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  • Andrew Brengle

What is this web page?

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

I have posted this mini blog to expand on an abbreviated description of my recovery from spinal surgery included in my LinkedIn profile.

It has four parts:

Posterior Cervical Fusion: gives a quick overview of the surgery I had done

Operation report: the doctor's technical, blow by blow summary of the surgery

A little history: the background on my condition and how it led up to the surgery

How am I doing now?: updates on how I have felt in the months and years since surgery

In addition to explaining the background and lead-up to the surgery, I figure the information could be useful to others entertaining corrective treatment for a serious spinal ailment. Spinal surgery is a big deal, and yes, scary for those considering its risks. My operation was reasonably extensive, although not among the most complicated. It entailed sawing off the backside of five vertebrae, scouring out the clutter of bone spurs narrowing the passages through which my spinal cord and nerve roots run, and then bolting me back together with screws and rods. From my experience researching the internet, straightforward and detailed accounts can be hard to find. Many of the testimonials told stories of failure and ongoing pain. All I can say from my experience is that it was well worth the commitment and effort. The outcome has been as good as I could hope for. The discomfort and strangeness I feel now will be with me for the rest of my life - perhaps they will recede to the background. On the other hand, the surgery gave me a new baseline of health on which to build. I am a different person, more limited and tentative in some ways, but far more confident and upbeat about the future.

With thanks to:

  • Dr. John H. Shin of Massachusetts General Hospital, my very capable neurosurgeon. He performed the operation, which involves a lot of delicate drilling, sawing and scraping just a hair's width from my central nervous system. His steady hand is much appreciated.

  • Kristina Anne Shultz, CNP, also of MGH, a nurse practitioner who guided and reassured and explained down to the smallest detail all that was to be expected. No sugar coating, but all the support you could want.

  • Laney Dunleavy, of MGH, who made sure all my questions and requests were answered.

  • Rick Silverman, a superb physical therapist, who is indeed "the most interesting man in the world."

  • Dr. Richard Azuna, orthopedic surgeon with Sports Medicine North, who showed me what was really going on with my neck.

  • Dr. Timothy Smith, neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s, for an informative second opinion.

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Operation report

John H Shin, MD Physician Neurosurgery Spine Op Note Signed Date of Service: 3/29/2019 9:09 AM Procedure: POSTERIOR CERVICAL FUSION LEVELS (C3-T1) WITH RIGHT SIDE ILIAC GRAFT BONE GRAFT HARVEST Case


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