My X-ray showed promising results.
My X-ray from my first appointment post-surgery (Sept. 22) showed that the artificial bone grafts in the disc spaces between C5-C6-C7 were still intact. (Artificial bone is not visible on an X-ray, but it is implanted with tantalum metal which is visible on an X-ray.) Yesterday’s X-ray showed natural bone growth around the ends of the tantalum metal (the two empty spaces between the vertebrae are smaller now), proving that fusion or union between C5 to C7 is really taking place.
My “real” neurosurgeon, Dr. J, got caught up with an emergency patient right when it was time for him to see me. Of course, right? One of his residents, Dr. A, took over my case. He’s the doctor in the video above. He told me that this disc spaces between the vertebrae will probably never fully close, but that’s fine. My C5, C6, and C7 are further stabilized by the plate and screws on them.
Dr. A said that because I had problems with healing before (non-union from my first surgery), it would be reassuring to get a CT scan as well to get a more thorough image of my spine. I will get a CT scan in the next month or so. But I was fine to take my collar off at this point, Dr. A explained, as the ACDF procedure is fairly reliable and my X-ray was enough proof of my progress.
Dr. J was happy to see me brace-free as he came into our examination room. We continued to discuss my X-ray and he entertained some of my questions.
He covered the wiring from my first (posterior) surgery with his finger like this:
“This was really the only surgery you needed, I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this,” he said.
Indeed it was unfortunate that I had another older (read: almost retiring) neurosurgeon who had an older way of doing things. That I couldn’t go home to Canada right I away because I had that darn halo on. But what could I have done? I wasn’t a doctor, I didn’t know any better. I was just a helpless girl who broke her neck.
I am just glad that I saw Dr. J when I got home, that he caught my non-union, and that he fixed me up. I am forever indebted to him. I wanted to give him a fruit cake* for Christmas, hehe.
“I don’t know, should I tell my US neurosurgeon what happened?” I asked.
Dr. J looked at Dr. A and laughingly replied, “Hmmm, maybe it’s best not to…”
I joked, “That’s okay, I just won’t give him a thank you card, I guess.”
*I really was going to give Dr. J a fruit cake yesterday! But my husband said he must receive so many little gifts like that from all of his patients, so I probably shouldn’t bother. I did give him a nice thank you card though!