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Surgery Scheduled - Very Nervous

lmacleanllmaclean Posts: 16
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have learned so much from this group. What a great source of support. I have spondylolisthesis and 2 fractures at L5/S1. I am not sure how it happened. I played a lot of soccer, but the final straw was after I donated 60% of my liver to my husband 2 years ago. It definately made things worse. But I would do it all over again. I am not in pain if I don't do much, but that is not me. I am only 41 years old. I am scheduled for surgery February 26th at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. I am having what they call a 360 fusion. They will be going in through the front where most of the work wil be done, then they will flip me over to put the screws in through my back. I don't know much about the procedure. I meet with both surgeons on February 10th (General Surgeon and the Nuero Surgeon). I am really worried about the pain management. I was in a lot of pain after the liver donation. I would appreciate any comments on the type of surgery I am having and what are the pain relief options while in the hospital and once home. After going through a major surgery once makes me really nervous the second time around. I think the recovery will be a lot worse this time around.


  • Well, I don't have any advice to offer, but I'm in a similar situation and am very nervous. I'm getting a 360 as well (anterior & posterior fusion w/instrumentation), but it's two level L4/L5/S1. I have herniated and degenerating discs pressing on my nerve going down my right leg and it causes a lot of discomfort and pain (going on 4 years now). My surgery is scheduled for Feb. 3rd. I met with my surgeon already and before deciding on the procedure, he sent me to a class to learn about spinal fusion. It gave me a much better idea as to what to expect, but I'm still very nervous as I've NEVER had surgery of any kind at all.

    For post-op I found two articles that seem to have some good information: Spine Health: Post-op care for spinal fusion and Spine Universe: Recovery from Lumbar Fusion.

    From what I've learned on these forums and in articles I've read, every doctor is different with pain management. For me, I know my doctor will be giving me a pain pump and are very "generous" with it (while some are very strict with it) and will also be giving me any other medication to keep me out of pain as much as possible while recovering. My orthopedic surgeon and neurologist work together and will be jointly taking care of my pain management needs post-op. So, you'll definitely be wanting to talk to your doctors about this as it really is dependent on the hospital you're in and the doctors you have.

    I'm interesting in hearing other peoples experiences. I'm getting quite nervous myself! I talked to my doctor's office yesterday and they are mailing me out a package with info I need for the surgery sometime next month and it will have my prescription for a back brace (my insurance requires a prescription, but luckily cover it 100%). I know I will need to donate blood and I'm going to be taking an iron pill starting next week. I'm just trying to figure out all the little things to do before and after.

    Good luck!

    Oh! And welcome :)
  • I had a 2 level fusion on nov 20. 46 hrs in hosp, 18 hrs on morphine pump and then switched to oral percocet. ate heavily for 2-1/2 weeks after. bad aching in legs and testicles for awhile that went away. am currently having horrific spasms at night in bed. pretty good overall outside of that. i walked next morning after surgery about 8 laps around the hosp wing. you need grabber, shoe horn, shower brush and thety make a hell of an item to put your socks on without bending at all. id get real cold for a while after i got home (teeth chattering) when i would come out of sleep.if you have more visits to dr put your questions on cards and go thru them with him. my dr gave me a dvd to watch on the surgery. animated stuff not actual process. I was scared to death of this. hardest thing ive ever done in my life right now glad i did it time will tell. all pre op pain gone instantly. good luck...............ed
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  • I just had a 2 level fusion oon Dec 11 and have been on strong narcotics for the past 2 years. My Surgeon told me he would do everything he could to make me comfortable. I was on diloid right after surgery and they normaly give 2 mg every 2 hours, well they gave me 4 mgs every 2 hours, plus upped my fentyl patch from 25 to 75 and gave me vallium for muscle spasms and also oxycodone every 4 hours,. They will try to contol your pain. I had a hard time because I had brrn on narcotics for so long. Dont be scared, they want you to be comfortable and will use what is nesasarry to help u.
  • lmaclean,

    I had a single-level PLIF done in Ypsilanti in August. They had me on a morphine pump until around 11:00 AM the day after surgery. Then they switched me to oral Percocet.

    Besides some type of oral pain medication, some patients are also given a muscle relaxant such as Soma, though I did not get that until later (8-10 weeks post-op).

    The morphine pump seemed to do a good job for the first day, but was not working well by the next morning. I just could not hit the button enough (mine was set to allow usage every 6 minutes). I mentioned this to the nurses and was switched to the oral medication within 2 hours.

    The morphine pump is good because the medication goes directly into your blood stream, but morphine does not last very long. I was told by the nurses that oral medications last longer, making it easier to manage pain.

    Just as every doctor is different with pain management, every patient is different regarding their tolerance to pain. I seem to have a high pain tolerance, so I may not be the best comparison for you. While there definitely was pain, I found it to be much less than expected once I got off the morphine pump.
  • I've come to think of it this way. Those of us with who have lived with chronic pain quickly learn to discern the differences between pain and discomfort. And then we come to learn the levels of pain. My 2nd surgery, my first fusion...I simply can't think of anything worse, but I survived and I will perservere again. Also knowing it will be worse at first and hopefully better with each passing week, helps me get through and the thought of being out of pain totally is what you keep you sane as you go through the tough times.

    I may mark my words next week, I'll be back to tell you.
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  • I too feared the post-operative pain factor. I am 17 days post-op Laminectomy PLIF with cage. I drove to the health club this morning and walked one hour. You will get through it.
  • Thank you to everyone who has replied. It really helps. You are right in that knowing the pain is worse in the beginning and gets better every day. I know that from my prior surgery. I had a really hard time with the pain management at the hospital. I will address with the surgeons when I met with them. Can you have both the morpine pump and fetanol?
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