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Decompressive Laminectomy & Spinal Fusion
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jesscuz68 posted:
So after 6 years of back pain; trying to get doctors to believe me and finally get me to a couple of specialists I have spent the last 2 years on all kinds of meds, doing physical therapy and having epidurals (6 in the last year). I finally got to see a neurosurgeon who explains to me that I have spinal stenosis. I was born with it...the narrowing of the spine. And over the years it has just gotten worse.
So now I'm scheduled for a decompressive laminectomy and a probable spinal fusion on Dec.12th. Let me tell you firstly I'm elated that someone now believes and sees that it's not just in my head and that there is a cure (possible) for what I have. Secondly, I'm scared to death. This is a serious surgery!!!
I guess I'm writing to someone out there who has had the surgery(s) and if you can tell me what the days are like after. I'm so terrified of the pain being too much or not being able to do anything for myself and being totally dependent on my family for help.
I know everyone is different, but I would appreciate any insight you may have.
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bj1208 responded:
hi jesscuz68 - welcome to the support group -

any type of surgery is serious so your feelings of being scared are quite normal.

those of us members that have had spine surgery felt that way. I know I did. I had Anterior Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 on 2/08 (click on my name or pic and read my story). my disc had to be removed as it was damaged beyond repair and hardware was installed to make my spine more stable (plate, 4 screws and cage).

I do not have spinal stenosis so I cannot let you know how that is.

I can tell you that with a fusion, during recovery, you will not be able to bend, lift or twisting as this could cause more problems to develop and will cause more pains. depending on your surgeon, he/she may let you stay in the hospital for a couple of days and once home rest, rest and more rest is the best recovery for healing. walking is good - you must start out slow and increase slowly - if it hurts then stop and wait a couple of days and try again.

another is you should put everything that u use on the counter top so you are not stretching/reaching to get something. this includes everything in the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom. as far as laundry - let someone else do this. Getting out of bed - you will need to learn to roll onto your side letting your legs come over the edge of the bed and raising yourself up with your hands.

everyone is different in recovery - my surgeon would not let me do anything while I was in his care, which was 6 months. he released me to a pain management specialist and physical therapy.

it would help you to research as much as possible your surgery. this should help you understand exactly what will happen. you should make a list of any and all questions you may have for your surgeon. don't be afraid to ask.

http://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/spinal-stenosis

this is a good site to research spine issues and one that I use quite a lot!!

http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/lumbar-laminectomy-surgery-spinal-stenosis-open-decompression

this is one site I found through Spine-Health.com - I use this site too.

I just googled your operation and the return comes up with a lot of sites to research.

Hope this helps~~
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~

Take care ~~ God Bless ~~

~~ Joy ~~
 
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jesscuz68 replied to bj1208's response:
Joy ~ I have done quite a bit of researching online and found quite a bit about the operation(s) itself, but not much on what to expect after. Thank you for the links, I will check these out as well and maybe I'll find something new.
My neurosurgeon says I'll be in the hospital for at least 4 days post-op and my pc physician says I'll probably be on at least 3x the meds I take now. I take a lot of strong meds now and any more will definitely make me unsteady for sure, let alone the back issues.
Your lumbar fusion sounds so intense! Did it help? If you were going to do it all over, would you do the operation?
Thanks again for the tips & helpful info.
Regards,
Jess
 
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bj1208 replied to jesscuz68's response:
Hi again -

first - yes you will be on stronger meds after ur surgery. and the first couple of days/couple of weeks the pains will be intense and will subside as the healing process goes on.

second - I actually had to have the surgery as my disc was ruptured and splintered so it was fractured in half - and a fusion was the only option. remove the disc and put hardware in. my spine is more stable but they could not do anything for the chronic low back pains or the nerve damage in both legs - which had already set in.

yes, if I had to do over I would do it again. if I hadn't of had the surgery then I would be looking at spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair and I'm not ready for that! LOL

sometimes surgery is the only option.

I do have worse pains now than before my surgery and I still cannot life anything over 10 lbs but at least I know my spine is more stable. I take stronger pain meds now, morphine, oxycodone, neurontin and muscle relaxers. I wouldn't be able to get out of bed if I didn't have these.

Just be sure to follow the directions of ur surgeon to a T. keep us posted how everything goes.
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~

Take care ~~ God Bless ~~

~~ Joy ~~
 
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Debsbears responded:
Hi I can only give info on my decompression laminectomy cervical fusion which also had stenosis. I am sure the back is different from the cervical but it was major surgery.

I had to have a 7 vertebrae fusion, with laminectomy to remove the spinal process from C3 - T1 this is the short list of all that they did on the first surgery. I had 2 rods and 12 screws but in the beginning, Sept 13th I had to have all the hardware removed because it was causing me problems I was 100% fused before the surgery. It is not typical that people have to have the hardware removed I ended up being in the 10% group that had to.

I was in the hospital for 5 days, then rehab for 7 days. They sent me home saying I could fend for myself (I live alone) at the rehab I couldn't even dress myself but I was to go home and I couldn't sit up longer than 15 mins at a time. I would get spinal headaches so bad I'd cry. My health care nurse who came to my home the first day to change my bandages immediately got me into another rehab center (long term) I ended up there 6 1/2 weeks.

Yes you will have pain and will have to take pain meds. My surgery saved my life, my stenosis was so bad that just turning my neck a few inches I was crushing the spinal cord to the point I wasn't getting any fluid to my brain and I would pass out on the spot. Every surgery has it's risks,and I didn't have any options it was either have the surgery or something could happen the next time I turned my neck. I am thankful I had the surgery despite all the pain I had to endure.

I will be praying for you for the 12th that all goes well and you can heal quickly, Deb


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I also have had surgery for L5S1,protruding disc for sciatic pain. Everything was fine for a year. Then the pain came back and the doctor ... More
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