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Old 07-02-2008, 11:25 AM   #1
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L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

July 14 is just around the corner. 'Had my pre-op exam today with my GP, blood typing next week and then it's the big day on the 14th. I am hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. Fusion is necessary as there are multiple damaged disks and the laminectomy alone will not support the spine, kind of like building a house on sink hole I'm told. The surgeon will be using the Medtronic infuse bone graft/Lt Cage Lumbar Fusion device.

I have read everything is there on how best to prepare for the surgery and what to expect afterwards but any further advice would be most appreciated. I am trying to get as much rest as I can and stocking up on DVD's, books I always wanted to read, even as crazy as it sounds I am reading up on motorcycles (one can still dream right? - I am 58 and must be out of my friggin mind).

 
Old 07-02-2008, 02:25 PM   #2
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

hey there,

just wanted to wish you all the luck in the world. I am sure everything will work out just fine for you. It sure can be overwhellming but you just need to remember that you quality of life right now is very low and that it will be so fantastic to recover and start to feel better. I won't lie to you, it's a difficult recovery. I found that the hospital was the hardest for me. I just wanted to go home so badly and that's probably why it was so miserable. My pain was high but if it got out of control they took care of it. Once I got home after just 4 days, I was a lot happier. It's always good to be home right! My best suggestion to you is to take it easy. When you think you are ready to do something even something little such as lifting the milk out of the fridge, wait a week. The longer you wait to do the little things, the better you will be. I know it sounds silly but it's so important. Be careful when going to the bathroom, sitting and getting up carefully, no bending of course or twisting. Anything that doesn't feel right, don't do it! Just take your time because even though it seems like a long recovery, it will go by fast and you'll look back on it and think it really wasnt' that bad.

Getting book, movies, magazines etc together is a neccesity! Anything to keep you in bed or a comfy chair (when you can sit) is very important. You don't want to allow yourself to get bored cause if you're like me, you'll get antsy. I love that you are reading about motorcycles! it's ambitious and it tells me that you have a positive attitude which is probably the most important thing as far as recovery goes. I have been through 2 major spine surgeries so if you have any questions, just ask. I am sure there are many more things I will think of to add and tell you but for now that's it, plus I have to go! Talk to you soon and be sure to keep me posted.

Take care.
Beachgirl

 
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:05 PM   #3
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Thank you Beachgirl! So what are those 10 must-read classics that everyone should tackle before they die? I think I'll have time to read.

I guess the thing that (one of the things) that concerns me the most is whether given that I only have a year and a half give or take towards retirement, whether I will ever actually get back to work or be forced to go out on a disability. You always think the worst in a case like this. And I know I will be using up all my acrued sick leave recovering no matter what. I expect the first couple of weeks will be sheer agony, I remember back when I had my diskectomy and that was a lot simpler procedure.

Those who have gone through this procedure, I'd love to hear from ya. Thanks and wish me luck. Richard

Last edited by moderator2; 07-04-2008 at 08:18 AM. Reason: unnecessary quote

 
Old 07-02-2008, 11:29 PM   #4
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Richard I just wanted to let you know that I am sure everything will be okay. I had fusion on L5/S1 with the first part on Jan.29th and then the second part on March 5, 2008. I am still new to the recovery and it is slow but it is coming along. I went to see my neurosurgeon last Friday and they did say that the x-ray is showing a small amount of fusion and that is okay because at least it is something. I still have numbness on my right foot, left foot starts to drop if on it for very long and I still get sharp pains in my lower back but my doctor told me that none of this is unusual. They reminded me just how bad I was before the surgery and that it could take 18-24 months before I was healed. I have also had 2 neck surgeries and I know how nerve damage can be because I ended up with permanent nerve damage in my left arm. They also told me that I was expecting too much too soon and they are probably right. I thought if I had my surgery in the winter months then I would be better by summer and could enjoy being outside.

I know that I don't have the same pains that I had before the surgery and it isn't an easy surgery to go through. I had a terrible time in the hospital with my last surgery because there was a nurse who didn't keep my pain medication on schedule so I cried one whole night and then the day nurse made sure that didn't happen again. I was glad to get home.

Keep us informed and I know you will be glad when it is over and you are home. I am 59 years old and I am sure my age has added to the recovery plus I am also having knee surgery in a couple of weeks due to a tear in my meniscus. I actually had to take disability because I had a lot of problems recovering from my last neck surgery with the permanent nerve damage and ended up with some other medical problems also. Just keep up a positive attitude and I just always tell myself that there is someone else worse off then me.

Take care
Linda

Last edited by kyma3; 07-02-2008 at 11:30 PM. Reason: spelling

 
Old 07-03-2008, 09:08 AM   #5
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Cool Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Forget about those 10 classic books...you'll have the time but not the concentration to get through them. How about 10 short "beach reads" -- something that requires zero concentration. 'cuz you'll be on lots of pain meds and won't be able to keep your eyes open for the first couple weeks.

I only had one level fused and I barely remember the first 2 weeks -- mostly slept, snoozed and watched a little TV...I only got up to use the bathroom, did my walking and went right back to the bed. I took my meds round the clock as prescribed, and as stressed by some of the ladies on this board...and it really helped.

 
Old 07-03-2008, 09:20 AM   #6
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Dime store novels and movies then until I can concentrate and enjoy. I guess Dostoevsky will have to wait. This may be a good time to buy stock in Blockbuster Video. Thank you! Richard

Last edited by moderator2; 07-04-2008 at 08:18 AM. Reason: unnecessary quote

 
Old 07-03-2008, 01:33 PM   #7
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Hi Richard,

I just passed my one week anniversary of an L4-S1 fusion with instrumentation. Bone slurry from my hip mixed with bmp. The surgery was last Tuesday and I was home by Saturday. My experiences were not nearly as bad as what I was told to expect.

I thought I'd awake from surgery in screaming pain but I did not. They kept my pain under control with a morphine pump so I could self-administer. The day after surgery they removed the drain and put on my brace. I was told to expect the drain removal would be agony, it was not. Mostly just felt weird. They got me out of bed the same day. I tottered around a bit and then back into bed.

I'd say the worst effect I felt in the hospital was some nausea from morphine on an empty stomach, and the nursing staff and I had some go rounds about that. I wanted light food like jello to settle my stomach to help stop the nausea, they didn't want to give me any food as long as I showed signs of nausea. I finally had one shift of nurses who understood reason and started giving me food (doctor's orders were "as tolerated.") The nausea went away.

In spite of my asking for help, repeatedly, one evening, I wound up with a bed sore. Do not let them get away with this, scream and make noises like "and I'll have it reported." This happened with only one shift of night nurses and the wonderful nurses the days after tried to cover up. My home health RN is reporting them, because it is 100% unnecessary and 100% preventable.

The drive home wasn't nearly as bad as I expected, and I found the suggestion of a plastic bag on the seat to help you turn to be absolutely brilliant.

If you can manage it, have a hospital bed at home. My doctor arranged home care nurses to come, and when they showed up they immediately ordered the hospital bed. It's the only way you can get comfortable because you really can't lift yourself up and around pillows.

And, last but not least, do absolutely everything, and I mean everything, to keep yourself from becoming constipated if at all possible - and it's very hard considering the hours your system is shut down in surgery followed by heavy narcotics, IV, liquid diet, etc. It's not a pleasant topic to discuss in mixed company but of everything I was told to expect (and I was warned to try to prevent this) this was the one thing that got me sicker then any other aspect of post-op. Take 'dem softeners.

Good luck, and I'll be thinking of you!

Paula


 
Old 07-03-2008, 05:34 PM   #8
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Paula thank you for that very kind and thoughtful reply. I never thought about a hosptital bed for the house. That may be just the ticket. And it sounds like it's fiber, fiber and more fiber. So much for my low carb diet.

Right now I am trying to relax and get as much rest as I can but it's amazing how many things you want to get done before surgery that involve bending, sitting and reaching that you won't be able to do the first weeks/months after surgery, mostly involving things you enjoy and will miss (for a while anyway).

I've been doing a lot of research over the internet, find these boards very helpful, and though I really don't know what to expect, I am hopeful the ordeal will be worth it.

For post-op, I am developing a list of books that I've never got around to reading, Blockbuster Video will be my best friend, and believe it or not I am studying-up on motorcycles - never had one but I'm told it demonstrates a positive outlook.

 
Old 07-03-2008, 06:05 PM   #9
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Richard,

I joined Netflix for the occasion (well, I should say I rejoined.) I also spent the weeks leading up to surgery doing everything I could that I knew I couldn't do afterwards. Hey, wasn't like I was going to hurt myself so I'd need to have surgery

Keep that positive outlook, and study up on those motorcycles! My outlook is this fusion will heal, I have the best doctor I could find, and I will invest a year of discomfort for the betterment of the rest of my life. And since I'm 54, we're pretty much in the same boat. I will NOT retire out of this, I'll just be able to do my job better and without being in as much pain.

I do have a book list but it's hard to hit them yet - waiting for a few less meds so my concentration is a bit beyond the level of a gerbil.

Take care, write, ask questions, I'm here. Well, really can't go anywhere anyway.

Paula


 
Old 07-03-2008, 06:33 PM   #10
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Paula, Netflix even better!! This site is great!
I don't dare ask my doc if I can have a cigar every so often - for medicinal purposes of course.

As for returning to work, in a sense this might be a vacation and give me a chance to think about what I really want to do the rest of my life. It's not like I won't have time to ponder right?

Last edited by moderator2; 07-04-2008 at 08:18 AM. Reason: unnecessary quote

 
Old 07-03-2008, 07:56 PM   #11
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Now Richard, although this is strictly between you and your doctor, I did have a surprise...

I am a smoker, and never really was able to quit before surgery. Went cold turkey in the hospital and had less trouble then expected. They kept offering me nicotine patches, which surprised me, but I kept refusing.

That is, until I got home, at which point I admitted defeat and grabbed a cigarette. The next day my home nurse came and I told her I was desperately trying to quit so the fusion would be successful. She told me not to bother, not to stress my body, and that for it to make a difference I'd have to have quit for at least 6 months prior to surgery. Therefore, the doctor's SOP is to have me start using a bone growth stimulator. I believe they'll start this as soon as the staples are removed, but I'm not certain. They're coming on Saturday to remove them so I'll know more then.

So, well, you might as well ask...

And yes, it's a good opportunity to make a philosophical examination of your life. Just be careful, since you'll be doing it while well medicated.

 
Old 07-03-2008, 08:33 PM   #12
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

"And yes, it's a good opportunity to make a philosophical examination of your life. Just be careful, since you'll be doing it while well medicated."

Well, I've tried it unmedicated and historically have not been too successful so maybe the meds will help. LOL.

Unlike cigarettes, cigars are not addictive at least they never have been for me. I can go days without one but it's something that does relax me and I look forward to it after work with a nice glass of brandy sitting out on the deck. One a day is the max for me, sometimes none a day. When I've mentioned this foul habit to my docs, the consensus has been, there are healthier pursuits but don't worry about it. But I imagine with all the meds and the pain, not only will be taste buds be shot to heck but the desire for a fine cigar will not be at the top of my list. It's going to be interesting for sure. Well, time to hit the sack. Again many thanks. You've helped keep my spirits up. Oh by the way, those relaxation music CD's are great too. And work!

Last edited by Backtobasics; 07-03-2008 at 08:36 PM.

 
Old 07-04-2008, 12:54 AM   #13
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Hey Kraigster!
Yet another Virginian! Where abouts in VA are you? There are a bunch of us in the Richmond area and a few more up in northern VA. (What's in that James River, anyway?)

I had a big stack of books and magazines to read after my surgery. I hardly read at all. It was too hard to focus for very long with the pain meds. They made my eyes feel weird. I had also gotten a lot of movies that I've loved in the past and some that I hadn't seen but wanted to. I used an online site, not an auction, but discounted and used stuff, great prices! I didn't let myself watch any of them until after the surgery, so I had them waiting for me when I got home. I watched the first five minutes of many, many movies. My kids did get a little tired of backing the movies up when I'd wake back up after drifting off in my pain med fog.

I'm sure you've read the sticky at the top by now, with all its great suggestions ("post surgery tips"). If you haven't, it's well worth the time. Make sure you get a good quality grabber and the slippery bottom sheet. They'll make all the difference!

You're sure to have other questions as you head into this and during your recovery. We aren't doctors, but we've had a variety of back experiences and are happy to try to help. Stay as busy as you can as your date approaches. It will help pass the time more quickly and also keep you from dwelling too much on the surgery.

Hope you're all ready in every way and that you'll have a quick, storybook recovery.

Take care,
Emily

 
Old 07-04-2008, 07:54 AM   #14
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Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Emily thanks! I am in Northern Virginia. Yes to the value of the stickies I've read, re-read and will read again. Mentally I am trying to prepare for surgery but I gotta tell ya, it ain't easy. Fear of the unknown, being a burden afterwards, will I really be any better, yada yada are my biggest worries. One minute I am telling myelf that it's going to be worth it, the next I'm asking myself why do I want to put myself through this. I am sure this thought process is not uncommon with a lot of back surgery patients. Today, it BBQ day and I have to keep telling myself there are a lot of folks worse off than me. Happy 4th of July to you and yours.

Last edited by moderator2; 07-04-2008 at 08:18 AM. Reason: unnecessary quote

 
Old 07-04-2008, 09:07 AM   #15
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paula456 HB User
Re: L2-S1 Laminectomy with instrumented fusion, getting ready

Richard, lived in Vienna for a while, a number of years ago.

I think after looking at all of my options, even today at 1 1/2 weeks out of surgery, there really was no choice for me. The disc between L5 and S1 was completely collapsed on one side resulting in bone on bone pain, and the disc above was heading there. My pain has been progressing for the past 3 years and there was nothing that was going to help it. My only other choice was to try to live through the rest of the collapse and hope the vertebrae would eventually self-fuse. The risk there is alignment - would it self-fuse and still maintain correct alignment? No way to know.

I've also been worried about becoming a burden, but I was already becoming one. Over the past year my entire focus has been getting to work, lasting through the day, getting home from the work. I could do less and less at home, have less and less enjoyment in life, and everything was requiring narcotics just to do something as simple as empty a dishwasher. I've always been very independent, it was devastating.

So, here I sit in my brace, even more dependent but looking at a future of less pain. I can already say the leg pain is gone, so that's step number one. Most of the pain right now is back/incision related, so not too shabby. I was told I'll be even more comfortable tomorrow after the staples come out. I hope they're right

Happy Fourth! Enjoy the day!


 
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