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Old 01-01-2005, 10:20 PM   #1
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CocoandChase HB User
3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

Hello All,

Happy New Year! Hope this year brings us all good health, happiness and alot less pain! Has anyone had a 3 level fusion from L3/4 to L5/S1??? I am going to have one hopefully soon, I cannot take this unbearable pain any longer. I am having a disco gram in January, heard its really painful!! I have been on pain meds (Now up to 40 mg OxyC 3 X per day and Neurontin) and of course its not helping, still in hell! I want to cut my legs off sometimes and take my back out of my body, LOL! What do any of you take for breakthrough pain because I really need a BT pain med, the Oxy C does not last all day and night.

I want to know what to expect with the discogram, does it hurt that much? Do they help you before, during and after managing the pain from the procedure? How long does it take and do you have to lay there for awhile after the procedure?

And with the 3 level fusion, how long in the hospital? Whats the worst with post-op recovery? How long does recovery normally take? I know I am on alot of pain meds right now and I assume it will increase again each month before I have the fusion, it has every month anyway because I'm in so much pain, dr increases my meds monthly. I assume they will continue me on the same amount if not more to manage post op pain and thentaper me off after I recover? Is that true? Any experience with all this? I know I have alot of questions, just really scared. I also heard your muscles spasm alot due to being cut through, do they give you muscle relaxers after surgery? Will I wear a back brace? How long before you feel half way normal again, like driving to the grocery store or going for a short walk?

I appreciate all help because like I said I have fighting this pain for 18 months, thats why I'm on such high doses of meds, my back is really bad and I dont have insurance so my PM dr has been treating me with meds until we figure out how to pay for all this, which isnt fair at all to make the uninsured suffer. Anyone with insurance would have had surgery months ago. Please help me!! I really need some encouragement and know that this fusion will help me and get my life back to me! What also sucks is that because I am only 36 I was denied Soc Sec Disability and I know of older people with alot less back problems like a certain family member and he was approved because he's 60 years old. Disabilities occur to all ages. God bless you all for being so caring and generous with your time and experiences! Thansk!

Kelly

Severe nerve pain down both legs to my feet , down right arm and right hand

Right L4 verses L5 chronic radiculapathy due to epidural fibrosis post L4-5 disectomy 2000.

DDD at L3-4, L4-5, to L5-S1

Right sided L5-S1 disc herniation.

Herniated Nucleus Pulposus at T11-12

Disc space very narrowed at L4-5 to L5-S1

L3-4 disc bulge

Anterior Osteophytes are noted[list][/list]

Last edited by CocoandChase; 01-01-2005 at 10:29 PM.

 
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Old 01-02-2005, 09:11 PM   #2
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Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

Hi Kelly, I am 37 and I had a two level fusion but I am sure it would be about the same.

I had a disco gram and it was painful but the pain did not last for me. As soon as the doctor found out which level was in pain he shot me with pain meds. So it wasn't bad. Afterwards I drove home myself. I took a percocet before so that may have helped. I only had to stay for 30 min after but I was fine.

I was in the hospital for 5 days. I was walking to the bathroom by myself by the 2nd day. I was in pain but I could walk. I live by myself on a second floor apartment and I did pretty good. I did not have to wear a brace the whole time. My doctor did give me this thing to wear 3 hours a day that sends some type of signal to help my back fuse faster. Donít' know what it is called. I drove 2 weeks after my surgery. I was off work for 3 months and I believe I could have gone back to work after 2, but I was still getting paid so I stayed home. I do walk everyday. I actually feel good when I walk. I still have some pain especially during the cold weather.

I had the leg pain before surgery and I still have it. Also during the surgery my doctor damaged a nerve in my foot. I take Nuerotin for that. I am taking 1800mg a day and the pain seems to have gone. If the Nuerotin is not helping you I would suggest asking him to increase. It did not help till I got up to 1800.

I hope this helps. I know your pain. I am glad I got the surgery and I don't regret it at all. Angela

 
Old 01-03-2005, 05:51 AM   #3
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Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

I wasn't on pain meds but I could hardly walk. I had a laminectomy and was fused from L3-S1 with BMP on sponges. I was in the hospital for six days and then, because I live alone, I went to rehab for 2.5 weeks. I could drive at six weeks.
Did you appeal that SSD?
fly

 
Old 01-03-2005, 05:52 PM   #4
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CocoandChase HB User
Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

ANGELA,

Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate it! Best of luck!



FLY,

Thanks to you as well, I did appeal the SSD. I have an attorney. Best of luck!

Thanks!

Kelly

 
Old 01-03-2005, 06:51 PM   #5
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Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

so sorry to hear how bad your feeling! I had 2 level fusion posterior/anterior on Nov. 2 and 4th. I had a disco gram and a CT mylogram the same day. I was there for about 4 hrs. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I did need a driver. I was in the hospital for 6 days after surgery. It was pretty rough for the first 6 wks. I was also on Neurotin for some time but my eye sight became blurred and once I stopped taking it my eye sight cleared up. I actually didn't even notice if the perscription was doing anything for me. You will see after reading alot of these post that everyone heals differently, wears braces longer than some or no brace at all. Alot of our meds. are different and our dr.s have different approaches to recovery and PT after surgery. You may heal very quickly compared to some. I believe alot of us still have leg pain for quite some time after surgery. My prayers are with you! Good Luck and I think everyone agree's that having a positive attitude is the key! Take Care!
Jean

 
Old 01-03-2005, 09:18 PM   #6
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Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

kelly, do you have cervical issues as well? I just ask b/c you wrote you have pain down your arm to your hand....

 
Old 05-16-2010, 10:48 AM   #7
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Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

[QUOTE=CocoandChase;1402662]Hello All,


Q: And with the 3 level fusion, how long in the hospital?

A: (It depends on the doctor and how you are recovering. I spent only 5 days in the hospital after my 3 level fusion.)

Q:Whats the worst with post-op recovery?

A: (For me, it was waking up after being asleep for 10 hours and being unable to move due to so much pain. After another 12 hours of sedation, they had me sit up to eat, and later that day, I had to move from bed to chair and that was painful. Don't sit for more than 10 minutes, if it hurts you, call a nurse immediately.)

Q: How long does recovery normally take?

A: (Again this depends on your own body. My neurosurgeon said 6 months to a year, my surgery was October 2009, and I'm not healing well due to my own body chemicals/makeup)

Q: I know I am on alot of pain meds right now and I assume it will increase again each month before I have the fusion, it has every month anyway because I'm in so much pain, dr increases my meds monthly. I assume they will continue me on the same amount if not more to manage post op pain and thentaper me off after I recover? Is that true? Any experience with all this?

A: (I was offered a choice of ocy or fentanyl, and chose the fentanyl before my surgery, I continued on the fentanyl after surgery for another 4 months, with also Norco 10s 4 times a day. In the hospital you'll most likely wake up with a morphine pump, this didn't help me much due to all the pain meds I'd been on before surgery, and they had to add 2 percocet 10s every 4 hours by request. The goal of the surgery is to get you off the pain meds and relieve the pain --- most likely, they'll want you to come down on your pain meds rather than stay at the same amount, but its all according to your own personal pain, as every person is different.)

Q: I know I have alot of questions, just really scared. I also heard your muscles spasm alot due to being cut through, do they give you muscle relaxers after surgery? Will I wear a back brace? How long before you feel half way normal again, like driving to the grocery store or going for a short walk?

A: (Yes they give you muscle relaxers, but I didn't really start experiencing spasms until I was given the okay to get up and start moving around more. The more I was up moving around, the more muscle spasms I would have. YES you will have a back brace. The one I was given was pretty much like a hard plastic corset that was from hips to armpits and did come up over my breasts in the front, and up to my neck in the back, I also have herniations in my middle back as well, may be why my brace came up so high, not sure. I wore that brace for 6 months! And now I'm wearing another hard plastic brace that comes up to my midback, still to my hips. I was not allowed to drive for the first 4 months, it all depends on your healing though. If you're showing signs of fusing by your first post op CTscan, then chances are you'll be recovering much faster than I have. By the 6month mark for me, I was just starting to show bone growth. I am a smoker, and caffeine drinker, and thats BAD for healing and bone growth.)

I appreciate all help because like I said I have fighting this pain for 18 months, thats why I'm on such high doses of meds, my back is really bad and I dont have insurance so my PM dr has been treating me with meds until we figure out how to pay for all this, which isnt fair at all to make the uninsured suffer. Anyone with insurance would have had surgery months ago. Please help me!! I really need some encouragement and know that this fusion will help me and get my life back to me! What also sucks is that because I am only 36 I was denied Soc Sec Disability and I know of older people with alot less back problems like a certain family member and he was approved because he's 60 years old. Disabilities occur to all ages. God bless you all for being so caring and generous with your time and experiences! Thansk!

Kelly

(( In regards to the disability, I'm 30 years old, with doctor written and test proven spinal degeneration thats only seen in people over 60, they denied me as well saying that there was no way that I could have spinal stenosis so severe its causing permanent damage when people my age don't get that kind of disease degenerating so fast either. My degenerative disc disease progresses at a rate of degeneration of one year per month. Thats 12 years of age each year to my spine. To make it even more fun for me, when Disability sent me to THEIR doctor to be examined, I had just had surgery 4 weeks prior, and he raised my leg up, pulling out a nerve root, AFTER I told him I was unable to do that due to my surgery. I was in the hospital for 4 days after THEIR mistake, and they still denied me.)


Severe nerve pain down both legs to my feet , down right arm and right hand

((((( ARM/HAND PROBLEMS FROM NECK, MOST LIKELY SAME DEGENERATION THERE AS IN LOW BACK ))))

Right L4 verses L5 chronic radiculapathy due to epidural fibrosis post L4-5 disectomy 2000.

DDD at L3-4, L4-5, to L5-S1

Right sided L5-S1 disc herniation.

Herniated Nucleus Pulposus at T11-12

Disc space very narrowed at L4-5 to L5-S1

L3-4 disc bulge

Anterior Osteophytes are noted[list][/list][/QUOTE]

 
Old 05-16-2010, 08:55 PM   #8
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Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

I finally became a L3-S1 in February. However I had previously been fused L4-S1 so your recovery may be a bit tougher.

I was fitted for a hard LSO brace that I wore for 12 weeks. I was fitted for it before surgery and went back for an adjustment before surgery and after surgery.

My doctor prescribes a Bone Growth Stimulator for all fusions. Mine is a power pack about the size of my blackberry. It connects to two 3" pads that are placed on my back. I wear it 24/7 and have to change the pads about once a week. I still have this on and I am nearly 4 months post-op.

I was in the hospital for one week. Two reasons. One, the surgery was an incision along my back and then a 4 inch horizontal incision on my side just above my hip. The side incision was used, instead a full 360 (abdominal incision and back incision) and was used to give access to the front part of my spine for stabilization. They gave me food too early so I bloated a bit. The side or abdominal access affects your GI system so eating must be gradually introduced. Second, when they took me off the pain pump they had a hard time getting my oral pain meds to work. I was to be put back on my Opana ER, which I did the day they took me off the IV pain pump, but the Opana ER with vicodin for break through was not enough. That was around night 5 and during the night the hospital pharmacist adjusted my oral meds and they gave me an extra push in my IV. My surgeon did not want to release me until I had good pain control for at least 24 hours. So other than those two I might have gone home at day 5 as I was up and walking day 2 (only a few feet at a time).

I needed my hubby at the hospital for the first two days. The hospital I was in has a program where family that stays with the patient during the days gets special meal prices as they are acting almost as an assistant to the nursing assistants.

When I got home I needed him there for about a week. I could not drive until about week 10 (nor would I have been comfortable doing so physically and psychologically).

The best two things I got for my home care were the 5" toilet seat riser so I didn't have to sit so low or get to that low level and back up. The second was my grabber/reacher. It's about 36" long and helps me pick up things on the floor or out of reach. I was able to put the toilet seat riser away at around 10 weeks as well. My hubby just got used to using the other bathroom and was fine with that.

While I would have liked to read books or do something more productive during recover, that was not to be. It was pure TV. And when I have surgery I can be up at night at random times during which I stay awake or need some food. So my hubby moved into the guest room for 10 weeks. He was also fine with that. As for TV I'm not a big movie person plus if I haven't seen it already I have to want to pay attention to it. TV was more comfortable as I could watch something, be entertained, but not have to be involved in following the story, plot, etc..
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 05-17-2010, 01:40 AM   #9
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Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

Thank you also for your information as I am in need of surgery but I can't have it until my insurance comes to 12 months as it is a pre-existing problem. So I have another 6 months to wait. It is not very nice having to wait but I wasn't getting any help in the public system. Even the surgeons treat you differently. They say that you don't need surgery or I can put you on my waiting list but it will be quite a wait. The best advise I got was from a surgeons receptionist my brother talked to in his home state. The woman said to get insurance or pay for the operation because you will be treated differently. Even having to wait 12 months is better that waiting 2 or more in the public system and still be treated differently. So I have been lucky that in Australia the new government promised the pensioners a pay rise so with staying with my sister and being careful with my money I have been able to pay the insurance. It is $200 a month and I am also saving $100 a month to pay for any gap and things that I may have to buy. My sister has just been charging me board so I have been able to get by. you realise there are lots of living costs when you have to save I have car insurance, registration and fuel to pay each pay so after that and food there isn't much left.
I hope I am not saying to much it is hard to cope with organising things on top of being in so much pain every day that I have to write it all down or I forget everything. My memory isn't very good while taking pain meds.
Thanks for all your advice as I will be trying to prepare also.
Allan.
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25-Nov-2010: ALIF fusion L5-S1. 9 years of Chronic lower back pain. Nearly 18 months of pain across my upper pelvis, through my butt and down my left leg into my foot. Sciatica relieved by surgery.

 
Old 06-26-2010, 05:35 AM   #10
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Re: 3 Level Spinal Fusion questions!

I had 2 spinal fusions with-in 6 months. 1st was L-5 S-1 very simple and was swimming a mile with-in 1 month. 6 months later I went in and had T-11, T12 fused from an old injury while racing motocross. I had blown the disk and had 5 compression fractures above it but it happened when I was 20 and I healed without surgery, ahh youth. I am 49 yrs old now. I had very bad advise from 2 surgeons that actually told me I didn't need surgery. My pain was unbearable and just worsened as I pain management is not an answer when there is a physical fix. I was very blessed to have found Dr Leonard Nelson and Kenneth Rich in Raleigh NC. I worked my butt off between surgeries and they agreed it was needed. I am 7 months out of my thorasic fusion and am getting my life back finally. Not pain free and still on a minimal dose of morphine 15-45mg a day. I still have major spurring from the old compression fractures and if they don't calm down I am having hopefully my last surgery this Fall. I am 80% better than I was a yr ago when the lumbar was done. My Doctors did the SOLAS approach and never cut a back muscle because they acessed me from the side and front. I was walking with-in 24 hrs and was released from the hospital 48 hrs after both surgeries. I am a success story for back fusions. I hope anybody with this terrible problem can have as much success as I have had. The surgeon and your level of commitment to exercise is the key. Find a Great Surgeon as I did that practices the SOLAS approach. Good luck to all.

Last edited by obx2323; 06-26-2010 at 05:41 AM.

 
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