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Hello Everyone, I haven't had surgery yet!!!! Questions, help needed!!

HeidiLynnMHHeidiLynnM Posts: 445
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi guys :H :H :H :H
I was supposed to have ALIF in june, but I ended up getting bronchitis. I had to put it off, and I still haven't done it. I am supposed to be fused at l5s1, and I am scared to DEATH :''( .
I was talking with my husband, and my insurance company with work comp is willing to settle with me. The problem is that I would have to say that I would never want surgery, EVER. Well, I want to go back to work!!! I know that right now I can't do a 8 hour day. I am not taking pain meds at this time unless it is horrible pain.
My question is this, if I have good days, and not take pain meds BUT not be able to do what I used to do, is it really worth it to get this surgery?
We figure that if I settle, and don't have the surgery, where will I end up? I am wondering if I will ever just get better? 8> .

I have done all of the treatments, and did end up having a microdiscectomy. That didnt help at all. I then had a injection, and that didnt work. The odd thing is that I go through good periods, then I go through very painful ones. I know that this is my decision alone, but for those of you that have had this surgery I need some ideas!

I feel like I am going round, and round with this. I am very scared, I am scared of the pain, and also not being able to just get up, and go. Did any of you feel this way before they had surgery? Thanks so much for reading. I really do need to decide what I am going to do, and I am so afraid that I will be worse after surgery than I am now. I do have my doctor, and the comp doctor saying to go ahead with surgery.

Thanks so much!!!!


  • Heidi

    What does your doctor and lawyers say. It seems that the settlement is money now, but nothing after that. No surgery or doctor expenses etc. Which means either on your insurance (watch for pre-existing conditions) or out of your pocket. Though call.

    I included my blog from my surgery last year. I had L5-S1 fusion also. Good luck and think it through. $$$ are fleeting, pain can be forever!


  • That is the thing, the $$$ is not worth it! I would love to get back to riding bikes with my kids, sliding, ect. My lawyer says it is up to me but at 31 years old, I am kind of young to settle. I will read your story :)
  • Hi,

    I have had 3 fusions. All have been worth it. They got rid of the problem causing the pain and/or pain and weakness I was experiencing. I was back to work in 3 weeks and swimming after the incisions healed and even back on my bike. No mountain biking, too much jarring. Just road bike.

    It is a long recovery and sometimes painful. But worth it.

    My advice would be not to settle because you never know what will happen to your spine. I never expected to have a laminectomy at L4/L5 much less 3 fusions. But I was involved in an accident - being at the wrong place at the wrong time and I had no idea my spine would deteriorate so much over time.
    Good luck and let us know how things go.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Jani, why did you need 3 fusions? Just curious :)
    Matt, OMG, I read your story, and I am more scared now!!!!!!! :( You went through a lot..........
  • Had major back surgery at age 34 and it was the best thing I could have done to get my life back. Was able to have another child, would not have been able to if I didn't have the surgery. Had an active life physically, for example, could ski, ice skate, do yoga, golf, etc.

    Unfortunately, 24 hrs later, was traveling with my husband in Europe and the uneven terrain in Greece screwed up my back almost a yr and a half ago and I have tried every thing to try to avoid surgery. Finally, decided to go thru with and had surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago. I absolutely believe after my recovery that I will be as good as new (well not knew, but great re-built parts.....lol).

    You have every right to be scared, but, understand that the nurses want to keep you as comfortable as possible and so does your doctor because you heal much faster when you are in less pain....you can move much more easily, and function a lot quicker.

    Hope my words of insight help and if you need a pep-talk you can always send a private message and I promise I will be your cheer-leader.
    best regards
  • Very normal to be scared, but worse to be facing a lifetime of constant pain - that's how I reasoned when I was making my decision for surgery. My L4-5 fusion is successful, and even though I can't do some of the things I used to, I don't have that dreadful nerve pain down my legs.

    Recovery will be hard and frustrating, especially with children, but if you make sure you go with your surgeon's advice and the guidelines on this site, you have every opportunity of fusing and being out of most of your pain. Do ask your family and friends for help because you will need it. Later on, you can always help them. Very few of us recover 100%. I'm about 80% and enjoy life. There are times when I'm in a lot of pain with L5-S1 but then it recedes. I may have to have further surgery, but then I'm much older than you and have degenerative issues.

    After surgery, your pain should be controlled well in the hospital, and you should be given medication to take home with you. If you should find it's not enough to help you get through the day and night, then you would need to contact your surgeon. (Here in Australia, it's the anaesthetist who prescribes the medication which you take home).

    As far as the settlement issue goes, you're young and no-one knows what tomorrow will bring, or you may have an accident which will affect your back and need surgery. I'm not suggesting that will happen, and I very much hope it won't.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I, too, would be cautious of settling at such a young age. Especially knowing that you already have these back problems, are you prepared to say that you will NEVER have surgery? What happens if you settle and you end up NEEDING to have surgery somewhere down the line? Will the insurance cover it or would you be forced to pay out of pocket? These are all questions I'd want to find out, but I'd be reluctant to just settle.

    As for the surgery, I had a totally different surgery, but I can relate to your reluctance to go through with it. I'm 29 years old, and the decision to have a thoracic discectomy at such a young age was not an easy one. But, I had to think of my quality of life and the fact that I was missing out on a lot. After trying everything else, of course, I decided, along with my surgeon, that surgery really was the best option. Unfortunately for me, I think I now have another disc acting up, on the other side, though. I'm praying it won't mean more surgery, but it's not looking (or feeling) so good.

    On another note, sorry about the bronchitis! As I'm getting older, I typically get bronchitis two to three times a year. Unfortunately I take after my father, in that respect.
  • I have called, and left a message at the surgeons office to see when they are booking for surgery. I have prayed, and also with the help of my husband and few of you I figure that I need to do this for "me". I may feel old, but I am still young(32 in october).
    As for the settlement, there is NO coverage left AT ALL after you settle. That is the scarey part! I want to go back to work, to school, something. My kids are still young (13,11, and 8), and I want to show them that they can do something brave when they get older too. The problem also is that my husband had plif about 4 years ago or less, and it failed.

    The kids know what surgery is, and they don't like it much! I know that it scares them. Thank you guys, and Please continue to help me with advice :)

    >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • Hi,

    I first had a laminectomy of L4/L5. Thought that would be the end of things altho I knew I had back problems from being knocked unconscious by a snowboarder. A real hard hit, couldn't feel my legs when I came too. Among other things my SI joint was in a different time zone. The doctor's comments on my x-rays "Your spine is a mess." New medical term I think.

    Anyhow my spine started deteriorating more and I had to have L4/L5 fused as the vertebrae were slipping forward and causing pain and weakness. Then the following spring my spine started collapsing in on itself and I had to be fused L1-L5. The surgeon was able to straighten it out some but I still lost 1/4" in height (I am only 5' 1/2"). Then L5 started slipping forward, same symptoms as L4/L5 and so L5/S1 were fused. Every fusion was successful and got rid of the symptoms.

    Hopefully that is the end of it but that is what I said after each surgery. The most recent one was this march so I had 3 fusions in 4 years. I am ready to be done!!

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Sounds like you have been through the wringer! ~X( .
    I am glad that you are doing better now :O) I hope that with surgery I can do the things that I used to do! I know that it will be long, and painful. I am just going to have to mentally prepare myself for that. :?
  • Set small goals for yourself in recovery. I bought a pedometer to keep track of how far I walked. I don't like walking or I didn't til I had surgery and that was all I could do so I thought this would give me more incentive. I was so frustrated the first few days I was home from the hospital and I was shuffling so slowly for my walk to the end of the driveway or around the block that it didn't even register!!! Soon I was up to 7 miles for the day.

    Make sure you have things within reach that you use often. I had a safety bar installed on my tub/shower. And I got a long handled shoe horn. I mostly wore clogs after surgery but did wear my (former) running shoes when I went for my walks. I put elastic shoe laces on them to make it easier. Elastic waist band pull on pants. You don't want anything tight around your incision. Don't worry about socks, they are overrated.

    I have a wedge I sleep with under my knees that takes the stress off my back. Also get a grabber so you can reach things without bending over. I also have one of those sweepers with the long handled dust pan.

    You will want to sit in the shower the first couple of times. i just used an old plastic foot stool for lack of a better term that went with some lawn furniture.

    Let me know if I can be of any more help. And just remember the pain DOES go away after surgery. PT is a good thing to do if your insurance will pay for it. Especially have the PT work on your scar tissue and give you strengthening exercises you can do at home. You can work on the scar tissue yourself too.

    Strengthening your core now will help in your recovery.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Thanks for the advice on things :) I have a shower that has two seats in it, so that is great! How do I tone my stomach now? I can do some crunches, well kind of. I need to lose some weight also. I do have a treadmill, and I am telling you that it is so boring to walk on that thing! Any ideas on getting my core in good shape would be great :)
    The other thing I am afraid of is being lonely after the surgery, and I am home. I don't watch a lot of tv. I do read, and of course the computer.

    How were your pain levels after surgery when you came home? My surgeon said that I will not need pt, I will just need to get walking! I will take any good/bad thoughts on this surgery. I need to be as prepared as I can be when it comes time.

    I also suffer from depression/anxiety, and also fibromylgia(sp). I do take meds for that stuff :)
  • I use a physio ball for a lot of my core stabilization. If you don't have one a good exercise is called the plank. Basically you are down on your forearms with your legs extended behind you, weight on the feet with your toes going forward. You hold that position, with your back a little higher than your hips. Engage your abs before starting.

    Another good one is called supermans. Lie on your tummy, arms and legs extended. Raise arms and legs at the same time (engage your core) and hold for a count of 10. Repeat several times til you can do 10. Bicycle crunches where your L leg meets R arm and then R leg to L arm.

    Lie on your back, knees bent. Place L leg (bent) on R knee. Crunch R arm to L knee 20 to 30 times, repeat on opposite side.

    I am sure you can find lots on the internet with pictures and better explanations.

    I was in a lot of pain the first few days in the hospital. I was on morphine with a pump which I couldn't use fast enough!! Only one day on morphine tho cuz then I get sick. I had vicodin and oxycodone at home. I got off of them as soon as I could but you need to remember to heal you have to be out of pain. I still take tramadol which helps.

    I am also on muscle relaxants and have been since my first surgery. The surgeon actually prescribed lorazepam - also know as ativan - which is an anti-anxiety med. It really helps my back to relax when it is tight. I take one in the a.m. and one in the p.m. I am also on lexapro for depression and have been for years but especially needed to be on it after the first fusion as it changed my whole life and career.

    I walked a lot during my recovery. I started with lots of short walks and built up. Like I said the pedometer helped have a goal. I did not have cable during the recovery from the first 2. I watched movies and I love to read. It was lonely. I had friends stop by but everyone works. I live alone and that made it hard. I did have people stay with me the first night after surgery. And lots of volunteers to help but still there was not always someone there when I needed them.

    Get your doctors ok to start back with core exercises. It is important to keep that strong. But don't start too soon. Like I said it is a long recovery. I had my 2nd fusion 7 months after the first so I really wasn't even recovered from the first one. It took me 3 years to get back to where I could ride my time trial bike and I had to work very hard to get my hip flexibility back. Then the following spring I had the 3rd fusion (last march) and I am still working on that recovery.

    You will sometimes feel like you will never get better or never be able to do the things you used to but be patient. It just takes time.

    Keep me posted.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • It helps to talk about this whole surgery thing! My biggest fear is my depression while I recover. I don't have my family around me, I do have the hubby and kids though.

    I want to go back to work, and school so very bad. I have so many fears. It is amazing what the mind thinks of!!!!! I was just telling my husband that I have been feeling better, and ouch here comes the back pain! I just want my life back, and to work again.
  • It does help to talk about the surgery and wanting your life back. I'm in the same boat as you in terms of no family around and wanting to go back to school. I've had to take a year off and since I'm still trying to resolve my pain issues, I am taking yet another semester off.

    Depression is hard to fight when you really can't talk to anyone about it. I would suggest seeing a counselor or joining a chronic pain group. My husband can only listen to me so much and he really has no idea what I'm going through. You will know when the time comes if surgery is the right decision. Hang in there!
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • My fusion was last March and although it has been the hardest thing I have ever done it has given me my life back.

    It is a long recovery so give yourself premission to heal slowly. It does get lonely, but this website helps! I have made life long friendships here and couldn't have gotten thru the recovery without everyone here.

    Do you have a pain management doc? He will be your best friend during your recovery as he will be managing your pain. :)

    Are you involved in a church? I'm sure there are many people who would come visit you or bring some meals, help with cleaning, etc.

    Hang in there! I, too, was so nervous before my fusion. But, you can do this! You're kids will see you are Super Woman!!
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