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Getting ready for the fusion

LisaRachelLLisaRachel Posts: 286
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi there,
I'm new to this group and welcome any support. I fell off a cliff while on vacation in France. Had a burst fracture of my L2 and a pilon fracture to my right ankle. That was in Sept 08. I've had 7 surgeries since. I had rods and screws put in right after my accident and a year later had the hardware removed due to pain. I've had ongoing pain been getting worse over the last 6 months. Had a CT done a month ago and my spine surgeon said I have no facet joints and my spine is not stable. We decided to do a fusion from L1toL3 with hardware thats in Nov. I'm so scared for this surgery! I live alone but have great friends and family for support.My ankle is doing great :) since they have taken the hardware out. I recently got a job at a doctor's office part-time which helps with my depression, they have been very supportive with my limitations.

It's so wonderful to read all your stories and to know that I'm not alone in my suffering and fear.

Any support would be great,




  • May I be the first to welcome you to Spine health.

    Sorry to hear about your situation but as you'll soon find out on here-You are not alone.

    As it's an American site the majority of posts and therefore people tend to post later in the day cos of the time difference.
    I assume you're in the UK given the time of your post and you'll find there are a few of us lurking and going through similar problems so don't feel isolated.
    This site has a wealth of information and videos etc and a diverse number of posters with varying diagnosis'.
    There is also a 'chat' facility on here but again with the time difference it's touch and go to see if anyone's about.

    Anyway,good luck and keep on posting.

    Scott in Gloucester,UK
  • Scott,

    I'm actually in Canada so I have the same time zone as the States has.

    Thanks for your reply, It's an amazing site!

  • In a good way (support/understanding), but sadly, you have a 'twin' on here for some of your issues. HappyHBmom also had a burst fracture of the L2, and is about to undergo surgery to hopefully correct it. You and she should hopefully connect soon. Sorry your going through all this. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Yep. I haven't had previous surgeries (and my "cliff" was a furry gray beast who just had a bad day- namely my horse Smokey!) and functioned at about 50% for about 2 years, so they declined to do surgery. But over the last year I have had a lot of issues (my latest MRI report is up somewhere, my lumbar spine is deteriorating).

    How are you doing? Any neuro deficits? How much height did you lose and how much retropulsion did you have? I lost 90% height (!) but only 9mm retropulsed into the canal so I guess that's why I'm still walking.

    SO excited to find a doppelganger, I can't tell you!

    I'm waiting waiting waiting for this great surgeon who is experienced with this surgery. Probably won't have surgery until Nov. or December. When is yours? What have they told you as far as recovery?

    My surgeon said he will go in from the back and the side and suggested 6-9 months recovery, but I haven't had the main Q and A with him yet. I'll also be having a 360 degree fusion, as I assume you would be too.

    Babble babble babble. I also found one woman on another site who is going through the same for her L1. We should form a little club :)

  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. congratulations on your part time job!! that is so great!! please have a look around and make yourself at home. stop by anytime! Jenny :)
  • For neurological at that level, please add me to your little club. Sadly the L1/2/3 is rare, so hard to find answers on pain/numb/weak etc. Most everyone else has back of the leg issues. :) I feel 'bassackwards' so many times!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Avi, we need a "bassackwards" forum? LOL!

    Lisa, my facet joints are still there, just very arthritic from the stress.

    Do you know when your surgery is? I don't remember if I asked that.
  • happyHBmom said:
    Avi, we need a "bassackwards" forum? LOL!
    Hehheehehe!! I hear ya woman! I do think we do, as L2/3 is the rarer form of issues... :) *HUG* Count me in!!

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

    Wuy is L2 so rare do think? I like the "bassackwards" LOL.

    I went to my PM yesterday to ask for something different then the morphine. It is way too constipating!! I see stars with every BM these days. I'm hoping to go back to perks but my family doc is not comfortable with it. I'm so frustrated with this whole pain stuff!!!

    My surgery is Nov 24th. It has been 5 days with out my cigs. I went on the stop smoking forum and read all the dangers of smoking and fusions. My biggest worry is weight gain but I can control that with healthy eating and having some good BM's!! lol..

    Did you guys wear a brace after your surgery??

  • Hi Lisa,

    Welcome to the Spine-Health support forum. It's a great resource for information and support. :)

    It's perfectly natural to be apprehensive about back surgery. It's a serious decision to have major surgery on your spine.

    I'm post-op just one week today from PLIF L4-S1 and am happy to say that the overall pain has not been anywhere near what I'd expected. I'd built this surgery up to be mega-scary and fully expected to wake up in the recovery room screaming in pain. Well, that didn't happen and my pain has been quite manageable. Not a walk in the park, by any means, but quite tolerable. I have a husband who works so, like you, I'm home alone all day. That is also very manageable for me. In fact, I took over the dishwashing, laundry and cleaning of the floors two days after coming home. Before anybody scolds me, before my surgery I asked my surgeon about limitations on activities after surgery and he said I could do pretty much anything I felt like doing. My bones did turn out to be soft and thus I came home in a rigid clamshell brace with orders to be very careful about twisting, but I'm still feeling good enough to do light chores around home. My hubby is a wonderful man who would be happy to do them and certainly doesn't expect anything from me, but it makes me feel good to contribute to the household again. I don't feel a need for pampering although if you can rally your family/friends to come in and help you out, you'd probably be better off. I've always been a pretty independent character who does things differently than most people. <):)

    Keep talking and sharing your concerns. Let the S-H family give you some moral support as you face this major surgery.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Lisa,

    Good afternoon! :) I did tons of research on the upper lumbar, and most if not all of the sites said that short of trauma, the L2 is about the lowest level seen to be problematic. No real reasons were given as to why! Grr.. *My* guess? There isn't as much loading via movement at that level, where as L4 and below has more of a curve on most, and take more load/impact when sitting, bending etc. Again, just my guess. And with the statistics showing how few have surgical issues for L1/2/3 is around 10%!

    If I use my present surgeon for my back, I know he has you in a hard brace...for how long I don't know. I'm trying to hold off as long as I can, but my back is hurting more and more (constant now), but the issues down my legs are getting my conscious attention daily now. So far, my history is when a disk starts to go, it goes pretty fast.

    Hearty Congrats on your smoking (lack there of) status woman. That is a rough road. My NS didn't make me quit for my neck, but I guarantee he will make it a directive for my back. I'll send you positive energy that your non-smoking continues! Bravo!!!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Lisa, I switched back to the fentanyl patch today, the little baby one (12 mcg/hr).

    I think L2 just isn't in the zone where it gets most of the standard degenerative issues due to the sacral curvature and the loading issues due to lifting and poor posture, but that's just an opinion. Seriously, you never see anybody on the boards with L2 issues except for trauma victims (as Brenda said).

    I wish I knew more about how the surgery would be. I have heard from several people who have had 360 degree fusions, but have no idea what the vertebrectomy will add to that. I have to imagine it will add some amount of pain and recovery- my spine is significantly out of alignment, so my muscles are going to have to adjust to some movement and reconstruction. I assume yours too?

    But 6-9 months, which my neuro said, is not outside the norm for a 360 degree fusion, so maybe not.

    I hope...

  • Thank you Brenda for your good wishes regarding smoking. so far so good. My skin is looking so much better and it's so nice not to smell. Did you have a fusion in your neck too?

    Linda, Your recovery sounds great! I too am building up my surgery as mega! It's so nice to read that your doing well.I have hired someone for the first 2 weeks to help me with the cleaning and washing. Are you using a raised toilet? I am really nervous and looking forward to it to get out of this nasty pain!

    Hb, I have never heard of a 360 fusion I wonder if I'm having that too? How is the fentanyl patch working for you? Does it make you constipated?
  • Lisa,

    As you can see on my avatar, yes had ACDF (a little over a year apart) for C5/6 and C6/7 - sadly, more to come. :''(

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Yes, we have a raised toilet in the bathroom that I use. It was installed for my very elderly father-in-law when he lived with us and I always grumbled that it wasn't comfortable for me to use but now I'm thankful it is there. Adding a toilet riser will be one of the things you're very glad you did. I also have grab bars in that bathroom which are lifesavers for getting up from the toilet and assisting in the bath, so that's another thing I wouldn't be without.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • The 360 means that they fuse it from all sides- that's why they go in from the back and either the front or the side. In my research, vertebrectomy is always done with 360 fusion, but my research is limited to what I can find online.

  • I went to Emerg last night because my legs felt very weak all day. I felt like I could just fall over. They took me in right away and the staff were amazing. They did a bunch of tests and said they were not sure why, but at that point I was feeling better so I told them, I would follow up with my surgeon right away. I have my MRI booked in a few weeks and my pre-op is a week after that. It could be from the meds I'm on too. Life is so frustrating when your a "spiney"

    HB - There doing my surgery through my back so I gather it's not a 360 there not putting in a cage just rods and screws.

    Linda- I bought my raised toliet I just hope I don't have any date's that are coming back to my place ;) not a very sexy look!

    Brenda - It's been 5 days smoke free and I'm doing great so far. I actually quit for 7 years but when back to it about a year ago due to this accident and stress and my ex boyfriend smoked too. Now they are all gone :) I understand why we smoke and I would love one but I really want a good recovery even know the fusion might fail if I smoke or not.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful pain free weekend..

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