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Fusion- L3 4 5 S1 7 screws and two metal rods

big fredbbig fred Posts: 9
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am a 57 year old male who began having problems about 8-10 months ago. Started limping, which developed into severe foot slap, then hip, knee and right leg pain caused from sciatica. Saw a chiropractor, helped a little, then had 3 epidurals which helped for 3 weeks, 2 weeks, and 2 days. Had an MRI, saw a neurosurgeon who said my discs were shot, had slid forward and were pressing on the nerve.decided to go to a Boston ortho surgeon for a second opinion who also said fusion. This was in May. Decided to tough it out to work the summer to save some money as I am self-employed.Scheduled the surgery last Thurs Nov. 5. Got very nervous the month before, drank too much , just was not in the right frame of mind. Two weeks ago decided to get my head into it and thought of it as a positive thing , no more drinks and tried to look forward to it. When you think about it all I've been doing so far is getting worse, it would be nice to get a little better everyday. So I went in Thurs. morning to Newton-Wellesley hospital (great place!)They gave me something and it seemed like it took 4 minutes when it took 4 hours. I was very comfortable the first night due to a Dilaudid IV I could push every 8 minutes. Had a catheter which helped alot. I even walked 10 feet that night. I have to say I have a high threshold for pain and was in quite a bit of it the next day when they put me on oral Dilaudid.Walked around the hospital floor 3-4 times on Friday. Had a good appetite and used the bathroom myself.When I went in they said I would probably be in 4 days till Mon. Well they cut me loose on the second day Sat. after I could walk up and down stairs and they had adjusted my pain meds.Now it is Tues. morning and I just took a walk up my street for a for a little ways. Did that 3 times yesterday. Have been sleeping well, about 2 hours at a time on my sides. They gave me Valium for that. I am in a lot of pain but hopefully it will lessen in time. You will not get to a 2-3 pain level with major surgery. Hope for a 4 level and tough it out for a little bit. Get up and walk every 30 minutes or so, even around the dining room table. Will post something in a few days and hopefully will be better.
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Comments

  • Hi big fred -- sounds like you got your head screwed on straight and that so far, so good....

    The first week or two are the toughest, as you are aware. Just take it day by day and be very good about following your doctor's instructions. Remember the simple rules: no twisting, bending at the waist, no pushing or pulling, reaching overhead or to the side and pay attention to whatever weight restrictions you were given.

    You are right that walking is the most important activity. It stretches out the spinal nerves and helps to keep scar tissue from attaching. It is more important to walk often than to walk far -- in other words, frequency rather than distance.

    Sounds like you will get through this just fine and that in several months you will be very happy you decided to go ahead with the surgery.

    Gwennie
  • Sounds like our backs are twins. I had the same levels fused and also have two rods and seven screws. Took me two surgeries in the span of four days though. I hope your recovery goes well and you're feeling great in no time.

    Linda
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi Linda, thank you for your reply. Will be a week tomorrow and am doing well I think. Just called for my Dilaudid renewal. Not sure how well it works, most narcotics make you feel a little high , this seems to take away some of the pain and make me a little drowsy. As I said before I have a high pain threshold plus I have been taking 1-2 Percocets daily for a couple years due to a partial shoulder replacement which needs to be finished. Its next on the list , then my hips. Internally I am very healthy, but my skelatal structure has taken a beating.
    Yesterday I was getting some mild spasms in my lower right back. The valium seemed to help some and this morning they seem to be gone. Its funny, but I have been sleeping better since my back operation than I have in a couple years. My shoulder hurts so bad it would wake me up every 1-11/2 hours. Now I am sleeping 2-3 hours at a time. Does not sound like much but believe me it matters.
    Still have not driven yet. I have a conversion van whose chairs are very comfo but hard to press the brake pedal. No rush for anything, all I have is time to get better. Well time for a walk, then maybe a shower.Oh Boy!Fred
  • Ah yes, the little excitements of the recovering spine patient. I hope you enjoyed the shower. Believe me, I know what a difference a little extra sleep can make. I had a torn rotator cuff for three months and barely slept a wink. They put me on Ambien for a few days before I had it repaired because the anesthesiologist said I was too sleep deprived to go into surgery. I too have a frame that is falling apart piece by piece. Great cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, etc., but my bones and muscles are a mess!

    Linda
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hello its Fred again. I am doing well, have had 2 showers and had my dressing changed. Took small bowel movement yesterday and today. Started Metamucil 2 days ago and eat 1-2 apples daily.Very constipated but at least something is happening. I drove yesterday about 2 miles just to get some Tylenol. Would not want to drive too much just yet. My incision looked pretty good (I guess) no leakage or anything. I have internal stitches and superglue. I just got my renewal prescription in the mail and the doctor did not sign it. I am 1 1/2 hours away. They said they would priority overnight which was cool. I also told them to switch me from Dilaudid to Percocet. My pain has gone down a little and the Dilaudid is very strong and kind of puts you in LA LA land.I would not drive on it . I have a kind of cramp in my right hip, buttocks from time to time. That was the side that had most of the nerve damage. We'll give it time. Good luck, everyone Fred
  • I thank you for posting your progress, I have a L3-L4 fusion and a L-5 S1 microdiscopy on the 18th and am so scared, I was in a accident in Auguest and I have been in so much pain and my right knee keeps going numb three weeks after this surgery I have to go for surgery to my neck. and still have a torn rotator cuff, seperated shoulder and torn miniscus in left knee. I wish I would of called out of work that day and stayed home. (lol) but please keep posting as it has really given me support for having the surgery done before I chicken out. I am 46 and I guess it will not get any better on its own. thanks again fred.
    Brenda
  • Did they take some bone from your hip for your fusion? That might be part of your pain. I didn't have bone taken (had allograft or cadaver bone) but they did take some of my bone marrow out of my hip and I remember that hurting worse than my back! At any rate, nerves that are waking up can cause that too.

    Brenda - you poor thing!! What sort of accident did you have? Sounds like you really got banged up. I've had more than my share of accidents and should probably have zippers installed at several locations in my body, but at least they all happened at varying times and I didn't get hit with it all at once. Hang in there and let us know how you do.

    Linda
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hello, Fred again, its Sun. morning and Friday I stated the doctors office did not sign my scrip then said they would overnite one . Well guess what , they did not. So I'm calling friends and relatives asking for pain medicine. Hard for them to believe the doctors office would screw up like that. Luckily a friend has some Percocets I can bum. Other than that I am doing great. On Friday I was fighting the flu I think and just did not feel right. I was supposed to go to a memorial service and could not do it. Was in bed for 14 hours which made my back hurt. Yesterday started coming back and today I am going to a flea market.
    I had no bone taken from my hip . It was all synthetic. I am still sleeping like a champ. I had stated before how badly I was sleeping for years due to a bad shoulder. When I went in for my back surgery my back pain was 2-3 and my shoulder was 6-7. Bad day for the shoulder and good day for the back. Well, thats it for now, have to go buy some fleas. Fred Oh yes , a friend had given me one of those grabbers to pick things up with and I highly reccommend one. I have picked up a nickle and a pain pill. Very handy.
  • Hello its Fred again, two weeks ago this morning I was getting operated on. I have been doing very well so far. At Day 8 I said I was getting muscle cramps in my right buttocks. Well 2 days ago I drove and went to Wal-Mart for some slip-on shoes.( Dr. Scholls with built-in cushion inserts for $22. ) Made a couple more stops and basically did too much. Started to develop a muscle cramp pain in my right buttocks and could hardly walk by night. Took muscle relaxers and did nothing yesterday. Today I am still sore, can walk and am getting better. Am not sure if it was nerve or muscle, made me a little nervous because I have been doing so well. I have to make sure I do not overdo it just because I feel well. Fred
  • Hi Fred again, last time I wrote I said I was getting a charley horse type of pain in my right buttocks ( which was the damaged side). Well it was not getting better so I called my doctor who said the nerves were inflamed. (After surgery he said I had 2 nerves that were really trashed). He prescribed Predisone 20 mg 3 times daily for 5 days then 2 days off, then Predisone for 5 more days. The nurse asked if I overdid it the day it started and of course I had. She acted like it was a normal thing and was surprised I was not on any other nerve drugs. Hopefully it will work as I was doing great, putting on my own socks and everything. My incision healed up fine and has had no bandage for a few days now. Gwennie, what side effects did you get from the Predisone?
    I read many people complaining of their pain levels. I do not think that after major surgery you can get down to a 1-2 level .Not without being unconscious. Also many people are on high doses of pain medicine before the operation which will affect your post-op pain. Also I think that finding the right doctor is the most important thing you can do. I live an hour from Boston which has the best hospitals in the world and my shoulder ortho doctor suggested I travel to Boston rather than use someone local. The doctor who operated on me said that he had done about 1,000 fusions in the last 20 years. Very comforting. My doctor said no PT except walking for 6 weeks. No swimming. I do not even see him until 6 weeks except for an emergency. Well I hope the Predisone works, Fred
  • Sounds like you are making very good progress. I hope the prednisone will work for you. It will help calm any inflammation...and the two courses will hopefully do the trick. Otherwise he can put you on one of the nerve medications such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or Lyrica.

    You should not really have too many side effects from prednisone, just taking it for two weeks. I took it for a year for another problem and even then, there were only minor side effects. Some common side effects are an increase in appetite (It makes me want to bake brownies!) and some people feel restless or kind of nervous. Some have trouble sleeping. Some people sweat or get a flushed feeling....hopefully you won't be affected at all.

    You are correct in that it really pays to do your homework and find the best spinal specialist that you can.

    You had a big surgery and it is important to walk. But you must be careful about trying to do other things at the moment. Be careful about overdoing it, too. This will set you back, as you found out the other day. If you want to be in the water, you can go to the pool and walk, or wear a vest to support your upper body and move your legs as though you were walking or running. You really should avoid actual swimming for quite awhile...at least 3 months or longer. Most swimming strokes with the exception of the side stroke put your back in an extended position. This is not good for your newly fused spine, particularly since it is not "fused" yet, and will not be a solid fusion for about a year. It also puts more stress on the spine when both your legs and arms are extended -- just like you need to be cautious when reaching up overhead after back surgery. I didn't start PT until about the 14th week, so you can see, different surgeons have different opinions on the value of PT.

    For now, remember you have had a BIG surgery. Your body needs time to heal and nothing you do will cause the process to go faster. For now, your main job is to walk and rest, walk and rest.

    Take good care --
    Gwennie
  • Hello Fred again, well the Predisone seemed to work for the nerve inflamation pretty well.I did sweat in bed at night and was pretty hungry for side effects. I am still in quite a bit of pain from the surgery though. An ache like someone punched me in the lower back. I eat a Percocet or two every several hours which dulls it but does not get rid of it. I have a high threshold for pain and realize they did alot of work in there. Otherwise I am very mobile and put shoes and socks on and can pick things up off the floor. Still walking several times a day. Thought I would be walking further by now but thats fine. Looking forward to my 6 week post-op appointment to find out my next course of action. I read many people debating whether to get fusion or not. I would wait as long as possible if its just for pain. But if you have nerve damage as I had a severe limp, foot slap , don't wait too long. I met a friend of a friend last week who waited too long due to its being a workmens comp case and has permanent nerve damage in her leg. It can affect your bladder control also. Well, thats it for now.
  • Glad to hear you are feeling so much better Fred. I am about a month out from my fusion and I haven't even left the house yet, except to walk the dog up & down the block.

    You say you can pick things up off the floor, that scares me a little bit. Did your doctor give you a no twist/bend/lift rule? Bending can really damage all that lovely work your surgeon did, I think.
  • I just came on board yesterday and don't even know if this is how to post but here goes: I have just consented to L3-SI fusion and SI rotorouted due to nerve damage in feet and legs. It is scheduled for 5 Jan. It sounds similar to your experience, Big Fred, so I am following your posts closely. A friend has scared me with horror stories she's heard from others and my dau, a PT, has asssured me the rehab is arduous. You guys are helping me know this is doable. I have solid confience in my doc and his team which helps, too. Lots of luck and good meds for us all!!
  • Greetings, well I saw my doctor for the first time this week and had X-Rays. When I saw them one of my rods was bent and I thought I screwed it up. But he assured that was the way he did it and I was doing fine. He examined me and said things were going well. He had me try to walk on my heels to check the nerves in my right leg. I could do it a little. He said two of my nerves were pretty crushed. I asked what he did and said to basically free them up and take off the pressure and they would come back. I questioned why I was still in quite a bit of pain and he said it was normal because of all the work he had done in there. He said that the more that I could walk the better I would feel. He wants me up to 3 miles daily, though not all at one time. He also would like me to get down to 6 percocets daily. I am hoping to reach both those goals. I am very sore in the morning after bed. He said the only way I would screw up my back was to lift something that was too heavy. Otherwise I am very mobile out driving, doing errands,visiting friends etc. I am self-employed and I can see that work ( heavy lifting) is a ways off. We'll see what the next 6 weeks will bring. Thats when I see him again.Merry Christmas everyone. P.S. We have a foot of snow coming tonight in the Northeast. No shoveling.
  • Greetings, saw my doctor for my 3 month check-up. Took X-rays and everything is fine, good bone fusion growth happening. Back feels pretty good all due to walking. Joined YMCA which has an indoor track. Had tried walking up and down my street in the snow and it sucked. Been walking about 2 miles a day for a month and its made the difference which the doctor had said it would. However about a week ago developed a nerve cramp-pain in my left hip-buttocks which the doctor is treating with 2400 mg of Motrin daily. I questioned it and he said no Motrin only for the first 3 months and once good bone growth had started it was OK. Hope it works as it is hindering my walking. For the next 3 months he wants me to walk, swim, and bicycle. No heavy lifting (50-60pds.) ever again. Foot slap comes and goes once in awhile but is much better. He had been telling me it would take 6 months to recover and now is saying a year due to the severity of my crushed nerves. Hope everyone is doing better than you were.
  • Fred,it is good to hear you are on the road to recovery!I am going to see if Denton has a "Y"---We live in the country,and it is up,down,holes,bumpy---and cold.Let me know how the Motrin does.Jeannie
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