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5 years out from thoracic fusion

Hey everyone,

Wow it has been a hot minute since I have been by to talk with you guys but I thought I would come give a little update since there wasn't to many of us that had had a fusion thoracic area.. Just a little back ground story, I had a 360 degree lumbar fusion in 2008.. Healed well, very rarely have any problems with that area.. Every month when I have my monthly friend I do get quite sore but that is ok.. Sore is nothing compared to what we have dealt with before.. So 10 months later in Feb of 2009 I had my T5-T6 fused.. Now let me just say going in even my Dr. wanted this surgery to be my very last resort.. And even then he still tried to talk me out of it.. But the pain has at a level I didn't know how to deal with min by min much less day by day.. It actually hurt to breath before my surgery.. To be more exact to inhale.. The act of my chest expanding and pressing on my spine and nerves was beyond painful.. The pain went from my spine and wrapped around to my right breast.. It felt like having an ice pick in your spine while an elephant is standing on your back.. So I had my surgery, They cut around my shoulder blade down around to my side.. The cut is huge and I'm in the process of finding someone to fix the scar and muscle underneath it as it has a huge dip.. They took a piece of my rib and ground it up and used it for the fusion along with 1 screw.. It took 3 Dr.'s.. One cuts you and does the muscle work, one moves your heart out of the way, then your spine dr. does his thing and then they all put everything back.. I was in the hospital for 9 days, had a chest tube for 8 of those, and had a horrible reaction to the tape they had to use every single day to wrap my wound.. And they still had to use it.. Let me just say waking up from that surgery has really readjusted my pain scales.. WOW.. And they still make you get out of bed that day and walk.. BUT let me say it is a very different pain then when you went to sleep.. It is horrible but you can feel that it will go away and that it is controllable.. On day 4 or 5 when I would lay still and have morphine I would be awake and pain free for the first time in months and it was so amazing.. I know the meds did that but that's ok because they hadn't helped me in the months before my surgery.. So I really had high hopes.. My first 8 weeks went on an uphill but for some reason after that my healing just seemed to stall.. I had a pain management dr. already from my first fusion so I was able to try many different things since to help with my pain but nothing has fixed it.. I have had so many injections and blocks and nerve root burnings you guys would not believe me if I even through a number out there.. I have tried acupuncture.. I have a spinal cord stimulator which I LOVE.!.!.! It is amazing and I could talk about this thing all day.. Think tens unit times 10 but inside your spine.. It feels great but it can only do so much to cover the pain.. My muscles spasm so bad from the pain they have huge knots you can feel and my neck muscles will tighten so much my head will get stuck tilted to that one side.. And I take so much med it is crazy.. I take 16 pills a night.. That includes nucynta ER.. My dr. says its the same thing as morphine so I never change meds because there is nothing to go to because this is the strongest.. I start some aqua therapy next week but I'm not hopeful.. I have lost all faith that anyone or anything will ever fix my spine.. The pain is a little different now.. It is very intense.. It feels like I got hit directly on my spine with something very hard.. A hammer or something.. It's just like bam.. My nerves are shot from the surgery.. I have ALOT of nerve pain which is where the stimulator comes in.. It can't help bone pain.. And that's what I have on my spine.. My activity is extremely limited.. I might get out of the house once a week if I don't have a dr.'s appt.. Just standing and holding myself up is a lot of work.. I wish so many nights that I would have never had my surgery.. But it's hard because I can remember what it is like to be in that pain and to have so much faith that this thing was going to fix me and then nothing.. And my first fusion was so awesome.. I know there are so many of you that are in that situation right now.. If there is one piece of advice that I could give to you it would be not to think that this surgery is a fix it all.. It is not.. Many dr.'s will not do the surgery and some who will shouldn't be doing it.. So make sure you do your homework.. I hope everyone is having a better day then they had yesterday..



  • Doug HellDoug Hell Posts: 335
    edited 11/10/2014 - 3:20 AM
    I'm so sorry for all that you have been through. I was in a car wreck that destroyed 3 bones in my neck. I had a pretty big PCIF (posterior cervical instrumented fusion) done and initially thought it was over for me, but I have put 100% in and am doing better than I had anticipated, that's for sure. It has been a long road for me over the course of the last 10 + months, but luckily, I still seem to be getting better bit by bit. I haven't plateaued yet (thank God). I can only imagine what you have been through and what you continue to go through. Please take care of yourself and if there is anything I can do (even just to have someone to talk to), fire me off a PM!

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • Angela I think of you often and have wondered how you are doing. So sorry to hear that it was not the fix you hoped for. But I remember how you were before and I think you had good reason to want to try. I also had more (or different) problems resulting from my surgery. I agree that surgery is not always the answer it seems to be. It seems like less is being done these days. Now we are left to figure out how to make the best we can out of our lives.
  • I kind of gathered from your post how post op went. My question is do you seem to be improving or see any benefits. Reason I ask is I am facing multilevel Tspine fusion and wondered how you feel about the outcome with what you had done. I seem to be in the same boat as you before your surgery, severe neurological problems, can't breath, have problems swallowing, horrible intercostal and abdominal pain, paravertal muscle compaction that makes me hunch back. There are so few of us thoracic spine problems and its hard to find info and advice. I feel bad even asking, do you think the surgery helped or made worse. I'm really sorry for your pain you have gone through and continue to go through. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated as I am about to embark on the same journey. Truly hope you start feeling better. God bless.
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