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    Spinal Fusion
    chealsea14 posted:
    Hello, I am new to the site and was recently informed that I would need my spine fused. The MRI shows
    chronic reative endplate changes at L5-S1 secondary to degenerative disc disease.There is decreased signal intensity and flattening of the L4 through S1 disks. L3-4 there is mild bilateral facet hypertrophy and generalized and disk bulging which result in mild right foraminal stenosis.
    L4-5 moderate bilateral facet and ligamentous hypertrophy and generalized disc osteophyte bulging which result in mild central and right inferior foraminal stenosis. Superimposed left foraminal disc extrusion with effacement of perineural fat in high grade left foraminal stenosis.
    L5-S1 moderate diffuse disc osteophyte bulging which results in mild dural sac effacement and mild to moderate bilateral inferior foraminal stenosis,left greater than right
    I am scared to death to get the fusion done, I am a single Mom & the sole porvider for my household, I am 42 & need to work, any suggestions or other options?
    Congres responded:
    I am so ready to engage with you. I to am a single mom, I just was told I need a double fusion...How do I go about being a patient when I have five children at home that need me, every day ? I am limited now, how about when recovering from a double fusion ? I somehow will have to see, or feel forced to get this surgery. I do see a physiatrist orthopedic doctor, which is what I have been suggested to do on this site. However, each person is unique. I go between wanting hope for a future with less pain, and feeling frustrated at how to care for my family while in recovery. No family near. I am 48 and kids are 11-18. Please write. I understand your concerns, and I am sorry you have to feel so torn. Thanks, Christine
    bj1208 responded:
    hi and welcome to the support group -

    if there were any other options your spine specialist would have offered that as a treatment.

    a fusion is done because there is instability in the spine at the specified disc(s) and when they do the fusion they will remove the damaged disc(s) and put in its place a plate, screws and a cage. they may also put in rods too. this will help stabilize the spine. there is a 40-65% success rate for fusions.

    I had a single fusion done in 2/08 and I did fuse 100% and bone is growing back. so my surgery as far as the fusion was a success. I had other issues that the surgery could not stabilize and/or reduce and that being chronic low back pain and permanent nerve damage in both legs. click on my name or picture and you can read my story.

    you need to really sit down and write down all questions and concerns you have regarding the surgery - before, during and after - any questions that come to mind no matter how small they may seem write it down and ask.

    you should consider having someone come over for at least a month until you can build up your strength. all items in the house should be put on counter top range - no bending, stretching, standing on chairs etc.,

    you can ask your surgeon what other options there are but again a fusion will stabilize the disc(s) that are bad.

    please keep us posted - take care - Joy
    chealsea14 replied to Congres's response:
    That's exactely the same fears I have. I have 2 daughters one away in another state at college & the younger just turned 16 who just started to work a bit. With what I make as far as income, dissability will not even come close, my job has no benefits, who knows if I'll even have a job once I'm recovered, if I fully recover. From what I understand I will not be able to bend at all, how do I do the simplest of tasks such as feeding the cats? I cannot drive, my daughter doesn't even have her permit, grocery shopping, all the things we do on a daily basis, how will they get done? My Mom doesn't live too far away from me, but she also is not in the best of health, she has had 2 back surgeries of her own & the last one she had years ago permenately took her out of work. I see this & surgery is the last thing I want to do, but I keep hearing over & over again, not a whole lot of other options. I just set up an appt for acupuncture for this Friday, I'm not sure if my insurance will cover it, if not it's $60 out of pocket, which we both know is a pretty big expense when you're a single Mom I will keep you posted & I hope you do the same, thank you for writing,it's nice to hae someone to talk to who's going throught the same thing.
    Take care,
    bj1208 replied to chealsea14's response:
    hi Kim -

    with my surgery (posted above) I don't bend - I squat down and use the counter etc to help pull me up.

    even with your 16yr old at home she can help with some things - like maybe do laundry or clean the bathrooms. cleaning the house would be the last thing on my list. asking a neighbor or maybe one of ur daughter's friends to come help clean -

    I only had my father-n-law here as my husband was working in another state and my youngest daughter was in another state - my oldest daughter and her husband have 2 Autistic boys so they had their hands full.

    I didn't touch cleaning for at least 3 months - my father-n-law did cook some and helped with dishes and he was, at that time, Army clean, so he kept his stuff cleaned up.

    even though my story ended with me being permanently disabled it was a shock as I used to be a Manager of Accounting and had a crew of 10-15 employees. I was a contract employee and had no benefits but did have insurance thru hubby's union and that paid very well.

    Having the possibility of being disabled goes with any accident or surgery - but again my surgery was a success as my back is stabilized and that's what the fusion does (along with fusing 100%).

    Please discuss more in detail with your doctor and also your daughter - I'm surer you will have the help you need. but be sure the surgeon explains that recovery can be anywhere from 3 months to a year - as everyone is different in recovery -

    keep us posted - Joy
    georgia888 replied to bj1208's response:
    Hi Joy,
    Your story is an inspiration to many. You've often stated that your spine was stabilized by the fusion surgery although your pain was not resolved. I am curious as to what would have happened if you didn't have the fusion surgery.

    I am learning so much through stories from you & others.

    Thank you,
    bj1208 replied to georgia888's response:
    Hi Georgia -

    well that's a biggie~~~LOL

    I had DDD (degenerative disc disease) and when my disc blew out not only did it herniate but it also splintered where a large part was pressing on the left S1 nerve root and a smaller part was on the right S1 nerve root -

    If I did not have the surgery I would have ended up being crippled as I would have lost feeling in my legs -

    So this is the reason I had to have the surgery - and if I had to do it over I would - no doubt about that -

    hope this helps - take care - Joy
    Congres replied to chealsea14's response:
    Thank you for writing back. I understand how big 60$ is, I hope this appt. was some help to you. I am feeling that the more meds I have taken have fooled me into thinking I feel better than I really and I have gotten worse, with the needs of my family I wonder how to make a surgery and recovery possible. I have concluded though after being out of work for almost two year that I do not see getting better without surgery, if at all, at least surgery is a option. Another member suggested asking the church for help, and possibly my insurance will cover some home care. I feel this is my best at keeping self-care and independence a hope. I sometimes wonder if I can keep going with the pain. I was tempted to go to the ER last night as the pain felt so intense. Maybe you have a church that may be helpful or community group. One lady suggested hospice because they have so many resources and connections in a community and may be able to led me to some. So I am feeling hopeful that surgery should happen and I will do it and things will work out somehow. Please write back. Christine
    georgia888 replied to bj1208's response:
    I'm sure knowing that potential outcome makes dealing with the pain a bit easier.

    Thanks for sharing, Joy.


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