Update From Neurosurgeon/Physica
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Thursday, this week, I had my 13 week post-op check up with my neurosurgeon. I took a progress report to him from my physical therapist for my first 7 weeks of physical therapy. I've made some fairly great progress so far but have at least 3 more weeks to go.
My doctor was very excited about the rate of bone growth in my fusion at C5-C6. He said I'm ahead of schedule! Yea! The bones at C3-C4 are not naturally fusing at this time (bummer) but we have to be patient and give them time. Letting the bones fuse naturally will take a long time (if ever). This wasn't what I wanted to hear but time will tell. My infection appears to be gone although I still have one stitch that is making my incision sore at the spot where I had the abscess. I was excited to hear that I can go back into the water for water aerobics. My physical therapist has cleared me to try all of the motions as long as I skip the weights. I can also take the class called "The Healthy Back" which does many of my home physical therapy stretches and movements. Hooray!!! This was great news!
I have still been having problems with several of the nerves in my left arm. My physical therapist thinks that with continued therapy, it may heal. The neurosurgeon is willing to try this first before doing anything further. However, he actually feels that I had so much damage for such a prolonged time that I may have several swollen nerve covers that may need to be surgically repaired because they are pinching several nerves. We were actually able to narrow it down to the unavoidable movements that caused the injury and come up with a plan to fix it if the physical therapy doesn't work. My doctor's proactive approach, having a plan in place in advance, is very reassuring and comforting to me based upon my past experiences with neurosurgeons. I think he is very aware of this and is a very kind and gentle person for taking these steps to reassure me.
Over all my prognosis is very good. I still have quite a bit of pain due to the nerves in my left arm but that will either be corrected by physical therapy or additional surgery. I am more active than I've been in 3 years and in some ways I feel like I've been sprung out of jail. There are days when I forget about the time and have trouble reeling myself in but I know I must because I'll pay for it with pain later. I've been using the clock as a guide for the length of my activities because some types of pain I just don't feel until it's too late. One of my goals is to pay attention to my pain level so that I don't let it get out of control. If I do it is too easy to want to medicate myself with food instead of pain medication. I've been so good about avoiding that and I don't want to mess that up now!