1 year, 3-ish Months

I thought I’d do a brief update for anyone that is still reading my site:

Not a day goes by without me thanking the late Nick Boeree for my back!  I’ve sent my scans off to his successor, Mr. Christopher Dare, to make sure everything is going well in there.  It’s been over a week and I haven’t heard anything back yet.  To my untrained eye though, it looks to be unchanged from my 6 month xrays.  I’ll update this post when I officially get word.  I wasn’t sure what Nick’s former patients should be doing going forward with the closing of the Spine Clinic in Eastleigh, but it sounds as though Mr. Dare will still be operating out of the same facility, with a new clinic name/branding.  If it doesn’t work out with Mr. Dare, I think I’ll contact Dr. Zeegers out of Germany to do my follow-ups.

I was officially denied by our government healthcare system after taking it all the way to the Health Minister and the Overseas Health Services Committee in Alberta.  At least I tried!  I got a little back from Alberta Health and Wellness for the regular hospital stay and some more back from income tax… so all was not lost.  After all is said and done, I’d say I got back ~$8000 out of $30000.

Interestingly, I’ve also been officially barred from seeing my local ortho surgeon, Dr. Bouchard, because I had surgery overseas.  I was a little taken aback by this, as I was assured beforehand that I would have access to a surgeon on the Canuck side when I got back, if needed.  I really just wanted him to see my follow-up xrays going forward with the loss of Mr. Boeree.  I’m going back to the triage doc to have a chat on the 25th of October.  I’m pretty sure this might violate the Canada Health Act.

I’m still playing hockey, though I sprained my left MCL in a crease scramble when another dude’s skate got caught on my pads!  I should be back on the ice in a couple of weeks.  I’ve been able to do pretty much everything else I wasn’t able to do pre-op.  I’ve even inherited a hand-me-down road bike to start riding next season.  That flexion position made my feet go numb instantly pre-op and now there is 0 discomfort on the bike.

We’ve decided to sell our house to find a better family home and in part, to pay off the rest of my back debt.  A house move should be a pretty stringent test for my little M6-L.  I don’t really lift heavy things any more and am still tremendously aware of my movements to avoid any further injury.  I might hire packers and movers this time around, instead of just movers. 🙂

I hope the rest of your are doing well and wish you all the best.

Edit #1: Still nothing back on my x-rays, but on Tuesday, I took part in my first yoga formal yoga class since August, 2010.  I took it very easy and did a lot of “child’s resting pose”, but it sure felt good!

Edit #2: Mr. Dare just wrote me back…

You will be pleased to know that your xrays are perfect, no migration, subsidence of the the disc which is functioning well. Essentially at this stage you can engage in all activites without restriction.

I’m relieved to hear this and still feel great!  I really hope it stays this way!

Our house has finally sold and we move out the burbs on the 26th.  🙂

-Brett

Core Shorts Are Great!

I’ve used them a couple of times.  For sure less strain in my hips/groin/lower back while playing hockey.  I’m giving them 2 thumbs up.

I ended up ordering 1 size larger than normal because they fit so tight.  The shot below is the exact model I purchased.

 

I’m Lazy

Still no x-rays, but I might go tomorrow morning before work. 🙂  I’m lazy.

I’m just posting for any of you other lumbars out there.  I stumbled across “coreshorts” while perusing the goalie forums online and think they might be an advantage for us.  They were developed in Canada to aid in support for the groin, hips, pelvis and lower back for physically demanding sports/jobs like hockey, fire fighting etc.  They were recently bought out by Underarmour and now seem to be distributed worldwide.

Core Shorts Link

While I have yet to test the product, they seem like an excellent idea as an adjunct to our already vigorous core exercises.  I’ll let you know how they work out.

1 Year Update!

Well… it’s been an entire year since surgery! I’m doing quite well. I’ll go for my xrays probably next week, but my back is feeling pretty darned good.

I’ve been getting a little lazy with the core workouts as of late, but I’ve ramped up the ice hockey. I’m back to playing twice a week – a feat I thought impossible as of 2010. I’m still walking vigorously with my dog and doing pretty normal “life” stuff like playing with my 3 year old and 10 month old. It’s actually quite remarkable for me to have gone from “lying on the couch” to this level normalcy. I thank the late Mr. Boeree every day and I’m honoured that he took me on as a patient.

As for the specifics on my back, I’m not completely without pain. A little comes and goes, but I noticed some dramatic improvements in months 8 and 11. The 8 month mark reduced the tightness in extreme flexion and 11 months marked a reduction in my extension (upward dog) pain. It wasn’t anything like the old ache/sharp pains in movement – just a little pinch as I went into extension. I’m guessing both were related to facet movement and ligament stretching. I still get a little “tight” if I sit for extended periods and it also results in some tail bone discomfort – but again, nothing like my pre-op pain. I’m able to finish an entire hockey game with no aches… something I haven’t experienced for years! Now, if I could only get back to my old goals against average! I’ve also been able to fly for work and go on regular family holidays again without worrying about my back. I’m back to taking my regular multivitamin, vitamin d, and “animal flex” with the odd protein shake after any strenuous workout/exercise. Other than that, I’m pretty vanilla.

I’m still VERY careful when lifting and loading my spine, mind you. 😉

I’ll keep the odd update going now and then, but hopefully my back blog will be taking a hiatus for the foreseeable future.

Played A Full Game!

I made it through!  I did 3 short ice sessions to work on my endurance and have upped my walking/yoga regimen at home.  Low and behold, I played a full 1.25 hours last night!  It was a 5-2 loss in the end, but a win for my silly back.  I was definitely aware of my back while playing, though it was not painful.  I’ve still got a lot of work to do on my flexibility as 2 years off the formal yoga mat have taken their toll.

All in all, it was a little tight last night and this morning, but no different than my pre-injury back in 2010.  These lower back muscles/ligaments haven’t been worked/stretched this hard in approximately 2 years.

Zoticos (from adrsupport) and I have contacted the lead Phd in charge of spinal biomechanics at Loyola… who also happens to have run the tests on the M6-L for quality of motion and durability.  We’re eagerly awaiting his response for those of us trying to return to a high level of physical activity and sport post-adr.  I will definitely report back on our findings. 🙂

-Brett

I’m Weak!

Well, I guess that is to be expected after 2 years off the ice.  I laced up the skates and took part in a 10 minute pre-game warm up, complete with some hot rubber flying at me!  My back was GREAT.  It was a little tight as I started to work it a bit harder, but it was no worse for the wear afterward.  The only thing that surprised me was how weak, slow and de-conditioned I was!  I can walk, run and do core work until I’m blue in the face, but it is nothing compared to real sport.  I’m a long way from playing a full competitive game, but I’m getting there.

I owe it all to Mr. Boeree.  He was sure I’d make it back on the ice.  I play again this weekend and will take some on ice shots.

 

 

Mr. Nick Boeree

I just received word that Mr. Boeree was tragically killed in a traffic accident on Wednesday. I’m entirely at a loss for words and feel a deep sadness for his family, friends, colleagues, patients and those who will never have the chance to be helped by this wonderful man.

He was a kind person, an extraordinary surgeon and I considered him a friend.  Thank you for everything Nick, you will be profoundly missed. My thoughts go out to your family during this dark time.

Edit:  Some more tributes for Mr. Boeree and the charity his family has chosen for donations.

Vegas Part II

Well, it’s that time of year again and I made my pilgrimage back to the desert.  This year, I was able to take part in everything that I missed out on last year… pretty exciting.

This included machine guns!  A group of us headed over to Machine Gun Vegas and we ordered the “Call of Duty” package.  I was a little worried about the recoil, but took the plunge anyway due to my love of the video game.

AK-47s, 9mm pistols, MP5s, SCARs, .308 sniper rifles and the M249 – I don’t know what half of these names mean, but the AK-47 hurt my shoulder the most… and didn’t affect my back at all.  I emailed Mike right before and asked him what he thought and he said to stay away from the shotguns.  Sage advice, Mike!

All in all, it was a BIG success this year and I’m still happy at 8 months post-op.  Booze, gambling, shopping, lots of dancing and machine guns and no worse for the wear.  Ahhh, Vegas.

I’m still not feeling as well as I was pre-injury, but I’m probably 95% better than pre-op.

Cheers,

-Brett

My Treasonous Back

First it was the great L4-5 Disc Rebellion of 2010 and this January marked the terrifying Melanomic Insurrection of 2012.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think my back is trying to kill me.

Make sure you check your moles often and get anything you find suspicious cut out ASAP.

Mine was full blown Malignant Melanoma, though only Stage T1a (.79mm Breslow thickness, Clark level III, non-ulcerated, 0/mm2 mitoses, absent Angioinvasion & Neurotropism) – but a mighty scare, nevertheless. It’s out now and I have a >90% chance I’ll be ok, but you don’t seem to know its in your lymph nodes until its too late.  Needless to say, I’ll be watching these other little f_ckers with an eagle eye from this point on.

Ironically, the country that probably wrecked my disc with manual labour, is also the country that most likely poisoned my mole with UV… Australia!

Scary stuff.  All this talk of us wearing our ADRs out, when there is a high probability they will outlast us!

UPDATE:
The incision hurt like heck until about the 4th day post-op. They did end up going pretty deep and wide on the re-excision just to be safe. The scar is a little bigger and WAY uglier than my ADR incision. It’s crazy that a tumour less than .80mm thick calls for an excision like this!

I wasn’t sure I should post this on my site, but I think it is very important for us ADR patients to think as far down the road as you can.  I hadn’t really thought about the repercussions of ADR with any other life-threatening conditions years down the road, but I sure as hell did last week.  It’s great to lessen our back pain, but can an artificial disc increase our likelihood of adverse reactions if ever immunosuppressed?  This is an important question to address for peeps like us!

Feb 28th Update – I got the results back from my re-excision and the margins are all clear.  My follow-ups are now only every 6 months for the next year or so.  Thank god!

-Brett

Antibiotic Prophylaxis for Bacteremia in Patients with Joint Replacements

Richard, over at ADR Support, was kind enough to send this link along to me… a valuable read for us TDR folks.  Bookmark it!

“Bacteremia from a variety of sources can cause hematogenous seeding of bacteria onto joint implants, both in the early postoperative period and for many years following implantation.2 In addition, bacteremia may occur in the course of normal daily life3-5 and concurrently with dental, urologic and other surgical and medical procedures.5 The analogy of late prosthetic joint infections with infective endocarditis is invalid as the anatomy, blood supply, microorganisms and mechanisms of infection are all different.6

Recommended Antibiotic for each procedure below: