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Multilevel Spinal Fusion Surgery

From: alice c. viddaurri - on 04/27/2011 6:48pm

I have DDD, DBD and Spinal stenosis. I'm scheduled for a multilevel, (S1, L5, L4, L3, L2) anterior spinal fusion surgery on the 16th of May. I know it's rare, but I was hoping there might be someone else out there that has had the surgery, or something simular. I could sure use some advise, please.

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on 05/04/2011 3:14pm

Hi Alice. I had the fusion from L2 to S1 on Jan 5 2011. Prior surgery was a single level diskectomy in june 2010. Yes the surgery is rare. It is a serious surgery. I chose to have the surgery because the pain was awful, and I could not walk without my left leg giving out. I tried all other options, meds, epidurals, therapy. No relief. I wrote a post about my surgery if u want to check it out. I am doing better after the surgery, but the pain in my left leg has returned. I had three badly herniated disks, and i figured i could not feel any worse after the fusion. I trust that you have exhausted all options. I was in surgery for 13 hours. Expect a hospital stay from 4 to 6 days. You will feel like you were run over by a truck after the surgery. The morphine pump works well. Do not be afraid to let the staff if u r still in pain. They will try to get you to walk the day after the surgery. It is tough, but you have to do it. Make sure someone is helping you all the time. You must be a patient patient. Everything in baby steps. And stay positive, or everything will be more difficult. I hope you have a good support system at home after. You need to have someone around consistently for at least the first few weeks to help with the bathroom, showering, etc. After that you will probably be able to get around by yourself a little to do basic things. Do not bend, twist, or lift anything for a few months i am sure you have been told. Keep a positive attitude, take it slow and have patience. You will feel better! Any other questions, feel free to ask.

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on 05/05/2011 6:11pm

Hi Alice,
I will be following your posts to find out how your surgery went. I too have to decide if I want the very same surgery.
Not a decision to take lightly because if I do have surgery, I will have to quit my job. (drive a school bus and have to be able to lift 50lbs for CDL), and if I don't try the surgery, I will continue to be in chronic pain and not able to walk far at all or enjoy doing most anything...

Please let us know how you are doing and I wish you the very best!

Brenda

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on 05/05/2011 7:01pm

Thank you burry77 and Brenda for your post. My mother and sister's names are also Brenda :) I had my pre-op yesterday, everything went great although I am scared. =S burry77 do you think your after surgery results will be worth the pain you went through to get there? My greatest fear is the posibility I could be worse. I've read a LOT and I know the statistics are like 50/50 but I feel I have a very confident spine surgeon and I'm determined to make myself work hard and get better. I also have a great support system. My hubby is going to take off work the first week after surgery and our 24 year old daughter lives with us, and she's going to college to be a nurse so I think I'll be in pretty good hands. I'll keep you all updated.

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on 05/05/2011 9:55pm

Hi Alice. As of right now the surgery was definitely worth it. Is everything perfect right now? No. But before the surgery i could not walk without my leg giving out. It is a long recovery so far, with a while to go. I am having some leg pain again now, which could be due to 2 surgeries and scar tissue. I am having another MRI in a few weeks to check how the fusion is setting up, and to see what might be causing the leg pain. I was feeling very good up until about 3 weeks ago. I did not do anything to hurt myself. Hope fully it is just the pain of healing. My surgeon is A plus. Glad you have trust in yours also. All patients heal at different rates and improvement. I am happy that I had the surgery. Good u have a good support system also. To me, living in the awful pain I was enduring, my choice to me was a no-brainer. I couldn't any worse with the surgery. My life will always be different now, but this is a change for the good so far. God bless. Hope i helped some. Carl

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on 05/06/2011 4:36pm

Carl, sup? Thanks, you"ve really helped ez my mind. I am ready to do this! I've finally faced the fact that I'll never be pain free. I know this surgery is to try and stabilize my spine and hopefully keep me out of a wheel chair till I'm old and grey :) I'm happy for you that things are going well and you have a good support system. :) Alice

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on 05/06/2011 11:42pm

Hi Alice,
I had lumbar spinal fusion 6 weeks ago today and i am doing great,started back at the gym this week,made it through my cycling class.My back and legs feel so much stronger and pain is way down,now if we can just get my neck in the same shape.I had all your same fears,the days in the hospital and first few weeks are rough but sounds like you have a great surgeon and a very positive attitude,this will go a long way.Best wishes,keep us posted.
Nurse Nancy

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on 05/07/2011 12:00am

Hi Alice. Keep me posted on how you are doing after the surgery. I would like to know how you are healing, and share any differences in your surgery and recovery. Good luck and God bless! Carl

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on 05/09/2011 10:48am

Thanks Nancy, very encouraging, you go girl!!! hope you all keep healing well and I will keep posting. 7 days till surgery. God Bless :)

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on 05/11/2011 4:55am

I had spinal fusion (L4, L5) and lumbar decompression surgery about six months ago for the treatment of spinal stenois. I am very happy about the resu;ts and recovery. Before surgery I was not able to walk for more than two blocks . Now I can walk for two or three miles. Still minor pain and tingling in my toes are there, but I can live with it. Periodically I have chronic fatigue requiring rest and priodical naps. I am 73 and I am glad I had the spinal fusion surgery. I find that the fatigue diminishes quite a bit an hour after I take 1000mg of Vitamin C. I strongly recommend taking a heavy dose of Vitamin C for fatigue; It can't harm you and it is dirt cheap. I am planning to walk the marathon in 2013.

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on 05/12/2011 3:51pm

Angarai Anban, WoW! that is awsome. all of these encouraging stories are so helpful, thank you all so much. I had heard of so many failed surgerys it was really hard to make the decsion to have it.
4 days :) Alice

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on 05/17/2011 9:00pm

Hi Alice,
Been thinking about you and wondering how your surgery went?
Nancy

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on 05/22/2011 1:57pm

The surgery I had Monday went great. Nothing at all went wrong and it only took 2 & 1/2 hours. The pain that went down my right leg is gone :) course I am still in a lot of pain from the surgery itself. Lot of heavy preasure in my back and my tummy is still really sore. Came home Thursday and I'm doing really well. Doc said I get a gold star :)

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on 05/22/2011 5:37pm

That is great Alice! I have to make a decision to have the same surgery and it has been a struggle to decide what to do.

I don't want to end up in worse shape, but don't want to live the rest of my life in chronic pain. It will affect my job (I would have to quit) and I really love my job as a school bus driver..

Please keep us updated on how you are doing,

Thanks!
Brenda

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on 05/23/2011 2:57am

Hi Alice,so glad you did great,i knew you would!I will keep praying for continued healing.
Nancy

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on 05/24/2011 1:12pm

Thanks to you all for being here. I am facing multilevel fusion and laminectomies. (sp?) Have not yet scheduled this, or committed to a surgeon, but soon will. I am greatly reassured by your comments and reasoning that having the surgery is much better than living without it. I am so there.

I would love to follow how you are all doing on this journey.

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on 05/25/2011 7:41pm

HI all,
8 weeks post lumbar fusion,i was doing pretty well but i think i may have had a relapse,maybe doing too much.Mostly having tons of neck and shoulder pain,so word of advice, DO NOT be in a rush to do things post surgery....let your body heal slowly.LOL,i am also singing to the choir here,and i am looking forward to my hour long massage this Friday.Need your prayers.
Blessings,
Nancy

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on 05/26/2011 7:25pm

Oh my!! That's all I can say!! I have several issues going on with my neck and whole spine. The MRI I had done showed lots going on with my lumbar section...lumbar stenosis being the major problem right now along with 2 dics missing due to degenerative joint disease and then 2 bulging discs. My left leg has been very weak for years now but worsened the last year to where I have to MAKE my leg work or I don't walk at all. I rely on a cane and a walker to do any kind of getting around more than 5 mins of standing time involved. I have been told I will need surgery or the chances of me not walking at all in the not too distant future will occur. I feel like I am stuck between a rock n a hard place...ugh!! But what I have been reading here about surgery...I'm not so sure that's something I really want to go through either. But the pain is far from excruciating most times...to tell a doc your pain level is a good 10 or more most times just gets you the "look" since most of them have never experienced it to know. I am now trying to get on with a second pain management doctor as the first one put me on 1 tylenol #3 and expected that to work for me for a month till I got the spinal injections. When I would call his office, it took 2 to 3 days for them to get back to me about the excruciating pain in my neck from cervical probs, only then to be told if I take an extra tylenol #3 the doc would not be happy and they would make note in my files as to explain the shortage. I thought that's what we go to pain doctors for is to help with the pain...not make it worse!!!
I've not been happy with the progress I have made over the last 3 months with trying to get someone to take me seriously. And making matters worse is moving from doctors to another doctor...makes me seem more like a druggie than someone actually seeking help with pain management. UGH!! So I can only hope my new PCP will get me into a new pain management doctor to help...I can't take this much longer. My lifestyle has come to a screaming halt!!!

Thanks for reading this, Nina BTW...I love this site! It has helped me a lot with sorting things out in my mind.

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on 05/26/2011 11:36pm

Hi Nina,
Welcome,and just want to say surgery is not so bad as long as you have the right doctor,it may save you from permanent damage in the long run.
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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on 05/27/2011 5:54pm

Hi all, just wanted to say everything is still goin great going to the cabin for the weekend to get out of this house and get a little fresh air. Have a nice weekend everyone :)

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on 05/30/2011 10:54pm

Alice you are a brave girl. I had a fusion March 8. L5-s1. Was very rough for me for first 6-7wks, but once started PT got little better. Definetely take it easy and don't do too much. I'm still not able to do alot, back is very tight, but normal dr says. I use my heating pad in morning and night seems to help. I do have some crying moments and that does suck. I don't know why but just real emotional lately, good luck to you!!!!! I will be thinking about you and praying for a positive recovery

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on 06/02/2011 12:40pm

Thanks breadgirl. I kinda felt like Nina, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either have the surgery and MAYBE get better or don't have it and for sure get WORSE. I can say I think I made the right choice. Healing is steal going good! I'll have some X-rays in 4 weeks to see how the bone growth is going. For now I'm just taking it one day at a time and trying to not over do it. Have a great day everyone :)

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on 06/02/2011 1:00pm

Glad to hear your doing well. Just take it easy. Been three months for me and I still tire out easily and progressing slowly but I'm taking my time and am not going to rush this. Hope things go smoothly for you alice, take care!!

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on 06/02/2011 6:25pm

Hi friends,
Had my 8 week post op visit yesterday and x-ray.doc says bone is fusing very well,may even be completely fused already which he said is unheard of.I have been doing a lot of walking,so i know that helped.I am doing okay pain wise as long as i don't do too much.My neck has been killing me though,so much pain.We will be starting physical therapy next week for my back.
Nurse Nancy

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on 06/02/2011 7:54pm

Thats great to hear Nancy. Geez at my 8wk check up only little bit of bone growth had started, lucky you. I go monday for my 3month check up and hopefully I will see some growth. Good luck starting therapy and with your neck!

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on 06/02/2011 10:22pm

Hi everyone, I also had a multi-level fusion done on Jan 2011 at levels L-3, L-4, L-5. I had multi-level disc herniations and severe spinal stenosis plus DDD with scar tissue and arthritis around the nerves. The pain radiated down both legs and the pain was horrible. I had a minimally invasive surgery done using TLIF. I still have alot of pain where the rods and screws were put in and numbness in my right calf and 3rd and 4th toe on right side along with the top of my foot. But at least the apin down both legs is gone and for that I am grateful. I still haven't started physical therpy but have an appt set for 6-10. I had thought by now I would be feeling great but that has not been the reality for me. I am still taking 5/325 mg hydrocodone 2 to 3 times a day. I keep hoping one day, I will realize that my pain is gone and I am all better. I hope I'm not fooling myself. Sometimes it's had to stay positive when you have spent so many days and long nights in pain. I don't have alot of family support. They think I should be jumping hurdles by now. I hope one day, I will be. Tessa

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on 06/02/2011 10:55pm

Alice, glad you are doing well. Good positive thinking goes a long way. I 5 months post-op now. I was having some bad leg pain for a month or so. Had MRI and CT scan done to check what was going on. I was worried something had broken. But good news, the fusion is setting up well at all levels,
L2-S1. It is cool to see the bone growing between the vertebrae! All hardware is in place where it should be. What is causing my left leg pain is some scar tissue around the L5 nerve root. But it is getting better I believe. I have done 10 aquatherapy sessions so far, with 2 sessions of deep tissue massage to hopefully break some of the scar tissue. The aquatherapy is the way to go when you are ready in my opinion, if you want to ask your doc. I am hoping I am over the hump now. I am praying for your continuing positive recovery. Blessings, Carl

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on 06/02/2011 11:11pm

Hi Tessa. I am sorry to hear you are having a hard time. This recovery will test your will and faith. I had fusion from L2-S1 in January 2011 also. I am 5 months post op now. I will say that once you start Physical therapy, I think you will start to feel better. I am doing aquatherapy now for 10 sessions with many more to come, 2 times a week. I actually get excited to go do some exercise in a pool! The water takes alot of the weight off your spine when in the pool. Ask your doc about aquatherapy. I wish I had done it after my first surgery last june. I think I am progressing well, and am having deep tissue massage once a week also. I think once you start moving around, you will feel better! Everyone heals at different pace. Don't get discouraged. I was having a really hard time as well for a few months. I get my strength through God, and every little bit I get better is a blessing, and mark each day I feel good as a momentous occasion! Please keep me updated on your therapy progress. I still have bad days with leg pain and numbness, but the good are outnumbering the bad! I pray your pain eases. Carl.

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on 06/03/2011 12:48pm

Hi Tessa, wow, I only had l5-s1 fusion and I'm still in some pain. My family sort of thinks I should be running around after 3 months but not happening yet. I hear it can take up to a year to recover. You can always contact me, any support you need I can offer it to ya. We all need to stick together and support each other. Good Luck to you and try and stay positive!!

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on 06/05/2011 9:46am

Nancy that is awesome!!!! So happy for you and you too Carl keep up the good work and positive attitudes.Tessa sorry your having a hard time I hope things get better for you. I think I want to try that aquatheraphy sounds like it would really feel good. :)

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on 06/06/2011 7:31pm

Hi Nancy, had my 3month post op check up today. Doctor said looking good, lots of bone growth and I'm some what ahead on that. Good to hear. Going to continue PT, go back in 4wks for next check up. I also saw my Pain doctor, no more fentyll patch, put me on withdrawl patch though, my withdrawls still really bad after being on morphone for 6 months prior to surgery. He thinks 2wk of patch and still taking oral meds for withdrawls will hopefully knock it out of me. Starting walking more, trying to do 25minutes a day, haha I know not as far as you but I'm working my way up there. How are you? Hope your doing ok, take care and talk to ya soon

Maryann

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