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Just a few days left

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I go for ALIF SURGERY of my L5/S1 disc on this thursday. I am freaking out because I am worried about all the pain after. I have had a microdicetomy and my doc said that was a walk in the park compared to this. I have a few questions for people who had this same surgery done. I was told that they are using a cage with BMP in it to do the fusion and then some screws to hold it together. Do the screws stay in forever and will they stop me from having a mri after? How long is the surgery? Am i going to beable to get up my stairs when i get home? thanks for helping me out with these questions. mike


  • Try not to worry. I will try to answer a couple of your questions.

    First, it is a bigger surgery than what you had, but you'll get through it. I imagine they will keep you well-medicated while in the hospital and won't send you home until your pain is controlled with oral medications. I was on heavy duty pain pills for the first 6 weeks and didn't do much of anything for the first month except rest, eat and walk as much as I could tolerate.

    I hope you will have someone at home who can help you at the beginning. Unlike a discectomy where you usually feel better right away, with a fusion you will not feel like doing much of anything other than sleeping. Whenever I had to use the bathroom, I would make a point of walking until I tired myself out. (This did not take much at the beginning.) I had people who were willing to wait on me, and I let them for the first two weeks.

    The screws will be left in. You can have a MRI but it will have to be done "with contrast." You will be able to go through an airport scanner without any problem!!

    The length of the surgery varies quite a bit. A one level such as you are having generally is between 2 and 3 hours, but it depends on the doctor and the patient as well. Each is a bit different!

    You will be able to walk and go up and down stairs before they will let you go home. Going up stairs isn't all that difficult. The PT will show you the right way to do it. They are a couple tricks that make it easier. You may be given a walker at the beginning. I used mine in the hospital and on the way to the car, but not after that point. Again it varies.

    Feel free to post with any additional questions. I had my fusion first and had heard such horror stories about it that my experience seemed OK. I just had a small surgery a month ago, a laminotomy and foraminotomy one level below my fusion and it was extremely much easier. I came home and baked brownies -- never took a pain pill. Try not to anticipate problems. You will be fine and it will be over before you know it.

    Gwennie :H
  • Hey Mike,

    I was exactly the same before my PLIF L5-S1.
    Id never even been in hostpital. In pre op I was shaking in fear!

    All I can say is yes it can be painfull at times, but its not something you cant cope with because the medication is fantastic and the nurses are kind so all my worrying was pointless.

    All the best Man

  • They will keep yu medicated in the hospital with the good stuff and when you go home you'll get some nice pain meds.

    Remember the first week is the worse, after that it gets better for most! I had 5 bad days and after that it was a complete turnaround.
  • If I could do it anybody can.

    I was shaking in my boots too. Made it up the stairs and everything. But it was no "walk in the park."

    ...And I'm feeling better today.
    Good luck!
  • One thing to remember. You will be moving much slower. My Blood Pressure Meds have Fluid Meds in them. So therefore, after about an hour, the trips to the bathroom start. After surgery, when you start feeling like you have to go to the bathroom, start moving. A couple times I did not quite make it there in time, and the pressure adds to the pain because you are also trying to move as fast as you can.

    I am still home, mostly still in bed from Feb 9th surgery. My first surgery went well, and as soon as I woke up, I felt substantial relief. A few years later, I had my second surgery. The symptoms before my first surgery were all in my back. The symptoms before the second surgery were in my back and legs, and were excruciating. The first two surgeries were L5-S1 lamenectomies. The scar tissue from the first surgery had wrapped around my nerves like vines. Therefore every time I moved, they tightened, and it was unbelievable. For the third surgery, there was leakage from the disc, and the doctor told me that there was still some liquid left in the disc, and I would have probable had to have another surgery if he had only done a lamenectomy again. The pain before the third surgery was not as bad as before the third, but I knew it could get worse very quickly. Before the second surgery, I went from walking fine, to only being able to walk short distances, with a cane, in a week. When I scheduled the second surgery, I did not have it done right away. I saw the doctor on a Tuesday, and had him schedule it for the following Thursday, instead of that Thursday. That was a HUGE mistake. I was in so much pain; I wished someone would just shoot me. But, like the first time, I woke up from surgery, and the pain was gone. I can tell you the pain after the third was more than what it was before the surgery. It has taken about 3 weeks to get full, but careful movement to return. From my standpoint, you will have to determine if you can live with your current pain, and deal with the fact that you may wake up one day, and it is worse, and as the day progresses it does not get any better. How my pain started for the third one, was a Charlie Horse in my lower left leg that would not go away. When it started, I thought maybe it would take a day or two to go away, but it never did. Now all my leg pain is gone, but there is still some lower back pain and stiffness. Especially when I wake up in the morning. You also need to talk to your partner about this. My wife has been great through all of this, but you also need to consider whether are not they can live with you in the condition you are in. You maybe able to live with the pain, but what kind of life will it be for you and your family?
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