Thursday, October 30, 2008


After meeting all the goals for being discharged from the hospital .... pass gas, BMs, walking the hallway on your own, eating real food (not jello), the doctor and his physician assistant told Larry "Get out of here before you catch something serious." So by 12:00 we were on our way home.

By 2:00 we were walking in the front door. We've already made even more modifications to the living rooms and bedrooms but each day the getting up and down from the bed to sitting to standing will get easier. He discovered today when the dressing was changed that he has 27 staples and an incision 12-14" long. Impressive. The surgeon said in all his 16 years of surgery he had never seen such strong bone. Glad he is such a great surgeon.

You will not hear much from Larry on his computer for a while. Sitting is just too painful. He will be doing lots of sleeping and walking with his walker to regain his strength. BUT he will be telling me what I should write...........he's always more analytical with the information than I am.

Thanks for all the emails wishing him well. Home never looked so good!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I arrived at the hospital this morning at 8:03 to find Larry sitting on the side of the bed and in good spirits. His pain pump had been removed. One line down.

True to form, Dr. Roth came in to see Larry at 7:29. Larry was a bit anemic from blood loss, so he wanted Larry to receive his autologic blood that was not used during surgery. (That took 4 hours.......15 minutes to donate it but 4 hours to get it back.) The dressing was changed on his back and he discovered he had 27 stitches (staples). Wow!

Finally, at 2:30 all his lines and connections were out. Larry being Larry, on his first walk outside the room he walked the entire length of the orthopedics hall in both directions. Great effort.

With all his parts working again, he has high hopes of being discharged tomorrow. The Superman on his chest has begun to return gradually. Home will make recovery much easier.



This is going to be short since the WiFi here in my room at Beaumont is about two words per minute. I'm detubed -- ah freedom!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

DAY 2 -- OCTOBER 28, 2008

Today was a tough day. The wonders of the surgery drugs had mostly worn off and Larry was in a lot of pain all day. He did sit on the side of the bed for lunch (jello, broth and juice) and several other times. Also he was able to walk with help 20 feet and back. A lot of sleep during the day helped him to fight off the surgery insults.

Tomorrow will be the first day on the road to recovery. A couple of pictures of Superman posted on the window remind him that the "S" will be reappearing on his chest soon.

Thanks for all your emails with good wishes.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Day of Surgery October 27, 2008

I'm writing this at 10:15 p.m. It has been a very long day. The alarm went off at 5:00, check-in at the hospital at 5:45. After the long pre-op meetings with nurses, anesthesiologists, surgery nurses and surgeon, surgery finally began at 8:29. The surgery was completed at 1:25.

Then began the even longer wait. Because the orthopedics floor was full, Larry was kept in recovery until 8 p.m. He and several other orthopedics patients had to wait til some medical patients were moved and rooms cleaned. Scot and Laura kept me company and finally agreed to go home after seeing Larry in recovery.

The surgery went well. They did not have to use his blood that he donated ahead of time. The surgeon said that there was lots of bone (very hard bone) in his spine impinging the nerves. He used Larry's bone, some donor bone and some bone marrow taken from his hip to fuse L1, 2 and 3 but no rods or screws.

Larry seems to be doing well. He is on a pain pump and hooked to miles of tubes so tonight may not be too restful. I am surprised and pleased to see how good he looks after such a long surgery. The doctor said we will probably get to go home Thursday.

Thank you all for keeping Larry in your thoughts today. Goodnight.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

12 Hours To Go

Sunday, October 26, 2008 -- 8:00 p.m.
Today was Larry's last day to drive for 3 months. From now on I will be "Driving Mr. Daisy." This hotel will be my bed and breakfast for the next few days.....only 3 miles from the hospital.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Almost ready - 33 hours to go

Everything is high--expectations, bed level, toilet seat level ... you get the idea.
The weather forecast looks terrible, but who cares. We will be inside until it warms up to 60 on next Thursday-Friday.
This blog came in from email as a test.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Be Prepared

On Oct 7 we made another trip to Detroit to kill 4 birds with one stone. Me and my 'coach' got the final instructions from Nonie, Roth's surgical nurse. Then we went to PT (physical therapy) to learn mostly what we COULD NOT do following surgery. OT, occupational therapy) then told us how to do what we must do--eat, sleep and crap. Finally, a gave 4 vials of my high test blood.

I recently created a test for back pain. It was inspired by the Cleveland Clinic hip test, which converts ones physical and emotional capabilities into a numerical score. I failed this hip test prior to hip surgery, but I aced it every time I returned for checkups. You can download and take this test yourself at: Hopefully, I will be able to 'convince' someone in the back surgery business to adopt something similar. This whole concept of having surgery to improve one's 'quality of life' needs some quantitative measurement, especially when financial costs are considered.

Oct 8 was a flu shot day--not a problem this far away from surgery--and as a bonus I asked the nurse who she knew who already had this type back surgery. Although she sounded enthusiastic, I never heard back from her. This was the first of many times that I encountered this 'obsession' with patient privacy.

Oct 14 is autologous blood donation at Ernie Wallace Blood Bank in Midland. This brings back memories from 20 years ago. Unfortunately, all the people were new and none could verify my 'war stories' about blood donations.

Oct 16 I had a feedback appointment with Dr. Leslie Schutz, the one who discovered my spinal stenosis and referred me to Dr. Roth. She told me I would do fine, but she did notice I was developing a limp. It helped me to hear, again, that this 'one size fits all' approach to recovery doesn't apply.

Oct 17 was the final clearance from my personal physician. Since I wasn't sure what Beaumont wanted, I placed a call to their pre-op anesthesia person. I finally reached Kathy that am. It took about 30 minutes for her to get my entire life history. She also faxed their check sheet to my physician. So, when I saw him in the pm, we had all the paperwork to fulfill their requirements.

I disturbing side effect of the above checkup with my physician was the frank discussion about the necessity of my continuing to be on coumadin. This may be the ultimate benefit from my back surgery.

Oct 20 is the date to halt all blood thinning agents. I now have zero concern about this requirement.
I also attempted to get some detailed pictures at the Midland Community Center of proposed rehab possibilities. Unfortunately, this patient privacy issue reared its ugly head again, and the 'pool police' halted these efforts.

Finally, on Oct 21 I did contact Ann H. who is also considering back surgery with Roth. When I heard about her living arrangements--she has no one to help her recovery--my own problems, perceived or otherwise, vanished.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Getting Ready

The check list is diminishing.....straight back chair, bathroom modifications, checking off final doctor and dentist appointments. 14 days to go.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Getting Ready for Surgery

Oct 27, 2008, is D-Day !

Technically, the diagnoses is spinal stenosis with spondylolysis. The surgical procedure is called decompressive laminectomy with fusion, including instrumentality.

As of today (19 days BS) most pre-surgery details have been completed. That includes such things as: extra iron for 6 weeks, cardiac clearance, acquiring a back brace, occupational and physical therapy classes and a pre-op exam by the surgical nurse. Other items scheduled but not completed include: autologous blood donation (1 unit) and family doctor clearance. Since mobility and travel will be SEVERELY restricted for 3+ months following surgery, other items that have been completed include: flu shot, absentee voting, dental cleaning, any other minor medical appointments, winterizing the outside of my home and fixing the living quarters for a limited-mobility patient.

The surgeon is Dr. Herbert Roth, Jr; he operates out of Beaumont Hospital in Troy, a suburb of Detroit. Both Roth and Beaumont are world-class by any and all standards. Therefore, my confidence in the outcome is as high as any surgery I have previously faced.

I have had numerous opportunities to get answers to every one of my questions--and there were many--from Roth's surgical nurse, Nonie P. While I never agree with all the choices that surgeons and hospitals make, I do understand the reasons behind their decisions.

My main concern, as always, revolves around the anesthesia. The general anesthesia, administered for 6 hours in this case, always plays havoc with one's bowels and urinary functions, and I seem to be particularly susceptible. (Maybe that perception is enhanced because PAIN in never a factor in my approach to surgery.) My second concern is the pre-surgery administering of 'relaxing' drugs that mess up one's cognitive functions for days, often long after all the pain is gone. As the saying goes, 'a mind is a terrible thing to waste'. My third concern is uniquely mine--a skin sensitivity to tape. I always break out in a rash where any tape is applied.

I should balance these concerns with my feelings about the two biggest concerns with any surgery: infection and surgical/hospital errors. I truly belive these factors are nil in my upcoming surgery. My mathematicial side would describe these risks as 'asymtotically approaching zero.'

Next time I will bloviate on my present feelings on post-surgery recovery. I hope to form a network of other patients with similar surgery, and get the facts from the other side of the knife.


Tags: surgery, back, spinal, stenosis

Monday, October 6, 2008

Start of Surgery

This is the initial blog.