This is Kris, Jan's daughter, and mom has SO MANY WONDERFUL friends who are concerned about her. I think a Caring Bridge page will be the very best way I can communicate updates in her progress. You can leave her messages of encouragement right here on the page!
When? She will have THREE surgeries in one week! They are Monday, November 26th, Thursday, November 29th, and Friday, November 30th at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Each surgery takes a different approach. The first one will come from the front, the second one will come from the side, and the final and largest surgery will be from the back.
What does Mom need? I know everyone wants to DO something! We do too. She is uncomfortable all the time. She has been on heavy pain meds since the first knee implant failure a year and a half ago. It has taken a toll on her. Visits are difficult and must be very short. She loves the cards people send. Her address is: 8445 Village School Drive, Cumming, GA 30041. Stay positive! She doesn't need second guessing her surgeon, or advice on what she should take, eat or do. It's distressing. Just stay upbeat and positive. Connor and Lacy are still living with her and will until she is fully recovered. Ted and I along with my brother and his family come to see her often. Her home is within walking distance of our office.
Read on if you are interested in the rest of the story...
The Problem: Mom’s has a deep curvature of the spine (Scoliosis), severe arthritis in the joints, a bulging disc, severe stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), and a Pars Defect where the spine is “split” so to speak in one facet. Her spine is essentially collapsed on her sciatic nerve, causing severe pain, numbness in her feet, and preventing her from walking more than a few steps at a time. How this so suddenly happened is a mystery. She could have possibly injured it when it all started in February and it was made more pronounced by aggressive visits to the chiropractor. She has been mostly sedentary following her June 2017 knee surgery that horribly failed, then her October 2017 knee surgery from which she never fully recovered before this back issue began. The muscles that support her spine probably just atrophied. She has had so much going on since my father passed away four years ago, she probably ignored this issue.
The Surgeons: Ted and I own a small business called Altrux Medical. We represent multiple companies in supplying the “hardware” that goes into surgeries of the spine. Ted has been in the medical field for 35 years and especially working with the spine for over 20 of those years. When spine surgeons use our equipment, a representative from Altrux is in every surgery to consult with the physician on what to use and proper technique. Ted has been in surgeries and been trained by some of the best doctors in the country. A lot of thought went into selecting a surgeon for mom. We like Northeast Georgia Medical Center, and the OR staff knows us well. There is a group of Neurosurgeons there who have taken mom’s case under their advisement. Drs Muhanna, Schultz, Nixon, Grunch and Hazard together have conferenced on mom’s case and chose the surgeon best suited for her condition and which procedure would yield the most success. Drs. Kip Schultz and Betsy Grunch will do the operations, probably assisted by one of the other surgeons. They consider us family and will do the very best they can do for mom. We are confident in our decision.
The Surgeries: Ted and I have spoken to the doctors directly on several occasions and have been kept in the loop. She will have an "Alif" (Anterior lumbar interbody fusion), a "Dlif"(Distal lumbar interbody fusion) and an 8 - 10 level lumbar fusion. They will insert pedicle screws that serve as anchors for rods that will be inserted to fuse the spine from about midway between her shoulder blades (T10ish) to low in her back (sacrum). She will lose some mobility but will be much more mobile than she is now. That surgery could be upwards of 6-9 hours. She will be in the ICU, most likely intubated, for a few days before returning to her room. All in all, she should be in the hospital a couple of weeks. These surgeries, like all surgeries, do involve risk. They are intricate surgeries and she will need to fight infection, pneumonia, blood pressure issues, and possible blood clots. We feel very confident this team will give her the best possible chance at success.
The Recovery: We just don't know. She is such an unusual patient having gone through two difficult knee surgeries in one year. Her muscles and supporting structure is compromised. This is a challenging surgery for a young, healthy person. We are realistic in the uncertainty of this procedure.