SI Joint Dysfunction

Patient Support For Recovery From Low Back Pain

Monthly Archives: May 2011

Health Pill Mania!

Now, I can focus on restoring my body’s essential (formerly depleted) building blocks for health and vitality…as a mom of four young kids, I can always use more “vitality” :-).

Top Row (from left to right):
Omega 3,6,9; Energizing Iron; Magnesium; Quantum Adaptogen Complex; Quantum Pregnenolone; Bone Basics(calcium+)

Bottom Row (from left to right): Coenzyme Q10; Vitamin D; Folic Acid; Zinc; Selenium; R (+) SR Active Mitochondrial) & Levothyroxin(prescription medication for my Hypothyriodism)

*I also give myself a Multi-Vitamin (high on B vitamins) injection once every 3 days.

Cost of 3 Patient’s SI Surgeries In Gainesville, GA from 2009-2011


REMEMBER, my surgery was extensive but it was done all at one time in the same operation…here is what my SI Surgery with Weiss/Sims on 02/17/2009 entailed:
1) bilateral screw removal,
2) bilateral screw fixation
3) bilateral bone material removal from previous bone fusion
4) bilateral bone fusion (traditional open back with bone graft)
5) left side Piriformis Release
(2 mos following this surgery, I also underwent right side Piriformis Release but the cost for that is NOT reflected in this summery)

The following is a rounded breakdown of  the “CASH-PAYING patient” costs for my corrective SI surgery  in Georgia Feb.2009. Here WHAT I PAID for the above surgical procedure (pls keep in mind this was a few years ago, in 02/2009 and costs have most likely been adjusted since then)
1) Dr.Weiss $6,300 this was after a 25% discount for being a “self-pay” patient (incl. pre-op, operation and post-op check up)
2) Vicki $1000
3) Anaesthesia $2,500-20%=$2000 after 20% “self-pay” discount
4) Hospital $52,000-40%=$32,000 after a 40% discount my surgical procedure was the complete UNDOING of my 1st SI surgery and then “Bilateral screw fixation, bilateral fusion, left side Piriformis release” (incl.all costs associated…3 day stay + medications and any digital imaging required ect.)

These are rounded figures to simplify the equations!



THE FOLLOWING WAS THE TOTAL COST FOR LINDA SAUER’S SI SURGERY: Bilateral Fixation (one side screw implants, other side ifuse implants)w Dr.David Weiss, MD and Vicki Sims, PT in Gainesville, GA.

“The cost for my recent hospital surgical procedure at Northeast Georgia Medical Center; with a total of $59,060. I believe the SI-Bone i-Fuse implants are included in the charges but would love to know how much they cost. We have not received the rest of the bills yet. Feel free to add it to this page if you wish.  TTYL, Linda”

THE FOLLOWING WAS THE COST FOR CAROL McCOY’S SI SURGERY: Bilateral Fixation and          right side Piriformis Release with Dr.David Weiss and Vicki Sims in Gainesville, GA.

“My costs for NE Georgia Medical Center were a total of 26,925.93. (submitted to my insurance company). Bi-lateral fixation with titanium screws & Piriformis release. 2 night stay in hospital.
Cost of Vicki for alignment $1,000 (out of pocket though I personally feel insurance should pay for this because of it being critical to success)
EMG Monitoring during surgery 1,840
EMG prior to surgery 1,225 (submitted to insurance)
Anesthesia 1,820 (submitted to insurance)
Anesthesia 1,530 (submitted to insurance)
Weiss 9,943 (submitted to insurance)

**I was provided a surgery estimate from the surgeons office of which I paid a % of expected costs which in my case was less than $500. Also at the hospital they took a deposit from me of around $800. Just so you can get an idea of upfront costs.
*** Of course being out of state I had added costs for traveling to Georgia from my home state that included air fare for two, hotel and rental car and some meals. Tip: look for a hotel that serves a free breakfast to help save some $$.”

The SI Surgeon Is Responsible For Positive Outcomes NOT The IMPLANT Company!

Q: Why do I carry on talking about the “implants” used for my SI Surgery?

A: Because if you have had screws, plates or even SI Bone’s ifuse implants surgically inserted and you have not had successful results from your SI Surgery…unless the implants themselves have a defect, the responsibility lies on the shoulders of your SURGEON not the company that made the implants!

In my case the screws were not the problem, it was how they were surgically placed in my SI Joints! So, it would have been silly for me if I turned around and pointed my finger at the company which sells the screw implants and demanded them to pay for my revision surgery!

Sadly, not every surgeon will want to help their patients with revision surgery because it would require them to admit to a mistake! BUT there are some FANTASTIC surgeon’s who have been willing to take on another surgeon’s ‘mess’…my such angels were Dr.David Weiss/Sims. Although Dr.Weiss was careful not to remark on my previous surgeon’s handiwork other than to state what he observed as my current condition when I saw him, he took a risk by accepting me as his patient and I will FOREVER be indebted to him for this.

I do not wish to start mud-slinging and dragging Amaral’s name through the mud with my opinions of him. I am trying to restrict what I share to stating the facts surrounding my poor surgical outcome with him.

Needless to say, it was not the screws(implants) fault that I had an unsatisfactory outcome from my 1st SI Surgery with Amaral but it is surgeon’s responsibility. The surgeon is responsible for any medical due diligence. unfortunately, NO surgeon is perfect and will likely end up with some unsuccessful patient results. Likewise,  it is the surgeon’s hands which open me up, “align” the SI Joints and place the implants in. Perhaps if the implants broke there could be some  owness on the company who made them. Alas, that was not the case and is rarely the case.

NEVERTHELESS, I am sure many patients, like myself,  would be forgiving even of a mistake like this IF the surgeon did not turn a cold shoulder to the patient who returns asking for their further help/investigation. IF the surgeon shows a willingness to respond to the patient and work with them to address the continuing problem then I don’t think we could hurl accusations at them. It is when the opposite of this happens that we may have cause to feel upset, betrayed.

Post-op SI Surgery Time Markers: 3mos, 6mos, 9mos, 12mos, 18mos, 2yrs…

Here’s what I chided myself with post-op…repeated it to several other wonderful SIJD-er’s who have undergone SI Surgery…”you’ve lived with this pain for X amount of years, give it at LEAST a few months to heal!”

I will share with you what I WISH someone would have shared with me post-op (excuse me if it’s to much for you right now! Just chuck it out if it is and please accept my apologies in advance!)…

My advise to long term SIJD-er’s is not to fret at all for the first THREE mos, this is really your REST phase!!!

3mos is the FIRST marker, the next is 6mos., then 12mos and finally 18 and finally at 24mos.    I am not the only one who has healed this slowly. A few others have taken as long as me to heal without even needing disc surgery in the mix and are doing great today!

I do not blame you for feeling anxious! This is the same emotion and mental checklist we have all wrestled with post-op! But I would encourage you to put your analytical gift to work and create yourself a graph. The graph should have include the timed markers I specified!

Here’s the goals you should (in my humble opinion) do your utmost best to focus on:

1. BLACK OUT any record of your pain for the first 3mos post-op on your graph because they are NOT a prediction of your future!!!!!

2. INSTEAD, To give your mind, emotions and spirit something to fixate on, write out a scripture for yourself  or something positive each day. After meditating on it, write yourself a little note-on your graph-for each of the days within the next 3mos. This note should be of what God is speaking to you in His word that day…trust, resting in Him etc.

3. After the first 3mos, begin to graph your recovery. Over the next 2yrs you should notice a small but gradual improvement but it will be most noticeable once you are able to look back a few months.

4. At 6-9mos post-op, if you are still in a significant amount of pain…then we’ll get back to the drawing board, revisit the disc issue and get you to a Discogram.

You may or may not end up needing disc surgery…but take heart in knowing it would truly most typically be the last layer of that “onion” called Low Back Pain that we must peel only ONE layer at a time! Sims advised me that the best course of action is to address the SI Joints FIRST!

TERRIBLE TRIAD checklist…by having your SI Surgery with Sims/Weiss , they’ve already tested and treated your for the following ‘onion layers’ that you can now be assured of:
1. Piriformis Syndrome-check!
2. You’ve peeled of SIJD-check!
3. Last one is Lumbar disc-?
But thank God disc surgery is much more common, readily understood and surgically treated routinely! You don’t need to be a detective on this one!!!!

I think it does take some time for us long term SIJD-ers to calm our “fight or flight” response to pain down post-op. We are so used to PAIN=PANIC! And for good reason!  We are also used to thinking we’re going to finally get better and then, we didn’t…UNTIL our SI Surgery with the pro’s happened!

So, it will take your body time to “let go” of it’s fight or flight response-protocol to pain AND it will take some time for your emotions to realize that you can let yourself coast for the next few months post-operativly! Even though you probably feel like a horse ready for a race still trapped behind the gate, your post-op RESTING phase won’t last forever…drink it in, you won’t have this luxury for long!

You no longer need to be your own “double agent” and decode what your pain may mean! You’ve seen the best in the industry for SI stuff. It is extremely hard to “let go”, I know!! But imperative nonetheless to your recovery as our mind and emotions affect that too! REST :-)

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