October 1, 2012

Pre-Second Opinion Appointment with Neurosurgeon

I'm feeling rather nervous.  It's been near 18 months now that I've been with a left, numb leg, an absent front, foot push-off, no reflex and living in chronic back pain daily.

I am reaching for strength and hope that my fate will be of a good nature when I meet with another neurosurgeon on October 4, 2012.  I've never in my life had to seek a second opinion.  It feels stressful and coated in a thick paste of the unknown.

My first appointment in August of 2011, with the surgeon that did my first back surgery, a discectomy/laminectomy back in July of 2009, dismissed me in five minutes, stating to me that there was nothing she could do surgically.  Even after I told her I'm dosed with pain medications, attending physiotherapy, massage therapy, and chiropractor; tried ultrasound, shockwave, heat, acupuncture, and yoga; purchased orthotics, a stability belt, ergonomic chair, therapy ball chair, and lumbar chair supports.  As well, I had no sexual function for seven months after my near fall in April of 2011. 

She read the MRI report briefly, examined me briefly, and said it's fibrosis, which is scar tissue; here try neural flossing with your physiotherapist and here's a recommendation to your family doctor to refer you to a pain management specialist for epidural nerve block injections.

Needless-to-say, I was devastated leaving her office in tears.  Where do you go from there when you're in pain everyday?  I disagree entirely that my issue is scar tissue because I was 20 months post-operation and was doing great until the near fall in April 2011.  Scar tissue forms in the first six to 12 weeks following surgery.  I had no issues until I jolted my back that Friday right before Easter long weekend, which put me in bed for seven days.  My CT scan clearly showed a recurrent disc herniation and inflammation.  I had no numbness, tingling, sharp pains in my leg and foot until that jolt.  I was a surgery success story.  I continued on pain meds and the various coping treatments including the neural flossing, which had no fix results whatsoever.
In May of 2012, after far too much sitting in my office chair hunched over the keyboard (computer job-life is going to be the death of me), I just couldn't take the pain anymore.  The inflammation was at its worst.  I felt like I'd been in a car accident and was pushing old-age.  I would come home from the office to put my housecoat on and retreat to my heating pad in my bed when it was only 4:30 pm.  I had nothing left for my family.  I hadn't cooked in nearly nine months.  I had told myself that when the one year mark approached, April 2012, I would either accept this life or do something about it.  Well, at 42 years old, I couldn't bend over and stay like this.  Pain, pain every day!  Not able to work!  Not even able to walk with a proper gait, having gainned near 20 pounds of fat!  No, I am not going to stay like this !  WTF! 

So, as the second opinion day approaches I'm not sure how to prepare.  I will be much more assertive this time around, tearing down whatever roadblocks may breach my goal.  Yes, I know my place.  I'm at the mercy of this surgeon. 

My feelings haven't been all warm and fuzzy about him either.  For starters, my family doctor made the referral in February of 2012, via fax.  Four months went by with no response.  The fax was faxed again in May.  I finally received a phone call from the surgeon's secretary in July.  My appointment was set for September 12, 2012.  I asked her if written correspondence would be sent by mail confirming the appointment.  Snarly, she said, "no, you'll have to write it down."  Obviously, I was writing it down, but it did seem unprofessional that proof of the appointment wouldn't be provided.  I would have liked to provide that to my employer since I was off work due to my back, and it would be helpful to substantiate that I was pursuing trying to get some relief. 

Disappointingly, I was notified on September 8th, that the surgeon was going to be away for two-weeks and my appointment was rescheduled to October 4, 2012.  This was left on my answering machine with no written correspondence.  Thankfully, no one in the household erased or forgot to tell me about this message.  In the least, I was not too happy, but again there's nothing you can do.  You don't want to piss off a surgeon that you've been waiting to see for nine months.  Well, again on Friday, September 28th, I got a phone call notifying me that my appointment was now reschedule from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, the same day.  My heart sank as I was anticipating another date change!  I was thankful, once again, that it was only the time.  I called the surgeon's office confirming that I would be there.  So, I kind of already don't care for this surgeon or his staff.  People are in pain and waiting for you to make them feel better.  And what's with always notifying people on a Friday?!  I'll talk about this business of 'Friday notifications' in anther post. 

I opted not to try the epidural nerve block injections for several reasons.  Firstly, in my city there is only one pain management clinic and it is run by one anastegeologist, who I have heard from several different and reliable sources to not let him touch me.  Also, from my research, these types of injections are very shortlived for pain relief, if it works for you, and injections into the spine can cause more scar tissue.  I didn't even get an epidural when I was in labour with my son.

I will bring with me all DVD MRI and CT scans, and medical reports to support my reasons for wanting surgery.  Needing.  Needing surgery.  I believe, I have made every effort and exhausted all alternative pain relief resources and methods.

I'm presently, also on a waiting list to work with an occupational therapist, but we have none locally in private practice, so I'm waiting to see one at our local hospital and the waiting list goes by triage.  I've been waiting since July 2012.

Please help me dear second opinion surgeon.  I am not able to work because sitting kills me.  I don't want to live like this.  The pain makes me want to just reach for sleep because when you sleep you feel no pain, same with when you are dead, but I don't want to die.


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