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I'm new, and scared

MomahowardMMomahoward Posts: 11
edited 10/05/2014 - 9:04 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Back surgery is scheduled for October 21st. I have lived with chronic pain in my lower back for 17 years.

Up until 3 months ago, I was never on any sort of pain medication. I opted to abuse my high pain tolerance than risk becoming addicted to narcotic pain killers.

What started out as one slipped disc after simply jumping into a swimming pool has now turned into 3 slipped discs, one herniated, spondylethesis (mine goes opposite of normal), arthritis, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, and foraminal stenosis.

I also have been found to have spina bifida.

We are doing a fusion of l5-s1 and also a laminectomy, and some other stuff.

Due to severe metal allergies, my fusion will be done the old way...graft materials but no hardware. Can't even stable the incision...gonna have to be stitched.

I don't have time for this, and I am not optimistic of the surgery.

But my quality of life is tremendously decreasing over the last several months, I am CONSTANLY falling, etc.

What do I expect? How long is the hospital stay? What happens afterward? Will if even help?

I'm just 40 and so tired of feeling like I'm 80.

Ideas please? And thank you.
17 years avoiding surgery, now it's unavoidable. Scared beyond belief.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi, a friend of mine once said to me that you know when you need surgery? And I can agree, it's when there seems to be no way to avoid it. I certainly take my hat off to you for so many years with pain, it's a testament to your ability and drive. Use this drive to conquer your fears. While I make no bones about the surgery you will be undertaking it is a slow process especially without hardware. I do wish you all the best for the upcoming surgery.
    Aussie Aussie Aussie
    PLIF l5-S1 L4L5 herniation, incomplete paraplegia
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 10/06/2014 - 4:33 AM
    You should really sit down with your surgeon again prior to your surgery, and ask any questions that you have, especially regarding restrictions, limitations, acute post op care, and rehabilitation PRIOR to your surgery.
    Fusion surgery recovery can take a year or more , before a solid fusion is obtained, and there are restrictions and limitations that the patient must follow to ensure the best outcome.
    At the top of the forum, you will find a thread that lists questions to ask your surgeon regarding surgery.......you can add to that list any questions you may have specific to your case for your surgeon and have him go over those things with you.


  • Thanks so much for your kind words and links. I've only known 2 people who have had back surgery, and both had multiple ones. It scares me to no end, I don't want to go down that path. But with all the falling, I can see that surgery is unavoidable at this point...especially with the intensifying pain and weakness I am having. My fear is that "okay, painful as it is, I'm at least able to walk right now, what if something happens?"

    Also, what if they get in there and there's more than they expected to encounter? Will they fix all they see while they have me open? I would not like to wake up and find that I have another surgery to do once I heal from this one, you know?

    Again, thank you so much, I'm glad to have found this site!
    17 years avoiding surgery, now it's unavoidable. Scared beyond belief.
  • I wish you the best and a speedy recovery, I would read other post on things you need if you opt for surgery. I would also do research on the different procedures that you could choose. I had a laminectomies L4, L5, S1, L4 Gill procedure , L4-5 fushion with autograft and allograft . I was diagnosed with stenosis , and some other medical terms, and I was told that a total fusion from my neck to my tail back woul be fused. I was sacred to death and spoke to a nurse who showed me the rods and screws that would be inserted in my back, that totally freaked me out. I opted out of the surgery and months late spoke to my neurosurgeon and we decided to back off, and do the Laminectomy . I know what you are going through, but each back problem is different. I would strongly recommend you read others who had simalar back problems and talk to you doctor, who is going to perform the surgery. It is extremely important that you address all your fears and anxiety to your doctor. I will see my doctor this Wednesday for a follow up and then physical therapy, I know I have a long way to go but I try to keep a positive outlook . And I find this site extremely helpful, oh by the way the pain medication they will give you, please take for the pain, I like you don't like to take pain pills, but you will need to take the medication to ease the pain. Good luck,
    Ronald J. Geron
  • I had almost immediate relief from my surgery 11 years ago. I was never really able to run but, just about anything else. It progressed over the years and was a great success. I did the micro surgery, so stitches etc, were not a factor. I did not have a fusion.
    Lisa A Kee
  • Did any of you find it hard to have a positive outlook? I have always expected the worst and hoped for the best on things, but hubby keeps grilling me telling me I need to be positive so I can have a good outlook, but he's not the one whose fixing to get his back split open!
    17 years avoiding surgery, now it's unavoidable. Scared beyond belief.
  • I was also kicked out of a chronic pain forum recently because I said that I didn't want to become a druggie if I am one of the 85% of people who statistically have to begin or continue narcotics after surgery, then immediately clarified I meant becoming hooked on them, breaking laws or lying to obtain them, NOT someone that needs them and doesn't abuse them.

    But, they all took it personal and I got banned, so that also doesn't help emotionally. It was a Facebook forum you would think would be supportive but they all put me on this pedestal and/or called me a liar saying no one could go as long as I did without medication if I truly have the back issues I do.

    What was funny is the ones who complained are ones I suspected of abusing their medications. Lol. I never said it, but suspected them. I had a loved one who became addicted to pain medication. I know the look, behavior, etc.
    17 years avoiding surgery, now it's unavoidable. Scared beyond belief.
  • If you weren't scared, I would be concerned.........spiine surgery is a big deal, and it is often not an instant cure............meaning that the pain and some of the symptoms can take weeks and months post op to resolve.....especially nerve related pain.
    As far as being able to choose the type of procedure, that's not always the case, in fact, most of the time, it is not. Surgeons choose the approach and type of surgery based on your medical condition, the problems you have going on in your spine, and what needs to be done based on what they see in the images.......so, your surgeon will tell you what type of surgery needs to be done, the approach he intends to use and why.
    As far as your concerns about becoming an addict, opiates are not toys, as you well know, and if they are misused, it is a slippery slope to addiction if you allow it to become one. That being said, many people confuse addiction with dependency and they are two different things.
    There are many medications, not just opiates that can cause dependency/habituation in your body.....muscle relaxers, sleeping pills, blood pressure medications, diabetes meds, and more......if you were to take them for some time, and then suddenly stop them, your body will react........whether it would be the onset of severe muscle spasms, insomnia, a spike in your blood pressure or your blood sugars spiking or falling......all of those are dependency issues, as your body has acclimated to having those substances in your body to cope with some symptoms of some medical condition. Your body will react to not having those substances if you were to suddenly stop them.
    Addiction is the misuse, despite negative consequences of a substance. This includes taking more than prescribed, running out early, doctor shopping to obtain the medications, buying on the street , borrowing from "friends", stealing, etc........it is taking medications when they are no longer necessary , lying to get them....and so much more. It is a pattern of behavior.
    Medications, taking correctly, as prescribed, and only when necessary, are not abused by patients. Taking medications when you no longer need them, or faking medical conditions to get more, is abuse.
    If you should need ongoing pain management for some weeks or months post op, and you may, as long as you take the medications exactly as you are prescribed to take them and not to fill some emotional or psychological need, then you should be fine.

  • Yes I agree on addiction versus dependency. I even clarified that in that group. When your body becomes accustomed to something, it's dependent on it for help. But with my loved one innocently becoming addicted to lortab, it was so hard to deal with and scary, so being I have this outrageous pain tolerance, chose to avoid painkillers, period. Didn't want to risk addiction.

    Hopefully I will be lucky and not have to take anything beyond my hospital stay, but I guess I'll only know that til it happens. I am the worlds worst about taking way less than prescribed or not at all to see if the pain is better, and that tends to be a downfall at times. Lol
    17 years avoiding surgery, now it's unavoidable. Scared beyond belief.
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