It has been many months since my last post here. I believe it to be warranted to share my story since my revision surgery at Stenum hospital. For many of you, you know my story, for those who don't I will make it brief (laugh away those who know me).
In Dec 03 I suffered a major rupture fragmentation to my L4-L5 disc. I subsequently went through three (3) immediate hemi-laminectomy surgeries to remove the awful mess. This all occurred in a two week period.
After this my L4-L5 disc was completely removed, well the annulus was left. I continued down the path of hellious discovery of not having a functioning spine and of course pain. In April 04' I began investigating the world of ADR. This path led through the clinical trials and the world of Pro Disc, Charite and a number of other devices. After seeing three ADR surgeons and getting denied access by my insurance for the Charite trial. I like others using the internet researched the many posts on the subject. I also found Stenum hospital.
After exhausting all stateside avenues, I made the decision to go to Stenum. Some of you now may remember. In August of 04, after getting the approval from my surgeon to withstand another surgery and seeing the results from other Americans going to Stenum, I traveled to Germany with hopeful expectations. Upon arrival all was as explained and our accommodations and arrangements were wonderful. Meeting our group of other Americans undergoing the ADR surgery was informative and helpful to my wife and me.
So after a physical and prep work I was readied for the surgery. During this the decision was made for a two level. So I was to have the L3-L4 and the L4-L5 replaced. Made sense to me to get two while you’re in there. All though I never had a disco-gram only a physical exam by the Stenum doctor. On to the surgery, 2 hours later and in recovery I was feeling great. Really! No more leg pain and I was taking no morphine and amazingly felt better then the previous surgeries. Was I pumped and happy!
So it was with some reluctance to find I was hurting in the abdomen and swollen and my back locked up at times. Not knowing what this was and then getting the first x-ray and looking at it with some puzzlement why one plate was sinking into the vertebra? In asking I was told this is irrelevant. I said OK. But the stomach issue? Also common and no problem.
After flying home I was hospitalized with a large seroma and build up of fluids abdominally. However, after all I was home and ready to recover and a short hospital stay was like OK. However, new x-rays revealed the L3 plate had sunk further and this was now serious. I visited my doctors here and one of the chief Charite investigators. I now had major pain again in the back and daily lock ups. This was due to a major degree of subsidence from the plate shifting into the cancellous soft tissue of the vertebral body. “Wow, just fix it doc” I said.
Well this meant another surgery which couldn’t be done in the USA. So after many calls to Stenum and Depuy Spine, Stenum re-looked at my new films and agreed it had to be revised. What a struggle.
In October 04 on the 10th month to the day of my first surgery I had surgery #5. A revision to explant the L3-L4 Charite and implant a larger size. Oh did I say that the reason was that too small of an implant was used. I forgot. But that is what I was told. A technical error. Happens. On to the surgery, well this one was longer like 4 to 5 hours and this time in recovery I was in PAIN. But I soon asked for the morphine to be stopped as I couldn’t feel my left leg, the leg that took all the original nerve damage from the ruptured L4-L5. Soon the nurse followed my request after getting doctors approval and then it happened. My left leg was ice cold.
In record time I was in an ambulance headed to the Red Cross for testing. This revealed a major closure of the left iliac artery, an occlusion. My companion was told this was over 6 cm long. My blood flow was reduced over 50% to this leg and the odds of me keeping the leg was maybe 25%. Much speculation was made as to how or when this happened. Anyway, long story shortened, after 2 agonizing weeks of pain and horrible thoughts and a failed angioplasty to open the blocked artery, I came home.
After which I spent two weeks in the hospital for pain management. Then home taking daily 240mg of morphine, 2100 mg of lidocaine patches and a litany of other drugs. I was wheel chair bound, when I could tolerate sitting and in bed-rest awaiting another angio or a bypass surgery. After three months I underwent the second angiogram which was again a failure. So then I was scheduled for bypass surgery yup, #6.
This would entail a risky abdominal approach through the mass of scar tissue, open my chest to get to the aorta and place a plastic graft from there to the femoral artery on the left side. If this failed I would have my left leg amputated. Or die from infection, lung collapse you know standard stuff after six surgeries. So was I frightened! Out of my mind. Why did this happen to me? Well God knows.
In mid May, 2005, I showed up at UCLA medical center for my pre surgery exam. In walks my surgeon, “Whoa, Mr. Beeson, what has happened? You look great!” I said yes. He asked again and then said if you look this good and your leg is good, then we can postpone surgery”. I said excellent, and then I told him what happened.
I was prayed for on Palm Sunday at a new church near my home. Some things happened. Then in early April, I was hospitalized with a near fatal bacterial infection. “Go on he said”. Then in late April I was in bed and had a vision and God told me I was healed and would be healthy and strong. When I awoke and got out of bed, I had no more pain anywhere and my leg felt OK and I stopped all meds with no withdrawals. He exclaimed “This is a miracle; so let’s examine you and find out what the leg is doing”.
So a new ABI test was conducted and my left leg went from .5 to .82. He said this is a miracle that an artery has either opened on its own or you have created new major collateral arteries. He said go enjoy and I’ll see you in 4 months. But there will be some pain in certain activities. I said no problem there doctor. It is incredible and a miracle. Is this for real?
Explain then stopping all those meds, with no withdrawals. According to every doctor I should have had a cardiac arrest. 240mg of morphine to zero not happened before they say. Am I crazy or blessed? I prayed for the latter. I pray that everyone who has reached the point I was of little or no hope is so healed. Why me? Only God knows. Why did I share such a personal experience? To shed light on the way, the awesome way I was healed. This wasn’t through medicine or doctors or surgeries. In fact I should right now be either one legged, dead or if I survived the sixth surgery and recovered to have normal blood flow, I would still be in terrible pain and on morphine or something.
Again, I haven’t been on this forum during all these months and I felt compelled to share this awesome story. I also wanted to inform all of you who read this that I am not a Stenum success (the new L3-L4 implant is improperly placed). I wish I was an ADR success, I know many who are; I also know those who are failures. I believe my story will help those searching for their own back pain relief to search carefully. To avoid by my story, all true, yet a fabulous ending through prayer and faith, making quick decisions based on marketing efforts of hospitals or manufacturers. You must make the right decision whether for Stenum or not or for ADR or not. I hope this will provide that bit of information that helps you make that right decision.
I sincerely pray for each of you for relief from the pain and lifestyle altering result of debilitating back pain. I also pray for those involved in this forum and the medical field for the continued success in performing this work. As many in these fields perform exceptionally well and we should remember them in our thanksgivings.
God bless you all,