Wednesday, 13 October 2004

I'm sitting here now with a pain in my lower back, the result of a discogram procedure performed today on three lower bask discs. No pictures this time, but if you want to know what the procedure is there's info and a picture here.

I was prepped for this one by my doc to be ready for a very painful experience. A discogram is a procedure where he runs needles into the disc that is known/suspected to be the problem, as well as two others above it, one of which looks a little iffy but not as bad as the primary suspect disc, and another that looks normal and healthy. He then fills each up with fluid and a small amount of blocking agent "dye" that can be photographed on a CT scan after the procedure is completed.

Thing is, if you have a herniated disc and you pump fluid into it to blow it up/inflate it, that means the fluid will likely push the herniated portion harder into the problem area. That hurts, a lot much of the time. and that's what they want. That is how they verify the pain, and that if they choose to do surgery, they know exactly where the problem lies.

They can also look at the CT scan images and see where the dye flowed, which gives them an even better idea what they're up against and what kind of surgery - if any - is the best bet for the injury.

So anyhow, today was my day. I live about an hour or a little less northwest of Portland. The doctor who specializes in my back problem that I was referred to by my local doctor is in Salem, which is about an hour south of Portland. So, my friend Broc showed up at my place last night, made my guest bedroom useful, and got up early with me and drove me to Salem. He ate McDonald's and got coffee while I listened to him heckle me with tales of morning caffeine and food. I would not be able to eat or drink anything until after the procedure, and I was starving. And another thing - for me to not have coffee by 8am is unheard of.

The nurse was great this time - a little local anesthetic and the IV was right in (not like the last time at a different place...) and all I had to do was wait.

They got me into the room and on the table, and prepped my back. I heard the doctor come in.

And then the next thing I know, I was in the recovery area.

That's it. I have no freakin' clue what happened in the operating room, except that they did what they needed to do and I was not knocked out. But I swear to God, other than a vague recollection of a short painful stabbing experience with nothing solid to attach it to, I don't remember anything at all - it's like I jumped ahead an hour or so and that time never existed. I've never experienced that. Very strange.

Man - I hope I didn't say anything mean, stupid or embarrassing! :P

At any rate - we'll wait a couple weeks, let my back return to normal (I am a little more than just uncomfortable right now), I'm taking a trip, and when I get back it will be time to meet with the doc, once he has had time to review the results and consult with his partners, and see what if anything he can do to help.

Verdict: Expected severe pain, missed the whole damn thing in my memory, sore now but completely manageable - just a side effect of increasing the pressure and an expected consequence. The people were better than just good - they were thorough and terrific to me during the prep and after, and I have to assume they didn't tattoo me anywhere I can't see or something while I was "out of it." Doctor Olson and crew gets an A+ in my book.

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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery
Wednesday, 13 October 2004 19:09:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Thursday, 14 October 2004 12:07:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Having two laminectomies I feel for ya, man! People who don't have the back pain can never understand how bad it can be. I actually begged the doctor for the second surgery because it instantly eliminates the pain. Get well.
Thursday, 14 October 2004 17:04:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I finally went to the Physical Therapist for my Plantar Fasciitis, after months of being unable to walk and definitely not run or do aerobics. They played around with my foot for a couple of hours. I remember everything and it didn't involve much pain or dye.

You can live without a good foot. You can't do a thing without a good back. I hope your procedure makes you so much better that your previous pain is just a memory.
Thursday, 14 October 2004 20:37:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Wish you the best Greg, Get well sooner rather than later. Will be thinking about ya.
Thursday, 14 October 2004 20:54:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks everyone for the good thoughts and kind words. I am feeling a lot better tonight, still achy and stiff, but better than I felt last night or this moring.

I discovered today that taking 20mg of Baclofen on an empty stomach at work makes some people like me a lot more than when I'm not on drugs, though. No more of that stuff... :)
Saturday, 12 November 2005 11:17:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I am having a discogram done in Eugene, Oregon in a few weeks and I AM SCARED TO DEATH--I have heard nightmare stories about the pain. In fact, one website called the procedure, "a Mid-evil Torture"

How was your doctore in Portland?

because after reading your story--I want to have a good doctore.

thanks,
mary jo smith
Oakland, Oregon (near Roseburg)
Saturday, 12 November 2005 11:25:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi Mary Jo -

The doc I used was actually in Salem - closer to you than Portland. His name is Donald Olson and he's quite experienced and has a great staff. I was sufficiently "out of it" to not remember the procedure well (that can be aq good thing), yet still lucid enough (apparently) to confirm the pain. Nice balance, and the anesthsiologist was very good, too.

http://www.google.com/maps?hl=en&lr=&q=donald+olson+md&near=Salem,+OR&sa=X&oi=locald&radius=0.0&cid=44943056,-123033889,11667374772417498798&iwstate1=form:to
Saturday, 12 November 2005 11:49:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Actually, to be clear and accurate, I was not truly "out of it" during the test - I just had almost no memory of it.

I was aware at the time of the test itself, but the anesthesia apparently has some amnesia-inducing effects, so I didn't remember any part of the procedure very well afterward (in fact I hardly remembered it at all). I was aware of the pain during the test, and certainly told the doc when and where it hurt, but don't have a memory of anything other than a brief general memory of the pain. I know I told them, though - they made that pretty clear in the recovery room. I think the words I chose to let them know it hurt were probably colorful.

I'm not saying you won't have any pain - the main purpose of the test is to confirm the pain source and cause, and to replicate the pain to ensure it's the same. So, it's part of the deal. But it's very worth it in terms of confirming what the problem is and before making any surgical decisions. Very important to do.
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