for the first thirty days, or  do any strenuous physical activity like mowing grass, etc.  He is to take walk as much as he can during those 30 days, however..  After the first month, Bill will go to PT for stretching & core strengthening exercises.  What happens after that second month was not explained.  I suppose it depends on how Bill's healing up.

Bill fixated on not being able to lift more than 5 pounds or do anything physical except walk for an entire month.  He's always been a very physical guy, although he's been very limited this past year so doing nothing won't be as much of a change as he thinks.  When he does work around the house, he suffers for days. 

 I fixated on the removing vertebrae* part.  I mean, I suppose it's possible that the MD meant that he was only removing the lamina (the back of the vertebrae that covers the spinal cord), but that's not what he said.  He said he needed to remove two vertebrae.    The MD explained the need for that procedure, but I'm not entirely sure what he said except for my comment above.  Something about over large vertebrae, nerve root impingement, screws and wires...  I don't know.

I'm just stricken about this. It sounds so, so risky.   I asked Bill if he wanted to see someone else for a second opinion; he does not.  He says God does the healing and he's tired of fooling with this.  He's ready to "get it done."  I'm ready to throw up.

We will be getting a phone call tomorrow re: the surgery date, and I'll ask about the exact intent of the surgeon..

And that's the weigh it goes,


UPDATE: I just spoke with the MD's office assistant.  The plan is for a laminectomy, not total vertebrae removal.  If an upcoming xray* shows spine instability, a fusion would be required that may involve vertebrae removal and a cage.  Details will be known after this special xray is completed.  Whew!  

Xray results in--spine appears to be stable.  MD plans on laminectomy.
Surgery date is tentatively scheduled for June 26.


  1. MAKE him go for a second opinion. Check the doctor's history. Make the doctor explain what you can't remember and what exactly he meant about "removing vertebrae." Then trust God, because He does use doctors, no doubt about that.

    Will be praying for peace, direction, and a quick recovery.

    By the way, tell him one month is way less than the rest of his life, Lord willing for his long life.

    1. Right on, TBR! I did or was going to do all of the above. Great minds just think alike, don't they? :D

      As noted above, the MD was just using shortcut language :{ saying he was removing vertebrae, meaning the back side of the vertebrae and not (what he said!) removing the entire vertebrae. Sigh. Surgeons aren't always the best at communication.

      Bill had his bend and stretch xray today. Those results will tell us if a normal laminectomy is sufficient or if the spine is unstable and will need supported. How support is done remains to be seen, too.

      Thanks, TBR, you're the best.


    2. That's a double whew...I just couldn't wrap my mind around removing vertebrae. Yeah. I can't think that.