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A Success Story

Frank_ZuccariniFFrank_Zuccarini Posts: 1
edited 09/29/2015 - 8:08 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello all.

Two years ago, when I was anticipating surgery, I spent hours and hours on this forum trying to gain an understanding of what I was facing, and what the likelihood of a good outcome would be. Frankly, the many horror stories chronicled here really freaked me out, and I slipped into a genuine depression in the two weeks prior to surgery.

Well, my results have been very good, and so I wanted to share them with others in the hope of diminishing the fear that planned spinal surgery may provoke.

I am currently 62 years old. Have always maintained my weight, exercised, and in each succeeding decade, improved my eating habits prior to the previous decade.

Beginning in October, 2010, I started experiencing sometimes debilitating pain on the outside of my left leg, from the hip to the knee. Google and common knowledge suggested that I had Ilio-Tibial-Band Syndrome, and so I spend the next 35 months doing the recommended exercises and stretches to correct ITB Syndrome. But by September of 2013, it was clear that I was getting worse, not better, and could no longer walk even 100 yards before I had to sit down on the ground in order to relieve the pain.

So I saw my GP, who sent me to a Physiatrist, who gave me a steroid injection and sent me for Physical Therapy. Now, I knew that if PT would work, I wouldn't have a problem, because I had been doing intensive PT for the past three years on my own. In fact, PT aggravated the condition, and in spite of targeted spinal steroid injections, in November I ended up on the bedroom floor, incapacitated with excruciating pain, needing an ambulance to administer strong narcotics and then take me to the emergency room.

I consulted with a surgeon, who pointed out that I suffered from Stenosis, Spondylolisthesis, Degenerative Disc Disease (bone on bone) and a congenital condition whereby two of my transverse processes were misshapen such that they did not give the lateral stability required. This was all in the L3-L5 area. Oh, and my L5 was already fused to my sacrum, on its own.

Long story short, in early December, 2013 I had a two level fusion, involving Ti rods and screws, and using the bone removed from a Laminectomy to line the lateral gutter area so that bone fusion would provide the ultimate strength, not the hardware.

I started walking the very next day, went home after three days, and lived in a cloth and metal corset for months. Ate lots of protein to aid muscle healing, and walked, walked, walked.

At my visit one year post-surgery, the doctor declared me 'healed', but I still do a daily regime of PT, and now nearly two years post-surgery, my back is still getting stronger, and I do pretty much everything I did before surgery, including lots of biking and kayaking.

Surgery was a very good idea for me, with really no other option other than becoming pretty much sedentary. Recovery is a bitch, but with lots of exercise and sound diet, I am doing very well. That's what I wanted to say.

Use common sense, but if your trusted surgeon says that you need spinal fusion, take heart and commit to doing YOUR part to heal well and to the fullest extent.

Best of luck. Stay optimistic and work hard...................................... Frank

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  • That's great news Frank and good to hear a success story. It's such a relief to hear that things can sometimes go well and we can so easily get caught up with the negatives. All the best and I hope you continue to heal and stay well.
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