Friday, December 5, 2008


Went to a neurosurgeon this morning. He looked me over and reviewed the MRI images. We agreed the best course of action is surgery. He's going to see about getting me in within the next couple of weeks. He works out of Adventist Medical Center where Beth and her mom worked for years. The general consensus is the guy has a lousy bed side manner, but is an excellent surgeon. I did call a couple of other places, one had their new-patient scheduler on vacation with no one covering and the other could get me in for a new patient consult in say. . . March.

The surgery will remove the bulging disc in the base of my neck, trim away the growth of bone spurs that is also present and then fuse the two vertebrae together with an artificial disc and a metal plate with screws. Sounds fun eh?

At HP I have the full week of Christmas and the week of New Years off which will provide a nice recovery time without missing scheduled work days. I may miss a few days depending on when in the next 2 weeks I go in for surgery. It's bad enough not having insurance, but to be risking my position by taking too much time off.

The surgeon is cutting his fee in half for a cash patient. Everything on his side will be about $5000. However this doesn't include the "facilities charges", which is everything else other than the surgeon. The surgery room, nurse, anesthetist, etc., I can only guess at. I have two options for where to have it done; at the hospital with an overnight stay, or at the East Portland Surgical Center as an out-patient (3 hours in and out).

Beth's mom has had this done three times (different vertebrae). I'll start saving for the next time, and praying there won't one. I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone.

1 comment:

Greg said...

I've had the dread suspicion that "cervical fusion" was a distinct possibility. I've known of several cases too, and it does solve a problem.
Will you ever play the violin again? Not likely.
I had a pathologist explain to me many years ago why surgeons tend to be such social incompetents. They go through school from grade one as "whiz kids". Everything they touch academically and with their hands just turns to gold. But they never acquire any social skills along the way. As Dr. Roos put it "if anybody has to cut on me, give me one of those a*****es any time!" Neurosurgeons have a residency that is like general surgery cubed. As the line on "House" had it a while back: "Is he a great doctor? Because that big a jerk is either a great doctor or unemployed!"
As for the $$, don't suffer in silence there either. Let us know if we can help. I don't have ready cash to hand out, but I'm living comfortably. I have a "second mortgage" loan through my credit union that is one of those accounts that I make a monthly payment on, and can tap at any time with a few keystrokes of my computer. And the variable rate is currently 4.5%, tax deductible at that! That's a good deal less than my primary mortgage. The only reason for not refinancing it is that I have only three years left to paying it off completely.
One of our fundamental rules of life is "Never spend a night alone in a hospital!" When Arleen had her thyroidectomy, she had numerous nurse friends who rotated shifts to stay with her--around the clock! I didn't think a spinal fusion could be done as a "short stay" surgery, but if it can, make sure that you and Beth network with friends to get some in home help--even if that help is just to sit and read.
It may not be fun, but we hope that you can get the relief you need!