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Surg. 12/30 - spinal fluid blockage & fusion - SKEERED

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,550
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I'm having my 2nd fusion (3rd surgery, 1st lamindectomy) on the 30th and after my pre-op appointment with my surgery, I have just been totally wigged out.

They said that I will hate them the first three days and do NOT expect to be out of pain. Nothing they can give me will make me painfree. If I was painfree, I would be dead as they said the doses would slow my respitatory (sp?) system down too much so they have to balance how much they can give me by monitoring my breathing.

They said "look to this as for the future". Before the surgery on the 30th, I am going to ask "how far in the future are they talking about?????". They also cautioned my daughter (17), who I had with me as she will be the main one with me and I wanted her to hear everything, but they cautioned her to monitor my oxycotin when I am home. THey said they have had THREE patients die of overdoses trying to take more to get out of pain. NOT GOOD. My daughter is very responsible, very aware and hates to take meds so she should be a good shepard in this regard.

Said I should expect to be in the hospital Tuesday and Wednesday night and they will have me up walking on Tuesday. The only positive thing is this doctor doesn't give you a corset to wear for 4 months like my last fusion. He thinks it actually impedes healing by not letting all your back muscles work so that is a very big positive.

Said I was at risk for a second surgery while in the hospital if I have any spinal fluid leakage from where he will fix the blockage of fluid I have. So they will be doing three things and she said this is definately much more complex than my last surgery altho she said it would take about 2 hours. They will be doing:

1. Removing my old hardware at my first fusion spot, including the battery pack which is what makes me unable to have an MRI.
2. Fixing whatever is causing my spinal fluid blockage.
3. Doing the new fusion which as usual is the next section of vertebrae up from my last one and putting in the rods and screws.

They said I will also have pins in the nerves of my legs so the doc can monitor if he places any hardware that irriates a nerve. If my nerve reacts, he will move the hardware. This sounds horrible but sounds great on the flip side. I wonder if those nerves in my legs will be sore after surgery.

I just had a breast reduction in September, have had 1 c-section, 1 lamindectomy (sp?), and 1 other fusion. I have little hesitiatons about any of those. Now all my thoughts go to being possibly paralyzed, have a stroke as my blood pressure has been spiking when in pain, all kinds of bad things.

I should add that my last fusion, 7 years ago was H*LL. I told them that hopefully in the last 7 years, and by me using a neurosurgeon this time as opposed to ortho the previous two times, maybe it won't be worse than the last one. They did say they will be doing a lot more in there so it should be expected to be worse so my God, how bad is it going to be????

Anyone had the spinal fluid blockage?
Any hand holding, experiences, thoughts...most welcome!!


  • I am really sorry that your doctor gives you these negative messages. First of all, not everybody suffers like you describe. If there is pain, in most cases it can be controlled or at least made tolerable. Maybe your doc does not have very much confidence in himself? Not a good sign. I had an orthopedic surgeon perform my three-level fusion in May, and had not experienced anything like you describe. Of course, that was my first spinal surgery, and I understand that there may be more complications and difficulties with subsequent surgeries, but still, your surgeon's attitude does not sound too encouraging. Is there any chance of getting a second opinion? If not, ask your surgeon what can he do to make it easier on you? How can he control your pain? With proper pain medication that can be done. I also don't understand what you said, "..have pins in the nerves of my legs so the doc can monitor if he places any hardware that irriates a nerve.." Pins in the nerves? Ouch! That does not sound right!

    I wish you could talk to somebody else who would present you a more positive picture.

    Wishing you the best,

  • but your doctors seem to be really on top of things and explaining how things will go for you-that is part of the battle some of us face-we feel pain just from not knowing how or where the pain is coming from!

    I think you are in good hands with the doctor and your daughter and hope the pain will be tolerable-at least you know it will not last forever at that initial level- and that should help.

    I am hoping you have a successful operation and that you will heal quickly. Come here to vent and not to your daughter :) We will understand. My husband said I was a bear the first week and I feel terrible about it now :)
    Good luck!
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  • Kin the doc, actually his PA, did say this was the worse case scenario and they describe that because it can be very real, and then if it's better, then everyone is happy. I understand that, it's just par for the course in my opinion along with those things you sign about releasing them from liability if you are paralyzed or die.

    Saying I was at high risk for an emergency second surgery if I have any spinal leakage is just again, truth. I meant to ask "what" was causing my blockage. They did say that the scar tissue will be a factor that I didn't have on the second fusion.

    The pins in the nerves, in my opinion, sounds like a great addition. I was thinking it was something that had progressed because wouldn't you like to know that your doc could see nerve irriatitions while he's in there instead of afterwards? It will be done only while under anthesia (sp) for the surgery, I'm just thinking my legs will have sore spots afterwards but could that really compare to my back pain? I'm thinking not.

    There was a poster on the wall about the spinal cages and she said "oh yeah, be glad you're not having that" so where I built up in my head this total HORROR story, perhaps mine isn't as bad as many. Other issues sure, but not to the point of the cages. Maybe I shoudl read some who have had that and try to keep in mind, my pain should be lessened.

    My concerns about pain relief also stem from the fact that I'm on 30 mg of morphine, 3-4 10mg's of hydrocondone, xanaflex and lyrica already so is my body conditioned so that there is only a limit more I can take? I actually have to take 1 1/2 10mg HC to get out of pain and sometimes that doesn't work.

    She said I would also have the toradal (sp?) shots from day 2 when the pump comes out.

    LOL, I did tell my daughter if all I could do is grunt and couldn't even open my mouth all the way to talk, that is because I am IN PAIN and to please tell the doc. That's will I remember last time.

    and thank you for the wishes Turtle, I need to tell my daughter beforehand if I'm mean, it's not her at all. My last fusion it was 4 weeks before I coudl anything other than simply read messages on the computer.
  • GoGuard, I wish you all the best with your surgery. I hope the time you are in the hospital passes fast and you are home and getting comfy before you realize what happened.
    You may want to encourage your daughter to check out this website and if she is not sure what is going on, she could post or read info about your spine issues. It is great to get support from those that know what being in pain is all about.
    Again, best wishes for a pain controlled recovery. >:D<
  • Go, you mentioned that this is your third surgery. What levels did you previously have worked on and what level are they working on. You're the first person I've ever heard that is going to have an EMG performed during surgery to test for nerve impingement. The needles in the legs aren't bad after the fact, but do sting if you happen to be awake for them.

    When I had my surgery last year, I was given an epidural which remained for several days. I was able to self medicate with a pump. It's similar to a pain pump with the bombs away button but is an epidural, much like what they give a woman in labor. I couldn't feel my legs for several days but was much better than a pain pump, you're much more aware of your surroundings and of course you don't feel as much pain. Maybe you can discuss this option with your surgeon being it sounds as though you have been on pain meds for an extended period.

    Good luck.

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  • Poollady, I will bookmark this site for her. I've also instructed her to go to a certain community board for any ebay sales I may have and if I'm not conscious enough to walk her through it. If she posts, she will post under this ID, please remember she is 17.

    She actually has a herniated disk in her lumbar too and lots of leg pain, which I luckily don't have this time, but have previously. She did it while popping her back in November.

    We're in a holding pattern for her, hoping she'll lose weight, she just had a breast reduction which I hope might help if she develops DDD when she's older. I do have her seeing a chiro though. Figured I had to do something instead of just uping her loratab. Thank you for that suggestion to post here!

    Dave, I can't honestly say what levels were done previously and which one they are working on this time. If I can find my mylegram report as I'm cleaning up after Christmas, I'll know and post. I do know the first two surgery's were lower and this one is the one adjacent to it at a higher level. I'm thinking L3 and L4 the first time.

    I had never heard of this nerve testing but as long as I'm out, I'm cool with it. The epidural sounds wonderful but they say they will have me up walking on the day of surgery so I guess that rules out an epidural. Wonderful thought tho...have had two for other reasons.

    What scared me the most about this one is my blood pressure spiking and what in fact, is causing my total blockage of spinal fluid when standing. On the CT after the mylegram, which showed total blockage, there was a little seeping through when laying down for the CT. That is also why I've been off work since Sept, if I get to lay down occasionally, I don't have to take as many pain pills and walking and standing are excruitating (sp?).

    And since Sept, I've been smoking like a freight train, which can't help, so my thoughts keep going to paralyzation as a friend told me she knew someone who was paralyzed after a fusion, and having a stroke on the table or afterwards.

    I am 47 today, will be 48 the day before my surgery next week...lol, and I feel 80 and it's that age where you realize friends are dying and you "ain't" as young and resilient as you used to be.

    And someone on ebay just posted that they had a good friend die, aged 30. Went in for gallbladder surgery and her kidneys failed.

    I've never had these dreadful thoughts prior to any other surgery and I think it if wasn't for the fluid blockage, I wouldn't be as concerned and that part might be a piece of cake. I have no clue, I will ask when the doc comes down right before surgery.
  • Dave, I've got your blog up and every moment of time I will be spending reading it. With all you list that is to be done, I CANNOT imagine me being in more pain than you, so I'm going to read the first couple of weeks before I hit the hay! Thank you for taking the time to write it so other's might can learn or be enlightened.
  • Sending you good wishes for your surgery.
    What you need to remember is that it is the Drs job to worry and yours just to get better so please try to let go of your fears and think only really positive thoughts.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Thanks all, and Sara, you are right, I will try to focus on that, I'm just so dang anxious because I won't know anything. How can I know the pain won't be just a little worse than I've already had, ya know? And what will I do if it is unbearable?

    Anybody here have the issue of the spinal fluid blockage?
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