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Recovering from fusion surgery
I am 34 years old, married with one child. I was diagnosed with scoliosis as a young girl. The dr's all said that is was mild and at the base of my spine and it may or may not cause me any problems. When I turned 30, I noticed changes. I started to have pain in my hip and back when I walked or worked out for awhile. I chalked it up to muscle strain due to my left leg being shorter than the right. Gradually I had to give up doing certain things I loved (kickboxing, pilates) as the pain made these things impossible. About a year ago, I couldn't walk through the mall, grocery stores, etc. Pain was a part of my life. I pushed through it to accomplish everyday activities. By the first of the year, I had a pain in my heel that hindered walking, I couldn't sit/stand/walk w/o severe pain. I also had tingling and numbness. I went to the dr's as I am too young to have to live with this level of pain EVERYDAY! My dr sent me to a foot dr. The pod was great & evaluated me. He said that he couldn't help me and that I should see a spine specialist. I did some research and my stepmom asked the dr's she works with. We found a highly recommended spine surgeon. My dr seemed impressed that I asked for the "big gun".
After a few tests, evaluations, & conversations, my surgeon recommended a spinal fusion. The scoliosis had curved severely. I now had a 50 degree curve. The thorasic had rotated. I did notice discomfort in my rib cage and differences in my breathing but didn't think it was related to my back. I also had disc degeneration, nerve damage and compression. My dr advised that my left leg was very weak and I had lost quite a bit of function. I also had "drop foot". He recommended surgery and suggested that I do it soon. He said while there are risks to having the surgery, there were also great risks to not having it.
I decided to go ahead with the surgery. It was to be 2 procedures in two days. My family & I prepared ourselves as much as we could. My dr was great at listening and answering questions.
The 1st surgery was on a Monday. The procedure was a DILF, it lasted about 5 hours. There were 2 incisions on my side about an inch long each. When I woke, the pain in my heel was gone! Amazing!
The 2nd surgery was on Wed. This was the fusion of T10-S1. This procedure lasted about 12 hours. The incision is long, just under my shoulder blades to the pelvis. It went well, the dr was pleased as he said he was able to fix so much more than he thought he would be able to. I lost a lot of blood and the trac tube had to stay in for about a day due to all the swelling I had. I don't remember much of those 1st few days....lol. I remained in critical care for 9 days. During this time PT/OT worked with me. I was not prepared for how hard simple things were. Sitting up was so hard! I was moved to a non-critical floor and went home after 12 days.
Going home was scary......I was still very weak and couldn't move very well at all. My insurance thankfully covered all the equipment needed
to help keep me comfortable @ home. I did develope an infection. Part of the incision on my back popped open and started to drain. I had to have 2 rounds of antibiotics. It finally cleared and most of it sealed. I now only have a small hole that he wants open to allow for drainage. It should close on it's own in the next month or so.
I am now almost 90 days post op. My dr said this is the most critical time period. Next month, my restrictions will relax a bit and I start outpaitent PT. I still haven't been cleared to drive or work. The pain is still there but so much better than when I first came home. I still take pain meds.
The dr really wants me off work a full 6 months but I cannot do that so hopefully I can go back in the next month or so.
My biggest fear is that because so many levels were fused that it will not succeed. My dr did order a bone growth stimulator so hopefully that will help. He said he will do a scan at the 6 month mark to see how the fusion is progressing. He can then focus the bone stimulator on areas that need more help.
While all went well I would not wish this on anyone. I do not have the pain I did pre surgery but am very fearful of what the future holds. Will I need revision surgery? Will the pain go away completely? Will I really lead a pretty normal life? I am very emotional about all this and very few people actually understand. This was a huge event in my life and will change me in many ways I am sure.
I apologize that my post is so long, just wanted to tell my story.
I hope to meet people on this site that can lend a shoulder to cry on, to help answer questions, etc. I also hope to be able to provide the same to others.