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Post op 19 days-ALIF,PLIF..Questions

PeepsPPeeps Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:59 AM in New Member Introductions
I am a newbie here and have been spending a lot of time going through this incredible website. I have had a rough couple years.
I am 50 years old and have worked my whole life in the health care field.
19 months ago had sudden onset of severe low back pain radiating down bilateral legs and weakness in right leg.
Went to where I worked (an ER) to initiate testing and so they could see I was having a problem. Long story short...x-ray did not look bad, MRI showed some degenerative disease and I had a very old history of herniated L 4-5. I have always worked out, hiked, bicycle (a lot), pilates,yoga, weights, swim, walk etc.. and managed to overcome most problems this caused but maintaining muscle strength in my core.Did NOT want surgery ever. However..now losing function and within 3 weeks lost both of my jobs due to lack of hours.Went on Cobra. Have existing autoimmune disorder and my neuro recommended a neuro surgeon who worked with an orthopedic surgeon. Had first Spinal fusion Sept of 2010. They found an encapsulated cyst resting on the spinal column causing a lot of the problems. They removed the bad disc and placed rod, cage and screws and used my hip area for the bone graft. Did great for 3 months, walking a lot, but felt not progressing enough. Went to PT. after 3x started severe pain in low back..got worse and worse until 24hours a day burning horrible unreleivable pain.
Had a couple post op visits and told Dr. something was loose...sounds odd but it made sense to me, the more movement the more horrific the pain and just the type of painn it was..well for awhile they kind of Poopooed it until they saw me in that pain. Did MRI and put me in the hospital. The ortho surgeon at this point knew there was a problem but the neuro surgeon did not...I dont know if he just thought I was a big baby...whatever.
Anyway, They did an exploratory the next day (which they said "they never do") looking for infection mostly. Called it a "wash out" They said they didnt find anything and I left the hospital with the pain at a very tolerable level (steriods,lidocaine??)
I continued to work at getting better. Walking and walking (Which I love and so do my dogs!) Pain remained tolerable. Until..walking, I had a mis-step and twisted and felt a "POP" (pops are never a good thing, are they? LOL) I thought I tore out my hamstring cold sweat, almost passed out,had to call for help to get home.
Waited a couple days to see if there was an improvement. Cant hardly walk or move. Went to Primary care Dr. still thinking hamstring. MRI left hip fine. Dr insists its back.
3 months to get into Ortho. Cobra is going to end in Dec, going to lose if if not approved for SSD. Already turned down 2 times and now have lawyer. Interesting how they make everyone run this gamut and have to ultimitly pay a lawyer from money WE have earned that they wont give us...
3 months later in with Ortho. Kind of smiles and humoring me talking about more PT. Then see's the x-rays they had just taken which showed the collapsed vertebre where the fusion had been The surprise on his face?? Priceless.
Now it takes another month to get in to see the neuro surgeon who had the test results (MRI,x-rays) sitting on his desk without looking at them. Everyone knows cobra will end with no SSD.Calling lawyers, had Dire Need summited twice to SSD and turned down both times.
Ask PMD to do Bone density as I have been on steroids on and off for 7 years sometimes very high doses.
Results in, severe osteoporosis.
Now the surgeons want Reclast before doing surgery. After Reclast cannot have dental or ortho surgery for one month.
Have tooth abcess...dont have time for root canal, so have extraction. Wait 10 days to heal and get the Reclast.
Have horrible reaction. Up from 10p to 7a in the worst pain ever...feels like all my bones are breaking, severe nausea, cold sweats, very low BP. live alone and wont call EMS. I did survive it!
Test results of back are 2 lower screws came loose and bone failed to fuse causing vertebre to collapse.
Need Anterior and Posterior fusion, Wants to do it one week apart.
First surgery scheduled for Dec 2nd (posterior) 2nd for 6th, which ended up cancelled (another freak out moment as Ins ends the 14th) due to lack of vascular surgeon. Manages to get it scheduled for the 12th.
First surgery went well did get transfused 2 units. up first day. Went home 4 days later to then return for the 2nd surgery. Had Anterior done and released on last day of ins. 2 days later.
Fused L 3-4, 4-5, and sacrum which had completely deteriorated as well. Unable to get old cage out due to being healed into the vertebre probably from the reclast. Started to have acute adrenal insufficiency from the steriods (had it the first time around also) but got it controlled quickly this time.
Now I have been approved for SSD 8 days too late to save my cobra.So, no Health ins. Lucky for me my family helped with my mortgage and I still have my house.
My questions are about excerise.
How do we know how far we can walk without inhibiting bone growth? And when can we start to walk any distance? And how far when? Like after a month a mile? Stop with pain, or expect pain?
How can we do yoga or pilates when we have lost the flexibility in out backs?
What weight lifting can we do and when can we start a program? (I am self motivated and have equipment)
I was ER nurse, Dr says no way...any input?
I am sorry to write such a long book. Didnt know how to make it shorter.
Pain is fairly well controlled with Hydrocodone 7.5mg.
I have always LIVED on Ibuprofen and not allowed to take it yet due to inhibition of bone growth.
Wearing brace and have friends coming in daily to help. I am really lucky to have good friends I do wildlife rehabilition and used to do Domestic animal foster and rescue.
Trying to be really careful, due to fear of not fusing again.
Thank you so much for listening and for this AWESOME website.
Any advice is welcome. Peggy (AKA)Peeps




  • hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can.. i worked with animals for many years until i was unable to lift them anymore for baths and grooming.. also did work with wild horses down in baja mexico for several years!! so glad you dropped in and have had a good look around.. be sure and stop by the "Recovering from Surgery" forum for more input.. many of the questions you have asked are ones you should ask your surgeon.. he is really best qualified to let you know about walking and your exercise program...if he says no way to some things, i would listen to him !!! good luck as you progress with your recovery program.. stop by the forum anytime, there is always a spiney around!! Jenny :)
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