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Old 12-04-2008, 10:34 AM   #1
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Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

Saw the neurosurgeon today with my sister and after going over everything and examing me(painful!) he did talk about trying physical therapy and shots first and then surgery but my sister said I was putting up with pain too long and I said I lost money and hours at work alraedy and he agreed to go ahead and schedule the surgery for next week already! I'm quite scared that it's so soon! So, Dec 9th is the day. Any word of advice?

 
Old 12-04-2008, 06:31 PM   #2
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

How long have you suffered with extreme pain?...You really should exhaust or at least try several alternative non-surgerical treatments 1st...and get 3 Dr's opinions (as tiresome as it may feel to "interview" 3 doctors......Can I ask how old you are? Are you in reasonably good shape? Did you have an MRI and CT scan....X-rays too?

Spinal fusion surgery is a big surgery and a big decision....It's important to do your homework...You should try at least 6 months of PT first...sometimes accupuncture has helped people I know.....and the epidural shots can also give relief and worth a try...they're not a solution...but buy you time as you continue with PT..

How many levels will you need done? is it a posterior or anterior lumbar fusion...Important questions...The recoup time is usually a minimum 5-6 weeks and for many like myself I was out of work 2 months..I'm 54 and had PLIF at levels L3-L4...It required me to wear a brace during the day for 2 months.

Please consult with a Fellowship trained spinal surgeon...and talk with him about his fusion success rates....Will you require a bone graft from your hip to supplement the fusion....Will you need a laminectomy? Do they need to rebuild your disk...Will they but a cage in for support? You should donate your own blood prior to surgery..

There are MANY questions you need to ask and should really educate yourself.

I honestly have never heard (after one visit) for a Dr. to suggest surgery just a week away unless it was an emergency.......Is you pain constant? can you stand? Can you walk any distance?

ALso before surgery you should try and build your core (stomach muscles and strengthen your arms as much as possible...This is important cause you'll need this strength to lift and pull yourself, in and out of the car, out of bed, on and off the toilet.

Please do some research...and then I can say for me it was worth it...Once I was secure w/ my surgeon..A great hospital w/ terrific nursing staff helped me thru...I would do it again, cause for me there really was no choice, but I still waited and researched until all my questions were answered.

I don't mean to scare you but you need to mentally prepare yourself and your family for this surgery...WIll there be someone at home w/ you for several weeks to help you...prepare meals etc..??

Please keep us posted..we are here for you and have all been thru it....My surgery was 10 months ago, and now I can walk a mile or 2....have gotten back to the gym where I can rid the stationery bike for 20 minutes etc...
Probably back to 80% of my old self which is a gift...And no longer in pain..

Wishing you all the best and please keep us posted..

LAF

 
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:08 PM   #3
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

Oh my gosh tami!!!

I agree with Laf, I think this is happening too quickly. You for sure need to get at least two opinions. There are different methods/ ways to do this procedure and one may be better than the other for you. I start PT next week because my surgeon told me that it is very important to strengthen your back before this type of surgery. It will greatly affect the recovery and success of the surgery. It also scares me that this guy would schedule surgery so quickly after just one appointment. My surgeon ordered more tests to be exactly sure what he was dealing with before operating. So in all I have had an x-ray, MRI, CT scan, and discogram.
Tell me what he plans to do. What will he do with your discs? What levels will he be fusing?
I know you are in pain, so am I, but it is so so so important to know exactly what you are dealing with before having this done. This is a major operation. Can you try to get in to see another surgeon quickly to get another opinion?

 
Old 12-04-2008, 07:27 PM   #4
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

I'm 39 and in fairly decent shape, and I've had x-rays and and an MRI done. My pain started in early Sept. and has increased quite quickly and dramatically. My MRI report is the following: There is mild disk space narrowing and degenerative disk desiccation at L5-S1. There is approx 7mm anterior spondylolisthesis of L5 on S1 and bilateral spondylolysis at L5-S1. The L1-L2-3, L3-4,disks are unremarkable. There is mild diffuse disc bulge at L4-5. No central stenonis or nerve root impingement. Mild diffuse disc bulge at L5-S1. This results in mild narrowing of the left L5-S1 netral foramen. The right neural foramen appears widely patent. No central stenosis. Impression: Grade 1 anterior spondylolisthesis of L5 on S1 with bilateral spondylolysis. Mild narrowing of the left L5-S1 neural foramen. Mild diffuse disc bulge at L4-5
I'm in pain with everything I do from walking to driving and sleeping is getting difficult and every week it worsens and spreads.
I will need one level done, yes I will have the bone graft from the hip to supplement the bone. I had my sisiter with me and I took down a lot of questions from this site and she did a lot of note taking for me. I will be getting fitted for a brace that I will have to wear up to three months. I'm a day care teacher and he said I may not be able to go back to that for at least 6 months.

 
Old 12-04-2008, 07:35 PM   #5
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

The hospital I'm going to has 4 rotating Neurosurgeons and the one I met with today won't be back until January and the thought of waiting that long and going through more pain and waiting just was so upsetting to me and I've heard grom others that at this point physical therepy and shots don't even help. Not when I have gaps, a fracture, and a hole in a bone.

 
Old 12-04-2008, 07:53 PM   #6
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

I feel your pain Tami. I also don't know how much longer I can take this. Just make sure you are perfectly comfortable with the surgeon and with the procedure. You'll have to post whenever you can during your recovery to give me some words of wisdom! I am hoping to schedule surgery next week, but I do not want to ruin Christmas, plus my husband can't take any time off until after the holidays, so I will have to wait until January.
Will you have people to help you?

 
Old 12-04-2008, 08:11 PM   #7
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

Yes, I do have pleople to help out luckily. My kids are 13, 15, and almost 18. My husband is a bit of a neat freak so he likes to have the house clean, and I have plenty of family that lives nearby too. I do have to rush to finish the Christmas wrapping and such and that is one of the downfalls of the surgery before Christmas. I know this seems rushed and I thank you guys for your concern and caring, but I really did ask a lot of questions that I learned on this board, and I just want to get my life back and be rid of this pain, and be back at work so we can get our finances back on track. I won't be back on prob till after the surgery and I'm recouping cause I've got so much to do before Tues. so laf, thanks for the advice and Megss, take care and THANKS!!

 
Old 12-04-2008, 08:21 PM   #8
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

Tami- one other thing....

What if your L4-L5 bulging disc is causing some of your pain? From what you wrote it doesn't sound like he will do anything to that disc during the operation. That is why I had to have a discogram done, because if my discs are causing pain, which we found out they are, then he would need to fuse the L4-L5 as well.
Good luck getting everything in order and post if you can!

GOOD LUCK ON TUESDAY!

 
Old 12-04-2008, 08:31 PM   #9
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

I just joined this site tonight, so in that respect I am a Newbie, but in terms of back surgeries, I just completed my fourth, so I am more experienced than most. A second opinion is essential! Please make sure he/she specializes in spinal conditions. In September of this year I reported to the ER twice while waiting for my appointment with an orthopedic surgeon whom I was referred to by my GP. My pain was unbearable, and the ER doc said it was one of the worst cases of sciatica he had ever seen. I broke my own rule and did NOT get a second opinion this time--the first time in my life. I regret it. My scar tissue from my previous 2 lumbar surgeries complicated this discectomy, and now I am having horrible coccyx pain. [I also have a cervical fusion.] Now, my current surgeon, who is not a spinal specialist, is not paying any attention to my complications. The long term effects of these operations are serious and complex. Please don't rush into it without an INDEPENDENT second opinion from someone who is reputable and experienced. Your pain during the short term may be worth it if you avoid or minimize complications in the future. Also, the advice about strengthening your back first is 100%on the mark if you are physically able to do it. Best of luck to you.

 
Old 12-05-2008, 04:25 AM   #10
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

Can't seem to stay away from this board so I'm back on early this morning.
Yes, Ydw, he does specialize in spinal surgies and has done MANY successful surgeries, and went over all the risks and was very thorough with explaining everything.
The type of surgery he is doing is:
L5 C-.ll Decompression with Bilateral Lateral Mass Fusion with Instrumentation and Bone Growth Stimulator.
Thanks again!

 
Old 12-05-2008, 09:57 AM   #11
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

Hi Momm, and welcome to the board!

Sounds like you've done your homework, as fast as this is moving, and are set on going forward. I wish you the best! You and your sister might both want to read the sticky at the top called "post surgery tips." It has lots of wonderful suggestions from different people that will help you as you recover. This is a big surgery with a long recovery time. Will you have help available? It sounds like you have a very supportive sister. That's wonderful! I hope she'll be able to see you through this.

I just wrote a long answer to leona07 regarding recovery from fusion. You might want to take a look at that, too.

If you have specific questions, there are lots of us here who are happy to try to help you. Been there, done that!

I hope it all goes splendidly for you and that your recovery is fast and fusion quickly solid!

Blessings,
Emily

 
Old 12-05-2008, 02:19 PM   #12
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

Likewise from me....best of luck and we're all thinking of you.

Do let us know how your recovery is going - I'm also maybe looking at a l5/s1fusion in the coming months, so I'm sure I'm going to be asking you for lots of advice in the near future!

Best, best wishes,
Jinks

 
Old 12-05-2008, 05:57 PM   #13
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Re: Fusion Surgery Next Tues.

I had to re read your post. You only started to have pain in September and now you are considering spinal fusion. First there is no such thing as a guarantee that you will not have more pain. Having a spinal fusion isn't like having your gallbladder out. This is a very serious operation. Unless there is some serious nerve encroachment and your mri does not suggest that I would get another opinion. This is a serious step taken in what is a very short period of time. In your case this surgery sounds elective. I personally think your sister should not have pushed you to make this decision. A lot of people just don't understand all the complications that can go wrong with fusion surgery. It should only be done when all other forms of treatment are have failed and only then after a much longer period of time. Backs take time to get better. I know that American Surgeons seem to do surgery a lot more readily than Canadian or European Surgeons. This is your body be cautious with it.
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Last edited by pooby; 12-05-2008 at 05:59 PM.

 
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