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Very scared, upcoming L4/5 laminectomy/diskectomy - should I go to ER?

MargieJohnsonMMargieJohnson Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:03 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am a 27 year old mother of one, pending laminectomy/diskectomy at L4/5 on Monday, June 11. I am including a photo of my MRI...


I know that no one can give me medical advise, but I am hoping it is ok to ask "What would you do if it were you?" If not, please let me know and I will edit my post. I'm not thinking too straight at this moment... :sick:

My MRI was done on 4/17/12. Since then I have seen two orthopedic spine surgeons, who both told me that surgery is my only options. My diagnoses are in my siggy. I have been tolerating relatively well until the last couple days. My current medications are:

1-2 Norco 10/325 every 4-6 hours
300 mg Neurontin three times daily
10 mg ambien PRN sleep

On 6/4 - I was in worse pain than I have had, but it would still at least "calm down" for 2-3 hours after my norco dose. Had a rough night with my 15 month old son (cutting his 15th tooth) so I had maybe 4-5 hours of broken sleep.

Yesterday, My pain was not even touched by the Norco, even taking 2 every 4-6 hours. I was staying around a 7 on the pain scale. Did my pre-op bloodwork and testing, and the nurse about had a heart attack when I showed her the MRI photo. My BP shot up to 158/108 while I was in her office, which she and the anesthesiologist have attributed to anxiety and pain level. When I got home, I went straight to bed, leaving my husband to tend to our son completely by himself. Tore my heart to pieces to not be able to put my son to bed. Took an ambien and still only got 4-5 hours of broken sleep.

Today, I was training my temp for my surgery leave. I took first dose of Norco (2) at 9:30 right after I arrived at work. The pain just continued to intensify. I have been in tears for most of the day, and am beginning to have the constant "pins and needles" in my left foot/calf, which will not go away no matter what I do. At one point my foot went completely numb (only felt pressure) for approximately five minutes. After this I have been having a "shocking" feeling in addition to the pins and needles throughout my left leg. I have been religiously taking 2 Norco every 4 hours, and am due for my next dose at 9:30. My pain was so severe around 6:45 that my husband recommended I take an additional Norco to try to dull the pain. I know this is NOT usually a good idea, but I am desperate for at least a little relief, as it has kept me in tears constantly for the last few days. I have now resorted to using a cane as I cannot put much weight on my left leg.

My main question - if you were in my situation, would you consider going to the ER for the shocks/total numbness (short term) of my left leg, as I am already scheduled for surgery on Monday morning? Or would you just try to hold out till Monday as long as the total numbness only lasts a few moments? I appreciate anyone sharing what they would do in my situation. Again, if I have violated any forum rules in my post, please let me know and I will edit the offending text.

After taking the additional Norco 10/325, I have managed to get my pain level down to around 7 now, where I have been around 8.5-9 most of the day.

**Disclaimer** My physician has directed me to take the Norco as needed, as long as I do not exceed 10 pills in a 24 hour period.


  • Now that's a herniation. It hurts just to look at it. If you can make it to morning, call your doc in the morning and let them know your having a hard time making it to monday. The er may be able to give you something but its only gonna be short term relief. Good luck with your surgery.
  • Good luck with your surgery. I had L4/L5 laminectomy & discectomy on January 26. Personally, I wouldn't go to the ER for the shocks/numbness. My right has been some degree of numb for years, but over the last year or so it has become mostly numb. The pain down my leg and into my foot has been more like "waves" and heat. I think what brings people with back issues is often related to pain levels. If you can't stand the pain levels within what your doctor has prescribed, then I'd call your doctor to see if he thinks you should go to the ER. It's nice that the doctor gave you some flexibility in how much meds you take.

    I hope you get some relief quickly from your surgery so you can enjoy your family!
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Only you can decide if the pain is bad enough to go to the ER or not. With that said I doubt it will bring your surgery any sooner or they will do it on a emergency basis. Typically the threshold for a emergency surgery is the loss of bowl or bladder. Now if either of those happen go immediately to the ER. One thing I don't notice any your medications is a good muscle relaxer. That might be something that will help with the pain as well as some sleep. When we are sleep deprived it makes all the rest of even harder.

    But to the question of wether to go to the ER, you have decide if you can handle the pain any longer, or a trip is warranted. They will be able to give you something for the pain. If you didn't go to the ER, call your surgeon in the morning and let them know the meds are not cutting cake, and you need a little help to get you till Monday.

    Good luck on surgery and by the way welcome to spine-health.
  • L4 & L5/S1 discectomy on 5/17. The pain and numbness are part of the process and it's terrible! It's very sad about not being able to care for your little one however your hubby will have to get used to the heavy lifting cause you'll be out of commission post op for a little while. If you can make it through the night do that and call your doc first thing in the am. When I had surgery I was in terrible pain, 3 weeks post op now. I'm able to get up and around more however I still use a walker. The 1st 11 days were really rough, but then things gradually have been getting better. No more sciatic pain, incision pain nearly gone, however feel pressure on the right side of my lower back. Not to scare you but I got literally bombarded with back spasms from day 6-11 so make sure you take your muscle relaxers to contain the spasms. Good luck!
  • Kwilson400KKwilson400 Posts: 42
    edited 07/15/2012 - 4:37 PM
    So sorry
    June 2011 L5-S1 Lamenectomy/Discectomy
    Dec. 2011 Repeat L5-S1 Lamenectomy/Discectomy
    June 2012 New tear L5-S1 w/ Perm. Sciatic Nerve Damage
    Currently- restrictions (including no work duties) for a min. of 3 months to allow disc time to heal
  • I wanted to drop in and update, as well as thank everyone for their responses. I looked back at my original post and realized I must have been in more pain/out of my head than I thought I was. I made typos that normally drive me crazy! :)))

    I opted out of the ER trip last night. I'm with you KWilson400 - I also have a $200 ER co-pay, and we've already shelled out in excess of $1200 for deposits to have the surgery. Since I was under my maximum amount of pain meds for the day, I took an extra Norco, as well as an ambien, and slept it off. I felt like Superwoman this morning after an uninterrupted six hours of sleep.

    @back - When I do something, I don't do it half way! The surgeons both told me that I have the largest herniation they have seen in a while, and were quite surprised I have made it this long without surgery. With a $1700 deductible, sometimes there's not choice. I'm just lucky to be blessed with a wonderful family that is helping with the expenses.

    @Ricky29sg, thank you for the heads up about the spasms. I'm hoping that I get lucky and those pass me up. Best of luck with the rest of your recovery. My hubby has been fantastic about taking over the tasks that cause increased pain, and now I don't lift anything heavier than my drink at dinner.

    @tamtam - I was taking Baclofen when I met with my surgeon initially. Since then we have decided to discontinue it. I'm sure they will prescribe more muscle relaxers post-op, and if they don't automatically, I will ask for more. Thank you for bringing that up as I had forgotten about the muscle relaxers.

    Again, thank you all for your responses. Soon I hope to be able to share my surgery experiences with everyone and help them as you all have helped me. :)))

    I will update after I have had my surgery. :H
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