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L5-S1 Fusion and L4 and L5 shaved down - Looking at hardware Removal now?

BrentAveryBBrentAvery Posts: 6
I was loading work related computers into my car at home on April 2nd, 2009 and I heard a snap in my left lower back. I made it to emergency and they found that my left L5 disc was bulging and impinging my left L5 nerve root. This was causing shooting pain down my left leg to my left foot. I could not work after that and since it was work-related, I had WCB take care of things. First they wanted to basically slap me on the butt and send me back to work. A week after my snap in the back, WCB sent me for a nerve root injection and that backfired and felt like I was being tortured. It was the worse needle I have ever had. They tried sending me to physiotherapy and get my back stretched and that hurt really a lot. Physiotherapy was not helping but hindering. Finally a surgeon wrote an IME report stating I could not work until I had a spinal fusion. I guess my spine shifted 25 percent off my pelvis.
I had my surgery on March 23, 2010. It was a 6 hour spinal fusion. I was released after the 3rd day. During my spinal fusion my surgeon caused a contusion on my right L5 nerve root. My surgeon never told me about the contusion he caused. The surgeon managed to only put my spine back 12 percent and bolted it down with four screws and two rods onto my pelvis. I had to have a nurse come to my house every day for a month to give me blood thinner injections into my stomach. I went into surgery with pain in my left lower back shooting radicular pain down my left leg and when I woke up from surgery I had severe radicular pain in my right lower back shooting through my buttocks and down my right leg and through my right foot. It felt like I was being electrocuted.
I was forced by WCB to go to the Canadian Back Institute 4 months after my surgery for a 8 week course. I could only do an hour a day as the pain was way to severe. Since my surgery my right quad and half of my right foot have been numb. I have lots of nights where I start sweating like a fever and sometimes I would wake up and my pillows were soaked. My surgeon had no comment for these flash floods.

CBI said at the end of the program that I was ready to return to work on September 29th, 2010. My surgeon met with me on September 30th, 2010 and said I was not ready to return to work and if they forced me to work I would most likely fail. WCB sent me to Edmonton to see an inhouse neurosurgeon that performs IME's on October 29th, 2010. When I got back to Calgary where I live, he ordered a CT-Scan and a MRI. The metal in my lower back made it hard to see the tissue as the image was blurred from the shiny metal. 3 months later without seeing that same WCB neurosurgeon, he wrote an addendum on January 16th, 2011 that I was ready to return to work and I was in worse shape than prior the spinal fusion.

WCB cut my benefits off the next day and refused to talk with me. My life insurance company that paid my LTD Benefits cut me off on April 25, 2011 and tried to use the WCB bias nuerosurgeon's report for evidence that I was better. I met with my surgeon on April 25th, 2011 and he wrote a report stating I was to be deemed permanently disabled as there was no change in my pain or my lack of functionality. I live alone so all of a sudden I was not being paid by anyone and I had to spend about 80 percent of my day in bed suffering with severe L5 nerve pain shooting down my right buttocks and right leg and foot.

In August of 2011 I went for a WCB Appeal and had a WCB lawyer and I had strong evidence that I was still quite disabled and since my surgeon wrote on his report that I was permanently disabled and not totally disabled, WCB still used their bias WCB surgeon that met with me in Edmonton and denied my appeal. After I lost the appeal, my WCB lawyer gave me his entire medical file as he said he didn't need it anymore.

I took it home and started going through it and found out that my surgeon caused a contusion on my right L5 nerve root and he failed to ever mention this to me. In September 2011, my surgeon wrote a letter to my Life insurance company and said they could not use the bias WCB surgeon's IME report to cut off my benefits and that they should get another IME done.

In October, 2011 after sending my surgeon a fax asking him why he failed to mention the contusion he caused during my spinal fusion on March 23, 2010, he send me a letter dated April 25th, 2011 and said he was ending his services as my surgeon and to go see my family doctor if I needed anything.

The life insurance company tried denying me my 3rd appeal in October 2011 after my doctor filled out a 4 page disabled report to them stating I was unable to work and I spent most of the day in bed suffering. On October 26th, 2011, I was denied my 3rd appeal with my Life Insurance company for my LTD benefits as they said my injury was pre-existing. I explained to them it was bad faith as I was already denied from them the year before on pre-existing and then they finally paid me so they couldn't deny me twice.
On December 16, 2011 I filed with the WCB Appeal Commission for a reconsideration based on more medical evidence that I am permanently disabled.
On February 3rd 2012, I sent my Life Insurance company an email stating that they had 3 choices. Either start paying me again, or pay me out until I am 65 years old a one time payment, or I would see them in court for bad faith, punitive damages and aggravated damages.

On February 8th, 2012 I received a letter from a lawyer from the Life Insurance Company stating that they took option 1 and are going to start paying me at the end of February, 2012. I still have 4 weeks to wait for the reconsideration from WCB.

I take 1 percocet and 1 - 20mg oxycodone every 4 hours for my pain ever since the surgery and 2 - 7.5mg of zopiclone sleeping pills every night to be able to sleep because of the severe pain.

Since last Sunday, February 5th something has changed in my back and I am in more pain that I have ever been and can barely walk now.

I want to go into Emergency tomorrow, February 10th, 2012 to see if they will remove my hardware from my spinal surgery as it is now unbearable pain even with my pain medication.

If it wasn't for my loving fiance that has been helping with my bills, I would be out on the street and it is hard as her family are very religious and she can't move in until we are married this summer so I still live alone and suffer every day. She comes over after dinner every night and lies next to me in bed and we watch either movies or TV. I have a laptop next to me on a table in bed, as I have not been able to enjoy my recreational room downstairs in over 3 years now or my computer room in the basement.
I have many sleepless nights and it is so painful to endure this radicular pain down my right buttocks, leg and foot since the failed back surgery. The narcotic based pain medication make me constipated most of the time, and I always have to take metamucil, stool softner and sometimes exlax to go number 2.

Most of my family and half my best friends over the last two years have ditched me due to my failed surgery and you really know who your true friends and family are when you are at the bottom.

I am hoping that I can get the hardware removed from my back soon and I hope the contusion my surgeon caused is going to heal one day. My massage therapist told me that until the damaged L5 nerve root heals that exercise only irritates and causes my back to swell and gives me muscle spasms. So I am caught between a rock and a hard place, or a catch 22. The more I do the more it hurts. I basically walk to go get a bite to eat and then I am back in bed as I can only handle walking, standing or sitting for 30 minutes maximum a day before I have to lie down to take some of the severe pain off.

Every night I take supplements such as an Omega 3-6-9 pill, one calcium pill, 2 vitamin C, and one multi-vitamin.

Any suggestions to my story, feel free! Thanks for reading it and understanding that almost 2 years after my surgery I still suffer in bed 80 percent of the day even on my pain medication. I am 44 years old.

Who feels after 2 years post surgery and the pain is severe that I should look into getting the hardware removed from my body ASAP? Does anyone know how long it takes to get booked in for the hardware removal surgery? Do you think if I walked into a main hospital's emergency department, that the back surgeon on duty could remove my hardware the same day?

Diagnosis - Lumbar Spine Stenosis and
L5-S1 Spondylolisthesis


  • after only 6 weeks of having ALIF myself i am a bit emotional so reading your post has upset me somewhat .i don't know what to say .apart from i totally understand the pain and the sleepless nights .its awful i only sleep 2 hours then leg pain wakes me .before the operation it was back pain that woke me .all i have done is swap one set of problems for another .i too spend all my time on my recliner as pain and tiredness have me wiped out .i am male 45 and thankfully married to a very kind lady .other wise i too would be stuffed .i wish you well my friend and hope that your life changes for the better .
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Hi Brent

    So sorry you are going through all this pain, I too am dealing with the leg pain from the back through the right buttock/hip then down the leg to the feet, also caused @ work ( in canada so Wsib ) really uncanny my incident happened on the 2nd April 2009 also, got, bulging discs from l4/l5/s1 impinging on the root nerve, done everything physio (making it worse) chiro who could not help to a acupunture, Saw Neuro surgeon and he referred to pain management who also could not help, so been to them all, back to see neuro surgeon in April, Can not walk more than 50 metres without stopping with severe leg pain can not stand for more than 5 mins without having to squat down or sit,Up to now wsib have been very good, but i have been @ work on modify duties and this seems to be becoming more difficult to handle, as the pain seems to being more intense not able to sleep for pain in leg,

    I hope you can get some relief

  • Hello Brent.. I wish i had advise to give u.. sounds like though Canada offer everyone health care there are still issues with the system as ALL systems have. Here in the US I know atleast 5 friend/family that were able to have their HARDWARE removed after they were fused and it help them allot.. My issues are not there yet though i do have 3 levels of issues and suffer as a good week and back week deal.. I am greatful i can walk cause i had 3 months where i could not even walk.. now i just have mild bilateral calf pain.. I have been to 3 of the BEST docs in Florida(southern area) and all 3 opinions are different. one doc wants to do 3 level fusion, other wants to do MED surgery, and the last said dont touch it untill ur system are worse.. BACK issues run in my family so i have some good people to talk to ..

    I wish u the best my brother and if u can get it taken out I would go for it!! From what i hear its very simple compared to back surgery and takes no time at all..

    Take care

    PS: thanks for sharing ur story!
  • My back has become unbearable even on my pain medication so I am getting driven to the Emergency at the Hospital tomorrow to see if they will operate and remove the hardware from my failed back surgery! Wish me luck if they decide to operate!
  • I was driven to the Rockyview Emergency at 2pm by my fiancé’s father. I waited in lineup at 2:11pm at Triage. Once I was in Triage I told the nurse that I have been lying in bed 80 percent of the day for the past 2 years since my failed back surgery. I told the nurse I was extremely in pain that normal and that I needed a stretcher to lie down as in general I can only sit, stand and walk for up to 30 minutes maximum before having to lie down.
    I was given a wheelchair and for 2 hours I tried to stand and sit and my back almost completely locked up to the point that my neck under the base of my skull felt kinked. My left side of my back is normally a lot less painful than the severe radicular pain that shoots down my right leg from the contusion my surgeon caused on my right L5 nerve root during my 6 hour spinal fusion on March 23, 2010.
    I asked the volunteers on a few occasions how important it was for me to lie down as I was already past my pain threshold. A nurse as well as a volunteer assured me I was the next in line for a bed in Emergency. I thanked them. When I was taken to the A5 room in Emergency to lie down and wait for the doctor just after 4pm, I noticed at least 3 other rooms with people that arrived after me at the hospital. I was not impressed that I had to wait 2 hours in a wheelchair as it totally made my damaged spinal area way tenderer. I had to wait until 7:45pm to see a doctor.
    I explained to the doctor that I have been in extra severe pain in the past week and since it hasn’t become any better, that I needed an X-ray as well as either an MRI or CT-Scan. Since last year when I came to the hospital from a Motor Vehicle collision and 3 different nurses including the head nurse tried finding a vein to give me some Morphine for my pain management and none of them could find a vein. I have a phobia of needles and they made a mess last year out of my arm while trying. This time around when I saw the doctor I explained lying in bed the last 2 years in radicular pain that my veins are not very noticeable and that I needed pain management another way. He said a nurse would come give me a shot in my muscle of morphine and not try to find a vein this time.
    The nurse came in and gave me a morphine shot in my right arm and a gravel shot into my left arm muscle to help the nausea from the morphine. At about 8:30 I was taken to the X-Ray area and they took about 7 X-rays from the base of my skull all the way down to where I had the fusion at the L5-S1 area of my spine. The X-Ray technician covered my entire spine in case something was to show up from the pain I was experiencing.
    Upon return to my A5 Emergency room I waited until about 9:10pm for the doctor to let me know that he didn’t see anything in my X-rays. I was already sure that they wouldn’t find anything in my X-rays and that I really need an MRI. The doctor said the MRI would be ordered and they would call me when it is booked. A neurosurgeon was booked by the doctor as well so he can go over my MRI with me, since my surgeon canceled me as his doctor in October of 2011 as he said he had no other surgical operations left to perform on me. I left the Rockyview hospital with my fiancé and I didn’t really benefit the 7 hours of waiting just for X-rays.
  • Brent,

    What a crazy story! I hope you have some relief at this point. I'm from Toronto and the medical system is just as bad. First thing is u need to find a surgeon ASAP! The good part going to Emerg was the referral for a neurosurgeon. I don't bother going anymore only if a limb is going to fall off or I lose bowel or bladder control.

    Second, is be very careful of your LTD I know there going to be paying you but they can cut you off again and they will! What you need is a good personal injury lawyer! Don't talk to the insurance people only to your lawyer the insurers are pigs and don't care about you!

    I'm lucky I have a good surgeon in T.O but going to the States for a second opinion anyway. I want my metal taken out too but this will be the second time Iv had 3 spine surgeries.

    I wish you the best of luck it totally sucks this road of pain relief and getting our lives back!

  • I am sorry for u my friend!! I hope u can get someone ot remove the hardware.. not sure why the doctor cares cause u got to be fused by now.. All these brillant surgeons have different opinions.. I have seen 3 of the best in Miami FL and they have different opinions on my issues..

    please keep us posted
  • I am sorry for u my friend!! I hope u can get someone ot remove the hardware.. not sure why the doctor cares cause u got to be fused by now.. All these brillant surgeons have different opinions.. I have seen 3 of the best in Miami FL and they have different opinions on my issues..

    please keep us posted
  • Today I went back to the Rockyview Hospital for a 1 hour MRI. 3/4 of it was without dye and 1/4 of it dye was pumped into the vein of my hand. I now have to wait and see how long it will take a neurosurgeon to meet with me to discuss what is going on with me and see if the hardware can be removed. Over two weeks now and I am still suffering severe radicular pain more than ever. I hope I am seen before it becomes too late for me. I meet with my family physician on Tuesday for my prescription refills. Before leaving after my MRI I asked the clerk at Diagnostic Imaging for a CD to be burned with both my 12 X-rays from February 13th as well as my 149 MRI images. When I got home I checked the CD and found that all that was on there was my 12 X-rays. I had to call Diagnostic Imaging back and request that the MRI pictures to be put on another CD for pickup. I picked up the CD tonight shortly after 7pm and this time it had all the MRI images on it. Now it is the waiting game. I get to suffer while I wait to see how long it will take for the neurosurgeon the emergency doctor booked me with will take and in the mean time I lie in bed with my radicular pain. I am not a doctor but when I looked at my one X-ray it looks like a hair line break in my pelvis under the bottom screw the surgeon put in my S1-L5 fusion. Hopefully that is not the case! I will keep you updated when I hear more.
  • I found out a couple days ago that Canada has banned Purdue Pharma from stocking Oxy... brands on Canadian shelves and are creating a newer time released drug called OxyNeo that will be harder to break up and crush for addicts to snort or inject.

    There are some native reserves in Northern Canada according to the news that as much as 80 percent of the reserve are all hooked on Oxycotin. A lot of pharmacies have been robbed in the past few years across Canada and they want this stopped. The bad apples ruin it for honest people like me who really need the Oxycodone and percocets every 4 hours to keep me out of the hospital. I have tried several different pain medication for my failed spinal fusion and these pain meds I listed above are the only ones that seem to help enough to get me by.

    It is hard to believe that they just don't make it stricter for the people that need the Oxy... products, such as supplying the government with all our medical evidence that we require it and then maybe we can get a special card send to us so we can then use the card at the pharmacy.

    A few bad apples can't possibly ruin it for the ones that truly need the pain medication to get by. I wrote a letter to the MP as well as to the College of Physicians and Surgeons and also to Prime Minister Harper stating this. Of course I never heard back from them.
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