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Freaking out before surgery

I am (used) to be a CNA.  I hurt my back working one night, doing way more than my fair share of work.  Basically I got 45 people out of bed and into the hall way in 20 minutes when the tornado sirens were going off.   One of the joys of living in Oklahoma.  I also had to put all of them back to bed by myself afterwards because the only other CNA on duty refused to do anything.  So for the past year I have been fighting workers comp.  I have endured the physical therapy that didn't help, and had about 7 epidural injections that last about a week.  Now finally I am approved for surgery, a TLIF at the L5-S1 for DDD and bulging disc.  Since the injury I have experienced very little back pain but horrible sciatic pain.  It radiates down both legs and goes all the way down to my toes.  It usually hurts more in my feet where it literally feels like someone is driving a nail through the bottom of my foot.  I have also experienced numbness/tingling, and that raw feeling like I have a really bad sunburn.  Surgery is on March 31 and the closer I get  the more my anxiety levels climb.  I know it is normal to have anxiety before any surgery but I worry because I am so young, I am only 27 and need major spine surgery.  I guess I am hoping to hear some success stories from people that have had a fusion surgery.  All I can find is horror stories.  My mom had this same surgery about 2 years ago and it was not very successful.  Her story is a little different than mine.  She is a smoker and waited about 20 years to have it done.


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,709
    welcome beatlesgurl27
    please click on the link for useful information
    welcome to spine-health


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 995


    read this guy's story... he is twice your age and he was up and walking around at the supermarket with his wife a week after surgery like it was no big deal.  you  can do the same...

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
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  • Beatlesgurl, i just had mine on march 2nd. Instead of a fusion, mine was a laminectomy and discectomy. Im not going to lie the whole thing isnt pleasant and the fear is normal. But you will get through it!. When I was in the prep room, they put in my IV then gave me something for anxiety, versaid, and the next thing I knew i was in the recovery room waking up. My family swears i was still awake and talking to them for 15 minutes after they gave me that stuff but i dont recall it. Its actually nice to not remember it because I was so nervous.

    Other than a setback I had from the Dr. breaking off the drain in my back which required a 2nd surgery, it went well for me. Even with the 2nd surgery I went home on the 3rd day, was off the pain meds after 4-5 days at home. Now its been 2 weeks and I almost feel normal again, other than being weakened from the downtime and the 4" hole they put though my muscles. Its going to hurt in ways you cant imagine but tell your nurse and they will give you the good stuff.(I got dillaudid though IV, that stuff was the best)

    I am curious about you getting a fusion, my surgeon explained it to me that its a good choice for young people(im 31) citing the added stress it adds to surrounding discs. Wondering if that is just his opinion or the status quo. 

    either way, try not to let it ruin your last few days before surgery, even if you are stuck on the couch like I was. Heck, i had family over for pizza and beer the night before the surgery and had a great night. (Dr. didnt tell me I couldnt drink but im not endorsing that you or anyone else does the night before surgery)

    Anyway, good luck!
  • Goob:  I think my surgeon has suggested a fusion for a couple of reasons.  1.  The disc at that level is pretty well gone and if he just did a discectomy the chance of it re-herniating would be really high.  2.  I have sciatica radiating down both my legs all the way into my feet, one doctor said that if it was just going down  one side he would recommend a discectomy but because I have pain going down both sides he agrees with my surgeon that I need to go ahead and have the fusion.  I think the logic is to fix it  the right way now and avoid having multiple back surgeries for the same area.  I also had another doctor that told me he would not do this surgery on someone so young.  He told me I was fat and to lose weight.  Not the best doctor in the world lol.  I think some surgeons just refuse to do fusion surgery on anyone under the age of 40, I would rather not wait that long because I know that the more damage is done the more pain I will have permanently.
  • Hi Beat. I had an anterior/posterior lumbar fusion in Feb. 2006. It took a few months to feel better but once I started PT, I just kept gaining strength. I had 10 pain free years. However, my back flared again, worse than the first time and after MRI's and visits to my orthopedic surgeon, it was determined that I needed another lumbar fusion on L-4L5. I was devastated because although I had 10 good years, I didn't want to go through "all that" again. I put it off for about 6 months saying the entire time that I was NOT fixing it. Well.... Fast forward to Now..... The pain won out and I had no choice. I had my second lumbar fusion on March 3rd and although I am not even 3 weeks post op yet, this pain is still less than the pain I had been living with!!! I wish I had done it sooner. Good luck to you!!! Don't focus on all the horror stories......
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  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 605
    Hi Beatlesgurl27
    I also am (was) a CNA. I was also injured on the job. But I injured my neck. It is a very physically demanding job! I am quite a few years older than you, but I understand the amount of lifting you do during a shift. 
    I have no advice about back surgery, but I just wanted to wish you the best during your surgery & your recovery. 
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