I had this op on March 22nd 2011. Previous surgery - fusion of 3 levels in lower spine 1989, back to work for 5 yrs but every day was a struggle. Whoops, one level never fused, so back to have this fixed in 1995. Road accident one yr later, 1996 - wedge fracture immediately above op site. Treated conservatively is the phrase! Told nothing could be done further surgically. Two more minor road accidents, shunted from behind while stationary. Injections in facet joints helped for 4 to 6 wks at a time but I could only have them every 4 months as small amount of steroid in with anaesthetic. All sorts of meds offered and tried before op, including fentanyl and oramorph, all appeared to make no difference. Couldn't understand. My body was leaning forward and spine felt like it was twisting to the right. Belly button was 2 inches to the right! Could barely walk or sleep so smiling became hard. Had become that miserable old git! All my thoughts were negative.
Well here I am, five months post op and still mending. My spine is amazingly straight. I'm sleeping well. On less meds than prior to surgery - paracetamol, diclofenac and dihydrocodeine. Was told by surgeons that I will always have some pain because of my history. I am now fused from bottom of spine to T12 with titanium rods either side. All earlier metalwork was removed. Feel so blessed to have been offered this surgery and given this chance. There are many dangers and possible complications. My heart stopped mid way through op but was started again. I have had none of the other possible complications. Apart from my skeleton, I was in excellent health pre op with good bone density.
I still can't walk very far unfortunately. An ingrowing toe nail in my left foot and a dropped arch causing problems in my right foot! Minor stuff compared with what I've been through and the local podiatry dept. are positive they can sort both out. I feel so impatient. Arghhhh! Friends have given me a mobility scooter so I can have short outings alone.
In the last 12 months I have put on 4 stone in weight, about 1lb a week!! Nothing is working. I ate raw food for a month, veg, salad and fruit and put on 2lbs! Waiting for the nod from the surgeon that I can swim again. Not allowed to do anything which might stretch spine until fusion is certain.
Lucky to have been born at this period in time and in Britain, where health care is provided for all of us, irrespective of one's wealth.
I am a mum of 4 adult kids and grandma to 5, nearly 6.
My hopes are to swim in the sea again, have positive thoughts, smile, laugh and enjoy my family and friends.
Waking up is still the hardest part of the day!

I was able to drive after 3 months once I was out of the jacket. Can also do minor chores around the house but no bending, lifting or twisting as yet. Full recovery will take 9 - 12 months so I'm nearly half way there.......

I was told that this is one of the most dangerous operations ever undertaken by an orthopaedic surgeon.

We all want to be free of pain or have less pain. No guarantees were given to me; in fact the opposite was emphasised at every pre op appt - death, paralysis, increased pain etc.

I'm still hoping I am one of the lucky ones.

Would be happy to hear from anyone.