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.