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The Final Word from Me

HopeforChuckHHopeforChuck Posts: 166
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello Everyone,

I am very emotional tonight. You can see my story on a longer thread--I don't have the energy to find the link. I had fusion surgery 10 months ago, did the hard work of coming off pain killers (2.5 months now). I got the surgery so I could do the things I used to love doing. I had backed off on most of these activities, but was still in pain (but it became bearable). I've had two shots since my back surgery and was holding steady. Well, the other day, I did something that turned out to be stupid (although, my doctor has told me I can do anything and should do everything--wrong). I rode a motorcycle for the first time since my surgery and I am back to serious pain. I think I may have hurt something--I know this pain and it will be weeks before I am better--without drugs this time. I am ready to say that my "slam dunk" surgery was a total failure and almost killed me (due to blood clots). I totally regret the surgery and have no hope for getting my life back. I got the surgery so I could do moderate activities (yard work, non-contact sports, exercise, living my life) and it didn't work. Unless I do nothing, I will have serious pain--not cool. If you are considering this surgery do not get it unless you can't walk. It is barbaric and ineffective and I'm afraid it is simply a money maker. I do not know anyone personally who has had this surgery and is ok now. I know there are some on this board--but everyone I know personally is hurting.



  • I feel the same way you do. I cry all the time because I put myself through this surgery only to end up in worse condition. I too know of no one who has been helped by spinal fusion. I would strongly caution anyone considering this surgery not to do it unless it is an emergency. Just my thoughts.
  • I had your same surgery in 2002. I was a success but I had nowhere but up to come. I had lost all functions of my legs. I don't know why mine was more of a success than most. I do not know of anyone that have had this done and doesn't regret as you. I never did get completely back to my active self but I need learn new ways to enjoy my life. One of which was motorcycle riding. Now that I had my ACDF last week I constantly worry that I will not regain enough use of my arms to enjoy that. I have never had a reason why this is happening to me but since my childhood I had suffered from muscle pain and joint pain with not diagonsed reason.

    I am so sorry that you are feeling so let down and not being able to see the light. I really don't have any great words of wisdom but I do really wish you the best and hope that things turn around for you soon. Pain can cause such depression and if it wasn't for my dear hubby I don't think I would've survived all this.

    Best wishes to you and please do not ever give up.

    You can send me a PM anytime and I am a great listener and sometimes do have some good advice.

  • It's posts like these that confirm my belief in my doctor's advice "Not to have surgery until the pain is unbearable or I'm paralyzed...whichever comes first". I think I'll draw the line when the numbness isn't just here today & gone tomorrow - but
    steady...might scare me into it.

    You have to find "other" things that you like to do.
    It's hard work - because you've been doing what you
    "like" for so long that nothing else will be of interest to you. FIND SOMETHING, please. You'll need it.

    Best Regards - and I'm NOT a doctor.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    for you or the next person. There are thousands of people who have had back surgeries, fusions, anterior, posterior, etc.
    Its too bad when I read that a person who has not had success with their surgery that they then go about and start telling the world that the surgery is no good made them worse, dont do it, etc
    Getting back to where you were before. Nice idea, but only a few ever get there, instead we do all the right things and work hard, hard and harder so that we can do so many things.
    Its all about never giving up. Even with a bad surgery, that is far from the end. You just have figure out how to proceed.
    And jas, waiting too long or past the right point is surely a formula for failure. The longer you wait on some situations (disc impinging on a nerve root) the more problems you will have. Waiting in those situations can result in long term nerve damange and sometimes permanent.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I agree with dilauro, just because some people had a bad experience does not mean you will, I also know of a few people that had it that are doing fine now, my sister for one is doing fine with a stimulator implant, but only takes ibuprofen for any pain and is back to work and doing most things as before, Everyone is different and just because some have had it bad will not mean you will too, please do not wait to get the help you need based on others outcomes, and remember we are all here to support you no matter what your decision.But do base your decision on what will be best for you, have a talk with the surgeon and tell him of your fears and he will talk to you and reassure you that all outcomes are not the same. Good luck and keep us posted
  • I have an outcome "better" than almost anybody on SH...save a few trolls that claimed to be eating whole pizzas a few hours after their fusions, the same guys who then walked 25 miles a week later.


    Look, I play soccer and jog. I travel and do my job with no problems. But make no mistake about it, when I do get pain flare ups, they are vastly worse than what I had prior to surgery. Worst of all, my doctors sold fusion as a way to mitigate the intermittent but tolerable pain I had before surgery. They made it seem like routine surgery, a walk in the park for somebody as strong and healthy as me.

    Sorry, but I keep speaking to doctors and keep doing research. There is no statistically valid study even nominally correlating fusions to pain relief. In this context, this invasive surgery is barbaric exactly because it is so distorted by the medical community as pain relief.

    Again, unless you have issues with paralysis and body function, there are no good compelling reasons to opt for a fusion. A good number of doctors in the medical community oppose them for pain management issues. Many doctors I spoke to off the record were candid in condemning the state of affairs around fusions, especially of how many doctors pushed them gratuitously. Finally, the doctors I eventually spoke to, all whom treated professional athletes, stated in no uncertain terms that only the strongest and healthiest people stood to come out of fusions with consistently acceptable pain outcomes. For everybody else, it is a roll of the dice.

    I wasn't in such pain that I had to have my surgery...which I had only because my doctors at UCSF made it seem like a normal, clean, and easy thing to take away even that pain. I was clearly wrong. I never would have had this surgery if I had to do it all again.

    I hope I don't come off too cynical. I'm not. But I am angry for being put through something unnecessary. I at least now know what hell is truly like, having suffered immense pain for up to 2 years after the surgery that was supposed to relieve all my pain.

    And yes, I appreciate my being able to compete in sports and so...but it's in spite of my fusion. I defy and curse my fusion every day. I have no choice. Like Chuck, it always finds a way to remind me of its presence...and my stupidity and gullibility in trusting the medical community, as opposed to being my own advocate.

    I took matters in my own hand, this after the same doctors wanted me to be a "lifer" and have more surgery and take all kinds of pain medications. I rejected surgery, rejected pain medications, and their advice. As I alluded to earlier, I found doctors and PTs I liked...not to mention professional athletes with fusions...and recovered. Luck? Maybe. Pluck? Some. But I'll enjoy it while it lasts...and it is an enjoyable life I have now...but I'll each and every day spite the fusion and the medical community that bequeathed me such a cure.

    Cheers, Mate
  • I'm really bummed that you are having such a bad turn of luck. Somehow you must have drawn the short straw. One thing that a situation like yours presents, along with the philosophy from jasro's doc, is that surgery is not a magic pill, magic bullet, magic wand ...

    When I first read your post and the replies so far, my first instinct was to tell you about all those I know who have had success etc... to tell you that it's common to have flare ups after any kind of spine surgery. Basically to try and cheer you up or say quit bringing down the crowd.

    However, too many people hear that surgery can fix you up good as new, and they never bother to hear about the folks that had to go back in for warranty repairs instead of just a simple tune up.

    I'm not saying I want to wave a banner saying it's okay to tell everyone to "Just Don't Do It". I do however think it's important to see a bit of reality, as in your post about your experience and how you feel about it.

  • I'm sorry to hear of your setback. Is it your choice to try and handle this pain without meds? Just curious if it was your choice or the doc's decision.

    I think everyone has a right to post their outcome, good or bad. I don't think anyone should rush into anything. I don't think anyone should really consider fusion if back pain is their only symptom. I would have been one of those fusion success stories that faded off the boards if I had made a better decision about my first surgeon. I do hope you continue to post, we can all learn from each other and are genuinely interested in how you are doing.

    I hope you see some relief soon.

  • It is was totally my decision. However, I factored in the doctor telling me that I would be 95 percent better, that I would be able to do everything I wanted to do, that I was a slam dunk case, that I had a clear cut problem, that I was the perfect candidate, etc. I also canceled the surgery 4 or 5 times, even after having done the blood work, sometimes a few days before the surgery, so this no rush job. I knew what I was getting into--I knew it was probably more like a 75/25 success rate from most of the things I've heard. I'm like Mate, I am able to do whatever I want--but then I will have pain afterwards--and this latest flareup, based on the low level of activities I did, is just depressing. A week ago I would have told you that I was doing pretty well, only taking Ibuprofen (like candy, though), no muscle relaxers, no narcotics--even in this latest flare up, I'm not taking anything more. But I'm gaining weight on this lyrica and lack of activity. I'm only 37.

    Dilauro, I understand your point, but if I were the one reading the posts and trying to decide whether or not to have this elective surgery, I would want to hear my story, to the brutal end. I have held off on saying that I think this surgery is wrong for people unless they can't walk--I am now ready to proclaim that from the mountains. :D I felt like I reached the end last night. Obviously, that isn't true--but I felt like I reached the point where I pretty much know now the way it is going to be--I can sit around and do no exercise, no work around the house, and certainly not anything I would consider kind of fun (like biking, running, going out on a boat, plaing the piano, etc), and if I law low, I will probably be OK, with some nagging pain. But, wow, if I go and try to do any of the former activities, I'm going to be hurting. That is not what I signed up for. That is not what the doctor told me would happen.

  • One more thing--it was interesting last night to experience the flare up without narcotics, or having been on narcotics. It was the first major flare up I had since dropping the narcotics. Don't get me wrong, I've had pain since I stopped, but not like this. It used to be that I would just take more and more pills if I had this kind of flareup. This time, I manned up. I'm not saying anything against people taking the pills--but my whole frame of mind was different--I got very mad and frustrated because my head stayed clear.
  • I do hear your frustration over your results. I remember thinking after my fusions, this is not like having an appendectomy where after you have healed, the pain is gone. I had symptoms that were significantly impacting my life, i.e falls, incontinence, inability to walk that have either greatly improved or are gone.

    What I get from this thread is don't have a fusion just for pain in your back. Research, research, research..........What I hope no one is getting from this thread is NEVER have a fusion. Most of the time I forget I had a cervical fusion. My lumbar fusion has left me with chronic pain 24/7, but without it, my life was unpredictable.

    Take care,

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    Its really not just about the surgery type. Fusions are just one type, there are so many other spinal surgeries. I would take a fusion surgery in a heartbeat over a thoracic surgery.
    The key is understanding what type of problem you have, the details behind it, not just what the doctor is telling you and understanding what are your options.
    Surgery is manytimes the only option. But the more you understand about your condition the better off you will be in determining the course of action is right for you. What is right for you may not or may be what is right for another person.

    Flareups are just part of what spinal patients will go through. Sometimes you understand exactly why you are having a flare up (ie riding your motorcycle) and there are times when you cant figure out what happened. The flareups that happen shortly after surgery (3-9 months) can normally be addressed with medications, since you are still really short term post surgery.

    But its the flareups that happen years after surgery are tough. You generally dont have any medications and by the time you see the proper doctors to get some medications or other relief, you have already suffered in pain and perhaps the flare up is slowing going away.

    I've been through all the situations about having problems soon after and many years after surgery and not having surgery for a while. I could write a book about figuring out how to deal with all of that with and without medications.
    Still that would never change my view on surgery
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Chuck, it's tough to hear of the difficulties you're having, but I truly cannot understand because I've not been in a position to even have surgery done. And I'm at the point where pain & numbness are constant: where jasro would go for it! But the docs can't find what to operate on. I've heard that 95% thing about other procedures and have yet to hit 95%. So I take that with a grain of salt and ask "of all the 95%'s I've heard why haven't I ever realized that?" No docs can answer.

    Chuck I sincerely hope things are just slow in healing, I hope you end up where you should be after what is turning out to be a longer journey than you bargained for.
  • I'm 8 months out and feel worse than I did before surgery. It's so heart wrenching and I cry everyday. I am still on pain killers and know I could not walk without them. I used to ride a motorcycle myself and hate that I will never be on the back much less the front of one probably ever again. I greive for my children. I feel so stupid for listening to the doctors, I felt I had no other options at the time. Maybe I didn't. I don't know. I pray we still have healing in our future. Now they are saying it may be my hardware and I may ned another surgery. Do I listen again? As far as 'flare ups', I don't have 'flare ups'. I am in PAIN. 24/7. Does it get worse at times, yes but it never goes away. I so feel for you, Chuck. (It sounds like we could've had the same doctor). I hope that things do get better for you!
    Mom to Tony 13, Gavin 9, and Donovan 7
    Surgery 1/07/2009:
    1. L3-4 decompression laminectomy and foraminotomy
    2. Left complete L3-4 discectomy with decompression of L4 root.
    3. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion, L3-4 with 10-mm Capstone cage and autograph.
    4. Posterior spinal fusion L3-L5 with iliac bone graph and BMP
    5. Legacy instrumentation, L3 to L5
  • I don't know what to say other than I'm sorry things turned out like this for you. Believe me I totally understand and relate because I got worse after having a fusion. I took the chance with that surgery because the pain was severe and nonstop, no matter what I did and I could barely walk. They had to do a laminectomy too to decompress the nerve again. 6 months post op my surgeon said the fusion didn't work out and I already had nerve damage going on before this surgery. Soon after an MRI showed scar tissue growing on the left S1 nerve root.

    So now I'm waiting to have a pain pump implanted in the hopes of it giving me better pain relief. The hardest part out of all this is that I know that I will always have this disability which has seriously impacted my way of life. I try to stay hopeful and think that some new technology or medical breakthrough will come about and help so many of us with our chronic back problems. Take care
  • Chuck, I am also 8 months post-op. I began to get better a few months after surgery and then the nerve pain in my lower back began. It is horrible. I was off of narcotics after a few months but now am back on them (no more than 20 mgs of lortab a day) and also take neurontin and a muscle relaxer. I do my stretches and exercises but sitting just kills me.

    I have followed your posts and appreciate your position on pain medication. I am not as brave as you, however. At least with low levels of narcotics taken on a regular basis, I can have a bit of a normal life again. (And yes, I was one of those with rapidly deteriorating nerve issues - turned out that I had a huge cyst that had to be removed.)

    Pain such as the pain we experience with spine surgery is awful!!!! And it can cause major depression. As I've posted elsewhere, I'm have some slight improvement with the help of my pain management doc. Perhaps you could head in that directions????

    I won't take up everybody's time beyond saying that I recall that you are a man of faith. Lean on that faith and don't take it as a weakness if you have to ask doctors for pain management options. They don't have to include narcotics.

    There are many of us on this forum that DO understand the awful frustration and depression that accompanies this surgery. I appreciate your admonishment to proceed cautiously with any surgery, esp spine surgery. But now that you and I are on the other side of surgery, what can you do to improve your quality of life??? Anyway, that's what my personal focus has become. Sucks, yes. But we all have to keep moving on! Sending love and prayers to you.
  • Hi Chuck

    I agree that surgery is not a cure-all.

    I honestly had to decide that life in a wheelchair was better than what I was going through before my surgery. The biggest issue was the bladder stuff for me. It was the last straw. Pain I can deal with, losing control and embarrassing myself at work - no way.

    I had complications. I have pain - daily, I choose not to take anything more than tylenol. I have extreme charley horses daily in my nerve damaged right leg. .

    I do count myself as incredibly lucky to have had the surgery 'cure' my cauda equina issues. Thankfully I can't feel the pain of the charley horses - it's too numb. I also feel very lucky that the shooting pain down my leg is gone too.

    I tell my dr. I think I've healed better than anyone I know - despite my issues. And I mean it.

    I applaud your strength in dropping the meds. (although, if it's bad enough, are there non-narcotic alternatives you could consider? What about that thing where the pain management dr.'s go in and radio-something mumbo jumbo 'burn' the nerves to give you relief?)

    Also - just one thing to think over - my doc told me that I could not expect a full fusion until about 2 years out - even though the x-rays tell us I'm fused. I still have to be careful. What do your x-rays say about your fusion?

    Oh - and hey, I would think that you are totally allowed to 'get it all out' here at SH. Who else can understand your pain and be there to get you through it? People that understand - that's who.
  • My L 4/5 fusion was in late July 2008 - not quite 14 months ago. My recovery has been somewhat impaired because I had to have colon resection surgery this past June. However, at this point, I forget most days that I have even had a fusion. I am reminded if I do "new" (since surgery) activities or stand too long - but the mild ache I experience is so much less than the pain I had before surgery. (Ibuprofen will pretty much take care of it). I still have some weird nerve symptoms in my left leg when I get tired but they are less frequent.

    At 9 months sitting for very long was still painful - by 12 months I could ride in the car for 2 or 3 hours without having pain (a little stiff but no pain). My family practice doc reminds me that fusion is a 2 year recovery. My friend who has had 3 lumbar fusions reminds me that daily stretching is imperative - and I do try to remember.

    I hope that others of you who are at the "less than 1 year point" will find that they continue to progress. I have 2 friends who had this surgery over 2 years ago and can now do much more than they could pre-surgery. They are old ladies, like me, but they hike, bicycle, kayak, scuba, ski - pretty much anything they want to as long as they remember to stretch daily. I hope you find that over time you will get much better!

  • I am 9 months out and had my hardware out. I am thinking that this is gonna give me some more relief, but am not positive. I know that I still have a way to go as far as healing. My Dr gave me orders to be very careful as fusion continues past the point I am in. I have a girlfriend that is 12 months out and she said it keeps getting better. We all knew that it was a long recovery and I think we all need to be a little more paitient. I say this as I am still on very strong pain meds, hoping that I can start to go down on them soon. I still hurt everyday, but faith made me do this surgery and faith is gonna keep me hopeful. Keep your chins up and let time work its healing. I am. I have another, scarier surgery to remove a tumor in my eye socket. They have to cut my scalp at hairline and bring in foreward to go into my head and chip bone away , take our tumor and reconstruct with bone from some other place in my head. So now I have something else to concentrate on at the same time. No guarentees on this one either, tumor is too rare. Took 15 Drs at U of Iowa tumor board to decide how to take it out... :SS :SS :SS :SS :SS
  • I'm very sorry to hear what you are going through.At the moment I'm in and out of hospital on a regular basis after my microdiscectomy in may.I'm seeing my neurosurgeon in 6 weeks again and I think I would seriously consider further surgery as I have 3 children and am in misery. The only thing of help I can suggest to you is that fusions can take 2 years to heal and it might be a long struggle to recover, but try to look in your long term and maybe using pain meds to help you through this time when you need them, would be best? I too ride a motorcycle and miss it so much. My husband is thinking of buying me a trike so I can try get out on the road again! I dont know if it will be any easier on my back but I'm willing to try.I need to find alternatives to my old way of life and this is one of them.I'm sad I'll never find an alternative to rock/ice climbing though!lol....
    Chin up and think of the future...you are still healing after all
    love to all x
  • I hardly know what to say, after reading these hugely disappointing post-surgery stories. I fully understand anybody falling into depression after a bad result.

    One thing I need to comment on is the idea that one should put off this surgery until the pain is unbearable. My surgery was slightly different, due to scoliosis, requiring fusion from shoulder blades to pelvis, but my surgeon said that those patients with little or only moderate pain do better than those who wait until it's unbearable.

    My pain was low to moderate, despite a largish curve and my outcome has been overwhelmingly successful. I now have no pain at all.

    This would suggest that my surgeon was right. For anyone considering the surgery, please think carefully about considering it a last resort.

    I fervently hope those of you who're suffering so badly, eventually find improvements as the months go by. Sometimes healing from this type of surgery can take years. So there's still hope. Good luck!

  • I am somewhat in the same boat as Chuck, Cyndi, Meydey, carr26, Angie and others here. I am 1.5 years out of a lumbar fusion, although just recently have received the diagnosis of "pseudoarthroses". I still hope for "something" to happen before my 2 year mark, but I truly can relate to the feeling of diminished hope of ever being pain-free, or getting even remotely close my prior activity level. I do know other people that sailed through their fusions, and aside from an occasional ibuprofen for flares, are "fine". I have found myself more & more in doubt whether my surgery was the right thing to do, whether I should subject myself to a revision or am I asking for more trouble? I think back to my mind frame when I decided to have the fusion...being able to spend less and less time on my feet and increasing number of hours of my days on ice packs or heating pads, waking up several times in the night in pain, ascending prescriptions, and the surgeons telling me my chance of "success" was 85%, and there was no reason I wouldn't be able to resume all of my prior activities. I was told I was "too young" to have such a diminished quality of life, when I could have this surgery and be "pain free". Between what I was feeling and what I was told, I think any rational person would have had the surgery. But I still wonder was I lied to or am I just in the 15%? I would be really curious to ever find out what the "real numbers are" of people that go back to "normal pain-free" lives after lumbar fusions vs. how many consider themselves more disabled, in more pain, and how many of us would do it over if we could have a "do-over" so to speak. I don't think we will ever know but I sure would be curious.
  • Did the surgeon give you a reason for your pseudoarthrosis?

    Did you receive BMP, cadaver bone or your own bone? Or like me, all three?

    Some possible reasons for non-fusion are the taking of anti-inflammatories during recovery. I've read that some patients are not told that anti-inflammatories can lower their chances of fusion. Also, apparently smoking also lowers the chances of fusion.

    As far as revision is concerned, I think if it was me, I'd take the chance because it is a chance, whereas doing nothing ensures nothing more than continuing and worsening pain. But it's no fun making such decisions. Good luck!

  • Wow - I just read you post. That sure sounds scary!!God bless and keep us posted on your surgery date so we can do a group prayer!
  • optimist said:
    I think back to my mind frame when I decided to have the fusion...being able to spend less and less time on my feet and increasing number of hours of my days on ice packs or heating pads, waking up several times in the night in pain, ascending prescriptions, and the surgeons telling me my chance of "success" was 85%, and there was no reason I wouldn't be able to resume all of my prior activities. I was told I was "too young" to have such a diminished quality of life, when I could have this surgery and be "pain free". Between what I was feeling and what I was told, I think any rational person would have had the surgery. But I still wonder was I lied to or am I just in the 15%? I would be really curious to ever find out what the "real numbers are" of people that go back to "normal pain-free" lives after lumbar fusions vs. how many consider themselves more disabled, in more pain, and how many of us would do it over if we could have a "do-over" so to speak. I don't think we will ever know but I sure would be curious.
    I would like my do-over!
  • I feel for you. Life can really suck although I guess somebody elses' life can always be worse.

    Surgery should always be a last resort (numbness,shmumbness-don't get scared into surgery). You can have a good outcome after surgery but still never be close to the same. People should be warned about surgery including fusions since less than favorable outcomes can and do happen. I personally felt like I had little choice with my multiple lumbar discectomies due to weakness, intolerable pain, and the need to work ASAP. I have so far refused the recommended fusion(s).

    Chuck, I too WAS doing great. Back to cycling 60+miles 7+ weeks out, visions of ironman and bike races running thru my mind then BAM- completely new back pain and return of intense sciatica. Grim outlook once again but I'm trying to stay positive. No friggin way am I going back on Lyrica(aka obesity in a bottle). I hope we are just experiencing short-term flare-ups and the all too common ups and downs of back and radicular pain.

    I do know that life still has to be lived and you have to work -pain or not. I agree with my doc who is fine with my activity saying that "you've gotta be you". I was the happiest I had been getting on the bike even with some pain. So, don't beat yourself for trying to live your life and hopping on that motorcycle-hope it was fun during the ride. Never give up!
  • is on my surgeon's list of "do not do" - I am not a rider and have not had surgery yet, but it just looks like the back is under stress and takes somewhat of a beating that is probably tolerated well by a healthy back, but not one that has undergone such an invasive procedure.

    I have followed your story and know that so many have shared their ups and downs about fusions with you. Re-focus on getting back on track - remember Bruce's story - a two year hard recovery before he felt right. You have been through a lot - not only the surgery, but managing the pain while off meds - that is huge. I think you need more time - seek out a spine physical therapy team and go through an entire program that includes core strengthing in and out of the water. I thought I was in shape before my injury, but truth be told I think I am in better shape now and can't do half the things I could before blowing out my L5 and being diagnosed with a grade two spondylolesthesis. You can do this - just take it slow and don't do anything that puts hard stress on your spine - don't care what your surgeon says - you will always have restrictions.

    All the best, Mike
  • Chuck,
    It is obvious that you are very discouraged and angry that your pain has become so bad. Hopefully, your pain will lessen and you will be able to return to some of your pre-fusion activities.

    I hope that one day I will be able to say that I am one of the success stories. I went into the surgery knowing that I could not continue to live my life in pain and immobile. I got several opinions and understood that my condition and pain levels would not improve on their own and could become even worse if I waited. I also knew that there are many risks with this surgery, that there was no gaurantee that fusion would occur, or that I would end up pain-free. It was a chance I was willing to take based on my quality of life, or lack of it, prior to surgery. I had a great surgeon and my progress has been very good considering my age and average fitness level. I do realize that time will tell how well the surgery worked for long term pain relief and stablity and whether or not I will experience new problems down the road.

    My doctor said that once my fusion had taken hold I would be able to do just about anything that I wanted, including riding my motorcycle. I sent my husband on a ride a little while ago. It's a beautiful day and just because I can't ride - YET - he shouldn't miss out (she says with a woeful, forced smile on her martyr-like face). If for some reason down the road I can't ride, I'll deal with it. I can only hope that I will continue to improve and become more active.

    I hope that others who are considering surgery understand that your experience is a reality that can and does occur. Sometimes. Other people do benefit from surgery, improving their quality of life. I am glad I made the decision I did, despite some horror stories I had heard from friends and others. I am sorry that you are experiencing so much pain, discouragement, and anger. I hope you find relief and peace.
  • I'm hearing you. Thanks for sharing the "brutal
    truth". If one can't take hearing the BAD with
    the GOOD...they need to get off the internet...and
    let the god-docs make all their decisions for them.

    Dilauro - thanks for the words. A few others on
    SH have expressed the same - I take it to heart.

    Very Best Regards,

  • I am so sorry you are in pain and that you feel your surgery was a failure. I'm not sure the surgery was a failure -- I think your doctor was totally irresponsible for telling you that you would be "normal" and be able to go back to doing everything you wanted to post-surgery. Having part of your spine fused puts additional stress on the other parts when you move. Your back is not made to work with part of it stuck together. We fusion people will always have to be careful of what we do and how we do it. Yes, we can lead good, productive, and mostly pain-free lives, but we can't behave like we did in our younger days when our bodies were healthy and whole.

    I'm sorry you feel that pain meds carry so much stigma to them. I feel they are a tool to feel better when needed. Thankfully, it is now a rare occasion when I need them, but I don't feel a few pills a month is a problem. If I over-do, I'm willing to let the pain go away, do my gentle stretches, work with my physical therapist, and to my walking. Life goes on and I am not unhappy.

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