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Anyone still here and struggling with smoking after back surgery?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Stop Smoking
I was reading through these posts about smoking and noticed that most are from a long time ago. I was just checking to see if there was stll any smokers on here that are trying to quit after a spinal fusion? I had my spinal fusion in Feb. I quit smoking completely for 5-6 weeks. Slowly I picked it up again. It started with one here and there then went to 1-2 a day and now I am back to 10 a day. Before surgery I smoked at least 20 a day so I am still doing better than that. I struggle so hard with this. I want to not smoke for my health and for my daughter but just can't stop. Now that i am constantly suffering with my various pains it seems harder because my stress is so high. I hope that I fuse because I know smoking affects that greatly. I am 50% there but still worry daily. Most nonsmokers will just think I am stupid for doing somethin that I know will hinder my recovery and I agree. If i could quit I definitely would. Thanks for listening!


  • I had an ALIF on L5/S1 five weeks ago, and I also have DDD. The doctor told me that smoking would prevent the fusion from working, yet I continued to smoke. Three days ago I decided that I don't want to be in pain anymore, and I want to do all that I can to promote my healing. I started taking Chantix and my last cigarette will be Tuesday, July 17th. To say that I'm nervous is an understatement. Since surgery, I'm not able to "stay busy". Mostly, I sit and watch TV or read the posts on Spine-health. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope that you'll keep me in your thoughts. I'm 56 and have smoked for 35 years. Also, back pain has helped me to gain 35 pounds. How do you stop smoking and lose weight when your mobility is limited? Please keep me posted on your success.

  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I wish you the best of luck. I haven't had any fusions but I am a smoker so I understand how you feel. I did get a prescription for Chantix and I have it here just waiting for me to get the nerve up to try it. So if you will, please let me know how it works for you okay? Good luck

  • First let me say thanks for responding. I too have decided to give Chantix a try. We can do this together. Unfortunately, I do not have my script yet because i don't go to the doctor until Monday. I know this will work for both of us. It has to. I am really beginning to worry that I have already hindered my fusion with the smoking. I hear from others who had the same surgery as mine and they healed so quick like 3 months. I went at 4 months and was only about 50% there. I hope to god that I haven't messed things up and really hope that quitting now will allow me to heal. Please keep me posted. I know how hard it is to not smoke when u cannot do anything. I felt the same way at 5 weeks. Good luck. Let me know how you are doing.
    You will succeed at this!!
  • I'm going to be very disgusted if the smoking prevents my back from healing. But, I'll see how it goes after Tuesday.
    To add to my frustration, I got bloodwork results back today and I'm borderline diabetic! I had a feeling that this extra 35 lbs was going to come back and bite me in the butt, and the stomach, etc. Now, I have even more reason to walk and improve my diet.

    I know that Chantix is not a silver bullet, but I've read many success stories from people who used it. I'll have to do my part and resist the cravings, but Chantix is suppose to block the pleasure sensors in the brain. That should help. Besides, at $50.00 a carton, I've been threatening to quit for some time.

    It's going to be nice to have a buddy to journey with. Thank you for accepting my request.

  • I was also a smoker prior to surgery which was on June 2, 09 . Once my surgeon told me that smoking could cause problems with the fusion I said enough is enough. I was really never a big smoker, M-F I would smoke maybe 3-4 cigs per day,Now Saturday evenings were a different story, we tend to have friends over for poker & drinks, well for me the drinks make me smoke so I could put a pack away in one evening. Felt like crap the next day to. But back to the point, he said it would cause issues and I was like 'm not going to mess this thing up, so April 1, 09 2 months prior to we both put the patch on starting with 21mg patches and followed the instructions and I haen't touched a cig to date. We did stop allowing friends from smoking in our home. That helps alot. SO my advise would be FOLLOW WHAT THE SURGEON TELLS YOU TO DO or take the chance on messing it all up . Just my thoughts

  • Gary thanks so much for your story. I wish it were as easy as just quitting though. It is not. If I were only smoking like you were maybe it would be but I have been smoking a pack a day for 16 years so it is really really hard to "just quit". I am so glad that you were able to do it because you are right it is bad for recovery. Unfortunately for me and most likely for Rusty, smoking is an addiction and cannot so easily be put down. Why would we want to intentionally risk fusion? It is hard for those who do not struggle with an addiction to understand. My husband has never smoked and always tells me to just stop smoking. I would LOVE to just wake up a non-smoker but during these stressful times post surgery it is even harder.
    Rusty--I will let you know when I get my Chantix. I tried it before and was having success but, insurance stopped paying for it and I fell "off the wagon" again. I have more at risk now so I plan to stick with it this time.
    Have a great day!
  • Please don't take me wrong, I never intended for it to sound like you were intentionally risking your fusion. My bad if I came off that way. I wish you the best of luck in stop smoking and the success of your fusion. I will be the first to admit. I might pick up a cig again some day but for right now I won't.

  • I was not in anyway thinking that you were saying anything inappropriate to me. I was just stating my situation with smoking. I did not take your post to be offensive in any way. I really am glad to hear that you were able to put them down and wish I could so easily. Some people smoke for 20 years and just drop them. everyone is different. I guess I may have come across as somewhat defensive in my previous post it is just that, many times on here I have posted about the smoking and seem to get a flood of nonsmokers who think it is as easy as just putting them down. There are some who may think that I choose to disregard all the facts about the danger of smoking and fusion. I guess I should say sorry to you if I came across that way. I really did not mean to be defensive. thanks for taking the time to apologize even though you really had no reason to.
  • Hi Rusty,
    I had a "monumental" surgery in March of this year. I had my entire spine done, almost 30 hours of surgery. I am 58 & had been smoking for about 40 years.I quit about 2 months prior to going to the hospital where I remained for almost 1 month.I was so motivated. I knew my surgeon wouldn't operate unless I quit. I have been home (alone)since April 10th and started smoking again about a month ago. I hate it but can't seem to quit.I am almost off all pain killers which I had been on for almost 12 years. How I am doing that I don't know because I still have pain? My mobility is still limited & I am home in bed alot. I feel bored & depressed which is not helping! Don't know if that helped at all but at least you know you are not alone in your struggle.
  • Hi Rusty,
    I had a "monumental" surgery in March of this year. I had my entire spine done, almost 30 hours of surgery. I am 58 & had been smoking for about 40 years.I quit about 2 months prior to going to the hospital where I remained for almost 1 month.I was so motivated. I knew my surgeon wouldn't operate unless I quit. I have been home (alone)since April 10th and started smoking again about a month ago. I hate it but can't seem to quit.I am almost off all pain killers which I had been on for almost 12 years. How I am doing that I don't know because I still have pain? My mobility is still limited & I am home in bed alot. I feel bored & depressed which is not helping! Don't know if that helped at all but at least you know you are not alone in your struggle.
  • Read tellybeth & rusty's comments & can relate. I did quit smoking after about 40 years with the help of Chantix prior to my surgery which was supposed to be a success. I am now almost 4 months post-op & have returned to the nasty habit. After getting on this site, I am really worried that I am not recovering as well as I should but having a really hard time quitting. Plus, financially, I'm in a big mess & the Chantix cost about $150. Guess I should get a new script as I am realizing as I am writing that, in the long run it will be worth it.
    Rusty, now I am gaining weight AND smoking. I try to walk in a pool as often as possible but I just have too much unstructured time on my hands. I want to be "all better" yesterday & am so frustrated with this process!
    Would love some support from someone who can relate!
  • It sounds so familiar. You might be a little relieved to know that I saw my surgeon yesterday (6 wks post-op), and I confessed to him that I am still smoking. To my surprise, he didn't jump on me, and he said that there is actually no proof that smoking inhibits the growth of the fusion. Funny, I thought there was proof. Anyway, since I've gained weight, I'm worried about prediabetes. Since I'm looking at high blood sugar, plus smoking, he's going to get me a bone growth stimulator. As a matter of fact, the rep is on his way to the house now. I'm retired, and all of my time is unstructured. I have a pool in my yard, but I can't bring myself to get in it, and I'm not walking as I should. I'm changing the way that I eat, but I have no one to blame but myself for not getting the necessary exercise. I wouldn't say that I'm depressed, but I certainly have a lack of motivation, which is ridiculous. I'm still taking the Chantix, and I still plan to quit, but it's hard to make that leap when I'm in pain. Please keep me posted on your progress, and thanks for your reply.

  • I am soooooooooooooooo happy your surgeon didn't "freak" when you told him about the smoking. Mine would! Also his response in saying that there is no proof that smoking will destroy everything!
    Since I got on Webmd & the smoking thing, I've been beating myself up! My PT did tell me not to beat myself up over it but he was the only one.
    I have been wearing a bone growth stimulator since I got home. Hope you have good insurance. They billed my insurance company almost $6,000 for it & my co-pay was $500. I called & offered them $250 & they settled for $300 & marked it paid. Don't know if it helps but I wear it religiously for 2 to 4 hours a day.
    Try to get in the pool. It feels good once you get in! Please keep in touch. It's nice to have someone who understands what this ordeal is like!
  • I relate completely with your situation. I am 5 1/2 months post op from my fusion and am STILL smoking. I went to the doctor and got a prescription to Chantix and started taking it today. I plan to quit next Wed so wish me luck. I get in the pool at my house and agree with you that it does provide some relief. So does walking on the treadmill. I feel a lot better after doing it. Of course, it has been over a week since I have walked due to out of town guests and bladder problems.
    You and me and Rusty can support each other and get through this together. I am here to listen anytime and will private message you with my personal email if you would like it. I check it on a daily basis and only come on here periodically. Hang in there!
  • You are way too young to be having so many problems! I was born with scoliosis but had a good pain-free life until I was in my mid 40's. During the last 10 years I had 3 surgeries, then in March of this year I had a complete spinal reconstruction (I think) it was T1 thru T12 & L1 thru L5 (not sure of the numbers) I am now 4 months post-op & did quit smoking for a few months before the surgery & about 2 after. Don't know why I started again?????? I just went back on the Chantix on Monday & am going to try & quit again next Monday. The good news is that I saw the surgeon yesterday & was told that I am healing well. So, hopefully I haven't done any damage but still want to get off the cigarettes! They can't be helping!The only exercize I am allowed to do at this point is walking & the pool. No treadmill for me yet.
    I like getting the support from others having the same problems. Only 1 or 2 people people know I am smoking again so I can't talk about it. I've been keeping in touch with Rusty too & really look forward to hearing from him.
    Yes, I'd like to get your email address. I don't check this often either. I was so bored with the internet (not easy to sit for long) but now I look forward to gettin on-line again.
    Good luck to us!
  • Does anyone out there still have any problems? I check this forum from time to time & there are no new comments? Hope everyone is doing well!
  • I just had spinal fusion 7/20/09.Big sugery 7 1/2 hrs,not still real sure what dr really did (dumb huh),,but i can not stop smoking either :''( I am so afraid because my Dr. is very crude!! Every one stays on me which makes it worse!!I wear the patch for a whole day at a time with the best intent,then i wake up and say too bad!!! too bad for who??? Some times i feel so stupid.im 54 always worded hard now all i do is sit home listening to every one tell me whats best for me! I really want this sugery to work,it's my 2nd one. I feel for all who are in this boat. I just keep listening to all of you,by the way your all wonderful,and hope one of the trick i read can work for me! Thank You All!! By the way this is the 1st time ive use this Forum. I hope everyone has the best day possible and please keep the advice coming!!!!
  • Has anyone bothered to comment on your post? I haven't been on the forum but quite some time. I made a few friends & we now email each other. If you check the previous messages you will read about my surgery. I live alone, which has been rough, & although I have well-meaning friends & a brother who lives about 1200 miles away giving me advise. So, I can "Yes" them to death, but my life is my own. Only a few people know that I've started smoking again. I would like to quit again, but, with so much unstructured time on my hands I feel like I am deprived enough! It's been 5 months (feels like forever!) since my surgery &, so far, my X-rays consistently show that I am healing. It's all very frustrating, still being so limited!
    I went back on the Chantix but, this time it didn't work for me & when I was watching a TV commercial & heard the side effects of depression, etc I stopped taking it because I think it was contributing to my poor mental health.
    You are 52..............live your life & tell them to mind their own business!
  • I'm struggling too. I've got no choice but to quit. Doctor won't do the surgery unless I can pass a drug test for nicotine. Nice huh? I was already taking wellbutron to quit but it was just so annoying to be told pass a drug test. I already don't think I will be able to keep nonsmoking after the surgery but I'm going to try as long as I can.
  • Your surgeon is playing the odds. More for his sake than yours. He wants his failure rate as close to 0 as possible. Smoking, ie nicotine, is considered the worst offender. While I have yet to see real numbers posted by the AMA. The comments I have heard from doctors are 20% failure rate attributed to smoking that would have otherwise worked.

    More surgeons are on this bandwagon. Some warn you that your are flirting with failure and must stop. But they won't refuse your surgery. More are now flat out refusing to cut if you can't pass certain drug tests. Honestly, I don't blame them. It's in their best interest, but most importantly, it is in YOUR best interest.
  • i will be 4 weeks post of from my 6th spine surgery tomorrow- this was my 3rd fusion- i had the PLIF/XLIF combo on 1/25/11... i quit smoking for 3 years for my other 2 fusions (ALIF/PLIF and PLIF) and started back over 3 years post fusion.
    THIS time- i stopped smoking the day before surgery and i stopped cold turkey for 25 days- and i have been smoking again for the last 3-4 days...
    my husband is still a smoker- and even though he smokes way less then me and NO WHERE near me or the house- i have access to cigarettes- and i had an extremely stressful event the other day that led me to light one up...
    i have had a more difficult recovery with this surgery than my others- not sure if it is my age? i am 41 now and was 32 and 33 for last fusions... i dont know- but i am very concerned right now with my recovery- my pain has increased over the last few days that i have been smoking- i am really struggling as it is right now and am just beating myself up over doing what i KNOW to be so dangerous for my fusion... i have posted in other areas looking for feedback and or support as to the issues i am experiencing and have been unable to find ANYTHING or hear back... anyway- it was bittersweet finding this thread- i just dont know what i am going to do...
  • It stands to reason that bystarting to smoke again,you circulation will have decreased again,as it does with smokers,this could have a direct relationship with the nerves & the strength of the signal they are sending.
    I smoked with my first fusion,which failed to fuse,as I was warned.But have stopped now for the 2nd fusion/revision.Post 3.5 months.

    On the note of the operation being a complete loss now,you have started smoking,maybe not.As you had time not puffing,from the time of the operation for a further 15 days.Only time will time that one.
    But if you stop again now,as you have proven to yourself you are able---The chances would be so much Greater.Be wise,even if its only while you are HEALING.
    All the Best for you---I know its Hard!Just for a while ,if nothing else.Good luck.
  • Had laminectomy and two level fusion almost 25 years ago and smoked the whole time, even in the hospital.Was 24 years pain free. One of the success stories. The past year had the same old back prob and my surgeon said it really wouldn't make a difference in my recovery if I quit or not because of my 40 year habit. Boy, was I shocked by his response, so I quit for 7 weeks pre-op and 4 days prior to surgery was so freaked out that I started smoking again. The doctor said he can fix my back but if I die of lung cancer that's my problem. I have been using a 10 hour bone growth stimulator since 2 week post op. I think the laying around and being in constant post op pain made me smoke like a chimney because it is my go to drug to calm me down. Have used chantix in the past and I think it is good because it helps with the urges. I so believe it is not the nicotine withdrawal that is tough, it is all the behavioral. You know, cup of coffee..cig, bored..cig.. if you smoke outside, don't go out side. Bought the e-cigs last week and they are pretty cool, but when my daughter comes to visit and has cigs, of course I smoke like crazy. It is all a mind over matter and you just have to make up your mind that you don't want to be a smoker and a "loser/pariah" anymore.
    Hopefully soon I will get tough and conquer this addiction, but, who knows...can only hope that I will smarten up. Intellectually, I get it, but emotionally, I am struggling. I figure if I got 24 good years smoking from my last fusion, I may be lucky again. I guess I am a risk taker and a fool when it comes to this stupid habit/addiction. Time will tell.
    I have the utmost respect for all the quitters out there. They are my heroes!!!
  • Howdy Rascal,

    When my new surgeon looked over my disaster of a neck, and saw I now graduated (cough) to 5 bloody levels thanks to a failed fusion - it cascaded most of my neck.

    He was very strong to say my neck was NO longer stable, not safe in virtually *any* car accident etc... Would need to be posteriorly fused 5-6 levels...*BUT* he wouldn't touch me with a "ten foot pole" unless I quit smoking.... I actually toyed with quitting for years, but my little brain needed a "logical boost", not a health boost, not "aunt Millie boost", a "Brenda boost", as we can only stop/quit internally for ourselves.

    I'm now almost 3 weeks no ciggies, and quit cold turkey (didn't want replacement stuff....just wanted long term stuff out), and wow,....not as bad as I was figuring it would be!?! Due to the comments from my GP's exam of me this week, my surgeon moved my surgery to the next 2 to 3 weeks vs...possibly 5 weeks from now. Whew!!! :)

    I'll have the "official planned surgery date" this Friday. Yes!! At any rate, can the 'beast' sneak back in, sure. It is how you decide mentally why you quit, and what your thoughts are about smoking. I will never bash a person who decides to continue to smoke, as I was lucky that my friends did state their concerns, but didn't smack me over the head with them...as they knew, as an adult, it was my mindset, and my decision.

    The last time I tried to quit (in the late 80's), it was an anxiety disaster!!! This go around, odd....comfortable? I think internally, aside from my body, my brain *finally* (lol) got on board? So I guess, a big part of quitting is "you", and your internal reasons and decision. Do I feel I could light up again, you betcha... but my conscious brain knows this is 'from the brain' and not the physical needs (addiction) of my body. So I distract my thoughts, sing a song, tap the toes...another words give my brain something else to think about. My big fear (chuckle) was driving - loved to smoke driving. Oddly, the LEAST smoke stressed area it seems?? Weird... Let your gut tell you if and when you can do it...

    Sorry, they've proven nasty ass pictures of lung cancer, arteries falling apart, us coughing etc... doesn't do, we dig in harder. *We* as the smoker has to decide when "enough is enough", and it will happen? There...my take on it, and only 3 weeks "ex-smoker" but...I am past the physical part - with no replacements, and no drugs...and I feel GRRREAAATTTT!!! (sorry, Tony the Tiger mode off... )

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • 6 weeks from fusion laminectomy. Pain in leg still bad. Psychologically cannot not smoke. As such am sure I have already spoiled my recovery since I am still in pain. Given up hope.
  • I am beating myself up and sick with fear over having a cigarette every couple of days. I was never a big smoker but a morning cig. and one in the evening was my habit. It's been harder to break than I expected.
    I didn't realize that there was such a thing as a failed fusion. What my surgery was only a week ago so I'll keep you posted on my progress. Glad I found this forum
  • Just had 4,5 5,6 6,7 fused and I'm only in week 2 of recovery and I've smoked3 cigarettes. What happens if it doesn't fuse?
    Guess I better google that......how did your surgery results end up turning out?
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I smoke from nerves. that is my trigger. My Dr recently put me on Xanax about 2 weeks before my fusion. I would like to say I quit 100% but that is not the case. I cannot seems to give up my morning cig. The rest of day I am ok. People listen to me, I was a 4 times failed fusion in the cervical area and have no doubt smoking was the reason. If you don't want to go thru what I have been thru in the last 12 years then put them down. I know I should listen to my own advice. I am going ot buy the patch today and hope that it helps. Ive tried the electronic cig and think that helps somewhat but your still smoking. Lets all do this together, it is so easier when you have a support group to talk you out of smoking. Im in who else is?
  • I had a microdisectomy on 6/27/13 and have been trying off and on to quit. It's so hard because I'm home all day by myself and am limited to activity. I reherniated in September and had an injection. Not much relief since then so I'm having another injection on 10/29 and then starting aqua therapy. I just can't seem to understand why I'm having such difficulty quitting when I know how bad it is for me. I woke up this morning and immediately put on a patch and am determined to be smoke free " just for today" and not think about tomorrow. I continue to say the serenity pray to myself hoping that eventually I'll believe it.
    Herniation of l5 S1 l4 , DDD , microdisectomy in June 2013 and re herniation in September
    Cervical herniation at C5-7 Jan 2014 with impingement of spinal cord. 2 level cervical fusion Feb. 2014 and 2 level lumbar fusion in April 2014
  • I also can seem to put them down had 4 level in June 25th to be exact but having difficult time since physical therapy is kicking my butt and a smoke sometimes feels like it helps. I need to quit many medical issues and smoking would help that also.
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