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Old 08-13-2004, 09:58 AM   #1
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Jenna'sMom HB User
We need some success stories

Hi everyone,
If there's any of you who have had successful surgeries out there still reading the boards, please post your successes. There are a bunch of new people here that are only hearing the negatives. I know we did this once before a few weeks ago, but I can't find that thread. I think it was called "Success stories wanted"

There is also a thread on pg 5 called "Good laminectomy outcomes wanted"

I'll start.

I'm a 44 year old mom. Had fusion from T5 - T12 with harrington rod 22 years ago due to a 49 degree curve from scoliosis in my upper back. That surgery was immensely successful and have always thought that was the best thing I ever did for myself.

Fast forward... 2 years ago I began to have alot of pain at my sacroiliac joint when I walked to much or did hills. It continued to get worse over the next few months so I went to my ortho. He prescribed PT, which did not help. Then we tried the pain blocks, more for diagnostic reasons. They worked but only for a few days. I had several different problems. Low grade spondylolisthesis at L5, hyperlordosis from "flatback" due to my prior surgery. (they no longer use harrington rods because of this, it doesn't let your back curve posteriorly) and a mild curve from my scoliosis. Things were getting worse, and I was up to taking 4 Vicodin 750mg and 1 Vioxx 50mg just to get through the day. Obviously I could not continue to this. My liver would give out probably sooner than my back from the combo of these meds. So I decided to have the surgery sooner than later, to stop the progression of problems.

The surgery I had was a anterior/posterior interbody fusion L4 - S1. My discs at L4/5 and L5/S1 were replaced with cadeaver bone instead of cages and BMP was put into the center of them to aid fusion. Then insert screws with washers to hold the "discs" in place. Then they flipped me over and inserted 6 screws and rods to hold it all in place.

The day after the surgery they made me get out of bed a walk a few steps around the room. Holy moly that hurt, thank god for the drugs and the PCA machine. The first week sucks, plain and simple, but each day is better. I have gotten better with each passing day, and on Monday I will be 4 weeks post op.

I had a little set back at 2.5 weeks from overdoing it because I felt so good and strong. I would suggest working up to long walking distances slowly. At 2 weeks I was walking 1.25 miles a day....way too much! Now I've cut back to a more reasonable .5 miles and things are much better. I go back to work in 2 weeks, and while it will be a little bit of a challenge to sit all day, I'm really looking forward to it. I will have to take lots of mini breaks to walk a little, and lay down on the couch in the ladies room a few times a day.

Bottom line, it was successful. I'm glad I did it and I know I won't be back to full speed for probably another 6 months, I continue to improve. Surgery is a great option for some people. You definitely need to go into it with a positive attitude.

Good luck to all who are contemplating surgery or who have just had it!

Jenna's Mom
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Julie

APLIF T4-S1 on july 19, 2004
Harrington rod T5 - T12 1982

 
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Old 08-13-2004, 12:01 PM   #2
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Re: We need some success stories

Hey Jenna's Mom! I had L5/S1 fused with titanium screws and rods for spondy. a little over 4 months ago, and I am feeling great! I can do things that caused me so much pain before the surgery. I do not have a completely "strong" back, but doing normal things feels fairly normal again! I am so glad I had my surgery. I didn't realize how restrictive my pain was until I got it fixed. I couldn't even sit back in a recliner before surgery. Something about the angle just killed my lower back. I can shop and not be uncomfortable. I can stand now for just about as long as I want to. Before, my limit was 5 or 10 minutes. Yes....recovery is hard and slow, but it was manageable for me.

I agree that more people who have gotten good results should continue to post and encourage on this board. I am sure that many who are well are not sitting home on the computer. I tend to overdo my activities at times, and then come here to rest, and to see how others are doing. It is good to see that not all bad backs are doomed to a horrible existence!

This is my first back surgery, though. So I am causiously optimistic that my success will continue!

Good luck and blessings to all who are contemplating surgery! It is a hard decision to make, but was well worth it to me!

Melinda

 
Old 08-13-2004, 01:12 PM   #3
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dustie HB User
Re: We need some success stories

hi: i seem to be a success story and am thrilled. late last year i fell and ruptured a disc (L5-S1). the sciatica quickly became just about unbearable: i could barely move, was in agony around the clock, and even high doses of morphine and then oxycodone didn't touch it. BUT i didn't want back surgery and refused my doc's recommendation that i at least get a consult with a neurosurgeon. i kept saying no, but finally could stand it no longer and made the appointment. the soonest he could get me in was 2 weeks! long story short, i made the appt. but was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night three days later. the neurosurgeon did an updated MRI, put me on a morphine pump for 3 days till the surgery could be scheduled, and then did a microdiscectomy/laminotomy/decompression. two hours after the surgery i got up out of the hospital bed and walked into the bathroom and was able to sit on the toilet seat! wow! what a difference. i was given post-op instructions, and i mostly followed them, and a month after surgery went for a round of physical therapy. i have a little residual back pain, at times, but it's very manageable and i have my life back. i continue to walk every day and do p.t. exercises, so actually i'm healthier than i was before -- i always found excuses not to do that stuff! i'm very careful now with my back, but can do just about everything i was doing before this horrible experience. really appreciate life now, that's for sure, including the simple things i used to take for granted.
i would not hesitate to recommend microdiscectomy by an excellent neurosurgeon to anyone with horrendous and relentless sciatica from a herniated disc.
good luck, everyone!
dustie

 
Old 08-13-2004, 01:19 PM   #4
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onthemendnow HB User
Re: We need some success stories

I know for me, sometimes coming here to post "Wow! I feel SO good!" just sounds like a slap in the face to those who are still in pain. I'm very reluctant to do that; I don't want to come off like that.

But, since you asked ... I had terrible sciatica before surgery. I couldn't walk more than about 2 minutes, couldn't stand, sit, drive without pain. Pain ranged between dull to horrible and immobilizing. I too am 'cautiously optimistic' that I have had a very successful procedure. I'm almost 6 months post-op. I had a fusion w/ rods, screws, cages and a bone graft (harvested from me) on Feb 25th. It took me about 5 months to be able to say this but I feel almost normal.

The weather affects me greatly - we're raining here today (NY) and my body aches. But normally for the past 2/3 weeks I have been feeling fabulous. I can walk for hours and hours, sit as long as I want to (but I do get up to stretch occasionally), I can say "yes" to invitations without first thinking of my back. My back isn't ruling me anymore.

I was very careful for the first few months -- I think I was very scared! -- and my conservative approach did me well. I had 10 weeks of PT which also helped a lot, even though it hurt in the beginning when I first started it. My insurance said "no" to more PT so I may continue there for a few weeks just using the equipment (no therapist involvement), per an arrangement that my therapist makes in these cases.

The difference this surgery made for me was incredible. I am not an active or athletic person, so I'd say none of my activities are limited now. If I was athletic, I imagine that would be different.

Don't want to sound pro-surgery ... but I did my non-invasive treatments to no avail, did my homework, got a surgeon I felt comfortable with and put myself in his hands. It worked out for me.

May I need surgery again in the future? Hopefully not, but I can't make my life's decisions on what could be. I take the information I have and make the best decision I can at the time. I have NO regrets. The whole thing with the cages, rods, etc.... I don't find that scary. I find it amazing that this technology exists and could help me.

Good luck with your decision making.

Last edited by onthemendnow; 08-13-2004 at 01:54 PM.

 
Old 08-13-2004, 01:55 PM   #5
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dianaj85 HB User
Re: We need some success stories

Yeah! It's good to hear all of the wonderful stories! I know what you mean, OnTheMend, about not wanting to be a slap in the face.....I think I learned about that earlier on this board (I was scolded!). But, I would have liked to have seen the positive boards before my surgery. All I ever heard from people was "Oh my gosh! Not BACK surgery! You are TOO young for that!"....like it was going to be the end of me. Thankfully, it has not been. On the contrary, it has gotten me back into my life, after 10 years of pain.

Bobi--I had a Grade 2 to 3 slip, and had a posterior approach (by an ortho. spine specialist). He harvested bone from my hip through the same incision that he used down the center of my back. I didn't have any pain from the graft site whatsoever. I couldn't tell from which hip it was taken, in fact. He did say that he mixed my bone with "a little bit of putty", which, I believe was some sort of bone derivative. My surgeon mentioned the posibility of going in from the front alone, but, he said, with the higher degree of my slip, it could fail. That the cage could slip out of place. He also said that he could do both, but opted to just go in from the back, and see if that would work first. It has. Thank goodness! He said that if it did fail, he could "always go back and do it from the front"! Easy for him to say! Ha! Needless to say, I am relieved that it seems to have worked. How old is your son? I am 36, but felt way older prior to my surgery!

Hope your son can get some amount of relief from his back! I know that I feel liberated, and can appreciate the statement by OnTheMend about not being ruled any longer by the pain....

Melinda

 
Old 08-13-2004, 03:33 PM   #6
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dustie HB User
Re: We need some success stories

wow, do people really take it as a slap in the face??? that's the last possible intent i would have, and as well as my back, i had another problem that turned out to be chronic; i participated for a long time on a message board about it, and i and others were hungry and thirsty for success stories. i STILL look for success stories on this board -- in case i have a relapse or something else goes wrong with my back. unless someone does it in a mean-spirited way, it amazes me that someone would hesitate to post a success story because it seems like "a slap in the face." is that how the "success stories" posted so far came across to the poster who referred to slaps in the face? i hope not, but please educate me if we were wrong to reply to what i thought was a very good, positive, and educational thread-starting post by jenna's mom (hope i got that right!).
dustie

 
Old 08-13-2004, 03:39 PM   #7
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onthemendnow HB User
Re: We need some success stories

Don't take me too literally ... I just meant that when others are in pain, I hate to come here saying "I'm good!" and sounding like I'm gloating. I'm not mean spirited, and most others aren't either, but seems like as soon as I post a "surgery helped me" post I get something from someone (not you .. someone else) who'll say 'NO, TRY NON-INVASIVE TREATMENTS FIRST!! SURGERY IS THE LAST RESORT!!' etc, etc. as if I didn't already know that. Like I said, I just didn't want to sound insensitive to others; that's all I meant.

 
Old 08-13-2004, 05:35 PM   #8
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Spirogyra HB User
Re: We need some success stories

Good thread--Just what so many of us need to hear. It's not a question of being pro or anti surgery--nobody can decide for anyone else anyway, and almost everyone who gets this far has heard about the odds, risks/benefits, and so on. So all experiences are useful to hear!

Spiro

 
Old 08-13-2004, 07:54 PM   #9
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boot HB User
Re: We need some success stories

Had a micro-d august 9. So far so good. Up walking first day, can walk a mile 4 days post op! Getting better all the time! Will give further updates!

 
Old 08-14-2004, 05:39 AM   #10
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Jenna'sMom HB User
Re: We need some success stories

Yeeaahh to everyone who's responded so far. I knew you were out there. Thanks for taking the time to reply. We all need to hear the positive stuff.

Keep 'em coming

Jenna's Mom
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Julie

APLIF T4-S1 on july 19, 2004
Harrington rod T5 - T12 1982

 
Old 08-14-2004, 07:10 AM   #11
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Stormy01 HB User
Re: We need some success stories

I definately need to read these stories of success! Thank you for taking the time to post. I'm going to go under the knife soon myself, and am frightened and worried, and your collective stories have given me hope that someday I might have a life! How can that be a slap in the face? You reassure me that, since I have no real choice in the matter, I will probably live through it! LOL

Thank you! More! More! More!

I know there are people who've had Clinical Trial ADR's. (Artificial disc replacement surgery.) Can anyone post on that experience? I know it because I've been invited to participate in Novemeber. Although it just occurred to me that those who have might be under a non disclosure agreement. Didn't think of that...hmm. I sure would like some information about it.

Anyway, thank you so much. Please, keep the stories incomming! They sure help me.

 
Old 08-14-2004, 10:29 AM   #12
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flyonthewall HB User
Re: We need some success stories

[QUOTE=Stormygale]I definately need to read these stories of success! Thank you for taking the time to post. I'm going to go under the knife soon myself, and am frightened and worried, and your collective stories have given me hope that someday I might have a life! How can that be a slap in the face? You reassure me that, since I have no real choice in the matter, I will probably live through it! LOL

Thank you! More! More! More!

I know there are people who've had Clinical Trial ADR's. (Artificial disc replacement surgery.) Can anyone post on that experience? I know it because I've been invited to participate in Novemeber. Although it just occurred to me that those who have might be under a non disclosure agreement. Didn't think of that...hmm. I sure would like some information about it.

Anyway, thank you so much. Please, keep the stories incomming! They sure help me.[/QUOTE]
Clinical trials mean you have a 50% chance of getting the traditional fusion. You could end up with a fusion by a strange doctor who is out of the way for followup. Read all the fine print before you commit.
fly

 
Old 08-14-2004, 01:28 PM   #13
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Stormy01 HB User
Re: We need some success stories

Don't worry. I'm was a paralegal. I know how to read the fine print, and the study is doing two ADR's to one Fusion, so I have a 2 to 1 chance of an ADR. In either case, with a blown IDET, I have to have surgery as the disc is collapsing. It is also being done by one of the foremost surgeons on the East Coast, and I have faith that it would be better than anything I'd get from the quacks in this backwater town I live in.

Thanks for the warning though. I'm wary.

 
Old 08-14-2004, 08:00 PM   #14
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lfoster21 HB User
Wink Re: We need some success stories

Thanks for the thread. I am having my fusion next Tuesday and need all the encouragement I can get. I am also looking for any last minute reminders of to do's before I go in. Keep the stories comming. Once a person has made the decision to have surgery...the positive is what needs to be read.

Lorie
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Old 08-14-2004, 08:55 PM   #15
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Re: We need some success stories

I had my partial discectomy in feb 2002, and really, I had great success with it. I know the problems I am having now are really my fault. I am hard headed and don't like to give up things I do. I worked in a physical rehab hospital, started that job in 1998. It required a lot of lifting and transfering patients with many different disabilities including spinal cord injuries (paras and quads), brain injuries, stroke(very hard to transfer and move around), multi-traumas, BACK disabilities. Any kind of physical disability that prevented a person from immediate recovery and required long term rehab. In 1999 I was transfering a para with a clam shell and one good arm. We had transfered together many times and he wasn't difficult. But, on that day, he had a new electric wheel chair that had non-removable footrests. When I went to transfer him, we slipped off the chair(he had slick shorts on) and his feet went under the bed, we were facing eachother and I was holding him up. I tried to lift him up twice without success and finally just leaned back, "rested" him on my torso, and I walked to the bed, and laid him down on his back. Right then, I knew something was not right. For two years, the doc I saw said I had either soft tissue damage or a muscle pull. I knew my body though, I was a cheerleader for six years and had many pulls and strains, and knew that was not the case. Finally, he agreed to give me an MRI that was positive for the L5-S1 herniation. After a botched attempt to fix it with an injection, we opted for surgery. I had a PARTIAL discectomy. They only removed the bulging side. I had great results. My doc said I was in good health and not overweight and those were the two main things for good recovery. I do smoke however, and got a lot of crap from him for that. NOW, three months after the surgery, I had a minor fender bender that brought on pain similar to what I had prior to sx. I went a year with minor irritations. THEN, because I am hard headed, I went to work in a nursing home in CA to get my CNA (we weren't certified in Missouri). I should never have taken that job. I was lifting more with less help. I had to get 13 clients up in the morning in thirty minutes by myself. I had to clean them, dress them, and somehow get them in their chairs, and many had contractures and dementia and were very hard to move around. I stayed there from Nov to Feb of 2003. I graduated as the valedictorian from the CNA class and passed the license exam. By then, I couldn't stand up straight. I was seeing a chiro but it only helped until I went back to work the next day. The last day I worked and the last day I saw her, I left bawling I was in so much pain. My mil had to call her and tell her I wouldn't be back. I got a new job as a secretary, which WAS better, but with sitting brought on another side of pain. Anyhoo, working now in Vegas as a CNA again, but what I did a year ago is catching up with me. I can't be on my feet anymore for 12 hours, even though I barely lift, just the motion of bending over beds constantly for 12 hours three days in a row is enough to cause it's own problems. I just got a new xray that showed new stuff, and had an MRI two weeks ago, I see the back dr the 25. Don't know what that showed, gonna get on them to tell me.
I want to say, there are many factors that can make a good sx unsucessful. The things I did set me up for failure. If you really pay attention to your body I bet you would have better results. Staying in shape, not being overweight, not smoking. Take a "class" of some sort to learn the correct way to bend and lift objects. Don't put yourself in a situation for re-injury. It is all about caring for your body. If I had not had the NEED to be a nursing assistant, and IF I had not gotten in that accident, I bet that I would not be here on these boards, seeking other's advice.

 
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