I saw the spinal surgeon yesterday (Friday). After having 4 more xrays done of my neck and after reviewing my Spinal MRI, the surgeon believes that surgery is my only option. They want to do an Anterior Cervical Spinal Fusion to alleviate the spinal cord compression and nerve damage I am experiencing. Basically, they will make an incision in the front of my neck, go in and take out the two herniated discs and then fuse the 3 Cervical Bones (c5-c6-c7) together using my own bone grafted from my pelvis. A metal brace will be implemented to keep the bone fusion in place and protected.
We're looking at a 2 1/2 hour surgery, 1/2 hour to fall asleep, 1/2 hour to wake up, close to 4 hours in OR and 2 hours in recovery, 3 days in the hospital, 3 weeks wearing a hard shell neck brace, 5 more weeks wearing a soft shell neck brace and about 3 months until full recovery.
Basically this is the same surgery I had back in 1989 for Scoliosis, fusing 4 Lumbar Bones together, with addition of metal rods, except that that surgery was 12 hours long and I didn't wake up for two days after it and the recovery time was 3 months on my back.
This time around they told me I will be on my feet the same day. I'll also have a private room and will be up and around (not bed ridden) for my entire stay in the hospital. They said bring slippers and 'casual' wear. ha ha
yay! ... more metal in me. I'm not entirely pleased with this diagnosis but I realize that I was born with a bad back and that this may be the only option right now (the best option, anyway). My left hand falling asleep every ten minutes is not a good sign. The doctors say my spinal cord is very healthy but if it keeps getting compressed (the reason my hand keeps falling asleep) I can do permanent damage eventually. If I get the surgery right now, there is a great chance that the damaged nerves will heal themselves.
I was told that there is an 80% to 90% chance that this surgery will alleviate all of my pain. A good chance that 10% of the pain will remain. I can live with that (hopefully). Of course there are risks dealing with spinal surgery, nothing I didn't already go through with my last surgery; the chance of damaging the spinal cord (1 in 1000), infection, etc. The only new things dealing with the cervical section rather than the lumbar section is possible damage to vocal cords and esophagus.
The doctors wanted to operate as soon as March 31st, a little over two weeks from now. I have to call them back next week with my decision. I know I am getting the surgery done, I just don't know if the 31st will be the date. I have to consider the recovery time and all; having to miss work, other responsibilities in my life, who will be able to be around to help me during recovery (help around the house, not being able to drive, etc).
We'll see ... i have some thinking to do and decisions to make.