L3 - S1 Spinal Fusion Done 6/11/2008

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Anonymous (not verified)
Title: Member
L3 - S1 Spinal Fusion Done 6/11/2008

I had a previos surgery in 2004 to repair a severely herniated disc involving L5 - S1. Things went great for a few years until I once again started having pain in my legs and lower back and ended up with Bursitis in my right hip. Further testing and a surgical consult informed be I would need a spinal fusion of the L5- S1 with 6 screws & plates. Which was completed on Wednesday 6/11/2008, However after surgery I was informed my L3 vertebrae was unstable so they decided to fuse that also. I was in the hospital for 3 1/2 days when I asked to be released and was permitted to do so. My surgeons were great, and the auxillary staff was great, however some of the nurses had terrible bedside manners which infuriated me, especially since i'm a nurse myself.
The first night post- op I was heavily drugged with demerol & Lortab and still in pain. The left side of my neck was killing me due to the way I had been positioned in the OR. I tried to sleep as much as possible trying to logroll from one side to the other by myself because my call bell never seemed to be answered (I thought it wasn't working). I was only able to drink fluids and was put on a liquid diet, which didn't bother me because my GI system shut down. Thursday, the day after surgery, my BP bottomed out and my pulse was racing, I was running a fever, one minute I would be sweating than next I was freezing. The doctor stopped in and said I didn't lose alot of blood during surgery at least not enough that he felt he should replace it at that time. But since it was the day after (Thursday) and my heart rate and BP were irradic he wanted to see how I felt when I tried to stand for physical therapy. With help I sat at the side of the bed, as soon as I did, I started to lose my hearing and became extremely sick, no physical therapy for me today. Instead I would be infused with 2 units of a+ blood. Which made a world of difference. However I still continued with body temp fluctuations. Every night involved a lot of tossing and turning, logrolling from one side to the other usually without help. At one point my drainage tubes came out and the nurse put them back in thinking they were fixed however for the next 24 hours there was no drainage. The Pain medication I was on was set up to be alternated. Which meant if I had Demerol and 2 hours later I was still in pain I could have Lortab instead. This kept the pain manageable. I had to explain that to Some of the nurses. Thursday night comes along and I have my second shift nurse whom I requested an ambien from around 7pm, She told me that the like to wait until 9pm which is fine. However when 9:00 came around I asked another nurse who had came on, and with an attitude she told me she don't give out ambien until 11pm, it suit her schedule better and when I told her the other nurse said I could have it at 9 she told me that the other nurse would have to give it to me, with being tired and in alot of pain and frustrated alls I could do was cry. What type of nursing care is this. I managed to get through the night and was thrilled for it to be friday as I was getting ready to go to physical therapy washing up in the bathroom. The door came open with a nurse and one of my doctors and I was barely dressed (no privacy here) anyway I ask the doctor if i could go home tomorrow which was Saturday and he said yes. I was relieved to leave the hospital. Now the healing begin's---------- Week1 I was released from the hospital with a duragesic patch, nicotine patch, asa. Saturday finally home, My physical abilities were limited to going to the bathroom than back to bed. From Sat night into Sunday Night my husband had to change my dressing 8 times and when he did he noticed that i had a from one of the drainage holes. My husband contacted one of my surgeons who wanted to see me the following day in his office at noon. But in the meantime I was in so much pain I was crying, at 12am Monday morning my husband took me to the emergency room so I could get something for pain and for the first 20 minutes it worked. From that point on until I seen one of my surgeons the draining had ceased. (I believe when the drainage device pulled out in the hospital and the nurse put the wires back into it it was still malfunctioning and the drainage that occurred after that was residual drainage that wouldn't have been there if it would have been corrected at the hospital the right way. That same day I was approached with the possibility that if the drainage started back up again the surgeouns would have to go back in, cut me open again to see what the problem was. With a lot of prayer it drained to the size of a half dollar than stopped. I was so releived. So I had to contact my other surgeon to get pain medication which I had instantly. So for the 1st week home, I ate very little, suffered from alot of pain and discomfort especially when I would try to reposition my self from one hip to the other, they were so sore I could only lay on one side for < than 10 min. at a time. I slept alot, ambulated only when I needed to utilize the restroom or get a very quick shower with my husbands help. Week two, depression starts to set in, I can't leave my house beecause of the pain in my hips and legs and the weakness in my legs (mainly my right leg) and the numbness in my right foor around my big toe which I hadn't had prior to the surgery. Each day is a new start but when you don't progress but regress it is very depressing. This is week 3 and I'm only hoping this will continue to heal. However yesterday I had increased weakness in my left leg and hip which I hadn't had before and it worries me, Could it be related to the swelling I still have in my back?

steelskyway (not verified)
Title: Member


You poor dear. I do hope you turn the corner soon. You have had major surgery with complications to boot. I am not qualified to give an opinion but you have been put through a meat grinder and need to recover. Hugs and prayers are with you.

kinpain's picture
Last seen: 1 month 5 days ago
Title: Member
Joined: 06/20/2008 - 1:46pm
So sorry to read about your

So sorry to read about your troubles Christine. But as you probably know, the first few weeks after spine surgery can be especially trying. Unfortunately, depression is one of the possible side effects. Just keep in mind, that on this forum people understand you and can relate to you.

Just keep up the spirit, give your body plenty of time to rest. It is a slow and painful process but eventually you will see the benefits.

Incidentally, I had an identical fusion (L3-S1) to yours, except mine was on 5/1/08, so I am ahead of you in my recovery.

Take care of your body and spirit.


Kin Smile Wink Smile Wink

mmarsh (not verified)
Title: Member

What a nightmare you have survived! Just wanted to send you some nice healing thoughts and vibes. I hated the nurses sometimes too. Hopefully you will now be the MOST compassionate nurse on the planet! Best to you.


Angelback (not verified)
Title: Member

Oh I am so sorry to hear of all your troubles. You sure have had your share :jawdrop: but they are behind you know. Are you able to walk around much.
I am 8 weeks post PLIF L3-S1 and though some days are not so good I really try to get in 3 walks a day even if they are shorter ones when I hurt a bit more.
Is their any chance you can have hydrotharapy - I find this wondeful because of the weightlessness. Even just to hang from a noodle or float is wonderful if your Dr will allow it.

Just remmeber that easch day is a new start.

Blessings Sara
P.s. I was told not to use the nicotine patches as it is the nicotine that prevents the fusion from occuring. I started the Chantix instead and it is actually better. It may be different in the US but in AUssie that is the case.

carr28 (not verified)
Title: Member

I sympathize with you totally. I had the same surgery in April and the nurses were so bad to me too. I got none of the meds my dr. ordered, they ignored me and then would yell at me when I moved or went to the bathroom by myself. Every night sounded like a party at the nurses station. They were even telling dirty jokes! I got no sleep. I too was running fevers and needed 2 units for a low blood count. My nurse was to busy to give me my blood. I finally received it 3 hours after I was suppose to and then she set the drip to fast. When I needed an xray they made me sit in a wheelchair and I had to wait for an hour for the xray. Other patients were in beds waiting for their xrays but not me. My doctor removed my drainage tube and about 24 hours after that the nurse wanted to put the drained blood back in me. I told her I'd sue her if she did then begged my doctor to let me go home. When I got home and started taking my meds I felt so much better. My husband took so much better care of me then the so-called trained professionals at that hospital. After talking to a lot of people I found out that they have had similar experiences at that hospital. I will thourghly research any hospital I go to in the future.

ivoryone (not verified)
Title: Member
hi Christine,L3-S1

hi Christine,

I am a nurse too, so when you get bad nurses - it is even more disgusting. I think sometimes they forget why they are really there. re - um, uh, the patient! The first time I had surgery the night nurse was never to be found and when she did finally come in she seemed to relish giving me that Toradol shot she jabbed in my hip. The thing that is killer is I was at that time a chronic pain patient but my surgeon forgot to take that into account when writing the orders! I ended up calling my husband at the time who was a few blocks away to come in with some of my pain meds, seeing how they were under-treating my pain. And the calls to my doctor were unanswered! It was a horrific experience not to mention the back surgery itself. I was pissed and took it up with the surgeon later in his office

I have not been on any forum since my surgery because I was in still too much pain and pissed at my surgeon for leaving in the Dynesys system we agreed he would take out. I am glad to have read you post, it helps to read about someone else struggling, how you overcame and helps me in my recovery,THANK YOU.

On june 15 & 16 (2part surgery) I had MY #4 surgery: L3-SI fused. The nurses this time were a little better than the first time I had surgery. Anyway, just like the gal that posted before me the nurses station sounded like they were having a party and gossiping too - I am embarrassed and ashamed for them that this goes on while people need them. It certainly gives nurses a bad name. My tactic to deal with them ignoring the call light would be to keep on and call them an hour before meds were due. I had them write down when they were due on the white board in the room. I didn't care if they thought I was a druggie or what ...I was in pain! Some of them were great and dead on with maximizing my pain meds and getting a hold of the pain for their shift. I too was glad to get home where there was less noise and more time to rest.

I am now in week two and am so depressed, like you said the depression kicks in. I contemplate every day. I am in such pain, wonder if I did the right thing, went with the right surgeon, will I ever be without pain and have a normal life...so many questions. I have little support from anyone, my family is in Canada, most are just uncles and aunts, However, my boyfriend - helps out lots) He does however, have to work. I don't have any kids and most of my friends are out of state. This is a tough time and your posting has made a difference.

I wonder how you are doing now. How about that nicotine patch did it work for you? I quit and it's also been tough. You know that nicotine is toxic to not only nerves but decreases the likelihood of fusion even if you getting it another way other than smoking. I had to quit and went cold turkey..but this time I didn't smoke but for less than a year. ten years ago I smoked for over twenty years so, I know those cravings. I told my boyfriend I just was going to give up and smoke and he said, "it's not going to happen." He gave up smoking after the surgeon who gave us the 2nd opinion lectured as well has his mom. He has switched to dipping which he plans on quitting in the next week or so. I have no temptation of that dipping stuff = yuck. Anyway, Christine I hope you were able to get off of that patch...I know it's been a year now since you had your surgery; but maybe someone else will read this and learn from it.

Best to you.

iowarobin's picture
Last seen: 10 months 2 days ago
Title: Member
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 11:11pm

I hope that by the time you read this that you will be feeling better. I jusdt wonder when you had your surgery and how you are now. PM me as I think we have alot in common