Friday, December 9, 2011

Has it really been that long?

Nearly a year and a half has gone by. Since then I have spent countless hours standing at work, standing in line, standing at events, and standing while rocking my son. Walking, running too--and all in next to no pain at all. I am back snowboarding (and looking forward to a new season!), playing hockey, and pretending that 2009/2010 never happened. Doing good so far!

The worst pain is playing hockey with skates--that is a huge torsional load on the s1/l5 joint but really the pain is insignificant. The worst pain after a 4 hour stint on skates is what I used to wake up with every morning. Likely anyone else would feel close to the same with an intact spine after such a game. Now I get to wake up the next day even after such exertion feeling 100% fine with no pain.

Is it truly 100%? I'm not really sure, I don't know what 100% is. But it really doesn't matter at this point. I consider myself 100% lucky that I can do 100% of my activities once more. I really can't ask for more.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Infuse Spine Graft

Today an interesting article popped up on Google news.

About 85% of Infuse use is off-label. A U.S. Senate committee has now also launched an investigation into reports that doctors with financial ties to the medical device company were aware of potentially serious complications when using Infuse.

This brings me back to one of my initial posts and how the first surgeon wanted to use it in a posterior approach--which is off label since it was only approved in anterior surgeries.

From another site:

The report, published in The Spine Journal, found that approximately 10% to 50% of patients who were part of clinical trials experienced Medtronic Infuse complications, such as cancer, pain, infections and sterility. However, those problems failed to appear in a number of studies published by researchers with financial ties to the manufacturer.


Great--this is what they put in to stimulate bone growth, in my case, the sponge in the middle of the bone graft.

Luckily for me I should be free of issues since it was an anterior approach and I did not experience the complications stated in the news articles. However this is certainly a lesson in that the latest is not always the greatest, and that no matter how hard you try there's always a scummy medical device company out there bribing physicians to sweep the actual data under the rug. Thankfully the FDA is keeping a watch on these things. But don't worry, the republicans will save our government by cutting funding to the FDA so we won't have these pesky agencies messing up the Medtronic stock....but at the same time cut taxes for Medtronic executives and the well off physicians who fudge the data! Great!

Friday, January 21, 2011

6 Month Follow-up

Everything is right on track! The graft continues to fuse with more radiographic evidence of fusion. Everything is still in the correct position with no issues. PT kicked me out pretty early; apparently the stretching and rehab I did on my own (both pre and post op [only exercises approved by MD post op!]) helped a good amount and I only needed minimal strength training and stretching.

I am up to running over 3 miles at a time, and will be doing a 10k later this spring. Per the MD there are absolutely no more restrictions at this time, and my goal will be to get back on the snowboard at least once this year! With all the ice we have had recently though I'll wait for a good powder day....

This is the most current x-ray:

X-Ray 6 Months Post Lumbar Fusion

While a lousy scan you can see the lines becoming less and less defined at the graft edge and no serrated pattern anymore. The middle part is also less defined as my own bone grows inside the graft. Note the massive screws and two rods out back. At this point I can no longer feel the hardware at all, and the swelling is just about gone.

As more time passes and restrictions are lifted I am doing more and more, and the only residual issue I have a bit of a tingle down the left leg if I lay completely flat on my back, and sometimes just an "awareness" (I would not call it pain) if I sit for a very long time. Even if that remains for the rest of my life I will take it! To think that a year ago at this time I could not stand more than 15 minutes without excruciating pain, and now it takes 6 hours to even register! Saying that my worst day now is my best day pre-op would not be fair--I have not had days this good for over a year before surgery.