This post is scheduled to go live the same minute that I’m scheduled to be wheeled into OR #4 at Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis. I’ve mentioned this surgery before on the blog – it seems like just yesterday that I was writing about my emotions before going to the appointment with the physiatrist and not knowing for sure if I would be referred to a surgeon. Obviously I was referred to the surgeon (rather quickly, in fact) and was scheduled for the operation today.
I’m having a left sacroiliac joint arthrodesis. I know that sounds big and complicated, but it’s not. The sacroiliac joint is where your spine (sacrum) connects to your pelvis (ilium). It’s held together with really strong ligaments so it doesn’t move around a whole lot. In fact, it’s barely supposed to move around at all, unless you’re giving birth. About 10 years ago I managed to damage those ligaments. Think of it kind of like a sprained ankle but in your hip / back. Because the area doesn’t get a ton of blood flow, the body can’t do a great job of healing and tightening those ligaments back up on its own. So my sacroiliac joint shimmies around a bit whenever I do just about anything, which then aggravates the nerves in the area, causes things to get inflamed and muscles to spasm, and then I get to feel a lot of pain. It’s not a whole lot of fun, and I really don’t recommend it. Unfortunately, sacroiliac join dysfunction isn’t the easiest thing to diagnose, which is why it took me so long to get here….to surgery. I’ve tried pretty much every non-surgical option in the book, and apparently I’m the perfect candidate for the surgery….unless you’re my insurance company, who apparently disagrees with about 5 different doctors and doesn’t think I need this surgery at all. Their recommendation? Do nothing. Just live in pain. The good news? When I get super fat from sitting around doing nothing because I’m in so much pain, I can get them to cover gastric bypass surgery. But the surgery that will allow me to lead a healthy active life and not get to the point where I need gastric bypass? No dice. Go figure.
As you might be able to tell from that little rant, I’m a bit frustrated with our insurance. They’ve covered all the diagnostic work to ensure that I’m a candidate for the surgery, but as soon as I requested surgery they shot me down. Dealing with that has been….frustrating. Exhausting. Stressful. Not fun. The worst experience I’ve ever had with the American health care system. I’m excited to get back to the “provider” side of things because being a patient stinks in so many ways.
Anyway – back to the surgery. It should only take about an hour. The surgeon will probably put in three of the little rods, which have a porous titanium coating on them. Apparently bone likes to grow on porous titanium (who knew!?) so my own body will go to work fusing the joint together with bone. Crazy, right?
Despite the fact that I took a very long and windy road to get to today’s surgery, my journey to recovery is no where near the finish line. I will be spending the next three weeks on crutches and bearing minimal weight on my left leg. Even after I can get back to walking, I probably won’t be cleared to get back to physical therapy until at least 6 weeks post-op. I’ll probably have some restrictions, such as how much I can lift, for up to six months.
So here’s to me. All prayers for a smooth surgery and recovery are greatly appreciated!
Until later (when I’m not under anesthesia), Ashlen