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.
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.