Sharing My Journey with Spondylolisthesis

Welcome! While I am not a doctor, healthcare provider, nor a specialist of the spine, I am most certainly one very experienced patient! I write about my various chronic health conditions and medical adventures, or rather, my struggles, so that I may share my gained knowledge and personal experiences with all of those whom seek help, support, information, resources, along with facts and opinions, in regard to the spine condition Spondylolisthesis. At the time I was diagnosed, the internet was in its infancy, which made it a challenge to find additional information on the condition, let alone connect with those who had already taken the long journey of which I was just beginning. My hope has been, and continues to be, that through the power of the internet, and sites like Blogspot, that I may be able to reach others facing similar circumstance. By sharing my story, knowledge, research and continual experiences, I hope to offer a little guidance, and bring some comfort and empowerment where I had none. This condition, especially when severe, can certainly turn one's life upside down, and I know first hand that proceeding blindly into such a situation can be very overwhelming, painful and scary. If you have any questions or comments, and would like to contact my directly, please check out my Blogger Profile or email healthandillness@gmail.com. You may also contact me by way of my profile here and/or submit a comment at the end of each post.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pre & Post Operative X-Rays (From my 1997 surgeries & body traction)

So, I've been waiting quite some time to take photos of my pre & post operative x-rays from my surgeries & full body traction circa 1997, ... and today I finally did it! Yay! I do plan on creating a more extensive post than this in the very near future, but for now, I will simply post my x-rays from way back when to start things off. I am also in the process of getting copies of my more recent x-rays. Specifically the films which show a better picture of what my spine now looks like as a result of the deterioration, degeneration, and early-onset OsteoArthritis in the L4, L3 & L2 vertebras above my fusion region. In addition, I plan on posting my most recent slip found in my neck, located at the C6 & 7, which thankfully is a grade 1/2, but is certainly still troublesome! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to type away! 


                   Pre-Operative 1997 - Complete slip called Spondyloptosis


Post-Operative 1997. After full body traction, which increased my height by 3 inches, but L5/S1 still sits at a grade 5 Spondylolisthesis. 

7 comments:

  1. http://photoshop74.blogspot.com
    Thanks for the friendship. Like your Blog and your bio. Good feel about it.

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  2. I have just found this blog and am so happy to have other people to talk to! I too have spondy in the back and the neck. I just asked to join the FB page.
    Thanks for doing this!
    I am also a breast cancer survivor and having groups like this online was really, really helpful!!

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  3. I just stumbled upon this wonderful blog via Facebook. Why did they choose to fuse it right there without trying to push it back?! Seems counter-intuitive to me. Were they not able to? (Sorry, just begun to browse). I have no idea what my slippage is. No one has ever graded it, though many have seen the numerous MRI's and X-rays I've had. I've seen 3 surgeons now that have actually told me that unless I am incapacitated, do not do the surgery. Some days I stay in bed all day, unable to manage the pain despite all the pain meds I'm on.

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    1. Hi My Oh Mayim ... I am sorry for my delay in response to your comment & question. I actually composed a reply a day or two after you posted on my blog but I "lost" my long message to the ethernet somewhere and gave up for the time being. So frustrating to lose so much writing! Anyway, Thank you for your message & compliment :). You mentioned you found my blog through Facebook ... I assume thru the public forum for Spondylolisthesis ... Did you consider joining the FB closed support group? I would love to have you join if you're interested. I will include the link to request to join below just in case. To answer your question regarding why they didn't fully correct my slip: I am not sure if you've read any further, so please forgive me if my answer is repetitive in nature. As you can see in my x-ray films pre op, I had a complete slip known as Spondyloptosis. This is where the vertebra completely falls from the vertebra below and is no longer actually considered/labeled Spondylolisthesis with a grade. My slip had actually fallen a little over 3 inches from a grade 5. I underwent two surgeries with full body traction in-between, for a total of 8 days. The full body traction literally stretched my spine and lifted the slip those 3 inches, so that it sits at a grade 5 now. They originally planned on continuing the traction for a total of 2 weeks, which was supposed to be enough time to not only lift the slip, but to completely reduce it so that it could be fused at a grade 1. On the 7th day of traction I could no longer feel nor move my feet, the decision was then made to fuse at a grade 5 on the 8th day in order to avoid paralysis. So, in a nutshell this is why you see the spine fused at such a high grade. Because of the severity of the slip they were unable to simply fuse at the position it had progressed to, instead I had several options, including that of the full body traction to reduce the slip and then fuse. This surgical option was chosen over the others because of the decreased chance of permanent nerve damage or paralysis over that of the other options presented. My spine had slipped so far that the spinal cord was being pinched off, as it went in, out and in again from each of the vertebrae. The nerves in that region were also seriously impinged as a result. Because the slip had fallen 3 inches beyond that of a grade 5 (where it sits fused now), reducing the slip over a shorter time span (in one long surgery) would have been a guaranteed sentence for life long paralysis. This is because the spinal cord and nerves had become so impacted/compressed, that stretching them back out would have shocked the, tremendously. Even while we took the "safest" route available, I still came out with permanent nerve damage in my legs and feet, although I can walk and have use of my lower extremities ... something which is a tremendous blessing and very shocking to all docs who view my films. I was VERY lucky. As for what you've shared about your situation, forgive me for being blunt, but it sounds as though your quality of life HAS BEEN very affected and limited by this condition ... close to incapacitation in my eyes. It makes me cringe to hear that these docs have said this to you, as waiting until things get really bad is almost a certain guarantee for life long complications - whether they be the result of the condition itself, or from the surgical intervention, which will likely be more complex when one waits to intervene until a grade progresses to an extreme level, or like myself, that of a complete slip. Trying to reduce a high grade or complete slip is complicated and risky ... the recovery is much longer and the fusion in and of itself is more complex.

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    2. I don't tell you this to scare you, but in hopes of providing what information, knowledge and experience I have, so that you can best take care of your body and life. I would really encourage you to seek out another surgeon for yet another opinion. Have you seen Orthos, Neuros, or both? You said you do not know what your grade is, but do you know if it's considered "unstable?" If you'd like I'd be happy to take a look at your films and offer a rough guesstament for your grade. You can either do so through the FB group (if you choose to join), or email me at healthandillness@gmail.com. As I state in this blog, I am not a doctor, just a well-practiced, experienced, and educated patient :). If there's one thing I've learned through all of my health battles it's to listen to my intuitions and body first and foremost ... Not the doctors. You know your own body better than anyone else, period. It took me 4 plus years to get diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis as a child/teen. During which time my slip progressed to the severity you saw in the x-rays. I was told that I was fine, that I shouldn't be in pain and didn't really have pain, ... that I was being lazy, trying to get out of playing sports and seeking attention. Eventually I thought everyone lived with this constant pain, as it had become my "normal." After my surgeries and traction I was shocked to find this was sooo far from the truth! I "knew" something was terribly wrong all along, but, especially as a youngster, I didn't want to question the doctors. Had I waited another year (from the time I was finally diagnosed), to finally speak up one more time, I would have been paralyzed and unable to receive any type of surgical intervention. I was 14 at the time and was advised that we couldn't wait more than 6 months to move forward with the surgeries ... I was given 12 months at most before I was paralyzed and lost bladder and bowel control/functioning ... and I was told that without surgical intervention, as a result of the severe slip and the resulting compression on my internal organs (my slip progressed so far that the bottom of my ribs touched & rubbed against the top of my pelvis, compacting all of my lower organs at the time, and later would affect my lungs & heart), that I would likely not live beyond 25 years. I am so thankful to myself (I know, sounds funny), that I got up the courage to speak up one more time and share the pain I was in and the lump that protruded from my low back (this was my S1 literally sticking out). I should have trusted my body and intuitions from the beginning, but alas, I was only a young person and didn't know anything else. As an adult I became ill with several auto immune diseases. Once again I found myself in a similar position, but better able to advocate and fight for myself and my body. It took nearly 5 years to get a diagnosis and once again I was told that I was crazy, seeking attention, exaggerating, etc. Shock of all shocks, turns out I was not, and that I had/have some very serious chronic illnesses. Lesson was certainly learned :). Anyway, I am sorry for going on for so long. I hope this info has been helpful in answering your question? I hate to hear you're dealing with so much pain and that the docs are not taking you seriously! That makes me very angry. If you'd like to talk more, or again, if you'd like to join the support group, I'd love to chat with you again! Here's the link to the support group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/spondylolisthesis.support/. And again, you are more than welcome to email me if you'd like as well ... whether it be to talk or to share your x-rays, etc. - Healthandillness@gmail.com. May I ask where you live - general area? Also, how long have you had Spondyo and have you had any pregnancies during the time you've been in pain? Lastly, do you experience any nerve pain or related nerve symptoms? Blessings of pain-free days ahead, Brenna (Cat)

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  4. Cat - your pre- and post xrays are truly an eye opener. You had quite an advanced case. Thankfully most people aren't quite so bad. I've even heard that a lot of adults have a minor degree of spondylolisthesis and don't even know they have it. Thanks for the service you're providing in creating a support group for spondylolisthesis sufferers. I'm sure your efforts have helped many to connect and get good information.

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  5. Hi again Ronald :)
    I just replied to your post on the Spondyo Stories website a few moments ago! Thank you for taking the time to check out my various blog-sites.
    Yes, unfortunately my case was quite severe ... but, thankfully, due to my supportive and determined parents, and extremely skilled surgeons, I am now fused at a grade 5 and still able to walk (even while I do have permanent nerve damage in my lower extremities). Getting to that magical grade 5 took 8 days of full body traction (the traction was sandwiched between two operations).
    You are very correct, a good amount of people walk around and function everyday without the knowledge that they have Spondylolisthesis. Thankfully, one would assume that those individuals are in little, if any pain, do not have any symptoms, and more than likely, have a stable slip!
    And thank you for the compliment! The support group is growing by the week, sometimes everyday - which is very exciting for myself after spending so many years without even knowing another person with the condition. I do believe that the group helps a number of people, and I certainly hope it will continue to do so! I am currently working on creating a comprehensive website which will cover many things involving Spondylolisthesis - something which appears to be lacking on the internet today. In the meantime, I have many projects underway and continue my research on this subject, as well as auto immune diseases.

    ~ Brenna (Cat)

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Please share your stories and/or feel free to ask questions related to your experience with Spondylolisthesis ... That's why I'm here!

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About Me

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My interest for all things related to health & illness arises from my own struggles with chronic health conditions. I have found it most therapeutic & empowering to write about my many experiences within this realm. Through education, my own research, and my ongoing personal challenges, I am teaching myself how to become my own best advocate. To learn more about me, please see the page entitled "About Cat" located at the top of the page. If you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to contact me through the "about" section listed above, or email me at healthandillness@gmail.com. Please note that this address is also linked through my profiles. Blessings of health, energy and peace.

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