Thank you for the CES web site. I found it very informative and as a result have a much better understanding of my condition. Odd that my doctors are not as helpful with information.
I had emergency back surgery in October of 2001 for a severe rupture of the L5. I was taken by paramedics to the ER where I received little or no care. They simply would not listen and ignored the classic symptoms of CES. Instead they insisted on trying to get me to walk so that they could send me home. I had a history of problems with that disc and years before had surgery for a bulging condition. When it finally gave away big time I thought it was a done deal as far as what would happen at the hospital -- an immediate MRI and likely surgery. In fact my family doctor had a MRI scheduled for the next week. None of this mattered during my one-day stay at the hospital. The physician refused to order a MRI and insisted that he knew exactly what was wrong with L5 and informed me that at least a month of therapy was needed before a MRI could even be considered. By the time I left I was in severe pain, had difficulty walking and lost most feeling in the lower half of my body. The inability to urinate and have bowel movements was mistakenly blamed on side effects from pain-killers.
Once I was discharged my family doctor lined up a MRI. When the results were studied by the orthopedic surgeon, I had used for the previous back surgery he quickly realized the seriousness of my condition. Within minutes he lined me up with a skilled neurosurgeon and I went directly to the ER (of a different hospital) for emergency surgery.
The surgery was a success. Both doctors had prepared me for the fact that I had a high probability of paralysis and I would likely lose bladder control. Apparently the compression on the nerves was one of the most severe the surgeon had worked on. Fortunately I am walking and have not lost bladder control but have a whole shopping list of problems and side effects that I won't detail although they mirror the descriptions on your site.
Initially the surgeon felt there would be a 6-month window for recovery of the nerves. I have seen little change or perhaps I am just adjusting and getting used to the problems. The time has been extended to 9 months, perhaps a year. I understand sometimes it can go as long as 2 years. I realize the recovery is a very slow healing process and I am hopeful for a full recovery, but realistically what is the likelihood of a full recovery of the nerves once 6 months has passed with little or no change?
Also, what is your experience with medical malpractice and CES? I am very angry with my initial visit to the ER the day of the injury. They did nothing to address CES even though it was staring them right in the face. Refusal of a MRI is difficult to understand. Some of the nurses were even encouraging me to complain and insist on a MRI. From what I have learned about CES caused by a disc rupture is that surgery should be done ASAP. The critical time frame seems to be surgically relieving the compression on the nerves within 48 hours of the injury. After 48 hours the chances of nerve recovery are greatly reduced. In my case the malpractice cost me 4 days of lost time. I can't help thinking how would I be different today if I had received proper and immediate care? I guess those would be some points of argument in a malpractice case, which I understand is expensive and difficult to win.