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surgery in a couple of weeks and now back feels better??

lisawllisaw Posts: 11
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
New here. :-) I've been having trouble for four years with my back. Bilateral spondylolysis and grade 1 spondylolisthesis and a herniated disc which got worse again last fall. It has been fairly debilitating off and on over the past four years to say the least. I'm sure most of you have a pretty good idea where I'm coming from. ;-)

Anyway, I'm booked for a discectomy, bilateral decompression and L5 S1 fusion with instrumentation on November 6th and magically my back has been great the last couple of weeks. Apparently just the threat of surgery is enough to cure me... it's not perfect but it certainly isn't keeping me on the couch and I've been sleeping great.

Anyone else had this "problem"? It's actually making the wait more difficult for me. If I was miserable I'd be rushing to the hospital. For once I actually wish I was - sound crazy?

btw, great forum - I've been reading through it a bit and have learned lots from all of you.





  • sounds like your back was scared straight..hahahha.
    seriously though, you said your pain has been fairly debilitating off and on, perhaps this has just been an off time. The decision for a spinal fusion is a huge one. Only you can decide if the time is right for you,a big part of that is probably, how much time on versus off of debilitating pain. Please think of how the pain affects your everyday life and how often, talk to your doc's and family. Come here for input. Pray about it and make an informed and definate decision. This decision is not to be made in a wishy-washy way. Keep us posted and know we are here to support you whatever you decide.
    May God Bless and Keep you as you make your decision.
  • Wish I could relate, but for my first fusion, by the time I was frantic to have my back "fixed" I had to wait another 3 months (started crying in the Drs. office). I was in such bad shape I couldn't wait for the surgery and recuperation to begin.

    This time around I am in great pain and started the surgery process a bit earlier so as not to have to wait longer than I could handle. I also know that a 3 level cervical fusion needs to be done, so I don't want to drag my feet and later get permanent nerve damage due to waiting too long.

    Talk to your Dr. if you are really unsure.
  • I know how you are feeling with your back feeling better. I have felt that way before, but quickly realized that I was avoiding any activities that would aggravate my back. I simply was changing and acoommodating for my back to the point where I woke up and said to my husband, "I can't do housework, I can't sleep for more than 3 hours, I get sciatic pain every day, I can't bend over to pick up soap in the shower (sorry TMI!)", etc... Sometimes I think we women try not to complain and rather deal with our trials and tribulations one day at a time; then, BAM! a realization hits us that we need to do something about our pain and lack of mobility. Think of the pros and cons...write them down. Would your life be better without the pain levels you have on a general basis? Can you go a couple more years without this procedure?

    I am 3 weeks post PLIF at the S1/L5 level...and I am at that point where I am sooo happy I got the procedure completed. Was it hard...yep! The first week was pretty intense, but I have been forcing myself to ask for help when I need it. That can be hard!

    Good luck and prayers on your decision.

  • My rational brain (and my husband who's had to live with this as well for the past 4 years) is all for the surgery. My back has "settled" before and I'm sure that's all that's going on now. Still the "terrified of surgery" part of me is pretty much convinced that everything is suddenly healing. ;-)
    Back in April when I finally got in to see my neurosurgeon I had pretty much given up on getting surgery or any other help for that matter. I'm in rural Canada and just getting to the point of getting in to see him was a bit of a challenge to say the least. Once I actually got into the spine clinic they were great and frankly there was a fair amount of head shaking (which confirmed that my choice to change family doctors was a good one). When he told me that actually he could help me I did have a little cry - and I'm not a cryer ;-) partly because I was happy, and partly at the thought that I probably could have had it taken care of years ago.

    I spend aproximately 2-3 months a year not being able to do anything. The rest of the time I have symptoms they just aren't unbearable and I think I've gotten pretty used to dealing with the leg pain etc.. I never know when my back will flare up.

    I'm self employed and summer is my busiest season so I told him I'd wait till fall for surgery. Now I've got all my ducks in a row so to speak. I'll have work wrapped up in time, my husband has arranged for time off work, etc,, and I'm expecting that by next spring I'll be back to work.

    Guaranteed if I were to put this off a week later I'd be back on the couch again. I'll keep reminding myself of that. ;-)


  • I had that same thing happen the week before surgery. I felt better than I had in 10 years, it was short lived though. It made me second guess my decision to have surgery. Since I felt so good I went to the gym and did everything I couldn't do on a normal day. The next day I couldn't move, it was horrible, I cried because how bad my back hurt. I was so hopeful that I was cured. I realize now it was that one perfect day that made me understand just how badly I needed the surgery. It's a big decision but I made the right one and you'll make the right decision for yourself too. Good Luck I hope you have a lifetime of pain free days.
  • I think this is the reason why it has been a godsend for this forum. I am so thankful for all the support and advice I have received. I too, was scared out of my wits end before my surgery. I had to postpone my graduation to next fall! But, I can't say I would be able to make the daily one-and-a-half hour drive to school. Plus, I am 95% better than I was before surgery. I realize everybody has a different recovery rate, but I just had expectations of losing the butt, thigh, and leg pain (and additional foot pain).

    I am so sorry (but at the same time jealous) that you live in such a rural location. I am jealous because my husband and I just bought a house in a small town but we want to be more rural-like a farmhouse :))) On the other hand, I was frustrated to wait for three weeks before being able to even get in to see the NS!
    You mentioned that 2-3 months out of the year you can't do anything...well, by my standards...that's not living to life's fullest potential. Plus, you have the support of your husband! I would not have been able to make it very well the first week without mine! I think you know what is best for yourself by the sounds of it :)

    Take care!

  • I got hurt about 20 years ago and the pain was horrid and my left arm was very weak. I was told to have surgery then but chose not to.

    I had pain on and off through the 20 years. Finally the pain got me. I was in almost as much pain as I was when the injury happened so I caved in and got the surgery on it's way.

    Like you my pain went way down before the surgery and I thought I may be crazy to do this but then I remembered how horrible the pain had been and the fact that my surgeon said he could fix my discs but not my nerves. That got me on the table LOL
  • With a diagnosis of spondylolisthesis, there is less hope of that magical cure you refer to!

    It sounds like you are happy with the doctor and the spine clinic, which is not always the case with our Canadian posters....How hard would it be to get the surgery later, if you postponed it now?
  • The surgeon is definitely qualified. The spine clinic was great in that as soon as they received my most recent MRI they fit me in without a wait. I've certainly been less than happy with the local medical profession (that's a whole other topic of discussion ), but once I actually got into the "system" things have been really smooth.

    If I were to postpone it I'm not sure how that would work. At the very least I would think that there would be a 3-4 month wait for a new date after I decided I wanted it and that would be after I got in to see the surgeon again. Not to mention reorganizing everything again.

    Nope, I'm going to get it over with. In the meantime I HAVE started taking less care with my back - doing stuff I normally wouldn't. I might as well enjoy it while I can and frankly if it really flares up I've only got a couple of weeks to wait and then I'll really want it. ;-)

    Yep - my back has apparently driven me crazy.


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. This is a great place for information, support and friendship.

    Your post reminded me of a very common occurance I've had at work - something's very wrong with my computer, it won't work properly, I put in a call to IT to come fix it, and when they show up everything's fine. And then, of course, the car running perfectly fine the minute you drive it to the mechanic...

    Anyway, certainly nobody can tell you which road to take, but it sounds like you've made up your mind to move ahead. I admire your decision - it's a tough call, but the problems are still in your spine, no matter what you do, so I think it's wise to move forward with the initial plan.

    Good luck to you and we'll be here for you.
  • "Your post reminded me of a very common occurance I've had at work - something's very wrong with my computer, it won't work properly, I put in a call to IT to come fix it, and when they show up everything's fine. And then, of course, the car running perfectly fine the minute you drive it to the mechanic..."

    I AM that car. ;-) When I went to the surgeon this spring I felt like a complete idiot because that day I felt FINE. Two days earlier I wanted to cut my leg off (I've got problems with both legs but at the time the left leg was miserable). That day I could touch my toes, sit as long as I wanted, walk like a pro, you name it and really nothing hurt. I spent a whole lot of time descrbing things that weren't happening. ;-) I know it was stress - heading to a big hospital in the city (I'm a real country girl at heart)without my husband who had to be away on business for an appointment that I figured was my last chance at some relief. After I got done at the hospital and started to drive back home all of my usual symptoms started kicking back in...
    So I guess I have a history , but who'd of thought that I'd be stressed enough about surgery that it would make a difference a few weeks out?


  • Ha ha. :) This happened to me too. My many years lasting chronic nerve pain completely disappeared the week before surgery. It happens to me whenever I go to the doctor or dentist. Whatever was bothering me just disappears.
  • I'm in the same boat, feeling so good on the Cymbalta that I think maybe I can wait til my son is older. But, like you, everyone has rearranged their lives to help me with the recovery. Tomorrow I'm going on a long walk which will remind me why I called my doctor and asked for any surgery that was possible. Good luck, we're all here to cheer you on and cheer you up. You are making the right choice for you.
  • I can lie back in my recliner and be almost pain free. I spent a few days moving not long ago. I avoided the hard stuff but still had alot of light lifting and moving around. By the end of the 2nd day every step I took hurt in my soul. It took me several days to get over that. I also can only be on my feet for a few minutes until my left leg gets weak and numb primarily in the foot. I actually have to find a seat when that happens. The end restult is I spend a bunch of time in this ole recliner.

    I think a person has to make a bulleted list of all these little facts then ask the question...How bad is this affecting the quality of my life?

    My L3-S1 PLIF with hardware and PEEK cages is scheduled for 10/29/09. In the past few weeks I had really wrestle the decision. I was actually doing more to keep myself sore so that my mind would keep right about it all. Anyway around it, it's not an easy decision.

    May God bless your journey and give you wisdom.
  • That things are going back to "normal" again. As in back to leg pain, weird feelings, leg giving out,etc... It's still not nearly as bad as it can be, but it is a gentle reminder that nothing is "healed". ;-)

    A few of you have mentioned thinking or listing how much it has changed my life - to depressing when I really think about it. I used to be one of those "do anything, always looking for an adventure" kind of person. Now I'm a "stick around the house and putter" kind of person. And needless to say, after you say no, or worse back out at the last minute, the "adventure" invitations sort of dry up...

    So now it's on to the official count down like a lot of others on the forum - 2 weeks to go. I'm in pretty good shape otherwise (have worked hard to stay in shape) so I'm hoping that I'll have a fairly quick recovery. Oh, and after reading a lot of comments on this forum - I'll be listening to my doctor's orders!


  • I was in a similar position a few months ago. My back is not as bad as yours though. It first went three years ago and was diagnosed pirformis synrome. Went again this april and was absolutely awful until about two weeks before my l5s1 PLIF was scheduled in august. So the surgeon said to leave it. Within two weeks pain, although not as sever, was back and I started shaving parts off my life - swimming less far, walking less far, not going out to eat because of sitting down etc etc. I also had trouble sleeping.
    So I went back to the surgeon and he said to do the surgery. I wrestled with the idea for a week and agreed.
    I had the surgery this time last week (prob out in recovery about this time of day). The horrid hip pain was gone straight away. I was terrified of the operation as I thought it was bound to hurt loads. Actually I am only taking paracetamol and some ibuprofen for inflamation! I can't believe how little it has hurt me.
    Being in hospital was tiring and the drain caused a fair amount if discomfort but it was removed after 2 days and then i was up and about (if a bit slowly!!)
    Today I went shopping and for a short walk.
    Honestly if it is affecting all parts of your life you need to give it a try. The thought of it was worse than the actual thing.
    I am, however, resigned to not doing a lot of things in the short term. Not being able to put the anti embolism stockings on for myself is annoying! I have just had to take a step back and think long term gain for short term pain! Plus I think it does my hubby good to do all "my" jobs for a bit ;)
  • The pain comes and goes like that. I'm sure some of the members would consider us "lucky" in a roundabout sort of way. At least we get a break every now and again. Seems not so great a thing when the pain returns though. It's likr the breaks are really just the pain resting up, little break, vacation. It comes back with a vengeance.

    There are days that I wonder why in the world I went for the SCS. Followed by days/weeks that I KNOW why I went for the SCS! I have learned to enjoy the good days and try not to feel like the SCS was a wasted surgery. So far, the pain always returns. Maybe someday.

    I also have to keep in perspective that while I am off the narcotics, daily doses of flexeril, Ambien, Valium and Lamictal may play some part in my comfort level :?
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