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Dear Readers:

I am having a spine fusion surgery next week and am scared to death.  My L-4 is blown out from a skiing accident and there is just bone on bone, no disc left.  they will be putting in Titanium rods and screws.  My spinal cord is now being compromised so I've gotta do this.  For years, I have been taking pain meds just to survive and followed by the greatest Pain Management folks (hopkins) in the world.  I am sooo nervous that because I have taken these meds for so long, the pain from the surgery might kill me.  I am also active and hate the thought of being stuck in bed for six weeks or longer.  I am 49 years old.  Any thoughts on this?

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I am having a a lot of trouble replying to this email(technically) ... actually my husband (68) is the one who has just had cervical surgery (June 7, 2011) and his situation seems somewhat like yours as he is very active.  Now, two days after surgery and fusion C 5-6 and C 6-7 the pain down his arm (it did not go too far down his arm) and the pain going into his head are both gone BUT the pain IN HIS MUSCLES across his back, especially in that knob on the back of his neck is excruciating, and getting worse every day.  I am wondering if all this pain in his muscles could be torn muscles.  He has been doing the Leg Press at 200#, carrying heavy 6' logs out of the woods across his shoulders, rolling huge boulders and putting them into place and tossing logs in to a pick up truck (I was not aware that he was doing half of this!!!)  In the winter we move down to the basement and heat with a wood stove, so he mostly sat in his recliner (hunched over) and worked crossword puzzles all day.  This is when the pain started to get worse.  Finally, the beg of June he decided to take the risk of the surgery.   He is taking pain meds but because he has been constipated since before the surgery and still(about 10 days now), he is using suppositories (and everything else!) to no avail.  The pain meds do not even seem to help.  Also prostate problems and so is NOT drinking that much water, I think, and so is not peeing that much.  I take him to the urologist for them to do a scan of his bladder but of course, it is not that full, because he is afraid to drink.  I am wondering if this muscle pain is torn muscles but the nurse at the neurosurgeon keeps saying that you will have to wait at least two weeks to go to a physical medicine (sports doctor).  I think, under all of this, is a physical injury TO HIS MUSCLES.  They are telling us that his muscle pain is from the surgery (ONLY?) because they do have to move a lot around in there and also, you are moved around a lot on the operating table.   I don't know what the next step for him should be, except to wait a few more weeks and see if there is ANY improvement, at all.   It just seems to be getting worse and worse.  He has started trying a heating pad (for just 20 minutes at a time) today.
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Hi Maureen,  first what your going to go through I wont lie will be painful, but the medication that they will give you will be of tremondous help.  My daughter had a spinal fusion at just 13 years old, she had 2 titanium rods and 24 pins attached to her spine.  She spent nearly 2 weeks in hospital and the following 3 weeks at home recovering.  Unlike your condition she had curvature of the spine (scoliosis)  pins and rods were fused against her spine to correct the curve.. The operation was a harrowing experience for her and us alike but we watched her be a brave little girl.  The first couple days were the worse for her but the pain management team frequently monitor the pain.. they will provide you with the appropriate drugs to take, possible morphine which is usually administered through a pump that you can take your self then  gradually within days you should begin to feel a little better and eventually the pain will subside.  You will probably be given medication to take home and continue too.  My daughter was told that once she was up and moving around it would help to improve the healing process, muscles in your back etc will be sore also.  We used creams to rub in, maybe doctors may recomend these also for the muscular tension that may exist after such probing around with your back.. Please try not to stress, though its major surgery the recovery process will be helped along with some positive thinking and rest and the right movements that the doctors give  great pain medications.   I wish you all the best, let me know how you get along once your all better:-)
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