Just got up from a nap about 6:30pm. Oh, man, did we ever need that! Howie had to leave for work at 3:30pm but he’s one of those fortunate people who can sleep a half hour or an hour and be good to go. Me, well, my typical nap is four hours long – that’s why I try not to take them very often, heh (no comments from the Peanut Gallery!).
The doctor we saw today, Dr. M, is a neurosurgeon who no longer does surgeries due to a double knee replacement two years ago. He serves as a neurological consultant at the practice now, acting as a triage doctor, screening patients and reviewing test results. He also helps fill in and do follow-up visits for patients.
Dr. M said the thing of most concern is the stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) at L4-L5. Howie’s curvature has the nerves compressing, too. There’s nothing to be done about the missing/degenerating discs, he said. The curvature in Howie’s spine contributes to the disc problems and also makes the nerves get bunched together; if the stenosis is severe enough, it might require a fusion surgery to open up the area and take pressure off of the nerves.
We’ve no truly solid answers after today’s appointment except that Dr. M doesn’t think Howie has a tethered spinal cord. Thank God for that! The MRI doesn’t show enough detail for the rest, though, especially with Howie’s spinal curvature disrupting the view.
So, Howie’s scheduled for a mylegram, CT and X-rays this Thursday at 12:30pm. Doctor’s orders are for him to take Thursday and Friday off. Then, to our relief, Dr. M’s secretary squeezed us in for an appointment on Monday at 1:00pm, so at least it’s not another month-long wait after the tests.
It was a bit frustrating to wait over a month between the MRI and today’s appointment. Dr. M apologized for the delay in getting Howie in and explained there’s been a sharp decline in the number of neurosurgeons practicing in the U.S., from 5000+ a few years ago to 3000 now.
I’d imagine it’s because of the lawsuits and malpractice insurance making it so very expensive to practice medicine. I’ve read stories about general practitioners having to close up shop because of the high costs of practicing medicine. I’d imagine neurosurgeons really pay the piper. It’s a shame, though, because in the end it’s the patient who suffers from high costs and delays in care.
Off my soapbox now. we’re just thankful we have medical insurance and that we’ve got an appointment set for less than a week away!