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Potential ALIF Surgery Patient Earnestly Seeking Advice/Insights

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,000
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in New Member Introductions
Namaste :) I'm a 28 year old female who has been struggling to live a "normal" life for the last 2 years, but severe chronic pain has become my nemosis that is robbing me of so many of life's joys. It all began after a minor fender-bender in June of 07. I began having some low back pain, but didn't think much of it initially....Fast forward 2 years: I've been through months of PT, have had MRI's, Xrays, a CT scan and a bone scan, have wound up in the ER 3x, tried every pain med available (currently taking naproxen, percocet, valium, and tramadol daily), tried herbs, yoga, and pilates, had injections and a facet block, seen a back "specialist", an orthopedic surgeon, a neurosurgeon, and am scheduled to see the chief of spine surgery in a week...NOTHING has worked (or only worked for a very brief period of time). I've been diagnosed with spondylolythesis (pars defect), arthritis in my spine, a cyst at my L3, and a deteriorated disc between my L5 and S1. I fear my condition is actually worsening now...In the last 3 weeks I have been having tingling and numbness in my hands and feet, weakness in my legs, and the pain in my back rockets into the realm of virtually unbearable most days. I'm a 1st grade teacher, a newlywed to my Romeo, and a stepmom to a beautiful 4 year old son...and every day I labor to be a good teacher, a good wife, and a good mom who is present and pleasant rather than depressed and defeated. (I've always lived a very busy, active life; I was even in the military!) My quality of life has plummeted as the pain injects itself into every aspect of my life. I want to fight back, yet I'm barely able to even hold my son in my arms most days. My neurosurgeon has suggested an ALIF...I am not too hip on the prospect of back surgery, but I am even less keen on continuing to live life like this. I understand this is a relatively new procedure, and I'm having difficulty finding information from the patient's point of view. Does anyone who has had an ALIF have any words of wisdom or morsels of advice? Pre-op/Post-op recommendations? Opinions for/against the procedure? I have been feeling so very alone, confused, and conflicted in this journey, and though I'm typically not one to ask for help...I recognize the time has come for me to reach out for a helping hand...
Thank you for taking the time to read my story :) My sincerest thanks in advance for anything in response.


  • Hi FHL, (great name)
    Firstly, keep up the FHL!! What precisely are they talking about doing in the op? What spinal levels? etc... I had a Lumbar fusion 10 years ago and would be happy to answer your questions about that... and at moment am facing into a possible cervical fusion... my story is in post re: petrified newbie...

    Take care,
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
  • I'm too at my wits end with the pain, and I know what it's like to try and care for a fmaily while feeling out of your mind. I've opted for the ALIF after my discectomy failed. After seeing the next surgeon, you may have enough information to make an educated decision about your health. I've tried everything too, I even have my medical marijuana license which I might as well toss in the trash. I'll be honest with you, the only time I didn't have horrible pain was after my discectomy and I was coming to from being out and on who knows how much morphine. Anyway, I have yet to find any meds that take the pain away. What I'm on now just takes the edge off. Honestly, I miss having 3-4 strong gin and tonics. Now THAT worked, lol. Not now with all the meds though. Research your options and read all the great stuff on this site.
    Good luck to you,
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  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. check out the "Back and Neck surgery" forum for some info on your procedure. :? good luck as you seek pain relief! :D Jenny :)
  • Well I'm 28 years old also. I have not been living life for about a year now. I'm 6 months away from my wedding and 2 weeks away from ALIF surgery. I have read a ton of bad stories but also read the good news stories on here. I now all the feeling that you are having. I right there with you. I finially said to myself I'm not living life right now and if I can get 10% of my old life back it is worth it. We are young so are out come is almost about 100% of recovery. You need to do what is best for you remember that. Don't let a doctor tell what is right, you know your body and your mind better than they do. If you ever want to just talk or vent or just need someone to listen to you about how hard your days was, please e-mail me. I understand 100%.

    Keep your head up kiddo.

    lots of love from your new friend,
  • You are definitely doing the right thing by researching before surgery.Have you had at least 3 opinions from different docs? You are really the only one that can say if it will be right for you. I am pretty sure that the surgery has about a 50/50 success rate. I have heard many young folks say that their surgeons really hesitate to do a fusion on a young person so If you have several telling you that you need one than that may be what you need. I have not had a fusion yet but have done lots of research. One thing that you may want to talk to your doc about is the fact that once certain discs are fused it puts more pressure on the discs above and below and could cause a domino effect. I think that is why some surgeons hesitate to do these surgeries on young people. If you have next to no quality of life it still may be worth the risk for you. No surgery holds 100% success rate. Please check out Post Op Needs listed in the surgery section. Your recovery will be much easier if you are prepared. I wish you much luck and please keep us posted.
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