Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Ended up back in hospital, surgeon says 3 level fusion on Saturday?

Ive been on this journey for a couple of years...long story short my back has been bad for about 9 years, gradually getting worse. I have posted the resuts of y first MRI...I have a lot going on at many different levels. I have had 4 epidurals since January, with minimal releif. So when I woke up Tuesday morning unable to to walk from the pain again, I kind of knew where this waws going. After another MRI in the hospital with some significant changes, they have put the fusion on the table and he can do it on Saturday....not sure if I am feeling rushed, or relieved or what but Im totally freaking out! I am still in hospital.

Is this happening to fast or is it about time? Am I prepared, is my family really prepared for what is ahead...they have never come on this site to see all of the horror stories....will I be one of the horror stories or one of the successes. Will I hold on to my job, or am I going to come out of this a mess and unemployed?

I know there is a prep type sheet somewhere on here....right? Looking for some encouragement...my stres level is rising. I have 2 little kids...2.5 and 8...what the heck will this decision to do them?

Going the gamut of emotions here...what do you think? Close my eyes and hold on?
3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012


  • Having gone through two fusions in as many years (without the added challenge of young children) I would, if I could start over again, probably have waited longer to have the surgery. Today I am not sure that if I had put in more effort with strengthening my core muscles and finding pain management that worked while I got stronger I would not have been in the same or perhaps even a better place.

    Don't get me wrong: I am very grateful for my revision surgery's success, but I sincerely believe that unless there are those symptoms that my doctor told me needed urgent surgery (weakness, bladder or bowel problems, infection) this needs to be thought through, planned for and other opinions sought.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 07/19/2012 - 7:59 AM
    Wow! That is very short notice!
    Has he said that it needs to be done that quickly, or is it just a free day for him to do it?
    Do you have someone who can come at such short notice and take over the care of your children and help you when you get home. A 3 level fusion is a very big surgery and the recovery is likely to be tough and long.
    The fact that you have two young children, one below school age, will mean that you are going to need help for some time.

    If your pain is such that you are not able to walk then it sounds like you will need this surgery.
    Have you had a second or even third opinion?


    That is the link to the Post-op Must Haves. There are other articles on the recovery.
    You need to decide if you are ready to undergo surgery or would prefer some time to prepare yourself, your house and your family for this recovery. It will not be easy, but is often the way to get back to your life with much reduced pain.

    I had a single level fusion with laminectomy 2 years ago and have got great relief from it. I am now facing a 2 level cervical fusion but I think that is due to my rubbish spine rather than having the lumbar fusion. I waited for two years of limiting pain before undergoing my fusion and would have had it sooner if I had known of the relief that I would get.

    I hope that you will be able to make the decision and then have peace about it. Personally, I think I would have needed more time to get my head around needing it. But perhaps you have known for a while that it was on the cards. Could you delay for a few weeks to prepare emotionally and practically?

    Good luck with your decision. Please let us know what you decide. You will find that people on here will be a great support to you from the days before surgery and right through your recovery time.

  • Well, I am freaking out! Thanks for the replies. I agree with everything said...way short notice. Just got off the phone with my brother who said he will supply all financial help necessary for things like help in the house or with the kids. My little one is in daycare and my oldest (8) will go to camp, so days are covered. My boyfriend will take over my work duties totally..i am in property management so I think he can handle so I can salvage some of my job. Just asked the nurse here in the hopsital for some anxiety medicine to get me though. I am a bit concered about why I need 3 level..surgeon was here late last night and i was quite medicated...said that L3-L4 is the worst...and L5-SI as well....I also have spondolythiosis at this level...but that he will do L4-L5 at the same time because it will eventually go...he said something like my discs are all mush. He is in surgery now, and I have a call in for him to call me so I can ask some more questions. I also have a call into a family friend who read my December MRI for me...cant be my doc because of insurance conflicts. He advised against surgery at the time, told me to try EVERYTHING else first. I did, PT and 4 Epidural in less than 6 months. I will use him as my second oppinion and an out of state surgeon (friend as well) has asked to see the MRI...so I will weigh everything and go from there. The two other surgeon difinately only have my best interests....they can make no money off of me! I am petrified! Will go read through the must haves now and send to BF and brother. And yes, I have known what the final result was for awhile. I have so many different issues on different levels. Just a matter of time between the stenosis, spondy and "mushy" discs...never heard that term! ;)
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
  • It sounds like you are almost ready emotionally (and ready physically!) to have this surgery.
    It is good to have other opinions on the mri.

    I had tried to avoid surgery for a long time, so by the time I saw my orthopedic surgeon, he said I needed to have the surgery or I would be in a wheelchair and eventually incontinent! I had surgery 3 weeks later! I think I knew it was coming, and on New Years Eve had thought to myself that this would be the year I had surgery. I had it on 19th March.

    I also had spondylolisthesis at L4/5 which was causing severe stenosis. The discs at the levels above and below were also not good, but he didn't do anything to them. My spinal canal is small genetically. I've not heard of 'mushy' discs either, but it doesn't sound good. Have they told you what grade your spondylolisthesis is?

    I have heard before that if you fuse levels, leaving one level between, that will go and need surgery too. Perhaps it is better to fuse them all together. I would ask him what he will do to help you to fuse as the more levels that are done, the higher the chance that at least one level will have trouble fusing.

    Hoping for a good plan for you that will mean that you will get relief and be able to get back to being a mum to your children.

  • Hmmm....
    I gotta agree that it seems rushed. But, I am a control freak and am a person that needs to do research and think things through.

    Big-picturewise, I do see what your surgeon is saying.

    Difficult choices.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • That you have independent trusted second opinions with no vested interest. I'd especially ask about domino effects on other levels. My surgeon fixed my L5S1 spondylolisthesis, but was really not keen on doing L4 because that's where most of the movement in the spine is.
  • Seems like too much too fast. L3-S1??? That's a lot right? I know that L3-l4 is shot and there is severe stenosis...but at L4-L5 there is nmild stenosis but Spondy which I thought was a level 1 but now thinking he said its a level 2...L5-S1 also has spondy, mild or mod stenosis and quite a herniation as far as I remember. WTH? I just read on here that a mulit level fusion is ever a good idea and does not have a great prognosis....what have I been set up for here?
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
  • What have you been told for the past few years was likely to happen? Was the word fusion used during any of your talks. Is this Dr. a spine only surgeon? First I would ask to speak to him when your not all drugged up. A 3 level fusion IS a big surgery and will take a very long time to recover from, like months and months or close to a year. Even with your young age it will likely take a long time. What are your alternatives, if any. I just had a 3 level 360 revision fusion done and I can tell you first hand it is rough. I am older then you and mine was a 360 version so I don't know how much diffference there would be. If I was in your shoes I would have the middle one fused while they are in there as its very likely to go bad in te very near future.

    Unless there is some life threatening thing happening to you right now they can't keep you in the hospital without a procedure coming up. It make be different if you live outide te US.

    Godd luck for sure.
  • Yes, this has always been the final outcome...Im just scared right now. That is what the doctor said about the middle one, that there is no reason to go in and do the others vecasue L4-L5 will go and there is the spondy at that level also. Im just an emotional mess..the surgeon is coming today so I am getting my list together. Im 44, I have young kids but I am not so young...lol. How are you doing after the fusion and what levels did they do? I dont even know what a 360 is versus anything else. All I know is he said he could do mine through the front or back, that the front was a little more dangerous because of the aortic valve but going through the back went through more main muscles. Im thinking stay away from the aortic valve! Right? I live in Los Angeles. I am in a GREAT hospital...has some of the bes surgeons in all fields practice here...just never fun to look at surgery like this... Before it was scheduled I was so tired of hurting...of ending up in hospital for days because my legs totally go on me....i go back and forth, Im just scared. I think its time....who knows...I want my kids to have a mom that can do things with them. That can say yes, lets go walk the beach and play...its been a hard cuple of years for all. I know its another year of hell for everyone, but maybe I can finally get better...right?
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 07/20/2012 - 1:16 PM
    I really feel for you to be in this position and having to make such a quick decision.

    A 360 fusion is when they go in from the front and then turn you over and go in from the back to put in the hardware (screws and rods)
    I had a PLIF on one level for spondylolisthesis and my surgeon managed to take the disc out, put in a cage with my bone taken from removing the lamina (laminectomy) and then put in 4 screws and 2 rods to hold it together while I fused along with more on my bone for good measure. I was off work for 5 months and had to get back into it very slowly and carefully, but now, after 2 years I feel much better than I had in years before my surgery. I still have some pain in my lower back, but they warned me I would and it is much better than before. I have problems in my neck but they were there before my surgery and have just got worse with time. I suspect that I will need to have surgery there before the end of this year.

    It sounds like your back is telling you it is time to do something drastic to help yourself. If you are not ready to have surgery tomorrow, then tell your surgeon that you need more time to get your head around it and would like to reschedule for a later date. You will probably never feel completely ready, but you also need to be at a place where you feel pretty sure that it is the right thing to do. You will not get to a place where you are not scared. We have all been there. so scared of if it was the right thing or not.

    Something that someone said that helped me was that if my world was shrinking because I could do less and less, and I was in pain every day, then it was probably time to do the surgery. I am glad that I did have it. It is not easy, and you will need lots of help, but in time you should be in a position where you will be better than you are now. Don't expect to have a 100% better and good as new back, that is not realistic, but improved and able to do most things if you are careful.

    Do let us know what you decide. We will be here to support and help whatever you decide.

  • My surgery was from both the front and back. My NS used a Vascular Surgeon to expose the area and take care of the Aorta. As I understand it, the support at the front leads to better spinal alignment. My PT says I have a normal spinal curve now, which I did not have after the first PLIF-only surgery.
  • a 360 is as been explained. It is pretty involved as far as operations go and there are not that many sureons that will take them on. They really need a team to make it happen. I had L3,L4 done 2 years ago and 2 more levels added in the middle of last month. You are 16 years younger then I and it, age, does make a big difference for most. If you have been told this is comimg then your day of call is here. Keep in mind it may not totally help you, especially with the pain as it seems everyone is different. You will need to really protect your back going foward so you should get a clear idea from you surgeon what you can and can't do, especialy with the young kids. You should get a clear idea what your surgeon is going to do during your operation unless it make you squirmesh.

    It sounds like its going to happen so lets us know how you make out, when you can and last but not least GOOD LUCK. Lots of folks, friends, routing for you.
  • I am thinking of you Ellencali and wondering if you have decided to go ahead with the surgery.
    I suspect that you have as we haven't heard from you, so I'll say a prayer that all goes smoothly.

    We'll all be here waiting to hear how you have done.

  • Well. I went through with it. Surgery went more than 8 hours, found a mess he didnt see on the MRI. I am fused from L3-S1 with cages and bolts. My pain is controlled right now, still in hospital as I ended up with Pneumonia pretty quick and am still fighting that a bit. M eperience with things so far is expect the best, prepare for the worst. I think I will be going home soon and am very fearful of my pain being managed...there are times here in the hospital I can not move in bed,,,cant roll over over or scoot so i just lay here until the pain meds come. I am still on IV pain meds as needed and have no idea how that is going to be covered at home....can anyone please share with me there experience in transitioning from hospital to home and how they managed their pain?

    Im sorrry it took so long to post....pneumonia kicked my butt....not feelin good already right now trying to wirte everyting down. Im good, thanks for support and thoughts...mine go right back at all of you.

    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
  • glad your doing fine, keep us posted on progress,,,,,
  • Hi Ellencali,
    8 hours is a long surgery! There was obviously a lot of work that he needed to do to try to help you. That probably means that the recovery will be slower than some. It is not what anyone would chose but sometimes it is what is needed to recover and heal from the surgery.
    I expect that the pneumonia has meant that you haven't been able to get up much and become mobile. I think that a lot of us find that when we first start to move about, it is painful, but that as we do more, it becomes easier. I hope that will be the case for you, and that you will find getting up and then moving around will progressively get easier.
    9 days out - you are very early on. Quite often at the 2 week mark, things start to feel like they are improving a little. This may be a bit later if you have only just started to move about. At 6 weeks, hopefully you will feel that your recovery is under way. At 3 months you should start to feel that there is hope of a better future. From this, you can see that this a very long road and will have some bumps along the way. (You have already fallen in a pothole with the pneumonia!)

    At the end of the road, hopefully you will feel that you can get on with your life again, although perhaps you will always need to be careful - I do.

    There are many of us here Ellen, that know how frustrating this recovery can be and experienced the feeling of thinking that something may be wrong because we are not recovering as quickly as we hoped. Please take heart and don't give up hope. The recovery from spinal fusion surgery (even a 1 level fusion, never mind several) must be one of the longest recovery times for any surgery. Thinking of you and hoping that we will hear from you before too long, telling us that you are now moving around easier and that things are slowly getting better.
    Gentle hugs xx
  • BkinsBBkins Posts: 364
    edited 07/30/2012 - 11:39 AM

    I just had a 2 level added revision surgery, (360) which was done on June 12th. Mine lasted 10 hours but I didn't pick up a pneumonia. They will try to get you up and doing some kind of movement and will most likely let you out once your moving some, your bowels are functioning, and they get your pain under control. You should be sent home with a good supply (30days) of pain meds that work for you. I would get some calls out to a Pain Dr. right now if you don't have one and if you do make an appointment. Take the pain meds with you to show them what your on and tell them how well the meds are working. I made sure I was slightly over medicated while in the hospital because you can always cut back but its hard to use more then prescribed without causing problems.

    I am on Medicare so I was started right away with a nurse and some light rehab at home. This took me up to the 6 week mark where I saw my Dr. and X-rays were taken and a PT scrip was written for the next 6 weeks.

    I found that I really started to feel better after getting home and a couple of weeks passed. I'll stop here as your questions delt with pain meds. Make sure your pain is controlled while in the hospital and if it isn't talk to pain management at the hospital. If your still not getting anywhere, like 1 day, ask for a patient advocate person and they should help get things to where you are not in pain. My experiences have been that they will transition you to pain meds by mouth at least for a few days and it may take a few days for them to get the mix right.
    Good luck.
  • ellencalieellencali Posts: 162
    edited 08/12/2012 - 8:36 AM
    Hi everyone! I am home, been here for about a week. I had to go back to hospital for a couple more days for pain management....they did not send me home with adequate pain management. Honestly I have had more pain meds for a toothache! My surgeon was great, he imeadiatly told me to meet him in "his hospital ER". I'm home, pain is under control. Im up and walking, trying to find my way back into my life. I am a little depressed. I have always been in complete control of everything. Im the breadwinner, the mom, the everything. Now, I lay in bed most of the time while my boyfriend (father of my kids) has taken over everything. I feel lost and a little like I have lost my identity. My 2 year old now runs to daddy when he is hurt. Enough of the that....I do have a question for everyone....I have extremely enlarged and painful lympnodes in my groin area. Rt side much worse than the left. I saw my GP who told me to contact surgeon, who referred me to ER for bloodwork that night. Blood work came out ok. Sent me home and I was at ease. Last night was a horrible "pain" night and this morning the lymph on right side is much beigger, now stretching up toward my hip. Not sure if the increase in pain last night has any correalation. Has anyone experirnced the lymph node thing? Im thinking maybe its just my body trying to filter out all the meds, or the surgery incision site is the cause. I feel like I am getting a little better day by day. Over did it too much last night...cooked dinner for my family....they loved it, I sufferred a bit, but it was worth the little bit of normalcy I felt! This is some rough stuff, I hope everyone else out there is finding a way to get through each day. I think I got lucky...I will recover and get my life back...I say that over and over every day! Peace to all!
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012

  • Glad to hear that you are home again. I'm sure that being in your own home feels great. It must be hard to have young children around though. I can understand that it feels sad that your little boy runs to his daddy when he needs comforting. Until you are further on in your recovery, that is probably best. Once you are able to move more easily, he'll soon want his mummy's cuddles again. In the meantime, having daddy comfort him will give them a close relationship which is a good thing. Nothing willl spoil his relationship with you in the long term. Think of it as a temporary handing over that role to his dad, but you will be back as his mummy before too long.

    I'm afraid that I can't help with the painful lympnodes in the groin. I didn't have that. Hopefully someone else will be along who does know about it.

    Did you have a 360 fusion in the end, or from the back or front? I do know that those who have a fusion from the front do often have a lot of swelling afterwards.

    Now you are in the recovery phase, you will soon realise (it sounds like you already have) that it is very easy to over do it. Be careful, you don't want to muck up the surgery or delay your recovery. Listen to your body, it will tell you when it is time to stop. Your role as the homemaker and mom will return. Right now the most important job you have to do is to allow your body to heal from this severe trauma that you have been through.

    Slowly, slowly you will get there. Look after yourself, you are worth it.

    >:D< >:-D< :hug:
Sign In or Register to comment.