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having surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
hello im new here my name is Ethan. Just some background first. I was injured in Iraq back in October 07, messed my back up pretty bad, been living with the pain since then, tried it all PT, massages, injections, you name it finally im recieving surgery on October 14th, im more scared than when i was in iraq, i know sounds stupid but i cant help it. Im having a fusion of my l5 and s1, my questions are how much pain can i expect after the surgery, and typically how long is the recovery. Ive already been told that my career is over but im not one to just sit around. any input would be great thanks.



  • First, let me say thank you and that I am sorry to hear about your injury. As for your recovery you will probably heal faster than most people as I am sure you are in excellent shape. If they do with you what they did with me, I was up and walking the day after surgery. Of course I had the hard brace on (affectionately called the turtle shell). The more you walk the better off you are. Also make sure you do your breathing exercises!! As for your pain level; you are going to hurt. I would rather give birth than have lumbar surgery again! If you are at the point where you are willing to have surgery, then you are already in a great deal of pain. I wish you luck in your procedure. Please keep us informed of your progress. People here are great and the support is really nice to have.
  • Hi Ethan, welcome to SH. You have found a great site full of information and support. I had PLIF L4-5 about 7 weeks ago. I'll tell you what my surgeon told me. You will regret it for 2 weeks, then you will start to feel better and be glad you did it. Don't worry though the hospital has good drugs to keep you comfortable. Everyone's experience is different of course. You will find some who feel so much relief immediatly post-op and others like me who had a lot of new pain post-op, so took longer to feel the benefits. I was in the hospital for 5 nights, needed help at home for about a week after discharge, started driving at 3 weeks, light housekeeping at 4 weeks. I too have the clamshell (TLSO) brace, no bending, lifting, twisting (BLT) restrictions. I hope to get back to my job as a RN at about 12 weeks post-op, we'll see. Look at the sticky in this forum re. post-op must haves, it has a lot of ideas, but is very inclusive, and most of us just need a few of those things, but helps to think about the possibilities. Good-luck and keep us posted. Sue
  • First of all, thanks for your service to our country! =D> Secondly, sorry to hear about your back problems. You can get a whole lot of info from this site, and I sure am thankful that I found it, it really helped me, not only the infor but the wonderful people too.
    I am 2 wks post op of a laminectomy and PLIF of L5-S1 with hardware. Which put into laymans terms is they went in thru my back, took out a piece of the lamina to get to the damaged disc, then put in bone graft, using donor bone not my own, then a rod was put in place on either side of the vertabrae. My surgery was first thing in the morning, and I was up and walking later that evening. I was only in the hospital for two days, but keep in mind every dr is different as to what they feel is adequate time in hospital. The sciatic pain I had down both legs was gone after surgery. :) I did have some numbness down left leg into left foot but it was different and I know that the nerves also have to recover from being aggravated for so long.
    I was amazed at how good I felt at one week post op, but at a week and a half, I started having problems again. :S I've been dealing with increased pain, fighting a fever, and not being able to get comfy. But keep in mind, everyone is different! I wish you the best of luck with your journey down this path. :X
  • Thanks for all the support in here, I think i too am scared of the after affects more than the actual surgery
  • Cali-Sue said:
    I'll tell you what my surgeon told me. You will regret it for 2 weeks, then you will start to feel better and be glad you did it.
    Absolutely!! The first few days I thought, why the **** did I do this. I did lose my pre surgery back pain immedietely, but the surgery pain itself was pretty intense. I stopped pain meds at 3 weeks and am continueing to get better every week.

    Ethan, being in good shape will be helpful to you. I waited so long that it will be difficult to get back to a healthy weight and activity level. Hopefully I will be able to return to the same work I did but who knows.

    Thinking positive is also very important to your recovery. Have lots of things to keep you busy. Communicate with your family (significant other if appropriate) exactly what you need help with and what your restrictions will include. I am sure you will do great. Keep us posted.

    Best wishes,
  • Hello - I'm a candidate for L5/S1 fusion but currently able to control the pain with meds (well, for the most part!) I too am afraid of the post-op, just because spine surgery IS NO GUARANTEE. Everyone's experience and recovery time is different. Many are a success, some are not - but no two people go into the OR with the same situation either.

    So yes, there is always a risk. You need to educate yourself by reading up on what works and what can go wrong. But then you need to focus on YOU by asking your doc questions about what to expect post-op, what his/her expectations are, your specific situation.

    There is no getting around the fear factor, but knowledge will be your best ally. And having support from this community doesn't hurt either, its a pretty amazing group here! :)))
    Best of luck.

  • No advice on this one, I only had a MicroD not a fusion but wanted to say hi and I hope it all goes well for you. Keep posting your questions, I found amazing support here and the answers to loads of things I was worried about.

    Take care

  • welcome to spine health. sorry about your injury.
    plus a BIG THANK YOU for putting yourself in danger for us >:D< O:)

    each person is different. im on my recovery of my revision surgery of l5-s1 this time they added in l4.

    this time was easier as i knew what to expect.
    do not let the nerves get the best of ya. go in with a positive attitude.
    alot of people awake after recovery to find their orginal pain gone or at least some of it.
    they will keep your pain well controlled. the best invention is the patient controlled pain pump. instead of the nurses comeing in every 3-4 hrs to give you something in your IV. this keeps you at a comfortable level all day and night.
    you have already been through the worst part having your injury. so hopefully this will be a peice of cake.
    im not telling you there will not be pain involved. you will get bored, have 1 good day to 3 bad days and so on. OR you may bounce back quickly like some people have.

    please read the recovery post for aug/sept surgeries. that gives you a idea of what lies ahead.
    the hardest part of this surgery is the bone graft if your getting one. that site stays sore for a bit. and of course log rolling all the time when in a laying position.
    not sure if you will have a brace or not. i do not. and i like it much better that way. those just prevent you from twisting, bending etc.
    yes it hurts if you twist unexpected :O

    but read up on here as everyone is going to have a different story on how things are going for them and how their surgery went.

    any questions silly or not please ask away.

    take care
    terri >:D< O:)
  • My surgeon is against the back brace but im thinking that it would be best that i get one. My wife will be here to assist me as much as possible, one question is we are thinking about getting a recliner to hopfully make it easier on me to sit in there vs laying in bed, has anyone used a recliner instead and was it better than laying in bed? Again i appreciate all the assistance on here.
  • welcome and thank you for your service to our country.
    I used a recliner, but I had a cervical fusion...I was not able to lay flat for quite a while. but it may be different for lumbar surgery. hopefully someone will respond!
    I too was fearful about the recovery, being a very active person. The first few weeks were tough..but knowing "this too shall pass" helps! :)))
  • First, I want to sincerely thank you for your service to our Country. God Bless You!

    I found the recliner to be too difficult to get in and out of...I am more comfortable in a straight chair or in the bed on my side. Just my preferences I guess.
  • My doctor uses the "turtle shell", TSLO brace. However my PM doctor is against the use of braces due to the fact that your abdominal muscles are weakened since you arent using them as much. I am happy that I have it because it stops me from doing things I shouldnt and makes me feel more secure.

    My doctor wanted me laying flat (no more than 2 small pillows under my head and knees) or laying on my side so that there is the least amount of pressure put on the spine. He did not want me in the recline position for the first few weeks.

    That being said, I made sure my recliner (lift chair) was plugged in and I started using it after a few weeks. I couldn't imagine using a manual recliner though, most work by using your back to push and pull. Now at 5 weeks I switch back and forth between walking, the recliner, laying on the couch and bed. I would definetely run that by your doctor though.

    Take Care,

  • I bought a new recliner at 6 weeks post-op. It took some adjusting to get used to. I am sure I would not have been able to use it any earlier, as it is necessary to bend sideways to pull the handle to pop the feet up. Perhaps if someone was there to get you in and out of it. Check with your doctor cause I posted about this same issue a couple months ago and most said it wasn't a good idea and some doctors restrict recliners. Good-luck, Sue
  • Ranger, the best advise I can give you for after is to take it one day at a time. You will have ups and downs and they are really normal. One day you will sit for too long and the next you will regret it but you wont do it again :))(

    The other thing is to keep a positive attitude, keep imagining how much better your life it going to be after you have recovered. Hire some comic movies - not too funny as laughing hurts a bit and treat it like a holiday.

    I didn't have a brace as my Dr too is against it. He said he prefers his patients to learn to use the core muscles early on. Some Drs do some Dont but I was pleased I didn't have one.

    SO all the best and keep smiling. :D
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • recliners are not good for spinal fusions at all. as you want to either be straight up and down or flat.
    they are very difficult to get out of.
    yes there are a few here and there that have found it more comfortable , so ask your dr.
    i only slept this time on the couch for less then a week.
    then i headed upstairs. i kept the commode they offered at the hospital (through insruance) my meds, water, laptop etc. so if i awoke in the middle of the night i had that stuff nearby. then i would come downstairs during the day.
    stairs are tuff for some.
    they were my first surgery. not so much going up but i was afraid with meds to fall again.
    and hubby is out like a light so it does not matter if im up in bed with the t.v. or laptop on.

    im ok in a computer chair. regular chair still not so good.

    hang in there
    terri >:D< >:D<
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