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Old 02-19-2008, 03:23 AM   #1
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spooked HB User
Question l5 s1 fusion help

hello everybody wondering if anybody can give me some insight. i have an herniated disc l5 s1 and also spondylolysis. i was injured at work over a year ago and after gong from doctor to doctor saying all i have is a pulled muscle and just sending me to physical therapy which made more pain and aggravation i finally found one that i guess stayed awake in school and found the problem and said a fusion is the only fix. its taken me awhile to decide to have the surgery now im going in 2 weeks and scared as hell. he wants to take bone graft from my pevis and use instrumantaion. well really im looking for someone ho can tell me what to expect with the pain, hospital stay, recovery time, basically anything you can tell me i will greatly appreciate it. i'm hoping that i made the right decision and not going to regret it.

 
Old 02-19-2008, 03:55 AM   #2
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Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Hi,
I can't share on what its like after surgery but I can share your emotions about fear and if you are making the right decision. You see, my surgery (L5S1 fusion and laminectomy) is today! I can tell you that over the last few days, I came to the acceptance that this was the right decision and my only hope to have a chance at less pain. My older son ( he is 24 months old) woke me up early and we have been hanging out together watching Thomas the Train. I am at peace with my decision. I did finally do a living will just in case. I will be sure to sign on as soon as I can to share my experience. This board has helped me over the past few days to understand what my life has become and that I am a spiney Acceptance is the key!

Signing off for now,
Brett

 
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:39 AM   #3
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sherry1 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Hi

It is a very scary thought having surgery isnt it?

I need a 3 level fusion but have decided not to have it done and am living with the pain.
But that is my personal choice.

I really hope everything goes well for you.

Best wishes

 
Old 02-19-2008, 05:43 AM   #4
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BlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Hey Spooked,
This is certainly a scary time for you, but a lot of us have been through this surgery and can give you some input. I suggest you read the thread on the sticky at the top of the page called "post surgery tips." It's chock full of great suggestions that will make your recovery easier.

This is a big surgery with a long recovery. If it's what you need, though, it will be well worth it. It will take months for a full recovery, not weeks. It can take up to a full year or more to completely recover, but you'll see progress all along the way. You'll probably be in the hospital for 4-5 days, then go home and mostly stay in bed for a few weeks, with trips to the bathroom and times of walking. Walking is very important, as it gets the blood circulating around your spine. It's essential for getting bone growth going. I recommend that every time you get up to use the bathroom, you walk for as long as you can tolerate, maybe only 10 minutes at first, then lay back down and watch movies until next time you need to get up. They'll give you some pretty strong pain meds, which you should keep in your system all the time for a while. Even if you feel like you can taper off, you're going to have ups and downs and are better off taking your meds on schedule. If you don't, the pain will eventually get ahead of you and it will take longer to get it back under control. You'll heal better if you aren't using your energy to just get through your pain. Get yourself a little notebook to keep track of your meds, what you took, how much, and what time. You'll be groggy and it will be easy to lose track, so do keep a record of every med you take.

My best tips for you are to get a satin type bottom sheet for your bed and slippery pj's. That will make turning in bed much, much easier and less painful. You won't be fighting friction to turn. Put a plastic garbage bag on the passenger seat of your car for the ride home from the hospital for the same reason, so you can slide in and out more easily. Also put a large zip lock bag in there in case you get nauseous on the ride home. You can zip in the mess and no one will have to clean anything up.

The very most important piece of equipment to have is a grabber tool. You won't be able to bend, lift, or twist for quite some time, so a grabber tool will quickly become your best friend. You never realize how often you drop things or have to really reach for something until you can't. Even just lying in bed, the remote is going to slide just a little bit out of reach and you won't be able to get it. With your grabber tool, you won't have to be calling someone else constantly to fetch things for you.

You're sure to have lots of questions as you prepare and as you get closer to your date. Please ask away! We're not doctors, but we've been where you are now and are happy to tell you what our experiences were. No question is too big or too little. We'll be honest and not sugarcoat things, but this group is great for encouragement and support.

You'll be okay! Prepare as well as you can ahead of time and take a deep breath. You'll be so glad to get on the other side of surgery and just be able to rest and recover.

Wishing you the best,
Emily

 
Old 02-19-2008, 11:37 AM   #5
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dogwalker321 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Hi Spooked, I am in the same boat as you are only my upcoming surgery for fusion on L5-S1 in next Monday (2/25) and I too, am scared. Are you having the PLIF procedure done or the Abdominal? My Neuro surgeon says the recovery period isn't bad but that didn't give me much to go by. Thanks to your question I have read the other replies and gotten some additional info that will help. To be honest, I'm still thinking of cancelling as the recovery period/pain of healing is not my idea of fun but neither is the idea of not being able to lie down and sleep w/o pain. Guess either way involves pain.

Good luck with your surgery,
Nancy

 
Old 02-19-2008, 12:14 PM   #6
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kyma3 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Hey Nancy and Spooked you both are dealing with the same thing I have and I am now going through a 360 procedure. I had the first surgery on 1/29/08 which was the ALIF and they go through the abdomen and put in the cage. I was suppose to go back 2 weeks later for the PLIF which they go through the back and put in rods and screws. I ended up with a wound incision and was put on antibiotics and they had to delay the last surgery until the infection is cleared. I am not telling you this to scare you because most people do not end up with infections but I always have a lot of trouble with recovery time. I have had problems for many years with the L5/S1 and it finally got so bad that I couldn't take the pain any more.

I want to wish both of you good luck and will keep you in my prayers. This forum is great and I read for over a year before chiming in but everyone has been so helpful.

Linda

 
Old 02-19-2008, 12:30 PM   #7
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mznell HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Hello spooked and dogwalker,

Welcome to the board.

BlueAtlas gave you some good information pertaining to back surgery. If you are interested in more detailed conversation, another poster, deviphish76, joined the board about a month ago with similar questions. He is having his surgery tomorrow. You might want to search for his posts and you will read a very thorough discussion of what to expect before, during and after surgery. He had tons of questions and received tons of good information.

What I would like to say to both of you is to be sure you have explored all other options before deciding to have surgery. I would urge you to get more than one opinion and be sure you are going to a fellowship-trained spinal specialist. This could be an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. The important thing is that he or she has additional, fellowship training in the spine.

 
Old 02-20-2008, 07:08 AM   #8
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spooked HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

hey nancy, im having PLIF. i wish both you and linda have good luck and if possible let me know what to expect after waking up in recovery and hospital stay d-day for me is 3/07.

 
Old 02-20-2008, 11:40 AM   #9
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dogwalker321 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Hey Spooked,
I guess after thinking about the surgery, recovery time and all of that stuff I have decided to postpone my surgery until I can be certain it is the best solution for me. Best of luck to you and my thoughts will be with you on d-day ;-).

Take care,
Nancy

 
Old 02-20-2008, 07:08 PM   #10
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2Bbackontop HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Yesterday was my surgery. I am glad I did it, at least so far. I felt I had exhausted all my other options. L5S1 fusion, posterior with laminectomy left and right sides, 4 titanium screws, 2 rods. Surgeon used trapezoidol shaped cage 9 mm. He planned to use BMP but said there was so much marrow/bone available from laminectomy that he used that to pack in the cage and aroumd the cage. I was on a pump with 0.4 hydromorphone (dilaudud) every 15 minutes from 6 pm last night until 10 am this morning. Since then I have been on 15mg oxycodone every 4 hours with 0.4 dilaudid one time for btp. I have been in a lot of pain primarily in my lower back. But I have been up with a walker for 2 short 3 minute walks, sat up in a chair for dinner, and feeling good enough to type. Very tired but wanted to check in
Peace and Prayers!
Brett

 
Old 02-20-2008, 09:15 PM   #11
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kyma3 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

Brett,
I am so happy that it sounds like everything turned out well for you. You are still in my prayers and I hope the pain will lessen soon. Are they keeping your pain under control? Well take care and hopefully you will be home soon.

Linda

 
Old 02-20-2008, 10:19 PM   #12
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2Bbackontop HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

omg, just woke up 15 mins ago and felt like I was in a coffin. First real long sleep and my whole body stiffened. I have arthritis that they wont let me have nsaid for dt they say inhibits bone graft growth. plus last dose of oxy I asked to try only 10 mgs not 15. Thought i was doing good thing, but I made mistake, They gave me 0.4 dilaudid and instantly brought me from 9 to 6-7. Need to keep pain under control. this keeps my mind off my pain.
peace and prAyers,
Brett

 
Old 02-21-2008, 05:05 PM   #13
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camperboy HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

YES BRETT - NO NSAIDS!!!!

This is because right now your surgery is inflamed, but it needs to be inflamed (for the blood supply).

TakeCare,
David

 
Old 02-21-2008, 05:27 PM   #14
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camperboy HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

[QUOTE=spooked;3448046]hello everybody wondering if anybody can give me some insight. i have an herniated disc l5 s1 and also spondylolysis. i was injured at work over a year ago and after gong from doctor to doctor saying all i have is a pulled muscle and just sending me to physical therapy which made more pain and aggravation i finally found one that i guess stayed awake in school and found the problem and said a fusion is the only fix. its taken me awhile to decide to have the surgery now im going in 2 weeks and scared as hell. he wants to take bone graft from my pevis and use instrumantaion. well really im looking for someone ho can tell me what to expect with the pain, hospital stay, recovery time, basically anything you can tell me i will greatly appreciate it. i'm hoping that i made the right decision and not going to regret it.[/QUOTE]

Hey Spooked,

Last October 19th I had the exact same surgery for the exact same problem in the exact same place. Four months later I am walking 3-5 miles a day, doing push-ups, and riding an exercise bike. Before the surgery I could not stand or sit for more than 20 seconds without falling to the floor in agony.

The worst part about it is the part you're going through now - the waiting.

So what happens is you go in, they prep you, put you under, and then you wake up and it's done. In my case the searing leg pain was gone! But the numbness and tingling were worse. After a few days the tingling went away. The numbness is still a problem and may be permanent, but nerves take a LONG time to heal.

the hospital stay is usually 3-5 days. They try to get you up and walking, or, at least, standing, on the first day. You'll be using a walker.

As for the pain... it's more uncomfortable than anything else. For me the most painful thing was the catheter But you'll be hooked up to an IV with a little button that you push when you need more pain relief. Press it often!

The main thing to remember about the hospital stay is that the hospital is no place to be stoic... if you hurt, say so!

As for what you can do in the meantime to get ready, just make sure you have your rides in order to the hospital and home afterwards. Emily gave you some really good advice, and all of us will be here when you have more questions.

One last thing... if you smoke, you will have to quit. There's no way around it. Smoking - particularly in the first few weeks after surgery - is the main reason why fusions fail. It's because the nicotine constricts your blood vessels and keeps the nutrients from getting to your healing bones. Also, cigarette smoke is a bone toxin. If this doesn't apply to you, then don't worry about it. If it does, and you have more questions, ask. I was a smoker and have found it very hard.

Any more questions?

Take care,
David

 
Old 02-22-2008, 10:19 AM   #15
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spooked HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion help

thanks for the comment david did you quit before the surgery or after how did u quit i was also wondering about the catheter i think thats my most concern right now i got a problem with a tube were it don't belong, when did they take it out? i think i would rather **** on my self than have that when i wake up

 
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