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Old 10-12-2007, 09:53 PM   #1
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Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Hey everyone!

I had my pre-op today for my fusion surgery next Friday. It was a bit of a chore... the hospital is 40 miles away from my house and it's a pretty uncomfortable ride... but I did it.

And I got the good news and the bad news...

First, the good news. My surgeon said that it looks like we can get away with just doing a posterior entry, rather than a front/back. Phew! I was kind of worried about that one. He will be using bone from my hip. From the way he and the nurses were talking, it sounds like my rehab may not be as horrible or as lengthy as I thought.

And now, the bad news. The last MRI we did with contrast solution and he said he did see scar tissue - and not just a little. This really bums me out. I really don't know how to feel about this. As I understand it, that means we're talking about permanent pain. Right now I'm in no position to judge as my condition is so acutely bad at the moment. But this really scares me. I don't know what I would do if the pain is anything like it is now.

I guess it's just too early to tell. Part of me just can't accept that this could be for good. I guess all I can do is go through the fusion and that should at least allow me to walk again and sit in a chair and eventually drive a car and all the rest of it.

I mean, is there no hope at all? Massage, acupuncture, hypnosis, voodoo, [I]anything[/I]???

Like I said, I'm getting ahead of myself. And the fusion is necessary... not just to repair the disc space and relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve, but to provide some stability to my wobbly spine. I suppose that, in a way, I'm lucky that I am in so much pain... ANY improvement will be noticeable!

[B]Has anyone ever been given the "scar tissue diagnosis" and found it to be exaggerated or not-all-that-bad or at least bearable???[/B]

I [I]am[/I] happy that they're not going through the front.

And I quit smoking today. Maybe that's part of it.

Thanks for listening. Just getting scared but I'll be OK. It'll be nice to join the living again.

-DAVID

 
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Old 10-13-2007, 06:08 AM   #2
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Good news and bad news... That always brings up an "uh oh!"

The doctors and nurses tend to down play the recovery from this surgery, just to warn you. They don't really see the day to day once you go home. They hear it from the patients, but I'm quite sure they discount a lot of it. They think we're all a bunch of attention seeking babies. Or they're trying to just not scare you off. It will be wonderful if it's easier than you've anticipated, but you might also be right on track. But you'll definitely be able to justify lying around watching tons of movies and football. (No jumping up and down when your team scores! If you can't resist that, you'll have to switch over to the gardening channel.)

Sorry to hear about the scar tissue. They'll probably clean some of it out during the surgery, but it generally comes back. It can be very painful, but I guess that's going to be a wait and see thing. Not all scar tissue causes pain. I have some, but it isn't a problem at all. It becomes a problem when it encases nerves, spreads out of control, things like that. Hopefully it won't become a big issue for you.

Hey, congratulations on quitting! That's huge!
The physical part of it is only one aspect, though. The psychological part can be just as hard. If you can pinpoint specific things that make you want one, you can try to substitute something else or come up with a way to deal with those things. Like if you wanted a cigarette when you finished a meal, you might now try having a cup of decaf instead, or using one of those massaging wands to massage your shoulders. Finding ways to change your habits surrounding the cigarettes will help you get through it. Hang in there! It's so worth it! And you'll be giving yourself the best chance at fusing!

I've had front/back surgeries and just back surgeries. Just the back is much, much easier! When I had the front/back, the front incision was much more painful than the back, probably because they moved my muscles around so much. I was used to using my abdominal muscles all the time to compensate for my back, so to have them compromised and to have an incision where I was trying to tighten up, was really awful. The back was a piece of cake compared to the front. So, good for you! I'm sure that makes it easier for you mentally as you go into this.

Take care,
Emily

 
Old 10-13-2007, 06:34 AM   #3
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Sorry to hear about the scar tissue, but it is one of those things that you ( we ) will have to wait on and see. You might find that the scar tissue really does not bother you as much after surgery. On the bright side, your spine will feel stronger and you will be able to walk and sit again ( like normal people do ) I found that to be a added bonus in my case. By the way your voodoo comment made me laugh!!
Congrats on the smoking! I was a smoker myself, I quit 10 days before my fusion last Dec. Anytime I wanted one I just think of my back!! LOL.
Just remember to take each day as it comes! The hardest part is waiting for the surgery and all the thoughts that come with it. Hang in there until Friday! You will be alright! I understand what you are feeling, I have been there myself. Let us know how you are doing until you go on Friday. Take care of you.

 
Old 10-13-2007, 12:03 PM   #4
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Wow Atlas, I found that the Anterior incision was easier than the back! Maybe it's because of all the stuff they did to it. I had my surgery last month on the 15th and yes when I came home I was not prepared for the amount of pain I'd be in. There were times when I had to send my husband out of the room so I could cry. Getting out of bed was so painful and still is. I get muscle spasms on my calves and ham strings, at times my ankles and knees ache something fierce and I get these needle ***** pains on my legs and toes. I lost feeling on one foot, just the top and four toes but I thank God I'm walking. The MRI and x-rays didn't show the severity of a bone spur that had grown on my spine, the doctor and I had spoken about laminectomy being part of the surgery so I'd have relief from sciatic pain in both legs. Last appt. I had with him he said it wasn't necessary for the laminectomy because the MRI and x-ray didn't show that it bad enough to remove. I told him that I wanted it done anyway because my legs were getting worse with each month that passed. In the end I won, he checked out the nerves in my spine by putting his pinkie in there and found that my nerves were swollen. So my recuperation has not been easy but this too shall pass. I did stay in the hospital for almost a week, I had fevers that kept me there.

To Camperboy, proud of you for quitting smoking, this will help in your healing as well as loading up on Proteins and vegetables not to mention Calcium tabs and vitamin B. If you have any qualms about the surgery ask your doctor and be specific on your concerns. My doctor and I had long conversations because I questioned everything, I wanted to know the how's and the why's. Answering those questions is part of their job. I still had fears being that it was major surgery and they were going to go in from the front and back but I had to flip the coin and decided to go through with it because it was necessary and I'd get worse and possibly run a greater risk of severe nerve damage later as opposed to having the surgery and getting some kind of relief or some kind of nerve damage. I was willing to take my chances with the surgery despite the warnings of others. Now I know that had I waited or just decided not to have it the outcome would be far worse than just dealing with Post-Op pain and some numbed toes!

Go with your gut feelings because the doctors don't know the pain we suffer on a daily basis. I had to fight for my surgery and i'm glad I did and I hate to say this but despite the pain from the surgery, I'd go through it again if I had to. Make sure you walk after surgery it helped me with the leg pain and makes you stronger.

Take care and I hope you have one of those "Good Days" where you don't hurt so much. I love those days!

Redsmom

 
Old 10-13-2007, 02:46 PM   #5
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Isn't there always bad news to go with the good news we spinies get? Seems to me that it's a pattern, lol.

David, I have lots and lots of scar tissue and sometimes it can make it difficult for doctors to get to an area that they want to inject; but for the most part, I don't know it's there. Sometimes the scar tissue can wrap around a nerve and play havoc, but not always.

Once your surgery is over and you're on your feet, the best defense against scar tissue causing trouble is ... WALKING. Yes, the more you walk, the more you stretch the scar tissue and keep it soft. My first ortho spine specialist had me start walking when my L-5 became incased in scar tissue and within 4 days or so, I noticed an improvement. After 2 weeks, the pain was almost gone, so I always try to stress that patients need to walk as much as possible after surgery...and always. I still depend on it to keep my scar tissue from causing me lots of pain.

I do wish you lots and lots of luck with this surgery and hope it will make you feel much better.

Carol
__________________
2 lami's, 3 fusions
bone spur removal
cerv. fusion, 1 level
morphine pump

 
Old 10-14-2007, 11:51 AM   #6
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Thanks everyone for replying... I'm still nervous and afraid I'm leaving things undone.

Thanks Emily for your time and effort replying to all of my questions! I appreciate it so much! You don't have to worry about me jumping up and down when my team scores... I'm a 'Niners fan

[QUOTE=xzx;3255955]
Congrats on the smoking! I was a smoker myself, I quit 10 days before my fusion last Dec. Anytime I wanted one I just think of my back!! LOL.
Just remember to take each day as it comes! The hardest part is waiting for the surgery and all the thoughts that come with it. Hang in there until Friday! You will be alright! [/QUOTE]

I hope that's the toughest part! I'm so worried about if I'm doing this right. It didn't help yesterday when, watching my pre-op video it said I should quit smoking at least 6 weeks before surgery! But I think I am looking for every little thing that can go wrong just because I so much want this to work! Thinking about my back is my strategy, too. So far it's working.

[QUOTE=carol632;3256422]Once your surgery is over and you're on your feet, the best defense against scar tissue causing trouble is ... WALKING. Yes, the more you walk, the more you stretch the scar tissue and keep it soft. My first ortho spine specialist had me start walking when my L-5 became incased in scar tissue and within 4 days or so, I noticed an improvement. After 2 weeks, the pain was almost gone, so I always try to stress that patients need to walk as much as possible after surgery...and always. I still depend on it to keep my scar tissue from causing me lots of pain.
[/QUOTE]

That is one area where nobody need worry about me... [B]I can't wait to walk again!!![/B] My nerve pain has been so bad that I've been bedridden for the last month (I can't even sit), and unable to walk without crutches for the last 3 months. I never thought I'd be so excited to be able to do something as simple as sit upright in a chair to eat, or walk for more than a few blocks without being in pain. I'm sure I'll have to take it easy and walk only a little at a time - I know I'm pretty weak.

Right now I'm stressing about whether I'm going to have enough support at home. I live alone and my family has been very willing to help me, but they don't live close. I'd love to just go to my parents' house, but they live 200 miles away. I'm going to call the nurse tomorrow and ask her a bunch of questions, including how long it'll be before I will be able to travel (if I'm, say, lying down the whole trip in the back of a minivan). My folks would love to take care of me, but they're so far away.

I'm going to try to do as much as I can by Monday, so I can at least try to stop worrying. Something tells me I'll find a way to keep worrying though.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement! It'll be nice to live normally again!

-David

 
Old 10-14-2007, 12:47 PM   #7
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

I have to agree with Carol; first thing is to rest and recover; walk walk walk. They had me walking the day of the surgeryl I cheated and used a walker but I did manage that much. Not far but at least out of the bed and out of the room.

It must have set the tone for the recovery...


I know how tough it is to quit the tobacco thing; a used to chew skoal 24 hours a day 7 days a week and smoke a pack of smokes a week. That was 8 years now and I have not had one since. I did it cold turkey - I just told myself that that phase of my life was over. I stayed away as best as I could from the bar scene and the coffee. Those 2 things always centered on smokes or chewing. IT was mind over matter and still is. I have the urge from time to time do not get me wrong...



I wish you the best,

Roy 48

 
Old 10-14-2007, 07:40 PM   #8
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

I am the queen of scar tissue. LOL I had ovary surgery in 1990. In 1995 I had rubber bands of scar tissue removed. In 2002 during a different surgery I had it removed again. I think it is back but the dr. said not worth removing unless the pain is unbearable. My lumbar MRI shows what they think is scar tissue. The dr. thinks that it is pressing on the nerve root. Maybe someday they will invent something to stop scar tissue from forming. Not everyone has a problem with scar tissue so you have to be optomistic. I know it is hard. Good luck with your surgery.

 
Old 10-16-2007, 11:37 AM   #9
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

[QUOTE=Roy47;3257553]I have to agree with Carol; first thing is to rest and recover; walk walk walk. They had me walking the day of the surgeryl I cheated and used a walker but I did manage that much. Not far but at least out of the bed and out of the room.

It must have set the tone for the recovery...


I know how tough it is to quit the tobacco thing; a used to chew skoal 24 hours a day 7 days a week and smoke a pack of smokes a week. That was 8 years now and I have not had one since. I did it cold turkey - I just told myself that that phase of my life was over. I stayed away as best as I could from the bar scene and the coffee. Those 2 things always centered on smokes or chewing. IT was mind over matter and still is. I have the urge from time to time do not get me wrong...

[/QUOTE]

Only 3 more days to go and I have so much to do and my room is a mess and I really want a cigarette!! But, I just think about my back... always thinking about the back

I'm going to try to get a hospital bed delivered on Thursday. Actually I just found the place, so I'm learning very quickly! I feel like there's so much to do.... the fact is most of it is not very important. I'm going to rent a rolling bed table to put my laptop on but I have to be sure not to make myself too comfortable... I'm going to need to walk a lot.

Okay, I'm just going in circles now... wish me luck! Thanks for all of your support and I'll see you on the other side!

Good Luck To All
-David

Last edited by camperboy; 10-16-2007 at 11:38 AM.

 
Old 10-16-2007, 11:47 AM   #10
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Sounds like your in doing all the last minute details. Also make sure you have some frozen meals to eat when you get home! You are doing great not smoking!! I know how hard it is to quit and be all stressed out before surgery! You are thinking like I do when I wanted a smoke, I thought about my back. I will be wishing you all the best on Friday! See you on the post fusion side! Take care of you.

 
Old 10-16-2007, 12:51 PM   #11
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Good luck. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your surgeon.

 
Old 10-16-2007, 07:07 PM   #12
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Thanks, Pepper! You're such a help to everyone on here!

Things are sort of falling into place... I found a place that rents hospital beds right near by and they're delivering on Thurs., my friend who's been helping me with errands is no longer AWOL - she's coming in tomorrow AM. All my loose ends appear to be more or less tied up, so I'm (dare I say it) happy???

A cigarette would be nice, though...

Thanks everyone!
David

 
Old 10-16-2007, 07:13 PM   #13
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Re: Pre-Op: Good News and Bad News

Camper!!

No smoking!!!!!! Even to relax!!! I know its so hard. Glad your feeling happy! Keep this good feeling with you into surgery! You are going to come out of this feel like a new person! Wishing you the very best.

 
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