Text Size: A A A
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!

Lumbar fusion can be a wonderful success!!

From: Dave B. - on 01/25/2011 1:01pm

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!(even though I was still in pain, it had greatly reduced!) 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.

Do you find this discussion helpful?
4

7 Responses

Like/Dislike
0
on 01/26/2011 1:38am

Dave your very young to have a fusion 36. I`m gald that your doing so good. I think there are many people that don`t post on here that get better. I have been reading spine universe for a year now.There has only been about 6 people that feel good after a fusion on here. 100`s that feel worse that post. Best of luck to you. Sam

Like/Dislike
0
on 02/10/2011 10:09pm

I am so glad you are doing so well after your surgery. I had a grade 2 spondylolisthesis at L5 and S1 and bilateral pars defects (actually broken completely off - not just fractured) at L5. I tried physical therapy and it made me much worse...so I couldn't even work at my desk job 8 hours per day. I tried the injections a couple of times for relief that only last a few weeks the first time and less the second. I was terrified of having surgery in my small city because I knew too many people who had died from complications after surgeries (including my two brothers). I went for a second opinion in a larger city about 200 miles from here. I felt confident with that neurosurgeon and decided to let him perform the surgery. Luckily, I have a daughter that lives in that city, so I stayed with her and her husband for a couple of weeks after the surgery. I chose a more invasive surgery, where I was opened up in the abdomenal area by a cardio surgeon and the neuro was able to clean the spine out from the front and implant a large chunk of cadaver bone that had been injected with growth hormones. They closed me up and then entered from the back and cleaned out the broken pieces of bones from the broken pars, ground that bone up and mixed it with something to lay on both sides of the spine to fuse where the pars had broken off (not sure exactly of how that was achieved) and then inserted the plates and screws to hold me in place while the bone fuses. I wore a brace for 3 months, then went to PT. I am so happy with the results. I am 5 months post-surgery and the doc said everything looks great. They have seemed really amazed at my recovery. Like you, I expected to get better after going through this thing. That was why I went with the extensive aned more aggressive surgery approach. I am 58 years old, and was afraid the bone might have trouble fusing because of the age. I wasn't afraid at all going into surgery. I hadn't even thought about being afraid until my sister asked me if I was nervous. I wasn't. I had done my homework and made my decision. I didn't want to live the way I had been living the last few months because I couldn't go to work at all. All I did was try to stay comfortable in my recliner at home. Even getting up to get something to eat or go to the bathroom was extremely painful. Going over small bumps in the road in an automobile caused increased pain. No, I was not afraid - just looking forward to feeling better. I was so glad my sister stayed with me in the hospital the first 3 nights because I was in a lot of pain, but I had a morphone pump. She had to keep reminding me to push the button so I wouldn't end up hurting so badly I couldn't get a handle on it again. I got up as soon as the doc said I could and walked around and around that floor. Doc said stairs wouldn't hurt me, so I was upstairs at my daughter's and had to go up and down 5 or 6 times a day. I believe that was really good for me. I have had to have someone drive me back and forth a couple of times for follow-ups in the city. I drove myself at the 5 month visit one day and drove myself back the next. I am just so happy with the results that I would recommend that others try the surgery if they are in so much pain that they have no quality of life without it. It turned out to be worth the gamble, so far, for me. I believe the same will be true for you, Dave.

Like/Dislike
0
on 02/20/2011 5:15pm

I am happy to read both of your postings, i am schedule to go to surgery on this Wednesday February 23, 2011, and i am not so much scared as i am worried. I am like Dave, only 37 years old and thinking how can i be so young and need such a surgery!!! I have spondyloisthesis, at my L4-L5 location, a fractured vertabre at the same location, and a degenerated disc to go along with all that at the same location!! My sciatica pain is not all the time but when it hits it hits HARD and LONG, puts me on the ground and in tears! The MRI shows it all so clear in Black and White, my Neuro Surgeon actually handed me the MRI films and asked me what i saw and I own a landscaping company but had no problem reading and seeing what was wrong in my back. I guess i am just happy to hear the positive outcomes, cause i think with this if you dont stay positive the negative will eat you alive and hinder your recovery time, i just wish i could get that little bit of worriedness out of me!!!!

Like/Dislike
0
on 02/24/2011 1:53pm

I wanted to add my positive experience having had spinal fusion surgery also. I had it done by L4/L5 early December and it's now 3 months ago. I started to feel better a few weeks after surgery, and I believe wearing my back brace the whole time has helped me to avoid "wrong" movements and also made me a lot more comfortable. It is very lightweight and easy to wear.

At this point, I rarely if ever, have any pain at all. The only thing that is uncomfortable is wearing pants that rub against the stitched area by my waist, but I know as the area continues to heal, that discomfort will go away.

I went to one of the best orthopedic hospitals in the country, right in NYC, called the Hospital for Special Surgery. My surgeon was highly recommended to me by 2 of my own doctors, and I would recommend him to anyone needing spinal surgery. I went into surgery with a very positive attitude and I strongly believe this has helped me.

Good luck to anyone going for spinal fusion surgery, and I suggest finding the best surgeon/hospital, even if it's not in your neighborhood. Get personal recommendations! And if you have to drive over an hour away, it's well worth getting the good outcome.

Like/Dislike
0
on 03/31/2011 3:55pm

I a, a 57 yr old female, and I had this Lumbar Spine Fusion surgery July 2010, and just had my 8 mo checkup.....not good. I broke the screw in the middle of the S1 left side, and now I must do bedrest, and in a month we will see if the bone graft has healed over, and the butt pain has subsided. If not, the next step is a bone stimulator (costs 3-5K) and try to get that to generate the bone graft to heal quicker. Last step is for Neurosurgeon to go back in and replace the 3 screws on the left side of my plate (had L4 L5 S1 fused together). How did I do this? Well, I slid twice, (not trying to fall), on a floor rug and slippery tile with wet feet. Doc thinks second slip did it, I must have twisted as I went into a split slide, with my left leg going underneath my hip, twisting me left. I was feeling so good until these slides.

Anyone used a bone stimulator and can they be bought used?

Like/Dislike
0
on 04/07/2011 5:01pm

this is for the person who had the l4 and l5 fusion.how are you doing today! how was your recovery.can you walk me step by step.i am undetrgoing the same procedure.and most of the comments i read are negative!

Like/Dislike
0
on 04/07/2011 5:02pm

Iwould really appreciate the help.can i know the hospitals u went to in ny,and drs?

Cancel
Delete