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Countdown to left L5/S1 TLIF with pedicle screws!! Any advice??

Started by Ladybug_x on 07/04/2011 12:06pm

Hi, I'm new here & would like to say how wonderful this site is!

I'm going for the surgery one week this Friday & even though I can't wait to begin the road (albeit a long one) to getting my life back, I am beginning to get a little apprehensive!

I have read & re-read what to expect, what to do in preparation & how not to 'over-do' anything whilst letting the body heal.

I would just like to ask any other chronic pain sufferers if they have any advice. Anyone who has had this type of surgery or is in a similar position to me. Or indeed if anyone has any thoughts on how to help recovery,etc.

All would be greatly appreciated!

THankyou, Heather x

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You must be in a lot of pain to go forward with the operation. I guess the pain is also radiating down both legs and that sitting is not tolerable. That standing is not tolerable. Movies are out of the question as are museums, shows, dance, performances of most any kind. Absolutely no jogging, and maybe never again. You were probably pretty active before and the pain of doing just about any day-to-day activity gives you excruciating pain. Most likely you are taking Tramadol, then Vicadin, then perocet, and may have been on various doses of methadone to control the pain. Now, that really doesn't give you the relief you need. These medicines were probably taken after cortisone injections into your back that didn't give you relief. Then you tried facet injections at least twice as well, and that did not help. I feel for you. But given your state and your options, you might as well throw that coin up into the air and hope it falls in your direction and not the other, and god forbid it gets worse which happens about 10-15% of the time. But the risk seem worthwhile in your case. There's really no other recourse, and who knows you could get lucky. Maybe it will even last 3-5 years! That would be great before your operation!

Good luck to you.

Jeff

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Your in for a long haul.I have had 8 neck surgeries & 4 lumbar surgeries. You need to be asking a lot of questions. I'm 58 now and after my last lumbar surgery. It took 18 months to get out of the back brace. I can only tell you this will be a huge change in your life. You will age 10 years. My hardware shifted and had to get 1 level removed you best think hard about this....it's a horrrrible nightmare. I have gone to the emergency room many times due to pinched nerves and am convinced that it is still unstable both neck and back ! You have a slim chance of getting a few yes of releaf.

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Your in for a long haul.I have had 8 neck surgeries & 4 lumbar surgeries. You need to be asking a lot of questions. I'm 58 now and after my last lumbar surgery. It took 18 months to get out of the back brace. I can only tell you this will be a huge change in your life. You will age 10 years. My hardware shifted and had to get 1 level removed you best think hard about this....it's a horrrrible nightmare. I have gone to the emergency room many times due to pinched nerves and am convinced that it is still unstable both neck and back ! You have a slim chance of getting a few yes of releaf.

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Heather, I had L4-L5-S1 (2-level) fusion with pedicle screws and BMP in 2005. I've had continuing problems with my degenerative disc disease, necrosis ("bone death") of my right hip (replaced in 2007), and now I'm having trouble with L3, right above my fused discs. If there is a lot of stenosis (narrowing of spinal canal squeezing spinal cord) and instability, there isn't much they can do besides fusion. If the instability isn't severe, you might get by with something less than fusion. The bottom line is that it depends on your personal condition. In my case, I have a bone disease (osteomalacia) and lots of arthritis. You gave no info about your own situation.

I think it's wrong for people who've had the worst possible outcome to declare that you are bound to have similar results. (The satisfied, happy. pain-free people are not in here!) What I would recommend is that you seek a 2nd opinion, and once committed, make sure you discuss the options and the expected results with your surgeon,

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Dear Ladybug X.............

I wish you all the best success with your surgery. No one would put themselves through this surgery unless you are in severe pain and are desperate for help. I had 2 surgeries: first, fused L 4-5 then went in to fuse L 3 and my surgeon discovered I had fractured my S 1 so he did both right away. These were done in July 04 (age 49) & Dec. 05 (age 50) respectively.

The results for me are frustration with the less mobility.........HOWEVER....having said that; Right now, while my husband is on a bicycle trip from Wisconsin to Washington State, I have emptied & painted 1 bedroom. Then I put everything back and emptied that bedroom into the first, then emptied my bedroom into the second room, so I can paint my bedroom. Then I will paint the bathroom and pantry. Next I will move my room back and paint the second bedroom. Will I do it all in 7 weeks before I leave to go pick them up? Probably not, but I hope to have at least the first 3 done. I am not SuperWoman, and yes I am tired and sore, BUT I CAN do this and more.

Do as you are told after the surgery. Rest, take care of yourself, WALK like you are told, WALK, WALK, AND WALK SOME MORE!!!! Start small and add a little further each time. Treat yourself like you would treat your spouse or kids or your mother. You deserve it. If you have problems address them with your surgeon immediately. Not everyone has horror stories to scare you.

If you don't feel trust in your surgeon, cancel and find a new surgeon. That trust is key to your recovery!!! I wish you all the best.......as for me, I ripped out the carpet in my room and need to get back to painting so I will be ready for the new carpet!!! YAH 30 year old carpet is out of here!!! Best wishes.

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Hi Ladybug!

I haven't had my corrective surgery (yet) - although I'm just about at that point. My neurosurgeon said that it's got to be done, but I have to make the choice. I'm trying to put it off until January (*crossing fingers and toes*).

One of the main things I see over and over again, is not to push yourself too much, too fast. Be prepared and settle yourself in for a looonnng recovery process - up to and beyond a year+ it seems.

Otherwise - I'll be sending good thoughts your way and when you're up to - come back and share your experiences, kay?

@ Dee = Great advice!

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Heather, I thought of a few things that will help you. Your surgeon should give you a large back brace to wear after the surgery (if he doesn't mention it, I would sure ask for one, because it makes all the difference in the world). I still wear my brace to clean out the litter boxes (have 4 cats), or anything that requires lifting or bending. It keeps me from hurting my back again, which I am prone to do. My insurance covered the brace, and it was something like $300. Make sure you understand how it works and how to place it and tighten it firmly.

Another thing is to put the things you use all the time on a shelf or counter so that you don't have to bend over to get it or reach up high to get it. If you do this ahead of surgery, you'll be glad you did.

Don't be afraid of your pain medication. I had to take a lot of it each surgery, and had no difficulty tapering it off a month or so after surgery.

Be sure to take your physical therapy seriously. Walk as much as you're supposed to also. If you lie around instead, your recovery will be slow and incomplete.

I hope these ideas help. After I sent the earlier post yesterday, I realized I should have mentioned them.

God bless you and guide your surgeon's hands.

Jackie

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Hi ladybug,

I had both TLIF n PLIF on L4-5-S1. Recovering from TLIF is much lesser pain than PLIF because the procedure is done from the side and less muscles are being disturbed. I am recovering very well and am back to normal routine. I had back brace for 3 months after surgery. During that three months, I practise getting in and out of the bed correctly, sitting, standing and bending my knees to pick up things. And good enough, after the three months, the RIGHT postures have already been engraved in my brain until today and am treating my back like an expensive antique. Don't worry, you'll be ok

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I have had 3 neck surgeries but I am putting off the back as long as I can manage with a tens unit and medication PLUS a wonderful massage therapist. I must admit muggy weather in Florida makes things tricky. One surgeon says YES I would be better if I do my back the second one said NO. So I'm in a holding pattern. I have had the shots which only help for a few weeks but the nerve "zapping" where they use a radio frequency to burn the nerve so you don't feel the pain anymore has been much more successful. I plan on doing more of that in the fall. My herniated disc is on the right side but all my pain is on the left from damage done in a car accident when I was in my 20s almost 40 years ago! I have been waiting for technology to improve and it has. I think the woman who said you will hear more horror stories on places like this was correct. I know lots of people who have had surgery and are fine. I was about to do it but the second opinion was so adamant that I had so much arthritis causing the bulk of the pain that the surgery would just throw scar tissue into the mix and not help the real culprit which is the SI joint going out of alignment. I confirmed this with the other surgeon's PA who is my neighbor so until they can fix that problem I will muddle on. My "zapping" is working wonders and less invasive with no recovery time in any case. But if you are lucky enough to have something that CAN BE FIXED and you do have confidence in your surgeon you MUST have a positive attitude for it to have a chance to work. Do everything they say to do. I was trying to lose as much weight as I could prior to surgery and get in as best shape as I could by "walking" in the pool before surgery but then 2 weeks before I was going to do it I called it off. So far I'm glad but if it gets real bad I will go a head. Good Luck!

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