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Blew out L1 a year ago...took this long for the final diagnosis after all the tests, PT sessions and pain shots. Seems that when you destroy L1/L2, the neurosurgeons cannot fix that one level since right above it is T12/L1, the main "pivot point" in your lower spine. So...
Docs needed to put in TWO XLIF devices (one at each level), take out half of my 12th rib to grind up for insertion into the devices to jumpstart the fusion and then close me up. That's the easy part. Then I get flipped onto my stomach and they open me up from my back (TLIF) to insert the cages, rails and screws PLUS attach the new rails to my lower existing rails so that my entire lumbar spine (T12 through S1) is completely fused solid.
The pain (lower groin, left hip and lower back...all associated with L1) is now gone...just the residual post-op pain is left and decreasing daily. The op took NINE HOURS...but it didn't end there. Five days later, the pain started to increase again. Went to an ER and they found a kidney stone!!!!! So.....back into surgery six days after the spine.
Got home and started blacking out...from standing to eating carpet...syncope. BACK to the ER where they found small blood clots in one lung plus the beginnings of pneumonia. Seems to occur in looooong OR procedures. Spent 2 1/2 more weeks in the hospital on blood thinners and antibiotics while the docs ran every test imaginable. It looks like I am in excellent shape for 72 and the consensus was that this was like a "perfect storm" of consequences from the original 9 hour surgery and everything that followed. My body just shut down. Blood pressure would drop from 138 to 108 systolic just by standing up.
Spent two weeks at a rehab joint where I got stronger and left the syncope behind. Just have to rest and let my body recover. Still on driving restrictions (don't want to pass out at 80 mph) until I finish the blood thinners (three months) and am cleared by my doc.
It has been one hell of a ride this past month but you have to take what life gives you and beat it no matter what it takes. I will be in a TLSO brace for a few months while I recover and strengthen my body so I can leave this all behind me. Do the rehab...reap the rewards.
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