Back… in the red

There’s no way to pretty it up.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 2.51.06 pm

Those two bits should line up. And the disk space should be the same as the one above the arrows…

The back is worse than we feared. The surgery is more advanced and takes longer. A special surgical retractor needs to be ordered. The bill is… astronomical.

I’m having an L4/L5 MAS Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Apparently it’s the MAS bit that makes it different, they make a smaller hole in me, and insert the screws closer together and it needs a special retractor to avoid damaging the muscles. Net result is less scarring, blood loss, tissue disruption, and time in hospital.

He’s rearranged his surgery list, but it can’t be before 8th June as the hardware won’t be there before that. So I’m sitting in Brisbane airport wearing a stunned expression, waiting for the only flight I could get home, at 6.25pm.

Meanwhile, the most heartfelt possible THANK YOU  for the wonderful love and support you’ve all shown me. Knowing I had you behind me helped me deal with it.

I’m glad I’m not staying on alone. But I wish it was over, including the most painful part. Handing over the plastic.


68 thoughts on “Back… in the red

  1. Moira says:

    Thinking about you as you prepare for the surgery, and praying for the strength to get through it.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m in very, very good hands, and feel very safe. I have spent the morning organising, and everything is now in place. I’m not worried. My chief concern is which quilt to take into hospital with me 🙂

  2. I know that it is expensive but, suppose there was nothing that could be done? I’m not the one paying but, think of the alternative. It’s a blessing to have the ability to pay even if you must charge and pay monthly. You have the knowledge that you are going to be pain free, able to walk and the knowledge that your top isn’t going to slip of your bottom 😄.

    • katechiconi says:

      You’re right, of course. That slippage was beginning to worry me, my back has started to clunk when I walk! And everything is now arranged, so we can cover all the bills that will be thrown at us over the course of this treatment. I have spent the morning on the phone from my throne among the pillows!

  3. EllaDee says:

    Hopefully with a little time passing, and cogitating within the comforts of home it will all sink in, and you’ll be glad that something than can be done by throwing money at it. Imagine how that mobility will feel 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      I know, it’ll be bliss to walk and stand without thinking about it, to take a nice stroll without worrying about where the nearest seat might be. And he’s a very good surgeon, and a good listener. All will be well. Warm red root chakra healing rays for Friday morning, please…

  4. claire93 says:

    you’ll feel less stunned once you’ve had time to talk in person with the husband of Chiconia, and digest the news. Surgeon sounds confident he can do the job . . . you now need time to get used to the idea of surgery, and worry about the financial side.

    • katechiconi says:

      The finance is taken care of. I’ve talked to the bank, we can pay it off over time. One less thing to stress about. As you’ll have seen in a more recent post, the surgery date has been brought forward, so I don’t have time to get too stressed 🙂

  5. Conor Bofin says:

    My thoughts are with you Kate. It will be difficult, no matter what.
    Brave lady!

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m only doing it for the patient-operated morphine pump and the local anaesthetic drip into my spine, you understand. Oh, and a woman likes a spot of unusual titanium jewellery.. Shame it’ll be invisible.

  6. Sounds like some amazing medical wizardry about to happen, and the cost will be worth every cent. This is YOU we’re talking about 🙂 xxx

  7. nettyg says:

    Thank goodness that something can be done, even if that means a painful credit card bill, you’ll be able to not worry about that bit so much once you’re home with the mister. That’s quite a wait for your flight outa there, wish I lived a teensy bit closer, could’ve come got you so you could put your feet up for the afternoon 😦

    • katechiconi says:

      As you’ll have seen in the update, not so very long to wait after all! It’s going to be all go tomorrow. Check in 10.30, arrive 1.00ish, straight to the spine clinic, get processed there and hand over unfeasibly large amounts of the hard-earned, along the corridor to the Brisbane Private Hospital, admitted there, and finally, into a bed so I can rest my back. Fast from midnight, surgery early the next morning. I’ll be doped the rest of that day, but hopefully awake and active the next day, full of tasty analgesia… They get you up next day 😮 !!

  8. Grannymar says:

    I am waking to read this news. As my cardiologist says: “At least we have an answer and a plan!”. It is tough hearing about and coming home with a diagnosis on your own (living alone, I do it all the time). Your other half will be there to talk things through with you. Modern surgery is amazing and can do so much. Each time I was faced with surgery, I thought of my granny who faced the same problems but no chance of proper pain relief or surgery.

    You stay strong and I will top up my candle supply. The candle is still glowing as it has all night and will remain so until this afternoon.

    Safe home and gentle hugs. xx

    • katechiconi says:

      I was a singleton, like you, most of my adult life, so it’s not the alone bit that was causing distress, more the horrendous fact that the damage was so expensively bad! We’ve got on top of that, so all is well. I now back down tomorrow for surgery on Friday, so less time to hang around feeling sorry for myself. It’ll all be over by Monday 🙂

  9. tialys says:

    Just got up this morning so I assume you are safely home by now. It sounds as if you are in knowledgeable and capable hands with your surgeon and all those things that will be ‘less’ during and after the surgery is good, right? I don’t know about Australian health care. Why isn’t the surgery free? Don’t you have to have top up insurance? In any case, you need it and you must have it even if it means you have to stay away from fabric shops for a while.

    • katechiconi says:

      Some of the surgery is paid by the government, but their payments haven’t kept up with the cost of living and haven’t increased over time. Hence what’s called in Australia ‘The Gap’. Which is what the surgeon charges, less what the government pays him. Then there’s the assistant surgeon, the anaesthetist, etc. Same story. The health insurance doesn’t ever cover doctor’s fees. It covers hospital stays, the medications, the tools and the spine implants. The theory in the beginning was that the government would pay the doctors. They just don’t do it properly…
      And I have enough in my stash to steer clear of fabric shops for the next year or so 🙂

  10. norma says:

    I hope it’s soon sorted out – all the best.

  11. nanacathy2 says:

    Still saying prayers for a good outcome. Much love coming your way.

  12. lucyannluna says:

    Still thinking of you

  13. Barbara van Rhijn-Dekker says:

    Right, it’s in my diary and now roll on time. A bit longer to try your patience but it will be worth it! Chin up, much love from Barbara.

  14. It’s good that you know what’s happening now, and that you will have company when you come back.
    We’ll keep the prayers and positive vibes comng until you’ve recovered and beyond.

    Is there no National Health Service in Australia? I had no idea that you had to pay for your own surgery – that’s horrendous. How do poor people manage?

    ViV xox

    • katechiconi says:

      There is what’s called Medicare. This is a public system, but it’s meant to be for those who really have nothing; those with a decent income are expected to have medical insurance to cover hospital stays, etc. The government is supposed to pay the doctors and surgeons, etc, but what they pay is a pittance, so there’s a Gap payment to be made to top up the amount to the surgeon’s fees. And the assistant surgeon, and the anaesthetist. I could have waited and waited and gone on the public list, but I’d probably have been unable to see a specialist for months or get the surgery for a couple of years. There are still too many people using the public system. Here endeth the lesson on Australian medical care.
      You won’t have to keep up those vibes so long now; as you’ll have seen in the update, it’s now the day after tomorrow.

  15. Debbierose says:

    We have the best surgeon’s in Australia, once the initial shock settles, and a little time, the 8th is not far away. Thinking & praying for you

    • katechiconi says:

      We do have excellent surgeons, and mine is one of the top ones in his field. Now they’ve brought the date forward, I have even less time to wait 🙂

  16. Still holding you in my thoughts.

  17. Praise the Lord !!!!

  18. Jule says:

    Keeping my fingers crossed. ❤️

  19. Cheery reminder. Let people around you know this proves you have been skimping on complaints!

    More useful reminder. There are few things (outside of meds) that truly diminish pain. One is laughter. I hope you fit in all the funny movies, books, and video clips you can. You might want to ask your readers for laugh-out-loud humor recommendations.

    • katechiconi says:

      The Husband is providing his usual entertainment, which generally has us both giggling like two year olds. I shall certainly bear your suggestions in mind when selecting hospital reading 🙂

  20. dayphoto says:

    Isn’t there insurance to help? Oh I hope there is insurance!


    • katechiconi says:

      Without the insurance, it would be three times as much. So, really, I shouldn’t complain. It’s just such a large and sudden amount of money to need unexpectedly. Feeling guilty about my expensive back doesn’t help, either… All will be well, though, I have arranged the finance from among my pillows this morning, along with forms, flights, hospital admittance, etc, etc.

  21. rutigt says:

    I´m glad they think they can do something about the pain, even if it means waiting for you and probably some more pain before it´s all finished. Cross my fingers (håller tummarna) that it all will work out fine!

  22. Magpie Sue says:

    Leave it to a fella to take any opportunity to buy a new tool! Too bad you’re the one who has to pay for it. In the end you’ll benefit; I guess that’s the silver lining. June 8 suddenly seems awfully far away.

    • katechiconi says:

      He’ll have to do without it now that they’ve brought the date forward, so I suppose I won’t have to be the guinea pig for that :-). June 3, however, is the new surgery date, and a whole lot closer 🙂

  23. I was really expecting that but maybe it will be a better fix in the end. We are all hoping for a great outcome for so you can get back to doing what you love to do. On top of everything else you have been through, I’m sad that you have to go through this too. I know you’ll need a good cry over it and that will wash some of the stress away. Indulge a bit. Hope your time for great healing is quick and complete.

    • katechiconi says:

      I would feel better for a good cry, but it upsets the Husband so much when I do, and crying on your own is not so good, here’s no one to offer comfort. I’m actually greatly looking forward to not being so very disabled by the pain and by the fact that the bloody vertebra that’s out of place has started clunking when I walk. This procedure is coming not a moment too soon.

  24. knettycraft says:

    The main thing at the end that the surgery can help you to get back a lot of life quality and mobility. Hugs xx.

  25. Can’t like this one either 😦
    I would like to use all kinds of foul language on your behalf. I’ll do it out loud instead of in writing!
    I know the wait and more flying sucks. But it does seem like they have your best interests in mind.
    Does this mean you will be a cyborg yet?

    • katechiconi says:

      I don’t think I’ll qualify for RoboQuilter just yet. Two bits of metal between the vertebrae, 4 pedicle screws and two rods are not quite in cyborg country yet. Give me time, and I may acquire a couple more, who can tell… Waiting is no longer an issue. It’s now the day after tomorrow.

  26. pattisj says:

    When surgery can be done with less intrusion and recovery time, it is a good thing. Keeping you in prayer, dear Kate.

  27. Lynda says:

    I am sorry to hear about this, Kate. It seems that your national insurance coverage may be nearly as lame as ours. That said, your surgeon seems first rate! I’m so glad that you have been moved up on his schedule. Praying for the best possible outcome and for a speedy recovery.

    PS: This all sounds so horrific, but then I think, there was a time when none of this was available to anyone at any cost. You simply lived with the pain. I’m so glad that you have a good surgeon and that technological advances have provided you with what you need to stop hurting.

    • katechiconi says:

      I think the surgeon really is extremely experienced, and is certainly a lot more humane than many I’ve experienced before! I am truly amazed and grateful that the procedure is available to me, that the results will be lasting and that the bodily insult will be minimal. In earlier times, I would gradually have lost the use of my legs as the nerves were crushed.

      • Lynda says:

        Are you writing from the hospital?
        Today is Thursday for you?
        Praying for you, your surgeon and all his assistants. See you when you are back and well enough to share with us. ❤

      • katechiconi says:

        No, it’s still Wednesday night. I fly down tomorrow and will be in hospital tomorrow afternoon. Planning not to be out of action too long; the day after will be dopey and possibly painful, but I’ll be back in action after that! Hugs, and thank you!

  28. Jen Gardener says:

    Oh gosh, I can see why you had pain! Glad they moved your surgery forward. The sooner it’s done the sooner you can recover. Hope recovery is going swimmingly!

    • katechiconi says:

      Funny you should say that! I’ll be allowed to drive again next week, and I’ll be getting back in the pool for a spot of hydrotherapy. Nothing to beat pool-walking 🙂

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