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Fusion surgery tomorrow. Having 2nd thoughts

Lauracl22LLauracl22 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi I am new to the boards. I'm a 30 year old woman and I fractured L4 and T12 when I fell off of a horse on 5-7. Due to one of the fractures going through the posterior, anterior and central "column" of the spine, my injury is considered unstable. Ive been wearing a brace since 5-7. My spinal doc suggested spinal fusion of T9 - L 4 with hardware to ensure that I heal correctly. I also have slight scoliosis below the fracture site and spinal curvature of about 24 degrees above the fracture site. The other option is to wait and see if my body will heal properly on it's own with X-rays taken every two weeks. I got a 2nd opinion and the 2nd doc confirmed that I am in a "grey area" and that my treatment comes down to a personal choice. 2nd doc knew the 1st doc and had nothing but good things to say about him so that was a relief. The 1st doc said if it were his daughter, he would have her do the surgery while dr #2 days he would advise his family member to let nature take its course.

I'm scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning at 7:30 and I'm terrified on a number of levels. Ive been reading the boards here this morning and have seen a number of posts about infection, new pain, and people who needed additional surgeries. I heard yesterday that spinal surgery begets spinal surgery. I don't want want to induce a lifetime of pain and issues by making the wrong decision. Also I am thin and both docs confirmed that many thin people have issues with the hardware and eventually require another surgery to have them removed.

I feel like maybe I am trying to kill an anthill using a nuclear bomb.

Does anybody have any good stories about spinal fusion that would make me feel better? Has anybody else been in this position? Please help




  • Although I have had issues with infection my fusion has, in the main, resolved my pain issues. I think that on balance I would still have done the surgery.

    I just wish that I had been more assertive with the docs when I knew things didn't feel right.
  • I only had a one level, though I've got issues with other levels and may need further surgery later on.

    I am so pleased that I had a fusion because the pain I was experiencing from L4/5 is gone. I didn't get any infection.

    Fusion does mean activity restrictions and you'll always need to consider your back with whatever you're doing. Your surgeon will be able to guide you in this regard.

    Do put full trust in your surgeon because he sounds like he's got a good reputation amongst his peers.

    Recovery will take a long time and you'll need lots of patience as the bone grows slowly. You're only young and I imagine fit, so that will be in your favour.

    Hoping your surgery goes well tomorrow and looking forward to hearing more from you once you're able to post again.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • and wondering if you went ahead with the surgery.
    If you did, I hope all went smoothly and that soon you will be feeling the benefits of it.

    Do let us know, what you decided, and how you are getting on.

    We are a friendly group here, who will support you whatever you decided to do.

    I had fusion surgery, and would have it again (only if needed!! :O )
    The awful sciatic pain I was getting that would stop me in my tracks and have me in tears, is gone. Although I am still having problems, I am sure that those problems were brewing anyway, and I would have still been having them now without the surgery. (Some of them I was having before my surgery.)

  • Yes please let us know what you decided to do...if you did surgery I hope it went well for you and your pain is gone or at least less than it was before surgery...

    I'm not a back patient...I guess you'd call me a "neckie" LOL...I had 2 levels in my neck worked on...C5 has a artificial disc while C6-7 are fused together now...I'm 4 wks post op this week...

    My fusion thus far has been the best thing I've done...I went into surgery with a chronic 8/10 pain
    burning and spasms down my L arm...basically the L arm was useless before surgery...after surgery I was able to move the L arm better than before and the pain was down to a 3/10...

    There are still days when I cry cause everything is soooo overwhelming at times...but hang in there...we are here for you!!!!
    **Gentle Hugs**
  • Thinking of you Laura and hoping/wishing the best outcome possible for you, we all know it isn't easy and we will be here to support you with whatever decision you make/made. Welcome to spine-health.

  • Hi everybody. Thanks for your supportive posts. I had the surgery on Friday may 20. Per the surgeon, everything went well and they expect a swift recovery. I no longer experience the pain and pressure from the fracture. Now all my pain is surgery related. Im on daudid for the pain and am taking Soma, a muscle relaxer, to help with muscle spasms that I have been experiencing.

    The surgery was about 5 hours and I remember being woken up with a lot of commotion going on and pain that increased and increased. They gave me my dilaudid pump and I then dozed on and off in recovery while my 10 friends and family members were waiting eagerly to see me. Not sure why, but it was about 4.5 hours before they took me to my room

    They had me up and walking by 10:00 the next morning. As the anesthesia gradually wore off over the past few days, I have found myself in more and more pain. When the doctor changed my dressing yesterday, I about flew through the ceiling. The doctor called me sensitive and that is when he prescribed the soma.

    They took me off of my pump yesterday and am now taking 4 mg dilaudid by mouth every 4 hours. I still occassionally have break through pain that requires iv injections of dilaudid. I also have these really weird pain spasms that actually make me jump. I have pain in my hips and lower back and of course, topical incision pain. I find myself requiring injections af least 3 times per day. Im supposed to go home tomorrow but am terrified of going home while this is going on. Any suggestions?

  • Welcome to SH and congrats on taking the leap, and having the surgery.You are now on the other side.

    So great of you to post so early out from surgery to let us know how you are doing. Although I haven't yet had surgery so can't relate to your post surgery pain, you are now on the road to pain reduction/relief, though it may not feel like it yet. Please continue taking meds and resting.Don't let the pain get ahead of you.

    It is natural to worry about going home. Do you have a support system at home to help you for the next few weeks?

    I will be thinking of you, and wishing pain relief and solid fusion for you. Thank you for letting us know how you are doing. Pleas keep us updated on your progress as you are able to.

    gentle >: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
  • Laura,

    I remember making the decision to have my fusion (L5 - S1 because of spondy)because i was so tired of hurting 24/7. there was no releif from the sciatica and shooting pains in my feet and legs. That is gone now! The day I decided to go ahead w/ the surgery was the day I was talking to my PA and he helped me understand life after fusion in a very short sentence..."it's not a cure in and of itself, it's a committment". He is exactly right. I'm so thankful that I don't have that pain anymore. Yes, I have days where I am sore and stiff, but I will take that anyday compared to what I did feel. Before my fusion, I would hurt continuously and think, geez if i can just sit down or lie down, surely i will get some relief. But NO. Sciatica is unforgiving, persistant, and just plain ignorant. I don't care how many times i told it to go away, it would sit right there!!! ~X(

    Having said all that...recovery is long and most likely a little unnerving because you will feel things you have never felt before and wonder if it's normal. (|: Some days are great, some days - not so much. Nerves are strange beings and i felt something different every few days. I learned that nerves are the slowest healing part of our body and as they mend and wake back up, they aren't always happy campers. image:)" alt=">:)" height="20" /> But those bad days will eventually start to lessen and you will have more good days. It's very much like a roller coaster so don't get discouraged if you have several days in a row that are great and then one day that feels like poo. It's ok...everyone heals differently and at different rates. It's hard because we are all so used to going and doing and having "rat race lives". You have to put the brakes on now and love yourself enough to rest and let yourself heal.

    My best advice is...don't even consider trying to be a martyr where pain meds are concerned. Take them on schedule just like your doc prescribes...even if you aren't hurting. Staying ahead of the pain keeps it under control. This does several things for you. First it helps with the pain. :) Second, that allows you to rest and sleep. I) Third, when you rest, you heal. :X Fourth, when you are rested and less pain, you aren't as stressed which also helps you heal. If ever there is a time when you should be lazy, this is it.

    Exercise as your doc tells you. I was in a brace for 3 months so i couldn't bend, lift, or twist. I kept it on all the time unless I was asleep or in the shower. I was determined that if i went to the trouble of having this surgery, i was going to be good and do what the doc said. O:) I wanted to give it every chance I could to be successful. So far, I'm pretty happy with the outcome. June 30 will be the one year anniversary and I can tell it's still healing.

    When you leave the hospital, make sure you have presciptions in hand to take to the pharmacy. Don't hesitate to call your doc if you concerned about anything. That's what they are there for. They know you need to be stressed as little as possible to heal well and hopefully, your doc will want you very comfortable to do that. Talk to your nurse about your concerns before you leave. Above all, keep taking the meds as they are prescribed, rest, and let people help you.

    It will get better; probably not as quickly as you would like it to, but you WILL get there.

    Take care!


  • Wow...sounds like your surgery went really well and I'm happy. Also sounds like pain is still a concern. If you have a good relationship with your surgeon, tell him your worries and let him know that 1 extra day in the hospital would give you the confidence on the pain control and stability in getting up/down. If your pain is not controlled and your mobility not stable, they can keep you an extra day.

    You sound remarkable! I hope your recovery goes well.
  • I can't see any Surgeon sending his/her patient home as long as their in need of break through pain meds..:''(..ask him/her...they'll most likely give you another day as long as your insurance isn't an issue....but I believe uncontrolled post-op pain is a diagnosis that is allowed more days....as post-op pain isn't fun in the hospital let alone at home with no nurses...:T
    Hope all goes well...keep us posted...sounds like your doing great so far...hang in there...>:D<
  • Good to hear from you so early in your recovery. Hope you were able to get an extra day or two in the hospital to get the breakthrough pain under control.

    Wasn't that wonderful that your family and friends were waiting to see how you came through the surgery. I'm sure you would have been off with the fairies and not been able to say anything much.

    Can't add any further advice than what Sarah, Karen, Jennifer and DNice have said.

    Sounds like you'll have lots of support when you're home. Just lots of rest and little walks around the house. Don't be surprised when you run out of energy quickly.

    Looking forward to hearing how you're going once you're home.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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