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At last - hardware removal due to infection scheduled for Tuesday 23rd

nelnnel Posts: 402
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,

Well I am in the midst of another flare up that started on Sunday with lower back pain and a lot of left leg pain so bad that I have been log rolling in and out of bed again. The fever started yesterday.

Fortunately I had a review appointment with my first surgeon booked for today. At last he says he is going to take the screws out.

He is going to biopsy and debride too and I told him I was worried the infection was in my bones so he is going to have a good look while he was in there.

On the upside I don't have to make the decision to have the operation. I feel so bad at the moment, barely been out of bed since Saturday. Hot then cold and dizzy with headache. Yurgh!

On the downside he won't give me any antibiotics till post op so I have to live in pain and feverish and feelind sick until Tuesday.

I just hope that this sorts it out for once and for all. My back has defined my life for over two years now and I want my life back.


  • Good luck with having the hardware removed. If you survived the fusion then removing the hardware wont be too bad. I had mine taken out and i thought it would be bad but it was not so bad at all. Good luck
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Sorry to hear but wishing all the best for your surgery. Call the Dr. if you`re having too much pain or too high a fever. I wonder why he`s waiting to start antibiotics. Thinking of you. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks for the thoughts guys. I am nervous but also at the end of my tether so hope this is the fix!

    Charry he wants to wait to give antibiotics so that his biopsies show all the bugs. Eugh!
  • You have been through so much and the end is finally in sight!

    Wishing you all the best and a complete and speedy recovery so you can take your life back!

    Thinking of you!
  • so sorry to hear that another surgery is needed.
    However, you have been struggling for a long time, and hopefully this will be the way to deal with things and get you moving in the right direction again.

    Most of the things I have read talk about hardware removal being easier than the original fusion surgery.

    I hope that you are managing to get everything ready at home for your post surgical recovery.

    We will be here throughout to support you and cheer you on nel.

    Your life is in the wings, just waiting for you to pick it up again. >:D< >:D< >:D<

  • Thanks Jay and Jelly!

    I really hope that this is the fix. My other worry is that he gets in and sees that actually I haven't fused properly (pseudo) afterall. I am worried about this because of two reasons. One is that this infection has been in there for at least a year, maybe all along so has had plenty of time to eat at my bones. The other is that the second opinion guy said I only had a small amount of fusion showing on the May CT scan. So what if that wasn't solid anyway?

    Sorry to sound so negative. I will try and be positive now :)

    Maybe by this time next week I will be both pain and fever free, and these days will abe a dim and distant memory. Here's hopin'

  • well since your latest surgery. please give an update when you feel up to it!! Sending positive healing thoughts your way.

  • I was thinking of you and wondering how you are getting on?

    >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • of you too Nel. Hope that you are resting comfortably now. You have been in all our thoughts and hope that now you can finally heal properly.

    Let us know how everything went when you feel up to it.

    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
  • Hey guys! I am doing ok I think. Been to have incision checked today and it was fine! (It was great at this point last time too though so I am not getting my hopes up too much yet!!!

    I am pretty tired still, I guess the infection and surgery combo has done me in. I am now paranoid that something else will go wrong! I have had some of the leg pain again the last couple of days but not as persistent as pre op and not as bad either. I hope it is just post surgery mending pain.

    I have posted a bit about what the surgeon found on my other thread about hardware removal recovery times. I am trying to let my anger at the surgeon(s) go cos I know it is not healthy and is also pointless but I do feel sad at the passing of yet another summer vacation in pain.

    Anyway I am writing this on my phone so it is pretty hard going. I will ask hubby to locate my laptop charger tomorrow so I can spill all!

    Thanks for your thoughts
  • Nel

    I am so glad this has been definitively sorted out at last. All the best!
  • Thinking of you and so thankful to hear that your recovery seems to be heading in the right direction.

    I do understand what you mean about thinking/comparing your recovery the last time.

    This will be my 5th lumbar surgery and today a friend asked if I was getting nervous....my response is "not really". But in a sad way, as I feel like I really know what to expect.....

    Maybe next summer will be our summer to enjoy the holidays and vacations! Here's to praying for that and We'll swap stories of our adventures!

    Wishing you the very best Helen!!!
  • Thanks Emily and Jay!

    I hope that this has sorted things out I can't help worrying that he missed something while he was in there! He was soooo sure that I didn't have an infection all along. He kept telling me I should be in more pain (how did he know how much pain I was in?) etc. When I told him pre op that I was worried it had got in my bone he said that I would be in more pain if that was the case. You can see why I have no confidence in him! I firts saw him worried about infection in mid August last year - he has fobbed me off ever since. I could tell he was surprised to find pus in there last week, I did really well not to scream "I told you so" I thought!! LOL.

    Anyway, I am, as I said, pretty tired at the moment and can't believe he thought I would be fit to return to work only 2 weeks post op. I have warned work that it might take up to 6 weeks but I hope to be better after 4. I definitely went back too soon last time and there is no respite in teaching so I am going to make sure I can do everyday things first before going back this time. I think part of my problem is shaking off the infection, I feel like I am getting over flu or something!

    I will try and keep you all updated on my progress.

    Yes Jay - let's hope that next summer we have loads of adventures to share!


  • I would think, after all your body has been through, that tiredness must be perfectly normal. It is worn out from trying to battle the infection for so long. Now you need to take plenty of rest to allow yourself a chance for the final battle to restore yourself to health. Add to that all the healing that needs to be done, and it is amazing that you are able to do anything at all! >:D<

    I think it is a very good thing that you have warned the school that this recovery may take a while. Make sure that you are ready before going back. Working in a school myself, I know only too well that you can't go back and gently ease yourself into things.

    Now take it easy and dream of what you want to do next summer. 8>

    Keep healing! :-)

  • Hi Jelly!

    I am so thankful for my spiney friends - I am sure I would have gone mad without all of your support.

    I have to be honest I am not doing a lot - I do really feel I need to rest. I think a good indicator is that I am not bored - in my experience you are getting better when you start feeling bored. It was so much like hard work getting showered and dressed yesterday and I am pleased that I can spend today in my PJs with my book!!

    I am certainly not going back to work until I feel better this time. It is too much of a slog to Christmas to go back under par. You are right in that there is no room for taking it easy once you go back. Being in a school it is all or nothing - and the school demands all!!

    Have a good day!
  • Helen

    I am just back to work after my redo. 4 weeks is not realistic. Really. Your GP, I am sure will be able to offer 12 weeks. To reknit the muscles and overcome the systemic effects of a long-term infection is not a walk in the park.

  • Thanks for the advice Emily. My surgeon is just so gung-ho about everything! I was sceptical about his timescale anyway given the nature of my job and my experiences last time after my fusion.

    It is true that I am totally worn out at the moment and I suppose getting over the infection and trying to heal is a lot for my poor body to try and do! I am not trying too hard to do a lot, I have finally learnt to listen to my body. I am cooking dinner at night, with assitance to get pans etc out of cupboards/the oven and that is more than enough activity for me at the moment. I suppose I am not exactly starting from a good position to get better from as I was exhausted before the operation from the latest flare up and I have half an idea that the infection was battering me at a low level since the April flare up.

    How are you getting on now? Did going back to work knock you for six or were you well enough before going back to cope ok? I hope you are doing well.

  • I've been keeping up with your posts, and am so sorry that you have had to go thru another surgery. With the infection, it is going to take a while for you to fully recover.

    What antibiotics are you taking for the infection? Did they tell you the name of the bacteria that caused the infection? They should know that by now. It usually takes 3 days to get a final pathology result.

    Has your temperature been normal? Did they close your incision, or leave it open to drain?

    Hope you don't mind the questions, but it tells me how significant the infection really was.

    Prayers for your healing!!!!

  • Hi SG!

    I haven't been told what bacteria it is but I do know it is sensitive to flucloxacillin. I was on IV fluclox and fucidin in hospital and left with 14 days supply of fluclox and 5 days of fucidin.

    Thankfully I was closed up, I was worried about being left open! My temp was a bit up on the wednesday but I have been keeping an eye on it and if anything I have been cold rather than warm.

    I wasn't that worried about the surgery this time I think because I knew it had to happen or I would never be right!

    Thanks for your thoughts

  • Are you seeing a doctor that specializes in infectious diseases. Just make sure that you completely eliminating this bacteria. Some bacteria require very lengthy rounds of antibiotics. I know 19 days sounds like a long time, but I would find out the name of the bacteria and make sure your surgeon consulted an infectious disease doctor since you have had this for such a long period of time. I have seen many patients have to return to the operating room over and over again from recurrent infections like yours. Did they do lab work from your arm to make sure that it is not a systemic infection? It is called blood cultures? Very important!!

    Take care,

  • Hi again SG.

    When the hospital called to say they had had the swab results the nurse on the phone did say something about a blood result showing the same sensitivity. I am going to the hospital for PT today so I will try and find out the results when I go. If not I will ask the nurse at the dressing clinic next week because they have my file.

    I am worried about the infection coming back, mostly because I have no faith at all in the surgeon. He has spent so long telling me there was nothing wrong, it won't happen again etc and yet here I am. If I had had a choice, ie if the flare up hadn't happened when it did, I would have had somebody else do the surgery. I am worried that it only takes one bacteria left and it can all happen again. Also, what if the bacteria get/got in the holes left from the screws? Am I paranoid?

    I think he thinks that so long as it looks ok on the outside then nothing is wrong inside. I am still worried that it got in my bone as the pain I suffered since the April flare up was in my pelvis/si joint area. I don't think he looke there when he had me on the table and I am fairly sure he didn't do any bone biopsies.

    As far as I know he hasn't consulted a doctor of infectious diseases. I am seeing my GP next wednesday and I plan on raising my concerns with her.

    Thanks for your advice SG. I know you are suffering too and I wish you well and hope you have a low pain day.

  • Well I had my first physio session today! She has given me the usual variations on core exercises, different again but that is good because they do get old! She has also told me to start walking twice a day so I went for a 5 minute stroll this afternoon. I am now quite tired!

    I have some weakness in my left leg (but not to worry about it) but my right leg is fine! All change from my initial problem which was right sided sciatica in 2009 that has left me with a numb patch under my knee and a dodgy reflex. Maybe the left leg was jealous!!

    She said that she wouldn't worry about any aches I have until I hit the six week mark as it will take that long for things to settle down. So I am trying not to be paranoid about the return of my lower left sided back ache. On the plus side it is relieved by lying down which wasn't often the case pre op so maybe it is all good after all.

    I have a feeling I might need my codeine tonight (managed without last night for the first time) as I am feeling quite sore. I have done quite a lot today so it is to be expected.

    The only other horrible thing is dealing with the antibiotic side effects, but maybe the codeine will help with one of those (if you get my drift!!).

    Anyway, hope you all have a pain free day, or a low pain one at least.

  • Was fine for me. I went back at 8 weeks, but my employer recommended that I take the full 3 months my GP recommended. This allowed me to really work on my mobility and I am glad I had the opportunity.

    The first week was very tiring, but by the second I am back to my old pace and productivity. I have to get up and stretch regularly, but other than that it's great!

  • Glad to hear you are doing so well emily. I bet it is a massive relief after all you have been through. Your employer sounds like a good and understanding one.

    I hope you continue to do well - here's to a pain free life for you!
  • that you are going to your GP. Maybe you will be able to find out more details about the infection and have the GP give you a second opinion on proper treatment so that you can get this resolved.

    I think with any spine surgery, it just takes time for complete healing to occur. I had 3 endoscopic lysis of adhesion procedures last fall, and it was not a walk in the park, and in fact was almost as painful as my fusion.

    Take care,

  • Hoping it is getting easier for you!
  • Hi again,

    I had my wound checked today and am sealed up! This is good because I have been having the old back ache again and so I am looking forward to a bath. I hope that the warmth will loosen me up and that the pain is coming from muscles and not bone.

    I am still pretty tired, I can't believe my surgeon thought I would be fit to return to work today! I am walking twice a day and have timed it and I am out for 14 minutes each time. I measured it on a map and it is about 1k round trip. It is more than enough for me at the moment.

    I have been a bit more active in the house but am nowhere near ready to go back to being on my feet for 5+ hours a day. I have noticed that the more I stand the worse my back aches.

    I have also been having nerve type pain in my left leg by the evening (and during walks) and it is bad in bed. I didn't have any nerve pain post fusion and have been taken by surprise this time. I hope that no lasting damage has been done.

    I still have no confidence in my surgeon. I have done some research online and wonder if his approach is actually going to see the infection off. From what I have read maybe I should have had IV antibiotics for much longer. I am going to raise these worries with my GP tomorrow.

    I asked for my biopsy results while I was at the hospital today and was told that they aren't allowed to "just give them out"!!!! I can't belivee it - they are my results about me. I am not very happy about this at all. Grrr. I hope my GP has a copy so that we can have a meaningful conversation about all this. I am also tempted to ask to be referred to an infections doc.

    Anyway, wishing you all a good day with limited pain.

  • Hi Helen!

    It isn't surprising that you are still tired and recovering! You have had a very serious infection for a long time and a major surgery. I think far too often, these surgeries are minimized by the surgeons!

    Hang in there! I thing walking 1K twice a day is fantastic, especially just 2 weeks post op.

    Your medical records are yours!! It is just unacceptable to be told you can not see or have access to them!!

    Hopefully a nice warm bath with help to relieve your pain and make you more comfortable!

    Wishing you all the best!! Shari
  • Thanks Shari,

    I really enjoyed my bath but I was a bit scared getting in that the incision would reopen/wasn't properly closed! Stupid I know!

    I see my GP today and hope she will give me at least another couple of weeks to get better. I am not sure that even that will be long enough - I want to be back to "normal" before going back this time because I really don't want to live through all the misery I went through last time.

    I am going to tell her about the constant cold feeling I have at the moment - I guess it is due to the infection. I feel cold from my bones and struggle to get warm. I have the occasional hot flush but mostly am cold.

    I hope she already has my biopsy results - I am really cross about that!

  • I saw my surgeon again today.

    I was right, he didn't believe how bad I was. He said he thought he might find a little bit of infection but my metalwork was covered in pus and it was a surprise! Ha!

    He has now banned me from physio, said I can only do my walking, must take it easy and not return to work for another 6 weeks. That makes it more like 9 weeks in total, not his original of 2!

    I see him again on 3rd October when he will reassess the situation. I assume at some point he will be doing some blood tests.

    It was quite funny today because he actually listened to me and had time for me!

    I feel better (mentally)now - I was so stressed and worried that he would not listen to me again. It is a shame it had to come to this to be believed. I now hope that this is it and I will now actually recover and get back to normal.
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