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Old 04-22-2009, 06:37 AM   #1
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scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi
Im new to this board and am a little scared never had back surgery but have had neck fusions.5 neck surgerys since 1998 last one was 2004.I have DDD and now it has gone down my spine i have to have 3 level fusion from L3 to S1 has anyone gone thru this recently?Im not sure how much things have changed since 2004.Im just looking for some info on the length of time it takes to heal and what im in for
If anyone can ease my fears I would be very gratefull.

 
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Old 04-22-2009, 09:28 AM   #2
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi Linda, Welcome to the board! We will share our experiences and try to aleve your fears but one warning-many of the writers are hear because they have had unsuccessful surgeries or treatment and are in for more. Very often the success stories don't come back and post because they have been able to move on and lie their new healthy lives! I have seen MANY MANY of these wonderful people move on who started scared just like you.
I had a successful two level fusion L4-S1 in 2006. My current orthopedic doctor up here in Kansas (surgery done in Texas where I lived at the time) says it is one of the best fusions he has ever seen! I can easily bend straight down and touch my palms to the floor.
The down side for me? Scar tissue. Its just my body-not everyone else's. I had scar tissue form around the sciatic nerve root which causes pain-not from the fusion-my body just tends to develop really thick scars! I can do 90% of what I was able to do before the whole back issue started! I call that success.
It took 3-4 months till I was comfortable doing regular things like grocery shopping. I was home for the first three months, and home by myself after 2 weeks. My mom stayed with me the first two weeks to help with meals and getting my DD off to school. I was walking one mile at 2 weeks. I was driving myself to pick up my daughter from school at 3 weeks (just around the corner!) and driving to physical therapy at 5 weeks.
Please please read the sticky notes at the top of this board for tips. They were all put together and added to by the best and most successful of the board members.
Keep us posted -we are all up at all hours of the night hurting with you so stay close to the board!
Blessings,
Michelle

Last edited by momzworkin; 04-22-2009 at 09:31 AM.

 
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Old 04-22-2009, 11:46 AM   #3
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi Lindalou02,

I had a very successful 4 level fusion, L2 through S1, last July. Immediately after the surgery I developed pneumonia and don't remember anything about the 6 days I was in the hospital. Nor do I remember the first few days of the 10 days in a rehab. But my recovery has been good: I walk 3 miles a days now and do all my own work.

I wore a corset for a month, just for comfort, and it helped a lot; I took pain meds for only a couple of weeks.

My pain level was reduced from an 8 to a 2, which is the best my surgeon said he could hope for. Considering that I could barely walk before the surgery, I'm delighted with my outcome.

Lindalou, please keep us posted after your surgery; we all here wish you the very best possible outcome.

Nancy

 
Old 04-22-2009, 01:01 PM   #4
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Linda Lou,
Ever so pleased to read your message. I am contemplating back surgery very soon and reading old threads has left me near tears. My problem has been only since August. While rehabbing from Rt knee replacement began having pain down L leg. Ortho tried treating it as muscle pain but finally ordered MRI. After seeing the Spine doc was told I have L 4-5 disc protrusions and a synovial cyst and about 50 other impressions. Started steroid injections and PT which helped the L leg pain but in Oct I began Rt leg pain. Long story short, after 6 injections pain is less but still present and within the past 8 weeks I 've developed pain in my low back and thighs when I walk attributed to stenosis. 1 am 66 and expected to have pain in my old age but this is extreme. I want to be able to walk again but reading all the old threads has left me worried about what to expect post op.Expect I'll have a fusion but don't know exactly.Probably in June. Let's keep in touch. Want to know how you do.

 
Old 04-23-2009, 07:07 PM   #5
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi,

I had a fusion of L5-S1 16 days ago. I was incredibly scared too, and was having awful anxiety symptoms (insomnia, nausea and vomiting, headaches, lack of appetite) for a couple of weeks before. It was really really rough at first, pain wise, but in the last couple of days I have noticed a lot of improvement. I started to feel like I was going backwards last week, but like I said, I am feeling really encouraged after the last couple of days.

He went in through both my back and stomach. My stomach incision is only 3 inches, and my back one is about 6 inches. He removed some bone where I had a fracture, and he also removed my L5-S1 disc. He then fused with 3 screws, 2 rods, and donor bone. I was in the hospital for 4 days and 3 nights.

The pain has been difficult to control, but is getting better. I am still on several pain meds. I am doing so well though, compared to how I thought I would be at this point. I walk every day, and I am to the point where I get very restless and cannot lay in bed for very long at a time any more. Today I made myself lunch for the first time! HUGE accomplishment. There are a lot of ups and downs. I am getting to the point where I will feel kind of decent so I get up and over do it a little, and then I get bad again. But the "ups" are getting better. I think the nice weather is helping.

I expect to make a full recovery. I am only 28, thin, and otherwise very healthy. I think it will be a couple weeks yet before I am comfortable being alone with my 19 month old daughter, maybe even a little longer. I am still not driving. Sitting is a problem, but it is getting better. I still am dealing with nerve pain, but that will take awhile to subside since I had a big compressed nerve for so long. I am flying on Monday, and I THINK I will be fine, as long as I have lots of pillows. I do think it will be a long time before the pain is completely gone, if it ever is (it may not be completely). I don't plan on even thinking about going back to work until mid summer. I have been off on disability since before Christmas. I have lost a LOT of weight (I look a little anorexic at the moment! LOL), but am working on eating a little more. I haven't had much of an appetite for months, and I didn't eat for several days after surgery.

So I am glad I had it done. The first 2 weeks really stank but I am feeling a little better each day!

 
Old 04-24-2009, 12:27 AM   #6
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lynn1961 HB User
Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi Lindalou and AnnieB......and all others,

I had a 2 level ALIF < the abdomen approach of a back fusion> surgery on dec. 16, 2008. L4-5 and L5-S1. I would have to say my back fusion surgery was successful. I had back issues for a very long time. I am 48 years of age. A car accident in april 2008 led me to having everyday pain with my back. I sought help of docs after the accident. I was diagnosed with DDD and bad arthritis. I feel as if I did absolutely great during my recovery. It was tough and discouraging at times.....but, overall, I did great. I am still healing. My last x-ray, which was in march, showed signs of fusing. I was happy to see those results started I am still limited to weight amount. I cannot pick anything up that weighs over 25 pounds. My doc did inform me that I would still experience some pain. Mostly when the weather changes. I am quite sure that has to do with the arthritis I have. He also said probably when I take long car trips I may feel pain. I made a 9 hour trip a few weeks ago and did great. I had to take some tylonal 1 time but other than that, I cannot complain. Before surgery, my right leg would go numb from driving and I would be in pain....I didnot experience that So.....I can say, after 4 months recovering, i feel my surgery was successful.

I did, however, try all the treatments prior to surgery that a person can try. I had injections, an ablation and PT. The injections did help, but it was shortlived. The final thing i did was a discogram. Well, after going through with that test, I decided , after hearing my results, that I would have the fusion. I was very apprehensive to have a back fusion surgery. The MRI showed the problems I had, but, the discogram showed that my disc was worst off than the MRI had revealed. I pretty much didnot even have much disc left in L4-5. I am very, very glad I had that test done before my fusion. I also had a 3 level fusion done in my neck years ago. I was never sorry for having that surgery neither. I had great results from that surgery as well.

I often say, a person doesnt even realize the pain they suffer until they are in no pain. I feel much better than I did prior to my surgery. I am still having occasional pain but, tylonal relieves it and a short rest from activity helps me. I am pretty much back to normal other than being careful and not picking anything over 25 pounds. It feels absolutely great to be able to clean my home and do things I couldnt do while in pain. I am a doer and I was very depressed because I couldnt do the things I so wanted to do. I am so looking forward to being outside this spring and planting some pretty flowers I WILL know my limits but I can plant flowers as i once LOVED to do. I feel I got my life back......I wish you both the very best and I hope if you have back surgery that you will be encouraging others as i am you

LYNN

 
Old 04-24-2009, 02:00 PM   #7
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi everyone
Thank you all for all your help. I have decided to take your advice on the toilet rizer and all the other stuff.those really are things you just dont think of but come in handy.I do have my Husband George who has been my crutch for a long time now.He does all my laundry cause its down stairs and he is afraid im going to fall.And thank god for my daughter Cari she is going to be here for the long hall.She is my little angel always helping me out.Yesturday was one of the worst days ive had yet the burning in my left hip felt like someone had a blow torch on it.and my left leg was very sore but this is why im doing this.Im so glad everyone wrote and I thank you all i hope you are all doing a little better today.Ill be going in wed the 29th so ill keep in touch as much as i can.and again thank you.
Linda

 
Old 04-24-2009, 06:30 PM   #8
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi Linda, and welcome to the board! You've come to a very helpful and supportive group. People here were a tremendous blessing to me when I was heading into my fusion surgery two years ago.

This is a big surgery, but a lot of us have been through it and, for the most part, have positive stories to tell. The more you prepare ahead of time, the easier and more comfortable your recovery will be. Be sure to read the thread at the top called ďPost Surgery Tips.Ē Itís got lots of very helpful suggestions that will make a big difference for you.

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 ďThe Gopher,Ē too, because it was a third of the price, but in my opinion it wasnít worth a nickel. It was really flimsy. I ended up returning it and got a good one instead. But thatís 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. Youíll be groggy and in pain, so it will be easy to lose track of what you took and when. Write down everything you take! Youíll need to stay on top of your pain by taking your meds exactly as ordered. Donít try to wean off them too quickly. Youíll heal better if your pain is under control. I kept a running list of questions for my doctor in the same little notebook, as well as notes to myself so I wouldnít 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 pjís. 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.

Check with your insurance company to see what equipment theyíll provide. The toilet riser is very helpful, as you already know. My insurance company provided a portable bedside commode, which can be placed right over a regular toilet. You just take out the bucket and donít 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. Youíll be weak and it may be hard to reach, so youíll 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.

If you have a 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 on the pillow to ďsplintĒ 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. (Thatís 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. Thatís fine! Then lie back down and rest.

You only have 5 days to go, so keep yourself as busy as you can. The busier you are, the less time you'll have to dwell on the surgery and the less anxious you'll be. It's very normal to be nervous about it though, so if you need someone to talk to, come on here. Someone will probably be around. And whatever questions you have before and after, please post. We'll do the best we can to help you from our own experiences.

I wish you the best!
Emily

 
Old 04-28-2009, 05:38 AM   #9
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timmym776 HB User
Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

[quote=blueatlas;3966098]hi linda, and welcome to the board! You've come to a very helpful and supportive group. People here were a tremendous blessing to me when i was heading into my fusion surgery two years ago.

This is a big surgery, but a lot of us have been through it and, for the most part, have positive stories to tell. The more you prepare ahead of time, the easier and more comfortable your recovery will be. Be sure to read the thread at the top called “post surgery tips.” it’s got lots of very helpful suggestions that will make a big difference for you.

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. 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.

Check with your insurance company to see what equipment they’ll provide. The toilet riser is very helpful, as you already know. 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.

If you have a 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 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.

You only have 5 days to go, so keep yourself as busy as you can. The busier you are, the less time you'll have to dwell on the surgery and the less anxious you'll be. It's very normal to be nervous about it though, so if you need someone to talk to, come on here. Someone will probably be around. And whatever questions you have before and after, please post. We'll do the best we can to help you from our own experiences.

I wish you the best!
Emily[/quote]

hello sorry to here about your 3 lev fussion comming up, i have a new2 level lam, one coming up???, a lumbar 360 3 level fusion with cages and screws....., and more to come... Not evereyone is the same but i have had 6 back surgeries from, laminectomies, disectomies. I do not want to scare you, i am so sorry if i am, but please listen. If it is a fusion, you will b in severe pain for awhile!, but you will be taking meds. If you have raidiating leg pain, that might disappear but you will need a walker for a few days then a cane then physically therapy. You might make 100 perc norm, but it is unlikely....get a raised toilet seat, make sure you have a good bed. The hosp will also ask how many steps you have to clime at your home... I have had 6 going on seven back surgeries, it started in lumbar and now has worked its way up to thoracic, middle of back, then to cervical,y??? Well when thry fuse a part of your back the other discs above and below take the weight, the pressure which can cause more problems...please just ask me anything and i will be very honest with you. I really hope it works out for u but dont expect to be pain free after surg cause i wanted to die.... Not sure if i can post a site to watch the surg u are having but it is live but if i can just let me know and i will tell u . This site is good for meeteing people who are like you , but it does show you what is actually going to be done,MIGHT BE WEIRD BUT I WAS CURIOUS. OH AND I MENT DIRECTLY AFTER SURG DONT EXPECT TO BE PAIN FREE I WAS NOTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!! AFTER JUST TAKE IT EASY FOR AWHILE JOIN A YOGA OR SOMETHING GOOD FOR THE SPINE, I WENT BACK TO I.B.E.W LOC# 164 hope to here from ya soon, by the wat name is tim

Last edited by timmym776; 04-28-2009 at 05:51 AM.

 
Old 04-28-2009, 07:50 AM   #10
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Linda,

Best of luck with your surgery tomorrow! We'll be thinking of you and praying for you! Just keep in mind the pain will ease a little every day.

 
Old 04-28-2009, 06:28 PM   #11
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

It's almost here! Yay! I hope you're hanging in there okay and not too nervous. You'll be so glad to get on the other side of this surgery and just be resting and recovering! Let us know how you are when you're up to it!

Thinking about you,
Emily

 
Old 05-28-2009, 10:30 AM   #12
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi Everyone.
Well got through the surgery ok.Did and still does hurt like ----Im doing ok i am walking with my cane still.Tommorow will be 1 month.I thought i would be so much further by now.I try to walk but its been hard im inside most of the day.I had my sister here for 2 weeks that was a blessing.I went yesturday for my first exray.I had to lay flat on a table.I must say i cried to myself but that hurt.Im still real swollen and still looks like i have a hump in my lower back.I thank all of you for thinking of me and i hope everyone of you are doing a little better today.I will write back soon .
Linda

 
Old 05-28-2009, 11:36 AM   #13
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kenwill HB User
Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Hi Linda, I had a single level fusion on the exact same day. I still have another 27 days (but whose counting), until I go for my first exray. I actually just got of the phone with the nurse practitioner, b/c I was freaking out a little about the continued swelling. Of course she assured me that is normal. You described it perfectly, it looks/feels like I have a "hump" on my lower back.

Keep getting better! I look forward to hearing of your progress.

Best.

Ken

 
Old 05-28-2009, 05:01 PM   #14
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Lindalou:

I'm doing the L3-S1 fusion on 6/22, so I'm in exactly the same place you were when you first posted.

I'm glad to hear that both you and kenwill are doing okay. With both of your "humps," I won't be worried if the same thing happens to me.

I'm really scared. (See my initial post on 5/22. Oh, I hadn't even realized that it was exactly a month before surgery!)

I'm going Monday to get fitted for a TLSO brace--not looking forward to wearing it for the three hottest months of the year in Southern California!

My thoughts are with you both to continue doing well.

Janis

 
Old 05-28-2009, 07:21 PM   #15
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Re: scared and going for surgery april 29th 3level fusion

Linda, I'm glad to hear that you're coming along. It's a long, slow process, but it will be worth it in the long run! It does take a while for the swelling to go down. Hang in there! You, too, Ken!

Janis, I hope you're getting all prepared and aren't too nervous. Keep yourself as busy as you can as you get close to your date! It'll help keep you from thinking too much about it.

Emily

 
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