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    Old 03-20-2004, 06:27 AM   #1
    magnetlady45
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    Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Hi Everyone:

    There are a lot of people on this board that really need a lot of help from those who have already had fusion surgeries done. If you have had this surgery please give them your input so they can have hope before surgery and also know how to handle things after surgery.

    Thanks,

    Christi

     
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    Old 03-20-2004, 06:38 AM   #2
    magnetlady45
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Good Morning All:

    I had posterior lumbar fusion with decompression laminectomy at L4-5 on July 9th 2003. Prior to this, I had already had 2 back surgeries at the same area. The first one was in May of 97 and seemed to do the trick. The second one was Nov. 2001. The doctor said there was so much scar tissue there and the nerve was compressed. January of 2003 I started hurting really bad. I tried massage therapy, physical therapy etc. The doctor gave me 800 mg of Ibuprofen to take 4 times a day plus extra strenth vicoden 4 to 6 times a day. They referred me to an orthopedic clinic in Ohio and the surgeon said I had no other recourse but to have a spine fusion surgery. Needless to say I was not a happy camper but the pain was so bad and I wasn't always good to be around. Bless his heart, my husband was and has always been there for me.

    It is now March 2004, and I feel so much better. The nerve pain is much better and I believe will continue to get better. It can take up to 2 years for all the nerve pain to go away. I work 50 hours a week and have a home to tend to. I don't pick up anymore than 25 lbs. My husband won't let me no matter what the doctor says. My next appt. is in July. We are contemplating having the hardware removed as my bone graft has fused and the hardware is giving me a lot of discomfort.

    I am happy that I did have the fusion surgery. Shortly after the surgery I thought I had made a big mistake but time does heal, and remember it does take time.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

    Have a great day!

    Christi

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 09:00 AM   #3
    acme
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Had L-4/L-5 Fusion Oct. 2001! Am 99.9%! No pain -No meds! I still am carefull what I do........Never want the pain I endured for 14 yrs. again!!
    It's the 1st day of Spring!! Think I'll go for a Long walk!!
    Fusion was the answer for me!

    Larry
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    Old 03-20-2004, 10:28 AM   #4
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    i Had a anterior/posterior L4-L5 fusion on Nov 11 ,2003 - only have back pain when i over do it - sit to long or drive to much - still have alot of muscle pain right above the screws - off of the strong pain meds - only take tylenol and i am on lidocaine patches - i am in better shape than before - would do it again . Finally beginning to fuse .

    Last edited by shaukc; 03-21-2004 at 10:25 PM.

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 11:22 AM   #5
    jettsmom
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Thanks for sharing!

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 12:41 PM   #6
    flyonthewall
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    [QUOTE=magnetlady45]Good Morning All:

    I had posterior lumbar fusion with decompression laminectomy at L4-5 on July 9th 2003. Prior to this, I had already had 2 back surgeries at the same area. The first one was in May of 97 and seemed to do the trick. The second one was Nov. 2001.
    Christi[/QUOTE]

    What were your two back surgeries prior to the fusion? I need a decompression but I'm not on any pain meds and I would like to put off the fusion. The doctor says there is some slippage and wants to do the fusion. My big problem is my legs keep getting numb and tingly and I can't reliably walk very far. If I bend or twist I lock into a bent over position.
    fly

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 12:58 PM   #7
    magnetlady45
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Hi Fly:

    Welcome to this thread. My first surgery, they trimmed back the disc at level 4-5 and 3-4. Like I said before I felt pretty good for about 4.5 years. Oh I had my occasional flareups but it wasn't bad. Then I slipped on ice at work, didn't fall but must have jarred my back and voila, I am in tremendous pain.

    My second surgery they trimmed level 4-5 again and had to clear up a lot of scar tissue. Doctor said it was like having to use a dremmel to make room for the nerve. A little over a year later, I slipped again but didn't fall and tremendous pain again. The second surgeon said after MRI that I needed to go see someone else who could help me more because he couldn't perform the probably surgery that I required.

    I wish now that the third surgery (fusion)) would have been done in the first place as I have a very unstable back. I lost a lot of time off work since 1997 and of course income because of all of this. Christi

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 01:00 PM   #8
    magnetlady45
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Hi Shaukc & Acme:

    Thank you for posting. Please continue to do so as there are a lot of people here who need help and encouragement.

    Christi

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 05:39 PM   #9
    Brooke79
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Hi All,

    I am 24 and had a PLIF at L5S1 on October 29 of 2003 for a grade 1 spondylolisthesis. I am coming up to the 5 month post op mark and will find out on Friday of this week exactly how the fusion is coming along.

    Often the main purpose for fusing a spondylolisthesis regardless of the slippage is the degree to which the slip is impinging on the sciatic nerve. Whilst i did not have nearly as bad symptoms as others have experienced, mine was on its way. Usually beginning with a dull ache in the buttocks, leg or foot it progresses to a burning sensation, i likened it to a very fast but intense electric shock (and yes i have electrocuted myself in the past unfortunately) hehe. It is at this point the surgeons say surgery will need to be done sooner rather than later. Because of this my nerve totally healed up within a month. Sometimes depending on how sever or advanced the nerve damage is, the nerve may not recover. Hence sooner rather than later for the surgery.

    Now with a fully recovered sciatic nerve i simply wait for the fusion to solidify. This is also an uncertainty and one of the many risks we face when addressing whether or not to go ahead with surgery.

    I am in minimal pain now (i believe it is only post op pain), my surgeon believes once my back has fully recovered it will be as if there was never anything wrong with my back.

    I am hoping on Friday i can give you all some great news.

    If any of this sounds familiar to you and you are considering surgery all i have to say is that you'll never know whether or not you too can live without back issues unless you try and make your life better, it's better than wondering what might have been!!

    Brooke

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 06:40 PM   #10
    magnetlady45
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Hi Brooke:

    It is so good to have you on this thread. You have a lot to share with so many people. Looks like your surgery is a success.

    The one thing we need to remind everyone is that not everyone heals the same way. Some of us have had nerve impingement for so long that we may have permanent nerve damage and therefore the pain may not totally go away. However I was one of those people and the nerve pain has been greatly reduced after 8 months. I look forward to getting better each and every day.

    Some of us were also afraid to have fusion surgery. One thing I have learned is "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"

    Let's continue to hear all the fusion stories. I think we also need to hear about what really happened after surgery, so that others will know what to expect.

    Christi

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 08:17 PM   #11
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    Wink Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Thank you everyone for this type of info. Please keep it comming...I'll keep reading. I have so many questions before making the final decision.
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    Old 03-21-2004, 04:27 AM   #12
    Brooke79
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    Dear Christi and all,

    Christi is absolutely right. Fusion surgery is up there with open heart surgery. Think of the ricter scale of surgeries and fusees are up there!

    For those of you interested read on about the hospital stay and procedure.

    The surgery itself is a painful procedure (though once again this is an individual thing). Though it is worth it, really it is. For me the basic run down was this:

    The day before: I was admitted the day before my surgery at 2pm. On this day you spend the whole day seeing an array of different people for pre-op testing. The physio( will teach you how to get in and out of bed after the surgery. She will also show you the technique used for turning you in bed - i will explain later), the resident doctor, the radiologist, the anesthetist, perhaps the surgeon (i didnt), the guy that takes blood samples (cant remember their name), the nurse (who does an ECG to test the strength and rythum of the heart) etc. From midnight no food or drink is permitted.

    The day: My surgery was scheduled for 11 am. At 9:30am the nurse came in and with her she brought some special antiseptic body wash which you are to totally shower in as well as the stockings you will wear for the majority of your hospital stay (to avoid blood clots) and the gown you will wear into theatre. At 10:30am the anesthetist comes down if you have asked for a pre-med to calm any nerves (i requested this because i do not like needles). The wardsman came down at 11am and i was transfered from my bed into the theatre bed. I was given a cap to cover my hair with and the anesthetist gave me a top up of the pre-med ( i am fairly sure the pre-med is valium). From this point i remember nothing at all even though i was awake when i went into the theatre.
    The surgery took 2 surgeons 4 hours to complete. Before starting you will have ECG plugs attached to your chest (4), the anesthetic drip in your hand (1) as well as the drip to medicate and provide saline (nutrients) (1). As far as i can tell the surgery was performed with me laying on my stomach (being a PLIF). An incision about 15 cms long is made from around the L4 to the S1. The spinal muscles including the latimus Dorsi, erector spinae and spinal extensors and stripped of the spine so that surgeon has a very good view. First I had a laminectomy (removal of the disc between L5 and S1). The surgeon at this point may need to drill and larger canal for the nerves to pass through (if nerve impingement had been an issue). Small 'teeth' or spacers are then inserted into each end of the L5 and the S1 so that once the bone graft has been placed between the two vertebrae, the surgeon can then push the two vertebrae together and the 'teeth' or spacers will submerge into the graft material. The bone graft was taken from my hip (internally) and mixed with packed cells of my own whole blood (which i had donated 2 weeks before). Both the bone used for the graft and the blood can be your own or they can be arranged from a blood and bone bank (though the success rate is higher when materials come from your own body). Once the L5 and S1 are in alignment the surgeon inserts titanium screws (4- two in the L5 and 2 in the S1) along with rods running parralel to one another to secure the screws. At this point the surgeon may take an x-ray to ensure the instrumentation is in place. I was then sewn up using around 25 staples. At this stage 2 drainage tubes were inserted at the L1 level as well to drain blood and other fluids from the surgical site.These are sewn in place and will come out at about day 3. A catheter is inserted. The surgeon then places a epidural at the L1 level to reduce the pain on waking up. Another drip is inserted into your arm for morphine. This will remain in for the duration of the time you are in intensive care or for about 2-3 days, the morphine stays in for about 4-5 days. A dressing is then placed over the area and off to recovery.
    I woke up in Intensive Care. I felt no pain for around 3 hours after i woke up. Too drugged up from anesthetic, epidural and morphine. Most will have a relatively uneventful stay from here on in, it is very individual. Every hour you need to be moved from laying on your right side to laying on your back to laying on your left side. This occurs for the duration of the hospital stay and indeed should be adhered to on leaving hopsital. This is the most painful part of the stay.The procedure at hospital is: from the side you are laying on two nurses will roll you onto your back. Breathe in and take a big breath out as you roll onto your back. The nurses will then come to the side of the bed which you are being rolled to. They count to 3, on 2 take a big breath in and on 3 they roll you as you breath out as smoothly as they can. To be honest this did hurt a lot but then you are in heaven as changing sides often feels great once done. You are propted up with pillows so you stay on your side without holding yourself there. Each day the radiologist will come and x-ray your lungs to make sure they are recovering ok from the surgery. This is done using a mobile x-ray machine. A film is slid under your upper back and the machine placed over you. This too is uncomfortable.
    I am hazy about my hospital stay because the morphine does this. I was in intensive care for 3 days and 2 nights and i hardly slept a wink but you'll catch that up later. When i was transfered into the general ward and had my own room things got better. The first few days are the worst. Just get though them, it can be done and is worth it.

    Day Two - i began to eat. Of course you are flat so its hard to eat but only yoghurt at this stage anyway. My mum and dad came in a lot and they would slowly feed me more foods as i felt up to it.

    Day Three- Epidural came out. This is not painful because the whole area is still numb from the epidural even after it comes out. The drainage tubes come out and the holes from the drainage tubes close up on their own. The incisions are cleaned and re-dressed. self administering medication drip of morhpine is attached and you have a little button you press to administer the morphine as its needed. Down to the ward, finally you'll get some sleep.

    Day Four- Catheter came out. The first day i got up. I was assisted by four physios as well, you're a little unsure, sore and unstable. All it takes is practice thats all, and above all do exactly what they say. They tell you to relax so do it, i didnt and it hurt more. Basically the procedure for getting out of bed is this: On the side you are facing try and get as close to the edge of the bed as possible. Use your arms to lift your upper body at the same time you lower your legs to the floor. Remember from now no bending or twisting for atleast 6 months. Stay straight and tighten your tummy muscles to help you. The stronger your arms and legs before the surgery, the easier it will be for them to support you when trying to get in and out of bed.

    Day Five - the physio will visit you to teach you about are for your spine at home and some exercises you can do in bed. By this stage you should be showering and going to the toilet on your own as well as sitting in a chair to eat.

    Day Six - home time a day earlier than expected.

    Ok, i have to go to bed, its 12 pm in Sydney and my back is wanting to know why i have been sitting for so long.

    Brooke

     
    Old 03-21-2004, 05:49 AM   #13
    lfoster21
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    Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    God Bless you Brooke79,
    Thank you for your time and effort...that is exactly what I needed to know. All the info. I needed to prepare myself for surgery all in one sitting. (and all 1st hand knowledge...perfect!)
    May God richly bless you,

    Lorie
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    Last edited by lfoster21; 03-21-2004 at 05:49 AM.

     
    Old 03-21-2004, 07:35 AM   #14
    acme
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    Cool Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    I for one have no complaints! I had been told for years I needed Fusion. I kept waiting for the Medical Community to advance ! Was hoping for something to come along that wasn't so invasive! Didn't happen!!
    I finally gave in ........Got excited about getting fixed after talking with an 80 year old guy that had the same fusion I needed. He told me he golfs everyday with no pain. Excersizes at the "Y"!
    Well..........I don't golf! Hate the game! But I do run short distances-Vacume the house-Work full time-Drive extended distances-Get dressed & shower with No Pain!!
    Life has been good for me after Fusion!!
    Stay positive & get Excited......

    Larry
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    Old 03-21-2004, 10:53 AM   #15
    Harmony5
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    Smile Re: Good fusion outcomes wanted!

    [QUOTE=magnetlady45]Hi Brooke:

    It is so good to have you on this thread. You have a lot to share with so many people. Looks like your surgery is a success.

    The one thing we need to remind everyone is that not everyone heals the same way. Some of us have had nerve impingement for so long that we may have permanent nerve damage and therefore the pain may not totally go away. However I was one of those people and the nerve pain has been greatly reduced after 8 months. I look forward to getting better each and every day.

    Some of us were also afraid to have fusion surgery. One thing I have learned is "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"

    Let's continue to hear all the fusion stories. I think we also need to hear about what really happened after surgery, so that others will know what to expect.

    Christi[/QUOTE]

    Thanks! I also need a fusion at L-5-S-1. The surgeon will do an "anterior with cage". I don't have it scheduled yet. I would love to hear from others as it is an encouragement, and also helps me to know what to expect.

    Gail

    Last edited by gaildw4; 03-21-2004 at 10:55 AM.

     
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