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L4, L5, S1 Fusion Surgery

From: tallGirl - on 11/08/2010 3:46pm

Good Afternoon,
I am preparing for an L4/L5/S1 fusion, both anterior and posterior minimally invasive procedure using BMP cages to replace the disk and 6 screws with 2 rods.
I had an L5/S1 laminectomy 13 years ago with great success by the same surgeon. I was pain free for many years afterwords. I also had a C5/C6 fusion by a different surgeon (insurance change) 10 years ago also with great success.
I went back to work after the laminectomy after 2 weeks and went back to work after 2 days with the fusion. I tend to heal very well and except for the degenerative disk disease and hypermobility, I am in great health.
I am a little anxious about the upcoming fusion and am interested to know if there are others out there who have had this procedure and have had little to no complications and were able to return to work quickly. I am a programmer and can freely sit/stand/walk/lie down as necessary with my job.
I have read quite a bit about folks who have less than happy stories to tell about this procedure and am just hoping that there are folks out there who have had a great result after surgery.

I should note that this is completely necessary as I can no longer stand or walk for very long and can barely put my own shoes on in the morning from the sciatica and hip pain. I did have a discography which shows that both L4/L5 and L5/S1 are causing the symptoms. Wondering how the surgical pain stacks up to the discography pain (which was momentarily awful but not long lasting)
Thank you.

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on 11/09/2010 10:50am

Hi tallGirl (I am also a tall girl!) - I'm also relatively young and in good health/good physical conditioning prior to surgery.

I had a PLIF at L5-S1 11 weeks ago today. I think it's too early to tell if I am a total success story but I think I am doing great overall. Most of my pain was left-side and I had left-sided leg pain. All that is gone. I have had a little big of right sided pain recently, but I think that has to do with the biomechanics of my sacrum being altered by the surgery - I am hoping that PT will will fix that problem.

The first week after the surgery was pretty bad (lots of pain) but it got quickly better after that. I was off meds entirely after week 4. I did have a really hard time sitting. I tried to go back to work in week 5, and sat just a bit too long (I had one two-hour meeting) and that set me back a week. So, I am still on part-time medical leave - I will stay on leave through my next doctor appt which is 11/22. I have been working from home, mostly on my laptop lying in bed. I am getting a sit/stand workstation rigged at work later this week so I have some options when I do go back full time.

I've also been taking lots of time to go for walks and walk in the pool - that's been helping a ton - helps with the pain a lot, though too much exercise aggravates my numbness.

SO - to some up: I thought I'd be back in the office full time around week 5 or 6, but it did not work for me - my body just couldn't do it. So, I've embraced taking the full extent of the medical leave that was available to me - I only had one chance to take it easy and rest up, and decided to use it. I only know what worked for me, but doing too much too quickly definitely would have made me feel a lot worse.

I hope you heal as quickly as you like!! Your good results from prior surgeries are encouraging.

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on 11/09/2010 10:55am

Oh - and PS - surgical pain vs. discography pain - I did not have a discography, thank god - it sounds awful!!! But anyway - surgical pain was nothing like my worst discogenic pain. That stabbing grinding burning pain before surgery was GONE upon waking up from surgery. Surgery pain, in my experience, was much more muscular and just general inflammation (which meant sitting too long or accidentally bending or twisting hurt like hell - but it was avoidable if you moved carefully). SO - I personally have had major pain relief ever since I woke up in recovery - you just need to be careful how you move while you heal (which is a big challenge) but otherwise I personally felt great.

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on 11/09/2010 3:23pm

Thanks Lucie! That is very encouraging. I'll update after surgery next week (11/15) and let you know how its going.

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on 11/10/2010 12:30am

Hi tallGirl,

I read your posting and it sounds familiar. I had fusion surgery on C4,C5 and C6 4 years ago. It turned out good but I still have muscle issues on the right side of my neck. I just started having lower back pain 2 years ago and it got really bad 3 weeks ago. I had an MRI and found that I have bulging disks on (L-3 L-4) and( L-4 L5). (L-5 S1) is herniated. I have an appointment with a Orthopetic surgeon in a week and want to see a neurosurgeon in the future. I'm not sure which one to use.
Before I had my neck surgery I had a discography in 2005. Between the medication, pain and stress I flat lined. My heart stoped for 20 seconds. If my new doctor asks me to take a discography again the anwser is "NO!". It is a horrible test.

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on 11/10/2010 4:34pm

I have had Cervicle Fusion and January '09 I had Lumbar Fusion. After having been to the Surgeon a number of times and being told there was nothing that could be done I reached a point when I could not even walk one morning so off to the ER I went. During the 5 hour Surgery it was discovered I had a Congenital Defect with 2 sets of nerves coming out the same space that should have had only one set. Since the Lumbar was worked on it went prtty good for about 4 months then I started having pain.. Had PT for about 4 weeks then Epidurals with minimal relief. Since the surgey I ahve had PT 3 times(in my third time now), 3 sets of Epidural shot with 3 shots in each series. After the last Epidurals I was told they were not going to work as I was not getting relief from them the way I should have been. I hate taking Narcotic type Pain Meds but I am being forced to just to get some relief even for a short period of time. The surgey I had on my Lumbar pretty much rebuilt the entire Lumbar section with L-4, L-5 and S-! being fused and I have a lump of hardware in my back. The only good thing I can say is that the Sciatic Nerve is not being pinched anymore. I am not writing this to scare you but to let you know that not all Back Surgeries are great Success Stories. I do wish you the best of luck and I hope to read here that you are doing wonderfully well.

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on 11/21/2010 12:04pm

I had the L4/L5/S1 Fusion just over three years ago now, i still struggle walking, sitting, laying and every day things and can only drive up to 40 mins. I can no longer get in and out of the bath so having a shower is perfect as no bending is involved.
But on the possitive note i am glad that i had it done because at least now i can do things that i couldn't do before the operation, and although the pain is still there it isn't like it was befroe the fusion, so i would say go for it because it can't make it any worse

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on 11/21/2010 12:41pm

kinda funny but i too am tall as well 6 ft 1 an was told my ht is part of the problem mystory is similar to urs same surgery but NOT successfulk and now latest doc sd fusion was the worst thing i could have done please research ur butt off before procedding. i am in pain everyday on methadone for pain as no more surgery will help me. i am depressed bitter and angry

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on 11/21/2010 12:41pm

kinda funny but i too am tall as well 6 ft 1 an was told my ht is part of the problem mystory is similar to urs same surgery but NOT successfulk and now latest doc sd fusion was the worst thing i could have done please research ur butt off before procedding. i am in pain everyday on methadone for pain as no more surgery will help me. i am depressed bitter and angry

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on 11/21/2010 5:35pm

Hi Tall Girl, You didn't mention your age. This could make a difference in your recovery time.
I am 59 year old female, in good physical health and at a healthy weight. I had spinal fusion L4-L5 C1, laminectomy for denegerated disk, spondylosis, lumbar spinal stenosis. I had hypermobility at the L4-L5 region. What this meant was I had leg pain and increasing leg weakness plus increasing numbness in my toes. The surgery took place on May 25 2010 and was my very first surgery (except for a C-section).

I wish I could say it was a success. I can tell that my spine is more stable (don't slip walking down steep hills anymore) but the pain is still there. I tried PT after 6 weeks but it was too soon and too painful. I tried PT again over the last 2 weeks to try to increase my Range of Motion (mobility is good, ROM is 20%.Can do little or no bending) I felt hopeful but a few days later had terrible pain at night (still continuing 6 days later). I am feeling very discouraged and depressed about my progress since its been 6 months. I had an appt with the neurosurgeon that week who said, if iPT hurts don't do it, it will cause you to regress. I realize that my spine was pretty messed up and needed something but didn't expect that surgery would make me feel worse. I did go back to work after 8 weeks (I work in a school and it was time to return) although my surgeon discouraged me from going back so soon. I went to a 4 day workweek since I now get exhausted pretty easily.

I hope your surgery gets better results than mine. The surgeon feels I am progressing normally (successful fusion) but it doesn't feel that way to me. Best wishes to you; please let me know how things turn out.

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on 12/10/2010 2:25pm

Hi All!
I had my L4/L5/S1 procedure on 11/15/2010 and it so far it is a profound success. I initially had to stay in the hospital 2 extra days (5 total) but that was my fault as I refused the Percocet (actually causes me to hallucinate) initially and realized my mistake. It took the extra 2 days for the Percocet to start working. I ditched it though 5 days later for Hydrocodone.

So, I am 3+ weeks out from the surgery and feeling fabulous. I started working from home 2 days after leaving the hospital and returned to the office this week starting Monday. I was a bit tired the first couple of days after being up and around so much but now I'm back in the swing of things. I can take the stairs instead of the elevator and can park in the back 40 of the parking lot with ease.
I walk 2 miles every day as required by my doc.

I start Physical Therapy next week and hope to be completely medication free by January 1. I'm currently tapering down from Hydrocodone 7.5/325 and MS Contin 15 mg.

Since someone asked earlier, I am 45 yrs old and in good shape. Prior to the surgery I had significant pain in both legs/hips and was reduced to walking less than about 50 feet and using a wheelchair if the distance was longer. I had a hard time sitting, standing and lying down (well doing everything) prior to my surgery.

I am now without pain completely and excited to be back at work. I'm not allowed to lift anything heavier than 5 lbs and there's no bending or twisting allowed either. I was never given a back brace after surgery at all (which I thought was weird) but it turns out I didn't need it evidently.

I had a Neurosurgeon do my surgery and he was assisted by a Vascular surgeon. The vascular surgeon did all the anterior work and the neurosurgeon placed the cages from the front and did all the work from the posterior (screws, rods, etc). The neurosurgeon I chose was the same one who did my Laminectomy/Diskectomy 13 years ago.

I do think I can see where the hardware in the spine might make me feel more easily fatigued after a full day of walking or shopping or something like that but overall I'm really thrilled with the outcome so far.

Thanks to all who responded! I wish you all the best of luck.
tallGirl

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on 12/20/2010 1:17pm

Hi, Tall Girl-

It was great to read about your success in regard to your surgery. Hooray for you! i am in a similiar situation with recommended surgery at L4/L5 and L5/S1... and all l have heard are horror stories so what a nice surprise to see your post. How are you doing now? were you able to stop the pain medicine?

Thanks so much.
SQ

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on 12/22/2010 12:27pm

Hi
It's great you are feeling better. I think the techniques are improving all the time.
I'm also a "Tall Girl" (5 feet 11 inches) and initially started with low back pain when I was only 14. In the intervening years I've had numerous pain killers, steroids ( injection and orally), a brace, a laminectomy when I was 24 and a L2-S2 posterior fusion using 9 screws and curved plates which act like internal splints. I sill have back pain and need assistance getting from bed and dressing. Recently, a specialist has suggested I be fitted with a custom TLSO to give extra support.
Can I wish you all the sucess in the world and a speedy recovery?
Meg

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on 12/31/2010 7:34pm

I am a new participant so forgive me if I am not using this discussion board correctly. I am a male age 59. I had a conservative laminectomy on L4 L5 S1 by an orthopedic surgeon 18 months ago. I had a good response to relief of lower back pain, but very little sciatic nerve pain relief. It still hurts to sit but walking is fine. A neurosugeon has recommended fusion of the joints with rods and screws, going in from the back. He assures me he can relieve the leg pain. My concern is the long term effects and especially any loss of flexibility in the lower back. If anyone has had a similar situation, please advise.

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on 01/01/2011 11:48am

tallGirl, gosh when I read your post after surgery I was tearing up.I need a l4-s1 fusion. (2 rods, 2 cages,6 screws and clean out disc matter as well). Mine is worked related injury, have been in pain since april of 09. I am 42, good shape, I had epidural shots, joint block(dr checking to see if pain was from joint, wasn't) and I had a discogram, little rough but said pain coming from l4-s1. Also had a ct right after procedure and surgeon was able to see how the shape disc were in. My disc are herinated and impinging on nerve canal and nerve roots. My left side is worse than right and oddly it started out the opposite in april. For some reason I can not lay on my back unless on a heating pad, very painful. I am currently taking 30mg ms cotin daily, 2 vicodin daily, antiinflammatory, and muscle relaxor which helps with leg pains and muscle spasms and helps me sleep. I pray m surgery is as successful as yours. I am currently waiting for an a consult with work mans comp dr, allready have my own 2 surgeons stating i need surgery so hopefully he will agree and will have it scheduled. Good Luck to you, keep me updated on how your doing, success stories are great to read and give me hope, thanks again!

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on 01/02/2011 6:06pm

Good Evening and Happy New Year!
I'm happy to report that not only am I feeling marvelous but I am managing now with only the Tylenol! Weaning off those nasty narcotics was no fun at all but now that I'm off them, I hope to never return.

I'm doing well in Physical Therapy, have very little discomfort when exercising and can walk about 2 miles a day. I'm restricted from lifting still and try to change positions from sitting to standing to walking about every couple of hours. I'm hoping that the bone growth is going well. I'll find out in February for certain.

Looking forward to May when I have all my restrictions lifted and can return to Kayaking and bicycling normally.

Good Luck to you all.
tallGirl

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on 01/20/2011 7:35pm

Hi Everyone,
It's been very helpful to read all of your feedback, information, suggestions etc. I, 31, am also recommended surgery from a neurosurgeon and ortho surgeon. Any suggestions as to which doctor should do my surgery, fusing L4,5 S1? I have Grade two spondylolisthesis. I'm also trying to get a good idea of what recovery will be like since we have two kids (6 and 3) that I drive to school every day. We're holding off surgery until summer and still need to talk with the doc about what my recovery will be like. What types of preparator strengthening/exercises did you all do - I saw several of you said to get your body in the best shape possible for surgery. I have a very weak core and limited ability/funds to get to any gym and work out. I look forward to reading more as more people post their experience. At this point I have a good mindset and am hoping for the best. But am also asking myself a lot of questions of "what will it be like?" "how long will I need someone here to help me with the kids since we don't have any family in town" etc.

Have a great day everyone!

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on 01/21/2011 1:33pm

I wish I could do some sort of strengthing before surgey, but my ortho wants me not to do anything, not even physical therapy anymore. I need a fusion frpm l4-s1 as well. My vertebrae(3) of them slip in and out of place since its very unstable around where my disc are bad, quite painful at times as well. So make sure you dr. says its ok to do any sort of exercise. I've heard good and bad stories after surgery. For me I've been told back brace for 3 months after surgery while i'm up and moving. At this time I am currently on 15mgs of morphine 3x a day, 2 vicodin, muscle relaxor, antiinflammatory and valium, which I only take that when the anxiety gets to be too much, which the morphine causes. After surgey I've been told will be on morphine as well as another pain med, so driving probably isn't recommeneded much, though I don't even know if I should be legal driving now. With as young as your kids are, you will need help. I have a 17yr old at home but she may be in school part of day during my recovery. My fiance plans on taking week off first week I am home. I pray all goes well for you, keep us updated and will let you know if I have surgery and how it all went. Good luck to you tall girl :)

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on 01/21/2011 2:19pm

@ArtistMom speaking from recent experience, I wouldn't attempt going solo with the 3 year old for at least 3 months, maybe longer.
I just recently have been upgraded to carrying my laptop back and forth to work (~15lbs) and still cannot lift my granddaughter. I babysit for her once a week on Sunday (she is 2.5 years old) but cannot do it solo. My husband has to be there when she needs someone to pick her up or carry her somewhere.
My husband stayed with me 24/7 for the first 2 weeks and I don't think my recovery would have been as quick without his assistance. It takes 6 months or more for the fusion to set and you don't want to do anything to disrupt that healing. Children require more of us physically than is safe when they are young. I am fortunate that my children are in their 20s so they were very helpful as well as my husband.

As far as how I am progressing, I still am thankful every day to no longer need any medication and that I am able to do almost all my normal daily activities. I'm still restricted from sports and carrying more than 20lbs but I don't mind waiting for that considering I've been given a new lease on life.

If I had known years ago that a *hardware upgrade* was all I needed, I would have done it sooner! I am partial to using a Neurosurgeon since they both do the same exact procedure but I'm not confident that an Ortho doctor would have been as careful with my nerve roots. Today I have no pain whatsoever and the folks I know personally who have recently used an Ortho doctor cannot report the same.

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on 01/21/2011 3:07pm

Thanks for the advice! My mom will be able to be home with the kids and I for two weeks, my sister for a week and my mother-in-law for some time as well. So I think that's about 4 weeks covered. But after that, it'll be just the kids and myself and help whenever my husband is home from his 6 day/week job. Will cooking be difficult? grocery shopping (except lifting the bags which I'm sure will be more than 5 lbs each)? Driving to and from school every day twice, which will be about 1 1/2 months after the surgery? Honestly, I'm not sure how much help I'll get around here outside of my family coming to help for those first few weeks. No family lives near us to help us daily. And there is rehab - how long are you all suggested to be in rehab after such surgery? weeks? months? a full year? I should really schedule an appt with my dr to get his answers...soon.

Thanks for all your help! Keep discussing, all the info is great!

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on 01/21/2011 3:54pm

@ArtistMom As far as what you feel like doing, it depends on how you feel now, and how much medication you are currently taking. Inflammation at the nerve root is common and for the 1st week it doesn't feel that great. They increase your pain medication to help with the discomfort.
How you feel past those initial weeks when you have help is hard to say. Unfortunately it is very individual.
I could drive on day 14, no issues. I could also grocery shop solo and cook after about 4 weeks with no issues. Folks at the store would load my bags in my car for me and someone at the house would bring them in and put away the groceries (could be a job for your 6 year old?) I do have a couple of pots that I needed help with lifting. You'd be surprised how much cookware can weigh.

I am currently in physical therapy. I started 30 days out so I just finished week 6. The first 4 weeks were 3 days per week with the last two being 2 days per week. I will be finished/discharged on Feb 3. I've done remarkably well and am fortunate to have the 45 minutes twice a day to do the exercises... I was not as religious about it 13 years ago when I had the Laminectomy.
I spend about an hour and a half at PT each time I go which might be an issue with your youngest.

Have you considered daycare for your youngest temporarily while you are recovering?

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on 01/22/2011 3:53am

I'm glad BreadGirl is progressing. My kown bad experience should nit put her off a surgery. I would only add not to try and do too much too soon (I think I did) and to take as little meds as possible. Most doctors will through it in detail. With the brace ask about a cane. It can help with balance and prevent a fall.

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on 01/25/2011 12:55pm

I have read so much online about spinal fusions and surgeries with poor outcomes and horror stories related to spinal fusions. I want to be the positive voice that some may need. I am 36 yrs old now and have just recently had a L5-S1 spinal fusion with instrumentation. When I was researching online prior to surgery everything I read online seemed to be so negative. I stopped reading online posts, I kept my head up, stayed positive and perservered with that way of thinking all the way through my hospital stay. My Doc gave me a slight chance that the fusion would fail. Day 2 after surgery was when I realized why he told me that this may fail, it wasn't his ability as a surgeon, it wasn't the medical treatment or staff. It was purely up to me to succeed. I needed to stay positive and push forward when I was in the most extreme pain, when I had not slept for 30 hrs, thoughts would come into my head about why I had decided to do this surgery. It was very difficult to keep my perspective where it needed to be, I was going to be fine, I was going to walk away from this surgery and never regret it, I was going to have a much brighter future. Those thoughts are very difficult to maintain. I believe that was the reason he warned me that my fusion might fail. It was up to me to stay positive and not poison my spirit during those first few days. I finally fell asleep for 3.5 hrs on night number 3. I woke up feeling like I was on cloud nine! I was so excited! I was so relieved that I had made it though the worst. I am posting this message to encourage others. I spent alot of time researching and meeting with Neurosurgeons to find the one I felt was most competent. Lucky for me, I found two that were highly respected and competent. Both Doctors performed the surgery on me. I suffered in angonizing pain for several years before this surgery and I was very reluctant to use prescription meds that could cause a handful of other problems. Today, about 1 month later, my outlook towards the future is amazing! I feel a little bit of pain and my muscles are stiff. But it will loosen up and the pain hopefully will fade away. I am taking only 2 Vicodin per day right now and hope to be off them completly within a week or two. I get up and walk everyday, as much as I can handle. I want anybody who reads this and is considering spinal fusion, to find the right Surgeon, find the right hospital and find the right support group. (My Wife never left my side during my entire hospital stay except to run home and shower. To have someone by your side at all times, including sleeping in a very uncomfortable chair the first night next to me was comforting. We were able to find her a sleeper chair after the first night! What she did for me was crucial to my success) And the most important thing to be taken from this post is that fusions can be a wonderful success. You can feel better, but most of it is up to you and your ability to look at the most difficult situation with a positive attitude and never give in to negative thinking. Good luck to anybody that moves decides to move forward.

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on 01/25/2011 6:01pm

Dave b,
Love reading your success story. I was recommended by my own 2 ortho to have a two level spinal fusion from l4-s1, well saw my work comp ortho dr said for consult and his feeling on this is only do a one leve fusion. I had a procedure called a discogram which shows which disc is giving you pain and my results were l5-s1, he feels only fix what is broken. He feels open back surgery is risky and sometimes very unnecessary. He wants to do a minimal evassive surgery with 2 screw, 1 rod and clean out disc matter. He feels the other disc which is not badly torn may heal on its on with rest but is not causing pain so no reason to rip half my back open. I like him alot, he is at rush hopsital(midwest orthopedics). I am praying I'm making the right decision, good luck to you, sounds like your doing great and stay positive, I do believe that helps your out come!

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on 03/31/2011 4:05pm

Hi Tallgirl, I too had that L4, L5, S1 surgery done in July, 2010. I have a plate on each side holding up these discs along with 3 screws on each plate. I slid and twisted my left hip too much on march 6th, and just had xray Friday that shows S1 screw is broken in the center. I tried so hard not to fall, but slid on wet tile outside a pool. Now I have to rest and see if the bone graft heals over the plate, and the pain departs from my left hip (butt area). I can sit for maybe 30 mins, then must lay down. Can hardly walk. If the rest does not help, the next step is a bone stimulator. if that does not work, last resort is to go back in and have the 3 screws replaced on the left side of the plate. Fun, huh. I retired a year ago, and decided to check out why my right leg was completely numb off and on all day. Then we decided I should do this surgery, plus I had 2 synovial cysts that were removed at the same time that were at the base of the spine. I am not freaked that other screws may break. I am hoping they are fine, but time will tell. Until the slide, I felt good and was walking realively well, but now I can barely walk to the mailbox.

Let me know how your surgery went in November. You should be on the road to recovery by now. Just be careful, don't fall or slide and twist, not good for your back.

Thanks,
K53

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on 05/24/2011 1:11am

Hi tallGirl- I have been following all the comments from when you first posted before your surgery. How are you doing, now? I am due to have L-4, S4- (?), L-5, lumbar fusion in about 10 days. But everyone tells me that it is the worse thing to do. I am really trying to think positive, and I have been doing alot of research on this surgery. So I would understand everything there is to know or to find out, I recently quit smoking, which I am sure probably not soon enough. I had bi-lateral knee surgery over a year ago, and I was determined the out come would be good, which it is. So did you have any negative experiences with it, and have you talked to others that had as good as an outcome as you have? Thank you, hope to hear from you soon!!

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on 05/24/2011 9:30am

@tallgirl: Turns out I'm having a laminectomy and L4-S1 fusion in July. I started taking aqua fitness classes, of which I am the youngest by generations! But floating on a noodle the whole time makes it more comfortable instead of touching the pool floor while doing the exercises. I am trying to have a good attitude about it. I think my concerns lie mostly in arriving at the hospital, anesthesia and coming out of the anesthesia. I have no idea what it will be like afterwards or at home since "every BODY is different". I'm wondering how my kids will understand "mommy can't pick you up for a while" or other activities that are normal for us right now. My mother-in-law thinks I won't need any help at the 4th week post-op. I'm just trying to get a realistic outlook on what I will need instead of overestimating and making this a huge deal when it really shouldn't be.

What was your hospital stay like? What do you wish you had with you? My husband is planning on being there just about all of the time. My PT even suggested that I might need a walker for a little bit after getting home.

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on 05/24/2011 11:09am

Hi @ESS I wish you luck with your procedure. I'm over 6 months out and I feel fantastic. I even rode a rollercoaster last month when I visited Disney with my nephew. Also walking around the parks for two days straight was very easy for me. I feel very blessed that I have had a very positive outcome.
There are a couple of things though that you might want to be aware of.
1. The first 5 days after surgery were awful. The worst pain I have been through but after that it got better quickly. Someone else had told me to be prepared for that and it actually helped to know in advance.
2. I do not know of anyone else who has had as positive an outcome as I have had. I know 3 others here locally who had the same process done (some 1 and some 2 levels) and they have all had longer recovery periods and still have some discomfort.
3. I have found that using an eliptical trainer 3x a week for about 30 minutes helps keep away the stiffness in my lower back and hip. I was sick a few weeks back and missing the workouts left me stiff and sore in the morning upon waking. Now that I'm back with my routine I don't have any stiffness or soreness.
I never smoked at all and was in relatively good shape prior to things collapsing. I think it helps to keep a positive outcome and follow the doctor and PT recommendations even when it is uncomfortable.

@ArtistMom
My granddaughter was very understanding about my not being able to pick her up or carry her but I had a hard time with it. At about the 30-45 day mark I think, I made the mistake of picking her up because she was crying. It hurt quite I bit and I was afraid I'd wrecked things. It took about 2 weeks of extra PT to fix the muscles I'd stretched but structurally everything held together.
I think you will need help with small children for 8-12 weeks minimum. You really can't pick up anything bigger than 5lbs until then. Some of the folks locally waited even longer than that because they were having pain still at 3 months out.
I didn't do laundry or clean my house until last month. My family was very understanding and pitched in and did everything for me. I probably could have done that stuff for myself at 3 months out, they were just being cautious. I was cleared to lift about 25lbs at 12 weeks (3 months) and did resume carrying my granddaughter.
They released me from Physical Therapy in early February which was about 3 months.
My hospital stay was uncomfortable. I was there for 5 days and it was very painful. Having my husband there helped a lot and if I had it to do again I would have just taken the percocet when they asked me to instead of trying to tough it out on lower strength medication. I think I would have been able to go home after 48 hours if I had done that.
I personally didn't need a brace or a walker. The three other folks here locally all did use a back brace and one of them used a walker after surgery. For me, the structure they put in place was sufficient and I was good to walk around the day after surgery it just hurt like the devil for those first 5 days.
Thanks,
tallGirl

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on 05/24/2011 9:08pm
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on 05/24/2011 9:14pm

Dear TallGirl
How did you manage to go on rides at Disneyland (or World) post spinal fusion 6 months? Especially a roller coaster? I am one year post spinal fusion surgery and had such a rough time for the mid 4 month period that I would be terrified to attempt any kind of ride.. I'm feeling much better now but would probably never go on any of those rides again since I'm afraid of stirring things up again (and causing more nerve pain).

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on 05/24/2011 10:35pm

Tall Girl very proud of how well you did with your surgery. I had a l5-s1 fusion March 8 and I would say just past 2 wks I've started feeling better. I did start PT 5wks after surgery and things were so hard for me. I did wait 11 months till I had surgery and during that time the last 7 months were horrible. work comp case so enough said. I was on morphine for 7 months so I had to be brought down off that and still am. That really made my recovery even more difficult for me. The withdrawls were horrible even though I had medicine for it, still had them. I have alot of tightness in my legs which Pt has loosened up over time. My back was very tight, but Pt has also helped with that. I do exercises at home and now my Pt wants me to start walking more around my neighborhood. I still get very fustrated at Pt cuz some of the simpliest things I still can not do. She thinks alot of it has to do with me waiting soooo long for surgery to be approved and my body just fell apart during that waiitng period. I feel I am a succes story as well as you. I wouldn't say I'm in pain, just tightness and discomfort. Some days after Pt I do take a norco(for pain), but only taking a muscle relaxor at night and norco once in a while. Good luck in your recovery and to everyone on this site!

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