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Old 02-19-2008, 01:57 PM   #1
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dogwalker321 HB User
Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

Hi there, I am new to this site and have been reading the threads with great interest and also some fear! I am scheduled to have fusion surgery next Monday 2/25 and am really having 2nd thoughts. I have a great Neurosugreon but he did not give me any idea as to what to expect AFTER the surgery (ie. recovery time and limitations). I have 3 dogs who will be kenneled for about 5 days (3 of which I will be in hospital) and then 2 after I'm home. Am I expecting too much? My fiance works about 60 hours a week so I don't have any help during the day.

The posts about wha to do after surgery make a lot of sense but I'm wondering why the doctor doesn't mention any of this?? It really makes me want to cancel the surgery - especially after hearing how many folks still have pain following their surgery. Maybe not being able to lay down or sleep isn't so bad after all... I really am scared about the surgery.

Any thoughts? I know that many of you are very experienced at this stuff and I thank anyone in advance who replies.

Best wishes,
Nancy

Last edited by dogwalker321; 02-19-2008 at 01:59 PM. Reason: spelling

 
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Old 02-19-2008, 02:08 PM   #2
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Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

Yes Nancy. I have some thoughts for you! I'm glad you started your own thread...I almost wrote on the other post because your attitude sent up a tiny little red flag. Could I ask more about your back situation? Have you had problems for a long time? Was it an injury? Do you have back or leg pain? Please write in more detail why you are having the surgery. Then I will post back with more answers to your questions.

I just had PLIF at L4-5 about 6 weeks ago so it is still fresh in my mind.

 
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:55 PM   #3
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Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

Hi Nancy, and welcome to our back world,

I think it's pretty common to have second thoughts as the date gets close. I had to remind myself how I felt on my bad days and why I had decided to have the surgery in the first place. I realized that I couldn't second guess myself. I had made the decision for good reasons, and those reasons weren't going to go away.

My experience with doctors has been that they don't tend to tell us what the recovery will be like. For one thing, they'd scare off a lot of patients. For another, they really don't see what it's like for us day to day. They see us for 5 minutes every now and then after surgery, when we've gotten our act together enough to get to their office. I'm afraid I tend to do the opposite, tell how my recovery was and not sugarcoat anything, but I had a lot of levels done. The more levels you have done, the longer and harder the recovery will be. Several people have commented on here recently that it has been much easier than they expected. I expect that was partly my fault. It IS a big surgery, and it WILL be a long recovery, but if you need it, you'll get through it and be glad of it. I don't think you should expect to walk dogs for quite some time. They'll be likely to pull on you, which will not be good for your back. If you have a fenced in area where you could just let them out, you'd probably be fine. Several people have said their dogs seemed to know that they were in a more fragile state than normal and actually watched out for them, protecting them and not jumping on them.

You'll be needing and wanting to just rest after surgery. If your fiance can leave you food and drink where you can easily get at them, and you're able to get yourself in and out of the bathroom by yourself (I never needed help in that area), you'll be fine by yourself while he's at work.

I saw that you posted on another thread, so I won't be repetitive, but I will urge you to read the thread on the sticky at the top called, "post surgery tips." It's been very helpful to a lot of us as we prepared ahead of time for surgery.

Please let us know what other questions you have, and please don't let us scare you from a needed surgery.

Take care,
Emily

 
Old 02-19-2008, 05:02 PM   #4
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Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

I just finished feeding my dogs and it reminded me to tell you that depending on the size of your dogs and where you feed them, this could be a problem for you. Any time you have an epidural injection or certainly surgery, you are not allowed to bend, twist or lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I feed my dogs on the floor and it is just about impossible for me to do this without bending. This is just one of the little things you don't think about when you decide to have spinal surgery.

Do you walk your dogs or is your situation such that you can open the door and let them out on their own? Unless you have a miraculous recovery you will not be able to walk very far after your surgery. It varies very much from patient to patient how the recovery will go, and what procedure was done...but people don't get discharged from the hospital and start walking blocks at a time.

Realistically, you will need someone with you for about the first week after fusion. You will be heavily medicated and will sleep or nap most of that week, but you will probably be walking with the aid of a walker and may not be too steady on your feet. It is nice to have someone there to prepare your meals and generally wait on you.

You will not be driving for anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months -- that varies a great deal, as you can see.

From your first comment, I got the feeling that you do/did not realize that this is a BIG surgery. It's not like having a gall bladder removed, for example...where you go in, have the surgery, are released, have a short recovery at home, and are on your way. Fusion is much more complicated with many unknown variables. Anytime you are dealing with nerves and nerve endings there are no predictable outcomes. A doctor can only tell you what the odds are, or how things usually turn out. That's why everyone will tell you that you only engage in a fusion as a last resort, when you have exhausted all other treatments. And, interestingly enough, fusion is considered an elective surgery!

 
Old 02-19-2008, 05:33 PM   #5
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apocalypto22 HB User
Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

hi,I been cancelling few times already,not afraid of actual procedure its the recovery,and the pain and worries that go with it.I'm chicken I guess.

 
Old 02-19-2008, 06:44 PM   #6
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dogwalker321 HB User
Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

Hi Marlosmom,
I want to thank your for you interest and here are some of the details of my history.
My back problems started from an injury 30 years ago and later developed into a ruptured L5-S1 disc. There is no leg pain involved right now but there was a couple of months ago. The main problem is that I can't lay down flat (on anything) to sleep and use a pillow under my legs or between them if I am on my side. That's about as comfortable as I can get... oh, and with the aid of Darvocet or Lortabs to help me sleep thru the pain. Morning brings another challenge as getting verticle again after being horizontal brings the most pain ever. I do not like taking pain meds which is why I chose the surgery instead of narcotics as was suggested by my doctor as an option.

I was very hopeful last week when I decided to have the surgery and I do realize that it's a BIG one. That is one of the reasons I am being so cautious as I have a lot of animals and my 93 yr old Mom depending on me for care. I'm just afraid that my "support network" is not large enough to help me with all of my normal day-to-day tasks. The dogs will be fine in the fenced in yard but that seems like the least of my concerns now.
Take care,
Nancy

 
Old 02-19-2008, 08:37 PM   #7
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mznell HB User
Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

Hi Nancy,

Have you tried more conservative treatments for your pain? Have you gotten a second opinion?

If not, I am really concerned that your expectations for this surgery may be a bit unrealistic. For many of us, it seems as though we trade one type of pain for another. The surgery will not restore you to the way you were when you were younger and painfree. If you're lucky, it will get you part of the way there!

I don't mean to be negative, but I want to be sure you know what you're getting into!!

xx MM

 
Old 02-20-2008, 09:22 AM   #8
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dogwalker321 HB User
Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

Hi Apocalyto22,

I really can't say as I blame you for cancelling... I just called and cancelled my surgery. I too am concerned that the recovery time will be tougher for me than the actual surgery. After having endured 6 other bone sugeries and 3 abdominal surgeries, I thought I had a fair expectation of what it would be like but I guess not.

It's time to go back to the drawing board and see what else is out there for solutions. Good luck to you in whatever you decide to do.
Nancy

Last edited by dogwalker321; 02-20-2008 at 09:24 AM. Reason: added name

 
Old 02-20-2008, 09:32 AM   #9
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dogwalker321 HB User
Wink Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

[QUOTE=marlosmom;3449511]Hi Nancy,

Have you tried more conservative treatments for your pain? Have you gotten a second opinion?

If not, I am really concerned that your expectations for this surgery may be a bit unrealistic. For many of us, it seems as though we trade one type of pain for another. The surgery will not restore you to the way you were when you were younger and painfree. If you're lucky, it will get you part of the way there!

I don't mean to be negative, but I want to be sure you know what you're getting into!!

xx MM[/QUOTE]

Yes, I have tried many other alternative treatments but I am going to see what else is out there. I just called to cancel with the surgeon and asked if there was any alternative to the fusion. We'll see what he says but I am not expecting him to suggest anything else. My pain mgmt doctor had suggested a Spinal Cord stimulator to control the pain. He is the one that sent me to the Neuro guy to see if surgery would be an alternative to having wires and a small unit sitting under my skin. That one doesn't thrill me either.
Maybe I was being unrealistic and thought that the fusion would make life a little easier in the long run but from the sound of it I may be mistaken.

Thanks for the reality check - I really appreciate your input.
Be well,
Nancy

 
Old 02-20-2008, 11:16 AM   #10
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mznell HB User
Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

Hi Nancy,

Don't give up on the idea of surgery entirely. I just felt you needed to do a little more research to be sure you knew what you were getting into. It may still turn out to be the best solution for you. If so, you will enter into it knowing you have left no stone unturned.

Keep in touch!!

 
Old 02-20-2008, 11:37 AM   #11
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dogwalker321 HB User
Cool Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

[QUOTE=BlueAtlas;3449181]Hi Nancy, and welcome to our back world,

I think it's pretty common to have second thoughts as the date gets close. I had to remind myself how I felt on my bad days and why I had decided to have the surgery in the first place. I realized that I couldn't second guess myself. I had made the decision for good reasons, and those reasons weren't going to go away.

My experience with doctors has been that they don't tend to tell us what the recovery will be like. For one thing, they'd scare off a lot of patients. For another, they really don't see what it's like for us day to day. They see us for 5 minutes every now and then after surgery, when we've gotten our act together enough to get to their office. I'm afraid I tend to do the opposite, tell how my recovery was and not sugarcoat anything, but I had a lot of levels done. The more levels you have done, the longer and harder the recovery will be. Several people have commented on here recently that it has been much easier than they expected. I expect that was partly my fault. It IS a big surgery, and it WILL be a long recovery, but if you need it, you'll get through it and be glad of it. I don't think you should expect to walk dogs for quite some time. They'll be likely to pull on you, which will not be good for your back. If you have a fenced in area where you could just let them out, you'd probably be fine. Several people have said their dogs seemed to know that they were in a more fragile state than normal and actually watched out for them, protecting them and not jumping on them.

You'll be needing and wanting to just rest after surgery. If your fiance can leave you food and drink where you can easily get at them, and you're able to get yourself in and out of the bathroom by yourself (I never needed help in that area), you'll be fine by yourself while he's at work.

I saw that you posted on another thread, so I won't be repetitive, but I will urge you to read the thread on the sticky at the top called, "post surgery tips." It's been very helpful to a lot of us as we prepared ahead of time for surgery.

Please let us know what other questions you have, and please don't let us scare you from a needed surgery.

Take care,
Emily[/QUOTE]

Hi Emily,
I wanted let you that I have cancelled my surgery. After talking w/marlosmom and hearing what you had to say, I realized that I am just not ready for this. I thought I was until reality set in and now understand that this would be the most complex surgery that I would undergo. Don't know what the future holds but I have asked the neuro doc for any other alternatives so will wait to see what he has to say.

Thanks for your suport and I wish you well,
Nancy

 
Old 02-20-2008, 12:04 PM   #12
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dogwalker321 HB User
Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

[QUOTE=marlosmom;3450376]Hi Nancy,

Don't give up on the idea of surgery entirely. I just felt you needed to do a little more research to be sure you knew what you were getting into. It may still turn out to be the best solution for you. If so, you will enter into it knowing you have left no stone unturned.

Keep in touch!![/QUOTE]

Hi again,

The surgeons office just called back and he said that my back problem has been going on way too long and that he feels I have tried just about everything except the spinal cord stim and the intrathecal pain med pump. He feels the surgery is my best bet but understands that I need to be okay with doing it before I can accept the recovery time etc. Whew! never thought that it would be so intense just trying to decide the next step. So for now I have put it "on hold" and will do some soul searching or whatever it takes before ruling the surgery out completely. Thanks again...

Cheers!

 
Old 02-20-2008, 12:31 PM   #13
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Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

Nancy, I think that's wise. You really need to be mentally ready for such a big surgery. I think you'll know when the time comes whether it's the right thing to do. Until then, keep educating yourself, ask questions, and try to get in as best shape you can. The better shape you're in before surgery, if it comes to that, the easier it will be coming out of it.

Blessings,
Emily

 
Old 02-20-2008, 09:26 PM   #14
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ms_west HB User
Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

you are doing the correct thing and believe me you will know in your heart when it is the right time. Personally, I knew I was ready when I was 100% homebound and it was a struggle to do everyday activities.

God Bless you and good luck.

 
Old 02-21-2008, 01:14 PM   #15
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apocalypto22 HB User
Re: Upcoming PLIF fusion surgery L5-S1

[QUOTE=dogwalker321;3450417]Hi Emily,
I wanted let you that I have cancelled my surgery. After talking w/marlosmom and hearing what you had to say, I realized that I am just not ready for this. I thought I was until reality set in and now understand that this would be the most complex surgery that I would undergo. Don't know what the future holds but I have asked the neuro doc for any other alternatives so will wait to see what he has to say.

Thanks for your suport and I wish you well,
Nancy[/QUOTE]

Don't feel too bad I canceled surgery myself.was suppose to go 2005,then again 2006.i'm still alive,under control like a remission phase at present,but mentally I know I'm not ready.

 
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