Hello and welcome to the forum. We apologize for delay in answering but wanted to follow up with how your sister in law is doing now. Are things better? I would agree that this seems too long for a surgical wound to take to heal. While complete closure of the dermis may take up to a year, the oozing sounds a bit more than what you'd expect. Perhaps this article will help as it goes through the stages of healing. Your sister in law seems stalled in the early stages and I'd want her doctor to explain why. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/surgical-incision-healing. Again, let us know how she is doing now. Best of health to you both.
Hi, and than-you for your post.
As a matter of fact, after 5+ months of pain and oozing, along with new pain she has been having down both legs (down a different side than that which prompted the fusion initially), we FINALLY bugged her enough to go back to the surgeon that did the procedure with a "demand" that he do SOMETHING. The unrelenting site pain, and oozing, the new pains, and the fact she was going through several clothing changes per day even with sanitary napkins over the "ooze" were soaking through, and her inclination became to not even leave the house (the oozing/leakage soaked clothing, furniture, car seats were at best inconvenient) made it imperative.
She had been going back to the surgeon regularly (every 2 weeks or so), but he kept telling her that it was not abnormal, that it could take up to a year to stop draining, and that her NEW pains were "healing pains" indicating the nerves were mending after having been impinged upon for years prior to her surgery, and that such "healing pains" could also continue for a year, but that explanation had worn VERY thin in view of her misery and the life change the surgery brought about (which it was supposed to end, actually).
Long story short, they scheduled her for a surgery to open up the area for a "look-see" and they found a rather LARGE and growing infection in progress which had already invaded the hardware placed during the surgery, and the new pains down the legs was the infection affecting the nerves, and not "healing pain.' The doctor was alarmed enough to immediately call in an infectious disease specialist fearing that if the infection invaded the spinal cavity it could be bad ("bad" being undefined, but I understand it meant VERY bad).
They cleaned out what they could of the infected tissue that had been growing since her March surgery (nearly 6 months), and put her on IV infusions of a very strong antibiotic, and are planning to keep her on the IV for some time. At this time the culture identifying the specific bacteria has not been completed, and no one is "talking" much.
It has been about 4 days since her new surgery, and she reports that the new leg pains have abated, and that despite the new surgery, her site pain is much reduced (the site pain from the original fusion surgery had never really abated much since the March surgery).
So this is positive news assuming they were successful removing the infected tissue (and huge pus pocket a concerned surgical nurse mentioned confidentially), and the high-dose antibiotics she is receiving work. We are more than a little miffed that it took almost 6 months for the surgeon (and her primary care doc whom she had also been seeing regularly) to take her condition seriously. It was not like she had nor pursued very frequent visits to both, each accompanied by her son as her advocate (since she is 80+ and while a "young" 80, tends not to want to know details).
A neighbor of ours actually died from complications about 5 years ago from complications of of an infection following lumbar surgery when he (the patient) refused to take his signs of trouble seriously, and the problem grew to where they never could conquer the infection totally. He lost considerable soft tissue, bone, and was materially weakened to where he lasted only 2 years following the surgery despite having been a strong individual prior to he surgery. In HIS case, it was frankly his own fault (except for the initial infection) for not following instructions, for not taking his situation seriously, and not following medical advice after the problem was identified. This is why we tried to be pro-active (i.e., a "pain in the ass") in urging my sister-in-law to keep following up, and to not accept excuses that could result in delays which could have her end up like our neighbor.
I must say is has been very, very frustrating to have her medical doctors take the whole situation so lightly despite her continuing protestations, despite the outstanding credentials and glowing reviews of the surgeon concerned, but hopefully they caught it in time. Given the isolated location of her infection, and the limited blood-flow in the area of the infection, it did not go "systemic", but of course that also meant the oral antibiotics they gave her a course of was ineffective, and could in fact challenge even the IV treatment of the infection going forward, but at least they are "on it" now, and have the infection disease specialist working on her as well.
Given that no one responded to my question here for several weeks, I guess this is rare and relatively unknown, but I am glad that FINALLY she seems to be receiving the care she should have (in my opinion at least) received much, much earlier. Thank-you again for your response.