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PLIF Fusion ???'s

lmestonllmeston Posts: 46
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello my fellow spine friends....frist off, O:) I would like to let you ALL know how happy I am to have run across this site. It has been a great comfort as I approach my PLIF surgery on 9/16/08. :''(
My question is....having the PLIF....does having one level done, verse two or three levels make the recovery easier? Also, I have been trying to do the "log roll" practice,in bed and can't seem to get that down am scared to death I will do something wrong and undo what they have fixed! So many rules and guidelines to follow....how did you do it! Do you have to lay flat in bed? I know you have to put a pillow under your knees, but what about your upper body? I have always slept with two pillows under my head. Should I get a toilet set lift? Should I get the other little items that make recovery a little easier....or is it a waste of time and money? So, many things, and from so many of the post I've read the hospital/doctors kind of leave us hanging. What do you think....ball park ideal....if everything goes as planned how long will it take for me to be able to cook, do laundry, run the sweeper etc....I am worring myself half to death over these stupid little details! My husband is so busy (work) I hate like heck for him to have to do much more when he gets home. My parents are going to come home and stay the first week and a half....will that be enough time? Will I be able to stay home alone by that time? I just am tying to get all of the lose ends pulled together as much as I can before this surgery.....oh, my! How much will I be able to do in two weeks time? I know no laundry etc....but, what will I be able to do at that point....anything? :?? I know we are all different, and I'm sure the surgeons don't know till they get in there what they really have to do....detailed stuff that is....and I'm sure that makes a difference in the recovery.....I'm nervous can you tell?
I have posted before under a different topic, so if it seems like you know me from some place else on here....your right. Again, you spine and fusion buddies are the best! Thank You, Thank You, lmeston


  • I went to rehab for two weeks after surgery because I live alone. Then I had home health aide for another month - helped me take a bath, changed sheets, laundry, would have done lunch. Basically, did anything I needed done so I didn't have to bend, lift or twist. After I was given permission to drive, that ended that, but if I really mess it up I can get them back.

    My daughter came every afternoon from June 9 until Sept 1 to tend to the cat pan, and most of the summer she brought my supper so I didn't have to try to stand up. I can do the cat pan now (we moved it up so I don't have to bend as much) and do my meals (when I cook(, but I have overdone.

    Without thinking I will pick up something - and my surgeon doesn't do braces - and here we go. Talked to my PT yesterday and we are going back close to square 1 with what I do in PT. I can use the treadmill and do table exercises ON MY Back, but we are going to hold off on the one on my stomach.

    As far as the house, I ran the vacuum two weeks ago. It is amazing what you can overlook. Dishes do OK with a rinse and being left for a few days. Use paper plates and plastic ware, TV dinners and sandwiches.

    But to say again USE ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET. and get the grabbers - they save my life.
  • malaw, what did you have done on your spine, and when?
    Sounds like you have a very loving daughter, thats wonderful! Yeah, I will take all of the help I can get for sure. Do you know where you can purchase the grabber thingy? I have no ideal where to go an get things like that??? My mind is still not wanting to grasp the ideal of needing so much help....losing that independance....ghee! I've read too much about lumbar surgey and it keeps telling me the same things, but my head still is having trouble grabbing around it. I will soon find out and I will have first hand account of how difficult it's going to be.....
    Thanks again for the tips....means a lot.
    Keep the good work up and I hope your recovery starts on the uphill side real soon, lmeston
  • Don't buy anything just yet. My insurance paid for everythinh and it was all given to me at the hospital-walker,toliet seat raiser AND 3 in 1 chair,grabber....... . The only thing I bought was a removable shower head. I am 4 weeks post op and already I feel SOOO much better than before surgery!! Good luck
  • My husband had PLIF surgery 10-30-2008.
    It is a hard surgery without any doubt. That being said,
    You are worrying before you know exactally what you need to be worrying about. Each person is different and recovers at a different rate. Example, The log-roll. You will learn this in the hospital. Once you have had the surgery, you will be helped by you nurse or Dr. It will seem pretty logical then. Next, some people do need a potty chair lift. My husband did well with just some help from me for a couple of weeks. For my husband, the hardest thing was putting on shoes and socks. If I had bought any one thing prior to surgery, it would have been walking shoes that required little of no effort putting on. For three months I put of his tie up walking shoes. He hated it.
    At this point, I worry about him, because he still has nagging pain all the time. The neurological symptioms are gone, but the pain still persists. It is affecting nearly every part of our life. I am begening to wonder if it will ever improve.

    Hopefully yours will go very well. In the mean time quit worrying so much.
  • I understand how scared you are. I went through alot of stress my self. The PLIF is a difficult surgery because they cut the muscle/ligaments in your back to gain access.

    This has been the hardest part of my recovery so far.
    I can reasonably pick up the kitchen and load the dishwasher about 10 minutes at a time. I can load and unload the washer/dryer with my grabber. I have taken a shower myself. I have vaccumed/swept but all of this is done in 10 minute incriments with pain meds.

    I keep a rolling office chair handy so I can access things in my fridge and pantry at lower levels when my family is not around to help.

    All of my pre-op pain is gone- but sadly replaced by the recovery pain. It has gotten a lot better, but I have found that those handycap electric shopping carts are great to use. I was embarassed by them at first but when you are crying in the market because you have 200 more yards to your car it is an easy exchange.

    You will probably be sent home with everything- but my NS gave us prescriptions for the shower chair (I never got mine-maybe I should have :? ). My doc released me to drive at two weeks- I only make short trips around town.

    The first 2 weeks were a blur and I slept most of the time. My meds were pretty strong. I watch a lot of movies in bed (no cable in the bedroom). I now spend a great deal of time in my hubby's recliner with stiff pillows (our couch's are too soft).

    Keep a positive attitude and keep your pain meds on schedule and you should be fine. Don't be afraid to ask for help and always say "Thank you".

    Good luck,

  • I posted a response under Aug Sept surgeries for ya..

    HANG IN THERE!!!! >:D< >:D<
  • lmeston,

    You already got some good advise, so I just add a few things. Having multiple level fusion vs. one-level does not necessarily make it harder. I had a three-level (L3-S1) lumbar fusion, and reading the other post, I discovered that I had it very easy. There are a lot of factors involved, for example you tolerance for pain and pain meds, and most importantly the skills of your surgeon. Mine used the posterior approach too, with a 5 1/2'' incision, and I did not suffer any incision related pain. So just because you have a multi-level fusion don't expect it to be worse. As far as the "log-roll", there was a thread posted on the old forum. Also, if you type in"log-roll" under the search line, you will find some info, some even have the illustration. Rather than buying all the gadgets prior to surgery, take a note book with you to the hospital, and write a list as you discover that you really need something. One thing you will most likely need is a grabber or two, and maybe a memory foam mattress top for your bed. For more info look up the sticky "post-surgery needs".

    Good luck with your surgery,

  • Imeston, you are worrying needlessly. I know you can't help it, I was just the same. The nurses will show you how to log roll. My nurse came in every couple hours and helped me turn over, tucked pillows behind me, and between my knees, etc. The first many times you get up, it will be with the help of your nurse who will supervise your log-rolling. I was allowed to elevate the head of the bed at the hospital for meals, and otherwise kept it up just slightly. At home I was using 3 pillows. I wouldn't buy too much as far as equipment since most likely the hospital will order it for you and give it to you there prior to d/c. I did buy a grabber at home depot that is longer than the one hosp. provided. I use both, each one seems better for different things, and if I drop one, I have the other to pick it up. I was in the hospital for 5 nights and help at home for 1 week after d/c.
    I could wipe up the kitchen, ccoked a little, did a little laundry using grabber around 2 weeks. At 3 weeks I started to drive short trips timed around meds so as not to be too loopy. At 4 weeks I am vacuuming and doing more housekeeping, just no BLT.
    Remember, everyone is different, and no one's recovery is exactly the same as the next guy. I know it helps to hear others experiences, and I am grateful to SH for that. Good luck, and try not to worry too much. Take care, your friend, Sue
  • Good advice....I am one of these plan ahead kind of people....want everything done ahead as much as possiable, so this is bugging the heck out of me....no control! This goes to show how goofy I am....I wrapped Christmas gifts last night! I thought that would be a hard thing to do, as I always have so many, so I would be ahead of the game this way....see I'm goofy! :P
    I did get the grabber, thanks for the advice on that. I will wait and see what they think I will need at the hospital.....and go from there. I'm sure I will lose that control issue the first few weeks after surgery, anyway.....won't care....focus only on healing. Maybe this will be a good lesson for me, that I don't always have to be the one in control....and the world did not come to an end because I was unable to take care of what ever.
    Tomorrow go to be fitted for my back brace, have a back surgery class?? then the lab work up stuff. The 16th will be here in no time, oh my!!!
    Again, thanks for the advice it has been a great comfort for me....best wishes to you, lmeston
  • You are sooo funny! Christmas presents? I haven't even thought about Christmas yet. I think it is awesome that you get a back surgery class. I am sure they'll answer a lot of your questions and alay your fears. I got my back brace at hanger orthotics. It was kinda hillarious because my orthotic tech made me a "mermaid dress" out of tubular stockinette that he cut arm holes in. I had to put it on over my underclothes and stand there getting measured in 20 different directions and then he asked my BRA size. My recommendation, woops too late, I was gonna say wear stretchy form fitted clothing. I think my choice of attire necessitated the "Mermaid" dress. Now for the past five weeks I am the proud owner of a TLSO brace (ZENA WARRIOR PRINCESS COSTUME), and it is quite busty, and I even told him my correct bra-size. The girls at my work want to decorate it and draw a bikini top on it, NO THANKS! Yep it will be here in no time, try to keep busy, yet calm, and think positive thoughts, >:D< >:D< Your Friend, Sue
  • Yeah, I'm pretty much yor typical type A person....but over the years have settled down a bunch! Spine issues will do that to ya....as you well know.
    Oh, the back class was very helpful....kind of freaked me out a bit, but then saw a woman who had had back surgery the day before out in the hallway with her walker, cath bag and a smile on her face....that helped the neveres settle back down. They covered EVERTHING! I am scrambling a bit to get the last few items needed...that I didn't know I'd need, but my type A personality will kick in and I will have them with time to spare. I have to admitt though, that I was shocked at everything post-op is going to bring....ghee, coming home is going to require a U-Haul!!
    Oh, I got my oh, so lovely brace yesterday. Mine is the corset style....yep, that's what it feels like too. Ghee, it pushes my boobs out like two sore thumbs!! I think I will be able to pick up rador signals HA!HA! :))( No, it's better than I though it was going to be, and am so happy about that.
    I must admitt I am doing better.....have made my mind up that this is coming and I can handle it....life will move on as well as me. It's one day at a time.
    Again, Sue thanks for talking with me....your funny too :))( and that has just made my day....bless you :X
    Gone for a couple of day....my dad is having minor eye surgery and he lives 1 1/2 hours away so I'm his driver....busy week...time will go by quickly....hope you have a good day, and very much look forward to talking with you again....oh, and don't have too much fun in your Zena Princess Warrior outfit.... :))( Libby (lmeston)
  • Libby - so glad you were able to get more info and go to that class!

    I am such a type A as well, I had not hubby to help out (he is in Iraq) and I HATE asking for help from anyone else.

    I don't remember reading, how many levels are you having done? Is your dr. giving you a choice? My NS told me he could do one level now and then he would do the next one in a year. I told him no way! He would get one shot at me and I was not coming back in just a year for a repeat!

    To get ready I stocked my freezer with smoothy-making supplies, bought and froze some Slimfast-type chocolate drinks (yummy and easy and the tummy). I had my countertops covered with everything I thought I would need to reach. I did not get EVERYTHING on the Post-op Must Haves list, just highlighted what I thought I would need and got those things.

    I did relent and have a home nurse come in a few times, along with a PT person too - they would have done my shopping if I had needed it.

    I did get a shower chair and a commode riser, but really wish I hadn't. I only did it at the nurses insistance, but better safe than sorry I guess. I never did find a grabber and just squatted carefully down while holding onto something firm - night stand or such.

    I am almost at 2 months out - yeah! And I feel like I've done really well. I'm off meds - my biggest fear was being addicted and/or being in so much pain that I HAD to have the meds. It was tough at times, but I love not needing them now. I almost think I could do it again with not much trouble - NOT that I'm asking for it! Knock on wood!

    I am driving (dr. would not be happy about that, but I have to drive DD to school daily). I avoid vacuuming, sweeping and mopping. I did it at 4 weeks out and I kind of paid for it later in pain and days of aches. I don't sit more than I absolutely have to, sometimes it's less than 10 minutes that I last. I am not cleared for any PT. I don't think I can handle it yet, but I am agonizing over thinking of all my muscles wasting away. Slow but surely and we can do it.

    Best of luck come the 16th - I'll be thinking of you.

    p.s. I LOVED having my laptop in the hospital - they had wireless and because of my complications and second surgery I was there for 9 days - I would have gone crazy without some outside world connection. The nurse recommended I find some distraction to help with pain control - I don't do meds well and the computer was a great distraction.

  • Hi Saltzworks, so glad for you info and only hope I do as well as you have....once they got you going in the right direction that is.
    Oh, you must really miss your hubby....Iraq, wow! I give you lots of credit for taking on that big surgey....alone! We type A people will just about tackle anything by ourselves though....sometimes I wonder if thats a good or bad thing?? :?
    Well, my surgeon will only do one level L4-5....at this time anyway.
    My L5-S1 is really bad too, but he will not touch at this point?? The levels above the L4-5 is not great but not as bad as the L5-S1, so that will probably be in my future at some point and time...maybe not....can always hope for the best, right?
    I have not purchased very many things at this time. Thought I'd wait and see how well I do at the hospital. My hubby can run and get what I need if anything. No use in getting more STUFF to have in the way.
    I have just two more regular sleeping nights left, and that worries me more than anything for some reason? I am not a back sleeper...always sleep on my sides curled up, and know that is a major NO, NO! I may have to sleep with that stupid brace on....just to ease my mind.
    I do have food frozen in the freezer... the house deep cleaned, some help lined up for a week or so, and as ready as I can be for this surgery. It's the unknowing that drives us CRAZY!!! Type A's don't do well with the unknown either....this is going to be a real test for me. Bet I won't care that much for the frist few weeks....will I? Life always has a new lesson for us, and I will learn a lot about myself in the next several months I'm sure.....
    Thanks, again for taking the time to reply to this concern of mine....it means so much, really. ;)
    Also, thanks for keeping me in your thoughts on the 16th. All of the positive energy will really be a great help...no doubt about it. >:D< Thank You, Thank You, Libby
  • Have to pop in and wish you one last good luck and cyberhug before the big day tomorrow -

    I have to say that I do remember how awful the surgery was, but now I am this far out - well, it's not so bad and I think I've forgotten all the worst stuff. Life has been so much better post op, for me anyway.

    May your surgery go well and may you soon find that it's been almost 2 months post op and you're doing fabulous too!
  • Libby, good luck tomorrow with your fusion surgery. You are well prepared and I am sure will be an excellent patient who follows doctors orders to a T! I won't say it was easy, but it certainly wasn't as bad as I thought it might be and each week gets better. There are ups and downs, two steps forward, one step back type healing. It is definitely a long commitment to getting well. But we can do it, right?!!! Think good thoughts and before you know it you will be on the other side with the rest of us. You are in my thoughts and prayers, >:D< Sue
  • Libby, I was just wanting to wish you all the best before your surgery.
    Time to let go and allow others to look after you and make decisions for you. I know it is hard but as you said it may be part of your learning.

    Anyway good luck and enjoy being pampered >:D<
    Blessings Sara
  • Thanks again for the support. Bless you each and everyone.
    Can't sleep (|: , but guess I'll be doing that a little later,lol :))(
    Here's to seeing you on the other side.....Libby
  • Bless you its today!

    Post up as soon as you can. >:D<
  • :D Hi, all of my stead fast spine buddies.....I am alive and doing oh, so well! All of my fears were such a waste of energy.....but as we talked before, I'd rather be prepare for the worst and have a great out come. Well, my out come could not be any better. I feel so good! Of course the drugs make me a little zoned, but if I don't take, I get that nerve pain down my leg and hips. That, plus the BM issue has been my only problems. I did not have to come home with a walker or cane. Have been able to get in and out of beds, chairs and cars with no problems. I am doing laundry with my little grabber thingy....NO BENDING or TWISTING. My stairs, I go up and down many times a day. Went for a nice walk today......all of your many prayers and well wishes worked! >:D< Thank you so much. I go for my 10 day visit on the 30th and I know they will be so very pleased also. My surgeon is one of the best and feel so very blessed to have found him.
    Just because I am doing and feeling so well does not mean I am done with you great spiny friends.....I will talk to you any time and do my best to lift your spirts as you all have done for me. Any 9/16/08 patients....I would love to know how your doing...recovery wise. Remember, everyone is different and our issues are not all the same either....be patient.....I was a lucky one for sure.
    Love to all out there :X Libby
  • Libby,

    I am very glad everything went well and now you are on the road to recovery. Just follow your dr's orders, rest, relax, and start walking when you can. And of course, keep us informed how you are doing.

    Take care,

  • Libby, so glad to hear that you are on the other side with the rest of us and doing well. Now you take it easy and rest up along with the oh so important walking. Don't overdo yourself cause you will pay later, I know from experience ;) Take care and keep us posted, Sue
  • Glad your doing so well =D>
    I might of posted under recovery for you not sure 8} 8}

    I am not at the point you are yet. I was the day after. But of course being a revision and all I had a bit more done plus a extra level.

    I stil pretty much am in bed. Once in awhile I will wipe off the counter. Or try to sit at the comp chair downstairs for a few.

    I have not been in the car yet since I have been home.
    Only one walk next door that took forever with horrid pain, but of course we do not know what that pain is caused from yet.

    So I am pretty drugged up all day, computer browsing, icing you get the picture..

    So yes your right we are all different. Just wanted to post for ya since ya asked nicely :D

    Keep up the good work and don't over do it!!! >:D< :* >:D< :*
  • Hi Libby,
    glad to hear you are on the road to recovery! :X I know you've heard it before but I will repeat it: take it one day at a time, and do as the doc says, and as I tell you that, I am reminding myself also ;) There will be good days and bad days, but each one is a step closer to being better.
  • Well done and keep it up. I hope I have as good a recovery as you seem to be having.

    Keep walking
    Smiles x
  • Thanks for all of the well wishes.....I must tell you though I feel kind of guilty feeling so well when some of you are still feeling so rotten :''( . Oh, I will pray even harder for your recovery and at least some pain relief. I know pain is a good thing though....keeps us in line....I am even going to go out to supper tonight! I can't wait to get out into the real world for just a little while that is. Our weather has been so great and it makes me want to go play in the dirt.....NO, WAY! I feel so very blessed at this point.....I will not blow it! I can't wait to see the PA on the 30th I know she will be amazed at my progress. I am ready and willing to pass this good progress on to you my dear friends......also, thanks for keeping me in my place too, it would be just about like me to do something stupid.....feeling as well as I do.
    Oh, the BM thing.....any good advice? I don't know if I can handle the mag citrate and that's my next option!! :& 12 days no go....not good!
    Bless you all, Libby
  • Libby, 12 days is not good! Have you tried dulcolax suppository or a fleets enema? Those are usually for fast results. For maintainance I took colace 200mg at bedtime and Miralax in juice. I also did the raisin bran for breakfast with a glass of plumsmart juice(recommended by a fellow Spiney). Also prunes or dried apricots are good too. I am so glad you are feeling well otherwise. You take it easy though. >:D< Sue
  • Well, I must admit my blue eyes are turning brown.....I am not feeling very well at all today....sick to my stomach! I will head to Walmart later for more STUFF, and hope it will work! I may have to call my husband home early from work to take me.....feeling that bad!
    Thanks for the advice. I have been taking Miralax daily but, not working! Why, does this have to be such a pain in the B---? I feel so good other wise.
    Again, thank for the good advice.....something has to be done today....I feel that bad! :&
  • Hi Libby,
    Darn it I hate the fact that you are having to deal with this issue. I was quite concerned about this too, but I was fortunate to have a BM on about day 4 or 5 after surgery. I do know they gave me a stool softner pill in the hospital, and I had picked some up to have at home, and did take some, but I had also got to the point of eating some prunes to help things along. I'm sending positive thoughts your way. >:D<
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