Surgery is scheduled

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hydrangea
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 190
   Posted 1/29/2010 11:46 AM (GMT -7)   
After much debate and after getting a second opinion, I have finally decided to go ahead and schedule my Lumbar Fusion. After getting I don't know how many lumbar epidurals with no releif at all, and then having the discogram(never again), physical therapy, drugs, tens, ultrasound etc. we all seem to think that this is the next step. The second opinion that I had actually wanted to do a much more invasive procedure, so I opted for the first surgeons opinion. My Pm doctor went over every ones reports with me, and he thinks that this is a very smart decision. I told him that I am a little nervous about the pain following surgery because I have been on pain meds for a loing time. He said that he will be contacting my surgeon to make sure I get the appropriate meds while in the hospital.

I have yet to tell my employer, and will do so on Monday. This also makes me just a tad nervous as I have had a couple of surgeries over the last two year. Total hysterectomy, and some major plastic surgery on face due to skin cancer. I have used all vacation time for all of this, but I am sure they must think I am just nuts. Back surgery recovery is going to be much longer that the others as well. The surgeon said I will be out for two weeks, and no heavy lifting for six months. The industry I am in will make this a little difficult. I am in the landscape industry a managment position, but really like getting in there and getting dirty.

Hope everyone is have a good day, and thanks for letting me share my story, I will keep you posted.
Diagnosed crohns Disease 07,
Bladder Inflammation
Three Herniated disc; stenosis, facet arthritis,degenerative disc , severe siatica
3 laparoscopies, hysterectomy
p.t. and trigger point injections for severe pelvic pain.
Spinal epidurals for herniated discs and siatica
meds: lyrica, vicodine, amrix
 


mrsm123
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 1228
   Posted 1/29/2010 11:49 AM (GMT -7)   
Hydrangea,
Going back to work after two weeks is a bit too optimistic I think. What type of fusion are they planning on doing? I hope that it goes well and you soon are getting the pain relief that you seek. A fusion is done to correct an anatomical problem, and to relieve pressure on the nerves and spinal cord if there is compression of either one of those things. What level are they planning on doing again? Is it a one level fusion?
Sandi
PLIF/TLIF Fusion w/Instrumentation L4-5 Spondololysthesis L4-5.Laminectomies L4-5, foraminal stenosis L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1, herniations L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1, central canal stenosis L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1
POST OP CES 3/30-06
Neurogenic Bladder and Bowel, bilateral numbness legs and feet
Revision for failed Back surgery, pseudoarthrosis L4-5, hemilaminectomies L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1, bmp added to revision fusion, replaced two bent screws that were reversing out of vertebrae - August 2, 2007
On going back pain and neuropathic pain, failed back surgery, consult for scs, decided not to do that at this point.
Adhesive Arachnoiditis also......just what I didn't need..9/08- adding bilateral ulnar neuropathy with severe compression to the mix. They want me to see a surgeon for ulnar nerve surgery, but I'm not biting.
I've seen enough surgeons over the last few years.
Avascular necrosis of left wrist- maybe hips too


hydrangea
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 190
   Posted 1/29/2010 11:56 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi sandi....It is a one level fusion. It is a tranforminal lumbar fusion at L5 S1. I have major right leg pain, and foot pain. The cramping in the leg is also getting a lot worse. My back pain is tolerable, as I have had back pain forever. But the leg pain is very unberable. I do have three herniated disc. L5 S1,L5 L4 and L4 L3. The discogram did show that the pain is from L5 S1. The surgeons do not think that I will need any additional surgery for the others, but of course only time will tell. I do think the two weeks is being very optomistic, but trying to think positive.

I see that you have failed back surgery, can I ask what types of surgery you have had for back.
I also have bladder infussions for a small tumor, can I also ask what Neurogenic Bladder is?

Thanks for the help!
Diagnosed crohns Disease 07,
Bladder Inflammation
Three Herniated disc; stenosis, facet arthritis,degenerative disc , severe siatica
3 laparoscopies, hysterectomy
p.t. and trigger point injections for severe pelvic pain.
Spinal epidurals for herniated discs and siatica
meds: lyrica, vicodine, amrix
 


Chutz
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9090
   Posted 1/29/2010 3:16 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi!

Thanks for keeping us up to date on your decision. I wish you well and hope your recovery is quick and easy. That's a tough industry to work in with pain issues. I owned a small nursery for many years and finally had to give it up due to pain from the same area, L5/S1 and fibromyalgia. Have you looked into workman's compensation from the state? Or temporary disability? Try knocking on a few doors and ask questions...although I imagine you probably already have.

Have you ever heard of Agrability? It's an organization that helps people in the agriculture industry who can not continue to function with their disability. Most often it's for someone who's lost a limb or is paralyzed but they might have something that would help you. www.agrabilityproject.org/ Might be worth looking at anyway.

Keep in touch!
Chutz
"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, but Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad."

(\_/)
(o.o)
(> <) Co-Moderator Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Forums
Fibromyalgia, PTSD, UC, Diabetic on insulin, collapsed disk, arthritis scattered around and a few other delights.


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 1/29/2010 6:38 PM (GMT -7)   
Hydrangea,
Some of what you wrote reminded me of my process before I had my lumbar fusion. I had a double fusion (L4-S1), minimally invasive (transforaminal) over two years ago. Unfortunately, it wasn't successful in relieving my buttock, leg and foot pain, but that doesn't mean your surgery won't be helpful. We all have to remember that people who may have had successful surgeries probably aren't posting on a CP forum.

One thing many of us who have had back surgeries seem to agree on is the recovery time is always much longer than the estimate the surgeon gives. Please don't think you'll be able to go back to work in two weeks, most especially to the kind of work you do. I was told 6 weeks, but it was more like 3 months before I could ease back into even part time work - and that was sitting work.

You want to make sure you heal properly, as scar tissue forming internally can cause problems with your recovery. I still have scar tissue pressing on the nerve, and my doctor wanted to go back in and do a "traditional" surgery and I said no way, as I never hear good things about people who have multiple surgeries.

I think you've gone about it in the right way, getting a second opinion, making a thoughtful decision. But plan on several weeks of recovery time, especially when it comes to work. Check out all the resources like short term disability, FMLA leave, etc. And think about how you can ease back into work perhaps part time, definitely doing "light duty" and not expecting to get down and dirty for quite awhile. Remember the fusion itself takes up to a year. You don't want to ruin any chances for a successful surgery by pushing things too fast - which many of us have a tendency to do.

If you plan for longer, and you can go back sooner, that's great. But if you push your doctor to get you back to work too soon, and then you start having trouble, it will be more difficult at your workplace than if you prepare for a longer time out.

Good luck!

PaLady

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 13467
   Posted 1/29/2010 11:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Hydrangea,
 
Very glad to hear you went for the 2nd opinion and I do wish you the best on your recovery. It looks and sounds like you have tried and failed every conservative measure out there and many times it does take finally having surgery. But, thats not the end of the world either.
 
I will tell you no way will you be back to work in 2 thats not even realistic. Drs are so famous for telling their patients this nonsense and I will tell you why. If the drs were honest and said look, it is going to be 6 months to a year before someone having a fusion can return to work, guess what the drs would be out of business. The drs know working people can not be off of work that long without running the risk of losing their jobs, the financial aspect of it and believe me they know this they are not stupid. The drs know the patient would simply look at the dr and decline surgery because they know they cannot be off work that long without running into a lot of problems. One of our memeber this past year had a laminectomy and her dr said oh you will be back to work in 2 weeks. In 2 weeks she was barely able to put one foot in front of the other, she returned back to work in a lot of pain in 6 months. She like you thought she was going back to work in 2 weeks even tho she was still fresh post-op at that point. I have seen hundreds of surgeries and no one returned to work in 2 weeks. The first 6 weeks post op with a fusion is so important because the fusion needs to become solid and the back should really be protected the first  6 weeks. I had gall bladder surgery done by  lap and my surgeon refused to let me return to work for 6 weeks!!!  I just hate to see you get built up thinking its no big deal and you will be right back to work.
 
Glad to know the PM dr will contact the surgeon about your post op meds. That will be a big help. Take care.
 
 

crohns disease dx 2002 & small bowel resection, still looking for remission whatever that is, chronic pain 22 yrs, added ulcerative colitis 6-05 to the mix, high blood pressure 28 yrs, aortic heart valve insuffiency, depression, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis lumbar spine, scoliosis lumbar spine, peripheral neuropathy hands & feet, COPD & on oxygen therapy, lupus & psoriasis and psoratic arthritis. Several other health issues just not enough room to list it all. Too many surgeries to list and too many medications to list. Currently on 17 different daily medications. Intrathecal pain pump implanted June 05.


White Beard
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3611
   Posted 1/30/2010 12:07 AM (GMT -7)   
Hydrangea

I think you have done everything right, and I do hope your surgery is successful! I agree with the others I think that only 2 weeks is being to optimistic, just remember to be easy on yourself! You will probably feel allot better without your leg and hip pain and it is often easy to forget that even though your feeling better that doesn't mean your healed and can do everthing you want! Disk fusions take time, and there is nothing available that can speed that up! It takes time for the bone to grow and for the fusion to become solid. during the first weeks and even months it is really easy to mess things up, so it pays big dividends to be especially careful during the weeks and months right after your surgery! That period really can make the difference between a successful back surgery and a failed one! So please be patient, and gentle with yourself, and let yourself heal, hopefully you will have the imediate relief like I got from my cervical disk fusion that I had the end of September! It did not cure my neck pain but it took away my arm and hand pain immediately! And what a blessing that was!

Good Luck to You! I do wish you well with your surgery!

White Beard

bsjaguar
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 974
   Posted 1/30/2010 5:13 AM (GMT -7)   
I've had fusion at L-4/5, not sure what the different types of surgery are but I did strenuous work in a factory and my doctor told me straight up I'd be off work for 4 months. Even then I went back to work with restricted hours & limitations. Definately get signed up for any work short term disability available.

One of my biggest gripes was dealing with the insurance companies afterwards. It seemed the anesthesiologist & radiologist weren't in network so I was constantly on the phone trying to get items corrected. This alone was a full time job. Start a file and keep every bill and EOB you receive. It can come in handy later.

Good Luck with your surgery. Like WB, my surgery wasn't a cure all but it did help with the radiating pain.
---Jag---
 
DDD, osteoarthritis, fusion surgeries C-5/7 & L-4/5 both in 2006, torn meniscus left knee 2000 & 2002, buldging disc L-2/3


Mrs. Dani
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 2787
   Posted 1/30/2010 9:55 AM (GMT -7)   
 
 
   Dear Hydra,
 
      Just a quick note to say that I hope you can find a few moments here and there to relax before you surgery. Also, I hope your employer is understanding and your surgeons able to fix the problem. It sounds like you have tried all other possible alternatives to the surgery and you certianly deserve some much needed relief!  Take care and stay strong. You are in our hearts here.
 
*hugg*
  dani 

 

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood

 

 


mrsm123
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 1228
   Posted 1/30/2010 10:33 AM (GMT -7)   
Morning Hy,
I had two back surgeries, the first one was a PLIF/TLIF fusion at L4-5. The long short story is that the surgeon failed to fix two other problems, where there was compression of my spinal nerves. After the surgery, there was a lot of post op swelling, which only increased the already significant amounts of compression in those two areas above and below where he did the fusion and I wound up with Cauda Equina Syndrome- it's where there is significant compression of the spinal nerves which causes permanent damage to the cord and the nerves coming from it. Neurogenic bladder is where there is damage to the nerves going to the bladder and in some cases, the bowel as well. I unfortunately have both damaged. I had a salvage/revision operation 17 months after my first fusion, because I didn't fuse, so they had to redo it, they also had to replace two screws that were backing out of the vertebrae, and they tried to free up the nerves where he hadn't fixed them the first time- different surgeon did the 2nd operation. He told me that the nerves, or what was left of them were like old, brittle lace- and that it looked like they would disintegrate if he touched them.
Anyway, I hope that your surgery goes truly well and that it takes care of what is causing the pain that you are having. The TLIF spares more of the muscles than the PLIF surgery. In a TLIF , they go to the side of the vertebrae instead of going from a midline approach, which is supposed to make the recovery a bit less difficult. I would just be really careful and if you don't feel that your body is ready to go back to work in two weeks, then don't......listen to your body.
If I can answer anything for you, please just ask away.
Sandi
PLIF/TLIF Fusion w/Instrumentation L4-5 Spondololysthesis L4-5.Laminectomies L4-5, foraminal stenosis L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1, herniations L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1, central canal stenosis L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1
POST OP CES 3/30-06
Neurogenic Bladder and Bowel, bilateral numbness legs and feet
Revision for failed Back surgery, pseudoarthrosis L4-5, hemilaminectomies L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1, bmp added to revision fusion, replaced two bent screws that were reversing out of vertebrae - August 2, 2007
On going back pain and neuropathic pain, failed back surgery, consult for scs, decided not to do that at this point.
Adhesive Arachnoiditis also......just what I didn't need..9/08- adding bilateral ulnar neuropathy with severe compression to the mix. They want me to see a surgeon for ulnar nerve surgery, but I'm not biting.
I've seen enough surgeons over the last few years.
Avascular necrosis of left wrist- maybe hips too


skeye
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 1/30/2010 9:52 PM (GMT -7)   
Hydrangea,

Best of luck with the surgery! I hope it is a huge success & reduces your pain!! When is the big day?

hugs,
Skeye

hydrangea
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 190
   Posted 1/31/2010 1:55 PM (GMT -7)   

Thank you everyone for all of your information. I did look into the short term disability and fmla. I do not believe that I will be eligable for any of the benefits as the company I work for has under 50 employees. I will be taking my vacation time, and anything else probably unpaid. I will have to have a serious converstaion with my employer tomorrow. I do hope that they are understanding. I think at this point I am more nervous about losing my career rather than the surgery. Someone else wil have to step into my position while I am gone. 

 THe surgery is  set for Febuary 16th. I will be at a major research hospital that I am not familiar with which also adds to the aprehension.

Thanks

Hope all are well

 


Diagnosed crohns Disease 07,
Bladder Inflammation
Three Herniated disc; stenosis, facet arthritis,degenerative disc , severe siatica
3 laparoscopies, hysterectomy
p.t. and trigger point injections for severe pelvic pain.
Spinal epidurals for herniated discs and siatica
meds: lyrica, vicodine, amrix
 


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 1/31/2010 2:11 PM (GMT -7)   
Hydrangea,
Although I worked for a large hospital system, I had not worked quite the number of hours (I was a part timer) to be protected officially by FMLA. Still, my supervisor had me have my doctor complete all the paperwork as if I was and give it to Human Resources. Unfortunately, the hospital had some lay-offs while I was out on leave for my back surgery, and they laid off my supervisor first (who had been there 25 years), and then I got a phone call while at home recuperating that they were laying me off. Really was a punch to the gut. I don't say this to worry you, but to ask your supervisor and human resources people (you may want to check any personnel policies, also) if there's anything you can do to help protect your position. You're right companies with less than 50 employees aren't bound by FMLA, but some do it anyway, and even so it might not hurt to have your doctor submit something to your boss/H.R. as to why you're out. It may help if something does happen and you need to collect unemployment. Then they can't claim they didn't know it was a medical leave. Some companies have some type of medical leave even if it's not FMLA, and it probably won't be paid, but doing some paperwork may help save your job.

I also had my surgery at a large teaching hospital about 3 hours away. Fortunately, one of my cousins lived there and knew the hospital well, but it was a bit scary. Still, I kind of found once you're an inpatient, it all seems the same! LOL

Good luck to you!

PaLady

privey
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 453
   Posted 1/31/2010 8:09 PM (GMT -7)   
Hydra,
I too wish you well with your surgery but like many others think a 2 weeks RTW is unrealistic. I have had surgery and it took longer than two weeks to recover.



Also, I don't know how long you have worked for this company but you have to be there 1 year to qualify for FMLA as well as they have to have 50 or more employees to make them bind to this law. Hope things work out for you.

VicoVixen
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 2/1/2010 3:38 PM (GMT -7)   
Best of luck on your surgery! I just had a spinal fusion at L5/S1 on 4/20/2009. They did the anterior approach so they went in through the stomach and then I have 4 incisions in the back for instrumentation. I was off work for 3.5 months and was allowed to begin physical therapy at 3 months and I completed 3 months of that. I still have a great deal of pain but it's a much different pain than what I had before. Even with this being the case, I would do the surgery again in a heart beat. My only words of advice would be to have realistic expectations about the outcome. I knew what the stats were and what people on message boards said, so I knew that it wasn't a magic procedure, but having to adjust to my new reality, while it's better than my old reality, has been difficult.

What type of fusion are they doing? ALIF, PLIF, TLIF, some other kind? Are they using BMP or harvesting from your Iliac crest? Let me know if I can answer any questions since I've just been through this type of procedure.

Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 2/1/2010 4:11 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Hyd! I too will be having fusion of the L4 & L5 here shortly, and my surgeon told me that I could expect 3 to 5 months recovery time, and up to 12 months before he would allow me back on the Harley. That's if all goes well, of course Im staying positive about it, but it is a major operation. Please keep us informed of your progress, and I plan on it as well with the members here. Tomorrow, I see the surgeon to set a hard date for the surgery, and it won't be any time too soon for me, as I have really struggled lately. I wish you the best on yours, and you can email me anytime you want if you would like to visit about it.

Michael
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