Thursday, July 07, 2005

Weighing Pros and Cons of Surgery

  • Pain will be removed almost immediately
  • Strength of left arm restored immediately gradually.
  • Quick resolution
  • Feeling safe to use left arm to hold baby.
  • Being left handed I feel very hindered that it is my left arm that is injured.
  • Any treatment short of surgery will not completely resolve this issue. It could happen again at any time regardless of physical therapy, etc.
  • Get off this cocktail of meds they have me on-I dislike taking this many pill and worry about drug interactions
  • Stop the slow financial hemmoraging of copays, perscriptions, diagnostic tests, etc. We know what the problem is and it is treated, over and done with. Despite the huge upfront costs I can see how over a years time this will add up rapidly. Thus far I have racked up about $1,500 in out of pocket diagnostics, copays, perscriptions, etc.
  • Since I have been in pain for almost three months and have not regained sensation in my thumb, periodically lose sensation in my arm, lost strength in my arm, tried massage, chiropractic, cold packs, oral steroids without result there is not any real indication that this will respond to anything other than surgery.

  • In addition to the $1k I already owe for the MRI, I will owe an additional $2k as the 20% of the procedure that I would have to pay. So my out of pocket will be $3,000.
  • Tiny chance surgeon could fuck up and I end up paralyzed or dead.
  • Tiny, but larger, chance of infection. Becaust this is a hospital I could be exposed to MRSA or VRE (antibiotic resistant super infectious bacteria)
  • Because one of seven "joints" between the cervical vertebrae of my neck would be fused each remaining joint would have a slight amount of additional stress placed on them. Doctors seem to feel that I am healthy other than this and that my spine is not degenerating so that should not be a big deal, but it would mean additional stress on the six remaining joints for the next however many years I live.
  • Vertebrae failing to fuse
  • Anesthesia problems
  • Hoarseness and swallowing difficulties
  • Thrombosis: clots in leg
  • Hardware fracture: The metal screws, rods and plates used to stabilize your spine are called
    “hardware.” The hardware may move or break before your vertebrae are completely fused. If this occurs a second surgery may be needed to fix the hardware.
  • Implant migration: Similar to a hardware fracture, migration occurs when the metal hardware stabilizing your spine moves from the correct position soon after surgery. If this happens, a second operation may be necessary.
  • Persistent pain: Be sure to go into surgery with realistic expectations about your pain. Surgery doesn’t remove all your pain, but allows you to return to improved function. Discuss your expectations with your doctor.
  • Transitional syndrome: The vertebrae above and below a fusion may take on extra stress and eventually degenerate and cause pain.
  • Pseudo arthrosis : Literally means “false joint.” This occurs when a fractured bone hasn’t healed or when a fusion is unsuccessful. The motion between the unhealed segments can cause pain.

    This post will be subject to updates throughout the day as I think of more factors. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions.
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