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Hi, I'm Kim

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,662
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:20 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi! My name is Kim, and I have never really done this before...But I could REALLY use some help/advice. I have had minor back problems (upper-by my right shoulder) once a year or so for the last 6-7 years. A few days of meds & rest & I would be as good as new. In April, I lifted a small suitcase & wound up on the ground in agony. Went to urgent care as we were on vaca. The meds got me home, but the pain continued to worsen & began shooting up my neck, down my arm & my hand goes numb. Went to my orthopedist, and after an MRI, he told me I have one of the largest herniated disks (btwn c6 & c7) that he has ever seen. Did not want me in PT as he was afraid it would make it worse. I have had 2 of the epidural shots which have not helped at all. I was referred to a surgeon yesterday for a "fusion". Because I am a smoker(yeah, I should quit...), they want to use a bone graft from my hip rather than a cadavar-I am really worried, and wonder if there is something else I should try first. I live on pain meds, and am sick of that as well. Is this the right thing to do????
I should mention that my dad had the exact same surgery 3 years ago & had immediate relief-but he is 70.
I guess I just need some reassurance that this is the right path to take. My doc said it only takes 1-2 months to fully recover from this surgery. He also said he has an ENT do the opening so that there will not be vocal cord damage, etc.
HELP!? :?


  • Hi Kim and welcome! Right now the best advice I can give you is get a second and possibly a third opinion. Also, smokers have a much higher rate of a failed fusion then nonsmokers no matter where the bone comes from. It's so important to quit. I know it's hard. I smoked for 20 years and had to quit before my surgery. Also, from what I have heard from a lot of peoople is that doctors tend to under estimate the recovery time of a fusion. Do your own research on it and talk to other doctors. Good luck and let us know how your doing.

  • Welcome to spine-health,if it a large herniated disc,i would listen to the surgeon,you can always get a second opinion,from another surgeon,surgury is a choice you will have to make....
  • Hi and welcome! If you are not happy with the surgeons suggestion of a fusion, try to get another opinion. Maybe a different doctor will have a different point of view.
    Good luck,
  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. this is a very serious procedure and it is time to quit smoking. there is not a better reason and you seem to be concerned about your surgery. i wish you the best and hope you take this advice to heart. you know i am not the first to say it. it is only because of care and concern. see you around the forum. Jenny :)
  • Welcome to the forum. I came here for the same reasons you have. I felt alone and isolated in what I was going through and I wanted to see what others did who were in the pain I was. I am two weeks post op and would say it is the best thing I have ever done. I had exactly the same surgery you are going in for. After the surgery I wasn't even in a collar and I went back to work one week later. (I have mostly an office job) I just saw my NS yesterday and he said do all of my normal activities and just becareful not to do something that will have a impact on the head. So all in all this is way beyond what I expected. Even he said I would be in a collar for weeks, wouldn't be back to work for at least a month (I have herniations in 45,56, 67 and they chose to fix 56,67). So if need moral support this is the place! And if you would like to contact me through the personal message to ask direct questions, feel free.

    Good Luck, which I know you will have.

  • Thanks everyone for your warm welcome! It is nice to hear from other people that know what kind of pain & anxiety I have right now. I have a husband & 2 teenage daughters & while I know they sympathize, sometimes I feel like they think I am exaggerating or am just laying around doing nothing for the heck of it!
    I did like the surgeon that my ortho recommended-I really did-and I wonder about a second opinion. I feel like I have tried the courses that anyone I know with this kind of issue has had, to no avail. Would any other doc really say something different??? I have never been to a chiropractor and many of my friends have suggested this idea. I asked both Dr.s about it and they both said the same thing-DON'T DO IT! My surgeon said that while they help many people, the herniation is so bad that any chiro that would even say they could help me would only do more damage. Basically, any reputable chiro would not touch me...Has anyone here used one w/ success? what about accupuncture?
    I sound like I am grasping at straws and maybe I am-I am just dreading surgery so much.
    I own my own biz-I am an event planner. I climb ladders, work over my head on decorating, etc. I HAVE to be able to do this stuff-I'm a one girl show. My doc said that I will wear a soft collar for 1 month, and I can't do any work above my head for 2 months. I can swing that, but does this sound right to anyone???
    I'm sorry this is so long & rambling. As I am sure you can tell, I'm pretty keyed up about this! I would imagine every single one of you has been in this same boat!
    As for quitting smoking-I know I have to do this as well. I have 1 month til my surgery (unless I find a miracle cure!)
    Carr28, how did you quit? I have not had luck w/ the patch-tried it 2x.....
    Thanks again for everyone's support!
  • Hi there Kim and welcome to SH. Maybe the only thing that can help you is a fusion? It is a big procedure but these professionals know what they're doing for sure, I know it's easier said than done but try your best not to worry =]

    I was a bit nervous leading up to fusion when I was 17 (I'm now 19) but it's all over within the blink of an eye and once you're awake in that recovery room, things can only get better from then. But you seriously have to take it easy, if your surgeon says no bending lifting or twisting for 3 months then don't do it.

    Take it easy up untill then and don't do anything the Dr's have told you not to. And try your best with the smoking because I know it's hard (even though I don't smoke) but my brother is a smoker and he's tried to quit before. So do everything you can to try and give up.

    I'm sorry I don't mean to sound like I'm ranting/telling you off. I'm actually a nice person, hehe. Hope you don't mind. Take care of yourself xx
  • Hey!
    You are not ranting at me-I am really just whining! I KNOW that this surgery is the right thing to do. I KNOW that I don't have much of a choice (other than to be a druggie for ever!).I read some of the other stories here & think-sheesh, I am SO lucky! I can't believe you were only 17 when you had this done...Were you in an accident?
    I have daughters that are 16 & 18, and thank God they aren't dealing w/ something like this!!!
    I guess I was hoping someone here would tell me that they were dealing w/ the same thing & then had a "miracle" cure. Probably I need to suck it up & get real!
    Thanks for the support!
  • When my doctor told me I had to quit smoking I said OK I'll just use the patch or gum. He said NO! Aparently it's the nictine that affects the fusion. So I had a choice of going cold turkey (yea right) or trying Chantix. I took chantix. With that med I smoked for the first week then quit the second week. Every 4 days my dose was doubled. For example, I took .5mg once aday for 3 days, then .5mg 2x for 4 days. At that point I stopped smoking. Then I took 1 mg. 2 times a day. Now chantix is not for every one. It can have some pretty wierd and/or scary side effects. I was suppose to take it for 3 months instead I could only tolerate it for 3 weeks. At that point, I no longer felt the physical need to smoke but I still had the mental need. Only the fact that I was having a fusion and that I could totally screw it up has kept me a non smoker. My dr. also threatened to test me to. Now 5 months I still occasionally get the urge to smoke but its not to bad. I also avoid situations where I know that people will be smoking. I hoped I helped you but if you have any other questions or feel like venting pm me. There is also a forum topic here about smoking that will help you to. Good luck!


    P.S. Twizzlers helped me a lot toooo!
  • Hey thanks! Yeah, it's the twizzlers that worry me-LOL! Did your surgeon give you a script for the Chantix? I keep hearing it is really affective. What kind of side effects did you have-I've been hearing about them as well. I have quit a number of times, but go back-I'm sure as an ex-smoker you can relate. It's weird because my orthopedist told me that the surgeon might not even do the surgery because I smoke, and yet when I met w/ him he didn't even mention it other than to say that they wouldn't use a cadavar bone becuase I am likely to reject it. I'm with you on the cold turkey-yeah right!!!! I am totally committed to doing what ever I can to get well. If that means quitting, I will do it. Don't want to EVER go thru this again!
    So, stupid question...I have never done a forum before, so am not certain on the "etiquette". Is it ok to respond back & forth like this on this thread? I know people get pretty ticked if you do it wrong.
    Thanks for ALL of you advice! How are you feeling now?
  • I have a bulging lumbar disc and chiro only seemed to make it feel worse so I quit on the advice of my orthopedic surgeon. I have not had surgery, just some PT, lots of walking, and NSAIDs for a while and am feeling much better these days but still laying off heavy lifting or strenuous activities. If it were me, I would follow my doc's advise and wait on the chiro. Our spine is serious stuff, ya know.

    I used to be a smoker (we're the worst kind, doncha know) and have quit 4-5 times in the past 20-30 years. Each time I started again I really felt like a failure but I read somewhere that sometimes it takes several tries. And each time I stayed away longer. This time I haven't smoked in 8 years YAY! What worked best for me was the gum, but I haven't tried the Chantix.

    Good luck!
  • Hi Kim!

    Good luck on your quit. I'm set to quit again on September 1st. I have this horrible habit of starting up every summer because I really enjoy it being outside, but hate it in the winter. I think I'm going to try the Chantix too this time around. There's a "Quit Smoking" section here and many people have discussed it and it's side effects there. The last time I quit, I used Quest cigs. They have different levels of nicotine in them until finally you are smoking nicotine-free ones at the end. It helped me get over the nicotine addiction without dealing with "habit" part - like always having to smoke at the bar. And then once the withdrawals are over I could deal with the habit part. Kind of the opposite of what you SUPPOSED to do, hehe.

    I wouldn't worry too much about he talking back & forth etiquette here - the mods are very, very nice on this message board( so unlike this OTHER back pain message board I've visited ).

    Congrats on your 8 year quit Teri - that's awesome!
  • I'm a spiney with "other" issues, lol The best advice I could give you is listen to your doctors and take it one step at a time. Everybody heals at their own pace.

    I was suppose to quit smoking for my surgery and did for about 3 months, 1 month before and 2 months after. Only because nobody would go to the store for me to buy my cigarettes. Another tool that might help you quit would be a nebulizer machine to help clear your lungs. I did well on the patch but started again because of stress and not eating, I know I'm a very bad girl!

    I've heard a lot of strange things about chantix and would not take it myself because of the side effects and it does affect brain function. IMHO Another drug that might help you quit would be Wellabrutin (sp) Although I've never taken that one either. We can always try, try again. lol

    Wishing you a pain free day.
  • is another drug that is exactly like wellbutrin. They used it years ago and I had success with it. I quit for five years but I also stopped drinking coffee, going to bars and sitting on my screened in porch because these things were all triggers for me. I was successful for 5 years and as soon as we started going to bars again, I started smoking again. I also am trying to talk myself into quitting again. I know that I can do it, I just have to want to do it. I enjoy smoking and also every time I quit I put 20 - 30 lbs on which would just kill me right now. Good luck Kim and please keep us posted on your progress.
  • Thanks, painintheback! I, too, have quit several times, once for more than a year. Believe it or not, I did it thru hypnosis, which REALLY worked for me, BUT, every time I quit, I gain 10-15 lbs. I know it sounds like a big excuse, but I truly don't think my body could handle any extra weight right now. I could honestly stand to lose 20 to begin with. When my back problems popped up a couple months ago, my PCP suggested that it could stem from the extra weight I have gained-I hate seeing that doc, and really need to find a new one. I wonder if I call my surgeon's office, if they would give me a script for something-zyban, etc. Like you, I love to smoke-as terrible as that is. I keep hearing about how effective Chantix is, but I swear, some of the side affects really scare the crap out of me.

    I guess that I am looking for a miracle cure for the smoking-just like w/ my neck!
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