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Afraid and on the fence

salty444ssalty444 Posts: 149
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:03 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm in a tough spot. I've already had 2 discectomies in the past 2 years. I've been in and out of pain. Right now I am on my last month's worth of Fentanyl patch's. I decided that I didn't want to take pain meds for a while even though the patches worked fantastic. My NS at Albany MED is recommending a 360 in one sitting (as he calls it) for l4/l5-l5/s1. Right now coming of the patches, I can feel the pain building back. I know whats going to happen once the patches are gone. I am terrified to have this surgery. I have 2 children, both boys. Ages 4 and 2. My wife isn't the most supportive person and I do most of the work with the kids. I am mainly afraid of the post op pain and the time it takes to get back on my feet. I guess my questions are this:

1) if you have had a double level 360 lumbar fusion, How awful was the pain post op? Is it managed well with IV meds?

2) How long until I am back up and walking?

3) Will I need a walker or crutches? I used a cane after my first 2 surgeries.

4) I am deathly afraid of what my NS said his patients go home with...... Tylenol #4... Hell Im on stronger now!

Please help me. I don't want to live in pain like this and i'm sick of masking it with powerful pain meds. He said my L5/s1 would just fuse on its own eventually but honestly, i don't think I want to sit around and wait it out. I have DDD, herniated l4/l5 and a totally degenerated black disc at l5/s1. I don't know what to do.


  • I had L4 L5 S1 fusion a year ago and had to be transferred to a nursing home afterward as I could not get up by myself. I only needed a walker for a few days but needed help getting out of bed. I had alot of pain but was doing better until they took the staples out and then I got a staph infection. I didn't want them out that early as my back was bleeding but they wouldn't listen to me. I was sent home from the nursing home after 4 weeks with no painkillers at all, was told I shouldn't need them. I had oral antibiotics for about 6 or 7 weeks. My surgeon checked up on my back for 3 months and then went away for 6 months, I saw the dr. who was covering for him in Dec. (was still having pain and bad muscle spasms) but all he did was refer me to the pain clinic which took 4 months. My gp gave me tramadol but it didn't help much and I was falling asleep at work and getting into trouble. Now the pain clinic tells me the whole area is infected and the fusion didn't take. They said "marked erosion of the adjacent vertical endplates" also so there is damage to the bones. I will have to have more surgery (hopefully removal of the hardware). I would get a second and maybe third opinion on the surgery. I have had more pain in the last year than I did before the operation.
  • I was going to suggest getting another opinion or 2 to see what another Dr. has to say. Might be hard to do though as many docs don't want to take on other Dr.s patients.

    I have had the surgery you are talking about and let me tell you that you are not likely to be feeling better for a good long time. Like 3 months. You mention that you do a lot with the kids. You need to be real carefull with your back.

    You should get yourself a good PM Dr. also and this should be done prior to any more surgery. Tylenol #4 would not of cut it for me. He is telling you he doesn't believe in good pain control. Some Dr. are like that. This is a big major surgery and most people take a while to start feeling better and get on with life assuming the surgery is a success.

    If I was in your shoes I would be looking for at least another opinion even if you really like your Dr.

    Wishing you good luck.
  • on this one. I had a 4 level 360 fusion done in one sitting. I was 50 years old at the time, and I have to say it took a lot out of me. My surgery was a bumpy road with a cut blood vessel and I was in ICU for four days getting transfusions and don't remember that at all. I was transferred the fifth day to a room and did try walking with a walker at that time, but was very very slow and painful. I don't want to sugar coat anything. Now this was my experience, and I've heard others say they did very well. The IV pain meds worked well for me as did the pain meds at home. My opinion is Tylenol 4 would not have been enough for me. I had a lot of abdominal pain from the incision as well as the back post op pain. I don't think or I know when I went home I would not be able to do the things you want to do and also the chores. It is a Major surgery and i'm sorry, but your wife should step up to the plate and help out a lot. But as i said, this is my opinion of how I felt post op. Everyone handles pain differently. The best to you and your family. Keep us posted. Kevin
  • Kevin,

    How are you doing now? better or worse prior to surgery?
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