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Recovering from spinal fusion surgery T2-L4 on 2/19/15

Medcop2001MMedcop2001 Posts: 2
edited 09/13/2015 - 8:54 PM in Recovering from Surgery
I had spinal fusion surgery on 2/19/2015. I had T2-L4 done to correct Scheurmanns Kyphosis and chronic wedge compression fractures from T8-T12. I had a trip and fall accident on 9/3/2009 where I fractured my spine from T8-T12. I also have Scoliosis with a 20 degree curve. I was in significant pain constantly. I couldn't find any Dr who was willing to do anything for it. About 6 months after my injury, I went to a Dr who is well known for back pain relief. He was the one to tell me about the levels of the fractures. He originally wanted me to get a vertebroplasty for the injury. I couldn't her anybody to touch it due to the location. One Dr talked me into having some facet injections. All that did was masker my lower back join in the pain. I was resigned to just live with it. I had to retire from my 2 chosen professions of being a Corrections Officer and as a Nurse. I was having more intense pain and went to a Neurosurgeon, and he referred me to Neurosurgeon at [edit]. We went thru the regular things, more PT, MRIs, X-rays with and without flexion. He diagnosed the Scheurmanns Kyphosis along with the chronic fractures. We tried many modalities with the PT and nothing helped. Then my Dr wanted to see if Aquatheraphy would help. My pain was relieved a little bit while in the heated pool. As soon as I got out, the pain would return almost immediately. So he scheduled surgery as a final option. He wasn't sure exactly how many vertebrae would be included in the fusion until he got in there. I was on the table for 14 hours. I gained 32 pounds of water weight. When I woke up, there was an ET tube still in place (thank you to the anesthesiologist who told me before putting me under that I would be swollen and still need the tube). I was in ICU for 6 days before being transferred to a local rehab facility. I only remember waking up and working with the interns, residents, nurses,and Dr's to get off the tube. I had a great team and one resident understood my scribbles on the paper. My bedside nurse-anesthetist was awesome in understanding that I need something to wipe the tears from my eyes and that I wasn't pulling at my tube. The pain when I woke up was excruciating. I was told that I was on about 5 really heavy duty narcotics. I am very sensitive to narcs and they make me sleep constantly. I wanted to cut them down because I knew that I needed to get up out of bed to walk. Getting out of bed the first time was very difficult. They had the wrong kind of brace, so I had no support for my back. It took 2 physical therapists and 4 nurses to sit me up on the side of the bed. I became very dizzy and I was only up for a short time due to swelling that caused severe low blood pressure. Once we got all of the other conditions under control, they got me out of bed to the chair. I only remember being in the chair once. I only remember the nurse asking me if I wanted to watch Law and Order:SVU before I fell asleep again. I remember being on a gurney being put into the ambulance. I remember waking up on arrival to the rehab. They weaned me off a lot of meds. I ended up on Morphine 15mg ER BID, Flexeril 10mg TID, Norco PRN QID, colace, Lyrica 100mg 2 caps TID. We backed off the Lyrica because of excessive drowsiness. I needed the Norco after the PT. I try not to take that many Norco. I have a high tolerance to pain, so I usually have to be in really severe pain to take the Norco. I wore my brace at all times when I was out of bed. I spent 2 weeks at the rehab. I went home and was extremely tired from doing the basics. I needed help to stand, used my walker to walk around the house, needed help in the bathroom (to bathe and wipe after using the john). I had many visits from nurses and PT. I was given a bone stimulates to use for 2 hours a day. I learned how to cheat doing the basics. After 3 months I came out of the brace. I was able to drive for short runs (off of narcs only). I have a habit of doing too much and paying for it the next day. I stopped using the stimulator because it made me sick to my stomach every time I used it. 6 months post op I have managed to do many household chores. I tried to wash my kitchen floor, completed it out of stubbornness. Paid for it for 3 days. I still can't stand/walk/sit for long periods of time. I have some good days, where it isn't tons of pain. I have days that are so painful that medication feels useless. I have portions of my back that are still numb, and other parts that are no longer numb. My back itches like crazy sometimes due to healing. I have days of depression due to the pain. I also have Fibromyalgia which make the periods of pain worse. I asked my Dr how long this pain could go on, he said upwards of 18 months. My PT said some of his patients are on them for the duration of their life. He said most don't need narcotics after fully healing. My pain Dr is impressed with my progress and has told me that I'm really doing well and that she has patients that have had the surgery are still heavily medicated. I try to maintain a positive attitude, but it's not easy with this constant pain. My worst days are when I'm in so much pain that I'm trapped in my bed lying as still as I possibly can. I now have crazy low back pain with radiation down my legs. It hurts in my butt cheeks. I'm curious if this is all normal. How long does the pain usually last? Any help will be welcome. I hope I have given someone some helpful info.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • You have definitely helped me :-) I am so so sorry you are dealing with this. I am very grateful to have found your story. I am facing T5 to L2 fusion with wedges being cut out to fix my severe kyphosis and broken screws and rod. I also have two levels T9 T10 I believe that have compressed down. I have already had two unsuccessful fusions due to not fusing and kyphosis in the vertebrae closest to the fusions. I currently have hardware from T9 to T11. I go into surgery on Monday and have been searching for weeks for someone who has had or will have a similar surgery to mine. The neurosurgeon says I will most likely need to go into inpatient rehab after my hospital stay. I have never done this so any help on what to pack from your experience would be super helpful. I am sorry I cannot help you with knowing by experience whether you are healing as expected. However, I know that healing from my three level fusion took MONTHS. My doses of narcotics went down slowly and then over the past year they have gone back up. I was never completely off of them, even though I sure wanted to be. Slowly your energy level should rise but your body is using all energy for healing right now so there won't be much left over for anything else. If you have new pain I would let the surgeon know. Again, thank you soooooo much for writing your story I truly appreciate it :-) If you have any advise for me I would love it as there are not many people who have had surgery like ours. God bless!!
  • Hi Sammi
    I just found out that you had replied to my post today by accident. How did your surgery go? Is it healing well? I'm doing better since I first wrote this post. If you are interested, I would love to be able to chat via text or email. I'm so glad that my experiences helped you prepare for your surgery. And you were right, my energy is returning slowly. I have added an anti inflammatory Medicine. That has helped tremendously. I also take Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc tablets to help with the muscle spasms along with the Flexeril. I still have incredible pain before it rains due to the barometric pressure. But after the storm comes thru, the pain goes away. I'm going to start PT again today get my core strength back to where it was before my surgery. I have no pain from the bones. All of my pain is from the muscles and nerves. It's been 16 months since my surgery and I think I'm doing okay. I hope you are recovering well and that you won't require any additional surgeries. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Be well and God bless you. 
    PS: You totally made my day. Thank you. 
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