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Post Spinal Fusion and problems
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Aislinnfae posted:
Hi Everyone! Looks like I am not alone when it comes to questions and problems regarding spinal fusions. I really didn't see what I wanted to bring up so hopefully this will start a thread with some great results.

Some background: A year and a half ago, I had a triple spinal fusion from L5 to L3. At the time I had reached a weight of 100 lbs, down from 128, and according to my husband, looked like a walking dead. Now according to my surgeon however, I was a well nourished and a well developed female. Anyway since the spinal fusion, not only have I had to return to PM but have suffered from both bowel and bladder problems since the surgery. My surgeon at this time had done a complete 180 and now seemed extremely disinterested in my after care but very consumed with my need for pain medication. According to him I should have been able to go off all pain medication within my second week of surgical recovery. My medication at this time was the Fentanyl patch, which I had been on close to 6 years and Percocet since the surgery. There was also no interest in the bowel and bladder problems; one visit to the Physical therapist, no physical post operative examinations or even periodic inspections or checks on the brace which was prescribed after the surgery. After 3 months of seemly nonproductive postop visits I stopped seeing him and went to my PM physician.

Since that time I have been gone through many of the same back procedures which I had received prior to the surgery which most recently was a facet injection and RFL. Right now I am afraid of an unexpected reaction to the RFL which I am going to have to have addressed at my next PM visit.

I am extremely concerned that at this point there is no where for me to go now and that the pain and other problems I am experiencing is to be part of my life from now on. Not wishing to go into too much detail about the "other" problems at this point, but which I am sure will be addressed shortly; I just wanted to to join the group and hopefully find out that I am not alone in my experiences. I truly wish to resume a normal life, get off the meds and become a productive human being once again by returning to nursing and helping others, rather then being the one needing the help. Hope to get lots of responses and in turn perhaps offer some help and and an ear for those who need it.
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bj1208 responded:
Hi Aislinnfae - welcome to the board - sorry you are having so many problems - you really shouldn't be going through this - I cannot believe that your surgeon is ignoring the most critical problems as your bladder and bowel problems - this is not good -

I believe you should take this direction:

1) Contact your Primary Care Physician NOW - let him/her know of the problems you are having with your surgeon. Let your PCP give you the direction you need to go in

2) Stop going to Pain Management and Physical Therapy - these can be causing more problems and/or doing no good

Your problems with your bladder and bowels needs to be addressed NOW with treatments for that before you take on any other problems. Your PCP will know what to do.

If it gets worse until you can get in to see your PCP - GO TO THE ER - this is really something that you cannot put off as you don't want to cause permanent damage.

we are a great support group - there are a lot of caring people here and i'm sure you will find that we are here to listen to, cry with you, blog about anything - how things are going or not going - just about anything. the sooner you do this hopefully the sooner you can get back to a normal life - oh gosh what is a normal life! LOL

Please do contact ur PCP and get started on that -

take care and let us know what happens! You can always start a post for just about anything - how ur feeling - things happening - just anything -

pray for low pains - Joy
 
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jottorn responded:
Hi, I read your piece here w/great interest, especially when I read at the end that: "I truly wish to resume a normal life, get off the meds & become a productive human being once again by returning to nursing &helping others, rather then being the one needing the help. Hope to get lots of responses &in turn perhaps offer some help and & an ear for those who need it." I've been saying the SAME DANGED THING for >2 yrs now, & agree to last part. I had my PLIF L5-S1 9/25/07, & joke that was the worst day of the rest of my life. I asked him to do L4, but he did not & to this day I do not understand why, as he told me in all likelihood within 3-4 years I'd be back for another fusion as the DDD progresses faster with fusions... Thankfully, I am somehow blessed.. I don't have the bowel/bladder issues like you do, but I definitely have continuing and worsening of the same symptoms that led me to the surgery as the last possible option to begin with!

I was a Home Care Nurse, fell down my own danged stairs going to do an early am catheter change, was in a hurry, fell down my stairs, & the rest is history... Broken talus left foot, medial tears in right knee, pulverized disc at L5, 2 annular tears at L4... what a mess.

Well, the sciatica/radiculopathy continues, BLE weakness, increased lower back pain, severe compression pain... A repeat MRI shows what a 2nd provider suspected may be a pedicle screw going THRU the disc and sitting in a disc space where it may potentially be slowly shredding away some nerve endings there. The other "educated guesses": "intolerance to the hardware" (common in petite Caucasian women per my surgeon) (I'm 5'1" and 115.), my degenerative disc disease (very severe already) progressing even more, my spinal stenosis worsening... in other words, no concrete ideas. AND, to boot, I was fired from my HHA employer at the time a few days before surgery,until I could "come back healthy" & so with that went my insurance - THEN they screwed up my COBRA payment as well, so I REALLY lost any hope of carrying insurance.

So here I sit, miserable, & angry as heck at our healthcare system. I've had acupuncture, TENS unit, take Flexeril 3xqd, Percocet around the clock (this is even after Pain Management!), ibuprofen 3200mg qd, yoga/Tai chi as tolerated (not enough though because the pain just escalates!), hot showers, heating pads, swimming in the summer in my backyard... I am SO TIRED of the meds, but am literally worthless without them. My surgeon really has nothing to say to me until I can come up with payment for another procedure. My GP manages my care, but only as he can - he's frustrated for me too, as I used to work for him, and he KNOWS what I used to be like, not at ALL the person I have become these days...

I just finished my BSN online 5 months after surgery, so now owe tons for a degree I cannot even use to the full possible extent. I get along "ok" with a cane for short distances, & in general, think it just STINKS. I have no means of removing the ?possibly offending hardware, even though the fusion shows that "it took", and no other means of treatment. I am 39 now, & all I see in front of me is life with chronic pain. It has carved hard pain-wrinkles in the middle of my forehead, grayed me WAAAY faster then it had been going, & I do NOT feel my age - I am soo tired & sore all the time, I think I am aging early honestly!

I do NOT like being the patient - I'd rather be TREATING them!

I got separated 7 weeks after I fell (long story).The only benefit to all of this - I am able to home-school my 11 year old, so have been the past year. I've always wanted to do this, and the time was ripe at his school, so we jumped in. It's been wonderful having a huge impact on his education. The downside? He has seen his mom go from the best shape of her life, literally watching her fall down the stairs to the worst shape of her life. It's been hard on him... Maybe we nurses can get thru this 2g
 
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TRS1960 responded:
Welcome and best of luck to you. I can relate to what you say, I only had twelve vertabrae fused so I can get the good drugs and still live in daily horrific pain.
 
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Geradine4733 responded:
Welcome to this friendly board. You have been given good advice. That is a red flag when bowel and bladder problems are involved.

I had a Four level fusion L2 - S1 in 2002. It made everything worse. I tried all the procedures, TENS machine, Acupuncture, etc. The Pain Doctor was no help and was upset that I did not want the SCS or Pain Pump.

My Ortho Surgeon and Pain Doctor were not concerned with my pain. The Ortho Surgeon just wants to do more surgery. Pain meds, yoga, and physical therapy exercises seem to be the only thing left to do.
 
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TRS1960 responded:
Anelgesics do cause severe constipation. I don't know exactly what problems you're having, but there is a possibility that some of it may be from side effects from your meds?
 
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TRS1960 responded:
Also, Fenynal caused me all kinds of problems from bowels to hell. I literally felt like I was going to hell. Clinical psycosis is the only way I could explain it. It was very bad and made misery seem like a pleasantry. You might ask about medication side effects. Stopping fentynal cold turkey is not good, you need to work that out with medical help.


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