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Worried and Angry

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
:?? Hi everyone

Ok, I am worried sick, hurting, and needing some answers.

I just went through my 5th lower back surgery. All other surgeries just trimmed off the ruptured disks from l4 & l5. This time however they re-trimmed the ruptured disks but also did a partial fusion.
What I mean by Partial fusion is that instead of rods being placed in my back I had 4 holes drilled around l4 & l5 with doner bone place in them to fuse l4 to l5.

Now the worry. I am only 5 days out from surgery. I know your not supposed to twist or squat and stuff like that but sometimes you have to. Sometimes just to move your having to move around in ways that are so painful you want to scream. My questions now..

1. How easy is it to mess up your fusion? I mean if you twist wrong can you break it? If you sneeze or cough?
I mean, if its really that easy to undo the surgery so to speak then i doubt they would have let me go home so early and placed me in a full body cast.

2. Have any of you expierenced this.. I talk to my doctor after the operation is done and he is short and somewhat rude with me. It made me feel stupid and embarrassed to even talk to him about my pain. As if I was wanting some form of attention. I told him, Im worried sick here. I can't lose my job! Im about to get married and buy a house!! I am in unbelievable PAIN!!! Can't you understand that? Maybe I just need some reassurance that I havent messed up the operation by moving around wrong.

Sorry for ranting but I am so worried I am sick! Anyone can help me here? I need any form of advice I can get.

Thanks And God bless


  • I am having an ALIF in 1 month and have been asking the nurse practicioner in my surgeons office alot of questions about how to move after surgery. She advised that before they send me home, I will meet with an occupational therapist to review specifics, and they will also supply me with a "grabber" so I don't have to bend. She also answered some general questions about squatting, or why sitting is okay but bending is not etc.

    Did you have any of these discussions before your surgery, or meet with an occupational therapist after your surgery? I suspect they are going to be better trained to answer those types of questions i.e. how to move, than your surgeon.
  • Scott-just wrote this whole email and it didnt forward. Heres the deal- ur 5 days out-and the pain is INSANE. I was taking 2perc every 4hrs/24hrs a day. You must try and relax- do u have valium? Everyone seems to bug out at the beginning. NO it is not easy to bust ur fusion or they would put u in a body cast. Youre 5 days and it is an impossible time. You must drink lots of WATER you'll get dehydrated. Also... get a big plastic garbage bag and put it under ur butt/back so u can slip slide around easily on the bed. Makes a HUGE difference. Take heart- ur fusion is still holding. Log roll and remember BLT( No bending, lifting,turning) but Ive done them and still alive. You cant break a fusion. It has to heal slowly over a long period of months.They do put an internal cage for xtra protection. Let me know how I an help.Email me at trotterleg@aol and I'll help you as so many here have helped me. Chill out and take ur meds. At 5 days I had just gotten out of the hospital. Ask for help. Its gonna take some weeks to recover- thats the honest truth.Go rest Scott and watch some boring TV along with the rest of us- so boring.
  • It is not as difficult as you are worried about.
    Firstly - you need pain relief, so call your Dr and tell them or you may want to go to your local Dr for that.
    Secondly- It isn't asy to break the fusion. My Dr told me I would have to fall out of the first floor window to do damage so remember that.
    At the same time you have to avoid BLT so the fusion can actually take place. So this means no repetitive twisting etc. Accasionally we have to twist a bit, in bed, in the bathroom etc and this is fine. Just dont do it regularly.
    Now you really need to get a long handled grabber to help you pick things up or reach for them.

    Just try to relax as Vicki said. DOnt sit a lot, lie down when you can and remember to wwlk a lot as this is the best thing for you even if it isn't easy.

    I wonder why your Dr did not do a full fusion with hardware. Do you know? Also even if he is a lot grumpy- insist on getting some answers even if it mean staying sitting when he is trying to get you out the door.
    Stand your ground- remember you aer paying for his services so as someone said here you are his employer! (8)
    I hoe things improve for you soon
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • I was a basket case 5 days out, In fact-I could not get on here for 9 days :) You are doing pretty well. The anger is even part of the emotion that comes hand in hand with the feeling of helplessness-at least it did for me. My husband said I was a bear!

    I know nothing about lumbar fusion, I had a cervical spine operation, but I do know I was told not to worry about the weeks ahead but think think about slow, steady recovery day by day. That may help you. If you are type A personality it will be hard, but it will be a reality check, too.

    I read a few of the other replies. I agree drink lots of water, listen to music, pet the cat or dog, think postitive thoughts and call your doctor if you have legit concerns. I always felt better once I talked to them about something that felt weird was going on. I come here for reassurance and a sense of normacy, but only your doctor can give you the answers that will allow you to sleep well.

    Good luck!
  • Try and sleep as much as possible. My first few weeks I stayed doped up and slept all the time. My Dr. sayed that was fine. Lay on ice as much as you can and it should get better. I couldn't even get outside and walk any after 2 weeks and I thought I was a pretty tuff guy. Hang in there and get plenty of rest.

  • :D Thanks guys for the responce. This is very helpful and is very encouraging.

    Well the reason I only did the partial fusion was because of the time it would take to recover. I couldn't devote 6 to 9 weeks to recover, had to be back to work or risk losing my job. I am a contractor and if you sneeze wrong your out the door.

    The partial fusion was the drilling of four holes in L4 and L5 and placing doner bone in there to fuse the two together plus he did trim the excess ruptured disks off while he was in there but did not completely remove them.

    So no rods or screws or nothin like that. So my recovery time is far shorter then most peoples. I am just being grumpy because this makes for my 5th surgery and I am sick and tired of hurting. All of the other surgeries where disk removals that had ruptured. Just tired and sick of the meds.

    thanks again for your encouragements everyone. I wish each of you an awesome wonderful Christmas!!
  • I'm 11 days post Laminectomy PLIF at L4/L5, and every day gets a little easier. Hang in there. I never knew this site existed but I've learned that there are a lot of understanding and caring people here. Surgeons can be cold, and overworked to the point where they have little time to really listen and address your problems.
  • Yep--5 days out is a bear. So is 1 week, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, and now for me 6 weeks. The recovery is brutal. Some are blessed and wake up with no pre-op pain. I asked my PA about fusions breaking--I was concerned because I had been constipated and used every muscle in my body to, well, push it out. She said in 15 years, she has never seen one break. She said they don't break. However, what you need to think about is the level above your fusion. Right now--just take the drugs and try to walk as much as possible. I heard it put best that you will regret the surgery the first several weeks, then it gets a little easier.

  • My surgeon doesn't use the braces like some people do, and I asked him about damaging things and he said that this would not be a problem at all. So, relax about that. I would also recommend walking when you can and then sleeping a lot also at 5 days out. Big hugs. >:D<
  • one more thing. I have a 14 month old and sitting still hasnt been easy especially with momma having to work. so I am infact bending and lifting some. I have some swelling issues over the scare area and some sharp pains but there's no way to avoid this. Espcially changing diapers and whatnot. The swelling usually goes down after a few ibuprofens and laying down some. I wear my back brace as much as I can but I think I am just making my recovery hell but not endangering the fusion so much. Just adding more pain to my recovery. Unfortunately life did not give me much of a break to recover.

    So I am still worried I am screwing my back up but it almost can't be avoided right now.
  • I understand where you are coming from... But no worries. I am 22, and my son is almost 6. He's Autistic, so he is still in diapers, and needs more help with certain things than your average 6 year old would. My first surgery, Microdiscectomy... Was at about 530 or 6pm. I got home from the hospital around midnight, and was up the next morning at 8am, sitting on the floor, like usual, getting my son dressed and changing his diaper, went down the stairs to get him on the bus, back up, did everything myself... Only thing I needed help with was shaving my legs... Which, anyone who knows my story may giggle when they hear that. LOL. After my fusion.... L4-L5, 360 (anterior/posterior), radical discectomy, scar tissue removal, etc, 6+ hour surgery, I was up the next morning walking around. I spent 4 days in the hospital, and even came on to the board to post on my last day in the hospital, before I was even discharged. I was feeling a LOT better than I thought I would... Though the first few days I regretted surgery VERY MUCH so. Lol. I definitely did a TON of things I shouldn't have. Bent, lifted, twisted, moved furniture, climbed rocks, ran on the beach, etc... Not to say I was pain free or am pain free (still on Percocet 3 to 4 times a day), but I know there were things I shouldn't have done and did anyway. I was worried maybe I messed something up, but my first post op x-rays showed signs of fusing already at 2 months! I don't want anyone to say I am advocating disobeying doctor's orders, or doing whatever you want... But sometimes people can't follow orders to a T. Sometimes, your situation may not allow that. Mine didn't. My son needed to be cared for. My boyfriend couldn't stay out of work forever or we wouldn't have been able to pay the bills. I made do with what I could, and things are turning out fine for me. The brace is a life saver, and I'm glad to hear you have one of those... Not everyone goes that route, but based on the information I've received, the research I've done, etc... I am 100 percent pro-back brace post op. They make a HUGE difference when you are not able to lie still and refrain entirely from the BLT restrictions. If you know you are going to have to bend those a bit, then definitely do so while wearing your brace. I think the fear of possibly messing something up is pretty common among those of us who have had surgery, only because we are all tired of the pain and just want to feel "normal" again... So when we do something that may not be the best idea, we are afraid that we might have undone and progress made. I think the fact that you are even worrying that you may be doing something wrong is a good thing... It shows you are conscious of your doctors orders, but also of what you are actually doing. When you have young children, the recovery process is a bit different. It has to be. Taking care of yourself is totally different than taking care of yourself and your child. The bottom line is really there isn't much you can do. Your life and situation require you to do whatever it is you are doing, and no matter how much you worry something may go wrong, it won't change that. I just want you to know that you aren't alone, and there are a handful of us who also have young kids and know what it's like to bend restrictions a bit. It is not necessarily going to screw things up for you. I wish you the best with your recovery, and I hope you heal as fast as possible!!! :)
  • your comment was the most helpful and encouraging. Your right, trying to be practical in everyday life is going to push the limits of your recovery every time. I think what I have mostly done was to keep things inflamed and swollen placing more pressure on the nerve down in the right leg. I am going to talk with the doc today and see if I can get an answer that isn't condensending or rude.
    Something else that makes me a bit mad. As we all know this is an intense pain before and after surgery. My doc and PM seems to think its best to place me on mild medications instead of giving me something to actually deal with the pain. Right now I take the following..
    10 or more Lortabs 10
    Nurontin twice a day
    Flexeril (a bunch a day)

    So I end up taking a ton of these meds instead of taking just one strong pill that will deal with the pain. I am not eating right and losing weight because all day all I do is eat pills.

    I am tired, in pain, no time to rest, and pills don't work. Asking the doctors for something else to take isn't working. I just get "The Look" of your a dope head looking for more meds to get high on.

    I am sick of limping every day and being help back from all this pain. But this is more me venting then anything because I know what I get to deal with when I go to see him. Doctors do not listen and in my most humble opinion do not care. It's almost like a used car sellsman. They love you to death and will do anything for you including moving heaven and earth to get you to buy a car from them but as soon as you drive that car off the lot your not even remembered and Lord help you if you have to take that car back to them. You are simply someome they don't know or even remember. Just another person who bought a car nothing more. Is it asking so much to have a doc who will listen, acts concerned and really cares about the work they did on your back??? I don't know. I will manage though. I also find that people around you seem to become irritated because you talk about it alot. So you get to deal with that also.. sigh.. oh well .. we continue on don't we?
  • Well this morning I am feeling worse then ever. Desperately trying to contact my doctor. I actually feel that I have a ruptured disk again. Can't straighten my left leg out and the pain is worse now then ever. Again worried!
  • Scott,
    If you have been doing a lot of bending and things that you "shouldn't have done," but had too..you probably have some extra inflammation in your spine...causing the nerves in your leg not to work correctly. Probably a little rest will help...if you are able to find the time. The time to really get worried is if you are losing control of bowel/bladder. That is considered a medical emergency and you should seek treatment immed. As for the medications you are taking. Keep in mind that Lortab not only has Tylenol and can hurt your liver if you take too much...but the narcotic hydrocodone is prone to making people "Angry." Also flexeril should only be taken 3 times daily...as I'm sure you aware. There is a medication called percocet. It contains Oxycodone as the narcotic pain med and seems to help people with a chronic/acute pain a little better. You should ask your doctor about prescribing pain management for you. They are much more suitable for managing your type of pain...seem to be less "accusing" of narcotic dependence...etc. Anyway, again I would be willing to bet with all the needs of your life...you have some extra inflammation. Hope this helps some. Happy New Year.
  • Scotty, the soma, flexeril and robaxin are all muscle relaxants. As a nurse I certainly don't understand why you need all 3. The neurontin is for nerve pain. The Lortab is a combination drug that contains hydrocodone which is a morphine derivative similar to codeine; Lortab also contains tylenol. For some of us who are also post op we take percocet or vicodin which are also combination drugs with tylenol, similar to what you are taking. For you, your pain is an emergency. Call your doctor until he responds; the squeeky wheel gets the grease so the saying goes. If he doesn't respond call the other doctors in the practice if there are any, I promise you'll get noticed. Best wishes
  • You mentioned in an earlier post taking ibuprofen. Most docs say no NSAIDS for at least 3 months postop fusion as it can prevent fusion from happening.

    I hope you get pain relief. I felt initially like the world was crashing down on me. I hurt, I have children, I was the main breadwinner in the family, and I was laying on the darn couch not able to do anything. Also, I was NOT a very patient person and this whole thing is about patience. You will take 2 steps forward then 1 step(or more sometimes) back. You have to learn to accept that you need time to heal and that this is a long process.

    Do you take your spouse with you to your appointments? Sometimes it helps to have another person there to help be an advocate for you when talking about pain meds. My husband is a help in talking when my frustration comes out, he can give specific examples.

    How much tylenol is in your Lortabs? Is it the 325mg or 500mg? You cannot go over 4 grams of tylenol a day.

    If you can get it, I find Valium to be absolutely invaluable for muscle relaxant. Sometimes I take Robaxin too, but immediate postop and for bad spasms, I take Valium. Many spine surgeons prescribe it, maybe yours will????
  • Hey everyone..

    Well this morning I got up and dressed for work. My time off ended as of today so hurting or not its time to head back to work. I managed to stretch a bit but so far things are going ok. I am sitting here at my desk and surprised that the pain is very low right now. I did not take extra meds, just the normal dosage and it seems to be working. I feel good today and the sorness I had earlier seems to be subsiding.

    I wish I could trade the Lortabs in on something with less Tylenol 500 but my PM nor my doc will give me anything stronger. They act like I am asking for something illegal if I ask for anything else beyond Lortabs. I just can't understand why they won't take me off these meds or at least switch them up with something else just for a change.

    But anyways, maybe if I can continue to move as good as I am today I won't need any of it anymore. I am just grateful to be back at work and in low pain.

    Thank you all for your helpful advice. You all helped me so much to understand and get through this. Thanks again and I wish each of you the best if your dealing with the pain and recovery. >:D<
  • Scotty-

    Really serious here, if you're taking 10 Lortabs a day that have 500mg Tylenol in them, that means 5 grams of Tylenol a day. 4 grams is the adult maximum. I understand you need the narcotic part and that your doctor is being stingy, but really, you can blow your liver by taking too much tylenol at once or by taking too much on a long term basis.

    Glad so far is going good for you at work. I'm sure it's lifted your spirits to try and get back into the normal routine!
  • Your docs are either nuts or sadists. I'm taking oxycodone, which is percocet without the tylenol in it. I do occasionally take a few tylenol, but not often. I had a gastric bypass a year and a half ago and I just can't swallow those whomping big pills. Oxycodone are so tiny, but they do the job. Granted, at five weeks out, I'm still swallowing a bunch, but I'm also on a pain patch too. Thank God I have doctors who understand pain and don't force me nearly over the edge with it. Believe me, even though I'm on good meds, there have been times when I have wanted to just shut all the lights off and say goodbye, but I know that won't solve anything. Hang in there. I hope you pain level stays good, but I really think they should give you stronger stuff, especially for the times when you're off work and need to relax and get away from the pain.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I am very worried about my liver. I do blood tests every 6 months to check on my liver and kidney functions to assure they are healthy.
    My goal is just to take low dosages of meds but keep a cold pack against my lower back. I was even surprised at how much that helps. I made the mistake of falling asleep with a heating pad on all night and the next morning was horrible for me. I have never had any problems from heating pads before now and always used them but this time it hurt so I sit here today at work with a soggy, drippy ice pack on back there and that actually seems to help.

    I have had to deal with back issues since I was 18 yrs old so this has been a long road out of hell for me. I have had three diskectomy surgeries on L4 and once on L5, now I have had 4 on L4 and 2 on L5. So pain isn't new to me by no means. Nearly all of my adult life has been spent around pain, dealing with pain or trying to becareful not go through pain again.

    I can remember in my early 20's laying on the floor crying my eyes out because the pain was so horrible. I went to the hospital to get a pain shot, took all my records in with me and was scheduled to have surgery there the following week and was kicked out because the ER nurse said I was just there for drugs. My dad had to carry me out because I could not walk. My doc was on vacation and no one would call me in anything beyond flexeril.

    I have had a life time to hurt so maybe my pain threshold is higher then normal..lol.. who knows.. but I wished I would have found this site sooner. You all understand, and though back pain isn't life threatening it certainly makes you question if life is even worth living.

    Never give up, never stop trying... and thankfully now God has brought me through the darkest days of my life.
  • Oh, one more question. I have noticed that flexerils seem to dry you out. My eyes burn if I take too many plus I get constipated. Now when I use the rest room its more blood then anything else. Sorry to sound crude here but have you all had this issue and if so what did you do for it?
    I have used stool softeners but that doesn't seem to do anything for me. Suggestions?? :/
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