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Terrified to get Fusion..after reading post

angelanicaangelanic Posts: 256
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi All,

I am on my way to getting a fusion as I have had 2 disectomies already and re-herniated the same L5 disc. I also have a bone spur on L4 and it is herniated.

I am terrified to schedule it. I am scared that I will never be the same. I am scared about the recovery time. I read posts here and I see people still in pain after a fusion and am sure that will be my issue as well.

Please someone tell me that they can be successful.



  • Hi Angelanic.

    I understand how scary fusion surgery can be, but it can be worth it, it was for me both times.

    What concerns me is your statement: "I see people still in pain after a fusion and am sure that will be my issue as well." You need to have an optimistic outlook going into surgery or you'll be bounding yourself to failure. There are many successful fusion surgeries out there and most of the members here that have had them are out living their lives, no longer needing the support that's given here.

    It's been said here many times that having 100% confidence in your surgeon and approaching surgery with the right attitude, meaning being optimistic, is imperative to getting the best possible chance at a successful surgery and recovery.

    So as much as I know how terrifying it can be, please try and get your thought processes into a positive mode before having surgery.

    Take care,
  • Hi Angela, You've read the posts so you have probably also read the posts where people warn that what you are reading is only a narrow view of whats going on. Consider this...only the people who have continued problems are still here posting and looking for answers. All the people who are doing great are getting on with their lives. Very few continue here which makes sense.

    Sure every surgery or procedure has risks. If the doctor says it is 100% guaranteed I would worry. Every person is different, with different history, different body and different injury. Only you and your doctor can determine what the chance of success will be and even then what portion of your pain and symptoms will be resolved. Remember most surgeries are not 100% fixes.

    If you haven't already I would ask your surgeon what the % change of success he expects and what % of your issues he expects to be resolved. That gives you a starting point. Then you need to decide if that is good enough for you. ANd you need to consider the implications if you don't have surgery.

    Surgery is a serious decision to make. Talk with your doctors and with your family. Hope this helps but remember this is your decision and you need to be good with it.
  • Hi Angela! My hubby has had 2 fusions, lumbar and neck! Both of his were successful without any complications or limitations!

    I am 6 months post and I am a success story! While I am still healing and recovering, I am doing well! Before my surgery, I had severe leg weakness, I was falling and having bladder issues due to nerve compression. I wasn't able to work or walk without severe pain.

    I am back at work, exercising, living and loving life~I have my life back! :)

    I will always do things a bit differently and some things I will probably never do again~ snow and water skiing, 4 wheeling, roller coasters, etc. But that is okay with me! I have my legs back and I am walking! Without this surgery I can't imagine what would have happened.

    As others have said, be sure you have confidence in your surgery! Keep a positive attitude, it truly makes all the difference!
  • Hi Angelanic,
    I too am waiting for fusion surgery so I can understand your apprehension.

    I tend to be somewhat more optimistic though.
    Anyone with back/neck issues know what pain is so any hope of an end to it whether it be through surgery or not has to be a good thing.

    I just want to get a surgery date so I can look forward to it.
    I look at it as after my surgery I can begin to get my life back.I've had minor back surgery that didn't do the trick so bring on the next challenge.

    Think positive.
  • i too may require a fusion and even though we have talked before .as long as you find a top surgeon to do the work and you appreciate that a fusion is a major operation and there will be a limit to how much pain can be taken away and that after the operation it will take MONTHS and MONTHS OF HARD work to get as good as you can ever be ..and you except that ...as i have done ..then don't worry about it ...it all goes wrong when the patient thinks that a fusion is a simple operation and they will be doing backward somersaults in 2 weeks post op the are sadly missed ..a fusion is {from what i have been told by my surgeon} the end of line treatment for persistent or unstable back conditions} .another good bit of advice post op is to do to the letter what you are told by the medical staff ..as if you try to be wonder woman just because you are having a good day ..you could undo a lot of hard surgical work and you will find yourself in more pain
  • It’s been a year since I have been on this forum. I am one of the successful fusion stories. I had surgery 3 years ago it was the best thing I did for myself. I was in so much pain for a few years before surgery I lost all hope. I now hike 10 miles on the Blueridge parkway often, I also run/walk 2 miles 3 days a week. I do stretch my hamstrings and back two times a day because it makes me feel better. Healing takes time also keep your spirits up you will heal faster. The second week I walked 1/2 of a mile, like a turtle. No one should have to be in severe pain from a bad back. Good luck
  • Hi Angela,

    Your apprehension is so understandable! I am a single level fusion survivor. I am only 10 months post op and still experiencing problems. I too had 2 prior surgeries and was to the point of my disc being totally disintergrated. I put off my fusion for 2 years, I suspect I caused myself more damage by waiting. I may have permanent nerve damage. But my spine is now stable and I have fused well. The other issues are being worked on still.

    I would ask your surgeon what he thinks your percentage of complete recovery is and what would happen if you wait. I wish you the best, it is such a tough decision.

    Best Wishes,
  • I'm 11 months out from ALIF L4-5 and one of the success stories. Prior to joining this forum, I read lots of horror stories about fusion and I put off having mine. Yes, there are people here who are still in pain after their surgeries but each person's experience is different.

    I'll never be 100% pain free and my surgeon aims for 80% - 90% pain reduction. I had a brilliant neurosurgeon and I worked within my limitations during the recovery period - lots of rest and small amounts of walking every day, as well as stretching and strengthening exercises.

    I fused within 6 months and that level of my back feels stable. I don't have any leg pain.

    There's a recent very encouraging post from A Walker who is nearly 12 months out. She's out hiking regularly and enjoying life again.

    As others have said, you'll need to modify activities after your surgery and keep to the bending-lifting-twisting restrictions for several months or until your surgeon says it's ok to do more. This is very important. Recovery takes a long time and you'll need to keep as positive and patient as you can. There will be good days and bad days, and sometimes it seems like the healing is taking forever, but that day when you've turned the corner does come for most people. I was about 7 months out when I realized that life was very good again and I could go out walking with my dogs alongside the river every day.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Had an ESI yesterday which my PM was reluctant to give me. I just need 3 weeks!! Pray for me. Next episode I am going to schedule surgery. It makes me feels good to hear from all of you!

  • All of the posters are correct, it is not something to be done lightly but it can be a miracle for someone like myself. I have a life again, albeit slightly different, but still great. Do understand it's a major surgery and it is a slow recovery but it's fabulous.
  • HI angelanic

    I remember so well being in your place and the fear can be overwhelming. I had a 360 fusion 6mo and am doing amazing! I am now getting my life back. I was released yesterday by my surgeon to full activities with no restrictions. You need a good surgeon and you need to do your research.I going to make a 6 month post you can read with more details. Good luck Lynette
  • I was scheduled for surgery too for the end of October and am terrified now. I wonder if my level 1 Spondylolisthesis is enough severe to go under surgery. Though I have tried several treatments, maybe there's something else I should try first. I can't afford being unable to work for too long!
  • As you are now, you will never be the same as you were. And now, you're in PAIN! Fusion is not something to be taken lightly, but it can help you get some quality of life back. I was in extreme pain before my three level 360 fusion. It took me about 18 months to recover, but I feel great now! Yes, I'm not as active or flexible as I used to be, but I can walk (even run a bit) without pain, I can sit, I can stand, and I can get a great nights rest without drugs. Life is good!!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Yes, so I have an appt on November 2nd to set up the surgery. I want to ask him about my chances of getting back to work by 12 weeks..otherwise I go down to 70% pay which will suck. But I am about 99% sure I am going to get it done.

  • Hi angelanic, i was back to work at 8 weeks post 360 l5 s1 fusion and I am a nurse in a Dr office. It was not easy but each week got easier. I think you will find it very variable but I walked as much as I could before surgery to try to keep in some sort of physical shape. Good luck with your journey! I would do it again in a minute. Lynette
  • So terrified, one because I had a head injury and couldn't really think as usual. Also because of just what you said, everything does not turn out positive always.

    I am a very realistic person and I will not play games with anyone and certainly not myself. I thought, what if I do become paralyzed, the risk is low but what if??? Well, I figured all that out and that situation would be handled if it happened.

    Now, what else....I thought no matter what else, I could deal with it. I had the help of many medical people that could help me cope with anything. I deal with it as it comes, that is the way life is.

    What I needed and wanted was a life. I had lost it. So driving to the hospital, I was thinking, no matter what happens, I will deal with it. There was no choice BUT having surgery. For Me, the surgery was the only shot I had at not losing the rest of my life.

    In the end I had no choice. I had to do it. I also had to wait that long because for me, I knew I had to be where there was no choice. I was starting to go numb in the truck area. I didn't want to be faced with an emergency and have that take away the choices that I did have. My doctor telling me that, helped me move toward surgery...those words emergency scared me. I like more control that that!!!

    You still have a life, a life worth taking a chance for. You have weighed all the pro and cons and know what you are dealing with.

    Nothing makes the decision easy. Making a decision makes it better though.

    Everyone here has so much they can tell you. We are all different and all of our outcomes are not so great. Our degree of injuries and fixes differ greatly.

    You pick your surgeon, you make that decision. You get yourself ready and then you get yourself ready for getting better and stronger.

    You get ready for a normal life again or a better life than you have now :) Until there is anything else said to you that is different than your plans stay the same.

    Do what you need to do to find confidence in any place that it is lacking. Call the PA and talk awhile. I did...poor guy, I almost wore him out. I needed to be sure and so do you.

    Go talk to the surgeon again....ask everything and anything. Feel good when you go :)

    I am so glad that I did it :) and I wish you the very best!!!

    Good Luck!!!
  • I went to See my Dr today and I am going to be having the spinal fusion done does anyone know any good places to look and get more info on this thanks all
  • Hi John,
    You'll be able to get an enormous amount of information on here.
    Just go to the top of the page and you'll see a search engine.
    Write in 'fusion' or even 'fusion surgeries'.There are animated surgeries or even videos of live surgery so it depends totally on how graphic you want your information.I'm due fusion surgery on October 19th so I too have been looking for facts and figures.
    If you're in the States like the majority of people on here may I suggest the chatroom where you can ask questions of other members and gather the information you need that way.
    In general the posters on here are very helpful and supportive.
    Good luck,

  • Thanks Scott for the info I will look around ...Also does anyone have a special diet or just meals that are easy
    to how should I say well with the meds they constipate you
    sorry lol but this is one thing I have been worried about
    after my first surgery it was a nightmare with the meds
    so this time I thought about it and was just going to do a soup diet for a few days.....any thoughts from all would be much appreciated I know this is odd but it happens thanks
  • All I can say is I'm an individual but after morphine last year they did mess me up at first.
    The so-called meds that make you go didn't work so well for me.
    I still tried to keep active and as mobile as possible.Back then (last year) I lived quite close to a social club that I'm a committee member of and I had a couple of pints of lager each night and that helped things moving(so to speak).
    Constipation is never an easy s1ubject to dicuss without grossing out the person reading it so apologies to anyone with a dodgy stomach.
    I'm not back on the morphine now but oxcontin so three or four pints a night and some salted peanuts are doing the trick for me.
  • i now have been told i can have my 360 degree multi level fusion and i am scared too but you have to trust you surgeon just make sure you get a good one as that make all the difference ,a fusion is the end of the line as far as back surgery goes and its not something you take on lightly .remember its a repair so don't expect to be as good as you were before you ever had back problems ,,just pick your surgeon very carefully and stick to the letter post surgery that way you should avoid problems .unfortunately things can go wrong but its just a chance you and the rest of us will have to take ,surgery today is much safer than it was just ten years ago so providing you have a top surgeon and your health is good enough for the surgery you should be fine ..but again a fusion is not an easy operation to do or to recover from so be patient and good luck to us all!!
  • Well I like your idea better I brew my own brew so
    I have quite a few ready for the job so I will try couple each evening lol thanks Scott
  • what is a 360 degree fusion ? here this alot
  • I didn't read all the replies, but I'll jsut chime in here and mention that my back suregery was a wonderful success.

    You just have to ask yourself if the way you are living is unnacceptable.

    I personally felt that almost anything short of death was preferrable to what I was going through.

    It is scary, things can go wrong.

    But I am SO much better on this side. I have intermittent back aches now - and that is it!

    No bladder issues, no lightning pain shooting down my leg, no excruciating pain!

    It was a long road to recovery, but it is possible.

    Do everything you can to be educated, physically and mentally prepared. It helps.

    And good luck

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