It would have been nice to have been offered a glimmer of hope, a shot of cortisone or maybe a nice scotch and an engaging chat. Instead, they gave me the “suck it up” talk.
The physio assessment by Marco was very thorough and he was very nice and listened well. We re-established my issues with flexion and extension, twists, numbness, tingles and pain. My leg raise tests increased back pain exponentially as expected (more right than left) and he remarked about my limited range of motion. Marco then took a quick look at my MRI, noted the bulge and brought in Dr. Meerholz to go over my history and scans. The doctor also noted the bulge, my symptoms and the hypertrophic(arhtritic) changes of my joints, the disc degeneration and all the the nerve root compression as a result. Obviously a fan of conservative treatment, he told me to continue my limited exercise repertoire and that a fusion now would result in ~3 more surgeries over my lifetime to relieve the degeneration on adjacent levels. According to him, you only operate when the leg pain/numbness/tingles exceeds the back pain. Seems simple enough. He said I’m destined to live with my current (and worsening) level of pain for the next 20 years, when they will likely pursue a 3 level fusion to turn my lower spine into a 2×4. Suck it up, you wimp. As such, I am not a candidate for any surgeries yet, but if the leg symptoms stay or progress, I will need something. He didn’t indicate what kind of a procedure that would be. When I asked him specifically about laminectomies and ADR, he replied:
1) Laminectomies will just create more tissue growth than before and make everything worse
2) ADR will not help any of the pain I’m feeling
Needless to say, I was hoping for something a little more helpful. 🙁
The exercise therapist John, was a very nice fellow and we went through my current treatment regimen. He laughed out loud when I showed him everything I was doing, where I limit due to pain and my current core strengthening exercises. He told me that I know my body very well and that I’m my own doctor already. A very telling statement… I thought doctors were supposed to heal? I’m just trying to maintain what little range of motion I still have. I know if I told my boss to suck up and that he’d never get email again, I’d be fired. We’ve cracked the atom, gave birth to the internet and landed on the moon – and we can’t fix one shitty little degenerated disc?!
I booked in for some physio with them anyway to see if they might help. I’m not expecting much, but it can’t hurt if they can teach me something new. For anyone interested in McKenzie back exercises, they are all really just yoga poses. I guess that is the best I can hope for.
My net result: Confused as hell. I’ve got 3 surgeons in Europe telling me my only hope is ADR, one in the US telling me I need a laminectomy, and my Canadian triage spine specialist telling me I need to suck it up for 20 years until they 2×4 my spine. Seriously, WTF. I’m very comfortable with Mr. Boeree’s assessment, but is it only because I don’t want to give up hope on leading a semi-normal life again? I’ll gladly fork out $30k for an operation if it will actually help me… but am I acting foolishly? Is the arthritis REALLY causing all of my pain? I thought I’d have a clearer outlook after Caleo, but I now have conflicting prognoses and no sense of direction.
I’m no closer to anything.