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Surgery for Spondylolisthesis

lmestonllmeston Posts: 46
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello, fellow spine fusion friends.
I am three weeks away from having lumbar level one PLIF surgery and am scared half to death! (Spondylolisthesis,disc hernation,facet DDD L3-4,4-5,L5-S-1)Surgeon will not do any of the other levels because this would be trauma enough for my body? L5-S1 is in really bad shape too. I of course dread the surgery and post pain after the procedure, but am more worried about the post not being able to do anything blues. I am a rather hiper person and am always on the move. Has anyone faced this issue? I know the first several weeks I will feel bad enough that that will not be a problem....but what about the weeks following that?
I have had two cervical fusions plus, a few others surgeries so am not a stranger to surgery. I have been told that this one is REALLY tough though. Please, if anyone could be up front and and give it to me like it really is details etc. I would be so thankful. I would rather be prepared for the worst and have it turn out better....than not be prepared at all, or half way.
I admire all of you that have taken this giant step in trying to better your quality of daily living. I feel like we are dammed, in a way, no matter what our choices are. Just hope this will not lead to future lumbar surgeries....so unsure on the right things to do....
Again, thanks for your time and understanding, L
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Comments

  • Hi Imeston,

    I think you are half way there already! - If you expect th eworst then it won't be as bad! lol.

    Seriously, sure the post op bit is sore, what you will expect but not as bad as the pre-op. My first surgery offered me releif immediately. My problems started 3 months later as i became more mobile but I am not the normal. Most Spondy cases have a 80% (ish) success rate. The clinical papers can't seem to agree on a definition of success and clinical outcomes = solid fusion and patient outcomes = pain reduced are 2 very separate issues.
    pOst op you will do as much as you are able. I am (was) very active and I don't often get frustrated because my want and ability for the day is dependant on how i feel.

    Listen to your body, don't have too high an expectation post op (too much too soon) - it is a massive surgery and the first few days will show you that.

    You will be got out of bed, when they think you are ready and then you'll see what you've been through. It will take all your effort and mental ability to get going. But every day you will do more. And hopefully, through all the post op soreness, you will feel that some of your horrid hellish symptoms are gone. Fingers crossed.

    Get your self a slippery sheet or sleeping bag - the reason - it offers you less resistance moving around the bed post op and makes it easier for log rolling. A kiddie beaker (drinking lying down) and a grabber are useful gadgets too, while i remember.

    Good lUck
  • I had an ALIF 2 levels. It was rough at the beginning. I felt terrible in the hospital and really had a lot of issues from having the surgery done anteriorly. My bowels are still having issues 5 months out. The pain in my back from the hardware installation was well controlled. I never had uncontrollable pain.

    I too am a very active person with my children and was very stressed about not being able to care for them and keep up with them. I was moving well within the first 4 weeks but the fatigue was overwhelming. I may have tried to do too much. The fatigue lasted for 4 months, where I had to rest at some point during the day and really felt like I had no energy. It did finally lift right at the 4 month mark.

    I read tons of books and got lots of movies. The time did go fast as I kept myself busy mentally. Try to be patient it does go fast when you look back on it! Take care!
  • Hi and welcome!!

    The others pretty much said it all.
    I was a nervous wreck even though I had tons of previous surgery before the spinal fusion mine was also for spondy.
    It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
    The toughest day for me was when they got me out of bed for the first time. I hate when ppl grab onto me. I wanted to roll and get up myself as I knew how.
    After that it got easier and easier. Sore yes. Alot of pain no.
    I guess the first day I was in alot of pain but do not remember nothing!!!! Thank goodness.
    It did help w/ the spondy a great deal. Yes once in awhile here and there I get that deep burning feeling back. That nothing touches but a nice old ice.
    I am going in again because I did not fuse to get L4-S1 done this time. Don't take that to heart as some ppl just do not fuse for some reason. I fused great with my cervical.

    I was cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry with my grabber at 2 weeks. Yes I was SO TIRED and weak but I did it. No bending and twisting of course. I went through 2 grabbers becuase I kept breaking them. LOVE THOSE THINGYS :D

    Hang in there. Eve1 is different in their pain levels and recovery. It's a long one on this surgery.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!
    Terri >:D<
  • Hi, I am 22 days post-op PLIF L4-5 for spondy. My hospital stay was about what I expected, a lot of pain but controlled with meds, very hard to move-but got to do it anyways. Now at 3 weeks I am moving much better, but have no stamina, get worn out and have to lay down, am backing off meds, but increased activity increases my pain. I am starting to feel kinda down and depressed with feeling so useless, and wanting to get back at it, and yet my body isn't ready yet. Considering going to MD to get on anti-depressants for a little while, but dreading that too. This is just a really slow going recovery, but from reading these boards, it is the norm, and I am on track. Just wish it were faster! Next NS appt not for 5 more weeks, at which time will assess fusion with xray. Seems depressingly far away. All this waiting is hard. Try to plan lots of stuff to do, catch up on, books, movies, photo-sorting, thingsyou usually never have time for. There is a thread on here about preparing for surgery and it has a great list of recommendations on things to do before and after surgery to get ready. Good Luck, welcome aboard to this great site full of information and support, Sue :)
  • Just in the surgical area and in one of my hips/legs. It gets better each day but when my pain meds stopped working at week 2-3 I was insane with pain.I now have them switched and am doing much better- like cali-sue the stamina part is hard as I get more tired I get more pain.

    Getting up hurts, sitting hurts, and walking hurts...LOL But the old pain is gone :D

    My pre-op pain was controlled with 5-10 mg of vicaden about 2 x per day- lidocane patches and and terribly agrivated by walking/bending

    Now I am on 10 mg of Norco (vicaden) 4 x per day and 5 mg of oxycodone 4x per day and flexerile up to 3x per day.

    I have a case of the blues and will be going on anti depressants as soon as I am off the pain meds.

    Julie
  • I am 15 weeks post-op. 5 level fusions L2-S-1 with rods and screws. Hospital was not wonderful but pain medication kept it under control. Needed 6 units of blood over the 4 days after surgery. Coming home was awful, but I had home health and that helped. After 5 day home the incision opened and I had to have pressure dressing applied for the next 9 days. I am in a brace 24/7 but even got on a plane last week flew 800 miles. I use a walker for long walks but a cane for short walks. I can walk without the cane but it is hard. I stopped pain medication at 3 1/2 weeks. All the pain and dropped foot on the R leg is gone, but lots of nerve problems on the L. The L leg was fine before surgery. There has not been any fusion as yet. I would do it again for the pain relief offered to my R leg. You will do fine. The Lord has kept me going, plus a good husband who does not baby me. This site has really helped me. Good luck.
  • I understand where you are coming from. I have always been an extremely busy person up to my surgery. You just have to learn to relax and take it one day a time.
  • just adding on a bit.
    it is a very hard long surgery and recovery.
    you will for sure get down somedays and have other good days.
    you will learn to love repeats on t.v :D
    the laptop is a heaven sent. makes your time go by just a bit faster. just make sure to get out there and walk as much as your body allows.

    HANG IN THERE that is what we are here for!!!! >:D<
  • I just want to let you know how much your reply ment to me....just knowing there is someone out there that shares your pain and scared feelings is such a help. Although I wish you did not have the pain etc.....I just wonder why we spine people seem to have not just one spine problem, but many??? As I stated in my first post, I have had two cervical fusions and now looking towards this major surgery and the level above and below is in BAD shape with the one below much worse. But, my surgeon will not touch that at this time?, so know that surgery looms in my future. I guesss we have to take it one day at a time though.....again thanks for taking the time to reply to my post it really has helped me....best wishes to you and your spine, L











    b
  • Thank you for your post. It is such a great relief to know I am not alone in this scary path I am about to take. I wish you peace and comfort in your on going recovery, L
  • Thank you so very much for taking the time to reply to my post.....you will never know how much it has helped ease my worries about what to expect post surgery. I just can't imagine what you are going through....oh, my, my five levels! I feel like a major baby now, ha! I do have the level above and below that are bad too....with the lower one being very bad, but my surgeon will not touch it at this time? He said one thing at a time and this was tough enough to get through....almost wish he would do the one below now as well and just get it over with, oh, well. Maybe this will fix me.....can only hope.
    I wish you all the best in you recovery, and thanks again,L
  • Hi, and I can't thank you enough for your reply.....just reading your response to my worries has been a great comfort. I hate knowing you have had to suffered in your quest to feel better, but I guess that's the way it goes....worse before it gets better thing, at least that's what I have always heard? It just really puzzles me why we all seem to have so many issues with our spine....not just a one time thing? I also have had two cervical fusions and the lumbar disc above and below the one getting fixed are in really bad shape too....with the one below really bad. My surgeon said he will not touch at this time due to the stress of the PLIF surgery on L,4-5....almost wish he would just do though....get it over with and move on.
    Again, thank you for you post....and I wish you all the best with your spine recovery and health, L
  • Hi, and sounds like we have about the same issues with our spine. I'm having the same levels done as you.....what were you pre-op symptoms? I of course have the leg issue and low back pain/stiffness, but did your hips hurt/burn? My hips really hurt and burn and am afraid this surgery will not help that. I also have the level above and below the one being fixed that are in bad shape too....the one below much worse. Anyway....thank you for your reply. You just don't know how much it has helped ease my fears/worries. You hang in there as well, and do not feel useless....you are doing the best you can plus, I think you are doing very well at this point. I only hope I will do as well as you at 22 days post op. WAITING, oh my....not my best at that little game, so I feel for you......I dread that more than the pain really. Hang in there, and again thanks so very much, L
  • My surgery was for spondy as well and I have a two level fusion. I'm almost 6 months post plif. It's a journey, that's for sure. My pain pre-surgery is gone, the spondy issues are corrected, but life isn't what it was before all of this started. I think you just learn to live a new kind of normal. Don't worry about the pain right after surgery---you'll be drugged enough that you frankly won't care. Just commit yourself to a positive attitude, a whole lot of patience, and find friends and family that will help you through. Wishing you the best.......
  • Hi, and thank you so very much for taking the time in responding to my post....it has really eased my nervousness about the entire process. The tips you gave on sheets, cups etc.....are also great, wow, who would have thought? I agree with your statement about pain, and I have NEVER let it stop me from living, but the past few years it has sure slowed me down a lot and probably has kept me from doing all that I wanted to do.....and it exhaust me faster than I ever imagined. I knew it was time then....to go under the knife....the injections were no longer cutting it. I'm a big girl and have made this choice and will get through it just the same as all of you brave soles have before me. I just thank you for you support....it's a true blessing.
    I wish you all the best for a full recovery :) L
  • Thank you for you reply....it truly is a help for me.
    I feel so much better just receiving all of the responses from all of you.....we all feel each others pain in one way or another as sad as it is. I hope your recovery will keep improving with each passing day....thanks again,L
  • Murry--Can you explain a little more what you mean by "life isn't what it was before all of this started...learn to live a new kind of normal"? It sounds like your pain is gone at 6 months post-op, but what kinds of issues/limitations do you have now? I'm trying to prepare for upcoming fusion (for grade 3 spondy); I'm learning a lot about what to expect in the first weeks/months post-op, but I also want to understand what the longer-term effects might be.

    Thanks!
  • Imeston, you are very welcome for the post. As far as my symptoms I have intermittent boubts of low back pain and sciatica since age 17. But, 2 1/2 years ago I started having hip pain that radiated to my knee. I thought it was my hip, but when hip xrays showed nothing we xrayed my back and it showed spondylolisthesis, only first degree. I did conservative treatment for 2 years, than this past spring only 2 weeks after an epidural my pain flipped sides to the left hip and down leg to the foot even. This time it was very severe and I could barely walk. Back to the NS I went and this time we did flex/ext xrays, and found out my spondy was unstable. I had been feeling/hearing crunching in my low back for years. I got a 4th epidural on the left and it didn't help at all. So, plan was surgery, I put it off till summer to get past my daughters grad and sons birthday, then had to reschedule do to exhusbands vacation plans interfering, so anyway finally Aug 5 I did it. I had gotten somewhat better prior from going to water pt for 5 months, but with the instability I knew it was inevitable and wanted to get it over with.
    My other levels are okay except for some facet arthritis at L5-S1. Have you gotten a second opinion about your other levels, cause you sure don't want to turn around and go through it again in the near future. Especially if your L5-S1 is very bad, will it be able to support the fusion. There is someone on here who is having a healthy L5-S1 done with 4-5 just to provide more support. From what I have read on here it seems like 1, 2, or 3 level recoveries are very similar. Shoot, my doctor filleted me open wide enough to have done 4 levels, I still do not know why, was quite a surpise to see the long incision. So good luck, take care, and ask any questions you have. Sue
  • Hi Cali-Sue, and thanks for responding to my concerns. Yes, I have gone to a couple of doctors about my back condition and the others kept telling me I could not even have surgery...confusing. This surgeon doing my back has also done my cervical surgeries too. He is a GREAT surgeon and I really trust him, but I would rather get it all done at once....I'll just hope and pray that this surgery will take care of most of my pain etc...I have lived with this bad back for so many years....pain is not that big of a deal any more....it's the dragging around my leg, stubbing my toe because I think I have my leg picked up to step over something. TIRED, I get so worn out just trying to walk a little...it's crazy!
    I am just a little over two weeks till surgery now, and oh, my it's all I can think about! I am trying to get all of my ducks in a row, so to speak but feel like I'm going in circles. I have to go the the hospital a week before and go to a class....I guess/hope they will give me any details on what I will need post surgery etc...or before?
    Anyway, I am so very thankful I found this site as it has been such a great comfort with all of the great support from everyone. If you think of ANYTHING that may make it easier for me please post it back to me....even if it seems stupid, hey, I'm willing to do anything to be as independant as I can be post surgery.
    Thank You Again, lmeston
  • You have probably seen this thread, but just in case here is a link. It has lots of good suggestions, and Saltzworks has posted the long comprehensive list of pre/post op suggestions.
    http://www.spine-health.com/forum/back-surgery-and-neck-surgery/post-op-must-haves
    Good Luck with your surgery and keep us posted. Sue
  • Here's wishing you the best of luck. Those days before surgery are agonizing. Just relax the best you can and have faith.

    The "new normal" explanation is difficult until you're living it. I don't bend like I did before and doubt I ever will. I stretch, ice, and walk multiple times each day----that's all a good normal that I didn't take time for before! I'm cautious about how I move. Sleep is a huge change for me. It's difficult to find the right position and I spend many nights "roaming" from couch to bed to couch...... When people say Hi, how are you"? ....it's not just an idle inquiry. I think my biggest "new normal" is that I don't take life for granted anymore. I find pleasure in little things, let the "junk in life" go, and value friends and family more.
    I don't like some of the new normal and doubt I ever will. Other parts of it are like a gift from heaven.
  • very good explanation on the "new normal" murry. :)

    i can say a year later i can bend and touch my toes.
    bending backwards well that is a bit tuffer.
    but according to the ortho your supposed be able to do that in time.

    this is a day by day journey. some get through quicker then others. and well some it just takes a little longer to adapt.

    keep going everyone!!!!!!! ;))
  • Murry, awesome insight into this road that so many of us have been forced to travel. I am early on my path but I think your ideas apply even to pre-op changes that we go through, trying desperately to do anything in our power to fix these problems. Priorities change, that is for sure. Best of luck to all of you who are traveling this winding road. May it end up somewhere positive with less pain. Sue
  • Hello, and oh, my, gosh am I ever getting cold feet! I keep getting this voice running inside of my head asking me are you sure you are doing the right thing? image:)" alt=">:)" height="20" /> Are you sure want to go through all of this? Are you sure you can't just live with things the way they are? I'm sure "ALL" of you had the very same questions running through your minds as well. I keep thinking I'm going to be worse off after the surgery.....I know I will be for the first several months, but what about a year from now?? My surgeon said if it were his back he would have the surgery period! I have the spondy issue plus a huge cyst on the spine and of course DDD in this vertabra and two others......HELP! Do you feel like you made the right choice having the surgery(s). I have had epidurals so much I can't count how many over the past 15 years. My surgeon said I have done EVERYTHING in my power to keep me from this point but, it is not helping....nothing will but surgery......I feel like such a baby! I'm really not.....I am very tough, but still have all of the unrest going through my head. Whats a girl to do????
    Again, thanks everyone for responding to Mrs. Chicken Little here......lmeston
  • Imeston, I know exactly how you feel! I thought I would go insane with these questions rolling around in my head. I kept telling everyone well the plan is for surgery, but we'll see if I manage to go through with it. For me there was just no way to fully commit (at least not til I was in the OR with some anesthesia in my vein :) ) The day before at my pre-op appt, my NS asked if I wanted to wait until it got worse again. I told him it'll only take you 2 seconds to change my mind, and right now I am all prepared for surgery, so if you think I need it, then don't try to change my mind. He looked at my chart and said well you've been dealing with this for over 2 years, lets just get it done. I only got through the last week with Xanax and a ton of prayer, otherwise I don't know if I could have done it. Even now (at 4 weeks today) I wonder if I did the right thing. I am getting better each week so far. It just is really a risk we take in the hopes of finding some long term relief. Try to stay strong and remember all that you have endured. (and get some xanax or valium from your MD :) ) Hugs, Sue
  • Imeston, you are just having normal pre-surgery thoughts. We all go through these. I remember even when I resigned myself to have the fusion, still thinking, maybe I should have one more consultation. I am so glad I didn't, as the institute I had in mind had some very bad comments here, despite that it is well known throughout the country. And my gut feeling about the surgeon paid off, I found out and heard from others as well that I couldn't have found anybody better. So do your research, but once you feel comfortable with a surgeon and accept the surgery he proposes, stop. You have done your homework, now relax and prepare yourself mentally for your surgery.

    Good luck!

    Kin
  • Cali-Sue, again thanks for your support. Was super busy yesterday and of course suffering badly last night and today.....a sign that this must be done! I'm in a dead run trying to get all of my ducks in a row.....so to speak before this surgery. By the time surgery time rolls around I'll be ready....at least I hope.
    I think you are doing great for no longer than your surgery has been....hope I will do as well. You too keep your chin up and I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts, lmeston
  • Kin, thanks for your post it has made me feel a lot better about this surgery. Do I still dread it? yes, but if all of you have or are making it through I can too. I worked really hard yesterday getting things done at home before hand, and have really suffered last night and this morning. I know I am doing the right thing, and have a wonderful surgeon. He is one of the best in this area, and I do trust him very much....I just need to keep reminding myself of that.
    Well, it's another full day of getting things in order....pain meds here I come!
    Thanks, lmeston
  • Ahhh, your welcome Imeston, thank-you for your prayers and encouragement. I know what you are going through, and you will make it. I know I was running around like a crazy person trying to get so much done pre-op. Do what you can and everything else will manage to fall into place. I know those busy days definitely flared me up and reminded me why I was doing all of it. Positive thoughts for me and you! Sue
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