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Going in for my first fusion surgery on May 31st 2011

firewater1981ffirewater1981 Posts: 84
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am going in for my first lumbar fusion next week. My surgery is set for the 31st of May 2011.

I am not happy about it. I am and have lost a lot of sleep over the decision to go forward with fusion surgery. I have grappled with this for a long time. I have been told by almost everyone (everyone except my doctor) to stay CLEAR AWAY from fusion! Do not do it others would chime in. Most painful experience of my life others would say. It's a gamble others would follow. Then of course the horror stories on here.

I have been so adamant about no fusion no matter what because of all the people I talked to, stories I have heard and all the research I have done that does not show fusion in a favorable light. That it is an incredibly painful surgery and the recovery time is incredibly long (if ever). All that coupled with it permanently restricts mobility and that everything done is permanent and if it messes me up even more, that is it. No going back. No do overs. I have been sick to my stomach just thinking about all of this. I have lost a lot of sleep over all of the horror stories on this website. Yet, I keep coming back on this site because I am searching for a glimmer of hope among all the nasty stuff. Some research someone has done or some really amazing tip/advice that will advert me from my fusion fate. A diamond in the rough. This is really one of the only sites to go for people with spine issues. But I blame myself for coming to a site that stresses me out so much.

I am no stranger to pain and no stranger to surgery. I've had six surgeries total over the course of my life and this one scares me the most. It absolutely terrifies me. Surgeries from my head to my feet (literally). I do not want fusion! However I also don't want to be in pain anymore. I do not want to take pain meds anymore. I take a low dose of Lyrica at night (75mg). Some days I do not have to take anything in addition to that. Some days I have to stack (tramodol, Celebrex, Motrin etc.). For the really really bad days (rare) I take Hydrocodone (possibly in addition to all of that).

I have been and still am considering calling and canceling because of how scared I am. Sometimes I have good days and even a good string of days, the pain gets bad sometimes but rarely ever excruciating and I really question if I should go through with this. I think what if fusion surgery messes me up so bad like so many on this site. I talked with neurosurgeon about my options for many months now and he does think fusion will benefit me. Ive gone the conservative routes. Nothing has really helped. I may be able to hold out from surgery for a little while longer however what's the point? All conservative routes have failed so I am going to take the fusion gamble/route.

I have checked the other forums topics and read up on the list of items to get for surgery. Does anyone have any tips for before and after surgery besides get lots of rest, drink lots of fluids (except night before surgery) etc.


  • It's very natural to be scared before spine surgery. I'm so happy that I had my fusion and I'm now 19 months out. I'm one of the success stories and to be able to walk and join in life again is just the best.

    No surgeon can guarantee that fusion will give 100% pain relief, and sometimes it's recommended to prevent further deterioration in the affected part/s of the spine. My surgeon aims for 80% - 90% reduction in pain, and I'm in that category.

    Is your surgeon going to be going through the back or front? I had an ALIF and no complications with surgery or recovery - plenty of pain and discomfort and it took 6 months to feel normal again and then another 6-9 months for the fusion to feel strong, but that's normal.

    Anti-inflammatories are not recommended during recovery as they can affect the fusing process. You'll need to stop taking them just prior to your surgery.

    As well as lots of rest, walking is recommended to help with recovery. I needed to walk up and down the patio a lot before I was strong enough to venture outside the house (even during the night). I used to get fatigued, but that's normal too. As the spine settled into it's new position, I felt pain in other areas of my body, but they gradually went. I also got muscle spasms in the thoracic area and doing deep breathing exercises helped.

    It's essential to observe the bending-lifting-twisting restrictions until your surgeon gives you the ok to do more.

    Have you bought a grabber? That will be a "good friend".

    There are lots of fusion success stories on this site too.

    Hope all goes well for you.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I forgot to hit submit earlier today.
    I posted a reply.

    I guess you'll get the shorter version.
    It's normal to be scared and in some ways healthy because as a result you've educated yourself on the pro's and cons so you can make an informed decision.

    I can't tell if you want to be talked into or out of the surgery. But, it's not my place to do so.

    I don't know if it's the only surgical option you have. If there's a more conservative surgical option, maybe consider that.

    Here's some food for thought...if your world starts closing in on your and going to the mailbox is an overwhelming thought, maybe it's time to try something. I found that I would dread meeting friends for dinner because even 2 hours was a painful encounter. Going to the grocery store was exhausting. I opted for a microdiscectomy but I was done doing 'nothing'. I had tried that and all conservative options.

    I'm over a year out of my 2nd Microdiscectomy (the first one failed) and will tell you I have much of my independence back. It took a good 6-9 months from the surgery but I have my independence back and that was worth it.

    Good luck with the decision.
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