I finally got my fusion surgery completed this past Monday. Since I have been on the forums for about a year dealing with this pain, and I have found so much support and good advice, I thought I would pass on my experience for others to learn from. I also have a few questions.
My main problem was DDD at L5-S1. I had a successful discectomy there 3 years ago. I have always been very active and my career has always been in the automotive industry so a lot of heavy lifting involved.
My pain recurred late in 2011, and it was incapacitating. I went through all of the usual: oral steroids, physical therapy, all types of pain control meds; then graduated to ESI's, facet joint blocks, rhizotomies. Then my physiatrist told me bluntly that I need a fusion and there was nothing more that he could do for me.
I saw the neuro who has operated on nearly my whole family, who first agreed that I need a fusion, then backed out. Saw another neuro and he declined altogether but recommended me to an ortho who would probably help me. I saw him and we agreed on the fusion, which he would do ALIF and insert hardware from the rear.
The procedure was done this past Monday, and I was home Thursday.
I was in the operating room for 2 hours, and recovery for 3 hours. The whole time I was in, they were fighting low blood pressure (I think it was around 85/50 when I got to my room). The pain control wasn't nearly enough; I got better pain control when I had the discectomy! I think it was because of the blood pressure problem. Any thoughts? They had me on a morphine pump but it barely took the edge off, and after a while, I suggested maybe the morphine was dropping my blood pressure and recommended they remove it and put me on oral meds. They did but only gave me what I had been taking before the surgery (Percocet 5/325). After that didn't help, they increased it to 10/325. They refused anything stronger. I did eventually get them to add Flexiril but I was still in considerable pain.
But the good news is that my leg pain is gone. The only pain now is lower back where th incision is, and down to the hip. They sent me home with the 10/325 Percs, Flexiril, and Neurontin (also one of my regular meds). When I left the hospital, I couldn't walk from one side of the bed to the other, and cold barely make it to the bathroom. But I just wanted to go home. I knew I would be better there.
Since home, I am walking around 1 block several times a day, then reclining the rest, with a nap during the day. As of yesterday, I am taking about 7 Percocets a day, 2 Flexiril, 4 Arthritis Strength Tylenol, and vitamin supplements. I am still uncomfortable at times but it is tolerable for now. I have my first post-surgical check up on the 18th.
I am very hopeful that the decision to have the surgery was a good one. A lot of people in my life are skeptical, but I couldn't take it any more, and want to be off the meds completely, and get back to doing the things I love. I know I will have to tone it down a bit but I want to be able to function without narcotics!
I will continue to post throughout my recovery in case someone else can benefit from my experiences!
Thanks to all previous posters who helped me make my decision!