Monday, May 24, 2010

Alan's Back Surgery

Some of you know that when I came back from the cruise with CrusieGran, I found that Alan's back pain had increased. He had a fusion of his Lumbar vertebrae L3, L4, and L5 back in 2002. Hey, it comes from jumping out of airplanes, years of soccer abuse, and a congenital predisposition for degenerative spinal problems. We had been told after the initial surgery that in the future, he would probably be looking at another fusion down the road. It's the fulcrum principle of physics. When you fuse something together, the stress point becomes the area directly below or above.

So, in a nutshell, his MRI from a week after I got back showed THIS.

See the white space? That's his spinal canal. Nice and open above and especially below, where his fusion is...but right in the center, his canal is severely compressed, which is causing his pain.

From above, you can also see the narrowing, or stenosis.

The yellow areas show where his spinal canal looks open, then closes dramatically (red arrows), only to reopen below the problem.

His neurosurgeon, Dr. Ellen Shaver, was WONDERFUL, and fit him into her schedule as fast as she could...meaning he only had to wait a week. He had all the preop tests done, including an EKG because he's over 50 now...

Surgery morning, and he's trying not to show his nerves...

Dr.Shaver had access to some brand new technology, and did not have to do as invasive a procedure as she thought. She was able to "tie into" the existing rod hardware from his previous fusion and stabilize the L-2 vertebra into the others.

And four hours later, he's fixed and in recovery!

Bruce, Alan's best friend for more years than any of us care to admit any longer, came from Atlanta with magazines, mirth, and merriment to be my handholder and general do-gooder. He made a MEAN fashion photographer (work it baby) when Grumpy Guy got to have some yummy jello..

Then ran out to get sushi and pino noir for the me and him. My angel!!!

This damn machine is his morphine pump.

I say "damn" machine because Alan has an unusually low breath rate. The morphine pump is not individually calibrated, so it went off ALL NIGHT LONG, every 90 seconds or so, when it assumed Alan wasn't breathing (morphine slows ones breathing down...which is why they monitor it..) And, NO, it can't be overridden. He finally had it disconnected the next day as he couldn't get any rest.

My darling friend Cecilia sent a precious get well card featuring her companion Sea Troll.

He was only in the hospital for 5 days and when his scar looked like it was healing nicely...

They let us come home.

He's still taking things takes longer to heal than it did 8 years ago (imagine that!), and he will be wearing a protective back brace for another month or so, but he can walk again and the pain is slowly abating.

But you know Grumpy Guy...we are going to have to watch him like a hawk to make sure he doesn't overdo it on the cruise!!!

1 comment:

Jenni said...

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