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Old 02-06-2008, 04:41 PM   #1
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lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

hello
i am brand new to this site , and support all that are unfortunately on here ! i am scheduled to have a lumbar back fusion in 14 days , i had a decompresion "lamectomy" spelling off - in 2004.. my back has ben killing me for the last 5 months and had a number of tests in the last 2 months :
mri - discogram - mylegram - ekg <> they all were positive , 2 herniations at both levels , stenosis , nerve compression. my roght leg is numb along with my right butt cheek , i'm in tons of pain and have not worked since 11/07. if anybody can tell me what to expect after my surgery and the recovery time , i would appreciate that.. i'm on oxycodone 7.5/325 for pain and it just does'nt work for me !!
god bless evrybody that has to deal with suffering in there lives !!!

 
Old 02-06-2008, 05:26 PM   #2
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

Hello and welcome to the board. Glad you found us, but sorry you're joining the bad back club.

I just had a one level fusion at L4-5 4 weeks ago, so I can tell you a few things while it is fresh in my mind!

I think the most important element of this procedure is to be sure you have found a well-qualified, fellowship-trained spinal surgeon. Fusion surgeries have become the second-most frequently performed surgery in the United States, and as a result, there are many surgeons out there doing the fusions that do not have additional spinal training.

If there were any questions in your mind about the procedure you're having, I hope you have gotten more than one opinion. I assume you are comfortable with the findings since you have made a date for surgery!

As I stated, I had a one level fusion 4 weeks ago. Perhaps due to the fact that I had read so many threads on this board, I was expecting a great deal of pain. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well I have felt ever since having the surgery.

Of course they kept me suitably medicated in the hospital. I was in the hospital for 3 days and then came home. (Be sure to read the "sticky" note near the top of the first page that lays out what to do after surgery to make your home more comfortable for you. It has TONS of good ideas that will make your life easier!!) I had put satin sheets on my bed which made turning over a breeze. In the hospital it felt like I had velcro holding me to the sheets. This was the single best tip I got from the sticky note post!!

I have been healing according to schedule and have really felt quite well since I got home. I am babying myself to some extent, taking it easy...resting a lot, letting my husband do the cooking. We are having the snowiest winter in years so I have been content to stay indoors and watch it through the windows!! I walk through the house for exercise at this point. In a week or two I plan to start going to a therapeutic pool and walking in the water. I may start physical therapy in a couple weeks. My surgeon is quite lax about this sort of thing.

I cannot tell you how long your recovery will be. They say you need to be careful for the first year and that the nerves may not be healed for 18 -24 months.

I'm sure others will chime in with their experiences. So far the whole experience has been better than I was anticipating!

 
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:07 PM   #3
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

marlosmom -> i thank you so much for your input and i'm glad to hear that the surgery was a success for you ! i did see 3 doctors before i reached my decsion to have this suregery performed. i saw a neurosergent and 2 orthos , the orthopeadic doctor " dr. phair " will be doing the operation {8hrs long } . i have ben in a great deal of pain and to be honest , i can't wait to have this surgery done so i can move on with my life.. i am concerned on what type of pain meds that they will put me on after the surgery , i;m currently on percocet. these pain pills don't do much for my pain , what did they give you after your operation ? o yeah ware do you live that your getting all the snow ? , i live in n,j and it really has not snowed yet this year . thank you and god bless

 
Old 02-06-2008, 07:17 PM   #4
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

HI, Welcome to the club, even though it's not the best club to be a member of. I had L5/S1 fusion 3 weeks ago. I had a discectomy in 1/06 that lasted about 18 months then I started having severe back pain.

My surgery was a piece of cake for the first week. The first night in the hospital I was up walking the halls with no help at all. They kept me very comfortable with pain meds. Went home on day 4. I thought it was way to easy until day 7 when I hit a brick wall. Apparently this is common due to the fact that they coat you internally with some type of pain meds that last about a week from what I have read on this site . My legs started having terrible pain from the bottom of my rear to the back of my heals. It feels like they are in a vise being twisted and pulled. Went to the doc on day 13 and he said the x-ray shows things look good. He gave me no reason for the pain. I take percocet and it gives me some relief. From what everyone on the message board has said it is probably nerve pain due to sweling and pressure. Hopefully it will go away in time, but it hurts alot.

I haven't had any pain at all at the surgical site on my stomach. Not to much pain in my back either. I have been somewhat fatigued and stir crazy in the house. I have been trying to go outside when the weather is nice but that is hard to do in Ohio. Everyone says the best thing to do is walk,walk, and walk some more.

Everyone has a different experience when they have surgery. I think in my case the recovery is way worse than the surgery itself. Do what the doc tells you to do, baby your back and take your pain meds.

I hope I have been some help. I'm sure you will get through it just fine. If you have any other questions about my experience feel free to ask. Good luck with your surgery.................Debbie

 
Old 02-06-2008, 07:53 PM   #5
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

I would say it is much too early to call my surgery a success -- but so far it hasn't been as bad as I was expecting.

I was given some sort of morphine after surgery. It was in my IV and I had a button I could push every 6 minutes. That was sufficient to control my pain. When I came home I was given oxycodone and lyrica to take all the time, and hydroco/apap and a muscle relaxer "as needed." I would recommend that you talk to your surgeon prior to the surgery about what medications you will be given, any concerns you have about that, etc. I think it's easier to get this all straight before your surgery.

I had heard that N.J. was having a milder than usual winter. I live in southern Wisconsin near Lake Michigan and we have had snow almost every other day since Nov. 15th; we had a 12" storm that is just ending now. We are having much more snow than usual.

 
Old 02-06-2008, 08:10 PM   #6
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

debbie -> hello deb , my name is billy and i thank you for getting back to me. evrybody on this web site is so nice and helpfull ! i'm having a 2 level fusion in 2 weeks and i'm in alot of pain + discomfort , i'm also very restless.
what made your stay in the hosp. stay any better , anything ? also how did you prepare your home when you arrived from the hosp. do you have any tips that will help me ?
hopefully the doc will give me some good pain meds that actually work when i do get home from the hosp , the meds i'm on now don't put a dent in my pain.

 
Old 02-06-2008, 08:21 PM   #7
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

wisconsin hah <> you a "packer" fan ? well i 'm a die hard giant fan and it feels good that we finally won the super bowl since 1986 !

i am pretty nervous on having this surgery done , i must admit. not knowing is the worst part of it all for me , my surgeon is very quallified and i trust him very much.
if you don;t mind i have a cpl. questions for you ok.
how long was your surgery - how long were you in hosp for - anything make your hosp visit easier - anything make your return home better ? i really appreciate your response and we will all get threw this together . thank you billy

 
Old 02-06-2008, 09:36 PM   #8
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

My surgery was 3 1/2 hours long. It was a PLIF using a cage and BMP and my own bone from the laminectomy. My incision is about 5" on my back. To tell you the truth I don't remember much from being in the hospital. They kept me sufficiently medicated that I slept or napped most of the time when I wasn't in PT.

I had my surgery on a Monday evening and went home on a Thursday at 4 pm. I was able to go up and down stairs almost like "normal."

Again, on the first page of the Back Board, about 5 threads down, there is a "Stickie" that contains many useful tips on how to arrange your home and yourself for post surgery. It is worth reading.

Try not to be nervous. You've done your research and are comfortable with your doctor. If you think you'll continue to feel nervous, you might want to get a relaxation CD that you could take along to the hospital -- one that includes breath work; there are a number out there that are guided meditations for relaxation and healing.

I'm happy to answer any of your questions that I can. Hopefully you will feel so much better after the surgery, that it will all be worth it.

 
Old 02-07-2008, 08:32 AM   #9
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

Hi Billy,
The satin sheet idea is a great one. What a difference it made for me! If you have some slippery pj's, that will help, too, as you'll be able to slide to turn and not have to lift or shift your weight. For the same reason, put a plastic garbage bag on the passenger seat of your car for the ride home. It will be much easier to get in and out if you can slide on the seat. Also, put a large zip lock bag in the car in case you get nauseous on the ride home. If you have to throw up, it can just be zipped into the bag and no one will have to clean anything up.

Once you get home, you're going to want a grabber tool. You'll be told not to bend, lift (usually no more than 5 pounds), or twist. Anything you drop will have to stay on the floor unless you have a grabber tool or someone else available to pick everything up for you. (And that will get old for them and for you real fast!) I used mine constantly. If the remote slips too far away, you can snatch it with your grabber. Putting on clean pj's? Get them over your feet with the grabber. Magazine on your nightstand that you can't quite reach? Use your grabber. Mine was worth its weight in gold the first day home. But spend the money for a good one. Mine was about $30. That one you see all over the place for $9.99 is way cheap and not worth its weight in dirt.

It's good to have a little notebook so you can keep track of your meds. You'll be groggy for a while and it's easy to lose track of what you took, how much, and when. Keep a log of all your meds so you'll know you have an appropriate amount in your system all the time. You'll need to keep up your pain meds in the beginning, even if you have a little time when you're feeling better. If you let the pain get ahead of you, it will take longer for the meds to kick in. You'll heal faster if you're not in pain. It's also good to have a place to keep a running list of questions for your doctor, times of upcoming appts, etc.

Are you having a back incision, front incision, or both? This is a good place for support. We're not doctors, but we've got lots of first hand experience and are happy to try to answer whatever questions you have. Like Marlosmom said, make sure you read that sticky with the post surgery tips. It made my recovery so much easier!

You have about two weeks to go. Hang in there! You'll be on the other side of surgery before you know it!

Take care,
Emily

 
Old 02-07-2008, 08:43 AM   #10
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

emily
thank you for getting back to me , much appreciated ! like i said evryone on thos site is wouner full. i am having my surgery performed threw a back incision "posterior" on 2 levels l4-l5 & l5-s1. i will be purchasing a grabber , looks like thats a hot item for people after a back surgery. i'm trying to stay positive and mentally strong , but it's hard. i'm getting very restless , and the pain is simply horrible at best.. what type of surgery did you have ? what pain meds did they give you ? when did P.T begin ? thank you emily..

 
Old 02-07-2008, 09:29 AM   #11
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

I had a 360 (both front and back incisions) and had 8 levels done this time around. I was on morphine and I-don't-know-what-else in the hospital. I came home with Percocet, stayed on that for a couple of months, then switched to Vicodin and am still on it. I take Colace everyday, too, as pain meds notoriously cause constipation. I started PT at about 3 1/2 or 4 months.

Keep yourself as busy as you can, especially in the last few days. It will help keep you from being too anxious. But it's very normal to be anxious. This is a big surgery with a long recovery. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the better it will be for you, so spend these last couple of weeks doing everything you can to make your life easier while you're healing.

I got a ton of movies from a discount web site and friends lent me more movies than I could even watch. The Percocet made my eyes feel fuzzy, so I didn't want to read much, but I watched the first five minutes of a lot of movies. Then I'd wake up half an hour later and my kids would roll their eyes as I rewound to where I had drifted off. We usually check movies out for free from the library, but since I'm the one who keeps track of what's due, I didn't think that would be a good idea, as the fine is a buck a day per movie if they're late. This was a good excuse to get to buy a bunch of old classics and personal favorites, the ones I can watch over and over again.

If you have other questions, we'll try to help.
Take care,
Emily

 
Old 02-11-2008, 05:40 PM   #12
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

hello - - don't no if you remember me , you replied to a thread that i posted about 10 days ago.. i'm having a 2 level fusion on 2.20.08 , and you gave some good ideas that will make my journey a little more easier !! i purchased silk pajamas from "amazon.com" $44.99 and well worth it , thank you.. i did not have my surgery yet , but i can tell that wearing silk p
:j`s will DEF. help me out.. they are very comfy and i'm actually wearing them right now as we speak :lol: i would not have ever thought to buy pajamas , i usually just wear shorts or sweats - - these are extremely comfy, and will due me good in the following weeks !!

thank you billy

 
Old 02-12-2008, 04:56 AM   #13
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

Yep, I remember you. I've been reading your threads. Sounds like you're getting all your ducks in a row. You keep hanging in there!

My surgery was scheduled for 1pm, so I had to pass the whole morning without eating or drinking, just waiting to go into the hospital. I spent several hours here on the board, reading and posting. It helped a lot to be "talking" to people who understood!

Emily

 
Old 02-12-2008, 06:55 AM   #14
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

emily -> hey you are having surgery today ? ? ? well if you are i wish you the best of luck okay !! you are a good person with a big heart , and thank you for all your engouragment <> keep me posted ! billy

 
Old 02-12-2008, 07:59 AM   #15
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Re: lumbar back fusion at l4/l5 , l5/s1 levels on 2.20.08

No, no, no, no! Oh my, I can't even think about more surgery right now! I had two back surgeries in one year (for a total of 4 now) and don't want any more. I just meant that when I had my last fusion, it was in the afternoon. That was in the past and can stay there!

Emily

Last edited by BlueAtlas; 02-12-2008 at 08:00 AM.

 
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