Outline for "A Pain in The Neck"
|This is the title of a book that I have written. My book details what it is like to be an injured worker and dealing with the workers compensation bureaucracy. It is a medical biography describing the complexity of having two cervical operations in the span of six weeks as well as three subsequent operations resulting from complications from the first two.|
My original idea for this web page was to put my book outline on it and to get a publisher to publish it. It still is. Although my book is a very interesting story, I remember how extremely frustrated I was when hearing medical terms applied to me and not knowing their meaning. With that in mind, I have added a web page called a Spinal Dictionary, also on that page I have links that are related to the spine. Another web page had drawings of a few operations. Hopefully, by viewing them it will reduce the mystery of the surgery, thus relieving some of your fears. My hope for this web site is to find a publisher for my book and to give you information. (see Links Bottom of page)
I was at working at a daycare center when a child lunged at my neck rupturing a disc
in my neck. I had placed the child on a dressing table and she jumped off the table,
hitting her head against my neck. I went to see my family physician and was put on
medicines and told to stay home for the next two weeks. After I filed a claim with the
workers compensation carrier, I was sent to my first independent medical examination.
The physician’s two page report confirmed that I was injured at work and was unable to
continue my job. After several tests confirmed the need for surgery, I was admitted into
the hospital. I was very afraid of letting a surgeon cut into my neck and couldn’t help
but be frightened by all that could go wrong. The workers compensation carrier called the
hospital demanding that I be released immediately, however, the carrier relented after
speaking with my attorney and neurosurgeon. They didn’t want to pay for this surgery.
was called a Anterior Cervical Diskectomy (click an view Pt 1.) was now rescheduled for two days later
giving me an extra day in the hospital of waiting and worrying. Two weeks after this
surgery, my symptoms intensified. I had severe pain in my neck going down my right arm
along with a burning sensation. I lost weight, it hurt to even sit in a chair. I went to see
the neurosurgeon and I was placed in a an
Philadelphia cervical collar (click an view Pt 6.) and given
Six weeks after surgery, I was admitted to the hospital for another myelogram. After reviewing this new myelogram, the neurosurgeon’s response was, “I made you worse by doing the first surgery! Prior to your first surgery you had a ruptured disc. Now your vertebra has slipped and is crushing your spinal cord.” I was completely speechless and in a state of panic over this disclosure. I didn’t want another surgery on my neck! I was told I had no option but to have another surgery. I was then scheduled for an emergency cervical surgery for the following day. This was called a posterior cervical diskectomy with fusion. an Click to view Pt #5 Anterior Cervical Diskectomy) This fusion surgery would involve taking a piece of bone from my hip and inserting it into my neck. Upon awaking from this second surgery, my right shoulder and arm were numb. I was so fearful that it would remain like this permanently. At this time, I was informed by another neurosurgeon that this numbness would improve in a few days. It didn’t.
On my first office visit following my second cervical surgery in a time span of six weeks, the neurosurgeon, while entering his office, asked me, “How bad is your hip pain where I harvested the bone graft?” My neurosurgeon had promised to explain in detail to me, what occurred during these two surgeries. While sketching a picture on the exam table paper, depicting a fusion surgery, he went on to describe my recent surgery in detail and how he harvested a piece of my hip bone and fused it into my neck. At this time I stated, “Doctor, this is not my surgery that you just described!” His response was that this is your surgery that you had done last week. I replied that it can’t be as my hips are both fine. You didn’t do a fusion surgery on my neck as you said you were. Upon looking at my chart, the neurosurgeon exclaimed, “You’re right. I didn’t do a fusion on you during surgery! I guess I did a fusion on another patient.” Prior to this conversation, I had known my doctor had to leave early the day of my surgery. After this conversation, I had doubts if my doctor had actually spent time in the operating room while my surgery was being performed. How can I describe how I felt at this time, betrayed, deceived, furious, and shocked. I don’t remember leaving his office or driving home from this doctor’s appointment. I trusted this doctor and I felt victimized and angry as my doctor betrayed me. This office visit would come back to haunt me time and time again.
I still had that numb feeling in my right shoulder and arm since the second surgery along with pain. I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere with my local neurosurgeon. I called Hales Hospital, a world renowned hospital, to see a neurosurgeon. I was told the waiting period to see a neurosurgeon was several months. Since I was having a problem with my shoulder, it would be faster for me to first see an orthopedic surgeon and he could refer me to a neurosurgeon. I was scheduled to see an orthopedic surgeon the following week, where I was informed that as a result of my first two operations, I have cervical myelopathy and cervical spondylosis and my shoulder is impinged. Why didn’t my local neurosurgeon tell me any of this? The workers compensation carrier sent me for a second independent medical examination. This physician’s twenty-two page report stated I was disabled and unable to work. The workers compensation carrier continued to be extremely delinquent in paying my medical bills. I was very frustrated at the way my medical bills were being paid. On Valentine’s Day workers compensation sent me to a third independent medical examination consisting of three physicians. These physicians’ reports stated that I continued to be disabled and unable to work. How many doctors did they need to say I can’t work?
The orthopedic surgeon at Hales Hospital stated as a result of my neck complications, my right shoulder became frozen. He said, “You need to have shoulder surgery.” This was to be my third operation as a result of this accident. I was feeling very alone and scared! I said many prayers to help me get thorough this new ordeal. I was admitted to the hospital for an arthroscopic shoulder surgery. This surgery seemed to aggravate my neck problems, I was told later that they had a ten pound pulley on my neck during surgery in order to pull my neck away from my shoulder. The day after my shoulder surgery, the workers compensation carrier called me for over an hour demanding I file a malpractice suit against the neurosurgeon that did my first two operations. I asked the carrier why they were calling me the day after I had surgery? I was in a lot of pain and discomfort and I didn’t need or want this confrontation with the workers compensation carrier at this time. The orthopedic surgeon at Hales Hospital ordered a two poster cervical brace (click an view Pt 6.) for me to wear. This brace was metal. The bottom rested in the middle of my chest and back and kept my neck rigid. This brace acts like an exterior fusion. The first time I was strapped into this brace, I went into a panic. It felt like a straight jacket around my neck. My husband redid the straps with Velcro and I was better able to tolerate wearing it. The orthopedic surgeon stated he was very concerned about my neurological problems and referred me to a neurosurgeon for cervical surgery.
I was seen by the neurosurgeon at Hales Hospital. He was extremely upset over the two cervical operations and the fact that I was never fused. He felt since I had shown some improvement wearing this two poster cervical brace, a fusion surgery would help relieve some of my neck problems. This neurosurgeon did a thorough examination that included testing my feet. This was one of the first times I had an exam that included testing my legs. My local neurosurgeon never examined my legs. I was told I had nerve damage all through my body from the first two operations. This included losing my fine motor skills. I was scheduled for another surgery on my neck. I was in such a panic over this fusion surgery I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was scheduled for surgery, however, the workers compensation carrier adamantly refused to give approval for this surgery. Meanwhile, I had to continue wearing the two poster brace. I wore this brace for five months prior to surgery and almost two months after the fusion surgery. The carrier finally gave pre-approval two days prior to surgery. The day prior to surgery, I was scheduled to go to the hospital and get my lab tests done. I woke up around four AM vomiting constantly and I couldn’t stop trembling. I had never before experienced such overwhelming terror. I feared I would be paralyzed during this operation. How many times can you have surgery on your neck and not risk being paralyzed? At that moment I truly hated my first neurosurgeon for not fusing my neck the first or second time. When I went to get the tests and a doctor saw the condition I was in, I was admitted a day earlier to Hales Hospital and started on IV because of the vomiting and my nerves. The following day I had a anterior cervical fusion surgery at C-5-6-7. (click an view Pt 2.) When I was coming out of the anesthesia, a nurse told me to wake up. The first thing I did was move my arms and then wiggle my legs and everything moved. Then I cried because I was not paralyzed. Before all of this, I thought I was a strong person until I saw how fragile my life was and how it could change in a second. No matter how many loved ones or friends you have, when you go through those OR doors, you go alone.
While doing physical therapy exercises, I noticed my right hand turned blue and became ice cold. The neurosurgeon stated it could be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, RSD, Raynauds Syndrome, or built up scar tissue in my neck from the three previous operations. I was sent to several specialists for testing. The one test did show that I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. These specialists agreed this was neurological and coming from my neck. My attorney threatened the workers compensation carrier with legal actions if my medical bills were not paid immediately. At that time I was very upset with workers compensation as they did not pay my medical bills. The workers compensation response was to send me to another independent medical examination. My attorney called the workers compensation carrier and told them if they wanted me to go for this independent exam, they would have to provide transportation since this doctor was over an hour and a half drive one way. They shocked and surprised me by sending a chauffeur driven stretch limousine to take me. I informed the workers compensation doctor about having three cervical and one shoulder operations. I told him since my second operation, I continued to have numbness in my right shoulder and arm. Apparently, he didn’t believe me. He cradled my right arm in his arm and told me to turn my head to the left. He then took scissors and cut my right arm in three separate places. I didn’t feel anything. Only when he offered me several 4 by 4 gauze pads and tape, it was then that I realize I was bleeding in three place. This physician deliberately acted with malice in trying to get a reaction! This physician’s report would state I had reached my maximum recovery and was completely disabled and unable to work. I expected him to send a great report to workers compensation, since I didn’t even flinch when he cut me. I was so furious over what this bastard did to my arm. I had to endure even more abuse as I didn’t feel I should say anything to him, as he was going to be writing a report to workers compensation. No workers compensation doctor should be allowed to play God with an injured worker!
A Spinal Dictionary for anyone with a herniated/bulging disc and spine fusions,
including Links that have information on the Spinal Cord.
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