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“I’d rather have my health back”

I went in for an L4-S1 spinal fusion in March 2005. When I awoke after surgery, I had intense pain all down the right side of my body. They did a CT scan and found that the pedicle screw in the right side of my L-4 vertebrae was too long, and was impinging on my nerve root. Although I asked the doctors to take me into surgery that morning, they said they had a full schedule, and would operate on me after they completed the last scheduled operation.

At approximately 11:30 pm, they operated on me the second time. This time when I awoke after surgery, I still had pain down the right side of my body. Although it was not as bad as it was following my first surgery, it was still intense, only this time I was unable to move my right foot. After questioning the doctors for several minutes, one of them admitted that during the second surgery they tore my nerve root when they backed the L-4 pedicle screw out. The doctor also said that during the operation, my spinal sack was nicked, and that they had to do an emergency spinal patch. They said the problem with my right foot, known as “foot drop,” might only be temporary, and that the pain I felt down the right side of my body could be from operating on me twice in two days, so they wanted to wait 24 hours before doing anything else.

After 24 hours, I was still in pain and unable to move my right foot. They performed a second CT Scan, which revealed the second pedicle screw they installed during the second operation broke off part of my L-4 vertebrae, and was crushing my nerve root. They operated on me a third time in three days to remove the broken bone which finally reduced the pain on the right side of my body to a tolerable level. I was only supposed to be in the hospital three to four days, but ended up spending 19 days in the hospital.

It took me well over a year to recuperate, however, since I cannot do things I could before having back surgery, I do not consider having fully recovered. If that is not bad enough, I am in more pain now than I was before having back surgery; have to take 240 MG of morphine a day just to tolerate the pain; have to take two other types of pain medication multiple times per day when the pain is really bad; and have to walk with a cane and wear a fiberglass back brace to walk. Needless to say, if I could turn back the clock, I would not have had the surgery.