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Upcoming Surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I am 44 years old and have had back problems for 31 years. I have kyphosis, compression fractures (T8-T9), bulging discs and chronic pain. I'm in constant pain and have numbness in my hands, legs and feet. I became addicted to narcotics about 15 years ago and have struggled with it daily. Since March 2008 I have been seeing a chronic pain doctor who has been injecting my back with steroids and I've found it to be very helpful. Since his treatments I have come off of four medications. Unfortunately I'm still taking Fentanyl, Tylenol #3 and Trazodone daily.
The chronic pain doctor has isolated my pain and referred me to a surgeon who has determined that I require back surgery, specifically an "Anterior Release Endoscopic Thoroscopic" and "Posterior Segmental Fusion T2-L2 Expedium" and "Discectomy". The surgery will take 7 to 10 hours and will involve puncturing three holes through the side of my chest, then doing a horizontal incision across the front of my chest and collapsing my lung to gain access and finally slicing my back open to perform the fusion.
I am scheduled to have the back surgery on March 3, 2009 and I am absolutely terrified. I know my doctors are excellent but I'm still nervous. I have a loving and supportive wife and two beautiful children (9 and 14 years old). My kids are scared and don't want me to have the surgery. They've been crying about it lately because they don't want anything to happen to me. I can’t stop thinking about my wife and kids and what will happen to them if something happens to me. I’ve considered cancelling the surgery for them but I can’t take the pain anymore, it’s controlling and ruining my life. I'm also worried about any complications that may arise and the pain following the surgery.
I haven’t worked since 2001 and at this point, I just want to have a somewhat normal life with as little pain as possible. Can you offer any advice or support?

Thanks for listening.



  • Thats alot of operation to have, im with you all the way...i get a TLIF fusion and decompression of L5/S1 on 5 March, which is the first op i get...I was hoping to have the whole of my back fixed at once, but my other prob where I had a T12/L1 fracture and disk injury requires a big operation, and they wont do both at once...they will remove a rib for access through the side and take out L1 vertebrae and disk, and replace with bone and hardware.

    You have alot to take in with your surgery, when I was told about my second surgery yesterday, I couldnt stop the tears but now im ok. Just think of your body as a piece of machinery that needs fixing, and look forward to feeling better than you do now after a period of time. I fear the surgery, but fear life as i am now even more

    Think of your future as a journey to recovery with the operation, or following the same path you are on now, getting worse along the way without it.

    All the very best of luck

  • Hi Greg,

    Welcome to SH, your story touched me, and although our back stories are not exactly the same, i wanted to offer you what words of encouragement i could. It goes without saying that facing into surgery puts most of us in a state of anxiety - whether its worries for our "future self", for our loved ones, recovery, our goal of achieving a normal life... the worries are normal, and understandably you're worried about the impact of all this on your children. If you're children are this worried now, i would suggest taking alook at what "messages" they are being exposed to... They are probably picking up on your and your wifes worries... even if they never hear the words from you about your fears or how the doc does the op... kids still pick up on all this stuff. Maybe having a chat with them letting them talk about their worries - this will give you an opportunity to find out exactly whats going on in their minds, maybe even correct any misperceptions they have about the op/recovery, and may guide you in future chats with them; maybe give them each a notebook to use to express their worries (any ol worries - not just about good ol dad - can write or express via art). This may sound silly or simple, but it can actually be really effective - alot of times kids are looking for "how" to express themselves, and we can give them the tools. They'll need reassurance and confidence from you that you can and will manage this - just like you have been. (okay... so thats the my day job out of the way... i work with troubled children... but as they say on here... the comments/suggestions are not medical advice :-) so feel free to completely ignore my well meant ramblings ;)

    I had a L4/L5 fusion 10 years + ago, sounds like mine was a much simpler op and i hadn't been suffering for years, but by 3 months i was able to work (desk job) and never looked back til my recent cervical challenges. Recovery is hard, and from what i hear if you're already on heavy duty meds.... it can make your perception to post-op pain different. Sounds like (again from what i've read on this site) that the more come down you can do from your existing meds before the op, the better it will be for your post-op pain management. And lastly, on this med issue... you have already been able to come off 4 meds!!! So even if your meds go up post up... you can come down from them - you've done it, you're in the process of doing it now, and you can and will get off the meds in the future! Think positive - for you and your family (and of course... come here to vent about it all! we all need it!!)

    Best of luck
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
  • Greg - that's a lot of surgery to deal with, but I don't think your doctors would attempt it if they didn't think they could help you. Fortunately for you, you're still fairly young, so hopefully, you'll spring back a bit more quickly than I did. I'm ten years older than you. I didn't have to have my lung collapsed, but I did have major surgery through my back, then four days later, they opened me from stem to stern on the front, took everything out and got my damaged discs out and spackled me up. I'm alive. I've spent three months totally regretting that I did the surgery -- being so depressed and miserable. HOWEVER, I am turning the corner and finally realizing that my pain is less than it was before the surgery. You will, no doubt, also have a long haul to recovery after surgery, but I think you will eventually also be glad you did it. You're young. Your family needs you. You deserve a life free from pain. If you trust your surgeons, I'd say go for it. Otherwise, I think you'd best investigate a spinal cord stimulator. I couldn't deal with that.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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