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To the folks who posted that a fusion was the worst pain you ever felt

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
**Warning three days post-op. So words and letters don't always end up in the proper order**

When I had my surgery I told my anesthesiologist about all of the people on the forums having different experiences with coming out in severe pain and others not at all.

So ... I elected to have zero sedation for the trip from the room into the surgery room and I also asked for him to not give me the meds that give you that amnesiac feeling when I was coming out of the procedure.

I gotta tell you I loved the idea and I am glad I did it. So here's how it shook out after waking up.

I woke up and yes, I was in some incredible pain. I woke-up to the nurse and another person standing there and injecting pain medicine in to my IV and I witnessed the 10 to 15 minutes for it to really settle in and take effect.

So, to the folks who mentioned they had live changing pain, yes it is there. My thoughts are this.

If you don't want to remember it, tell them you want the sedation going to the OR and you don't want to remember anything until you get to your room.

There is also the chance you won't experience it and taking the steps to not remember it are probably a moot point. Here's my theory on why/how it all works. The anesthesiologist has you under and managed. When you come out of it, they don't have the magic number for the pain medicine quantities they need to give you to be perfectly 'configured' and pain free.

Sometimes it is dead-on, but other times it requires a bigger push of meds.

Again - this is just my take on it. I am personally very happy I asked for them to make it so I could remember as much as possible.

As it stands now, I would say this to anyone seeking a fusion.

1. It hurts. Holy crap it hurts. Hey, it might be due to the fact they cut through muscles and screwed stuff into bones. Yes - it hurts :)

2. The doctors and nurses don't want it to hurt. Work together on getting rid of the pain. I witnessed someone else in pain who managed to be a raging @$$hole the whole time about it. They still dealt with him with the same professionalism and what not, but don't be a jerk to them.

PS - they got me a chocolate shake and I know they didn't get him one :)


*August 13th L5-S1 fusion. Discharged August 16th. Last round of Percocet 10s about 7 minutes ago. Trying to get these posts done so they are coherent.



  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I'm glad that you're doing well. I hope that your pain is managed well now. Take it easy and get well soon. You really gave some good advice. Take care,
  • Never been there, but glad to hear your doing fine!

    Hope all works for you and you heal well!
  • Glad you posted this. I'd rather not remember, lol. Great you got the chocolate shake, doesn't hurt to be nice! How are you feeling now after your surgery? You are only on Percocets? That's great.

    Best wishes to you,

  • It's 4 days post-op. If your surgery is on the 13th and today is the 17th ..... does not quite equal three ;)

  • I must be curious like you. I wanted to see the operating room. Wouldn't want to miss any part of the experience. :O

    Hope you have a successful recovery. Just do not overdo it, no matter how great you feel.

    Gotta run -- off to see if I have a screw loose.

    xx Gwennie
  • I remember being wheeled back to the OR and when they placed that rubber thing on my mouth so I could breath in the anesthesia. I do recall counting from 100 to 99, 98 and suddenly waking up in recovery. My eyes could not focus but saw figures of nurses by my bed. I cried out due to the immense pain and believe I hollered "my back!" Sometime after I saw the hospital hallway and my husband was walking next to us and people where getting out of the way at the elevators. The worst part was being rolled out of the stretcher onto the bed in my private room. It was horrible when the nurses tried to position me on my side, and the drainage tube coming out of the incision added to my misery. Thankfully I was hooked up to the PCA machine and soon I was pushing the button like an arcade game controller.

    Well, that's my recollection of my fusion. I was sedated before being taken back to the OR but somehow I remember these things. I hope you recover from your surgery and get better soon. Take care
  • Thanks, Jason and everyone else who shared their experiences with fusion operations here. I will quite likely need to have one in the near future (before my lumbar spine collapses completely!), so it's good to hear both the positive and negative so I know what to look forward to (?!) from this kind of surgery.

    Good luck with your recovery, Jason.
  • Eeek!

    Nah, I'm a scaredy cat. I didn't want to know anything. I waited 9 months for my op and had gone over those moments just pre-op and just post-op in my mind so many times and it never looked good. So, even though I was strangely calm on the morning, once in the holding bay outside the OR, I asked for a sedative. They brought it immediately and it was amazingly quick to act. I have no recollection of the OR (7.30 am) but woke up at 4.30pm in intensive care. I had two epidurals so felt no pain, but after lying on my stomach for so many hours, my eyes were swollen shut and I didn't actually see anything until I was moved to my room at 8.30 am the next morning.

    Not that I cared!
  • I'm with you JenG. I made sure that it was already on my chart that I wanted a sedative 1st thing. Just like you, I wasn't nervous the morning of surgery. I just didn't want to lay in the holding area thinking about the upcoming ordeal. And, I didn't want to wake up feeling the full effects of it.

    Unless a person is a masochist, why would they opt to be "feeling" immediately post op? Not me, sister. I trusted my Anesthesiologist to know his business. It might have been my first rodeo, but it certainly wasn't his. I figured that he knew what was best. I made friends with my pain pump and was happy to lay peacefully in my bed and concentrating on recovering.

  • I had very frank conversations with the anesthesiologist and others and they basically said

    "Regardless of what surgery procedure, when you wake up you will be in pain until we can 'dial-in' the right mix for you.

    The majority however, don't remember that dial-in period. When I asked not to be sedated, this was brought up and that is what I let them know I wanted to see experience.

    It hurt, it hurt bad, but I would do it tomorrow if I had to. I would probably take the Happy Juice before my stroll down this time. No sense in seeing the same thing over and over and over again.

    I just wanted to make sure everyone was aware that you can address that pain quickly and easily.


    Jason Collier

    08/13/2009 - Spinal Fusion of L5-S1 for pain from spondylolisthesis

    02/24/2009 - Lumbar Discectomy of L4-L5 severe ruptured disc
  • Boy does this bring back memories!

    I remember the trip to the OR - I had to move myself over onto the OR table. They spread out my arms, got a blood pressure cuff on, had me count as they put a mask over my face - and I was gone.

    Then - a few days later, when I had to go back in - that one was very like the first one, except that I felt like I was breathing through Saran Wrap - I felt like I was suffocating - but then I was out fast again. When I woke up I remember choking and gagging and feeling suffocated again. I think part of the gagging was actually the tube coming out.

    Luckily I don't remember hurting terribly afterwards - well not until I had to move.

    Unfortunately I spent both nights 'tossing cookies' like a reverse Cookie Monster. Boy oh boy was I ever SICK! :&
  • I had first sugery(lumbar laminectomy)on 10/15/08 and do remember the or room,made me a nervous reck to put it mildly. 2nd surgery 7/20/09 spinal fusion,5 levels i believe,7 1/2 hr.sugery,,9 1/2 inch inscion,and i dont remember leaving pre op. Just the way I liked it!! I give you TONS of credit for the way you done it!!!I'm just a big sissy lol. I wish the best for you!!I know im still in a lot of pain after 1 month. Hope your doing well. Good luck to you
  • I had first sugery(lumbar laminectomy)on 10/15/08 and do remember the or room,made me a nervous reck to put it mildly. 2nd surgery 7/20/09 spinal fusion,5 levels i believe,7 1/2 hr.sugery,,9 1/2 inch inscion,and i dont remember leaving pre op. Just the way I liked it!! I give you TONS of credit for the way you done it!!!I'm just a big sissy lol. I wish the best for you!!I know im still in a lot of pain after 1 month. Hope your doing well. Good luck to you
  • I was awake into the surgery room, and saw the odd table that they were to get me up on. I still am trying to figure out how they did that.
    Woke up in recovery in total pain. I asked about 3-4 times for more pain medicine, and would not allow them to move me to my room until the pain was gone.
    Yes - it was the strongest pain I have had. But, I would go through it again to be free from the continuing leg/butt electric pain I was enduring.
    Now it's a healing pain, that I know will get better, if I do my job......(I hope)

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