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2-week post-op~really need to understand

jayhawkjjayhawk Posts: 1,032
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had my first post-op, and I am more confused now than ever. I really need your experiences and knowledge to help me understand.

My appointment was complicated by the facts that my surgeon was running late because he had an emergency surgery this morning. Then while he was seeing me (finally) he had to take an emergency phone call to transefer one of his patients from one hospital to another and into ICU.

While he was with me, he noticed my list of questions and was so patiently going thru them answering.

One of the things that he did during my surgery at L3-4 was place "clamps" on both sides. I wanted to know if this would help to avoid or at least prolong the need for a fusion at this level.

To my great surprise, he answered that he did a fusion! What??

He showed me how there is hardware on each side and the screw runs thru the clamp and hold the level open. He was explaining this saying, "the jury was still out, but this techniquic is thought to ...." when he was called to take the ememrgency phone call.

I don't wear a watch when I am not working, but I later learned about an hour went by....then I heard him in a near by room. My chart was still in my room....he forgot me! :( His staff thought he sent me to the hospital for tests....

By the time I got the courage up, a couple of hours had went by. All in all, I was there for over 5 hours....

When they put the peices back together, I was so tired and in pain from waiting all day, I was almost in tears. He came back and heartfelt appoligized. He/they felt so bad.

But, I was choking back tears and couldn't ask my questions.

I thought I had a diskectomy, but now I have had a fusion. How could that be?

No wonder I am not where I thought I should be and am struggling. While we were talking before he was called away, I told him how I was struggling to achieve the goal of walking 2 miles. My leg pain had been absent since my surgery but returned with a vengence on Monday after I had pushed myself Sun and Mon trying to get to 2 miles but failing miserably.

It also really hurts when I laugh and I need to use my hand to brace my spine. This seemed to concern him and he seemed somewhat alarmed about it.

I really never got an answer to if I could have hurt something by pushing...

So my questions are
~how did I so misunderstand what I had done?

~my fusions at L4-5 and now L3-4 are very different

~I don't understand the type of fusion I had done

~did I damage this by not understanding thus not protecting my spine enough?

I feel so alone and confused and scared!

I see him again on the 25th but until then, please guide me. It is so not like me to have misunderstood.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. Spiney friends I need you!



  • It is your right to know what was done to you so request post op report.
  • You were very strong to wait that long! I would have been crying my eyes out! I am so sorry you had to go through this :(
  • Hi; and i'm sorry i cant offer any help to your questions.
    Tho i also would expect a more thorough explanation from the doctor the next time you see him/her. Until then i would definitely take'r easy, and not risk doing much of anything.

    Best of luck to ya, and hopefully someone else here can offer you some insight to what you can, and cant do, until you do infact see your doctor.
  • Wow, what an appointment. You ARE so patient and strong to have endured that. I too would ask for a post operative report to see what was done.Sounds like a fusion without a "cage"??Removed the disc and added hardware to boost up where the disc was, without putting anything in to replace it?

    Can you call his office and have them explain to you what was done exactly?

    Take it easy, you are in my thoughts.

    >: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
  • I would definitely get a copy of the OR report and you may want to get another appointment with him clarifying what he did and hopefully this time won't have an emergency the same time as your appointment.

    Get a copy of your consent form and what procedure it says when you signed the consent and find out why he did the fusion or did he have to do it with the damage that was in there?

    Sorry to hear what a rough appointment that was and that they forgot about you. You need more explanation to what happened and getting a copy from the hospital or his office will help and an explanation. He may need to order a CT to follow up about holding your hand on your spine while laughing. I hope you get more answers soon. Hugs. 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
  • Um, wow! You are amazing!
    I know your story and now this, I have to commend you for your strength.

    Now, for the advice.
    Do you have your paperwork from the hospital?
    I would go directly to the hospital and just let them know you want a copy of all your records to have on file. Don't lead on that you are concerned that you had a surgery you didn't agree to. Most people want to have their records on hand.

    IF they ask what you want, ask them for the admittance, the waiver you signed, your pos-op report, and your discharge instructions. Just let them know that considering this is your 2nd surgery you just want to have all your records in order.

    I'm really surprised that there is that big a discrepancy of what you thought you were having. Could it be that this doctor was distracted and answered wrong? I would call and make another appointment. But get your paperwork first. Talk to him with your questions. If it's still "yes you had a fusion", ask him why he did the fusion vs. the discectomy. Use your kindness to get all the information.

    Honestly, it sounds like there may have been a mix up. Did he at least offer advice on how to help you feel better?

    Big hugs! Stay strong!
  • jayhawk, here's what I think is going on (speaking as a surgical nurse, who has also had two spine surgeries, one basically the same as yours):

    As you know, a discectomy is the partial or full removal of the disc between two vertebrae. (In my case, most but not all of 3 discs were removed.) Sometimes only a small amount of extruded disc material is snipped away -- a straightforward discectomy. Oftentimes more room for the nerve roots needs to be created as well, and bone is also snipped away in what is known as a decompression. When a discectomy is performed that removes most or all of the disc, something must be done to stabilize the spine at the operative level -- you can't just leave empty space, you can imagine what this would lead to.

    There are a couple of stabilization procedures that can take place. The first is a fusion, wherein a cage, or frame, is inserted and filled with a bone graft matrix.

    The second procedure is called hardware stabilization. (This is what I had done.) The difference is that the space is left open, no cage or filler graft, just hardware. The intention is for your own bone to gradually fill in the space.

    I've had doctors call my procedure a fusion, which I suppose it basically is. Certainly I would have to do a lot of explaining if I said I had a 3-level decompression with partial discectomy and hardware stabilization. So to make it easier, I usually just say I had a fusion.

    It sounds like your doc found more disc/bone tissue had to be snipped away than for a simple discectomy, and so stabilized the area in one of these two ways. Certainly ask him to explain it to you, but please don't put unnecessary stress on yourself until you know that there is indeed something to worry about.

    I hope I've helped a little bit with easing your worries. If I haven't been clear enough I apologize -- it's 5:12 a.m. and another sleepless night for me.

    Wishing you the best...
  • That's The procedure that I had Jay. But I went in with full knowledge as to what I was having. I would ease off the physical activities a bit at the moment. I will be a month post surgery tomorrow and I have only been doing limited walking (most at one time would be a mile) but two weeks ago I couldn't have even thought about walking any further than to the bathroom!!!! I get really bad hay fever and coughing and sneezing absolutely destroy me. The pain is almost unbearable. At least you've obviously got things to laugh about hey? The biggest thing now I'm afraid is going to be patients. I know it's hard. It sucks being restricted so much especially when you wernt aware of what had been done. Keep us up to date ok doll?
    Keep smiling (big hugs)
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