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Thread: My husband needs help and is not getting it.

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  1. #1

    My husband needs help and is not getting it.

    My husband had a spinal fusion two years ago, with a titanium "claw" put in at C3/C4 after an impact injury at work.

    One year later, last January, he was in a serious car accident. He has not worked since, almost a year. His pain has gotten progressively worse, today being the worst yet. It hurts to see a strong, plumber/gas fitter, "man's man" sit on the couch and cry in pain, pain that even Vicodin is not touching.

    Our health care system is abysmal in cases like this! He has been waiting for his neurosurgeon to call him to give him his appointment time for 5 months. His GP has made repeated referrals.

    He has had two MRI's. The last one was on both neck and lower back, the latest on lower back. I have researched the lingo in both and it seems to me the lower back has gotten worse.

    He suffers from numbness and severe pain in both arms and through his back and neck. He cannot carry a jug of milk. He has no strength at all in one arm. His face is starting to go numb. His legs are constant electrical-type pain and weak and sometimes do not hold him up. He has lost all muscle tone in his legs and arms. Not a day goes by that he is not in excruciating pain. I want to do something to help him!

    Could someone help to understand his MRI report? I'm literally on my knees BEGGING for any insight anyone can give. He has not worked in a year, we lost our home, our car, our savings but worst of all is to see him so depressed from the pain and agony and not being able to live his life that he talks of ending it.

    First, the latest MRI states:

    L3/L4 Disc is moderately narrowed and desiccated. [...] In addition to a "pseudo bulge" there is also a moderate real diffuse disc bulge. Combination of factors results in moderate bilateral neural foraminal canal narrowing worse on right with some mild compression of right L3 nerve root. The anterior thecal sac is flattened and there is contact with the bulging disc and the traversing L4 nerve roots bilaterally.

    L4/5: The disc mildly narrowed and moderately dessiccated and a small diffuse disc bulge is identified.


    In the neck MRI it states the following:

    C4/5 At the fused segment there is a significant magnetic susceptibility artifact which precludes optimal assessment of the disc level. There is posterior what apears to be disc/osteophyte complex resulting in minimal central canal encroachment.

    At the level below the fusion at C6/7, there is posterior disc complex resulting in mild to moderate central canal encroachment and mild indentation of the cord anteriorly.


    I think this means they can't see properly because of the metal "claw" in his neck to see if there is more wrong. I think it also says he has a dent in his spinal cord...this can't be good?!

    If anyone can interpret this or help and let me know if you think we should just drive into the city to the best hospital there and go into the ER so a neurosurgeon will see him....this is all I can think of to do.

    Any help is appreciated, thankyou for taking the time from your own life to read all of this and help.

    EDITED TO ADD: By the way, you are all so amazing and inspiring and I am awed at the positive attitudes that all of you express in your posts here when you are dealing with so much more than even what I just posted. I struggled with even posting this, after all, my husband can still walk and move. However, my worry is that he is getting worse and if nothing is done, that he is heading towards that kind of loss.
    Last edited by PleaseHelp; 12-18-2010 at 02:42 AM. Reason: add

  2. #2
    Hello Pleasehelp, Hopefully SCI nurse and others that understand the medical information you provided will chime in.
    The best I can do is empathize with your situation.
    My dear husband was a pipe fitter, HVAC, fisherman and very mechanical. He was always helping others and had projects. (sometimes too many!) He also installed furnaces and A/C in a little side business.
    We spent every bit of savings we had also and I left my job to care for him as no agency will accept him.
    He is now on a nursing home waiver program.
    He fell from an apple tree 2 years ago and is C3. His mood has been level, but he feels frustrated watching me try fix minor things etc. He has a lot of pain.
    I've seen him really hurt himself in the past and not complain, but this is a whole different thing.
    He is not a reader or interested in the computer so the days get long.
    Did not mean to go on about myself, but I understand.
    What part of the country do you live?
    Best wishes to you both.

  3. #3
    Hi "PleaseHelp,"
    I'm glad you somehow found the Care Cure Community. This can be a very helpful place and even if some of us (like me) can't help you interpret the MRI, at least we can listen to and encourage you in this difficult time.

    No one should be so debilitated by pain and loosing function. Somehow there has to be a way to get your husband some relief. In California we have a system of county hospitals that offer low to no cost care. If you have a similar system where you live, you might start there. Many of the service organizations like the Lion's Club offer free clinics. Check your phone book for service organizations and make some calls to see what might be available to you. Don't wait any longer for the neurosurgeon to call you. Call his office and plead your husband's case directly and try to get that appointment as soon as possible. Tell the receptionist that if the doctor can't see your husband quickly, you will have to take him to emergency. Did your husband ever go through a rehabilitation facility after his original surgery? If so, call the rehab unit and ask to speak to people on staff that you met when he was there. They might be able to offer some help. I hope you get some responses quickly.

    Let us know how things are going for you.

    All the best,
    GJ

  4. #4
    His face is starting to go numb.
    I am not a doctor, but isn't that a sign of something non SCI related? Does his GP know of that symptom, it would worry me.

    Sorry for all your husband's troubles, welcome to care cure.

  5. #5
    Thanks everyone for your kind words of support, etc.

    We live in Canada...land of the free health care. *GUFFAW*

    We have to be referred to the neuro from the gp. We are at their mercy. The only other choice when waiting is the ER, which may be the way we will have to go. I have called and left messages and faxed letters to the neuro, this week they called and said they will see him on the 21st of Jan, almost a month away. He doesn't know how he will make it.

    Linda, I am sorry for what you are going through also.

  6. #6
    Senior Member medic1's Avatar
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    With the description of the MRI's I personally would do nothing but lay in bed and not move. If he is already experienceing so much weakness, numbness, etc. the spinal cord is being impeaded. If he is up moving around, taking the chance he falls etc, he could further damage alot more. Lay in bed dont move until you get to the dr. (just my humble opinion) I wouldnt take the risk of moving around knowing everything that is going on.

  7. #7
    There are a lot of Canadians on CC-hopefully someone will jump in here.
    It seems to me he needs to be seen sooner than a month!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Van Quad's Avatar
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    Go to the ER. It's a pain but you are playing with fire waiting until January.

  9. #9
    I agree with Van Quad...go to the ER. You can't wait a month and be walking around on unsafe legs tempting a fall and more severe damage or laying around while muscles further weaken or atrophy. Good luck with this. Take good care.
    "What has happened, has happened; What I am going through, I shall rise above; And what will come, I will meet with courage"~Hazrat Inayat Kahn

  10. #10
    Hi,

    Yes, I would recommend you go to the ED if the pain is so severe and getting worse.
    They should have a neurosurgeon examine your husband and explain the MRI.

    BTW, is it possible to call the physician that ordered the MRI to get their explanation of tahe findings. With the responsibility of ordering an MRI is the responsibility of assuring a qualified person is interpeting the MRI and communicating the results.
    I would recommend you contact that doctor. I wish you the best and keep us posted.

    AAD

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