L3-L5 ProDisc
Straubing, Germany - January 2006

anne c

(Posted online 1/31/06 by Anne)

Hello fellow post-ADR spineys and those seeking info & support--

I had my surgery three weeks ago today with Dr. Bertagnoli in St. Elizabeth's hospital in the beautiful town of Straubing. Living in Arizona, I was afraid to be in the cold but it was a snow-covered wonderland and the view from the hospital was breathtaking (no, these aren't my drugs talking). I have read so much in the past couple of days about many of your experiences and I wanted to share mine as well. There's something in everyone's story that will help another.

I went into this experience with a very positive attitude. I half-joked that I was going to Germany for a vacation and having surgery while I was there. Sitting here now, that's about how it feels. Once I was put on the schedule for jan. 10, I had about three weeks to get my passport and rearrange my life, all during the holidays, but it happened. My Mother flew from CA and was with me the entire trip, bless her. She took good care of me. My husband did a great job of holding down the fort at home so I had no worries there. Mark Mintzer was a lifesaver. I went to Germany expecting to have Prodisc ADR in L4-5 and L5-S1 at the recommendation of two docs in the US. I had a failed SED at those levels in 7/04.

I was admitted to the hospital on Monday, 1/9, the day of my discography. Mark pushed for testing at L3-4 for a control level over the objections of the admitting physician. Dr. Bertagnoli agreed and to everyone's surprise L3-4 turned out to be a pain generator and L5-S1 was found to have healed from the SED. Very important to know before surgery! So, the next day I had my ADR at L3-4 and L4-5. The procedure lasted 1 1/2 hrs. and everything went smoothly. I have pictures of myself post-op with Dr. B. and my Mother at my bedside but I have no memory of it. I look happy, though. For the rest of that day and the next, I remember the nurse urging me to drink the awful tasting mineral water to push fluids, but not much else. By Thursday morning, I came out of the fog and began to walk around, got to eat some gruel, and felt somewhat normal. The hospital was so quiet and restful--unlike any other hospital I'd been in before. The doctors and nurses were very kind. I felt more like a guest than a patient. Hard to believe, but true.

Stayed in the hospital until Sunday and went back to the hotel in Straubing. Met some wonderful people (!) from the states who were also there for surgery, as well as Anita from Dr. B's office. Got to do a little site seeing in Regansburg. Stayed in Straubing and flew home on 1/22--that was a nightmare. Be prepared for weather delays (taking the southern route through Atlanta doesn't preclude them), always ask for a wheelchair when you come home (no waiting). Be careful not to leave your laptop on the plane, no matter how groggy you are when you get home. You may not get it back (yet). Aside from falling twice (unintentionally testing the discs) my recovery has been uneventful, thank goodness. A couple more hints: If you stay at the hotel in Straubing, put a towel on the bathtub floor before showering. And when walking into restaurants, look down so you don't miss that last step. Watch your Step signs in German are useless.

I'm still on pre-surgery meds as I expected. Still have some tingling in the right leg and occasional low back pain but not as bad as before. Incision pain is gone. I can sleep on my right side again--that's a big thing to me since I've been forced to sleep on my unnatural side for over a year. Mainly right now I notice a change in my mental state--not ruled by pain and uncertainty any more. Really able to focus on my recovery--mentally and physically.

Hope this helps someone. I'll keep posting from time to time and will continue to watch everyone else's progress as well.

It's good to be home.


Mark, Anne and Anne's Mother Barbara after lunch in a 1860's Chateau

January in Straubing... This 'hoarfrost' makes everything look like an ice palace!

In the graveyard surrounding the 12th Century St. Peter's Church,
behind St. Elisabeth Hospital. Frozen spider webs?

One of several great statues at St. Elisabeth Hospital

Ice wall from the flume...
see picture on Steve Marsh's page from 1 month before... just a few icecicles.

First time out after surgery!

A little stream behind the hospital... was totally flooded in March!

Not from this trip, but I can't put up a Straubing page
without a picture of the town square....Twilight from the Theresientor