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Old 02-25-2010, 06:33 AM   #1
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Smile Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Hello All,
This really has not been a fun ride!! I am a 42 year old healthy female who has been having low back pain along with aching, painful legs. More in my low back, butt and thighs!!. MRI showed bulging anterior and posterior bulge of L5S1 disc. Also moderate loss of disk height as well as disk dessication at L5-S1. L3-L4 also has moderate loss of disk height.My Myelogram was normal but when they stood me up to take the pics after putting in the contrast, I thought my Lumbar was going going to explode?? So I was shocked whe they could not see any nerve root compression. EMG was also normal. I beleive the plan is for a 1 level fusion but will no more exact plan early next week. My biggest need is of course to be pain free in my low back and to releive this aching pain in my butt and legs. I would love to hear some positive stories!!! Along with some similar situations would be helpful. They are hoping by jacking back up the disk height that it will take the pressure off the nerves causing the leg problems. I have an excellent surgeon!! The range of success for my leg issues being resolved is 10-90%. He can fix my back pain he says!! Please any similar situations and some good results would really be nice to hear!!!!

 
Old 02-25-2010, 07:15 AM   #2
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

My situation is different from yours, but I have 14 fused vertebrae, T4-S1. I'm so much better off! I still have pain, but it's much more manageable now.

Now that you’ve made the big step of deciding to move ahead with this surgery, it’s time to prepare. 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. 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.

Since you'll 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 incision. (Well, over your clothes, of course). When you need to turn, cough, sneeze, or laugh, press down gently but firmly 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.

Don't forget the BLT rule: no bending, lifting, or twisting. The only BLT's you're allowed are the sandwich! Let people help you if they offer. If you're a member of a church, ask if you can be brought meals for a while. And finally, the part that no one talks about except on here, be prepared with prunes (they have cherry and orange essence ones now that really aren't bad), fiber bars, Colace capsules, etc., because pain meds tend to cause constipation. That's bad enough when you have no other issues going on, but when you're healing from major surgery, you really don't want to have to deal with that!

Keep as busy as you can this last week before your surgery. It will not only make the time pass more quickly, it will help you to not be dwelling on it too much.

If you have other questions, please do post them. Nothing is too big or too small. If we can't answer it, we'll tell you. We won't make up answers, we won't sugar coat it, and if it's something we feel you need to take to your doctor, we'll tell you that, too.

Hang in there! It will all be worth it!

Blessings,
Emily

 
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:34 AM   #3
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Hi, 1st of all good luck with your procedure. I am 6 weeks today post op and have no pain in my legs like I used to. I had a 360 fusion done and feel a big difference, especially the legs and that was the worst of the pain. My legs would ache so bad, it would leave me in tears. Couldn't walk much at all and also could not sit or stand for long. Even though I was terrified of this surgery, I am very glad I had it done. I am still recuperating and will be for some time. The people on this board are extremely helpful so ask any questions you might have. Good Luck, Linda

 
Old 02-25-2010, 08:22 AM   #4
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

[QUOTE=BlueAtlas;4192650]My situation is different from yours, but I have 14 fused vertebrae, T4-S1. I'm so much better off! I still have pain, but it's much more manageable now.

Now that you’ve made the big step of deciding to move ahead with this surgery, it’s time to prepare. 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. 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.

Since you'll 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 incision. (Well, over your clothes, of course). When you need to turn, cough, sneeze, or laugh, press down gently but firmly 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.

Don't forget the BLT rule: no bending, lifting, or twisting. The only BLT's you're allowed are the sandwich! Let people help you if they offer. If you're a member of a church, ask if you can be brought meals for a while. And finally, the part that no one talks about except on here, be prepared with prunes (they have cherry and orange essence ones now that really aren't bad), fiber bars, Colace capsules, etc., because pain meds tend to cause constipation. That's bad enough when you have no other issues going on, but when you're healing from major surgery, you really don't want to have to deal with that!

Keep as busy as you can this last week before your surgery. It will not only make the time pass more quickly, it will help you to not be dwelling on it too much.

If you have other questions, please do post them. Nothing is too big or too small. If we can't answer it, we'll tell you. We won't make up answers, we won't sugar coat it, and if it's something we feel you need to take to your doctor, we'll tell you that, too.

Hang in there! It will all be worth it!

Blessings,
Emily[/QUOTE]

 
Old 02-25-2010, 08:24 AM   #5
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Thank you!!

 
Old 02-25-2010, 08:27 AM   #6
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Thank you!! and yes the leg pain is the worst aand it does leave you in tears!! Being a nurse I would come home and could not get to my bed fast enough to lay down!

 
Old 02-25-2010, 01:00 PM   #7
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

I had ALIF/PLIF (360) fusion 3 weeks ago. It's not nearly as bad as you think it's going to be. You are pretty drugged up at the hospital and probably won't remember much of your stay. I would define the feeling as uncomfortable rather than "pain" for the first week but certainly tolerable. A lot of that discomfort will come from...well...being "backed up". I'm 36 and wasn't planning on trying prune juice for another 30 years but I had to change my plans. Being that it's only been 3 weeks, I can't claim success yet but I can say that when I get out of bed in the morning I can stand up straight (something I haven't been able to do for a long time) I am down to one 5mg vicodin a day and was about to have my first day of PT today but the snow put a damper on that. I plan on going back to work (light duty) in another 3/4 weeks. So that's my story...so far. Just wanted to let you know that it really wasn't that bad. Good luck

 
Old 02-25-2010, 02:05 PM   #8
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Doug, sounds like you are doing really well, good for you. I experienced that same uncomfortable feeling while in the hospital. Try Colace tablets. They work very good for me although I had to double dose so instead of taking 2 a day I take 4 a day. 2 at a time, 100 mg. Keep improving, Linda

 
Old 02-25-2010, 07:07 PM   #9
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

I just had an L3-S1 posteriolateral fusion 2/3/10. So I have one 6" vertical incision down my back and one 4" horizonal incision on my hip. Slightly different technique my doctor does instead of using anterior.

3 weeks later I can tell you that much of my pre-op pain is gone. It's still early to tell if I'll get all of the relief I wanted from this, but I have hope as I'm feeling pretty good. I am wearing a custom brace the doctor sent me to be fitted before surgery. With a one level fusion they may not. But be sure to take care of your back after the surgery. Don't bend, lift or twist and follow all medical directions Most physicians agree that after fusion no NSAID's (aspirin, alevel, naproxen, advil, ibuprofen, etc).

Right now I have some "surgical pain" in that I can tell it's related to the incision or the hardware. And, this was my 5th spine surgery (I have very lax ligaments so all joints in my body, including the joints in my spine, move too much and cause problems). So even after 5 I can say each one was worth it and relieved so much of my pain. I can handle my post-op recovery pain much more than I could the nerve impingement pain I had pre-op.

The two best things I have for recovery are my toilet seat riser. It fits in my toilet seat and rises it about 5 inches at least. You can find them at big name pharmacies but I got it for a great price on Overstock (I wanted, and got the one, that has a "lock" so it fits in any size and it won't wobble when you get up and down). I learned this last time (1993) when I came home from the hospital and getting down to standard toilet seat height was hard. The second thing is a grabber, also available at pharmacies. It's about 24 to 36' long with a claw on the end. Helps you pick up everything from clothing to dropped tissues, dropped food, helps me put cat food in the cat dish when hubby's not here, etc.
__________________
Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 02-28-2010, 12:30 PM   #10
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Thank you!! Glad to know that your pain has improved that quick after surgery!! Good news for me!

 
Old 02-28-2010, 12:38 PM   #11
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

So good to know. My doc knows why my low back hurts looking at the MRI but with a normal myelogram and EMG he is hopeful that the ALIF procedure will help my legs. He just wishes he had a little more to go on. I am unable to sit or stand for very long at all. My legs have calmed down so not as bad as before but my low back pain is now a deep, burning,throbbing,constant pain!!! I am going tomorrow to discuss the ALIF procedure and set a date. I am praying it will be no later than next week!! I want my life back as quick as possible and pray I will have great results!! Us poor nurses!

 
Old 02-28-2010, 01:23 PM   #12
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Usually it takes at least a few weeks to be scheduled for surgery. In the US the insurance company must approve the surgery. Then the surgeon's schedule is checked and often they are booked up for the next few weeks. Add in the factor of matching up the surgeon's schedule with the hospital's OR schedule.


Often you can ask to be on a surgery cancellation list so if there's a cancellation they can try to fit you in at an earlier date.

You have to be off all NSAIDS (aspirin, aleve/naproxen, advil/ibuprofen, etc) for 1-2 weeks before surgery. I went off them 1/1/10 so if they called me and could get me in sooner I'd be ready.

Also, there are pre-op tests. I had to see my PCP for a pre-op exam, blood tests, EKG and chest x-ray. Also had to go to the hospital for pre-admission paperwork. This was done 2 days before my surgery.

What helped me most is I told my surgeon in our office discussion and on the day of surgery to "fix everything and anything you see when you get inside". Often imaging (MRI, CT, myelogram, etc) doesn't tell the whole story. So my surgeon made sure the authorization form I signed included wording something like "possible additional levels of fusion and/or surgical intervention". If L2 had not looked good he'd have been able to fix that. I wish I had done that with my neck ACDF in 2006 as C4 showed early signs of problems, I should have encouraged them to fuse that as well. Because now I have C4 symptoms.
__________________
Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 03-24-2010, 09:43 PM   #13
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Hello -- I hope the lack of posting for the past few weeks means that you've had your surgery and are on the way to recovery. I'm having ALIF/PLIF (360) 4/26 and will be following your post to see how you're doing. Prayers for a speedy recovery!

(Doug260 -- are you still experiencing positive results? Hopefully so!)

 
Old 03-25-2010, 08:55 AM   #14
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

Hey,
Thank you for checking on me!! I have not had my surgery yet as I will be going in 5 days!! We are in countdown mode!! I am so ready to have relief from Back and leg pain!! I am sick of having to take the pain medicine so I can keep going with my day to day life. Ready to have my life back!! Any good stories or updates are very welcome!

 
Old 03-25-2010, 01:12 PM   #15
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Re: Going for ALIF procudure! Want Positive Feedback!!!

I am still doing better. Thanks for asking. I had my 360 surgery Feb 3rd and I went "back" to work this week. 6 1/2 weeks may have been on the early side to go back to work but I was going insane at home. I'm on light duty for 6 weeks after which my dr. said I could probably start resuming normal physical activities (within reason of course). I've been off all pain meds for about 3 weeks now. I get sore after work (I sit most of the day) or if I push it a little but it's manageable. Still way too early to know if there's any actual fusion going on back there but I do feel better and don't regret my decision to have surgery at all. In fact, I wish I hadn't put it off as long as I did. Good luck to you on your surgery. I hope this eased some of your apprehensions and feel free to ask any questions you have.

 
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