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Old 01-23-2009, 04:45 PM   #1
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360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

[FONT="Times New Roman"]Hello everyone! I just found this board, and I am scheduled to have the 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1 surgery on 2/17/09. I am a little nervous, and I am starting to prepare my house and everything else for the surgery. I found the "sticky" on the main page, and I think that will be a very usefull list of items.

I am currently on Dilaudid 2mg every 6-8 hours, and that is barely working now, so I am a bit nervous that after the surgery the pain medications will not be as effective. While I completely trust my orthopedic surgeon, I am just nervous, and I thought reading the stories on this site, and getting additional feedback, that it might put some of my nervous energy at ease. LOL

My surgery will be performed in two passes. The first (2/17) will be to clean out the disk tissue and put in the cages. They will also be doing a bone graft from the hip. The very next day, the surgeon will put the rods and screws in my spine.

I have been told that this surgery will be nothing compared to the pain I felt after my laminectomy, and I am hoping that is just an overexaggeration!

Does anyone here have similar experiences and/or surgeries? Any additional information or feedback you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!!

Joe [/FONT]

 
Old 01-24-2009, 02:11 AM   #2
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

I thought the pain level was significantly improved after the surgery than before it. The pain meds you take in the hospital are pretty strong. Have you communicated your concern to your doctor?

 
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Old 01-24-2009, 08:25 AM   #3
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

Hi DelawareGirl!

I have communicated this to my doctor. He assured me that he will not leave me in pain. I am just nervous that I am going to move the wrong way, or lay in such a way that causes copious amounts of pain, and I am trying to avoid such things.

 
Old 01-24-2009, 11:04 AM   #4
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

Hi Joey, and welcome to the board! I love this board! It was my lifeline during my recovery. There were a few people here who gave me a lot of encouragement and support and lots of good answers to my many, many questions.

I'm glad you found the sticky about post surgery tips. It has many excellent suggestions! Out of all the suggestions people gave me, the best one was to get a grabber tool. My grabber was worth what I paid for it the first day home from the hospital. Do spend the money to get a good one. Mine was $30 at my local pharmacy. I tried one called “The Gopher,” too, because it was a third of the price, but in my opinion it wasn’t worth a nickel. It was really flimsy. I ended up returning it and got a good one instead. But that’s just my opinion. Others here have used that one and had no problem with it.

Also, get yourself a little notebook to keep track of your meds. You’ll be groggy and in pain, so it will be easy to lose track of what you took and when. Write down everything you take! You’ll need to stay on top of your pain by taking your meds exactly as ordered. Don’t try to wean off them too quickly. You’ll heal better if your pain is under control. It sounds like your doctor will keep you medicated enough so your pain will be well controlled. I kept a running list of questions for my doctor in the same little notebook, as well as notes to myself so I wouldn’t forget things in my fog during those first weeks.

I got a set of satin sheets (well, a cheap imitation) for my bed and some slippery pj’s. It was SO much less painful to be able to slide to turn instead of fighting the friction of cotton. This really was one of the best things I did for myself! I did end up taking off the satin top sheet and put the cotton one back on. The satin one slid out from being tucked in too easily, and it was way too hard for me to re-tuck it myself.

For the same reason, that is to make it easier to move, put a plastic garbage bag in your car for the ride home from the hospital. You can slide on the seat getting in and out and it will be much easier. Also, put a ziplock bag in the car in case you feel nauseous on the way home. If you need to throw up, you can just zip in the mess and no one will have to clean anything up. Whoever drives you will appreciate that!

Check with your insurance company to see what equipment they’ll provide. A toilet riser is very helpful. My insurance company provided a portable bedside commode, which can be placed right over a regular toilet. You just take out the bucket and don't use it. No one has to clean anything out, but you have a higher seat and arm rests to help you get up and down. Flushable wet wipes are also very handy. You’ll be weak and it may be hard to reach, so you’ll feel a bit cleaner if you use those. The hospital or insurance company may give you other little goodies, too, like dressing tools and stuff. I found my grabber much easier to use than the dressing tool, but try it and see what works for you.

For your front incision, keep a small, firm throw pillow handy all the time. You can also use a folded up blanket or towel. Place it directly over your front incision. (Well, over your clothes, of course). When you need to turn, cough, sneeze, or laugh, press down firmly but gently on the pillow to “splint” the incision. It really helps to lessen the pain!

You can expect to be mostly lying down for the first weeks, maybe even 2-3 months, depending on your particular case. Most of our healing takes place during sleep, so you really need to get enough rest. (That’s one reason why little kids heal so fast and old people heal much more slowly.) You need to walk, though, to get a good fusion going. Walking increases blood flow to the spine, which is essential for bone growth. Getting up and down from bed will be hard at first, so take advantage of already being up anytime you need to use the bathroom and walk, walk, walk. Even if you just do laps around your bedroom, walk for as long as you can tolerate. At first, that might only be 10 minutes. That’s fine! Then lie back down and rest. At least out there in Arizona, it'll be warm enough to be outside. That does a lot for your spirits, just getting some fresh air and a change of scenery!

It's very normal to be nervous, even if you have great trust in your surgeon. Keep yourself as busy as you can, especially during that last week before your surgery. It'll help keep you from dwelling too much on it.

If you have other questions, please don't hesitate to post them. We're not doctors, but lots of us have been in your shoes. We're happy to help you as best we can from our own experiences.

I wish you the best!
Emily

 
Old 01-24-2009, 08:00 PM   #5
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

Hi Joey i had this surgery they did all my surgery all at the same time it lasted 12 and a half hours but they are not the ones that did my first surgery so they had a mess to clean up in there. Emily told you about what i could think of i got the satin sheet idea from her it was the best thing and the grabber of course. Good luck!

 
Old 01-24-2009, 09:02 PM   #6
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

Hi Joe....

I also had this same surgery.....You wont be left without sufficient pain meds....this surgery is a big one and will call for helpful meds...my surgery was set for a one time deal but with some complications they did it in two surgeries with a day in between.....I used the bone bank and was happy for that because I hear so many say the bone graft site is just as painful as the surgery itself......all and all its worth it when you get a few weeks away from surgery....Ive learned everyone heals sooooo much different from others....so be patient and do what the doc says.....my biggest problem was while I was still in the hospital....once you get out it will get better....but slowly....also you will have good days and think its getting better pretty fast.


We are here for you! Good luck and you will be fine.

Devon

 
Old 02-23-2009, 07:50 AM   #7
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

joe,
How are you? I'm going in on Wed for the same procedure, and pretty scared. I had a failed fusion 18 months ago.

 
Old 03-13-2009, 07:17 PM   #8
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

I talked with you guys a couple of weeks ago. I had my 360 done. They did the front on feb 25, and had to stop bacause I was bleeding too bad. So the waited two days and did the back on the 27th. So I'm 2 weeks post op today. The last 2 days have been miserable. Its nots my first surgery, but maybe I forgot how bad post op pain can be. Just a really bad 2 days, and I shouldn't even post when I get like that, because I'm really depressed today. I don't think they have me on enough meds post op. I was on so much for so long before surgery, and they knew it was a concern. Now they have me on 2 norco every 4 to 6 hours, but its just not cutting it. Sorry for whining. Plus there is always that fear did it work or not. I can't tell anything at this point. I had no leg pain initially so its all that low mid back pain. Ok...I'm done

 
Old 03-16-2009, 08:44 PM   #9
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

Hello everyone!

Sorry I haven't been able to login for a while. My surgery was posted from 2/17 to 3/10, as one of my surgeon's had another patient emergency.

So, I was released from the hospital yesterday. The first few days post-op were HELL. First off, they only ended up fusing L4-S1, and they put a "hinge" joint at the L3-L4. They said that would give me the best chance of success in current/future spine health, being only 29 years old. My surgery was only supposed to last four six hours, but ended up lasting almost 11 hours due to me being a "bigger guy" (I am 5'8" and 250lbs). Because of the extended surgical period, my body was repositioned several times, causing my right arm to be completely useless. Whenever I would try to get a drink, blow my nose, or anything else with that arm, I would end up smacking myself in the face pretty hard. Also, all I really wanted to do was sleep, but it seemed like every two hours, someone would come into my hospital room for vitals, PT, or something.

I will tell you this, my physical therapist was a beast, but I love her! She pushed me harder than anyone has ever done in my life, but if it weren't for her, I wouldn't have been released so soon. Her exact words to me were, "The more you walk, the sooner you will heal." I believe she may have been speaking directly from God!

So, here I am. Almost at my one week post-op anniversary, and I have to say, it is not as bad as I had prepared myself for. I am very blessed to have the team of doctor's that I had, my nurses, and mostly for my family. I believe they have also been detrimental to the leaps and bounds that I have come to so far. Aside from the surgical pain (i.e., 50+ staples in the abdoment, two incisions in the back), I cannot feel any of the original pain I had just last week. My legs are taking on quit a bit of extra fluid, so the doctor had me get a pair of TED Hoses. Has anyone seen that happen after their surgeries? Any thoughts?

Well, I wish everyone well, and hope that those of you who are preparing for this surgery understand that it is not an easy surgery, but with faith and love, you will overcome it!

With love to you all,

Joe

 
Old 03-16-2009, 08:58 PM   #10
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

Glad to see you are doing well. Would you mind sharing who your surgeon was? I've used Dr. C. Yeung in Phoenix for my neck but am looking for another option for my lumbar spine.
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Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 03-17-2009, 09:11 AM   #11
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

Joe, welcome back. Glad you're on the mend now!

Yes, the leg swelling is common. Keep wearing those TED stockings until you're moving around more or less normally. They help with the swelling and also help to prevent clots from inactivity.

Walk as much as you can tolerate, but be careful not to overdo it. And remember, no BLT's unless it's a sandwich!

Take care,
Emily

 
Old 04-08-2009, 12:38 PM   #12
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

I went to Dr. Todd Doerr - (480) 353-0446. He is amazing!

[QUOTE=SpineAZ;3921916]Glad to see you are doing well. Would you mind sharing who your surgeon was? I've used Dr. C. Yeung in Phoenix for my neck but am looking for another option for my lumbar spine.[/QUOTE]

 
Old 04-09-2009, 10:02 AM   #13
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Re: 360 Degree Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1

Well, I'm 51/2 weeks post op. I still have most of the original back pain. Discouraged beyond belief, but hopefully I'm just expecting too much too soon. I don't see him again for 2 weeks. I keep hearing of people that had relief right away. I don't want to wish pain on anyone................but are there any of you that it took quite awhile before you noticed improvement. This was my revision 360 after a fusion 18 months ago.

 
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