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Cervical fusion, Laminectomy, Lumbar spine surgery with fusion

I first met Dr. James Lynch and his extremely competent staff in 2008, after a referral for a partial cervical spinal cord compression and an assortment of lumbar spine problems. I was taking more narcotic pain meds than most humans could normally tolerate. January 2008, he performed a 2-level cervical fusion and for the first time in 20 years I woke up and did not have a headache. AMAZING!

Then in December of 2008 we addressed some of my lumbar spine issue and opted for a laminectomy because I was rather young yet to consider a full fusion and I still had a young child that needed to grow up a bit to be more help to mom when a fusion was absolutely necessary. The laminectomy did exactly what it was to do ... buy me time. I was relatively pain free for about 3 years then suddenly and progressively things started to get worse. Mind you, I am a procrastinator when it comes to taking care of myself ... Even though I am only an EMT, that old adage of Doctors make the worse patients, holds even more true for EMTs. We are suppose to be strong for others and always think of ourselves last.

Well, June 2012, I put me, and my family first. By the time Dr. Lynch got me back on the table to perform a 2-level lumbar fusion I had a completely collapsed disc, a step off one way and tilting the other. Too much lifting, hiking and hunting in the hills the previous fall and winter finally done me in. I was on fentynal patches, oxycontin and Percocet...all at very high doses and with a very high tolerance. My pain management doctor doubted I would ever be able to stop taking some amount of narcotic.

SUCCESS: Fusion done in June 2012, and by October 2012, I was down at the Grand Canyon mountain biking on the rim. By November I was completely off my ALL NARCTOIC Medication and only taking a very occasional muscle relaxer as I entered a post physical therapy program. As December rolled around and the good doctor gave the O.K., I decided to take my daughter skiing. Yes, I was a bit apprehensive and after being fused I had to re-learn a few techniques, BUT I WAS SKIING! 4 months later my husband decided to escape for the weekend and get some tent camping in and time with the family. Now I was worried. Last time I slept on the ground, he literally had to pick me up after about 6 hours and I was in so much pain we had to go home in the morning. MUCH TO MY SURPRISE, I bedded down on my rollout sleeping pad and had one of the most restful nights in many a year. Even more surprising, I rolled up and did my standard 3-4 morning stretches and got right up off the ground and felt GREAT!

Here we are on our one year anniversary and we are preparing for a two week hiking/camping adventure into Great Basin National Park. If the snow melts enough, we plan to ascend the 14,505ft Mt. Whitney, but at a minimum we have back county treks planned up to Baker and Johnson Lakes. My daughter. .. my best inspiration for getting well and staying active ... and I, have been hiking all over our very rural neighborhood with a 30lb pack on my PAIN FREE BACK! My neighbors all ask where we are going and I truly believe they are more excited than I just to see me up and around and with so much energy and enthusiasm.

In the 10 years of living among most of my neighbors, they have all only ever seen the extremely debilitating pain that I have been in and how I fight to push thru it and be productive, but my face could never lie as to just how much pain I was in at any given time. Over the past 6 years Dr. James Lynch, and his wonderfully talented P.A.s and support staff have given me back my life. I wish I could have many of those lost years back, especially the early ones with my daughter, as all she has ever really knows is a mom in pain, but a person can never go back. Memories are good ... pain is bad! Time to catch up for some lost time.

Dr. Lynch has truly been blessed with a gift. He accepts nothing less than perfection from himself and his staff, and honestly, I think he expects his patients to heal 100% perfectly, but even with the gift he has to fix things, some things in the human mind are body are beyond his reach. THIS IS WHERE YOU THE PATIENT can help him reach 100% patient success by following thru on that tough physical therapy. Pushing thru so much of that post-operative pain and sticking to the plan of healing and regeneration. Pain stinks! Surgery is easy. Getting well again is the hardest thing you will ever do after multiple fusions. Is it worth it? The pain? Losing your job so you can get well? Starting over? ABSOLUTELY! WITHOUT A DOUBT! Be well my friends!

Karen, 05/23/2013


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