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Surgery Jan 24, getting very nervous

tracibennttracibenn Posts: 95
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been lurking around reading all sorts of helpful information. This is a great site!

Short version of my story..2 years lower back pain. MRI showed herniation at L5-S1. Tried therapy and epidural shots. Neither worked. Finally went to a ortho who said I have severe DDD, annular tear with herniation. He is going to do a 360 fusion on the 24th of Jan. I am extremely nervous about the recovery time. I was told to expect 2-4 days in the hospital, and 2 weeks until I can drive again. Driving is a big deal becuase I take my kids to school and pick them up every day. I also am starting a new job on Feb 21st. According to my doctor, I should be as good as new by then, but so many of you are out of work for months. Am I expecting to much to be able to start working on the 21st? (working in CCU at a hospital). I know that I wont be able to do any lifting for about 6 months, but my job will require me to be up on my feet walking around for 12 hours a day 3 days a week. I am so frightened that I won't be able to start working.

Thanks for your help and thanks for all the great information on this site!!

Traci B


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. I have not had a 360, but I have had a PLIF and an ALIF, 2 separate surgeries, 2 levels each. Other members here can relate their expeiences. A 360 is major surgery, I think only 1 month home then going back to 12 hour days on your feet is going to be rough. I hope I am wrong, however, it seems lately that we are hearing more and more of the Drs selling their patients a fairy tale. I'm not trying to bum you out, just saying it like it is.

    There are plenty of medical articles on this site for you to look at. The more you know the better prepared you will be. Also check out the thread of post-op must haves. The members of this site are very helpful, so any questions just ask.

    Take care,
  • Welcome to Spine Health. One thing that I have found about online forums, is that the folks who seek them out and more especially the ones who stay, are those who have had a rough time either with their injury or their surgery. The success stories tend to move on because they don't feel the need for support anymore and reading day in and day out about the struggles of others can be daunting and detrimental to a person's recovery. I have had to take "breaks" from the forum at times, because I needed to focus my energy on getting better versus reading about the struggles and "wondering" if I was struggling or not.

    I've had several successful outcomes from surgery or treatment, where I have not only met the surgeon's expectations, but exceeded them. It can be done and is done many times a day.

    Best wishes on a successful surgery and recovery.

  • I would merely caution you to be realistic in your expectations Traci - I was lucky because my Doctor laid out worse case scenarios for me as well as best case ones. If he hadn't, I would have been very upset when I woke up and found out that I had a four incision PLIF instead of the ALIF that we had planned on, and which had to be stopped due to risk of bleeding. I am okay with the longer healing time (even though I don't really like it!) because I knew it was a possibility thanks to the Surgeon's honesty before I ever made the decision to have surgery.
    I am now four weeks post-op and do drive short distances, but there is absolutely no way that could work a two hour shift much less a twelve hour one.
  • I had a min invasive surgery the same day as Patti. I am doing well, but know that I could never work a full day right now. I am healing nicely, from what my body tells me, but wont know for sure until the 27th. Good Luck, but maybe confer with your surgeon on what he thinks of 12 hour days that quick. Good Luck!
  • Hey, I wish you the best on your surgery. I had a fusion done a little over a year ago at L5S1. If I had it to do over again, I would do it. However, this sure ain't a walk in the park. Speaking just from my experience, there was no way I could have worked one month after my operation. I could drive the car a little, but even at one month, I still couldn't put my own socks on. My doc suggested that I may be out of work for as much as six months (heavy manual railroad labor). Turns out, it's been longer than that.

    Again, I hope you're good to go that soon. I wasn't

  • Thanks everyone. I had a feeling the doctor and I were being too optimistic. Its going to kill us financially if I can't work in Feb.

    I have spent nearly every night for the past week worrying about the surgery. Its gotten to the point where I can't fall asleep, and when I do sleep, I dream about it. When I try to tell people how nervous i am, their response is "you'll feel so much better afterwards". According to what I"ve see on this forum, I'm going to feel worse for a long time. I already had to drop out of nursing school becuase of my lifting restrictions (although the surgeon said I could fully participate in clinicals minus the lifitng, school said no). I've gained so much weight not being active due to my back. I want to get moving and loose the 20 pounds.

    Sometimes I just feel like I'm whining. Thankfully everyone here understands how I feel.

  • "Drs. selling patients a fairy tale" took me back to my Dec. 7 consultation with an orthopedic spine surgeon who turned out to be nothing more than an absolute moron. I say that b/c, for one thing, his answer to my question about recuperation time for patients in his practice was, "I'll take the staples out in two to three weeks," making it sound like I'd be ready for ANY kind of activity at that point, and secondly, b/c of my refusal to have blood transfused for religious reasons, he would do a PLIF even though ALIF is routinely done when there's spondylolisthesis (the guy hasn't heard of bloodless surgery, which many hospitals have turned to??? Hellllloo!!!). If any of you are considering surgery and live in St. Petersburg, Florida, I'll be more than happy to give you his name in a PM. Buyer beware!! Love, Essmoe
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Recovery varies greatly from person to person. Two people of the same age and same surgery can have very different outcomes. You'll just have to be able to accept recovery as it comes, not over do it, and understand if it moves alone more slowly than you expect. Will he be prescribing any kind of brace?
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I wouldn't plan on doing much after that kind of surgery. I can probably throw a wild guess out there and say you will not be working a month out from a 360 fusion. No way, No how.... but miracles do happen.
  • I wanted to welcome you here to SH. I really can't offer you any advice on whether you will be able to work a month after surgery, but can only offer you my own thinking as I await my fusion of L5/S1 possibly L4/L5. It sounds like you are going to a nursing job is that right? I too am in health care and injured my back at work, transfering a patient and trying to hold them so they would not fall. After my surgery there is no way that I will even attempt my job for a very long time...if I am even going to be able to go back to it. It is very physically demanding and I only have one back. Despite the financial hardships and how much I love my job, I just can't risk going back too early. I hope that you have a speedy recovery and pain relief. These are just my two cents and just based on my own situation, everyone is different. Please keep us posted on how you are doing.
    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Hi Traci. I had the same surgery, for the same reason,except I didn't have 360, only PLIF. I have a desk job and was back to work after two and a half weeks. I went back part time for about five hours a day for two weeks and then started back eight hours a day. I have a desk job but I get up to walk around a lot. Walking is better then sitting. It has been almost eight weeks since my surgery and even though my back feels much better, it still starts to feel pretty sore. I do wear a correst type brace and am off all pain meds while I am working. I don't even need tylenol. I still will take one pain pill when I get home about three days a week. I rest and the next day I feel better. So I think it could be possible to go back to work as planned. I think the 12 hour days will be very hard. I was very tired at first but I went back very soon after surgery for financial reasons as well. I had a lot or people helping at my office too. I was very worried I wouldn't be able to do it but I did.

    Good Luck,
  • I agree most doc are selling a fairy tale, I do not know the 360 proceedure but I do know what it means ti work a 12+hour shift on CCU. Please reconsider, because if you cannot take narcodics and rest when you need to you are setting youself and your patients up for an accident waiting to happen. Good luck with whatever choice you decide.
  • As others have said, everyone is different, but I would be surprised if you felt ready for 12 hour days so soon after this surgery.
    I had a PLIF for spondylolisthesis and returned to work(much shorter days) after 5 1/2 months. In less than a week I was signed off again and then put on a phased return.
    I an now 9 months after surgery and doing pretty well. Much better than before surgery!

    About blood loss. Would you be able to be given your own blood back again if needed. I lost a lot of blood during my surgery and they kept it and gave it back to me.
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