First of all let me thank My Lord, for without His strength, I could not go from day to day. If you are considering this surgery, this is not an easy surgery. In 2006 after a successful neck fusion, I talked to my neurosurgeon about my lower back. He said the best advice he could give me was to endure the pain as long as I possibly could and then he would do what he could to help me.
After months of sciatica, nerve blocks, numbness in both thighs, the feeling of being stung by a thousand bees in both thighs, charley horse pain in back of legs and sleepless nights that pain medications just didn’t reach. MRI and flexion x ray showed disc to be slipping and a calcified synovial cyst. My neurosurgeon set up my 360 fusion. Sept 29, 2009-ALIF, L5-S1,dowel, BMP
Oct. 1- PLIF-L5-S1, Pedidide fixation fusion
Be at hospital at 5 AM nothing to eat or drink after midnight. Surgery started around 7AM and lasted about 5 hours. A General surgeon makes an 8 inch horizontal incision just below belly button. He gets everything ready for the Neurosurgeon and puts everything back in place and closes. When general surgeon got to my spine, he found the 2 veins that run down my spine were right in front of area where fusion was to take place. In normal anatomy these veins separate and branch over the disc area. Mine were together right where they needed to work. They had to manipulate these veins out of the way. After this was finished a bone broke off and had to be repaired. When this was finished after tapping a bone and trying to thread in the dowel, the dowel cross threaded. He wanted to use 2 rods, but because of my anatomy was only allowed to use 1. I was closed up, sent to recovery and then in my room.
Here is the great part. After the surgery I had one bad charley horse pain in the back of my leg. My first thought was this has not helped at all. It only lasted a short time and then was GONE FOR GOOD. I had last eaten on Monday night at about 8 PM. After surgery by bowels went to sleep. Normally they start you off on clear liquids after surgery and build you back up to real food. Mine were asleep so all I was allowed was ice chips. My back was still unstable so Dr. said I had to lay flat on my back.
Tuesday came and went. Still no bowel sounds. Wednesday night they stopped the ice chips because the surgery was scheduled for Thursday. I could not bear to cough because of the incision pain. I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. My stomach was so sore I could not touch it and now they were about to make two more incisions in my back. How was I ever going to be able just to sleep? Thursday came and back to operating room for 3 more hours. Neurosurgeon called my wife after surgery and said I had really strong back muscles that were 2 inches thick. They were difficult to cut and they were going to cause me to have intense pain. 2 more incisions about 4 inches in length each, and a drainage tube. He increased the amount of morphine I was getting thru the pump.
I was sent back to my room, frozen to the bone. My wife told me what the surgeon said and I told her it was not bothering me at all and it never did. So many wonderful people praying for me and prayer answered.
They had wanted me to get measured for a brace, but because the surgery had been moved up, they decided to fit me before surgery. I still don’t know if they were going to use some standard type brace or if the brace people didn’t show up. They result was I still had no brace. They told me they were on their way. I’m flat of my back since Tuesday morning, they come and put some material on my stomach and it heats up and turns hard. They put more material down on the bed, and then the fun started. They roll me onto my sore empty stomach and you could hear me scream from one side of Tuscaloosa to the other. My stomach was filled with trapped air. I could not breath, my stomach was about to blow up and one of the best belches in all my life happens. I just about blew a clock off the wall.
The brace was back and on in about 3 hours. I had to wear it at all times unless I was lying down. They said PT would get me up. I was expecting another scream. I was so tired of that bed it was wonderful to finally be able to stand. I never realized until then how much you use your back just to stand up. I was told to use nothing but my leg muscles to push myself to standing. If you are considering this surgery, really build up your thigh and leg muscles if health permits. They had me stand walk forward, backward, then side to side. They said I was ready to dance and I felt like it. They asked me, if I wanted to go back to bed or to sit and I told them I didn’t think I would ever lie down again. I sit up for about 40 minutes.
On Friday, PT got me up and I walked all the way to the door by myself. Slight bowel sounds-clear liquid. The absolute best chicken broth I have ever tasted.
Saturday, a walked down the hall and I was told I could have soft food. Neurosurgeon came by and wanted PT to help me get a shower and if everything continued going good I could go home Sunday. The only pain has been from the surgery.
I was dismissed on Sunday and asked if I needed a walker or other equipment. He said he didn’t want me to use walker, because you get dependant on them and when you use them you lean forward slightly, which I did not need to do. No lifting over 5 lbs, no bending, no twisting, no sitting over 20 minutes three times a day and if not sitting be walking or lying down. Brace to be worn anytime I was up unless in shower or short trip to bath. I will have to wear this for 6 months. Hot and uncomfortable, but it does its job.
Tylox 5-500mg capsules, 1 or 2 every 4 hours.
I spent Monday walking as much as I could. Oct 6, I was able to get out of bed without any help, walk to the bathroom without the brace, stand up in the shower for looooooooong shower and get back into bed by my self. I was able to walk a half mile out a gravel road.
If I had to go tomorrow and do this all over again, knowing the pain it has caused, I would do it without a thought. The choice to have this surgery is yours and yours alone. I am blessed that it worked for me, but you need to talk to you Dr. and make your own decision. It seems it does not work for everyone. My prayer for you is that you find some relief from your pain any way you can. This is a great web site, with caring, wise people. Take advantage of this wisdom from experience, feel free to ask any question and someone will be able to help you out. Feel free to PM me with any question you might have. Keep me in your prayers and God Bless!