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Change in surgery plans, 9 days away!

TrixieMamaTTrixieMama Posts: 64
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello spiney friends!

Saw my surgeon today and had the opportunity to talk about any last minute concerns before surgery next Saturday. He has decided that due to the progression of the instability to my L5/S1 and the severe degeneration that is there, he will extend my fusion to include that level. So, now I'll be having a double fusion from L4-S1.

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious now. But, coming to Spine-Health and talking with friends or reading posts of others in similar situations always makes me feel better.

If anyone has any advice on things I can do to reduce my stress and anxiety, i'd greatly appreciate it! I always love hearing other peoples stories too :) I always gain a better understanding of what i'm headed for and ways to cope. You guys rock :) Have a blessed night!


  • I know this anxious time just before a fusion surgery. I was so scared that I put off my surgery for some time, determined that there was no way I would be able to face it.

    Eventually the pain got so bad and so limiting that I realised that I had to do something. The surgeon telling me that if I didn't have surgery I would end up in a wheelchair, was enough to convince me.

    At that point I put my trust in God. With that came an amazing peace that all would be ok.
    The verse you quote (Philippians 4:13) was one that really helped me too.

    I was expecting a very difficult recovery which I believe made it seem not as bad as I had anticipated. It is not easy, but with help and being well prepared in your home, it is doable. I had various problems during my recovery, so it was not plain sailing, but with each problem, they were able to deal with it, and I am in much less pain now. If I had to decide again whether to have surgery or not, I would be far less nervous now. I certainly found, as others have also said, that the anxiety about the surgery is worse than the actual surgery.

    I hope that you will be back and tell us the same thing. Is it tomorrow that you have your surgery?

    I will say a prayer for you, for peace, a successful surgery and an uncomplicated recovery.

  • Do some nice things for yourself (for example, using aromatherapy, listening to your favorite music), pray, and take deep breaths. Before you know it you'll be on the other side, although whenever I face something I'm anxious about, time seems to pass at a snail's pace. Keeping busy might help pass the time. Best wishes, and you'll be in my prayers. Love 'n >:D< >:D< >:D< , Ess
  • Thank you so much for the encouraging words and for sharing your experience with me!

    My first surgery is next Saturday and the second will be Dec 17th! Thank you SO much for your prayers! I have been trying to give it all to God and I know He will see me through. Sometimes it's just so hard to relinquish all control. He is in charge though and always has been :) Phillipians 4:13 is an amazing source of strength for me as well! It is one of my faves and has seen me through many difficult times!

    So how are you feeling now, almost 1 1/2-2 years post fusion? I hope that you are doing much, much better and have no lasting problems! It seems like our probs resulting in needing surgery are similar (spondy/stenosis/ddd).

    I will keep you in my prayers as well and yes, I will be back! I started a video diary on YouTube and plan on keeping it up as much as possible post op and coming back here! This site has been so helpful and i've met some really awesome people here, you included!

    Thank you again for everything!

    Hugs <3
  • Thank you so much for great ideas! When you are going through stressful times it's so easy to forget the important and utterly easy things you can do to help reduce anxiety and stress! This has been such a long journey for me, as i'm sure it is for all of us though.

    So far the time has passed by really, really quickly for me! I almost wish it would slow down a little more so I can hold my children longer and savor things a bit more before surgery and recovery. Silly, I know but I will miss my kids dearly as i'm going to a rehab facility after until at least the first week passes and I can be assured I can care for myself since i'm a single mom with limited support.

    If I may, what surgery did you have and how has your recovery been? I always enjoy hearing other peoples stories and trying to lend encouraging words when I can :)

    Thank you for the prayers as well! I totally believe in the power of prayer and have witnessed it first hand so all prayers are always welcome and SO very appreciated!

    Hugs and thank you again! <3

  • You mention another susrgery on Dec 17th. Are you having a 360 fusion with one surgery followed later by another one? This is going to be a big lesson in trusting God, but if you will let him carry you through, you will discover that he is true to his word. I had a friend from church phone me on the morning of my surgery, and she had a picture for me of God holding me in his hand and carrying me through the surgery. My husband printed one off, and we took it to the hospital. It was there, stuck on my locker, when I woke up from surgery. It really helped me, and I still have it now.

    I am very much better than before my surgery, but I do still have problems. My pain levels are much lower now. I have problems throughout my spine and my neck, especially is causing concern now. I suspect that in the future, I will need another fusion of my neck.

    I am having symptoms in my legs and feet and my lumbar spine also. I am not sure if it is being caused by the cord compression in my neck, or if the levels above and below my fusion are playing up now. They were not very good before my surgery, but the surgeon felt that they were not bad enough to warrant fusing them too. (A different doctor thought that he may do a 2 or even 3 level fusion, or at least put in a Wallis ligament to take some of the strain.) In the end he just did one level with a very thorough decompression. I did have trouble and pain in my neck before my lumbar surgery, but not the stymptoms in my arms that I now get.

    I am back at work as a Teaching Assistant in a school. I am aware that this is a strain on my back and hope that it isn't making things worse. My surgeon did tell me that I could do anything including sports after my 12 month visit with him. However, my neurosurgeon who is now keeping an eye on my neck, has told me not to do any sports at all and to be careful.

    I will really value your prayers. I would love to read your blog on Youtube.

    Something that helped me before my surgery, while I was in hospital and at home during my recovery, was a CD that I prepared of Christian music. It was all songs that really encouraged me that He was with me and gave me a strong focus on God.

    I'll keep praying for you Kimberly and do ask any other questions that you may have. We are hear to help you through this, and before you know it, you will be helping others through these scary days before surgery.

    Do some of your favourite things, spend time with your children, eat your favourite meal and prepare your house for you recovery. Have you found the list of useful things for after surgery? Let me know if not, and I will post a link for you.

    Have a peaceful and enjoyable weekend. >:D< >:D< >:D<

  • Yes, I am having a 360! My surgeon likes to do his 3-4 weeks apart to give the lungs, kidney's and liver time to recoup/recovery from anesthesia. He doesn't believe people should be under anesthesia more than 5-6 hours at the most unless it's an emergency requiring longer times. I can appreciate that though! I like the fact that he is looking out for me as a whole and not just worried about my spine.

    You are right about lessons in trusting God through this! As a strong Christian, I put my faith in Him each and every day, sometimes relinquishing control though is hard, as we all have experienced.

    I love what your friend did for you before your surgery! That is so awesome! I may borrow that idea from you! Today I had pictures printed up of my family and i'm taking a little photo book of my kids to help me and hopefully ease my being homesick. I think i'll find some peaceful religious pictures to take in it as well :)

    I am glad you are feeling better however i'm sorry to hear about the other problems you are having! I sincerely hope that you won't need a fusion in your neck! The symptoms you are have sound like they could be related to the neck if the cord is compressed. That high up it would effect your arms/legs but you are right, could very well be related to the levels above or below your fusion, either way i'm terribly sorry to hear of it! Remember though, God never gives us more than we can handle and if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it! :) I always say, God is SO good, even in trials and tribulations!

    It sounds as if our injuries are quite similar with regard to the spondy/lumbar spine. I really had mixed feelings when I found out that my surgeon wanted to do two levels vs. the one we had discussed and planned on however, after letting it sink in and realizing it is the right choice, I am in agreement that for success, two levels upfront is the way to go. I think my main concerns with it have been my ability to return to my career as an RN afterwards. Again though, it's like you said, I need to just put my trust in God and have faith that He has a plan. Deep down I do know that if nursing isn't in my future, whatever He has planned will be amazing! Sometimes it's just hard to remember that and keep it in the forefront when facing so much.

    My mom reminded me to put on the armor of God each day before my feet touch the ground. She knows i've been struggling and it's spiritual warfare. Thankfully I come from a family of strong believers and faithful servants of the Lord.

    I am so glad you have been able to return to work! I've been off now for a year, ironically tomorrow is my one year anniversary date from my injury. I miss work. I miss the adult interaction and the fulfillment it gave me. I do hope i'll be able to go back. My surgeon said it would be at least 6 months before he'd let me even consider going back to work because of the strenuous work.

    I filled my Ipod with lots of relaxing music and a collection of Christian songs :) I have so many favorites. Lately in church we have been singing "You never let go" by Matt Redman and it has been my life theme song as of late :) I listen to it all the time and it helps ease the stress/anxiety and ground me. I also put a Zonder dramatized Bible on my Ipod to listen too :) I'm quite excited about that one!, as well as some audiobooks.

    Thank you so much for your prayers, support and great ideas, as well as sharing so much about your experience with me! I am so touched and thankful to have met you here! I would love to share my YouTube journal with you! I will PM you with the link, i'm not sure if i'm allowed to post it in this thread. I am also going to add you to my buddy list :)

    Have a very blessed day my friend! You are in my prayers and I hope to talk to you again soon!

  • Hey Kimberly,

    Ryan here, just wanted to let you know im still thinking about you. So next Saturday is the big day?

    So i noticed you mentioned your looking for ways to deal with anxiety and stress. Here are a couple of things i did maybe they can help. I love being out in nature, it calms me down. So a couple days before surgery i had someone drive me to a local nature preserve and i just sat and meditated. The next thing i will mention may not work for everyone but ill mention it anyway. I took some time alone at home and went over some of the worst case scenarios. The reason i did this was to put myself in the hypothetical situation of something going wrong, and then i implemented a plan of how i would deal with it using positive energy if by chance it happened. An analogy could be this, people work out to get strong and this allows them to be better prepared if they are put in physical danger. Well i think of the worst case and then prepare myself for it mentally. Its like a mental work out that can leave you better prepared in case you need to summons that mental strength. However it doesn't work for everyone Because some people will get stressed thinking about things going wrong, so if you dont think it will work for you thats ok. Just keep in mind complications are very low. Another tactic i used was humor. I have always used humor to break up uncomfortable situations. If that works for you watch your favorite funny movie the day before. Laughing is great medicine.

    So my last tip might be the most important. When you get to the hospital and you are in the final OR waiting area ask the nurse or Anaesthesiologist to give you something to calm you down. They usually wont do it unless you ask, but believe me it helps so much!! They can give you a great med threw your IV that will really make you feel calm and at piece. It helps tremendously to calm the nerves while you wait to go in for surgery.

    Anyway i hope some of that helps you out.

    - Ryan
  • Yay! Ryan! I was actually just (literally) getting ready to PM you! I have been thinking about you so much the past few days! I followed your lead and made a YouTube channel to chronicle my journey! I will PM you anyway with the link in case you want to check it out :) And, yes Saturday is the big day of my first surgery, the second will be Dec 17th. I won't be coming home after each of them at discharge though, i'm going to rehab. My grandparents (God love them, they are 83) will be coming to stay at my house and care for my kids but they aren't strong enough to help me transition and do strenuous things the first week or two so the surgeon thought rehab would be best. At first I was super upset because I won't be home for either of the holidays most likely but now i'm okay with it.

    How are you hun? OMG, i've been so bad not to email you and i'm so sorry. I owe you a sincere apology for not checking in with you sooner! I have had so much on my mind and going on that i've fallen way, way behind on emails, :( Please know though that I honestly have been thinking about you and praying for you daily! I just checked your YouTube channel a day or two ago and saw no new uploads and meant to email but time got away from me. Your courage doing a video diary inspired me to do one as well! I hope I can pass on some honest, good help to others in the same manner your video's and emails have helped me!

    Thank you so much for the ideas! I love nature and being outdoors, my parents house actually boarders a wildlife reserve, maybe i'll go up on the viewing deck tomorrow and sit for awhile :) Great idea! On a clear day you can see all the way to Catalina Island, it's pretty cool and very tranquil! I also appreciate your other idea and your sharing your thoughts about thinking/processing worst case scenarios. Being a single (divorced) parent, I have taken the time to contemplate those things being careful not to manifest anything (lol) and have come to terms with the fact that whatever happens is part of my life's plan, it's part of God's plan for me and no matter what, it will be okay. No one ever likes thinking about things that can go wrong, especially when you are a parent so I haven't dwelled on them. I've gone ahead and allowed them to process, i've honestly felt a lot of emotion with them, because I have kids it is really tough to digest however after a lot and I mean A LOT of prayers, I know that whatever happens is meant to be. There are no physical obstacles that I cannot overcome with the support of my family and spiritually my house is in order ;)

    So how are you feeling? Lets quit dishing about me for a few and tell me all about your recovery so far! Any problems? Is your pain manageable? Are you still feeling as great as you did in the first few days (which was remarkable I might add!). How has the transition home been? Geez, I could go on and on here! So, just break it down for me and tell me everything, good and bad :) Are you going to make anymore videos?

    Well, I have rambled long enough for now. Thanks so much for your continued support and great ideas! You are in my thoughts and prayers! Hope to talk to you again soon!


  • You never let go is one of the songs that I listen to.
  • Well first there is no need for you to apologize for not getting back to me. I know how it is, im sure you have had alot going on and alot on your mind. Getting everything in order is far more important then talking to me. lol

    Im sorry to hear that you will have to stay in the hospital for that long of a duration. Try not to let it bum you out. You will have great care and less things to worry about when it comes to cooking and so on. Sounds like you have very nice grandparents to help with your kids.

    As far as my recovery... Well things are going pretty well. Before i went in for surgery i could not even stand up straight because my nerve was so compressed. Walking was only bearable for a minute or two and i had to limp.

    So i had surgery about 11am oct 28th, when i woke up they did not have any pain pumps in the entire hospital! That wasnt very pleasant. It was pretty painful and uncomfortable until they gave me pain meds threw my IV. Finally they were able to get a pain pump and then things started to get much better. It was kind of a freak thing they ran out of the pumps, and had it not been for that i dont think it would have been that bad.

    Im not sure how long i was in the recovery area, i was mostly drifting in and out of sleep. When i finally came to they removed the catheter, that was not fun. But from there they took me to get a CT scan, the doctor i had always does a post op CT just to ensure everything was done correctly. Then i was taken to a private room. Everyone is different when it comes to pain, for me it wasnt that bad. Perhaps that because i was in so much pain prior to surgery. Also, the minimally invasive approach i had causes less disruption and usually is tolerated better. But in any case it was easily managed with meds in the hospital. Sleeping was difficult. While in the hospital i kinda would sleep for 45min then wake back up for a few hours. On and off.

    My three hour ride home was tough but i survived. The first week is definitely the hardest. I think thats when the heavy meds wear off and you really start to feel different things. I wasn't to bad, mainly worse at night just trying to get comfortable. I was walking around the house everyday and really only took the pain meds at night to sleep.

    I started my walking routine two days shy of the two week mark. Im about 16 days post op and i am walking a couple miles a day. I kinda of had a set back today, had some nerve pain return. Nothing at all like pre-surgery. I think i may have just walked to much yesterday. Overall i am very glad that i went threw with surgery. I really owe much of my recovery to my surgeon and the type of procedure i had. He is really an expert at doing the minimally invasive TLIF. Oh, and yes i am going to post more videos. They are awkward to do but i promised myself i would so it could help other people.

    Thanks again for keeping me in your thoughts! I really appreciate all your kindness. I will keep in touch before you go in on Saturday. In the mean time stay positive and enjoy your view of Catalina Island! Sounds beautiful.
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