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  • 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

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    Old 01-26-2010, 03:14 PM   #1
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    19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    I am 19 years old, and for almost two years I've been experiencing lower back/left SI joint pain and, for the past four months, numbness in my left leg. After meeting with two different spine specialists in NYC I was diagnosed with grade 3 spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 and two completely degenerated discs (L4-L5 and L5-S1). The consensus is that fusion is my best and, ultimately, only option. This is especially considering my age, fear of nerve damage, and my desired career (nursing). Since this is an inevitable procedure, I decided to go ahead with it in May when I return home from school and hopefully have the entire summer to recover.

    The doctor I chose for surgery is wonderful and was able to answer my questions, but I'm really hoping to connect with other patients, especially ones who are close to my age, who have experienced this. I can't help but be scared about the procedure. How was your surgery itself and your stay in the hospital? How was your pain in the weeks post-op? I fear that pain/complications will prevent me from returning to living at school and pursuing a degree/career in nursing. What did you find helped you in your recovery? How quickly did you return to your normal activities? I'm hoping my age and good health will speed the recovery process.

    Sorry this was so long but I wanted to give an accurate description of my situation so that you know where I'm coming from.
    Thanks for reading and any help/comments!!

    Last edited by bbeckm01; 01-26-2010 at 03:33 PM.

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    Old 01-27-2010, 08:39 AM   #2
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    Hi there,

    Im not your age now (unfortunately) Im 40 but I did have my S1/L5/L4 fusion done when I was 19. Medicine has progressed greatly since then so I will tell you how I have got on over the last 20 years. I healed fairly quickly from the fusion about 4 months. I had a Hartshill Loop and wire put in and I guess it took about a year to feel that my muscles were back to as before.

    I went onto climb mountains, carry 3 children, lift decent weights (by bending knees) and generally get on with life. I couldnt run, stand for long periods or use my back in a sweeping action. So in essence I was always aware of my back. I know nursing can take its toll on an uninjured back. But rules and regulations are stricter these days on how you handle patients.

    Being just 19 and facing this surgery is hard to deal with I know but because you do have youth on your side your recovery should be a little easier than someone of my age.

    I was told that by the time I reached middle age I may need the surgery redoing. Unfortunately as soon as I hit 40 I needed the metalwork removing and I am under further investigations.

    Now I must just mention that my body has also had to put up with a triple fusion of my left ankle making me shorter on one side. So you can imagine really how well my back has done to get me through 21 years fairly actively.

    Once you have had your fusion done you will need to look after your spine but if everything goes well for you, you should be able to live a life that makes you happy and fulfilled.

    I wish you all the best in the world.

    Old 01-28-2010, 08:00 AM   #3
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    I only had fusion at L4 L5 2 1/2 years ago. I was in teh hospital for 5 days and it was a nightmare. My daughter stayed with me the whole time and said she never slept more than 30 minutes at a time. Have someone stay with you if you can is my best advice.

    After got home started walking and loved every minute of it. Made it three miles (which was to far) before my 6 week check up. After that have stayed around two. I had surgery on 6/13 and was decent by mid August but not great for six months and not pain free for over a year. Keep asking questions This site helped me a lot when I was deciding and recovering. First time I've been on here in a long time. You'll be fine.


    Old 01-28-2010, 04:26 PM   #4
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    I have already had this surgery and it has helped my pain go away. Recovery wasn"t bad and I can do everything I used to do..I most important thing is to keep excersizing, for example lots of walking. If your not active there will be more problems...Overall I am fine...

    Old 03-21-2010, 08:01 PM   #5
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    Hello there,
    I am 23 and when I was 22 I had a spinal fusion from L4-S1. I have severe grade 3 spondylolisthesis. It was the best thing that has ever happened to me. They put in 2 rods and 4 screws and I am completely pain free! It took 7.5 hours and six days in the hospital b/c a nerve in my left hip got irritated. But that all went away in about a week after a got out. Really the only pain I have is from the bone graft site but that is so minimal that I cannot even call it pain. It was scary but totally worth it! I hope this helps. And good job having it over the summer. I had mine 3/20/09 and by June 09 I was totally fine. I started to drive the end of April 09.

    Old 03-22-2010, 07:16 AM   #6
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    I was 18 when I had my first fusion. I also wanted to go into nursing, but I was told early on that with my back issues, no one would ever hire me. I'd be a liability. I chose another healthcare field that gave me lots of hands-on care but not too much lifting. That was Respiratory Care. It turned out to be a great field for me. I loved my work and it was especially interesting because we traveled all over the hospital and got to work with every age and many different types of patients. You might want to consider switching from nursing for the sake of your back. Stay away from radiology, as it involves a lot of heavy lifting, but phlebotomy is another possibility if you want to work with people in health care.

    Do read the sticky at the top of the page called, "post surgery tips." It will give you lots of suggestions that will make your recovery easier.

    I wish you the best,

    Old 03-22-2010, 03:38 PM   #7
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    Okay, so...I feel like a real newbie (but then again, I am a real newbie!) but I keep seeing references to "stickies", but don't seem to be able to find them! What am I missing here??

    Old 03-22-2010, 06:27 PM   #8
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    I have had the same problem in the past but they are the first quotes with the thumb tacks at the right of them. They are only on the thread heading pages. Good luck. I hope you find the help you need here. Allan
    25-Nov-2010: ALIF fusion L5-S1. 9 years of Chronic lower back pain. Nearly 18 months of pain across my upper pelvis, through my butt and down my left leg into my foot. Sciatica relieved by surgery.

    Old 06-07-2010, 02:29 AM   #9
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    Hello Newbie, I was just researching on the internet and came across your post and I found it very interesting. I am not sure if you have already had surgery as I saw you were going to have it done in may but I am a 28 yo that is a nurse and am going through somthing very similar. Last summer I hurt my back playing softball. I have been out of work for the past year because I am a newly graduated nurse and not able to fulfill my job duties. Last July I had a L5/S1 microdiskectomy to remove the portion of the disk that was herniated and laying on my nerve root. The docs were hoping that this would by me some time till i got a little older before I went through anything derastic. However it has not lasted as long and am still having alot of problems. I have gotten many opions and they are all telling me that a double disk replacement would be the best thing for me but insurance is not paying for them because they are not FDA approved, so the next best option would be to get a fusion on my L5/S1 and the do a single disk replacement on my L4/L5.... Needless to say I am scared to death being so young and having to deal with all of this. I am currently in the waiting process to see if insurance will pay for and as soon as I here back then I can proceed with the surgery. I also have the same questions that you have expressed. If you have already had surgery would you mind sharing with me how it went and what the recovery process has been like???? Or for that matter if anyone out there has any input on this I sure would appreciate it. Hope the best for you and maybe we can stay in contact. I am from Alaska, where are you from???? hope you here from you soon. Best of luck!

    Old 06-07-2010, 06:24 AM   #10
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    Go for it!!! I just had an L5S1 fusion, am a bit older but have had a good recovery. I did set myself back with some muscle spasms when I walked too much the 4th week bc I was feeling so good. Check out the tips at the top of this blog before you have surgery and helps around the house. Using silk pjs have helped me turn over in bed easier, and buying one of those grabbers has been a saving thing also. When you do go back to school, ASK FOR HELP at first do not do stupid things like lifting. there are plenty of people who would love to help you, especially at school!!! like moving things into your room, groceries, you name it. Also you may want to consider pediatric nursing, the patients are lighter, or maybe another area of nursing where lifting is not a constant everyday thing, Good luck and go for it!

    Old 06-08-2010, 03:47 PM   #11
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    Re: 19 years old, L4-L5-S1 fusion/disc replacement, help!

    I had a spinal fusion 3/20/09 and it was from S1-L4 to treat spondylolisthesis and went great. It changed my life. I am 24 now but was 22 when I had the surgery. I too was so afraid of what would happen because of my age but so far its been wonderful. I was in sooooo much pain before my surgery and now I have none. I just had my one year post op and the dr said that I shouldn't have to have another one for a very very long time. So my advice would be to make sure that your dr specializes in spinal disorders and degenerative disease. I hope that this helps and don't hesitate to contact me about more questions. Just an fyi it helped so much that 5 months after surgery I was back working full time (im a surgical tech) and even with that NOOOOO pain. : )

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