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hollywoodhhollywood Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
hey guys

This the first time I have been to this site and hoping someone out there can help me understand and know what to do so here's my story

For the pass 5 or more years I have had back problems to were I have to take long periods of time off from work to get better and over the years its been getting worse to were I've been picked up by ambulance, shots to relieve pain, pain killers, epidural shots, physically therapy and nothing has ever worked. So now I am to the point were I have two ruptured disc in my lower back (L4 & L5) and now after going to 3 doctors I have to get a ALIF & PLIF and I am scared to death...of losing my job, of what the process of recovery is...to what I need to take with me when I go to get this done and in the long run will I have to file for disabilty because the job I curently have is a sit down job and it literally kills me to sit at my desk. So if there someone out there that can help me understand, also what questions should ask during post op because I am blank on all of this explain, or share I would truly be greatful, Thank you for you time.


  • Hi Hollywood!

    First of all, welcome! You'll find a great bunch of folks here that are going through, or have gone through, similar problems.

    I'm sorry to hear that you're facing spinal surgery. Like you, I've been struggling with back problems for years and have been trying to put off the surgery for as long as I possibly could. Now, however, I don't really have a choice in the matter any longer and will be having my corrective surgery in late November 2011.

    I know it's a frightening prospect having your spine operated on, but there are SOOOOO many people who have been through it. It may seem that there are alot of people who have had bad outcomes, but remember that probably as many people have had good outcomes and have no need to come to a support forum such as ours. So, try not to let that disturb you too much.

    Any spinal surgery should be taken seriously and you should, by all means, educate yourself. There are great threads here - particularly the "sticky" threads on the front page of what to expect from the surgery.

    And while the majority of us are not MD's, just reading what other's have experienced will help you understand some of the issues you may be dealing with.

    There's also a glossary here, which can be very helpful in "deciphering" the abbreviations and the medical jargon. Being educated about the proposed procedures is invaluable, so you've landed in the right place!

    Keep us posted on your progress, kay, hon?
  • is big spinal surgey and i am surprised that your consultant has gone straight to a fusion rather than a microdiscectomy or even offered you ADR {that's artificial disc replacement} if you are in the uk i can give you the name of an excellent consultant .should you have ALIF/PLIF expect a very long recover my consultant has told me at least 12 months then another 2 years to get over the operation .i would NOT be in a rush to have that kind of surgey just yet .i would explore other options .can you work? sleep/have sex? shop/drive ?if you say yes to nearly all then DONT be having this kind of surgey .i have had 2 lots of surgey over the last 15 years and i have not been able to work.sleep/have sex and loads of other take it for granted stuff for the last 6 years at least .i not have to have ALIF to stop the rot and i am 541TT1NG myself too !!.i have no choice i think you may have more options ...good luck
    tony {uk]
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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  • Welcome to Spine Health.

    I imagine that the 3 doctors you have seen found something along the lines of spinal instability along with those 2 herniated/bulging disc. Not every person is a candidate for discectomy or artificial disc. The surgeons factor in a number of things when they decide on fusion. I do think that 3 recomendations is enough. Now I would look at the 2 different surgeries, the recovery length and the success rates and make my decision.

    Most surgeons specialize in one technique or the other. Mine didn't do the ALIF but was very skilled in the PLIF. I really liked him and he was well qualified so I stayed with him.

    I was offered micro discectomy by a quack and it would have been a complete waste of money since #1 I had no disc left and #2 I had major instability. Had I done that I would have been set back even further in my recovery because it would not have stopped my problems and I eventually would have had to go the fusion route.

    I was off 11 weeks with my PLIF but felt incredibly better after 6 weeks and 80% by 6 months and 100% better in a year). I started living again :) My employer had to give me up to 12 weeks and I was on short term disability. The PLIF was no picnic but it was the best decision I could make for me. My lumbar spine hurt for years just getting worse and worse. I got to the point where I was not able to walk for more than a few minutes, sitting killed me, constant sciatic pain and constand low back pain.

    Good luck,

  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and the situation your in is not uncommon here. The one thing we do all understand is how scary the thought of surgery can be. Also the thought of wether you can support yourself post op or not. With that said have you looked into your employer's disability program wether they have short term disability(std) and long term disability(ltd)? If so while you can I would get all the paper work and dot your I's and cross your T's. One thing that you will be allowed by federal law is FMLA, while it doesn't pay, it does protect your job for a time period depending on how much time you have already taken off work. Don't jump to the conclusion that you need SSDI, just yet, as your surgery could relieve all your pain and you will feel better with the appropriate time off and physical therapy.

    The good news is while you see many stories on here regarding fusion there are just as many successful stories, but they don't post as often as they are out living a normal life and to busy to be here. Keep in mind one thing the surgeon can only take you so far the rest is up to you. But, you will learn from the others here whom have gone through it all the tips they gained during the process.

    At the top of the page you will find a FAQ section, look in that section to the post about 38 questions to ask your surgeon. See what of those questions you can answer, and the remainder ask your surgeon or here. The list is pretty complete and you might even formulate some of your own questions from the list.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Keep us posted on how you get along and if there is anything I can do, don't hesitate to pm me. Take care.
  • Welcome to our forum. :)))

    It's very normal to feel scared but I would encourage you to read the articles written on this site which are relevant to your problem. Good preparation is so important for a good outcome. Have full confidence in your surgeon's skills. Are you going with the third surgeon? I went with the third neurosurgeon because he offered the best option, and I'm one of the success stories. I achieved about 80% pain relief. The level below my fusion is deteriorating more now, but it wasn't too good before the surgery. I may need further surgery at some time, but in the meantime, I can enjoy doing most things, but in moderation.

    Sitting at a desk puts a lot of pressure on the spine, especially for long periods. I'm retired now, so I can get up and walk around or exercise. If you can exercise, do what you can, say in the hydrotherapy pool or when you're lying down on the bed. A physio could help you with this.

    I'd encourage you to prepare yourself as best as you can physically before surgery; ie good nutrition which will keep your immune system healthy. This will also help with the healing process. Should you need to lose some weight (and I'm not saying that you do), then address this with diet because with your pain, you probably aren't able to exercise much. I watch Dr Oz most weekdays and he always has some great advice on nutrition for various conditions.

    This may not apply to you, but if you smoke, do plan to quit because it can affect lung function during anaesthesia, and can also increase the chances of a failed fusion.

    Recovery is a long process because bone and nerves grow very slowly. There will be bending-lifting-twisting restrictions and it's something your surgeon will be able to guide you with. It took me 6 months to start feeling more like I used to. I was fused in under 6 months but it took another 8 months before the fusion felt strong and I was able to do more.

    As others have said, have a look at the information at the top of this section on the things you'll need to get prior to surgery and how long recovery will take. I prepared enough meals for 3 months and had a domestic service for 4 months.

    Hope all goes well for you.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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  • Hi Hollywood!

    I, too, have had an anterior and posterior fusion at L4-5!

    It was the best thing I have done. Before my surgery, I had stopped living! I couldn't walk from my driveway to the door without crying....

    It has been 16 months....initially they told me 6-12 months and after surgery 12-18. I went back to work after 16 weeks.

    But that is not to say I wasn't "living" during all those months! :) Little by little I gained my life back and it is a wonderful feeling! :)

    Having gone though this gives mwe a better appreciation of "life"!

    Feel free to ask me any questions~happy to help if I can!

    Wishing you the best!! Shari
  • hey guys,

    I have a bigger issue now and maybe someone out can help me. I just found out that my fmla loa plicy has been exhausted and I am now still waiting for surgery date for my alif and plif. And scared to death because its made it hard on me with my job and this surgery on the line.. has anyone ever been through this before if so please explain. Or even advice would help. I have worked sooo hard to get to were I am today but at the same time I am in really bad pain Thank you for your time in this matter and look for forward to hearing from you guys.

  • Welcome. I too have had a 360 fusion of L4/L5. I had a laminectomy first and then had to have the fusion when the vertebrae started to slip. It was great because it relieved the pain and weakness I was having. I have had 2 other fusions since. One because my spine was collapsing in on itself and then this past march another one due to slipping vertebrae. Again, the surgery got rid of the symptoms. I had a longer recovery on the last one because the disc was bad after they got in and had to put a spacer in and separated the vertebrae which caused lingering pain. I ran out of sick and vacation time on that recovery. I had to tough it out financially. I am lucky that I do not have a sitting job as I cannot sit for very long.

    Have you talked to your supervisor about no LOA and your upcoming surgery?? Can you get a leave of absence without pay?? Documentation from your doctor may help. I got the ok to go back to work 3 weeks after my 360 L4/L5 fusion. I was in good shape before the surgery and I know that helped. Good luck and keep us posted.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Sorry Hollywood.

    Do you have good medical insurance? You may be able to go on Long Term Disabilty- I think my insurnace makes me go on the long term after I use the short term and FLMA.

    However I am not sure about your employers responsibilty. There should be someone that you can talk to who can give you some options.

    Let us know how it goes.

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