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edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone, well my plif surgery is on march 8th, im a newbie to any surgery, except v-hyst about 20 years ago. im haveing the plif posterior lumbar interbody fusion w/pedide screw fixation.L4/5+L5/Sl.
ok heres my questions, do most surgeries like this end up bad as i see in this forum? do you always have a extreior bone stimulator to use after surgery i see some have them and others dont, maybe each dr. is diff on this. i already been told i wont have no brace as my dr. dont believe in useing them says muscles get weak(but mine are all but gone anymore as ive done nothing but lay in my recliner due to the pain i have had for the last year) ive had this back problem since 1987 so as i age its become to bad to bare and im tired of not liveing like a normal person. so im haveing the surgry. and i will need a hospital bed how do i get this? do i need to have it set up before i go to the hospital, or do they do all that for me(i have medicare a&b so all should be covered. i have to go to my sons to recoop in the town where im haveing my surgery and all he has is a kng bed and box springs on the floor(no frame) and its low and wont be able to get up and down on it.
now heres the comments,, i wish i never found this site lol, it has scared the crap out of me, no one seems to have a good outcome, sounds like the same is there after surgery more pain and discomfort and pain meds as before they had any surgery. and all the updates from ones just haveing had the surgery, omg dont sound like they have any relief not even after 6 months. its ,made me so scared that i want to back out of the surgery at times. i live alone and going to my sons, aint gonna be a picnic at all, but the way it sounds evryone has major problems months and months after and i dont want to be at his home that long. any and all info would be helpful, and oh i see most who have had 1 surgery end up haveing more thru the years i dont want this, is it routine that ya gotta keep on and on haveing more?


  • It is normal to have the pre-surgery gitters comes with the territory. As far as not seeing many post with successful outcomes has a lot to do with when members get better they are to busy out living life. This is a message we preach over and over here. Take for example one of the mods Bruce he has a wonderful story and if you click on his name you can read his entire story and how well he is doing. He is busy now with life and don't have as much time to post any longer. You find alot more members posting when they are recovering as they have time to make post and questions concerning the recovery or like yourself headed to surgery and want to know about others experiences. A lot of us that hang around are in the not so good category and have compound conditions. while I am from the cervical side and what has happened to me is not a typical result. But surgery is surgery and there are risk that you are signing off on when they perform the surgery. Also keep in mind surgery is not magic pill and it takes a lot on the patients part to work at getting better. The surgeons can only take you so far and the rest is up to you unless you have a complication. I just read a post today about someone returning to work following lumbar surgery. You can also look at haglandc she is another good example while she had set backs she did go back to work and diving. Like I say most just don't stick around to tell all the good stuff they are out doing now. Anyway hope this helps and good luck in surgery. Take care and be sure to post how you are doing.
  • You have to put what you read on the board in perspective. Most people come here for initial information prior to surgery, have their surgery, and move on. They do not hang around the board to post about the fact that they have returned to their usual activities and routines.

    The forum probably represents some of the worst outcomes from all over the world! So don't let it scare you. I had the same reaction before my first surgery. I had NEVER had any previous surgery in over five decades -- and after reading stories on the internet, I was sure surgery would be the most horrendous experience of my life. As a result, I didn't think it was all that bad.

    The board is useful in that it will prepare you for a more realistic timeline for recovery. Surgeons are notorious for telling patients recovery times that are too optimistic. I'd rather know the reality of what I am facing than go through the experience and then wonder why I'm not recovering as quickly as I was told.

    If everything goes relatively normally for you, I would think you could return to your home in two to three weeks' time...possibly sooner, depending on how determined you are! There are some people on the board who have had lumbar fusion and were on their own soon after the surgery. Hopefully they will chime in with their experiences!!

    You will need some sort of bed at your son's house. Hospital beds can be rented. I would think you would want to have it arranged prior to your surgery...I've never looked into it, so am not quite sure how it works. I know they are delivered and set up for you. You will probably also want a raised toilet seat of some sort.

    I couldn't guess what percentage of patients who have one back surgery end up with additional surgeries. Again, it is common on the forum, but that is again because people are looking for support and information. It is not indicative of the overall statistics. But even on this board, if you asked anyone if he or she would have surgery if he/she could do it over again...I think the answer would be an overwhelming YES. Sometimes you just can't go on living with a back problem!!

    I'm having a 3 level lumbar fusion on 2 March and it is a second fusion for me....My first fusion was uneventful. I healed well and things went as planned. I just should have had the other two levels fused at that point...but I elected to go with the minimal amount, and it turned out to be a mistake. So I am going to have the rest done in a couple weeks.

    Try not to be scared and nervous. It is good that you will be prepared and realize that back surgery is a longer recovery than other surgeries. This way you will not be shocked or surprised when you aren't fully recovered in a week or two!

  • You can't judge by reading the posts on here. Most of the people that had good outcomes to their surgery no longer need to post on this site. That's why it appears that everyone has problems. The ones who recovered well and went back to a normal life have moved on and no longer post here. My own story started with sucess with my neck fusion. It was a total sucess. I have not had a problem since surgery on my neck. My Lumbar problems would probably not have been as bad as they are if I had just done what I was supposed to. I did way to much after surgery and so now I'm heading back there again.

    So I guess my point is just make sure you listen to what your surgeon and PT people have to say and behave yourself after surgery. I know I'm going to this time.

    Here's to a pain free life for you. Good Luck
  • Oh wow Deebra, sounds like you are about to pull your hair out! I don't really know where to start, so I'll just put out some thoughts for ya. One is something I read a while back concerning back surgery forums. It suggested that often those with very successful surgeries healed, went back to work and went on down the road and didn't post on forums anymore. Sounds possible doesn't it?

    Secondly, what exactly do you mean by "do all the surgeries wind up this bad?" I ask this because yea, some of the stuff that gets talked about on here does sound pretty tough. But a PLIF fusion is serious business. I know..I'm 3 months and 2 days after having one done myself. I don't think I've had a bad outcome. Many of the troubles I had prior to the surgery are gone. I still have some leg pain and numbness here and there, but it's much better than pre-op. There are many positive surgery outcomes, but I suppose that's going to depend on your definition of positive vs. bad. Please don't go into this thinking you'll just get up a few days after surgery and run around like a spring chicken. Even with the best outcome, there's a bit of recovery with this surgery.

    No, not everyone needs or gets an external bone growth stimulator. I didn't. I got the brace, some don't. Some things vary with this procedure due to the doc's preference or the patient's condition.

    As for people having problems "months and months" after surgery, well yes and no. Three months into my ordeal, I can do just about what I want (within reason and no bending, lifting or twisting). But as soon as I came home I could take my own shower. After a few days, I could do my own cooking and really after the first week, I could take care of myself. BUT, even after three months, I still can't lift anything. Dr's orders, and besides if I do lift anything much at all..I pay for it!

    I don't want to ramble on forever, but long story short..make sure your doc goes over the surgery and recovery with you. If he doesn't volunteer, ask him. Don't let the stuff on this forum scare the beejezus out of ya! But don't kid yourself either, this surgery ain't for sissies.

    I (as well as most everyone on here) will be glad to share any details of this stuff with you. Any question you have, I'll be glad to answer if I can. No question is too dumb for here. I've seen people ask for suggestions on how to wipe their butt after surgery..and sure enough; ya might need to know! I'm here to tell you, after it's all said and done, this forum is a good thing if you get the fusion done. You will want to talk to people who have walked the same path as you're fixin' to walk.

    I look forward to hearing from you again,

  • You will want to check into the hospital bed before surgery. If you are going to be at sons, get one from that location. Any medical supply store usually rents them by the month. Then check into one for you when you get home. They dont need to deliver it before hand, but let them know so they can have one for you when you get home. It only takes about less than a half hour to set it up. This will also give you a chance to get the precription from your Dr. You will need a script for it for insurance to pay. Then get a second one for your house.
    I have a hospital bed that I purchased cause my crappy insurance said it was for my own convienience rather than need. My Dr even called them, and it didnt make any difference. So I ended up buying one. I had pain for 2 1/2 years before my surgery and couldnt lay flat. It was a blessing after surgery, as I couldnt turn myslef, and used the side rails. I had my surgery, and like Gwennie only did 2 levels instead of 3. So I will probably be having another one soon.
    I had the same surgery as you will. It is a long reocvery, but if you do what your Dr says, ir will work well. The first few days are rough, and then it starts getting better. Actually, after the first time they get you up, it gets better. Dont look at recovery as day by day, go for Dr appt to Dr appt as you will realize how much you have changed.
    I didnt have a brace or bone stimulator. I fused by 7 months, so dont worry about it. Every Dr does things differently. You trust him to do the surgery, so trust him to recommend what is best.
    I am glad you have your son to help you for the first little bit. I was ok to be left alone after the seoncd week home. But then, I had hubby to cook a good meal at night. But maybe you can have meals on wheels when you return home. Dont forget your grabbers, and another thing I still use is a long handled shower brush. Good Luck! I know you will do fine! I will be watching you as you recover. Ask your Dr as far as sitting. Mine said only to eat and go to the bathroom. Not good for healing, as it puts to much pressure. That is why the hopital bed is great, as you can reposition yourself, as you will be laying down for a long time. Guess i have rambled on long enough, take care. Love, Robin
  • with rental equipment beds, etc. find them online. I wish you all the best for your surgery and recovery.Check out post-op must haves in the surgery section here by Saltz. I haven't had surgery but wish you all the best. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Some excellent posts here in response to your questions and comments. The only thing that I would add, is that some folks who have anxiety issues find it is necessary to stay away from reading things on forums like this prior to surgery. Even old timers who have been through multiple surgeries, if they start to get anxious, they walk away for a while and are better able to control the anxiety.

    I'm not trying to chase you away, but I know that for some, these forums can be the greatest source of anxiety. Once the surgery is over, then everyone comes back and shares their experience.

  • Hey Deebra,

    I was in a similar boat as you. Reading this forum made me wonder if I made a good decision. Just a few days before my surgery, I called my surgeons office and asked to talk to him. He had me come in the next morning and we went over everything again. The procedure, the pros and cons. And the fact that I will probably never be completely pain free. But he suggested that my pain could be anywhere from 50-80 percent better than it was right then. That's what made me go ahead. If pain is even half what it was at that time. I could function and I knew that.

    I am 3 months post op and going back to work monday. I only had a single level fusion so probably a little easier to recover. On my last follow up 2 weeks ago, xrays show I am already starting to fuse. I still have some low back pain and buttocks and groin, but girl it is NOTHING compared to what I went through for the last 3 yrs. I promised in another post not to bail on the forum and keep posting for a bit since I feel I have already had a good outcome.

    Keep your spirits positive and talk to your surgeon again about prognosis after surgery. If it will make you more comfortable. There are never guarantees but sometimes the biggest risks give the biggest rewards. I hope it goes smoothly and will keep you in my thoughts.


    P.S. I even quit smoking about 8 weeks prior to surgery, and to date still a non smoker. I had smoked for 28 years. talk about being a nutter. That's when I knew I really wanted to be better and would do anything I could to get there.

  • I am in a very similar position to you. I have been told that I need surgery but, as yet, don't have a date.
    It is all so scarey, and I also feel that I don't want to start down the route of multiple surgeries. However, I don't want to live like this, being so limited in what I can do.
    My surgeon also told me that if I continue to try to avoid surgery, I will end up in a wheelchair and incontinent, because I have severe compression on my cord which will get worse. That was enough to make me realise that I had very little choice in the matter, and I just need to face it.

    I have heard of people who have had successful fusion surgery, and are now living their life and back to the things that they want to do.

    I hope that, with realistic expectations about the recovery, and knowing that it will be a slow process, I will get my life back. I know the chances are that I will still have trouble with my back but, hope to be 'me' again, instead of that lady with the debilitating back problem.

    Take care Deebra, and do 'talk' things through here with others. They are a lovely bunch, who can really empathise with how you are feeling.

  • I had open TLIF L4-S1 on Oct 5th, 2009. I had extensive herniations at L4-5 and L5-S1 and I was in excruciating pain no matter what. After a little over a year of tons of narcotic pain meds, PT, ESI's, etc., and I still couldn't even walk to the bathroom without a cane, and some mental preparation beforehand.

    Come August, the Dr gave me 2 options. The first was microdiscectomy which would probably give me relief from my leg pain, but not my back pain, and it wouldn't be a matter of IF I re-herniated, but WHEN. My second option was fusion, which of course would give me significant if not total relief from my leg and back pain as the offending discs and herniations would be completely removed. So even though I am only 30 yrs old, I went for the one big surgery, rather than multiples over time.

    And it was the best decision I could've made. Moday will be my 19th week into recovery and I feel great! I have ZERO leg pain, and really ZERO back pain. For the first few weeks after surgery, I had a little bit of stiffness at the surgery site, but I couldn't even call it discomfort. I weaned myself almost totally off of all pain meds by week 5.

    I've been back at work since week 4 of recovery (Dr actually released me at week 2 because I have an office job, but I chose to take 2 more weeks so I could get as much of my strength back as possible.) and have been driving since week 3.

    At this point I don't even feel like I've had surgery at all. Sure once in a while I can feel my back muscles get tired, but even that is getting better every day.

    I'm also walking a minimum of 2 miles a day since week 3, and can truly say I have no pain. My OS was amazed to see me up and around so easily and without pain, at my 10 week follow-up. He told me "People don't do that well after the surgery you had"...but well here I am, feeling great, doing just about anything I want, including hiking now!

    Oh and I never had PT, OS and I decided it wasn't necessary as I am doing so well and have been kind of doing PT on my own since my first day home. I found a fabulous list of exercises and stretches I could do at home, or in my office, and that's all I have done since I got home from the hospital.

    I also never had a brace, OS said it wasn't necessary for someone my age (30). I didn't really have anyone home with me when I came from surgery, and aside from having to figure out a way out of my recliner on my own, I really didn't have any trouble.

    Can't help you with the hospital bed and such, I slept in m recliner for the first few days and then in my regular bed with a few pieces of memory for a little extra cushion at the incision site. But the best advice I can give you is to stay positive! We all understand how scary it is, but I think a positive attitude will work wonders!

    Best of luck!!
  • Hi there,

    So sorry stories scared you. Remember, what others say is true about the folks here are the ones still recovering and not necessarily all the 'successes'. I joined when I got back issues. I stayed because I re-herniated a disc and was facing a revision microdiscectomy or fusion.

    I took the stories in stride. I used them to help me learn and find more articles to figure out how to approach my doctors (yes plural because I got many opinions) and their approaches.

    I found out that some doctors like braces and others don't. Two schools of thought. I also found some doctors are more aggressive to solve the immediate issue and some are more conservative because of long term effects.

    No answer is right or wrong (good or bad), but what's here is information. It's information for you to use and decide what's right for you personally. Each of us approaches life, health, care differently. This information here is to help you be more informed.

    I have learned a ton about recovery here. Even for my revision microdiscectomy, I stayed on because there were a few people having revisions and 1st time microdiscectomies right before my 2nd surgery. I was reminded I might get sick from the anesthesia. I'm thankful b/c when it happened, I didn't get scared...I knew it might happen. I also learned that just because they tell you the hospital stay is 2 days, you can stay longer if you don't feel comfortable leaving because of pain or ability to manage at home.

    You sound like you have done your homework on this. If you are still nervous, call your doctor and ask him/her the new questions. I called my doctor and had several appointments because of jitters.

    March 8 still gives you plenty of time to have your 'unsure' questions answered.

    I wish you luck and will keep and eye and a prayer saved for you when I see the March surgeries thread.
  • Deebra,

    I felt the same way that you did.. Someone then told me not to pay TOO much attention to all the horror stories here because plain and simple the individulas that have great results probably do not come on here.. After I visited this site for a few weeks I simply used it to find out answers for after surgery, what I needed at home, etc, etc.. I found a few individuals that had the same surgery as I had (L5-S1) and PM'd them with tons of questions and they really helped me!! As for me and my procedure,, I had sugery a little over 3 months ago and I will be jogging in a 5K on March 6th.. Keep your head up, pray about it and you will be fine..


    PS: I wore the bone stimulator after surgery, NO BRACE whatsoever and it really seemed to SPEED up the fusion process.. A pain to wear at times but hey, I am already about 80% in the fusion process so it must work!! Feel free to contact me with any questions!
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