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Recovering in the Wrong Direction

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in New Member Introductions

I am happy to have located this site, I have learned a lot in the past two days. I am 4 weeks post-op anterior lumbar fusion L-5/S-1. I must say that I have never been so miserable in all my life.

I recall when discussing surgery with my Doctor him saying to me that the pain and recovery from the incision would be the worst for me to overcome. I was in the hospital overnight and discharged the next morning. I recall during the night telling the nurse something wasn't right. There was an incredible pain I had not experienced before. She said it was all part of recovery, it would pass in a few days. I talked to my Doctor the next morning and told him I thouht something was not right and he told me the surgery was a complete success!! I would feel much better in a few days.

I went home, and forced myself to recover, back to work in 3-days with the Doctor's approval, off the medications in 7 days, walking regularly, doing all the things I was told would speed up my recovery. Today I am far worse than before my surgery and I am very concerned. I have been to see the surgeon 4 times and every time he tells me I will get better, give it time. I have not slept one night since the surgery, only an hour here and there. I have the most unbearable pain in my lower back, buttocks and legs that has made me fall more than 5 times now.

Yesterday, I went back to see my surgeon and I was insistent that something was wrong, so he has ordered a Myelogram for this Friday. I am scared that I am as good as I will ever be and that these moments of debilitating pain are not only increasing in frequency and severity, but are with me forever.

Advice? Any information on the Myelogram and what to expect would also be appreciated. Scared to death in Austin Texas!!!


  • Good morning BDI- Austin,
    I am amazed that you are back at work..... and with your Drs approval! I had an ALIF in May, 4 days in the hospital, and although with pain meds , muscle relaxers etc... I was barely able to keep my household going,( it got pretty deep around here) I surely could not have went to work. I was in pain and absolutely exhausted for months! Still am!
    Is your situation workers comp related? If not , I would TELL my Dr that I need some time, pain medication and ask to be referred to a pain management Dr. My surgeon said the same things to me, complete success, etc... I did some research and asked him to send me to a PM Dr, he did and I cannot put into words how much better I feel.( I needed SI joint injections) As far as a myelogram , I don't have any experience with that, but I'm sure someone on here has. This site has been invaluable to my recovery! Keep us posted on what's going on, and I truly hope you can find some answers and relief.
    Take Care, Sagehen
  • I appreciate the reply. My situation is not worker's comp related. I did not realize until finding this web site that recovery takes so long. My surgeon and I always planned on me going back to work within a few days. My situation with work is this, I have a home office, so the commute is pretty easy, but really what I do is travel for work about 90% and always via airplane. So literally, every Monday I get on a plane and fly somewhere and on the rare occassion I get to spend a week at home, I have a home office.

    So, while he released me to go back to work in my home office, he did not release me to fly until next week. My first trip is actually scheduled for December 1, 2008 and of the 31 days in December, I will be on the road 24 days. So I would like to have this pain under control by then.

    One of the issues I am curious about for this type of surgery is what causes the pain? Is it nerve damage waiting to repair over time? Is it internal trauma from the surgery where the tendons and such are stretched and need to heal? And what causes the acute pain episodes which cause my legs to buckle or my back to lock-up in bed preventing me from moving?
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  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am sorry your are suffering so after surgery. it does not sound like your recovery is going right. you were right to stand your ground and ask for something to be done. :T good luck and keep us posted as you progress. Jenny :)
  • Hiya >:D< Welcome to Spine Health :) I do hope that we can help you :? We can only help and advise you based on our own personal experience :? I also had a disctectomy in the L4/L5/S1 area :''( I was told that the recovery would be about 6 months :S For the first 3 months i was told to lay flat, and only sit up for 20 minutues a day :( The pain, OMG i have never felt pain like it :''( . I was told that now i had surgery on my back, that it was weak, and i have to take care of it :S . If i didnt then the operation would have been pointless :? . I can not believe that you went back to work so soon >:D< . I know you have to keep moving :) , but to much to soon can do damage :''( .Reading your story, has really got to me >:D< , and i want to help you if i can :D Scratching ( for example a prolapse disc) on the nerve can cause nerve pain :''( , also known as siatica, which raidiates down the leg #:S . Nerve pain can not be repaired, its irriversable. :( I hope i have been some help to you O:) . Keep posting let us know how you are >:D< . PM me anytime you want to :? .

    Angie :H
  • bdi- welcome to the forum. Hopefully the myelogram will give the dr some answers. I would ask the dr about a PM dr as that may give you you more options. Also, it sounds like travel may be an issue if your leg is buckling and in severe pain..24 days on the road sound pretty grueling so I would see what limitations or guidelines the surgeon has for traveling and driving and sitting.....jade
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  • have you considered a second opinion? It has been my experience that some surgeons have a "god complex" and will not admit if the surgery that they performed has failed or has any issues. I am not saying that it is failed surgery because 4 weeks is way too soon to know what if any permanent pain that you may have. Geesh, I had an endoscopic microD last year and at 4 weeks I was not able to do much of anything! If you do not get any answers from the myleogram you really need to think about seeking a second opinion from a surgeon that is far removed from the one that you have now. I wish you much luck in your recovery and please keep us posted.
  • Thanks, and yes I have certainly considered a second opinion. In fact, the insurance company has already approved a full work-up and review by another surgeon. We have agreed to wait for the results of the Myelogram before we move on to another Doctor.

  • Discharged next day,back to work in three days,off pain meds in a week?All this after 2 level ALIF?Man,if your Doc really approved it all,I don't want to meet him.This just sounds reckless.I was in pain for a week after a MicroD with a 2 inch incision.Confusing,confusing....Hope you feel better!

  • Wow, I am amazed at your pace. I think you are being moved too quickly and you truly need to rest in order to recover. I had a 2 level TLIF/Laminectomy with hardware and spent 5 days in ICU. Post op pain is tremendous. I was allowed to drive at 4 weeks with limits. I did have a CT?Myelogram post op because of increased pain. It's not so bad if you are sedated, but you'll be sore for a few days. Ice is great for that. Well, my fusion was last summer and I am well past the 12 week initial recovery window. It takes about a year to a year and eight months for the nerve swelling and irritation to heal, if it does. I'm on a long list of meds to control my pain, even after all this time, because of persistent back and nerve pain. I follow up with my surgeon and see a pain specialist.
    I hope things go well for you, but please take it easy and don't push yourself yet. Be careful and take care :)
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