It all started in February of 2011 ~ After flying to Las Vegas for a short trip to meet with the design team for our new Gun Range. And sleeping on the crappiest mattress ever. But, there is no medical explanation for a crappy mattress or a plane flight causing Herniated discs. Thinking it might have been the mattress I encouraged Gene (the pained one) to get a massage. He did. After we returned home he even got an x-ray & shot to relieve the pain and muscle relaxers from his GP doctor ..... helped some. Then it was an MRI. The Herniations appeared in the Thoracic region, which is where your ribs connect in the back. The discs do not move independently in this area, so in order to work on them you have to go in through the front of your chest.... deflate a lung and move the Aortic valve, etc. A heart surgeon is advised to be nearby. Can be risky. At best, the recovery is like that of a heart procedure.
Gene got on board with Dr. Mayer at St.Vincents (friend referral), who scheduled Gene for pain blocks, saying due to the rare placement of his herniate discs there were only a few people in the country he would allow to do surgery on him. Therefore, we want to avoid the surgery route and work on Pain Management.... starting with the pain blocks, which do work for a lot of people. After the second block, which appeared to help, he got a staph infection (not related) and skipped the third session.
With only pain medication to control pain, Gene went to see Dr.Gomez, a neurologist. Tried Electrical impulse unit he tried. Fail. Special creams. Fail. Then came the prescription drugs. All I can say about those is ~ Not good. There are so many emotional issues with taking a prescription drug for pain relief. First: They help (at first). Second: You need to increase the dosage to continue relief. Third: You don't WANT to WANT more. Fourth: You try to find another solution or become addicted. Dr. Gomez switched Gene to a Pain Patch. But, eventually even that by itself was not enough. Time to talk surgery.
Or risk becoming an addict AND staying in Pain. Thank you to a friend with much knowledge of pain medications. We have been enlightened on the terms and definitions surrounding the word addiction, and feel much better about the use of these pain management choices.
Since St. Vincent's did not allow for Thoracic herniation surgery's at their hospital (due to the risks involved), Dr. Mayer could not do our surgery.... we asked for that list of doctors he would consider. While waiting for his list, we got a few other referrals to doctors in town. The first one we went to see was eager to help.Said he had invented a new less invasive procedure. And he had done 7 successful ones. He had also done many, many of the 'old way' surgery's, but was certain this new way was the way to go nowadays. Gene did not want to be part of TRIAL!! I told him not to scoff at the new procedure idea.... just in case other doctors have the market on it.
Next we pursued a group of doctors at Kirklin (UAB) Clinic, settling in on Dr. Pritchard. He was an amazing talker, explaining how the surgery works, how the hospitals allow and disallow this kind of surgery, and by the way: "had anyone mentioned any doctors in Cincinnati? Phoenix? California?". Nope. But then, we were fresh in our search. Dr.P. told us that bottom line was that he was there for our patient care, whatever that may be. If sending us to a different doctor was best for Gene, then he would do that. After some thought, Dr. P sent Gene's records to a doctor in Phoenix, Arizona, that did a more minimally invasive procedure.
I must stop here. We fly out in the morning for the consult!! Update on Saturday!