SpineUniverse Community Advice
Get help and share your story with others who know what you're going through.
Please register or log in to join the discussions!

I'm having surgery soon please help.

Started by Sam227 on 06/17/2010 12:12am

Hi Guys,
I'm having a Laminectomy at L4-L5,and posture interbody fusion L3-L4. What am I in for with this surgery? Surgery date July 22. I know I'm in for a lot of pain. I am getting very nervous. I've had surgeries before on other parts of my body. People say back surgery is like nothing else. I'm also 48 years old. Everyone says age makes a difference. Please give me all the place you all have. Thank you, Sam

Do you find this discussion helpful?
0

26 Responses

Like/Dislike
1

That was>>> Please give me all the advice you all have. Like I said I'm very nervous sorry

Like/Dislike
2

Do you have DDD?
As for the surgery, I had a fusion/decompression/laminectomy done at L4-5 when i was 51. I was walking the second day, but couldn't eat until day 6. i left the hospital on day 7.
The first 6 wks is the hardest! The pain was horible even with medicine. As long as you don't move it's not so bad. But you use your spine every time you move, except maybe when moving your face. It was 3 months before I could turn over in bed without pain. You will grow to hate every speed bump or pothole you hit when in a car. Going around a corner will hurt. Even once you heal it is possible your pain won't improve that much. Chronic, long-term pain acts differently than acute pain. It can become permanent.
Keep your weight down as low as you can, baby your spine, and don't lift over 20 lbs. Never, Never lift and twist. You'll regret it.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. My spine is crumbling pretty fast now due to DDD.In the last 4 years 12 more levels have failed and must be fused. Next 2 surgeries are on my neck, this September. Then 2 more on my lower back after I recover. Finally I need a total joint replacement on my r. knee. Such fun! But you know what? There's always somebody worse off than us. We still must count our blessings.
Good luck to you.

Like/Dislike
2

Hi Sam.
This is my first post-I've only just registered, although I have sourced info on the site for quite a while. My Ortho is now talking about more surgery, so I thought it might be good to be able to talk to others who are suffering a similar condition. After suffering from back pain and eventually true sciatica for over 10 years, and going through the usual conservative treatments, I have undergone two surgeries and several injections to cope! A quick background: I'm a 33 y/o mum of 2 young kids, and injured my lower back in 2000 while serving in the Army. After thinking it was just a sore back, I was diagnosed as having disk protrusions of L3/4 and L4/5, which has also progressed into L2/3 lumbar spondylosis to the sacaral junction. Needless to say, I was medically discharged and my career dramtically changed to admin jobs! Although PT and meds worked for a while to control the pain, eventually my back pain and sciatica got so bad in 2007, my specialist thought a microdiscectomy of L4/5 would be beneficial; and it was, for a while. Then within a couple of months, the pain was back. Five months later, I underwent a posterior instrumented lumbar fusion of L4/5. Life following the surgery was painful, as you expect, but honestly, alot of it, I believe is mindset. Yes, recovery hurts, but if you try, and I mean TRY!!! to stay positive, you will get through. My recovery was while raising a 4 and 1 year old, thankfully with help, so you can imagine my struggle as a mum. Your age may present small issues, but if you try to maintain a good diet and progressive exercise program-under guidance- you'll be OK. You will be stiff and it's hard to get used to the restrictions, but remeber to not overdo it. It's easy to do, believe me! You will also get used to your new abilities, as in, when you start to feel a bit sore, stop. It's your body warning you! The way I rationise it is; I was prepared to take all the risks and what-if's, if it meant I could lead a full life for my kids. I wish you heaps of luck, and shout if you want to rant-I've been there heaps!!!!!
Tash

Like/Dislike
0

WOW BJW-SEA!
It's like you were with me during my recovery!! I completely agree- you will hate the pot-holes, and rolling over is never the same, but there has to be someone else worse off out there. Good luck with the next surgery.
Tash

Like/Dislike
1

hi sam! i had a laminectomy at L3 thru S1 with with total interbody fusion. three weeks prior i had a cervical laminectomy C5/6 with interbody fusion. i will be honest.. the lumbar surgery was a little rougher but WELL WORTH IT!!! my surgery was 4 years ago at the age of 53 and i was in severe pain also. of course you are nervous, i was too but after all was said and done i had no reason to be. i will give you my experience but of course everyones' is different but i hope this gives you a little peace of mind. after surgery my pain on a scale of 1 to 10 was 0. you will have pain when they have you get up to walk (with much assistance and a walker) but most of it is fear you are going to fall! don't worry you won't fall!! getting up and down is challenging and you will have some pain but not as bad as you are having now! on a personal note my biggest challenge and pain was getting up and down on the commode!! i am sure you will be in a brace and you will not believe how much support and comfort it gives you. you probably will use a walker for a while to get your "sea legs", its very imprtant to walk and keep moving, but of course follow your doctors orders!!! i wish you the best for surgery and i will keep you in my thoughts!!! if you have any questions or just want to chat let me know!!! i hope this helped you a little bit!!

Like/Dislike
0

Thank you so very much. I am in 10 plus pain daily. I hope it can't be that much worse after surgery. I have taken the next six months off from work to recover. Please everybody tell me the bad stories to. If there's 30 different experiences I will probably be like one of them. Again thank you all so very much. And good luck to all. Sam

Like/Dislike
1

I had a L4-L5-S1 posterior fusion with hardware three years ago. I'm 54 years old now. I had spondylolisthesis for years and struggled with some pain raising my kids but put up with it. But I had a disk explode and the spondylolisthesis was getting worse so after six months of pain clinic and PT (I couldn't get off work right away) off to surgery I went. It was a great decision; I spent an hour today shoveling bark into a wheelbarrow. I'm careful and I do my stretches but I live a pretty normal life. I don't downhill ski anymore but I can't afford it anyway :)

Yes, there's pain but they have excellent meds to control it both in and out of the hospital. You need to keep ahead of the pain; if it is out of control at the hospital, don't try to be brave, hit your call button. If you expect to be able to deal with it, you'll be much better off than if you go in expecting to lose it. By the time you get home, it will be much better. You will need someone to help you when you're home, help you shower, get you cold packs, change your dressing.

It takes time to heal, you will have to be patient, rest, and expect to have low energy for a while. After a while, you'll start physical therapy. Take it easy, you've got a life time to get into shape.

There are horror stories out there about things going wrong; these are not the usual outcomes. Odds are, you'll do great and feel much better in about 6 weeks.

Like/Dislike
0

Sam, here's wishing you the very best for tomorrow. It will go very well.

Like/Dislike
0

Thanks. I am having my surgery July 22 though. I'm still nervous. I feel I'm a lot better place now after this discussion. There are so many great people on this website.Where I live there is no support group for back surgery. I feel like starting one myself. In real life people say a lot of different things than what they write down. I run a support group for bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery). That I'm an expert on. People come in crying. WE send them out smiling telling them it's the best thing they do for themselves. And it absolutely is. The clinic I volunteer for totally sucks though. I bet there's no support groups for back surgery because it's so so painful. Guys thank you so much for everything. I really know what I'm getting myself into thanks to you all. I know surgery necessarily isn't the answer but I have to try. I have a great partner in the business I'm in. But I haven't worked in a year. I will have to give my wife or sell my part of the business. No one ever said working hard seven days a week would do this to you. Back troubles. In between doctors visits I`m going to take a couple of small trips. I live in central New York anyone have any ideas for a man they can't walk more than 50 feet? I still can drive 4or5 hours.

Like/Dislike
0

Sam - My apologies, I misread the month. This forum indeed has been an eye opener for me as well.

Not sure which side you'd prefer to travel. Have you been to the Shenandoah valley in Virginia? Could also do Luray caverns on the way. They have special arrangements in there and for the valley, there are nice site seeing spots on the drive.

http://www.visitshenandoah.org/
http://www.luraycaverns.com/

Check these sites out.

Thanks.

Like/Dislike
0

Hi Sam,
I had the same surgery 2 years ago, but it was the L5-S1. I completely trusted my surgeon so that helped a great deal. He was completely honest with me about the pain, and I appreciated that. He told me that the first day I would feel like I was hit by a train, the second, a bus, the third day, hopefully a bike, and then I could leave the hospital. He wasn't kidding, and like you, I was terrified. But, if I had to do it again (and I do! same region as you this time), I definitely would! A positive attitude is key, and I had a good reason to get better quick because my husband couldn't care for me and he was going to ship me off to his Mother's for my recovery! I was told 6 weeks post surgery recovery period, but was ready to go back to work in 4. The Doc and I compromised and I went back in 5. Take the whole six weeks! When I first came home from the hospital, I had to walk up three flights of stairs to get in my apt. I did it! I could not even bend enough to brush my teeth over the sink, but every day it gets better and better! Please take everything offered ie. toilet seat riser (a must have!), walker, grabber. You can do this. Trust me, you wouldn't want it any other way. I tried discetomy first. Trust your surgeon, ask all the right questions. The horror stories you hear about the pain not going away, I believe, is because less invasive and less painful methods, where they don't have to cut through your back muscles, means they can fuse, but they cannot see nor take care of the nerve. Hope this helps!

Like/Dislike
0

I don`t know what i would do without you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks again Sam

Like/Dislike
0

Hi, just joined here. After reading the comments, I think I've got a pretty good idea what to expect if/when I finally have back surgery for arthritis and collapsed vertebra - don't remember which ones, but lower back. I was interested in getting a drift on the time down before going back to work.

My situation is such that I chose to use a wheelchair before I saw a doctor - and used it for only a week - because I live alone, handle 7 Dobermans (Doberman rescue), and work full time. My back pain had become so severe I could not walk - literally. The pain coupled with the weakness that had gradually developed over the last 2 years, finally got too much to handle. No, the doctor isn't happy about my using a wheelchair, but even a walker won't let me walk without pain that is totally crippling. And I mean TOTALLY. I probably shouldn't be "happy" about using a wheelchair, but truthfully, this is the FIRST time in over 13 years I've been able to move from point A to point B without any pain.

The doctor wants me to walk 10 minutes each hour, but my question is...."how??" If I can't walk now, how am I supposed to "walk" for exercise each hour? That makes no sense to me. Second, if the discs are now bone-on-bone, how is PT going to help the situation before surgery? Yes, I can lay down and do some exercises, but walk? No.... Push the pedals on a bike? No. Do "scissors" with my legs? No. The nerves are simply not cooperating, and the pain is NOT being medicated down to the point I can get past it.

Any comments are welcome - I'm new to this back problem being this severe, and to the idea of surgery. I'm 64, need to loose weight before the procedure, and need to continue to work as long as possible before surgery. One other restriction is the co-pay on my insurance. I don't make enough money to pay $70 for up to 3 PT visits a week, nor even more than one doctor's visit per month.

Thank you in advance.
Dobermom

Like/Dislike
0

Dobermom,

What about doing some aquatic exercises? I think what your doctor is trying to do, is get your leg muscles going once again. You are still young and I think the doctor cares enough to want you to gain some of your independence back.

Just my thoughts! Take care of yourself and keep us posted!

Wendi

Like/Dislike
0

Wendi,

I agree that I have to give it my all to keep the leg and core muscles as strong as possible. That I am doing on a daily basis both at work and home. I just can't walk. Like you, I've thought about the aquatic work, yet here, locally, there is nothing available within even driving distance. There is no community pool, no PT place with a pool, or other water availabilities.

I am collecting my x-rays on Thursday, and going for a second opinon. It's not that I think this first doctor has missed anything - my insurance and past experiences require I get the second opinion. Further, this first doctor was abominably rude and degrading in his conversations with me. I have no trust there, no respect, no desire to be seen after by him, nor his staff.

I am following the discussion here, daily, as there is a lot I can learn from all of you as I 'walk' this path to recovery. While I do not want to be limited to a wheel chair the rest of my life, I must say that using it in the interim is a blessing - the first time in over a decade I can 'move about' without hurting so badly I want to cry. Besides, crying at work is frowned on....sort of. And I'm the HR Manager, so making certain I do not fall or further injure myself at work is paramount to my position and to the company.

Dobermom

Like/Dislike
0

Dobermom,
I can't believe you're still working! Please think about filing for your short-term disability from your employee benefits. Even though things are going well for you now, the reality is they could fire you at any time. They don't even need a reason if your state is an "At Will" state like Washington. It happens all the time. It happened to me 3 days after I told my employer I had a herniated disc.. After that I got smart. I changed careers,and worked as long as I could. But I kept my medical problems to myself. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I filed with corporate HR and got on disability. I walked in the next day and told them i wouldn't be working anymore. But I'm still getting paid!
As you must know, short-term disability usually gives you 66% of prior wages, and long-term disability usually pay 60% of your wages, for as long as you remain disabled until you are 65. File for Social Security immediately if you decide to follow that advice. It took me 3 years and an atty. to get it, so I was very thankful for that disability insurance income. I also was in less pain when I finally gave up on working.
Do you have a diagnosis of spondylolisthesis, stenosis, and cord compression? If so you must be very careful to avoid any manuever that causes nerve pain to flare, in order to avoid permanent damage to the nerve/s. The last time my GP sent me back to physical therapy I had problems immediately. The easiest exercises caused me to have extreme symptoms when I laid down at night: It would feel like a jolt of electricity had gone down my spine.It was so strong it would jerk me into a fetal position. This happened several times a night.
Sometimes you have to listen to your own good judgment and not the Dr. You know your body better than anyone! I quit PT, and the jolts gradually faded away over several nights. I went to the Ortho surgeon who did X-rays, and an MRI, and that's when I learned how bad I actually was. My cord is severely compressed at multiple levels. I walk with 2 canes, but I really need an electric chair. I stumble a lot, and my legs get like jello sometimes.I cant go far because of the pain.
I cannot imagine going through this when my kids were still at home like some of these folks.
Good luck to all of you.
Thanks for all who have encouraged me. It's good to talk to people who understand.

Like/Dislike
0

I agree that a company can fire someone at any time for any reason, and yes, NC is an "At Will" state. However, there are 3 other employees who have been in a similar situation and their jobs were not discontinued. I'm the HR Manager, and have knowledge of past situations that would lend a decent hand in court. No, that's not to say I couldn't be dismissed at any time. I could. As to short/long term disability, we have to sign up for AFLAC in order to have any coverage. Stupidly, I hadn't done that, but will explore that option/possibility immediately. It may be that once a diagnosis is done, I can't be covered for this situation. I do not know. The company itself has no long/short term disability program.

I can still work and not be in any pain as long as I don't try to walk. Some years ago I had a similar problem, and did go through PT for 3 months. It made the symptoms/condition worse. I told the doctor that, but he brushed it off as if it were not pertinent. He told me I need to walk a minimum of 5 minutes each hour, but how? If I try to do that at work, and fall.....that wouldn't constitute a worker's comp issue, as this happened before the presumed fall.

If I'm terminated "at will," the only thing I can do is file bankruptcy, file for either SSI or SS, and try to exist. Unfortunately, most of my set-aside funds were used earlier this year in traveling to CA to be there for my Mother who underwent hip surgery and was not allowed to come home unless I was there when she arrived back. Because of 2 re-schedulings of the flights out and back, the fees for the flight were astronomical. On top of that, I had to take a week w/o pay, and had to use saved funds to pay bills.

As to the precise diagnosis, all I have been told is that this is DDD, along with a lot of arthritis in the lower back. Again, this is why I'm going for a second opinion.

I truly appreciate the feedback here, as I've never been in a situation whereby I couldn't do all for myself, one way or another. I also run a Doberman Rescue, and have furkids that need tending to each day. I'll die before I let them down - and I mean that literally. Really, I'm worth more dead than alive, but I refuse to give in or give up. I'm on this planet for a reason, and Goddess will tell me when it's time to leave.

At least I've found a forum where I can get input and suggestions. I know I need all the help I can get.

Dobermom

Like/Dislike
0

Something else I'm curious about.....will any of you share what the overall cost of back surgery cost you? I realize it's quite different from person to person, but looking at my coverage, I'm wondering if I can even afford the co-insurance! Just looking at my options....

Thank you in advance.

Dobermom

Like/Dislike
0

My surgery cost $85,000 -- $20,000 for the surgeon, $4000 for the PA, $5000 for the bone graft wonder drug that helps fusion, something like $16,000 for the instrumentation, and the rest mostly for the hospital. I have Blue Cross insurance; my cost was about $3500.

Like/Dislike
0

LauraB,

Thank you. I'd guessed at somewhere around $90,000 to $100,000. Just a guess....and if I'm reading my coverage correctly, there's no way in heck I can afford the surgery. From what I've read about some of the other outcomes, I'd be better off in my wheelchair, as I'm not in any pain at this point. I don't know whether that will/would cost me my job or not, but it might. One never knows.

Dobermom

Like/Dislike
0

Just a word of encouragement here. My best friend (age 69 and overweight) had this surgery a year ago in February and she is doing amazingly well. Before the surgery she was barely able to walk and in constant pain. Not one of her friends or family wanted her to have this done as she has numerous medical issues and we thought this would be too much for her. I want to tell you that she is doing really well. In fact, she did so well with that surgery, she recently had a successful surgery to repair her cervical spine. She is no longer on any pain meds and is back to walking and swimming every day. I wish you the very best and sincerely hope it all goes well for you.

Like/Dislike
0

Sam,
Who is your doctor? I also live in central NY. just curious

Like/Dislike
0

Hi laxieGirlie13,
My surgeon is Dr.Haher at SOS. Have you had surgery yet? I feel with talking to a lot of people the pain after surgery might not be much worse than it is right now. I have no choice other than surgery. If the surgery doesn't work for me I will have to give up my job and my life as I know it. I`m in 10 plus pain now I sleep every afternoon from two o'clock till six. After surgery I'll start a new discussion and keep you all posted on how my fusion goes. Thanks Sam

Like/Dislike
0

Sam227,
Well I just had an open discectomy on my L4-L5 level and even after two weeks.. i'm feeling a thousand and ten times better. I'm sure it's not going to be nearly as easy for you with your fusion.. But my surgeon, Dr. Tallarico at the new Upstate Bone and Joint Center, said I'm going to have a 3 level fusion when I reherniate because my lumbar spine is so unstable but we're hoping it'll be much later. My only problem is that i'm going to be only 17 yrs old in a few months!! I have spondylolisthesis on my L4-L5 and my S1 is almost collasped due to a collision during one of my lacrosse games which i didn't feel for a month after. I'd love to know how your fusion goes and i hope you only the best!!

Like/Dislike
0

What kind surgery open back or laser? Any surgery risk and almost unsuccessfully. I had 1 year ago L4L5 Lam. like you, after I have a lot a lot pain, paralyze leg. Pray to Gad. I wish you good luck

Like/Dislike
0

Guys had my surgery 7/22 . I`m weak my pain is different but still there.I think i feel better now because surgery is over ! I walked 350 feet today outside. tired Sam

SHOW MAIN MENU
SHOW SUB MENU
Cancel
Delete