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Old 02-10-2010, 07:11 AM   #1
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Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

Hey everyone!

I have missed everyone for about a week. I started to struggle really bad with pain, especially in my left leg so I was basically bed ridden Friday-Monday. It is my left leg that I am having problems with, so the nurses say that is a good sign that the nerve is repairing itself and will not be permanently damaged. (When I woke up from surgery I could not feel it at all so they told me permanent nerve damage). I have slowly been regaining feeling, but still don't have it all yet, but along with the feeling coming back is SEVERE pain. I feel like it it badly sunburnt and it is even really sensative to touch it or have clothing/ blankets touch it. And then it just plain old hurts like heck. Sometimes it seems to completely cramp up which causes me to scream. Fortunately those episodes only last a minute or so.
So they have been playing around with my meds and I am functioning again since yesterday. They switched me from Gabapentin to Lyrica, which seems to be helping more. I had been lowering my dose of Oxycodone but they but me back down to every 4 hours temporarily, they started me on Prednisone (decided the benefits out way the risks), and they are going to do another round of Oxycontin. They are mailing the script to me and I should get it today. I wasn't to keen on the idea of taking that again but the nurse assured me it was okay, and that the idea was to take less Oxycodone during they day and therefore give my liver a break. So I agreed.
I am wearing my brace all the time and I hate it so much. It is so darn uncomfortable. My incision is healing really nicely, and the steri strips are beginning to fall off and to my surprise the stitches are dissolving! I can do about 10 minutes at a time on my treadmill, but I am walking at the slowest speed possible. So I try to get in about 2 10 minute rounds a day. They want me walking a mile a day by 6 weeks post op, so I only have 3.5 weeks to get there! Eating is becoming easier, and I am taking calcium on top of a multivitamin. Plus I am supplementing with Ensure, usually 2 a day. (I am very under weight due to a lack of appetite from pain, so trying to put some meat on my bones- This slowly started happening 2 years ago when this whole mess began. Plus in the hospital my potassium was very low and I went through 5 bags of potassium while I was there. My hemaglobin also dropped a lot after surgery. I guess I lost a lot of blood. They considered a transfusion but decided the risks outweighed the benefits and believed I could get it up on my own. Last I was checked a week and a half ago, Potassium was back to normal but hemaglobin was still too low, but better than in the hospital). I have managed to get out a few times and I still use my walker, but not around the house. I use my cane at home when I only need to walk short distances. I went to Target with my family last week and used one of the scooters! It was kind of fun!
I am getting myself set up with a pain clinic at the moment. I start PT at 6 weeks post op, the same time my surgeon stops prescribing meds, and I really don't want to do PT without having the option of meds, so I am scheduling an appointment to be safe, I can always cancel if I feel I wont need meds.
I work from home, so I actually only took 1 full week off. My surgery was Saturday the 23rd, and I started back at work Feb 1st. I did however have to take last Friday and this past Monday off though. It is hard to sit at my computer for very long at all so I take lots of breaks to walk around or lay down if I need to.
Other than that there is nothing else to report. I need to read through everyone's posts as it has been like a week since I have been on the board.

Spine are you around? I want to know how your surgery went last week!

 
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:52 AM   #2
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Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

Hi Meg!

It's so good to hear you sounding less frantic and in less pain. They're keeping you medicated better? You seem like you're coming along about as expected. You'll have ups and downs, often for no apparent reason, but don't worry about it. That's very normal. I'd go ahead and keep an appointment with a pain specialist. Then if you need something, you'll already be familiar to someone and will get help more quickly. PT will certainly change things. You'll want to have meds available even if you decide you don't need them.

I'm excited for you that the nerve damage doesn't seem to be permanent after all. Even though it takes a long time for nerves to calm down, you must be elated! Yay!!!

Sorry the brace is still so uncomfortable. Would more padding under it help? A thicker shirt maybe? Do you get to take it off when you're lying down?

I hope you're not pushing yourself too hard. Are you getting enough rest? I'm amazed that you're able to work already, even though it's from home. Go you!!! That's great! I bet it makes you feel better in some ways, too, just to be able to be productive.

Keep up the good recovery work! You'll find each week a little easier. It's all going to be worth it!

Hugs,
Emily

 
Old 02-10-2010, 01:56 PM   #3
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Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

Hey Emily!

I do not have to wear the brace when I lay down, thank goodness. I actually bought some maxi pads and I stick one of those on the brace where my incision is. I still sometimes wear gauze over my incision but it itches so bad.
Yes I am being medicated very well, although my script didn't come in the mail yet so I have not started oxycontin and am still doing oxycodone every 4 hours.
Work is tough, like right now I hurt very badly and am incredibly tired. But yes sometimes it helps to be productive. My husband and I went out to lunch today and I just hurt so much after that. The guy who sat us at the restaurant, who also happened to be the manager was very curious and interested in what was wrong with me since I am so young and had a walker and a brace. I told him all about it, he even asked what hospital. Then he checked back later to see how I was doing. It was cute. I have noticed (for months) that when I go out with my cane/ walker I get stares since I am only 28. It makes me a little uncomfortable and I wish they would just ask me what was wrong so I could tell them. You know?
How are you holding up?

 
Old 02-10-2010, 02:07 PM   #4
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Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

Forgot to add that I have wireless internet and my work computer is a lap top so I can work in bed if I need too!

 
Old 02-11-2010, 12:05 AM   #5
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Smile Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

[QUOTE=megss;4182633]Hey everyone!

I have missed everyone for about a week. I started to struggle really bad with pain, especially in my left leg so I was basically bed ridden Friday-Monday. It is my left leg that I am having problems with, so the nurses say that is a good sign that the nerve is repairing itself and will not be permanently damaged. (When I woke up from surgery I could not feel it at all so they told me permanent nerve damage). I have slowly been regaining feeling, but still don't have it all yet, but along with the feeling coming back is SEVERE pain. I feel like it it badly sunburnt and it is even really sensative to touch it or have clothing/ blankets touch it. And then it just plain old hurts like heck. Sometimes it seems to completely cramp up which causes me to scream. Fortunately those episodes only last a minute or so.
So they have been playing around with my meds and I am functioning again since yesterday. They switched me from Gabapentin to Lyrica, which seems to be helping more. I had been lowering my dose of Oxycodone but they but me back down to every 4 hours temporarily, they started me on Prednisone (decided the benefits out way the risks), and they are going to do another round of Oxycontin. They are mailing the script to me and I should get it today. I wasn't to keen on the idea of taking that again but the nurse assured me it was okay, and that the idea was to take less Oxycodone during they day and therefore give my liver a break. So I agreed.
I am wearing my brace all the time and I hate it so much. It is so darn uncomfortable. My incision is healing really nicely, and the steri strips are beginning to fall off and to my surprise the stitches are dissolving! I can do about 10 minutes at a time on my treadmill, but I am walking at the slowest speed possible. So I try to get in about 2 10 minute rounds a day. They want me walking a mile a day by 6 weeks post op, so I only have 3.5 weeks to get there! Eating is becoming easier, and I am taking calcium on top of a multivitamin. Plus I am supplementing with Ensure, usually 2 a day. (I am very under weight due to a lack of appetite from pain, so trying to put some meat on my bones- This slowly started happening 2 years ago when this whole mess began. Plus in the hospital my potassium was very low and I went through 5 bags of potassium while I was there. My hemaglobin also dropped a lot after surgery. I guess I lost a lot of blood. They considered a transfusion but decided the risks outweighed the benefits and believed I could get it up on my own. Last I was checked a week and a half ago, Potassium was back to normal but hemaglobin was still too low, but better than in the hospital). I have managed to get out a few times and I still use my walker, but not around the house. I use my cane at home when I only need to walk short distances. I went to Target with my family last week and used one of the scooters! It was kind of fun!
I am getting myself set up with a pain clinic at the moment. I start PT at 6 weeks post op, the same time my surgeon stops prescribing meds, and I really don't want to do PT without having the option of meds, so I am scheduling an appointment to be safe, I can always cancel if I feel I wont need meds.
I work from home, so I actually only took 1 full week off. My surgery was Saturday the 23rd, and I started back at work Feb 1st. I did however have to take last Friday and this past Monday off though. It is hard to sit at my computer for very long at all so I take lots of breaks to walk around or lay down if I need to.
Other than that there is nothing else to report. I need to read through everyone's posts as it has been like a week since I have been on the board.

Spine are you around? I want to know how your surgery went last week![/QUOTE]

Welcome back and have a quick, swift recovery. Brief question:
Did you have the option to do a Minimally Invasive MicroDiscectomy
instead of being fused. How long was your incision. Unfortunately
my six hour HEMILAMINECTOMY to fuse L5-S1 that included the
implant/hardware (screw/rods) did not go well and 17 months
forward I am still in alot of pain, on painkillers, PT 3 times a week,
bone or hardware impinging on the nerve which is causing the
sharp shooting pain in the left leg down to my feet/toes/numbness
in the bottom of the feet and don't want to do anymore major
surgery.

Looking forward to hearing good recovery updates from you.

Leticia

 
Old 02-11-2010, 06:56 AM   #6
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Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

Hi Leticia~

Here was my problem. I had L5-S1 fused last april to correct Spondy, fracture with a chunk of bone completely broken off, and a herniated disc. It did not heal, and was considered a failed fusion. After surgery I was told the screws were a lot looser than they had expected them to be. So they had to remove the old screws (let me keep them!) and put in new hardware. Then the disc above it was bad (degenerative disc disease, and a full thickness annular tear) and compressing my sciatic nerve (I actually developed Cuada Equina Syndrome the night before my surgery a couple weeks ago-lost control of my bowels). I had asked about just having a disc replacement there instead of another fusion, but my surgeon said it is not approved yet to have just a disc replacement right above a fusion, not to mention the disc replacement material is not permanent, so I would need that re-done in a matter of years anyway. So I now have L4-S1 fused. He is giving me a 20% chance of needing L2-L4 fused in the future also because they are starting to tear.
My incision is big, probably about 8 inches.
Good luck with your recovery and I would seek out having some more testing done such as a fresh MRI or CT scan.

 
Old 02-11-2010, 05:42 PM   #7
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Smile Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

[QUOTE=megss;4183401]Hi Leticia~

Here was my problem. I had L5-S1 fused last april to correct Spondy, fracture with a chunk of bone completely broken off, and a herniated disc. It did not heal, and was considered a failed fusion. After surgery I was told the screws were a lot looser than they had expected them to be. So they had to remove the old screws (let me keep them!) and put in new hardware. Then the disc above it was bad (degenerative disc disease, and a full thickness annular tear) and compressing my sciatic nerve (I actually developed Cuada Equina Syndrome the night before my surgery a couple weeks ago-lost control of my bowels). I had asked about just having a disc replacement there instead of another fusion, but my surgeon said it is not approved yet to have just a disc replacement right above a fusion, not to mention the disc replacement material is not permanent, so I would need that re-done in a matter of years anyway. So I now have L4-S1 fused. He is giving me a 20% chance of needing L2-L4 fused in the future also because they are starting to tear.
My incision is big, probably about 8 inches.
Good luck with your recovery and I would seek out having some more testing done such as a fresh MRI or CT scan.[/QUOTE]


Thank you kindly MEGSS. Like you I have a big incision 6 inches.
Also disappointed about the surgery outcome. I did not rush into this
surgery and clearly communicated to the ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON during
office visits that I did not want any major surgery with any hardware
implanted in my back. Told me that he could do a MINIMALLY INVASIVE
MICRO DISCECTOMY SURGERY with a small incision of less then a inch,
one hour surgery, might be able to go home the same day or the
following. On the day of the surgery he tells me that he will be doing
a implant which I was'nt informed enough of all these medical terms.
I STILL THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO HAVE A ONE HOUR MICRO
DISCECTOMY SURGERY. There were complications after surgery
that were serious enough to put me in ICU and hooked up to
life support machines. Corrective surgery is needed for the bone
or hardware impinging on a nerve. I am 65, my gut feeling tells
me I will not survive another surgery. How can surgeons get away
with deceiving their patients by doing a bait and switch on the
day of surgery. Surgeons decision to do a major HEMILAMINECTOMY
with fusion was before the surgery, not during the surgery. As
a patient, I didn't have the final say. Unfortunately I didn't do my
due diligence. I was just a easygoing vulnerable yes patient who
just went along with what the doctors/surgeons were telling me.

My Prayers Are With You For A Healthy Recovery.

Leticia

 
Old 02-11-2010, 08:03 PM   #8
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Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

Oh Leticia, my thoughts and prayers are with you

I cannot believe your surgeon did that to you. I would certainly seek a different surgeon. What sorts of complications did you have? Don't worry about your age, 65 is still young in my eyes!

I am only 28, and I also had a few minor complications with this latest surgery. I am very under weight and not very healthy in that way. The morning of surgery my potassium was way too low. (Chronic problem for me, have been hospitalized several times lately for it- actually almost killed me one time. I wasn't getting enough oxygen and they had a difficult time stabalizing me in the ER. They had to do a brain scan to make sure I hadn't had any brain damage due to lack of oxygen.) I don't consider myself to have an eating disorder, just lack of appetite due to pain and anxiety,

So anyway, they almost didn't do my surgery due to the potassium, but decided to go ahead and start potassium IV's and do the surgery. All in all it took 5 bags to get me to a barely normal level. I had to remain on oxygen for a couple of days following surgery because my body had a hard time coming off the respirator. Not sure if that had anything to do with potassium or not. Every time I took the thing off my face the machine beeped and a nurse would run in.

I became very anemic which I am sure is common. I lost quite a lot of blood I guess. They were going to do a transfusion but thought I could get it up on my own. I had it checked about a week later and it was up to 9, should be at least 12, but it was improving.

I also may have permanent nerve damage in my left leg. It is very distressing. When I woke up from surgery the leg was completely numb. Luckily enough feeling has returned so I can walk on it, but with the feeling has come horrible pain.

I am working so hard on my nutrition. I want to bulk up really bad!!! Drinking Ensures and taking vitamins. Along with solid meals of course I need to make sure I heal. I don't think any weight has come on yet. I probably need to gain 20-30 pounds. I worry when I am walking on my treadmill for walk therapy that I am burning too many calories because it shows you how many you are burning!

You can make it through another surgery, I know you can. Just think that there must be better days ahead!

 
Old 02-12-2010, 09:12 AM   #9
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Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

Meg, I'm doing okay. I've had a flare-up for the last week or so, but I keep up my meds and try to keep going to the gym. The gym is like PT for me. I can't use most of the machines, but the ones I'm able to use really help a lot.

I got my first cane at age 43. My family teased me and I burst out crying. I slowly got used to it though. When people see my cane, they often become much more helpful to me. I have no problem using it to my advantage! I have pain every day and am thrilled to have someone open a door for me! Less stress to my back! It's a benefit that may seem small, but it can be significant!

You're really getting around! Can you tell yet if this surgery has helped?

Hang in there!
Emily

 
Old 02-12-2010, 09:55 AM   #10
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Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

Hey Emily!

Yeah I get doors held for me as well. I hate opening those really heavy doors, it hurts so much.
I have been getting out a little! I need to for my own sanity. Tonight my dad is taking me shopping so I can get a valentine for my husband and daughter. Believe me though I majorly pay the price for it afterwards. Yesterday I did 2 separate sessions on the treadmill and totaled 1/2 a mile in 25 minutes! I wanted to go 30 minutes but just couldn't make it. I hurt so bad after that. So getting around is painful, but I do it anyway because I know it is good for me.
I have high hopes that this surgery did the trick! Except I am very worried about my leg. If the damage isn't permanent, then I was told it would take awhile. It is still numb in areas, it feels sunburn and is sensative just to lightly touch, and it just plain hurts. I have a hard time when my husband helps me put on socks and pants and stuff because I can't stand the way the material feels on my foot and leg.
Thats great that you go to the gym. How many days a week?

 
Old 02-12-2010, 11:59 AM   #11
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Smile Re: Update On Me- 2 1/2 weeks post op L4-S1 Fusion

[QUOTE=megss;4183908]Oh Leticia, my thoughts and prayers are with you

I cannot believe your surgeon did that to you. I would certainly seek a different surgeon. What sorts of complications did you have? Don't worry about your age, 65 is still young in my eyes!

I am only 28, and I also had a few minor complications with this latest surgery. I am very under weight and not very healthy in that way. The morning of surgery my potassium was way too low. (Chronic problem for me, have been hospitalized several times lately for it- actually almost killed me one time. I wasn't getting enough oxygen and they had a difficult time stabalizing me in the ER. They had to do a brain scan to make sure I hadn't had any brain damage due to lack of oxygen.) I don't consider myself to have an eating disorder, just lack of appetite due to pain and anxiety,

So anyway, they almost didn't do my surgery due to the potassium, but decided to go ahead and start potassium IV's and do the surgery. All in all it took 5 bags to get me to a barely normal level. I had to remain on oxygen for a couple of days following surgery because my body had a hard time coming off the respirator. Not sure if that had anything to do with potassium or not. Every time I took the thing off my face the machine beeped and a nurse would run in.

I became very anemic which I am sure is common. I lost quite a lot of blood I guess. They were going to do a transfusion but thought I could get it up on my own. I had it checked about a week later and it was up to 9, should be at least 12, but it was improving.

I also may have permanent nerve damage in my left leg. It is very distressing. When I woke up from surgery the leg was completely numb. Luckily enough feeling has returned so I can walk on it, but with the feeling has come horrible pain.

I am working so hard on my nutrition. I want to bulk up really bad!!! Drinking Ensures and taking vitamins. Along with solid meals of course I need to make sure I heal. I don't think any weight has come on yet. I probably need to gain 20-30 pounds. I worry when I am walking on my treadmill for walk therapy that I am burning too many calories because it shows you how many you are burning!

You can make it through another surgery, I know you can. Just think that there must be better days ahead![/QUOTE]


Thanks for your kind words/feedback MEGSS. The kind members of this board is what keeps me going. You are to young to be dealing with this.
I had a very healthy active life before my on the job injury.

Brief answer to your question: I have other prexisting medical problems with breathing and the heart which was all clearly in my medical files. I was giving to much anesthesia and had a reaction after surgery where my whole body was swollen (face, hands, arms, legs, feet). There was a problem putting a tube down my throat. The scar has healed nicely, but everything else is not. Without the pain killers I don't know if I would want to live like this. I know there are so many others like yourself who are worse off than myself, so I don't feel sorry for myself and question "WHY ME".

I wish only the very best for you and know you will get through this. Have a wonderful HAPPY VALENTINE'S WEEKEND.

Leticia

 
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