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Laminectomy L5 S1

I'm a 41yo male and on May 7th I had a Laminectomy at L5 S1.

My pre OP symptoms were lower back pain with pain down my left leg and numbness in my left foot.
I did the usual physical therapy first for 4 weeks. PT helped some with my back pain but not with leg pain/weakness and numbness. Family doc had me get an MRI then refereed me to a Orthopedics center. Initial visit there consisted of a 15 minute exam, followed by an Injection doc who gave me pre injection exam and setup an appointment to get the actual injection.
Got the injection and a week later had a follow up visit. Injection didn't help so they made me an appointment with their Orthopedic surgeon.
Surgeon looked at my MRI and said I had a herniated disc and he recommended I get a Laminectomy. I told him I would have to think about it. He said not to wait to long because it could turn into permanent nerve damage.
I waited about a month and a half and then began thinking about what he said about possible permanent nerve damage and decided to go ahead with the surgery.
Meanwhile my symptoms had improved to the point where my leg was a little stiff in the mornings and would have a slight back ache but nothing severe which I told the surgeon. He said that was likely do to the injection, but it was a temporary fix and would wear off and that surgery was still my best option.

So I had the surgery.
In post op I didn't feel too bad, but a couple hours later I had horrible back and leg pain and numbness in my foot worse then ever before.
I was put on IV antibiotics and a morphine button I could push every 10 minutes. The morphine didn't help much with the pain but made me very sick and I threw up every time I used it even after they gave me anti nausea meds.
I also couldn't urinate so they put a catheter in me. OUCH!
I made it through to the next day and they released me from the hospital.
I felt extremely bad and in tons of pain for the next 2 days. My blood pressure which pre op had always been normal was 148/84 and I had a 101 fever for a total of 3 days. Also my heart rate (usually in the 50s) was 90-120 at rest.
At day 4 post op I was concerned because I hadn't had a bowel movement so I took a stool softener.
When it kicked in I went to sit on the toilet and I began sweating profusely and feeling like I was about to pass out at any moment.
This was on a weekend so I went to the ER and they checked me for signs of blood clots and said my bathroom episode was caused by a Vagal response. A nerve that when strained can cause blood pressure to drop and can cause a person to pass out (usually not fatal thank god).

The following Monday I contacted the surgery people at the Orthopedics clinic and told them about my bathroom scare, and heart rate/BP issues and they said it had nothing to do with the surgery or anything that they had done and recommended I make an appointment to see my family doctor.

Had appointment with family doc today and he said not to worry about the bathroom incident and prescribed Atenolol for the BP/heart rate.

Bottom line for me is I do realize it takes time to heal so I am trying to stay positive for the hope of better days when I do heal.
But if I had it to do over again I would have not had the surgery, which by the way the surgeon informed me that after he opened me up he discovered that i didn't actually have a herniated disk, just slightly bulging. ugh!

And as a final rant even though I am on medicare each and every one of the half dozen or so "exam" appointments I had my portion after medicare is over $200 per appointment. plus $200 for surgery plus $100 something for the injection.
A single 15 minute do nothing but ask questions appointment costs over $300 of which medicare pays $112 yikes!

So now I owe over $1000 and physically feel much worse then when I started dealing with the Orthopedics "Specialists"
For a low income guy like me that's a tuff pill to swallow.

end rant:

Hopefully there will better days in my future.

thanks for letting me get that off my chest...whew I feel a little better.



  • Welcome to Spine- Health........http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-message-resource

    You are just 6 days after a surgery, so everything that you are experiencing is perfectly within the normal ranges for being acutely post op.....
    An increase in nerve symptoms is quite common since the laminectomy was done to relieve the compression on the nerve root, so now, the blood is flowing back into the nerve and it is angry and waking up.....those symptoms typically disappear, as time passes.
    The increased heart and blood pressure, is common due to the physical stress of having spine surgery on the body. If your blood pressure was abnormally high prior to your discharge, they wouldn't have let you go home nor if you were running a fever of 101..
    The anesthesia and paralytics used during surgery, also effect the bowels as well, and it can take some time for things to get moving again....and most hospitals send spine patients home with a prescription for stool softeners, or won't discharge you if you have difficulty going to the bathroom.
    Hopefully, you will feel a little better as time goes on, but recovery from spine surgery is a journey, not a destination, so take things slowly and easily, and follow the discharge instructions exactly.

    Post op Recovery

  • That is true that your heart rate and BP falls on the toilet. It has happened to me after every surgery I have had. No worries. I have found this whole spine surgery to be a learning experience and everyone is different. I can tell you though that after I got on Neourontin , it decreased my pain 80% and I never new I was having nerve pain. You may want to ask your doc about it. It maybe worth it.
  • thanks for the replies everyone. I am feeling a little better today. I have to keep reminding myself not to over do it though. I had to run some errands today and 3 hours of running around (mostly driving) has me sore and wore plumb out.
    From now on I am going to have to do a little at a time and not try to do everything at once.

    I wasn't prescribed any stool softeners when released from the hospital, but did buy some over the counter ones. They worked, but man that vagal response thing was scary at the time. I was relived when the doc said it wasn't usually life threatening. It only happened that one time (so far). Hopefully I dont have any more issues with going to the bathroom.

    Thanks for the tip on Neourontin. I have an appointment with my Ortho doc the 27th to get my staples removed and will be sure to ask about it.

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