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    Old 07-28-2003, 07:38 AM   #1
    shg
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    Post Good Fusion Outcomes Wanted

    Greetings for the week everyone.

    I wanted to hear from those of you who have had good outcomes with your fusions. I've seen all who have not and I'm now scheduled for a 2-level 360 degree fusion with hardware in September...that said, I want positive information from those of you who are happy with your decision. Any info would be appreciated...also, who thinks it's crazy to return to work within 3 weeks - I'm in good shape, not overwirght, don't smoke and am currently not taking any pain meds (and haven't since the beginning of June).

    Thank you all in advance,

    SHG

     
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    Old 07-28-2003, 08:02 AM   #2
    Hayley
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    Hi there!

    Although not pain free I do consider myself a success story. I had a 2 level (l4-l5 & l5-s1) fusion with hardware in April 2002.

    15 months on and I am happy with the result. If I knew then what I know now I would not have tried all ways to put off the surgery, which I did for 2 years.

    If you can, ask the office if you can talk to some of the patients your surgeon has already worked on. I know that they'll probably be 'hand picked success stories' but it will go a very long way to getting firt hand experience of what it's like to have this surgery. The surgeon may be good but they haven't always (in fact very rarely) experienced it. The patients will also be able to give you tips that they picked up along the way on how to deal with home life post-op. My number 1 tip is to have the person who is driving you home put a plastic bag onto the seat of the car if they are cloth covered. It makes it a heck of a lot easier to sit down and twist yourself in....

    In my humble opinion 3 weeks is WAY to early to return to work, regardless of how fit you are. Minimum I was told is 12 weeks, but I'm in the UK so things may be different here (don't think they are though). The fact that it's a 360 should be enough to justify more the time off.

    Are you being told 3 weeks or is this your own decision? Either you need to double check the info you've being given or you should seriously re-think this timescale. It's very quick.

    September will be here before you know it and I wish you all the luck in the world. From the moment you wake you will begin your new, and I hope, pain free life.

    HAYLEY

     
    Old 07-28-2003, 08:34 AM   #3
    shg
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    Hayley,

    Thank you for this info...I really appreciate it. 3 weeks is my goal. Knowing myself, waiting 3 months will be impossible, I just can't see myself waiting that long.

    If I may, I'd like to ask the following (I too will have the same surgery as you):

    1. How was the pain immediately after?
    2. When did that pain satrt to subside? How was it after 1 week, 2 weeks, 3, etc
    3. When were you walking?
    4. When did you increase your activity?
    5. When were you able to sit, drive, bend, put on your socks, etc.
    6. When did you start rehab?
    7. What are your limitations now?

    Thank you in advance for this.

    SHG

     
    Old 07-28-2003, 08:48 AM   #4
    aroberts
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    SHG
    I did not have the type fusion you are. Only had L5_S1 with hardware and was done posterior.
    I can say one thing. Going back to work in 3 weeks is out of the question, even if you have a desk job. That is too much strain on the back. If you have any other type job, I would look at months not weeks. Someone I know will say they went back in 2-3 weeks. Well, all I can say is they will probably be back for more surgery one day. I think it is asking to much of the body to go back that soon.
    Hope this helps and good luck with your surgery
    Alex

     
    Old 07-28-2003, 09:04 AM   #5
    shg
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    aroberts,

    I appreciate and respect your comments. I am a type a person who has always worked hard to get better. I've had 3 laminectomy/discectomy's and I was always fast to go...unfortunately, the discs had a mind of there own...my doctor wanted to fuse me before however, I refused and went the route of alternatives. I know this surgery is going to be huge however, I do know someone who was back at week 3 following a 3-level and I'm keeping a positive attitude...from what I understand, the hardest part post-op is the exhaustion. Am I wrong?

     
    Old 07-28-2003, 09:13 AM   #6
    aroberts
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    shg
    You are probably right. Seems like all you want to do is sleep. At least I did and I was very active before. The incision isn't that bad as far as pain. Once the staples are out it is much better and they came out in 2 weeks. Positive mental attitude is definetly a plus in any surgery. Keep it up and you will do just great. I think that is what has helped me this far.
    Alex

     
    Old 07-28-2003, 09:29 AM   #7
    Hayley
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    Hi SGH

    I think your op is more involved than mine, as mine was simply posterior and not a 360.

    I will try to answer your questions in turn but itís difficult to answer 1 & 2 as pain is such a personal thing, although anyone who has been through what most have been through on this board will probably be able to stand more than most. It also depends on the pain relief youíre offered Ė I was told that I would either have an epidural, or I would have a pump that allows you to administer yourself as required. I wasnít given the choice, it was simply a case of wake up and find outÖ

    Well, I woke to find no pump and therefore assumed epidural but I was in extreme pain for a whole night Ė this was the worst time of my CP life. I cried for hours and it was only when the nurses had changed shifts did the sister realise that the epidural Iíd been given hadnít worked (?) and I could feel EVERYTHING! I was immediately given morphine and slept for the rest of the day. So, now perhaps you can see why questions 1 & 2 are more of a personal thing and canít always be answered easily. All I can say is that once the pain was under control everything was just fine and in the weeks that followed I simply managed it with paracetamol, nothing more.

    3. When were you walking?
    I was up, wearing my brace and out of bed on day 3 and walked my first few steps (about 10 Ė wow!). That was enough, but as each day passed the therapist would arrive and we would walk further. One thing I will say is that I noticed a difference in my pain levels even before I got out of bed. You know your own body and I tried my own Ďexercisesí that under normal circumstances would have immediately brought about my mechanical pain and I was surprised (and pleased) to feel no pain at all.

    4. When did you increase your activity?
    By the time I left the hospital I was fully ambulant and had no problem with stairs, inclines etc. It was just a slow process, you know. I was told to walk for a minimum of 20 minutes each day and to increase the speed and time as I felt comfortable. This I did religiously, and I still do to this day.

    5. When were you able to sit, drive, bend, put on your socks, etc.
    Sitting was limited to no more than 15 minutes at a time so I regularly switched from sitting to standing to lying down. That said, lying in bed all day is NOT recommended so this obviously encouraged the walking Ė what else is there if you canít sit, stand or lay down? Absolutely NO bending allowed so try to prepare your home before you go so that everything you think you will need is at a good height. Have someone else put on your socks. Driving was not allowed until I had seen the doc Ė which is about 6 weeks - and he will tell you if he thinks it is safe.

    6. When did you start rehab?
    I was given exercises to do when I left the hospital. Also when I think about the walking I did my rehab was immediate really, but the official therapy started at about 8 or 9 weeks if I remember rightly. Iím still having it now and I exercise every day Ė I began to wonder if my therapy was actually doing anything but I know when Iíve missed a session.

    7. What are your limitations now?
    Limitations are minimal to be honest. Yes, there is pain. Sometimes itís worse than other times, but I know that itís becasue Iíve either overdone things or Iíve missed a therapy session for whatever reason. I still donít play the competitive sports I used to (netball and football) but I still consider myself a sporty person Ė in fact I have recently registered to swim the equivalent of the English Channel (22 miles) at my local pool. I can complete it at my leisure over a 12 week peiod and all funds raised will go to a UK charity that supports people who have suffered spine chord injuries. So you see, I may not be able to do things I could do before surgery but I can now do so much more. I can walk much further, much faster and I donít trip up as much as I used to which is a bonus.

    I honestly try to focus now on the things that I CAN do rather than those I CANíT and I think that is much more healthy.

    I maintain that 3 weeks is VERY quick for you to return to work. Like you, I also thought I would go stir crazy sat at home for 3 months but it goes by so fast and it gives you time to really focus on getting well. I donít know you but I would urge you as a friend to reconsider this timeframe. Even if you tell your employer that you need 12 weeks and donít take it Ė thatís better than telling them you need 3 weeks and not make it donít you think?

    I am sorry that this has turned out to be such a long post but I really wanted to give you as much info as possible. In some way the UK is different in our methods to the USA but at the end of the day weíre all human. I hope Iíve helped in some small way to answer some of your very valid questions.

    Much Love and luck to you
    HAYLEY

     
    Old 07-28-2003, 09:42 AM   #8
    shg
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    Haley,

    This is a huge help...it really is. As for my pain, I have no doubt I'll have it. Never worry about this being long to me or anyone because as most of us know, it's hard to find information and it's site's like this and people like you who help us all.
    1 & 2. Fortunately, I know all the doctors, nurses, etc and I've even set-up my pain specialist to help afterwards...my surgeon has one on staff and he's phenominal.
    3. All I have now is back discomfort...(knock on wood), no leg pain, etc so I'm hoping that if I feel stable afterwards which I don't know, I'll be okay. The surgery for me is for instability of the spine which happened after 3 operations for my disc.
    4. How far can you walk now? Within the first 3 weeks post op?
    5. No driving ha...and to think I just got a new car...not smart on my part. Your comment on bend proofing your home is a very valid one. Ween were you able to put on your socks, take a bath, etc
    6. I know that feeling. Did you have an external electrical stimulater put on? My doctor will be giving me one for 3-6 months.
    7. Good for you...that's amazing and something to aspire too. I hope to be able to play golf and tennis again one day...Big difference from my 8 years of playing rugby

     
    Old 07-28-2003, 12:54 PM   #9
    ali_moran
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    Hi,
    I had my fusion on March 18. I do have lots of muscle pain, but i really do consider myself a complete success!! I know that a year from now, i will feel so wonderful! I also know that as soon as i can take some anti-inflamatories that i will feel tons better.
    But one day at a time! I know that i am fixed now, and i have a long pain free life ahead of me!
    God Bless,
    Alison

    ------------------
    ------------------
    July 21: Saw Orthopedist. He said i have arthritis in knees and after some anti-inflamatories and quad strengthening exercises i should get back to normal again soon.

    Knees are now bothering me. PT thinks my Patella is off track on both knees due to weakness. Will be seeing an Orthopedist in July.

    March 18, 2003: Anterior Interbody fusion with BAK cages (L5-S1)

    November 1, 2003: Discogram. DDD, and confirms L5-S1 pain. Disc is torn.

    May 4, 2001: Microdistectomy and Laminectomy. (L5-S1)

    April 2001: Cortizone injections, no pain relief.

    Dec 25, 1999: Fell and hit lower back against couch frame.

     
    Old 07-28-2003, 03:57 PM   #10
    blue2000
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    Hi

    I had a 360 2 level fusion with rods and a hemilaminectomy on April 2, and I consider myself a success story. The surgery was done on a Wednesday, Thursday the P.T.'s came in and got me walking. I went home on Friday. I was pretty sore for awhile, but no more lower back pain.

    The only bad news I have is that I may have permanent nerve damage in my leg, I waited too long for the surgery; I was scared.

    Try to strengthen your legs if you can prior to your surgery. If you are in the best physical shape you will be fine.

    I live in a house with stairs and had no restrictions. Five weeks after the surgery I took a three hour trip to my daughters college graduation. I was sore afterwards, but I know it will pass.

    Don't try to be a hero, listen to your body, and take the pain meds.

    Good luck


     
    Old 07-29-2003, 05:49 AM   #11
    shg
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    Blue2000,

    Look at your words, "a little sore afterwards." That says it all - you weren't dying in pain, you weren't letting yourself stay down...you were positive, you were motivated, you worked through it and that's what my goal is.

    Last night I spoke to one of my closest friends brothers who's a physiatrist for a Top 10 college football program and who's specialty is spinal rehab. He gave me ALL the info on this and while it's huge surgery, my MMIP score, attitude, etc prove I will do well. I can't let this get me down. He went on to say that if it were him, he'd try as hard as possible to be back to work, as a doctor, within 3-5 weeks...you have to be positive...you have to forge ahead, you have to make youself believe...you have to look at every day as your daughters graduation and work through it. You are most definately a positive influence on me and someone I can look towards as a guide of how I will be.

    Thank you.

    Please everyone else, keep the positive energy coming. Let me hear from more of you about your POSITIVE EXPERIENCES.

    Finally, those of you who had bad outcomes, what was your MMIP score?

     
    Old 07-30-2003, 05:19 AM   #12
    shg
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    Are there any other positive fusion results here???

     
    Old 07-30-2003, 06:31 AM   #13
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    glad I could be of help. Are you having your surgery done by a neuro or an ortho? I had mine done by an orthopedic spine surgeon.

    Who knows, we are both in N.Y. it may be the same one.

    Just a few tips for before the surgery. Get a grabber thing. If you drop things it is rough to reach them. Also my insurance paid for a commode to raise the toilet. It was a great lift (no pun intended).

    Other than those things, I got along fine. I am taking a 4 hour flight on Friday and the only thing I am bringing is an air cushion to sit on to make the flight easier.

    Remember, most success stories don't have time to be on the health boards, they also aren't looking for anymore help. It is so sad to see all these people suffering, but don't expect to be one of those.

    blue

     
    Old 07-30-2003, 07:05 AM   #14
    shg
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    blue2000,

    You hit the nail on the head. where in ny did you have yours done? I'm going to St. Vincent's where I have a ortho. I've met with neuro's and they say a spinal doc would be fine, especially the one I have.

    Are you back to work full time?

     
    Old 07-30-2003, 06:39 PM   #15
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    I HAD MINE DONE AT MERCY MEDICAL CENTER ON LONG ISLAND. I COULD BE BACK TO WORK FULL TIME, HOWEVER I WORK FOR MY HUSBAND AND AM TAKING THE SUMMER OFF. I DESERVE IT.

    I DO GO TO THE BEACH A LOT AND I AM SIGNING UP TO PLAY TENNIS STARTING SEPTEMBER, 2X A WEEK

    KEEP THE FAITH

     
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