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Upcoming cervical spine surgery

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Upcoming cervical spine surgery

Old 11-05-22, 08:53 PM
  #1  
Desert Ryder
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Upcoming cervical spine surgery

I am having cervical spine surgery done in the next upcoming weeks. Spinal stenosis and degenerative discs are causing weakness in my biceps, impingement, tingling, and loss of range of motion.
This has been an ongoing issue that will continue to worsen.
As the spine doc put it. My C3-C7 is at the severe to "shot to hell" stage. He is surprised that I am not in any pain as most in this condition present with pain issues.

Anyone had anything like this done

I'm afraid my drop bar days might be at an end.

Last edited by Desert Ryder; 11-05-22 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 11-05-22, 09:10 PM
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Is there a chance you could get a second opinion?

The "no pain" part is, as you note, a bit of a surprise.
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Old 11-05-22, 09:21 PM
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2 yrs, 2 neurologists, multiple MIRs.xrays. nerve tests, PT, and blood tests. The first neurologist said it was a motor neuron disease, Second one, Not a neurological problem.

Physical therapy didn't do much except for the cervical traction sessions.

I had pain and loss of strength before which originally sent me to have it looked at, Spine doctor is highly recommended.
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Old 11-05-22, 09:26 PM
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Ok, I will shut up now. Good luck with everything. I don't have anything other than well-wishes.
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Old 11-06-22, 12:16 AM
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I've been heading that way since a car hit me in 2001. And it worsened after I was hit again in 2018. Cervical spine deterioration, scoliosis in the mid back. No particular lower back pain until a couple of months ago when the lumber and hips began aching, often waking me up once or twice a night.

The neck pain got bad enough I cut back from bicycling 5,000-6,000 miles a year to about 600 miles this year. I switched to more running, jogging and at least walking, but even that's become more painful and difficult over the past several months.

Doctors who've examined my various MRIs and CT scans differ somewhat on how severe the cervical stenosis is, and whether arthritis is a bigger issue. but they agree it's bad enough to warrant some procedure. Last week a cervical spine specialist suggested a course of a couple of injections, some weeks apart, followed by an ablation to deaden the pain nerves. Fine with me, the sooner the better.

He made it sound like a couple of weeks but the incompetent, indifferent pain management clinic put it off until late December. Same reason I left that health care service in 2018. I took my Medicare provider's suggestion to try the clinic again, but I'm already dreading putting up with that clinic's BS. That particular pain clinic used to be good, around 10 years ago or so. They'd do local injections of anti-inflammatories and similar procedures the same day as the exam. But since then they've turned into a Medicare milking machine, forcing patients to go through multiple redundant and unnecessary consults, exams, follow-up consults, etc., before they ever actually do anything useful. And each appointment is scheduled weeks or months apart. So if a patient is in pain now, they'll either have to endure it for another six months, or find some other remedy.

I can see why so many people turn to unproven treatments and supplements out of desperation to do something, after being ignored or delayed indefinitely by traditional medical providers.
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Old 11-06-22, 04:10 AM
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Not as drastic as yours, but, I had fusion done at C5-6 in 2007. I have done quite well with it. However, I am again having issues with neck pain and diminished range of motion. This year, once again, I have been changing the set up on my bikes, including change of handlebars from normal compact bars to alternatives. I now have Velo-Orange Porteur bars on 2 bikes, and Ritchey Beacon bars on 2 bikes, leaving one bike with the usual compact spec'd handlebar. I like both styles quite a bit. I have been a bit surprised by how much I like the Beacon bar. The very shallow drop and short reach, combined with the flare of the drops has given me much relief with my neck and shoulder issues, and the angle of the shift/brake levers has almost eliminated my arthritic thumbs for the equation. The Beacon is a pretty drastic change, likely not good for everybody, but fantastic for me. I can comfortably stay in the drops for a much longer time. The Porteur bar has been really good for me also, but I did have to lengthen the stem from 100mm to 120, due to the way the bar is swept back. I like them better with 15 degree rise instead of drop.
Sometimes, you just have to try a change to see if it works for you. Chronic spine issues affect everyone differently.
The whole situation of having to go through all the different meds and treatments, to find some kind of relief, is very frustrating. Now, in my 70's, that aspect has gotten even worse. Doctors, of any kind, are not omnipotent. Therapy can be a wonderful help, but, if the therapist is not listening to you, more damage can be done. I say that from experience.
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Old 11-06-22, 06:28 AM
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Pain in spinal degeneration comes from impingement on nerve roots. Spinal cord compression, whole more serious, is painless, although it can produce a range of funny sensations as well as weakness.

I am riding a 5” drop to the top of the bars the below, but as you can see, I have prosthetic discs above and below a fusion to fix 3-level disease, which is not common in the US at this point. Nevertheless, I would recommend anyone headed for ACDF to ask their surgeon about prostheses.


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Old 11-06-22, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
Pain in spinal degeneration comes from impingement on nerve roots. Spinal cord compression, whole more serious, is painless, although it can produce a range of funny sensations as well as weakness.

I am riding a 5 drop to the top of the bars the below, but as you can see, I have prosthetic discs above and below a fusion to fix 3-level disease, which is not common in the US at this point. Nevertheless, I would recommend anyone headed for ACDF to ask their surgeon about prostheses.


I have a prosthetic disc at L5-S1, surgery in 2004. When I had it done, it was still in the clinical trial phase, hence, I was in the study. I returned once a year, for 7 years, for an exam and consultation. Many people did not do well with this procedure, but fortunately, I have, and still am, doing well with the artificial disc. I believe it is no longer being done at that spine level. When I had my cervical fusion, 2007,I was actually going to have the same type of disc at c5-c6, however, bone density scan eliminated that option due to osteopenia, hence the fusion. I was part of clinical study for that, also. It came with the same 7 year exam/consultation appointments. The last year, or so, my range of motion in that area has declined, while pain issues have increased. Everything comes with a cost. Though a definite plus for patients like myself, these kinds of procedures always affect other areas. My entire spinal column has definitely degenerated over the years. Keeping active in a smart fashion is critical for the long term.
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Old 11-06-22, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by delbiker1
I have a prosthetic disc at L5-S1, surgery in 2004. When I had it done, it was still in the clinical trial phase, hence, I was in the study. I returned once a year, for 7 years, for an exam and consultation. Many people did not do well with this procedure, but fortunately, I have, and still am, doing well with the artificial disc. I believe it is no longer being done at that spine level. When I had my cervical fusion, 2007,I was actually going to have the same type of disc at c5-c6, however, bone density scan eliminated that option due to osteopenia, hence the fusion. I was part of clinical study for that, also. It came with the same 7 year exam/consultation appointments. The last year, or so, my range of motion in that area has declined, while pain issues have increased. Everything comes with a cost. Though a definite plus for patients like myself, these kinds of procedures always affect other areas. My entire spinal column has definitely degenerated over the years. Keeping active in a smart fashion is critical for the long term.
Lumbo-sacral fusions are a whole different thing. I have disease down there too and had an L3 disc rupture with a free fragment, which I wouldnt wish on my second or third worst enemy. The same neurosurgeon who did my neck talked me out of surgery for that and Im asymptomatic and happy nine years out.
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Old 11-06-22, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
Lumbo-sacral fusions are a whole different thing. I have disease down there too and had an L3 disc rupture with a free fragment, which I wouldnt wish on my second or third worst enemy. The same neurosurgeon who did my neck talked me out of surgery for that and Im asymptomatic and happy nine years out.
I am with you on not wishing that on anybody. It was excruciating pain for months, a number of times. A neurosurgeon did 2 partial discectomy/laminectomy, 1999-2002, and thought I was an very good candidate for the artificial disc. He referred me to a Dr. McAfee at the Spine and Scoliosis center in Towson, MD. He is the orthopedic surgeon that did both the fusion and the disc replacement. There is no way I would have been able to continue cycling like I do if not for those procedures. I know, at least I believe, at some point, I will have to considerably reduce the time and miles, hopefully not totally give it up, preferably a good bit time down the road.
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Old 11-06-22, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by delbiker1
I am with you on not wishing that on anybody. It was excruciating pain for months, a number of times. A neurosurgeon did 2 partial discectomy/laminectomy, 1999-2002, and thought I was a very good candidate for the artificial disc. He referred me to a Dr. McAfee at the Spine and Scoliosis center in Towson, MD. He is the orthopedic surgeon that did both the fusion and the disc replacement. There is no way I would have been able to continue cycling like I do if not for those procedures. I know, at least I believe, at some point, I will have to considerably reduce the time and miles, hopefully not totally give it up, preferably a good bit time down the road.
All ruptured discs eventually resorb, but it takes a while. There is also an up-to 20 rate of progressive epidural fibrosis after lumbar laminectomy, which is incurable and can leave a patient in lifelong pain. My leg felt like it was having a ******g baby, but I got through it with transforamenal injections. I still have some medial vastus atrophy and fasculations.
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Old 11-07-22, 01:43 PM
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I had fusion surgery due to two herniated discs.This was in 1985 at age 35. 4 to 5 to 6.Pain was level 10 for months before surgery.I was able to return to my job doing very physical things. There was nerve damage and loss of strength left arm,I never got back.
There is still mild pain and numbness.
I became a cyclist and accomplished a lot. I rode road bikes up til five years ago when my left wrist finally gave out, cartilage damage.
I have my doubts if recovery would be the same now at almost 72.
At the time my surgeon told me , I would have this now while your young , as you will get it eventually. He had had the surgery himself.
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Old 11-11-22, 11:06 AM
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well...going under on Dec. 7th.
"A Day of Infamy".....
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Old 11-11-22, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Desert Ryder
well...going under on Dec. 7th.
"A Day of Infamy".....
Good luck and let us know how it goes.

After they extubated me in periop, the surgeon came out to speak to my wife. She asked him how I was doing and he said, A little too well. No idea what I said, but Im going to apologize in advance next time I have a general anesthetic.
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Old 11-11-22, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Desert Ryder
...I'm afraid my drop bar days might be at an end.
Hoping for ya ta have a fast recovery and increased range of motion rather then decreased. As far a bars are concerned no biggy. If I were to see the set up I use on my bikes now days to accommodate my osteoarthritis I would snicker for sure. But hey man... Its a mater of what ever ya gotta do to keep riding. Even if its Ape Bars, or a Bent Bike, I'm Ok with it.. Ha.

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Old 11-13-22, 03:34 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
Good luck and let us know how it goes.

After they extubated me in periop, the surgeon came out to speak to my wife. She asked him how I was doing and he said, A little too well. No idea what I said, but Im going to apologize in advance next time I have a general anesthetic.
As a Navy Hospital Corpsman working in hospitals, I've heard moms and grandmothers say things post-op under the influence of anesthesia, or after a stroke or head injury, that would make a sailor blush.

I've had only two surgeries under full anesthesia, and was sorta anesthetized for an esophageal exam, and my biggest fear was what I might say under the influence of anesthesia. If I did say anything, nobody let on, so I'm hoping I was well behaved or, preferably, mute.

I do seem to recall during the esophageal exam a nurse saying something like "Relax, honey, don't gag, it'll go in much easier." That was *not* reassuring.
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Old 11-13-22, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
As a Navy Hospital Corpsman working in hospitals, I've heard moms and grandmothers say things post-op under the influence of anesthesia, or after a stroke or head injury, that would make a sailor blush.

I've had only two surgeries under full anesthesia, and was sorta anesthetized for an esophageal exam, and my biggest fear was what I might say under the influence of anesthesia. If I did say anything, nobody let on, so I'm hoping I was well behaved or, preferably, mute.

I do seem to recall during the esophageal exam a nurse saying something like "Relax, honey, don't gag, it'll go in much easier." That was *not* reassuring.
Ugh! Thats awful.

This surgery happened to be at the old Walter Reed before it merged with the National Naval Medical Center. The Navys offering in the neck fixing department was decidedly unattractive, but thats another story.

The WRAMC slogan at the time, in the bloody aftermath of OEF/OIF, was The Home of Warrior Care. While waiting for the OR, I kept thinking, Is this the Home of Worrier Care, cause Im sure worried! but I think my wife kept me from saying it out loud. I might have made witticisms along those lines or said something about moving all five, in the anesthetic twilight.
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Old 11-13-22, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
Ugh! Thats awful.

This surgery happened to be at the old Walter Reed before it merged with the National Naval Medical Center. The Navys offering in the neck fixing department was decidedly unattractive, but thats another story.

The WRAMC slogan at the time, in the bloody aftermath of OEF/OIF, was The Home of Warrior Care. While waiting for the OR, I kept thinking, Is this the Home of Worrier Care, cause Im sure worried! but I think my wife kept me from saying it out loud. I might have made witticisms along those lines or said something about moving all five, in the anesthetic twilight.
I was stationed at NNMC Bethesda in 1978 for school. Most of our programs were in conjunction with Walter Reed. I didn't keep up with the details after I left service in the 1980s, not sure when the two were merged. But it was a great experience at the time.

I never needed any serious medical care while on active duty, so I have no basis for comparison. In six years I had one sick call day for bronchitis, and half a day off for pulling my wisdom teeth during my discharge process. In my teens and early 20s it was difficult to imagine myself ever being seriously ill or injured, despite my daily exposure to young men and women who were seriously ill or injured. I suppose we need that false sense of security and invulnerability at that age. Even after neck and back pain from falling from apparatus during training, I didn't take it seriously or go to sick call. That was a mistake.

I think I've mentioned in previous threads my experience as a patient with VA health care has been a mixed bag. It was non-existent when I applied in the early 2000s after I was disabled when an SUV t-boned my compact car. I was told to apply to the VA for medical care, but they turned me down saying I was too low on the priority list. My service connected disability was from training with the Marines in 1977 and too minor to bother with.

I didn't give the VA another thought until 2018 when I received a reminder letter from the VA that I was already registered for health care. This came right after I was hit by a car while I was on a bike ride, and X-rays revealed my thyroid was calcified and radiopaque. Biopsy showed it was cancer, but encapsulated.

At that point I was aggravated with the civilian health care system I'd signed up with, so I tried the VA, figuring it couldn't be any worse. Turned out to be an excellent experience. The same day I finished registration I saw a doctor for intake, got all my prescriptions filled the same day, and a followup appointment with my assigned primary care doc within two weeks.

My experience with the VA couldn't have been better. In 2018-2019 they redid my thyroid biopsies to be sure they had the latest data. Surgery to remove the cancerous lobe in November 2018. Full scans to check for injuries missed by the civilian hospital after the car hit me in spring 2018. Turned out there were several healed fractures missed by the civilian hospital -- shoulder, winged scapula, cervical stenosis, healed rib fractures, mid-back scoliosis from injuries. Too late for surgery, and I still have chronic neck and shoulder pain. But the VA docs said we could deal with that over the next year or two -- this was in 2019, pre-COVID. Big relief.

By mid-2020 the pandemic ground everything to a trudge. My first primary care doc, who was fantastic, retired in early 2020. That spring I developed a posterior vitreous detachment in my left eye and the clinic got me in to see an ophthalmologist within two days, and a followup a month later. No complaints.

But by mid to late 2020 the wheels fell off. My new primary care doc was almost totally unresponsive (and is still only slightly better two years later). Other than emergency care and annual checkups, appointments and referrals were non-existent. There was a lot of employee turnover. When I caught COVID in late 2021, despite my precautions and being vaxxed, it wasn't bad enough for an ER visit, but my local VA clinic wasn't doing urgent care. I just needed a course of oral prednisone to knock down the upper respiratory inflammation, which happens to me every few years anyway. No big deal, been that way since I was a kid. But I had to resort to Medicare for the first time. They handled it immediately via a telehealth phone app. Video chat with a doc within 15 minutes, picked up the prescription for prednisone that evening.

But when I had a relapse a month later I tried the VA again. Before I visited the clinic they claimed to have an urgent care setup. But when I got there is was very makeshift. The nurse was overworked, grumpy and a bit rude, and claimed that counted toward my limit of two urgent care visits for the year. Supposedly there's no limit, but they just made up some policy because they weren't prepared to actually handle urgent care.

I didn't bother again with the VA until a couple of weeks ago for my annual checkup. Same primary care doc, somewhat more responsive. But they still aren't back to the level of care as 2018-2019.

This month I switched to Amerigroup/Anthem as a Medicare provider. So far, so good, they seem responsive and well organized. The ortho docs redid the neck scans and scheduled me for an ablation to reduce the neck pain. I'm not thrilled with the pain management clinic that was assigned to me by default, but I can change that later.

I'm disappointed that the VA health care system was so poorly prepared for a disruption like the COVID pandemic. I mean, logistics is supposed to be the specialty of the military. But they've let down a lot of service members on active duty, and veterans who had serious service related injuries and illnesses. My own issues were minor compared with what those men and women experienced.
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Old 11-14-22, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
I was stationed at NNMC Bethesda in 1978 for school. Most of our programs were in conjunction with Walter Reed. I didn't keep up with the details after I left service in the 1980s, not sure when the two were merged. But it was a great experience at the time.

I never needed any serious medical care while on active duty, so I have no basis for comparison. In six years I had one sick call day for bronchitis, and half a day off for pulling my wisdom teeth during my discharge process. In my teens and early 20s it was difficult to imagine myself ever being seriously ill or injured, despite my daily exposure to young men and women who were seriously ill or injured. I suppose we need that false sense of security and invulnerability at that age. Even after neck and back pain from falling from apparatus during training, I didn't take it seriously or go to sick call. That was a mistake.

I think I've mentioned in previous threads my experience as a patient with VA health care has been a mixed bag. It was non-existent when I applied in the early 2000s after I was disabled when an SUV t-boned my compact car. I was told to apply to the VA for medical care, but they turned me down saying I was too low on the priority list. My service connected disability was from training with the Marines in 1977 and too minor to bother with.

I didn't give the VA another thought until 2018 when I received a reminder letter from the VA that I was already registered for health care. This came right after I was hit by a car while I was on a bike ride, and X-rays revealed my thyroid was calcified and radiopaque. Biopsy showed it was cancer, but encapsulated.

At that point I was aggravated with the civilian health care system I'd signed up with, so I tried the VA, figuring it couldn't be any worse. Turned out to be an excellent experience. The same day I finished registration I saw a doctor for intake, got all my prescriptions filled the same day, and a followup appointment with my assigned primary care doc within two weeks.

My experience with the VA couldn't have been better. In 2018-2019 they redid my thyroid biopsies to be sure they had the latest data. Surgery to remove the cancerous lobe in November 2018. Full scans to check for injuries missed by the civilian hospital after the car hit me in spring 2018. Turned out there were several healed fractures missed by the civilian hospital -- shoulder, winged scapula, cervical stenosis, healed rib fractures, mid-back scoliosis from injuries. Too late for surgery, and I still have chronic neck and shoulder pain. But the VA docs said we could deal with that over the next year or two -- this was in 2019, pre-COVID. Big relief.

By mid-2020 the pandemic ground everything to a trudge. My first primary care doc, who was fantastic, retired in early 2020. That spring I developed a posterior vitreous detachment in my left eye and the clinic got me in to see an ophthalmologist within two days, and a followup a month later. No complaints.

But by mid to late 2020 the wheels fell off. My new primary care doc was almost totally unresponsive (and is still only slightly better two years later). Other than emergency care and annual checkups, appointments and referrals were non-existent. There was a lot of employee turnover. When I caught COVID in late 2021, despite my precautions and being vaxxed, it wasn't bad enough for an ER visit, but my local VA clinic wasn't doing urgent care. I just needed a course of oral prednisone to knock down the upper respiratory inflammation, which happens to me every few years anyway. No big deal, been that way since I was a kid. But I had to resort to Medicare for the first time. They handled it immediately via a telehealth phone app. Video chat with a doc within 15 minutes, picked up the prescription for prednisone that evening.

But when I had a relapse a month later I tried the VA again. Before I visited the clinic they claimed to have an urgent care setup. But when I got there is was very makeshift. The nurse was overworked, grumpy and a bit rude, and claimed that counted toward my limit of two urgent care visits for the year. Supposedly there's no limit, but they just made up some policy because they weren't prepared to actually handle urgent care.

I didn't bother again with the VA until a couple of weeks ago for my annual checkup. Same primary care doc, somewhat more responsive. But they still aren't back to the level of care as 2018-2019.

This month I switched to Amerigroup/Anthem as a Medicare provider. So far, so good, they seem responsive and well organized. The ortho docs redid the neck scans and scheduled me for an ablation to reduce the neck pain. I'm not thrilled with the pain management clinic that was assigned to me by default, but I can change that later.

I'm disappointed that the VA health care system was so poorly prepared for a disruption like the COVID pandemic. I mean, logistics is supposed to be the specialty of the military. But they've let down a lot of service members on active duty, and veterans who had serious service related injuries and illnesses. My own issues were minor compared with what those men and women experienced.
WRAMC and NNMC were merged into WRNMMC in 2011 as an early step large-scale unification and realignment of military medicine. Mainly, they're spending less and on one likes it. We gave up on the military system a few years after that. The understaffing was insane and to the point where there was no one to answer telephones. We were VIPs, but when my wife had surgery, the chief resident and attending gave her their personal cell numbers because there was simply no support. People die from that kind of stuff and real world health care organizations can't get away with it anymore. I was amazed at the level of service and coordination when we moved to civilian health care.

I've been to many VAs, but never as a patient. I never even went to get rated for disability when I retired.
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Old 11-14-22, 08:26 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
...We gave up on the military system a few years after that. The understaffing was insane and to the point where there was no one to answer telephones. We were VIPs, but when my wife had surgery, the chief resident and attending gave her their personal cell numbers because there was simply no support. People die from that kind of stuff and real world health care organizations can't get away with it anymore. I was amazed at the level of service and coordination when we moved to civilian health care.

I've been to many VAs, but never as a patient. I never even went to get rated for disability when I retired.
At least in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the VA showed it could be done well from 2018 through early 2020. But the wheels fell off about six months into the pandemic.

Come to think of it, when I had my thyroid biopsies and surgery in 2018, the civilian contractor surgeon for the VA gave me his personal phone number. I thought that was odd. Nice gesture, but I didn't want to impose since the VA -- at that time -- was very responsive. In retrospect now I understand why he did that. He must have worked for the VA for awhile, long enough to see some problems with communication and scheduling.

I'd be satisfied if the VA would simply stop obstructing referrals to specialists and health care systems outside the VA. Even during 2018-2019, when I found VA in-house care to be very good, they were still prompt about authorizing referrals to civilian specialists, a physical therapist and chiropractor. (Not a fan of chiropractic, but they wouldn't authorize any other form of hands-on physical therapy such as massage. I always need to warn chiropractors not to try any rough neck manipulations due to my cervical spine problems, but some of them do it anyway. Very annoying and potentially dangerous.)

But since 2020 my current primary care doc ignores all of my requests for referrals. Or else the VA itself is the obstruction. Hard to tell because communication is almost non-existent since mid-2020.
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Old 11-21-22, 02:19 PM
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yikes, good luck, straight bar bikes are cool
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Old 12-01-22, 10:33 PM
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All cleared for surgery. It's going to be a cervical spinal fusion like this animation.

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Old 12-02-22, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Desert Ryder
All cleared for surgery. It's going to be a cervical spinal fusion like this animation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YF0e0CZ_v8
Good luck and best wishes on your ACDF surgery.

C3-7 are hosed in my neck and I have some central cord impingement.

Sometimes the pain is unreal.

As perhaps a funny story that only another nerve pain sufferer could get. When I busted 10 bones in a bike accident, two young Doctors in the trauma center came in the night. The nurse had a cart with syringes and vials at the ready. They whispered to each other as they put on gloves that looked like friction gloves a contractor would wear. The little Doc says, we just need to inspect your wound (the humerus and elbow were broken in many pieces and the humerus had popped thru the skin a bit). I'm like.....ya, right. I am stupid but not dumb. I knew they were going to reset it. I had had to move to untangle in the wreck, it was 90 degrees going the wrong way. So it was a mess just waiting 24 hours for a consultant surgeon to come to the hospital. Anyways, after resetting it, I was violently shivering and shaking. Then, I apologized to the Doc for being a whimp. Truth is? Nothing like the pain I had the other day from my neck. I'd take that arm pain once a year if I could get rid of the nerve pain. So, I hope you get relief from your surgery. All the Docs try to get you to wait for surgery. I think that is wrong. Maybe just a way to ration medical care.
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Old 12-02-22, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Desert Ryder
All cleared for surgery. It's going to be a cervical spinal fusion like this animation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YF0e0CZ_v8
astonishing. may God bless. looks like a lot of work, did they say how long the surgery would take?
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Old 12-03-22, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
Good luck and best wishes on your ACDF surgery.

C3-7 are hosed in my neck and I have some central cord impingement.

Sometimes the pain is unreal.

As perhaps a funny story that only another nerve pain sufferer could get. When I busted 10 bones in a bike accident, two young Doctors in the trauma center came in the night. The nurse had a cart with syringes and vials at the ready. They whispered to each other as they put on gloves that looked like friction gloves a contractor would wear. The little Doc says, we just need to inspect your wound (the humerus and elbow were broken in many pieces and the humerus had popped thru the skin a bit). I'm like.....ya, right. I am stupid but not dumb. I knew they were going to reset it. I had had to move to untangle in the wreck, it was 90 degrees going the wrong way. So it was a mess just waiting 24 hours for a consultant surgeon to come to the hospital. Anyways, after resetting it, I was violently shivering and shaking. Then, I apologized to the Doc for being a whimp. Truth is? Nothing like the pain I had the other day from my neck. I'd take that arm pain once a year if I could get rid of the nerve pain. So, I hope you get relief from your surgery. All the Docs try to get you to wait for surgery. I think that is wrong. Maybe just a way to ration medical care.
Sounds very familiar. I have cervical spine stenosis, worsening pain for almost 20 years since it started after my car was t-boned when the driver of a full size SUV blasted through a red light at highway speed.

It got worse after I was hit by a car during a bike ride a few years ago. Reinjured the neck. Broke and dislocated my shoulder, with a winged scapula that took a year to sorta-heal.

Constant neck pain. Frequent headaches. The works. And referred pain, or adjunct pain caused by the poor posture and ergonomics resulting from permanent physical changes.

It's pretty rare when the usual perfunctory pain assessment questions at every medical visit are sincere. I tend to brush them off, figuring they're just checking off boxes in a list. I could tell them my pain is "Z-squared" and they'd just write that down, or ask for a number from 1-10 and shrug when I say 6, which is my usual answer.

Once a nurse stopped, looked at me and said "That's actually pretty uncomfortable."

I said, yeah, I know. But I haven't had a day with pain level lower than 4 or 5 in 20 years. After awhile it's background noise.

She seemed interested in details, such as "compared with what?"

So I pointed to my left index fingertip, which was nearly amputated by a machine more than 20 years ago. The entire distal phalanx was crushed into seven pieces and dangling by some connective tissue. Fortunately the blood vessels were intact. The ER just splinted it and sent me home. There wasn't much pain initially because of the nerve damage. It seemed okay the next few days, with some throbbing pain, but nothing bad enough to need more than ibuprofen. It eventually healed without medical intervention, with minor nerve damage (maybe 90% of original sensation) and the fingernail is permanently divided into two overlapping pieces.

In another shop injury a hammer handle split and wedged my little finger, splitting the flesh down to the periosteum. No blood, not much pain. I just cleaned it and wrapped it snugly with a couple of bandaids. It healed fine, just a barely visible and palpable scar.

I was an amateur boxer and, among other idiotic stunts, usually preferred to spar bigger guys. I boxed from lightweight to light middleweight, 132-156, and rarely sparred anyone my size. I usually sparred guys up to heavyweight size. I never learned to pull my punches properly and tended to knock down guys my own size or smaller, which isn't a good thing in sparring. Despite some myths about macho gym wars being as rough as actual competition, it's not a good practice, especially in the amateurs. Fortunately toward my final couple of years I got a better coach who worked with me on technique and restraint.

Anyway, I had plenty of black eyes, cuts around the eyes (actually skin splitting against the eye socket), cracked ribs, and a cracked sternum from sparring a state heavyweight Golden Gloves champ (and he really was taking it easy on me). Never saw a doctor for any of it. Just seemed like part of the process. If people are too sensitive to pain, they usually don't persist in martial arts.

I don't think it's a matter of willpower. Some people just have a different pain threshold. I've always had a delayed pain response, usually hours or days after an injury. And until the car wreck 20 years ago, never had a problem with chronic pain from old injuries. Once they healed that was it, no other problems. But that all changed in 2001.

Same with crashes from bicycle racing or just ordinary bicycle and motorcycle riding. Plenty of injuries. Never saw a doctor for any of them. During my first criterium in 1978, in the final sprint, the guy next to me pulled ahead slightly, swerved into my lane and took my front wheel out from under me. Road rash from ankle to shoulder. I was in the Navy at the time, a Hospital Corpsman working at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. The petty officer in charge of our unit advised me to keep the injury to myself and not go to sick call because I didn't have authorization for off base activities such as bicycle racing and boxing. He said that base CO could very well recommend disciplinary action. So I patched myself up, making sure nothing bled through my white scrubs. And I went back to race again two or three weeks later.

When I was hit by a car in 2018, the ambulance crew saw my busted up shoulder and arm dangling loosely and asked if I wanted fentanyl for the pain. It's a fast acting, very short duration analgesic, and would last long enough to get through the waiting time at the ER. I said, nah, it doesn't hurt that bad so far. At the ER they offered morphine. Again, I said, nah, it doesn't hurt that bad yet. A hydrocodone or Tramadol will be enough (despite media hype, those are very mild opiates and not nearly as addictive for most people as the hysterical news stories would have you believe). Again, they seemed stunned that I wasn't in much pain. I said, "Ask me again tomorrow or this weekend at home. By then it'll be hurting."

And I've had severe headaches since I was a kid. Neurologists can't decide whether it's migraine, cluster headache or trigeminal neuralgia. Those are pretty well acknowledged as pain level 8-10, sometimes reaching an excruciating level that few people can tolerate for long. Now I just say "migraine" because otherwise they assume I'm self-diagnosing and mooching for opiates. But analgesics don't help with migraines or cluster headaches. They can help with trigeminal neuralgia, but in my experience a local injection of Xylocaine or something similar works great for trigeminal neuralgia. No need for opiates. Now I take a beta blocker as a preventive and it usually works pretty well.

So when I tell nurses or doctors now my pain level is usually around 6, but I'm not crying and begging for prescription pain meds, I can tell they don't believe me. But you really do learn to push it into background noise. You can't cope otherwise. Once the pain hits a 7 or 8, yeah, I want something stronger than Tylenol.

Anyway, I got tired of medical professionals who either disregard patients with genuine pain. Or, almost as bad, refer us to "pain mismanagement clinics" that turn out to be Medicare/insurance milking scams. Typically they'll set up as many appointments as possible, each six weeks apart, before actually doing any treatment. I watched my mom go through that mess years ago for her arthritis, scoliosis and deteriorating joints. They made an appointment, which accomplished absolutely nothing other than to give her another appointment for a nerve block. But when the next appointment came up six weeks later, it was just a consultation to *explain* the nerve block. Then another six week wait for the actual nerve block. Before her health care system switched to this Medicare milking scam, her regular ortho doc would do the nerve blocks at the same time, no delays or redundant appointments.

Unfortunately I was referred to just such a pain mismanagement clinic to be evaluated for cervical spine ablation. I was sent to them in 2018 and their soonest appointment was six months away. When I asked why the guy said "Take it or leave it" and hung up on me. This time my ortho doc, who's a good guy, said he could get me in within two weeks. But when I was contacted by the clinic, they pushed it back to nearly two months. So after this upcoming appointment I'll be looking for another ortho clinic.

There's a good reason many of us have switched to finding our own solutions for coping with chronic pain. For me, CBD was somewhat helpful but expensive for what it does. Kratom has been much more effective and I can continue to function and stay physically active. Some folks suggested alpha lipoic acid, which I've been taking for a month or so. It might help a little but not enough to justify the cost of yet another supplement. I can't take NSAIDs daily, especially ibuprofen -- it aggravates my psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis symptoms, which has recently been confirmed by studies. Tylenol does almost nothing for me. I get as much good from hot soaks in Epsom salts, a percussion massager and TENS unit.

So, yup, what you've described is too familiar. There's got to be some medical professionals out there who get it. But I haven't found one yet.
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