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thoracic/lumbar laminectomies

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Unread 08-24-2012, 08:36 PM   #1
lal209
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Question thoracic/lumbar laminectomies

Hello! I am scheduled for open posterior laminectomies of the T3-4, T5-6, and T9-10 with fusion and instrumentation on 4 Sept and then of the L2-5 sometime in Oct depending how the first procedure goes. I had an ACDF of the C4-7 back in Nov 2011 and had good success with it and a fairly easy recovery. I was told that the upcoming procedures would be much harder because of the amount of muscle being cut, but that this is fairly routine surgery and most people are back to work in 6-8 weeks. I haven't been able to find much information on just what to expect during the recovery (limitations, pain, etc.).

After reading some of the posts here, however, I'm now concerned that I'm rushing the surgery. MRIs revealed extensive number of degenerative discs with some compression of the spinal cord at the levels listed above. I have a fair amount of pain and often feel as though I'm having a heart attack and am short of breath (after a heart cath back in April all concern about heart issues were laid to rest). My concern, however, is increasing numbness and weekness throughout back and legs. Physical therapy made the pain worse. Epidural and facet injections provided limited relief, but only for a few weeks. Although the pain, etc. is livable right now, I'm worried that waiting until I'm truely debilitated could result in permanent nerve damage (which is what happened when I waited too long to have the ACDF and I have permanent tingling down my left arm and hand). The neurosurgeon is one of the best in Central FL and has a reputation for not doing unnecessary surgeries. He cautioned that he could not fix all the problems in the back, but would focus only on the most serious (the areas with stenosis). The pain doctor also said that there was little he could do to help and that anything he did would only be a bandaid and surgery was inevitable. That said, I haven't had many of the tests mentioned throughout many of the posts here.

So, am I rushing the surgery? If I do go through with it, what should I expect as far as what I can/can't do afterwards and for how long? All thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks from a newbie to this forum!
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Unread 08-25-2012, 04:55 AM   #2
Leesa
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Hi ! I haven't had that particular surgery, but since you have compression of the spiinal cord, it's obvious something needs to be done! And I guess the surgery you're having is about the only thing that CAN be done, although I'm afraid of fusions as the levels above and below the fusion sites tend to fail, leaving you with probable problems later on. It's called the "domino" effect, and usually the doctors don't tell you that. But you do what you have to do.

You'd better figure on longer healiing times than what they've said. I do NOT see you going back to work in 8 weeks after THAT kind of surgery! I had 2 open laminectomy/disectomies/foramenotomies and it was 4 months before I could go back PART TIME and 6 months before I could go back full time!! And I didn't have fusion!!! It was the same for each surgery. So plan on a bit longer. You'll need some help when you first get home. The first week is going to be rough. Perhaps your Mom or a neighbor could come in and help. Have some meals cooked ahead of time and freeze them so all you have to do is defrost them and put them in the oven for your family.
Make sure all the laundry is done before surgery too so no one is holllering for clean clothes. LOL Have the grocery shopping done too.

Hopefully others will come in and add to the list of things to do ahead of time, and also add to what you should know about the surgery. God bless and best of luck! Hugs, Lee
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recovering alcoholic, sober since 7-29-93;severe depression; 2 open spinal surgeries; severe sciatica since 1986; epidurals; trigger points; myelograms; Rhizotomy; Racz procedure; spinal cord stimulator implant (and later removal); morphine pump trial (didn't work);now inoperable; lumpectomy; radiation; breast cancer survivor; heart attack; fibromyalgia; on disability.



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Unread 08-26-2012, 03:03 PM   #3
lal209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leesa View Post
Hi ! I haven't had that particular surgery, but since you have compression of the spiinal cord, it's obvious something needs to be done! And I guess the surgery you're having is about the only thing that CAN be done, although I'm afraid of fusions as the levels above and below the fusion sites tend to fail, leaving you with probable problems later on. It's called the "domino" effect, and usually the doctors don't tell you that. But you do what you have to do.

You'd better figure on longer healiing times than what they've said. I do NOT see you going back to work in 8 weeks after THAT kind of surgery! I had 2 open laminectomy/disectomies/foramenotomies and it was 4 months before I could go back PART TIME and 6 months before I could go back full time!! And I didn't have fusion!!! It was the same for each surgery. So plan on a bit longer. You'll need some help when you first get home. The first week is going to be rough. Perhaps your Mom or a neighbor could come in and help. Have some meals cooked ahead of time and freeze them so all you have to do is defrost them and put them in the oven for your family.
Make sure all the laundry is done before surgery too so no one is holllering for clean clothes. LOL Have the grocery shopping done too.

Hopefully others will come in and add to the list of things to do ahead of time, and also add to what you should know about the surgery. God bless and best of luck! Hugs, Lee
THANKS, Lee! Prayers and hugs are always welcomed! Fortunately, my Mom and one of my brother's is living with me right now, so I'll have good support from them and others post surgery. It's a huge blessing to have loving support, but I'm also glad to have found this forum. None of my family/friends have had serious back pain/issues and it's a help to hear from others who know what I'm experiencing.

I'm so sorry to hear what a rough time you've had. You truely have been through a lot! I've heard from a couple of others that have gone through this to expect longer recovery times as well, so I guess I'm beginning to resign myself to that. The neurosurgeon did warn me that the surgery is more to prevent any future damage and that it may or may not relieve the pain -- which is why I don't want to wait longer to do it since while not good, the pain is not horrendous right now and I'm worried it will just get worse. But he didn't really discuss the domino effect. Instead he said that he hoped this would buy 5-7 years before having to undergo other surgeries which he believes are inevitable since almost all the discs have at least mild-to-moderate degeneration.

Thanks again! I'll let you know how things go....
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Unread 08-26-2012, 08:38 PM   #4
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So glad you have an on site support system. You have a general idea what you are in for. Follow orders to a T and for heavens' sake, don't even think about what might be down the road surgically. You know you have a bumb spine. Take your recovery seriously to prevent further damage and live life as full as you can, one day at a time. Best wishes.
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Unread 10-27-2012, 06:07 AM   #5
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Default Thoracic laminectomy

I just had an invasive thoracic laminectomy 30 days ago, on my T-10-T-11 and T-12. Never did I realize what I would experience. I had to stay in hospital due to complications-pneumonia and intestinal blockage. By the time I got home, I needed around the clock care. Please pay attention to what physical therapist tells you, about moving around, log rolling out of bed etc.. I had no choice but to try and go back to work a week after getting home--BIG mistake! It has been almost thirty days now, and i feel as if i had the surgery yesterday. I did feel some relief when i got my staples removed but it still feels like i have a backpack of hardware im lugging around. The pain is most centralized around the incision area. My biggest question.....when will i start to feel SOME relief from the pain??? It also radiates through to the front of my chest which is sensitive to touch. I just wonder when it will start to subside if anyone has had the same procedure as me--thanks for your opinions.
PS if you are on pain medication like myself..make sure to use fiber powder daily..that has helped me from getting another intestinal blockage
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Unread 10-27-2012, 12:25 PM   #6
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You have had some wicked surgery. I hope you didn't feel rushed back to work. I think you may have been misinformed on the timeline. I'm a tough bird. Even when I was younger and working, there's no way I would have been ready to go back in six weeks. While you need to listen to the surgeon about activities, listen to your body concerning whether you are ready to make a commitment to going back to work. That is very invassive surgery and you having so many levels repaired. How are you doing?
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Unread 10-27-2012, 04:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Spiney95 View Post
You have had some wicked surgery. I hope you didn't feel rushed back to work. I think you may have been misinformed on the timeline. I'm a tough bird. Even when I was younger and working, there's no way I would have been ready to go back in six weeks. While you need to listen to the surgeon about activities, listen to your body concerning whether you are ready to make a commitment to going back to work. That is very invassive surgery and you having so many levels repaired. How are you doing?
I was very much misinformed about the procedure itself and what all was involved. I defiantly would have planned better knowing what was in store, with the recovery. I have no choice but to work, and feel as every day goes by, I cant do it. I feel like my recovery is being slowed down to pushing myself so hard, but being single, i dont have the support financially. I have a follow up Tuesday, and want to know, is the pain im still feeling normal for what all I had done, and when will the pain start to subside.
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Unread 10-27-2012, 06:58 PM   #8
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I am certain there are surgeons that properly prepare their patients for what happens when you wake up and the recovery time/process. I just haven't met one yet. My first spinal surgery was a bi-level cervical disc/lamie back in the mid 80s. I went in for my first check up one week after discharge, out of meds. When I told the surgeon I was still experiencing considerable pain beyond the incision, he looked agast and said, "what's your problem, I fixed your neck!!!" This was before the internet and good peer support. All I had was the info. he chose to give me. I had to beg for a muscle relaxer. I insisted that he just feel my neck and shoulder as they were all spasmed up. It took me months to recover on tylenol xtra strength.

I hope your job is semi compatable with your condition. Can you afford to start out part time and ease yourself in? Being a single woman, I understand where you are coming from. We are an idependant breed. Is there someone who can help you a little financially since this will impact your recovery.......maybe a sibling? Many of us have someone we COULD ask but don't want to for various reasons. I have a brother who has never been married and is quite comfortable. We are extremely close. He is comfortable because he is financially tight. I HATE to ask for help. On the other hand, when he found out I had a bad fall on my ten year old rollator whose weight bearing brakes were shot, and broke a few small bones in a foot, he hit the roof and ordered me a new rollator. Medicare would not order me a weight bearing brake model and I can't use the hand brakes.

Are there any accomodations your employer can make to help you on the job? Did you have both surgeries? Take care, Sweetie. Gentle hugz and prayers.
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Unread 10-28-2012, 01:36 AM   #9
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They do like to use the words "I fixed you (or the problem)"
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Unread 10-28-2012, 04:18 AM   #10
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They do like to use the words "I fixed you (or the problem)"
I am convinced they take a course on patient intimidation and take workshops on lines that will shut a patient up. I have heard that too many times by too many surgeons. It makes me see blood. The last time I was told that, I waited until the discharge appointment, which was premature, and I told the guy that he may enjoy a good success rate but he was a lousy healer. At that point, I told him I was going to tell everyone on the bridge and beauty shop circuit how he treated patients. Okay, I don't play bridge and have someone come here to cut my hair but he didn't know that. He turned ghostly pale and it was wonderful to give him a dose of HIS medicine.

The nice thing about being a senior is that age has its priviledge. I don't take cr@p off of someone because they have MD behind their name.

Be well and have a blessed day.
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