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Doc emailed me my surgery forms and got me all freaked out

My doc emailed me all my paperwork and forms this week for my upcoming December lumbar surgery with dates for pre-op testing and consent signing, and for some reason it totally freaked me out. One of the pages was regarding "Complex Spine Surgery" which includes multi-level (I'm having 2 levels), more than one surgery (this is my second), etc., and it talks about the increased risks of infection, non-fusion, paralysis, nerve problems, etc.

My hubby seems to think that I shouldn't be nervous because this is my third surgery (my first was a 3-lvl cervical) and for some reason doesn't understand that I'm starting to freak out.

Am I supposed to be an "old hand at this" having had two before? Do you all who've had more than one surgery still get nervous and a bit freaked out before your next surgery?

I guess I'm just needing some validation because I'm now not even talking about my surgery and how nervous I am to my hubby. My best friend died earlier this year and I'd call her, but all I have left is him and now I need to keep quiet.

I'll always have SH, too, so I might be posting more as I get closer to surgery. Dang...



  • I have only had the one microD in sept. I was feeling really good and positive and ready for surgery. When I had to fill out the pre-op paperwork I felt those same kind of feelings.

    I think your husband trusts the doctor and may think, she has already been through this, nothing to worry about. Many could feel that way from the outside.

    Before my surgery I think my wife refused to tell me how scared she was for me so I would not be scared too. Our spouses think they need to be strong for us and just like everything else everyone is different. Some may want their partners friends and families to stay oblivious while we keep all of the pain inside. Others may want to share the fear.

    But for you all the risks are just as scary as the first time, and thats OK. I tell you what. You are a badass. You will make it through this. You will vent your fears to you hubby, us in the forums, and your docs if necessary. Then when the time comes you are gonna put your gameface on and start the next chapter of your recovery.

    Good Luck Cathie keep your head up!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Seems to be real common. Was same for me too.
    I started to think, 'I may die', 'maybe I made the wrong decision', etc. it's normal to feel like this. It's human.
    Yes, we need to recognise the risks, we need to weigh them up and make sure we're doing the right thing.
    And then do some deep breathing, listen to a relaxation tape or whatever will reduce the anxiety. Good preparation helps.
    Hope your feeling a bit more comfortable.
  • Cath,

    I think everyone gets a little nervous about their decision. I know I have thought especially on the last one, what if I have run out of luck. But honestly luck has nothing to do with it, your surgeon does. But what makes nerves worse is the consent forums when you read what might happen and you have been explained all the risk and so forth. Really I want someone to put my hand where the x is and sign and me not look.

    I always pull off a straight face, and make it appear I am not nervous at all. But I do get my affairs in order, just in case. Not only if I die but the paralysis thing, so someone can sign for me. I should say sense I did the first surgery so well, I only need to tweak things now. But your Hubby is there so your in good hands. The point is everyone gets nervous. While most of us know we have to have the surgery, it still is nerving.

    But the one part of the drill you know, is to do something for yourself. I say sign the paperwork get it over with and then go do something for yourself. I always want a pedicure and a manicure It is kind of my tradition, of sorts. If I have to feel bad, I want to look good, well at least my feet and hands, lol.
  • forgive me ..but i thought your back was in relative good shape !!! only because you have mentioned in previous post that {from what i can remember } you only had mild back ache ..PLEASE forgive me if i am wrong and i am so sorry your going in for more surgery .i wish you the best out come and a speedy recovery .{i am still having loads of problems }
    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
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    edited 11/16/2012 - 6:30 AM
    Any upcoming surgery can test our nerves. Even if we have been through many before.
    I also think that sometimes reading the 'fine print' about the surgery can really get your mind working in over drive.

    Cath, you know there are two major aspects going into any surgery

    1 - Having complete faith and confidence in your surgeon
    2 - Having a totally understanding and supporting spouse

    You have both...

    And you know you always have us here in a pinch

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 11/16/2012 - 7:31 AM
    and nerves come with it.

    After my lumbar fusion, and it going well, I thought that if I did end up needing a neck fusion, I wouldn't be nearly so nervous. Wrong!!

    Although I had read, from you and others, that a neck fusion was easier to recover from than a lumbar fusion, I knew that it was technically more challenging for the surgeon and came with higher risks. That played on my mind, and caused me to hang on for a long time. That and one of the neurosurgeons I had seen telling me that we should continue to wait.

    Other surgeons were telling me that it was time for surgery, and one even said I should have it as soon as possible to remove the risk to my spinal cord, that was very real!
    I am 11 days post surgery now, and it wasn't so scary.

    Remember Cathie, how you told me and others, that the anxiety beforehand is worse than the surgery?
    I pray that will be the case for you again. xx
    We are here for you to be open and real about how you are feeling.
    I know only too well how much help it is to have somewhere to express how you are really feeling.

    Take care,
    edited 11/16/2012 - 7:59 AM
    Hi I wish you luck with your surgerys and will say a prayer for you, everytime I have something done I freak myself out and it always turns out not as bad as what I expected! Hope all goes well for you!
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/16/2012 - 9:56 AM

    Surgeons HAVE to send that information. It is about covering their backsides legally. If they didn't say every possible horrible scenario that could happen, they would open themselves up to liabilities that their attorneys want to make sure they don't deal with.

    Fortunately, my surgeon sat down with me and went through the percentages for each of these complications, not because I asked, but because he has done this long enough to know it freaks people out. I think most of them were in the 1% area and a few were in the higher percentiles.

    I would be in wonderment if you were not nervous. Being nervous, to me, means you are paying attention and aware. I am on my own and so I was more stoic throughout the process, but I remember waking up at about 2am one night in the hospital room and the magnitude of my cervical fusion surgery really started hitting me, mostly because I have lost my voice. I lay there in the dark and just contemplated all of the scenarios, but quickly realized that this was just day one and time would heal things.

    I turned on my guided imagery audio "tapes" I loaded onto my smart phone and I will say, it made a huge difference in focusing me on healing. Perhaps start listening to something - meditation, religious, guided imagery, uplifting music - audios that help ease some of the tension and nervousness you are feeling.

    It's great that you have someone there for you.
    I wish you well!
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • My ACDF is Monday, and yes I am nervous. I don't know if it's better or worse that I've been a nurse for 20 years- maybe in this case ignorance is bliss. I'm thinking about the complications, but also what the nurses may or may not do right, or wanting to control what meds they order for me, because I know what can be ordered. I know how much I'll be attended to and can't imagine sleeping well in the hospital, and I don't want to be the PIA patient ( nurse code for "pain in the ass" patient!). REALLY hoping I don't have a roommate, and worried about how my teenagers will react and they BETTER help at home! So there, as you can see, we are all where you are ! As everyone else says, it takes faith- in your doctor, your family, and in yourself !
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    edited 11/16/2012 - 8:02 PM
    After 7 surgeries I quit freaking out until the 7th one. I dont know why, I had all kinds of bad feelings about it.I just knew I was making a mistake and wasnt coming out of the surgery alive. On the way to the hospital I wrote my sister a check for the entire amount of the account to cash if something happened, told her where my life insurance policy was, ect. ect, Why I was so freaked out about it Ill never know and everything was fine. Also another thing with me is Ive had so many MRIs I couldnt keep count and never had a problem. All of the sudden I am claustrophobic. I now have to take a Valium to get thru a MRI. Relax and take a deep breath and keep telling yourself everything will be fine. I know easier said then done. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • Cathie, even after 10 surgeries, 4 being back surgeries and last was Thoracic in May, I found myself with worse anxiety after each one. I thought it would get easier but now I know how I feel after surgery and I get so nervous that I will cry and shake and they have to give me something to calm me in pre-op. I hate the way I feel when I first wake up from surgery and that feeling that I have no control over anything and must depend on someone else it the worst ever. I also have problems just having tests done now. I have to take Xanax for MRIs. CTs, injections.During my first thoracic injection before surgery I vomited and almost passed out because I was so anxious. I have had my blood drawn numerous times and also draw blood on my job but as soon as they tied the tournequet on I passed out and now have to lay down. I have watched videos of back surgeries on this site and would feel as if I would pass out even though I have assisted with minor surgeries before.

    Don't feel alone Cathie. I can't explain it but the psychological part gets harder with each surgery.I have a RFA coming up on Nov. 27 and just thinking about it is making me nauseous. I know I have a multi-level fusion in future but right now am still trying to deal with failed thoracic surgery. I will be thinking of you during your surgery but more importantly I will pray that you will have calm before surgery. I am sorry I was all over with this post but so much I wanted to say and don't know how to put in words:) Thank you for being there for me when I joined the forum. It is so nice to know we are no alone.

  • I really thank you all for the reminders about having faith in your surgeon (I do) and how the anticipation is almost always worse than the surgery itself.

    I remember the night after my first surgery, I kept waking up thinking "OMG, I have to have surgery" then remembering it was over and I was on to recovery, then felt a tremendous relief and went back to sleep. Not so much with the lumbar because of the pain, but still was happy it was over.

    I know they have to send that info and you have to sign it for legal reasons, bit like Tam, just put my hand there and move it to my signature. This time is kind of strange because they have all this psychological paperwork, like how I'm feeling mentally and how much I can move, what my social life is like, etc. I don't get that, but whateeeeeever!

    I'll work on keeping myself calm as much as possible, but it's a long wait...too much time to think. Hubby is very supportive and apologized for blowing up at me. He said he's just nervous too and hates that my spine is so bad. He has bad days too, I realize that.

    Tony, I was doing well for a year but all the lifting, bending and twisting I've had to do in my job has made my adjacent levels bad above my fusion. In reality, I need a 5-level fusion, from T-12 to L-4, but my surgeon is trying to wait so I can keep working for hopefully five or more years. I have no disc at L1-2, but he's just dealing with the sponylolisthesis at L-2-4 that's causing instability. Eventually he'll have to do the levels above, but wants to wait. I'm certainly ok with that.

    Thanks again my friends. Having you to talk and vent to is invaluable.

    I can't reply to each one of you, but thank you and wish those with upcoming surgeries the best as well as those recovering. And may those of you who are doing ok have a pain-less week.

  • Cath, I know that you'll pull through this surgery fantastically. Your a very strong lady and you have many many friends on here to help you come through it. Keep up the faith girl *hearts*
  • Coming from you, that means a lot lady. :-)
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