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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


Greetings all,

I just wanted to compose my thoughts in writing regarding my recent experiences after having lumbar spine fusion. To begin the story, about 12 years ago, while I was in high school, I was a football player and major weightlifter. One day, while doing clean and jerks, I had an excruciating pain in my lower back (L5-S1 to be exact). As a football player, and being in that frame of mind, I did nothing about it but put some Ben-Gay on it and drink a beer.

Fast forward to today. For 12 years, I have been living with pain that would make me cranky, miserable, and untolerable. I have been seeing doctors over the years regarding the pain, and to be honest, my experience with doctors has not been great, up until last year. Most doctors over the years have told me that it was one or more of the following: bad posture, obesity (btw: I am 6'4", 250lbs), bad luck, SI joint disfunction, deep-tissue injury, lumbar strains etc....and with all of these diagnoses, the only test any of these doctors did was to visually inspect my back (I have no idea what they were looking for, perhaps a bone sticking out or something).

I moved from Boston back to the Tampa area in May after a few years of living up there. In August, August 31st, 2001 precisely, I woke up with an excruciating pain in the suspect area. I was unable to walk, sleep, sit or breathe (well, it hurt to breathe, honestly). And on top of this, that day I was flying to Boston to attend a wedding. It was not a wedding I could simply not attend, as I was the best man. Well, to say the least, as I did not have any pain meds, I spent the entire weekend with my good friend Sam Adams. After returning from Boston, my wife took me straight to the emergency room. As usual, the docs there were of no help, giving me a scrip for Vicodin (please, like that helps) and told me to see an ortho.

I had my first appt with an Ortho the next week, and honestly, for the first time in my recent life, it seemed as if I might find a way to beat this. The event on August 31st was actually found to be 3 ruptured discs, L3-S1. I found this out by having an MRI and several XRays, including flexion shots. Also, they found DDD at L5-S1, and Spondylolisthesis Grade I at that disc also. Luckily, I have never really had any nerve complications. I really feel for those of you that do. L5-S1 was compressed approx. 60%, and had slipped forward approx 5mm (I guess that is enough to cause problems).

Well, the only disc that the docs were really concerned with was L5-S1. That is the disc we concentrated on. I went through 3 months of PT, 2 Steroid Injections (mine didnt hurt much, but perhaps that is because my Dr. gave me 2 Percocets before he did it and 1 after Neither of the injections helped, and actually, after the 2nd injection, I felt a little worse. I then had 2 discograms (my insurance in December wouldnt cover my Dr to do it, so I had to go to a specialized clinic to have it done....bad idea!...the Dr. was a hack!; I changed insurance after Jan 1, and my doc was able to do it. He did it fine, with very little procedural pain) which proved L5-S1 to indeed be the cause of my pain. As all other forms of therapy failed, we decided to do spine fusion. I met with a Surgeon by the Name of Antonio Castellvi. (The office I have been going to is Florida Orthopaedic Institute, located Tampa). The surgery was scheduled for April 15th, 2002. It would be a simple 1 level fusion, with no instrumentation, and bone from my hip would be harvested. During pre-op workups, they found my liver had a high count on a CBC test, so an ultrasound was ordered.

During the ultrasound, they determined the liver was fine, but (drum roll please) I had 2 polyps on my Gall Bladder, about 7cm in size each. Due to my family history of cancer, both parents died of cancer before I was 21, it was necessary to remove the polyps immediately, so I had the gall bladder removed on April 2nd. This of course required that I push back my back surgery 7 weeks, to allow for recovery. (the polyps were benign ) New Surgery date: Wednesday, May 22nd. Before I get to the surgery, I wanted to say that I have been in a TLSO (back brace) with a right leg extension since February. (ouch my hands hurt from typing). Now with that being said, I shall continue.

Surgery day comes, and I am scheduled for surgery at 7:30am. The Doctor was late (as usual), so I actually did not get taken into the Op Room until 9:30. I woke up in recovery by about 11:15am or so....a very quick surgery to say the least. There were no complications. The only issue was that they removed the catheter before I got into recovery...more on that later I get moved into my room (not private unfortunately) at about 1:30, and the day begins....my morphine pump broke 3 times, the demerol pump broke twice...so I wasn't exactly having a good day....that first night was extremely bad, by my standards. I never went to sleep, my pump broke a few more times, and I had a bad bad bad reaction to an antibiotic they gave me...I spent from 10pm until 6am with no pain meds at all....(the doctors didn't figure out until then that the antibiotics were causing the reaction: they thought it was the pain meds, and my doctor wouldn't return the pages he was getting overnight, so I spent one really long night watching infomercials) By 6am, the doctor called, and I got 3 Percocets every 4 hours after that....that seemed to help enough. The big issue I had in the hospital was that I couldn't fall asleep for more than 1 hour. I would soon find that sleep was something I would do without for about 2 weeks. I was up walking around the day after surgery, with the aid of a walker. I was discharged On Friday morning, less than 48 hours after admission. I thought it was too soon to go home, but who am I to argue with the insurance company

to be continued.

[This message has been edited by PeteS (edited 07-17-2002).]






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