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ALIF surgery scheduled for 12/3/15

HcookieHHcookie Posts: 1
edited 11/27/2015 - 6:26 PM in Surgery Buddies
I am due to have the ALIF procedure done at l4/ s1... After watching videos, reading stories, I'm so nervous about the surgery.. Having it done in upstate new York .. I'm concerned about recovery and outcome.. I'm still a little weirded out by the fact of the repairs to my spine being done through my abdomen... I do not want any sort of " pump" for pain meds after procedure .. Could I request not to have that? Any help/ advice would be welcomed...

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  • Hello,

    I completely understand your hesitation or anxiety when it comes to having this surgery done, it's hard to think going in through the abdomen could possibly be better than going in through the back, but after I had 5 back surgeries, all discectomies, and on fusion at the L5-S1 level, my neurosurgeon felt that performing an ALIF was best because of the scar tissue that was already causing issues in my lower back. Prior to this surgery I met with the Vascular surgeon who would also be in the OR the entire time, and whose job it was to make the initial incision and to make sure everything was moved out of the way properly to expose the spine for my neurosurgeon to complete the surgery and then the vascular surgeon "put things back in place " if you will, and stiched me back up nice and neat with dissolvable stiches. I asked lots of questions, in fact I thought the best thing to do was to keep a pen and paper handy so I could write down any questions as they came up, and then especially came up when I was trying to fall asleep prior to surgery. I think this is when our nerves start to get the best of us. I see that you mentioned you don't want to be connected to a drip, I assume you mean a drip that dispenses medication such as morphine on the time released basis? I don't know if you had prior back surgeries or any surgeries in the past but these drips, in my experience only release medication if you press the button they give you. So, the medication he received or how much it is really up to you. I do think that speaking to your doctor prior to your surgery about kind of medication and you will be given after your surgery and how, or who the best person to talk to about an increase or decrease in your medication will be after your surgery. After my surgery my neurosurgeon had to go into an emergency surgery and it was very difficult to get my medication changed. In my experience this was extremely frustrating as I was in severe pain. I don't think as far as medication goes, that they can give you enough to make the pain go away, it's really more about being comfortable enough to get some sleep. If you have had back surgery in the past I can tell you and my experience this surgery is much more painful and much harder to recover from simply because they're opening up your abdomen. The other think it's most important to speak with your doctor about is how long you'll be staying in the hospital, in my case I believe they told me teo to three days and I ended up staying four just because my body wasn't quite ready, as much as I wanted to go home I knew what was best for me to stay in the hospital in case my pain worsened. Normally surgeons will take responsibility for your pain medication and pain management for a set period of time, in my case I think it was two months, however I asked my primary care physician to oversee my pain management as he was much closer to my home then my neurosurgeon was. Both doctors were fine with this arrangement as long as I was in Touch with both of them on a regular basis. I saw my vascular surgeon three times after my surgery, my neurosurgeon follow up visits were every three months for a year, as well as one week after I left the hospital and two weeks after I left the hospital. My vascular surgeon gave me good information and told me that I would feel the incision when moving about up to two years after the surgery, not that it would be painful , but that I would be able to feel it and he was absolutely right.
    All in all I felt the surgery was a success. I do wish that I had asked for a private room, as a sink rest and sleep are so important after surgery as I was interrupted many times by the two roommates I had, and really didn't get sleep until I got home. If you can have someone stay with you don't be shy to ask them it's much easier when you have someone has your advocate as opposed to just pushing a button for nurse. Aside from being extremely painful and I don't want to downplay the pain, because like I said before I don't think great after the surgery there's anything they can do to get rid of the pain they can only keep you comfortable. However, I think this is the case with all fusion surgeries. At least that was the case with both of the fusion surgeries I had one through the abdomen and one through the back both painful, but the ALIF was much more painful however I understood why they had to do it and I'm glad that they did. Most important thing is to just ask questions and feel as comfortable with your doctors and how they Will care for you post op. It's truly the most important thing in my experience.
    After you have this surgery you will be on a liquid diet, but fear not if you're anything like me you will not be hungry at all. Just try to keep in mind how much your body has to do to repair itself, don't rush things, ask questions, don't be afraid to ask for what you want weather it's a pillow , a warm blanket, a change of medication or dosage. The squeaky wheel gets the oil as they say. I am 2 years post op and I feel my doctors did a great job. I have other back issues I'm dealing with, mostly my SI joints, but if you have any questions please feel free to ask or message me. I know it's scary, but these doctors are permitted to undertake third surgeries because they are qualified and have your best interest at heart.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
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