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TraciTTraci Posts: 92
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well I am here again looking for encouragement. This forum has been so good to me and so much help. I am reaching out again. It is only 21 days until my 2 level PLIF and I cannot go to sleep tonight. As it approaches I get worse and worse. It is so not like me. I think that all this anxiety is even making my legs and ankles hurt worse. I know that it is what I HAVE to do to move forward but then I keep asking myself do I really NEED to do it. Is that crazy or what? I am a nervous wreck. I have a loving husband who is retired and can help and a daughter that is precious and lives next door (sorta county next door - a short ride though the woods on a golf cart) and her husband that fits our family like a glove but I am still scared. I have a very firm belief in God and have been praying alot but nothing seems to ease my mind. The pain - the slow healing - the pain - the dependence on other people - the pain - the inability to do for my family and instead them having to do for me - the pain. Thanks for letting me get that out. I have only said this same thing about a hundred times to my husband and he reassures me each time but I hated to do it again tonight so instead I decided to say it to my forum peeps. Thanks again.


  • it's only natural to be worried about your surgery. I was exactly the same - I couldn't sleep and worried continuously about the surgery - I was a nervous wreck by the time I went into hospital. I wasn't concerned about conking out on the table, because I wouldn't know anything about it - what was upsetting me was having to rely on my family for help and feeling totally incapable of doing anything for myself. I'm a very independent person and I think that worried me the most. I was also petrified about the pain because I'm a chicken at heart!

    I had a PLIF on L5-S1 and L4-L5 SIX weeks ago!

    I had read so many negative comments on the forum and just assumed I'd be the same. I expected the very worse - but in reality, the operation and recovery was quite different, thank goodness.

    I got up to use the commode after only 3 hours from returning to the ward (I didn't want to use a bedpan because I felt too embarrassed!). The next day the physiotherapist had me walking up/down a flight of stairs - which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I could have gone home the same day if I didn't live so far away - but I went home on day 3, which I think was brilliant. Also, the journey home wasn't painful (because my back pain had completely gone!) and I managed the one and a half hour journey home without having to stop to stretch my legs.

    I have to say that I was given a morphine 'pump' to control the pain levels. I could press the button whenever I wanted for the first 24 hours after surgery (it didn't allow me to keep pressing it and therefore overdose!!). I felt in control and had extra pain meds brought round on a regular basis. It was very effective and reassuring to know that I didn't have to keep asking the busy/overworked nurses for pain relief.

    The operation site was tender, but nothing that I couldn't handle (with the pain meds of course!). I was off ALL pain meds after one week and now only take them if I've overdone it a little.

    The most valuable bits of equipment that helped me was a grabber (one upstairs and downstairs) and a raised toilet seat - that I stopped using about 2 weeks ago - and a suction handle that we've put on the tiles so I can use it to get in/out of the shower independently. If I drop anything now, I have learnt to do the 'golf pick-up' - I hold onto something whilst bending over at the hips and at the same time raise one leg behind me - it seems to work and doesn't hurt my back.

    I needed help with showering for the first week at home, but apart from that, I've managed everything on my own, albeit slowly!

    I'd say the worse thing about my recovery has been the boredom. In the first few weeks all I could do was lay down (because sitting for too long is still a bit painful). I watched TV, tried to read books (but couldn't concentrate) and slept on/off when I could, but on the whole, I think I've done pretty well.


    I did send you a PM, but I hadn't seen this post of yours then.

    Are you here in the UK?

    I just wanted to say that it is totally normal to be worried about your forthcoming surgery, but I hope I have helped to ease your mind just a little bit. Obviously everyone's experience of surgery is different - but please remember that alot of people that have had successful surgery don't always post on the forum any more because they're too busy living their lives!!

    I found this forum excellent - if I had any questions or worries I used to ask them on here (I didn't want to keep moaning to my family, who had no personal experience of what I was going through and had had enough of my 'ear bashing' anyway - afterall, it was making ME depressed, so I can imagine how it was making them feel!). If you have any specific questions or worries about your surgery, are you able to contact your surgeon's secretary and get reassurance from your surgeon?

    Just try and stay positive and, if you've had chronic back pain for years, then see your surgery as the beginning of the rest of your life. I am still protective of my back and make sure I don't do anything stupid to compromise the good work of the surgeons, but I'm pain free. It's wonderful to think that hopefully, perhaps next year, I'll be able to travel long haul to see my daughter in the USA (which is something I couldn't have done for the past 5 years). I'm delighted I've had surgery and hope my progress continues!!!

    If you'd like to ask me any specific questions (that are obviously not medical), then please feel free - I'll do my best to answer you.

    Sorry about such a long reply - I just wanted to reassure you a little OK?
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • First off....support *HUGZ* to you woman! You know how we all are before surgery. The "pre-thoughts" are the worst part - you know, the "what ifs" type of thoughts. Then we wake up and go...whew, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be!!! You've answered some of your concerns with the wonderful and loving support structure you have around ya!!!

    Eventually for me, L2/3/4, worried sure, but I know it will get worse if I don't. Just make a 'box' mentally and put your issues in it......then.....slowly....close the box! We are here for you Traci, but you knew that! Oh, and you are normal you know on your fears and thoughts. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • well I dont know about Traci , but that has reaasured me too !!
    Im having a fusion on the 21st sept and bricking it too !!
    Good point about being rather ill on the table as you cant do anything about it then !!
    It is the fear of the unknown that is worse then the reality but as i havent had surgery yet , i cant really comment at the moment !!
    im meeting my best friend today for a coffee and to tell her my op is on the same day as her birthday !!
    She's gonna love me not .......... !!!
  • Not sure if you're replying to me or SueD, but glad to see it helped. :) My B-day is the 20th, so I guess I will add you to my "positive thoughts" list. :)

    Nodding, the pre-surgery is the worst part. Then you awake and go, 'wow, that wasn't what I thought it was going to be', or something to that effect! (G) It is fully normal to have those jitters, but there is another little guy on your other shoulder reminding you that this is good for your overall well being.

    After you get to 'the other side' please do start a thread so we all know how you're doing? :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • It was to All of you xx
    Im looking forward to not having the chronic pain anymore and getting my life back to a better level than I have now ,
    So thats very firmly in my tick box !!
  • I'm sorry you both have to have surgeries, but so many times the anticipation is worse than the surgery itself. My ACDF was easier than my TLIF, but once you get past the first two or three weeks post-op, it does get easier.

    Just make sure you're prepared with a toilet riser and walker, among other things. Check the pre-op list.

    Also, I just wanted to mention that some surgeons, mine included, understand about the high anxiety levels before surgery and will prescribe something to help in the weeks leading up to surgery, Xanax or Valium work well. The anxiety and nervousness just makes the pain worse, so you both might want to see if your surgeons are willing to help you relax a little before the big day.

    Take care and I wish you all the luck and success for a successful surgery and speedy recovery.

  • He is eight weeks post fusion and doing really well. He had some pain in the hospital after surgery but also had a morphine pump for two days. He came home on the fifth day and could walk up stairs easily. He has not had a pain pill of any kind since he came home.
    Yes, he was dependent on me helping with drying his back etc for the first two weeks or so but he started walking immediately after he came home. Like Sue, we found a raised toilet seat and a grabber all we really needed but we did put a single bed in the family room so he could lie with company. Altogether this operation was much less painful and harrowing than we anticipated and he is pain free after over two years of every increasing pain and disability. And now he has his independence back and he can enjoy some of the things he used to do.
    Hubby is 66 and,to be honest, if nothing came of this operation but that he was pain free, I would consider it a success.
  • And many more! I hope that the surgery works out well for you. I know how hard it is to rely on others. I have three children that are 12,10, and 7. I sometimes feel so bad that both their mom, and dad have back problems. I pray to get more wisdom, and strength. I will also pray for you. >:D<
  • I am soo happy for your husband. I am so glad that he is doing great. I hope that good things will continue for you guys! :)
  • Boy, I sure appreciate all the response. This forum is the best. You all are the greatest. I plan on talking to the dr about some meds for the nerves tomorrow but I have convinced myself that if yall can make it so can I. I plan on sleeping tonight. Thanks again..,
  • Glad that I was able to help. :) Chronic pain stinks no matter which way you paint it, but there are things out there that can take some (or all for a few) of it away. :)

    Forgot to say it... Welcome to Spine Health!!! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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