Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Uh oh...

Yesterday, Charlie found that the test results were finally sent over to my doctor's office, so she called to set up a conference call with the doctor and me, so we could talk about surgery. Well, the call did NOT go as planned...

The receptionist was not our usual and was, from Charlie's perspective, abrupt and somewhat rude. And for some reason, the doctor, relaying through the receptionist, is not interested in taking the surgical route! I really do not understand; why, if he didn't want to do surgery, did he have me get two "second opinions?" Even worse, he gave no explanation for his decision.

At this point I no longer trust this doctor, and Charlie is in conversation with the doctor we saw 2 weeks ago about having him open me up. In my opinion, if the doctor doesn't want to work on me, I certainly don't want him cutting in to my spine!

So, for now, it's back - yet again - to Square One. I had prepared myself for the operation, and now we don't know when or where or even if I'll be getting my back fixed.

Frustration is nowhere near strong enough to describe my feelings right now. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Waiting again...

It's been almost two weeks since we visited the doctor for the second opinion and my doctor has not received the transcripts. If I offered the kind of "customer service" that UCSF Medical Center does, I would be out of business.

So I sit here waiting for the reports to get to my doctor. Meanwhile, nothing happens. The doctor doesn't want to schedule a phone consult until he's had time to review the report, which is understandable. And of course, since there's no phone consult scheduled, there's no surgery scheduled. The doctor goes on vacation for the first two weeks in July. So, the soonest surgery MIGHT be towards the end of next month.

So I wait. And wait. And continue to live in increasing pain and sleep less and less.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Second Second Opinion

Got home yesterday from another drive to UCSF Medical Center, this time to meet with the head of the Spinal Center. Dr. McCormack wanted another second opinion on a course of action (the neurologist recommended a triple partial laminectomy).

After waiting for 3 hours in the lobby (we had been warned by staff that he was running late), we finally had a chance to speak with Dr Weinstein. He was very personable with a friendly bedside manner. After the now-obligatory walks around the room (walk away, walk on your toes, walk on your heels) and reflex tests, we got to the meat of the matter.

We were basically given a choice of all-at-once or two-stage surgery options. The all at once option would be to fuse the four vertebrae in question and also deal with the spinal stenosis. This would be a major surgery, with significant invasion and recovery time. An interesting side note: in looking at the x-rays, the doctor noted that the L5-S1 area was almost totally fused on its own, due to the deterioration of the disc.

The second option would be to deal with the stenosis now to relieve the numbness in my legs that hampers my mobility and see how that affects the back pain. The possibility exists that relieving the pressure on the spinal canal and the nerves emanating from it might diminish the constant pain I feel. This surgery would be done with minimally invasive surgery and result in only about 10 days of recovery time. Needless to say, we are leaning toward this option. The possibility exists that we would still have to deal with the fusion at a later date, though. But I have lived with back pain most of my life, so I ma willing to give this a chance.

Now we wait for the report to Dr. McCormack and another consultation. Then, with any luck, we can get surgery scheduled right away. Charlie's travel schedule has a couple of openings coming soon, and it would be great to have this not be too disruptive to her work schedule.

This situation has been very debilitating. I have been able to spend less and less time able to stand and/or walk without having to take time to sit to recover. I find myself getting depressed and angry a lot as we wait and wait for some sort of resolution. Charlie has been wonderfully supportive, in spite of my moods. She is an amazing woman and I love her so much and look forward to the time when we can travel and have fun together again soon.