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Disc replacement surgery
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Posted 4/21/2021 17:38 (#8965622 - in reply to #8963629)
Subject: RE: Disc replacement surgery

Cumberland County, TN

No, on disc replacement - disc incisement, yes - fusion, yes.

Back in 1971...  what's that been?  Fifty years ago?  Yes, 50 years ago...  I had excruciating sciatica.  That's pressure on the sciatic nerve, caused in my case by a ruptured disc at my #5 lumbar vertebra, causing pain down the back of my left leg to my achilles tendon in my heel.  My bro-in-law was an executive for Bristol-Myers so I asked him for advice.

"If you're considering surgery, you want to get the best doctor that you can find that specializes in back issues.  You'd be best off to go to a "learning" type university hospital because they're typically about ten year ahead of the curve in the latest medicine and technology.  We're talking about places such as Vanderbilt University in Nashville or Indiana University Medical Orthopedics."

He told me that he had a personal relationship with one Dr. Ted Luros, a neurosurgeon at the I.U. Med Center and that Dr. Luros had been summoned to Dallas in the JFK assassination incident so his credentials are beyond reproach.  So I asked my family doctor to make me an appointment with him - which he did.

Dr. Luros sat me on a table and whacked my knee with a little rubber hammer and my leg jerked forward.  He repeated this with the other knee and there was no knee jerk whatever.  He concluded that I did indeed have a nerve problem with my left leg and he scheduled a myleogram test.

Herniated Disc - Symptoms and Causes  EMG Testing For Herniated Discs- EMG Test PAdoctor_step

As illustrated by the images, I had a ruptured disc that was applying pressure to my sciatic nerve.  I asked if it would get better on it's own and he told me that he could put me in traction for a month or so to relieve the weight on my disc but it was doubtful that the disc would return to normal.  He suggested that we "incise" the disc to relieve the pressure.

I asked if he thought that I'd have trouble there in the future and the said that it was probable since the pressure on the disc would then be transferred to the other side and that it would likely also rupture sometime in the future - but that we could deal with that if and when it happened.

I had the surgery and when I woke up - yeah - I was hurting from the surgery - but the sciatic pain down my leg was entirely GONE!  Wow!  I was elated!!!  I was off work for a couple of months and then on light duty - no lifting, etc.  It worked.

And then a few years later, it ruptured again on the other side just like we'd anticipated - and so I went to see Dr. Luros again. I asked if I'd continue to have trouble and I told him that I couldn't be laid up like this because I needed to be able to do a man's work and to earn a living. 

He told me that he could do a spinal fusion of the 4th, 5th, lumbar vertebrae to the sacrum and that would eliminate the likelihood of further collapses of the discs but that it was a major surgical procedure.  I opted to do it.  He told me, "That's the first time I've had anyone volunteer to have a spinal fusion but if you're sure that's what you want, I'll send you home with some pain medication and we'll reschedule with some other doctors and get you set up."

The orthopedists there cut into my ilium and removed two strips of 'seed' bone to use for the fusion - one one either side of my sacrum and up alongside my lumbar vertebrae.

I got a shot of Demerol every 4 hours for pain.  (I still hurt - but I didn't care anymore that I hurt.)  The Demerol wore off after 3 1/2 hours and I had to wait another half hour for another shot.  That was a progressive situation.  After about a week, the shot would wear off in about 1 hour and I had to wait 3 hours for another shot.

I told the nurse that I didn't want another shot.  "Are you sure?  If you change your mind, just push your buzzer and we've got it for you up here."

"Thanks, but if I can hurt for 3 hours, I figure that I can hurt for 4.  I don't want any more shots."

So then later, the room started spinning around and I was about ready to barf and it was NO fun!

"Can I get you that glass of water?"

"No, that's okay.  I'll get it myself - the next time around!"

At no time have I ever regretted the surgery.  I was hospitalized for 3 weeks following my fusion surgery and when I went home, I wasn't in pain but it was real scary to walk around.  I felt like I'd been severed in half and put back together and that there wasn't a lot that was holding me together in the middle and that if I twisted the wrong way that I might come apart.  :-0  Probably not the way it was but that was the feeling of concern. 

I was off work at the Delco Radio factory for 13 months.  I went back to Dr. Luros for checkups and he asked me to bend over to see if I could touch my toes - and yes, I could.  :-)

Like I said ...  this has been around 50 years ago and I'm still doing quite well.  He must'a been a good doctor.  He did wonders for me.  My advice - get a good doctor and the two of you can come upon a plan that you both can agree upon.  Good luck, Old Man.  :-)

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