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Very Worried 2 weeks after 3 level fusion Surgery about bowel movements

jharrison43jjharrison43 Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi I had an Axialif on my S-1 and an Xlif done on L-3-4 and L-4-5 the incision for the Axialif was down by my tailbone and the Xlif was done through my left side for the 2 other discs. I was really scared about even having this done and I feel like a big pussy at 6'3" 225lbs but a 3 level disc fusion is really no joke I have found out. I had some complications after the surgery and I got a temprature of 103 and they started moving me around to get a CT scan and I kept asking them what was wrong because I was in so much pain around the belt line in my back and also my limp nodes in my neck swelled up and It got to a point I couldn't lift up my head on my own I really thought I was going to die that night and they wouldn't tell me anything and they were giving me dialadda and it was doing no good at all. Not to mention I didn't have much sleep for 3 days leading up to the surgery.
They got me to an Xray guy and he was very rude and jerking me around to the point I was yelling and moaning in so much pain. I couldn't get a bowel movement or pass gas and I found out later it was contributing to to my pain. The Dr. said later I had an unbelieveable amount of gas built up in my bowels and it was pressing against my surgeries and it would be a while before I could get rid of it. I finally passed some stuff that was clear gel from the stuff they give you to clean you out before surgery and it gave me some relief. I fianlly had them give me morphine and flexeril to get me to sleep and it did the trick finally. The problem then and now is I have a hard time passing anything and it feels like when I strain it presses on my discs and nerves and it stops me in my tracks can't do anything. So I am taking oxys 3 times a day and percocet 4 times a day because the pain after 2 weeks is worse than it was before the surgery. I am getting really depressed about not being able to take a crap when I want to and it builds up over days and I can't walk when that happens Is anybody else having the same problems as me? I really don't want to have them operate on my again or do I want to ever go back to XXX Hospital in XX again it was the worst experience I have ever had. There are some mean people in that hospital. Maybe I have way to high of expectations but I know when my bowels don't move I can't walk on my own I need the clam shell they made me and a cane. Anyway I hope I didn't bore anyone I am feeling very lonely and haven't asked for too much help from my kids or Wife I try to do everything I can myself and it seems like I a feel helpless and just don't want to be around anybody like I am a burden. My wife has been a champ but shes gotta work so that leaves my kids to help and it's like they don't really realize what I just had done. I also had my 20 year old just move back in before the surgery with his girlfriend and bring a whole bunch of drama with them so it hasen't been the best around here for anyone to have surgery as far as stress is concerned. I started journaling the other night and it seemed to help a bit. Well thank you for looking at my post hope to here from some of you just to hear some feedback because I feel like this surgery didn't do anything but put me in worse pain. Thanks again jharrison43.

Doctors name and contact details removed by forum Authority (Cath111). We do not permit publishing specific doctor's or institution names and contact details.


  • Sorry for the reasons you found us. You really have quite a horrendous surgical story.

    Did you ever learn the details of what was going on?

    It can take quite awhile to get the bowels regulated after surgery. All the pain medications are notorious for causing constipation, and the lack of activity makes it worse.

    I hope you are taking a stool softener and a fiber product like Colace or Senokot. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables with the skin. Blueberries and red grapes are especially good. Drink fruit juice whenever you are thirsty rather than a soft drink. Of course, prunes and prune juice are still the best. You can also eat high fiber cereals, granola and fiber bars.

    I imagine you still have lots of swelling going on from all the surgery you had...and there just isn't that much extra room if your intestine is bloated, etc.

    Even though it is painful, try to walk several times each day. Distance isn't important. But walking gets the freshly oxygenated blood flowing to the surgical site, which does not have many blood vessels to begin with. Walking also stretches out the spinal nerves and helps to prevent the formation of scar tissue. It is very important to walk often.

    Please call your surgeon if you don't start to feel a little better soon. And come here to find some support from fellow spineys.

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

    xx Gwennie
  • I recently found an hearbal tea - Smooth Move (I believe it's got senna leaf in it) It's amazing. Take it at night and by mid morning you've got water for bowel movements. Make SURE you are drinking a lot of water.

    In the hospital my nurse had me take a 2oz.dose of Milk of Magnesia and chug an ice-cold small can of prune juice. Within 2 hours I was cleaned out - that was after 9 days of nothing.

    All that pain medication will back you up big time. Like it's already been mentioned - walk to get the oxygen flowing, eat healthy and best of luck. I'm sure your bowels and nerves are rather angry right now and it's going to take some time to get back to normal.

    p.s. here is a link I found to the tea - it's not where I buy it (I can get it at the local health food store, but I thought it would help to have a photo of it) http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=42359&catid=172
  • I had the Axialif done on L4-S1 5 weeks ago. I had major bowel problems too. I finally took exlax to get it started and now I take Dulcalax stool softener everyday. It is a mixture of the surgery and all the pain meds causing the problems, but it will get better. Just give it time.
  • Thanks everyone for your help. I am really thankful for the input. I just sat here typing and lost an hour of everything I typed to you guys so I will keep this one short until tommorow okay. My Dr. called me tonight which was unexpected and asked me to schedule an appointment for a CT Scan because I might have a blood clot around my Sacrum or Colon. He let me know that my Sacrum was very flat not curved so they had to push on the colon very hard. I am pretty sure that's what he relayed to me. I am really worried now because I never want to go back to that hospital that I went to in Fremont again. I really like my surgeon but I have had a lot of internal pain that is being caused by my bowels everytime I get bloated or filled up from not going number 2 I can't walk it drops me. It feels like when i am filled up it paralyzes me right below my waistband hip to hip and at the spine. When I try and stain it hits that spine point disc? and stops me from flowing through or letting it come out. It is very frustrating and painful. I also can't feel the bowel movement or have any control up to the point of the stool exiting at the anus is the only part I feel of it coming out and that would be when I am so bloated I finally got it to come out. Otherwise it takes a week to get a movement. Everyone thinks I am taking too much on the pain killers but I can't walk or get any kind of comfort without them and the pain is 24/7 and 10 out of 10 I keep my wife up every night from yelling, moaning and gasping from the internal pain. I really hate the pills but I need them until they fix me the right way. I also quit smoking so I am really serious about my recovery I have 15 days today. I guess we will see tommorrow I will update then please if you have anymore info it would be much appreciated. I have had a knee surgery that put me in U C S F for a week and it was heaven compared to this experience. And I know the other surgery I had scheduled and cancelled would have been way worse 10days in the hospital permanantely disabled 60% success rate. My doctor gave me some hope 3 days in the hospital 6 hours of surgery an 80% success rate on pain and full contact sports in 8 months so I am thankful but at the same time I am really worried what is going on internally in my body now so we will see I really hope he can correct what is wrong and there is no further complications thank you again everyone hearing from you really made my night have a great day Jharrison43
  • Who ever thought using the bathroom would be such a popular subject or important thing, but I just want you to understand that I so know how you feel. I commented earlier and hope that I was able to help you a little. Luckily my problems in that area have pretty much worked themselves out but I still take a dulcalax everyday. I remember feeling so alone and embarrassed over the situation. Wish I had known about this board then and had other people to talk to in the same position as me. Just know that you are not alone:) I am now 5 weeks out from the Axialif 2 level and hurt worse that before the surgery. It seems like I kept getting better up until week 3 and then no change since then. Still in so much pain, but at least the burning in my legs are gone. Now replaced with a constant achy feeling. But at least that doesnt keep me from walking like the burning did. Well i'm sorry I have strayed away from the topic a little, but it does help to talk about it with other people who understand as it seems no one in my house knows what I am going through. Just stay strong and hopefully things will get better each day. Please let us know how you are doing and feel free to private message me if you ever just want to talk. Hope you have a good day!
  • My problems are my pain meds are making me constipated as well, and I find it hurts really bad to push to have a stool, especially in the low back, its excruciating, I take a natural laxative every couple of days, and drink lots of water, sometimes I feel water logged. Does anyone else have the problem of it hurting ur low back, surgery is in a month. A 360 surgery.
  • It was 7 days before I went after surgery and it hurt like CRAZY (in my rectum and in my back). I tore stuff and was bleeding every time I had a BM for about 6 weeks. Even with stool softeners (4 per day), it was no help. I would get totally back up and it would feel terrible. I also had NO sensation to go. I started to look for the tiniest twinge of feel and act on it. I used an Enema for the first time in my life. I had to do it twice because it wasn't coming out on it's own. I know it was a combination of the surgery and the pain pills. I am 2.5 months post op now and I am FINALLY having normal BM's without help. I am still not as regular as I was pre-surgery but the worst of it is over. My advice is NOT to get that far behind, if you haven't gone in a 4 day period, you need to do an enema and MAKE it happen. I also found Miralax to be very helpful, so try that too.
  • i called my doc and was told to ues Magnesium Citrate,(hubby found it at wal-mart) it tasted like .... but it worked on the second day.It was minimaly painfull the first time, then diharrhea a couple times, I still take 2 stool softeners every day and am getting more regular. Hang in there,see what your doc recommends.
  • Oh my gosh! I had to use the mag citrate the night before my surgery because with the Axialif your bowels have to be completely cleansed. I couldn't take to Golytely that the dr prescribed, made me so sick at my stomach. Drank a half bottle of the mag and within 3 hrs it totally worked. It does not taste the best though. Has a really strong citrus taste, but it definately works.
  • I had a two level fusion (l4 L5 S1) and had to take the pain pills too...ugh...constipation big time! Friend told me about an old Irish cure...rhubarb!! Just saute and eat away. I'm not a fan so I snuck in some strawberries. Worked better than the mag citrate. Good Luck to you and tons of wishes that you can cut back on the pain meds and be "unplugged".
  • Update for Jharrison43 I had Axialif on S-1 L-5 and Xlif on L-3 L-4 and L-4 and L-5 on 8-26-2009 in Fremont and I hear nothing but growling in my bowels (on my left side where two long icisions are) and every waking moment and I can't take a crap its scaring me it hurts when I get filled up I can't walk and I am at 17 days today. I went in for a CT Scan drank the two cups and they put a needle in my arm for 5 mins that was not fun and the Doctor told me he would get back to me and it's been 2 days I am in pain and this guy re-arranged my damn intestines the wrong way or something isn't right. He told me he would call me today and nothing. He aslo told me I could have a blood clot so I am freaking out. He then told me before surgery he had to really push on the sacrum and the colon because the sacrum was so flat well my colon was supposedly huge and they had to push hard so I really need to fix this I am in way to much pain and My Family totally had a meltdown and left me alone and took my truck keys today about some past stuff that we went through years ago well my 19 year old decided to have a meltdown in front of the whole family and neighborhood last night that went into today blaming me for his meltdown and the wife followed suit and said I should have left you 10 years ago and packed her bags and left I have never been so humiliated and it was just so uncalled for I need help I felt like calling the cops on all of them because my son pushed me into a wall with no brace on last night and I didn't but that was yesterday and today. Someone broke into our cars on Laborday got my wifes realestate keys I am the only one that seemed like they gave a shit to look for them and put an ad on Craigslist. And my other 20 year old son has to go to court next week for something that other roomates are trying to lay on him so I had to retain a lawyer that I can't afford so my stress level is at a all time high never experienced this much Pain and anguish in my life ever.
    I take 2 stool softeners at night time
    I take 1 wellbutrin at bedtime
    I take 8 10mg Percocets throught out a 24 hour period
    I take 2 60mg oxycontin a day
    I take 1 2mg zanax at night
    I am drinking Metamucle 2 times a day
    2 shot glasses of Mineral water intestinal lublricant
    Smooth Move Tea that Saltworks turned me onto I just can't get it out yet
    Fruit,Jello,Apple sauce, and soup, some bread too I am afraid to eat.

    I really hope I go to the bathroom in the morning I don't know how much more I can hang with this I am full of gas and it's not getting better with time and the doctor hasn't got back to me about this CTScan so it couldn't be life threating I hope? I love all of you for your input and listening to all my theatrics I really try to isolate because nobody wants to help here except my one son and I don't know what I would do if you guys weren't here coaching me I have to thank you again for your help I thank god and thank you guys Jharrison43 signing off I will update and read more in the morning all you nice people. thanks again
  • Hey everyone I just woke up no painkillers and it's 11:00am I am in some major pain but I got a bowel movement my left side just bubbled and groweled all night and I guess that all that stuff I have been taking came out and the Smooth Move really is a life saver. I was ready to give up yesterday when my kid caused a lot o unessisary drama which the wife followed up by leaving my other son and his girlfriend have been just great godsends hes 20 and in some trouble with roomates that him and his girlfriend had so I am trying to help him with that. But now that my other 19 year old knows he can get away with blowouts with no concequences he gets super mad over every little thing anyone asks him and I am truly helpless at this point. He also pushed me into the wall on his rampage the first night so I am keeping my distance and just trying to keep the peace. I will never forget yesterday for the rest of my life I want to leave so bad and I can't. I am the wage earner and kids this day and age just don't get that after 18 I am not responsible they take everything for granted and abuse their welcome. Anyway still can't get a hold of the Dr. that did the surgery so I guess the CTScan can't be all that bad lol. I just want to thank everyone again for all the help it is really much appreciated. I hope I didn't sound like too much of a hypocondriac lol.
  • All I can say is I'm so sorry. If I were you, I'd be on the phone ASAP rattling your doctor's cage again and again until you get some answers. Sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now. I have teenagers, too, and they can be a real stressor, which you certainly don't need right now. Sound to me like they realize you're at a low point right now, and they're working it to the max. You have my sympathy. I've been there.

    Have you tried Miralax for the constipation? It is a powder you mix into any liquid. It is tasteless, and it works really well. You might give that a try.

    Keep us posted.
  • I am doing a little better today thanks for the input I just talked to the Dr. just now about my CTscan and he said he had sent word to his nurse Friday to call me and let me know there is no blood clot and everything looks okay well I never got that call until today from the Dr. and I did the CTscan last Thursday wow lol. Anyway I told him that I am hearing squirting sounds and water dropping sounds loud as hell on my left side of my lower chest right below my ribcage they opened me up with a machine 4 inches at my waistband on my left side and another 2 inch incision to take 2 discs out and do the Xlif procedure. He told me that he wants me to see a GI doctor that he is recomending and to quit taking the Mineral oil that I have been taking twice a day. So I prayed last night harder than I have ever prayed in my life because all this time I really did feel like ending it but I realized last night while I was praying I really want to live I need to lead these kids and get them on going the right way in life and even though they are 19 and 20 they need me. I hate to be so morbid because I know a lot of you are going through the same pain I am and dealing with it and I salute all of you I wish we could all meet up one day. Anyway I made an appointment at 2:00pm today to see my family practitioner to see what he says about the noise in my guts 19 days after surgery and well see. I would really hate to be opened up again but if they have to I guess I will but hopefully it will just go away it sounds like a tube is flattened and stuff is squirting through every 10 to 20 seconds a swirling sound and droplets then squirting again there has been no break at all with these sounds so wish me luck lol. I cut my pain meds in half 2 60mg oxys yesterday and 4 percocets and I still have had no cigarettes for 19 days so I'm getting there. I will update tonight thank you all again John H.
  • Hang in there, John. It will get easier. I really hope your doc today can figure out what is wrong. I'm afraid your issues are beyond what most of us on this board know anything about. Your problem is pretty unique, or so it seems from what you've said.

    Your kids do need you and many others as well. Perhaps your doctor could prescribe an antidepressant like Cymbalta for you. It works well in interrupting the pain messages to the brain, too.

    Being in severe pain brings on depression. There is a chemical change in the brain...so if helping with a medication can ease that process, you should look into it.

    Please know we are all praying for you. Write back and let us know how you are tonight, OK?

  • Welcome to the forum my dear. :H I know just how you feel because after my back surgery I had no BM for the next 30 days. :jawdrop:

    Grapes and more grapes is what did it for me.

    Evelyn :H
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
  • What a nightmare you are living. Teenagers can push you to the limit, you're in pain, your wife seems to have left and you're having bowel problems. Just know that better times are ahead!

    It took me 9 days and every laxative and stool softener in the hospital, bottles of water, prune and pear juice, two failed enemas, you name it, then a friend brought in Nulax and I went within 3 hours. It was painful and not something I'd like to repeat, but it worked. After that I started going every day or two until I got off my meds.

    Cutting down your pain meds is fine but please don't cut your Oxycontin capsules in half. They have a coating and are designed to disolve slowly in your stomach over 12 hours and if you cut them, they enter your blood stream very quickly and that can be very dangerous. Nobody told me this but I read it on the internet when time came for me to reduce meds. Just as well I read that or I might not be here today. I mention it whenever I read anything about cutting meds in half!

    I am sure once your pain has started easing and your bowel movements normalise, all else will improve as well. Stress is a terrible thing and you really shouldn't be under this kind of stress right now. I really do wish you well and hope the good times return very soon.
  • Teenagers - I swear, at times I didn't know if I'd make it through my boys teen years. We had a 2 year old at the same time - 2 different schedules, late nights and early mornings= no sleep!

    I got lucky - they both found someone and got married. I tell ya, having wives kind of quieted down the teen crap.

    Glad the Smooth Move and everything else started working for you finally.

    My home nurse strongly urged me to go on anti-depressants post-op. I wasn't depressed (I thought) but she said that with major surgery it's almost impossible to NOT get depressed. That even just 3 months of medication can be life-saving. Literally.

    Best of luck on the GP apt. I hope that something can be pinpointed and you can get some help for the bowels. I really think you are so recently out of surgery, and given that your surgeon had to mess so much with your insides - your bowels are probably going to be really angry for a long time, expect it to take a while to get normal - months - that said... don't hesitate to go to an Emergency Room if you need to.

  • HI there, i just joined this web site to talk with people who are going through what my husband is going through.
    He had the Axilift in Jan 09. He is so much worse than before the surgery. It is so horiable to see in so much pain. I am so sorry you are going through this. My prayers are with you.

    take care,
  • Sorry I've been gone had to go to the ER 4 days ago 104 fever 30 feet of colon backed up again like the third time I am so sick of this it has been six weeks now since I had 3 discs remeoved and the Doctors have taken 2 ct scans and said everything looks good but who knows? I am back to liquid everything and fruits I just want the noise in my stomach and bowels to quit. And it would probably be bearable but with no real answers from these Doctors I am at a loss. I am praying the noises in my guts go away and I quit getting backed up, because I noticed when I get backed up I feel some serious pain around my back waist band around the spine S-1 where they did the 360 Axilif and I can't walk when it gets like that. My surgeon told me today that the cts look great that I should keep seeing the GI doctor which has already put me on antibiotics Magnesium Citrate which is not fun at all. I am really hoping and praying with a little more time this will all go away and get better until then I could never ever refer someone not even my worst enemy lol to have this surgery. I hope all of you are pulling through I appreciate all your input I will keep everyone in my prayers thanks everyone. John H.
  • So sorry to hear this is a continuing problem. It shouldn't be long before your bowel starts to regulate itself again. Are you drinking lots of water and eating a high fibre diet? I don't know what else to suggest except the obvious.

    This won't go on forever John. It does settle eventually. After that you'll start appreciating the surgery. ;)
  • Jen thank you so much for the reply I am pretty much on a liquid diet but tried some bread and crackers today. I go see a GI assistant tommorrow so well see what he says. I have had 3 instances in the past 6 weeks since the 3 level fusion surgery that I have had over a 103 temp and 30 feet of compaction where they wanted me to clean myself out with Magnsium Citrate and it is really grueling. I make smooth move tea every night so I can get a movement everyday because I am afraid of getting backed up again. I am not used to this at all especially all the bowel sounds and stomach squirting sounds so I worry way to much. Plus when I get backed up I can feel some serious pain at my waist band in the back by the spine from my bowels pressing on it and I can't walk at this point or I need help anyway. I just really hope and pray these two things that are happening to me really go away with time it's only been six weeks so maybe I am jumping to conclusions too quick. Anyway thank you so much for your input I really needed it let me know if you need me for anything Respectfully John Harrison.
  • For those of us who've had surgery, the bowel problem seems to dog us all. It takes a while to regain that regularity.

    The meds don't help, stress doesn't help either, and you've had plenty of that, but keep battling John because it WILL eventually sort itself out. I don't know anybody who's had this problem continue for more than a couple of months. Once you're walking regularly, eating normal foods, you'll find things rapidly return to normal.

    All the best!
  • I am having the same problem.I notice if i go than i am ok.I never had any idea this could cause so much pain..Hope you get better soon..
  • A total nightmare! My husband had Axialif Surgery in November 2009. It is now May 2010 and he has severe constant leg pain. He is much worse now then he was before the surgery. He is now a patient at a pain management center. We tried to get a second opinion from another doctor post surgery and the doctor wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole! The doctor stated he "doesn't believe in the Axialif procedure." So now we are awaiting an appointment with a different doctor for a second opinion to see if his pain can somehow be corrected. He is only 36 years old. I am very frustrated because when you search for info on the web all you find is pro Axialif doctors articles, but when you go into the discussion boards you find people complaining about the procedures outcomes. I think something is very wrong with the procedure and would not recommend it to anyone! I have noticed a trend in leg pain post surgery in the blogs. He has also had trouble with bowel movements. He breaks into a cold sweat and has difficulty going. Are others having those same problems? He has an appointment with a Urologist soon. I wonder if anyone has followed up with a lawyer? I am debating considering that this surgery has ruined our lives!

    Please in the future refrain from stating negative points about any procedure based on your experiences. Remember because something did not work for you or a loved one, does not mean it has not done wonders for others

    Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Administrator 05/10/10
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