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2 Level Spine Fusion (L4, L5, S1) in 18 Days

I'm 38 years old and decided to go for the 2 level spine fusion after avoiding it for 12 years. My original diagnoses was a grade 2-3 spondylolisthesis of L5 over S1. It is now a grade 4 slippage and about 80%+ slippage. My doctor is going to go thru the front (Anterior) and put a cage in along with a screw connecting L5-S1. This is not common but he feels it is nessessary in order to stabilize the fusion even further. Then posterior screws and rods connecting L4-L5-S1 with some freeing up of the compressed nerves which has creating a mild stenosis. I can manage on pain pills but no longer want to do that. I can't really live free of pain and movement without either pain pills and injections or this surgery. But, my doctor is being optimistic and says that after I recover to "live my life" how I see fit! I'm in great shape, 140lbs, lean, all that but is it realistic to think that I can return to refereeing soccer at a high level (State level and higher) and playing soccer at almost the same level? Is anyone similiar in age and physical condition that can offer some realistic insight? I'm terrified of the surgery but more terrified of not living my life to the fullest. I've always known that surgery was inevitable but I always thought it would be later in life, not at 38 while I'm in such great physical shape. I don't want to be disappointed and worse off after surgery and unable to referee or play soccer after going thru this intense risky surgery. But, I don't want to cease living in any capacity. I've tried all the non surgical options and have been remarkably active up until 6 months ago when I noticed my recovery from being active was getting worse and worse, then had the updated MRI which show he additional slippage. I've said yes to the procedure but I am getting more and more stressed and nervous ad the dates is slowly but surely about to arrive! I've also heard and read about adjacent vertebra such as L3 becoming compromised once two levels are fused but in my case it is necessary due to the degree of slippage. Has anyone returned to being physically active quite a bit after spine fusion surgery that can also offer me some realistic insight?


  • I am 59 female and i just had this surgery 3/13 I did chyropractor, physical therapy,steroid shots ect.nothing worked and my surgeon said surgery was my only option.I had ALIF L4L5S1 double fusion.I also had a vascular surgeon.Hewent through the belly 10"insision cage rods nuts and bolts.Turned me over and made 2 2" insitions and finished.T he surgery was 51/2 hrs.I spent 5 days in hospital on morphine pump.I came home on morphine pills and tylanol every 3 hrs.The pain is intense, i wont lie.I need help with everything.I have to wear a bone stimulator for 2 hrs every day.They say my full recovery will take up to a yr.Im hoping for the best.I welcome you to this site,you will learn everything on here and talk to alot of nice people who are dealing with spine issues.Stay strong and good luck. Kathy
    Kathy B
  • I appreciate your feedback, it definitely helps. I know it will not be easy going thru this and that part of it I do not mind so much. I am a fighter and very motivated. I have even been counting calories in order to remain in the best possible shape for surgery since housework and walking is all I can currently do. My biggest concern is whether I will be able to referee and play soccer following the recovery to make this extremely worth it. I know there are no guarantees as far as that goes but it is difficult to have a complete submissive attitude about it with so many unknowns. I am a natural worrier anyway so the surgery itself, being out to sleep, etc just have me a nervous wreck 18 days before this is going to happen. I think it is worth it because even if I cannot return to what I was doing and what I love, my injury and slippage would be stabilized and I can do something else. It is just very difficult to go from being on top to facing a major 2 level spinal fusion is just over two weeks with about a 65%-90% success rate.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Detailed medical libraries of Articles and Videos that address almost every Spinal Conditions and Treatment

    - The Wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

    - It is very important to understand the Forum Rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

    - As a new member, it is helpful to understand the 'makeup' of these forums, how to make posts, tips on adding images and much more. You should read Forum FAQ

    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the Private Message facility to contact any one of the Moderators on my team:
    dilauro , tamtam or liz

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Sounds like you are mentally preparing for this surgery and thats good. You will have alot of sleepless nights and thats normal. You should hop on over to April Buddies.There people who are having surgery in April.They all support each other before and after surgery.Im a March buddy.Good luck. If you need to talk you can pm me anytime. Kathy
    Kathy B
  • You are right about the sleepless nights, that's for sure! I have been up tossing and turning with crazy dreams and restlessness for a couple weeks now. My sleep is difficult anyway due to the spondylolisthesis grade 4 but the mental frustration and worrying is adding additional stress. It helps to talk about it with people who understand so thank you!
  • I too am having a fusion L4-S1. April 24thI don't sleep well either and the racing what if thoughts don't help. I am 35 and hope to regain a good chunk of my life back. My husband keeps saying dont worry about it. Easier said than done. Good luck to you!!!
    injury 12/29/09. L2 henamgioma L3-S1 desiccation protrusion narrowing, L5-S1 nerve rood displaces, L4-5 annular tear DDD L5-S1. surgery 4/24/12
  • Yes, it is much easier said than done for anyone not having to go thru the same thing and not having to face the same uncertainty that is for sure. My family seems to have a major lax attitude about it and it can be frustrating because I just hope to wake up with none of the complications that are possible so that I can begin recovering. Good luck to you as well! It helps to talk about.
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