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Lumbar TLIF Fusion - post 13 days Feeling great

kadarokkadaro Posts: 37
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,
Here is an update about my surgery...
on Nov 10 I had a 2 level TLIF, with inserts, wedges, rods and screws for my S1-L5-L4. In addition, he peformed a lamadectomy of the same.

It started off a bit scary but turned into a success....so far....If your looking for good feedback ....read on.

I spent 6 hours on the table instead of the expected 3-4 hours. Doctor said I had significant scar tissue, attached to the area and spinal cord which is from the previous microdiscectomy a few years back. He spent much time cleaning up the scar tissue and confirming all the nerves from the area where not impeded by anything. The nerve doc worked alongside him to test as they went.

He had found more than the MRI and Cat scans showed. Because of my PARS Defect at L5, the 3 levels at S1-L5-L4 were each doing their own 3 thing. Each one was twisting, or shifted in slightly different directions. Doc said I had to be walking in extreme pain and couldn't imaging I survived day to day on Advil and an occassional Vicodin; never mind walking.

As per norm, my eyes were taped shut during the procedure, and from the dryness, puffy ness from the anesthesia, and being suspended face/head down for the procedure....Something, (perhaps an eyelash) dried up inside the eyelid and scratched me slightly upon waking. I woke up with extreme sensitivity to light and had to have an eye doc visit my bedside for eye suave, antibiotic drops and artificial tears.
    Suggestion, ask your surgeon to put some eye suave into your eyes before your procedure.
      I woke up pretty comfortable in the back, but flailing around because of the eye thing. Dam hoses, tubes, and difficult to reach bed controls!!! I caught/broke 4 IV's during this episode....I made good use/timing of the morphine pump because I wanted to stay comfortable. The back pain was very different...but seems to be a good thing.12 hours later, I did a test run with the PT staff, standing and moving from the bed to a wheelchair =D> 24 hrs later I was freed from the catheter and drain. I was walking the halls, using the walls/rail for stability! My legs are now waking up with tons of sensory input of which they were starved for at least 2 years. One leg/foot has much numbness...but improving...the other thigh lights up like the 4th of July with fireworks of pins and needles like you never felt before. This sensory input is normal and sometimes pleasant or very uncomfortable. Doc prescribed Lyrica to control it some. Most of my previous pain seems to be gone....yes gone! Now I have surgical/wound pain and can feel some of the soreness around my hardware/screws. Vicodins every 4 hours are my friend to say the least...but I've tappered off progressively so far. The BED MATRESS QUALITY IS MOST IMPORTANT...INSIST ON A NEW/LIKE NEW MATRESS. (a heated air matress is very good as well) I've sampled 5 matress'es while in the hospital and rehab center. The bed was my enemy. Standing the sitting felt great. The surgical soreness, made it very uncomfortable to spend any time on my side or back...thus I could only cat nap so far. but my naps and nights are getting more comforable day by day. After a brutal 1 hour ride on a gurney (on my back) , in a medical transport, I arrived at the rehab facility on my 4th day. I strongly suggest you DON'T go home, humble yourself and get some rehab. It was the best investment I've made.This facility had (2) 1.5 hr sessions a day, where most provide only one. I was pumped up. Just don't sit in the wheelchair do exactly what your told, do a bit more each time and while your back at your room. I watched many of those who complained the PT was not working....they were the same ones who sat and did little. It is hard work...but I figured it was my full time job for the next 6 weeks. By Day 3 at the rehab, I was walking un-assisted laps around the place. I was working the stairs, and parallel bars in no time for strenthening and balance. The numbness is tingling away but bearable. Standing, sitting, and walking FEELS GREAT. Other patients and the facility staff are telling me I'm thier inspiration. Considering how far I've improved...I'm inspiring my own self. I landed home at day 10. I set up my outpatient rehab, and started my routines at home. I had one day where I set back...perhaps from pushing too hard. You do need to seek your level and listen to your body. I AM FEELING FANTASTICALLY GREAT I am so so glad I finally did this! Today I asked my wife to take me to the mall to do some walking, and go puppy shopping; I need a walking buddy! 8} I have to learn not to BLT (Bend Lift Twist) which takes a serious conscious effort, but I'm coming along. There doesn't seem to be too serious of a limitation and will get along great. Be Strong, Feel Great, Push On;Tom


  • That's fantastic.

    Were you able to find a puppy?

    Keep on keeping on!

  • Hey Tom, this is great to hear you are doing so well. Keep up the PT and all the exercises they gave you.
    Like you I went to Rehab and feel very fortunate that I did. I had 2 weeks there with 2 sessions a day though 1 was in the pool. There was no way I could ahve done stuff for myself at home on my own and I'm sure I would be a lot more behind in movement if the PT hadn't pushed me and advised me.

    So keep up the good work and healing
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Heading out for my first real world trip to shop rite in a few minutes....and will visit a pet adoption this morning.... woo hoo! I will be sporting a cane and my new 3/4 " in height!

    Thanks for the nice words of encouragement. Bring it on!

  • It sounds like you are doing really, really well! Keep up the good progress.
  • That's great to hear of your progress. I wish you a speedy recovery. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Congratulations, Tom! Sounds to me that you are doing great. Now as far as that puppy, your walking buddy, do you realize that you have to teach him to pick up his own poo? Remember, no BLT! But otherwise, it will be wonderful for you to have somebody accompany you on your many many walks.

    Keep on getting better,

  • Congratulations, Tom! Sounds to me that you are doing great. Now as far as that puppy, your walking buddy, do you realize that you have to teach him to pick up his own poo? Remember, no BLT! But otherwise, it will be wonderful for you to have somebody accompany you on your many many walks.

    Keep on getting better,

  • So this rehab place is all part of the hospital stay? I've never heard of going into rehab right after surgery, is this new?
  • It is not new.

    Most insurances allow you to transfer to an inpatient rehab facility imeadiately from your hospital stay. (do not go home....they may push you to outpatient rehab instead)

    The hospital case/social worker/manager and your dr can request medical transport to a rehab facility on your 3-4th day in the hospital. Most insurance pays for it...just ask your dr in advance, and talk to the social worker in the hospital.

    It is so worth it. Check facilities in your area...many only have sessions once a day; mine had 2 1.5 hr sessions (3 hours) a day!!. You will see many knee replacements, others with spine issues, and some other sad cases.

    Don't expect your spouse or friends to take care of you for the first week....go to the rehab and let them take care of you 24/7. You will need basic - occupational and Physical therapy...everything from putting your socks on to strenthening your back/stomach.

    You will be surprised how much this will really help.

  • Yes Kin, at rehab BLT was driven into my head.
    A Pooper scooper is another version of my grabber. LOL. :D

    I've thought of that issue as well...may delay the pup a little longer.

  • The thing is I was told no PT until 3 weeks after surgery, I even made the appointments already so I could have the times I wanted.
  • Puppy status:

    It was a beautiful chilly yesterday here in NJ, and just getting out was a great treat. For the first time ever...I was excited to go to the supermarket....just to walk. =D>

    Scariest part was the risk of being run over by the hustle and bustle of the store...I felt like the little green frog in frogger! :))(

    I went to a local animal adoption event next door and viewed the various pets wanting a home. There were only a few young dogs...most that looked like they would walk ME unless I hired the "dog whisperer" first. I'm still getting feelers for the breed of my new little buddy and this journey will take a few weeks.

    Today I walked through Sams club....Sams club compared to the supermarket was just like frogger with a few trucks thrown in to dodge....( I guess its like getting a new car...and all the crazy drivers keep coming at you)

    Walking feels great!

    Sparky...Time for a Second opinion? I don't know your specifics....but it sounds like your doc may be to conservative; which will only extend the time it will take for you to recover.

    Rehab at this stage is not like lifting free weights.
    It mostly includes some occupational (moving, putting socks on, steps, shower, toliet) training, and Physical...leg and arm strenthening/stimulation, to tighten up your abs and butt.

    I've seen people in rehab, far worse off than my self beginning thier rehabilitation days, not weeks, after surgery. Most doctors will try to put you on your feet and get you moving ASAP.
    I was standing and walking at post 12 hours, with PT help of course!

    Be careful planning your rehab appointments out to far...you don't know how you'll feel. I just scheduled 3 days for my first week home, just beginning tomorrow.
    I will be my 15th day from surgery.

  • My eye got scratched during surgery too! Tehy called in an eye doc and they also put some cream into my eye....bothered me a little bit but was better by day 2. Glad that you are feeling so much better!
  • Do you have a brace?
    I have noticed that a lot of patients who have braces are not allowed to do PT for a while where the ones who dont have braces seem to be encouraged to start PT earlier.

    Now, I was so grateful for starting PT on day 1 (just abdominal exercises) but I didn't have a brace.

    Each surgeon seem to be quite different, which is why we should all listen to our own Drs advice.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Hello Angel,

    No, I did not have a brace.
    However, I noticed those with 3 and 4 levels did. But they were in PT as well.
    Perhaps it depends on how they set up the method of fusion?

    My Doc said my hardware is not going anywhere, and he added eextra wedges in the vertibal space next to the inserts.

    I see doc on Wed morning, and hope to get a better understanding on everything.

    I do have one lit up nerve, which sees to come from my lower right screw, it feels like its pulling and causing the puffy, knubness in the bottom outside of my right foot.
    This is concerning me some and hope to get a good explaination.

  • Shay,
    It might have some relation to how long your under. Did they tape your eyelids?
    Because of the extra time, and anestesia, they said the eyes may have got dry, and swelled some.

    All it took was a eyelash caught under.
    Scary....isn't it...waking up and can't keep your eyes open because of the brightness/irritation.
  • kadaro said:

    Sparky...Time for a Second opinion? I don't know your specifics....but it sounds like your doc may be to conservative; which will only extend the time it will take for you to recover.

    Rehab at this stage is not like lifting free weights.
    It mostly includes some occupational (moving, putting socks on, steps, shower, toliet) training, and Physical...leg and arm strenthening/stimulation, to tighten up your abs and butt.

    I've seen people in rehab, far worse off than my self beginning thier rehabilitation days, not weeks, after surgery. Most doctors will try to put you on your feet and get you moving ASAP.
    I was standing and walking at post 12 hours, with PT help of course!

    Be careful planning your rehab appointments out to far...you don't know how you'll feel. I just scheduled 3 days for my first week home, just beginning tomorrow.
    I will be my 15th day from surgery.
    Had my Pre-OP appointment today with my surgeon and he still said no PT until 3 weeks after surgery. He also said they will have a Physical Therapist come in and help me move around and show me some things before I leave and he said he wants me to walk as much as I can. He said the reason for no official PT was that I will be in too much pain and he wants the surgery wounds to heal enough. He did mention that if my pain was too intense to go home from the hospital that he would maybe send me to a rehab place, but that was only if I wasn't able to get off the IV pain meds.
  • I am very touched by reading your story and I am so happy for you. I had the same surgery with all the hardware (L4-S1) and laminectomy. I wish I did as well as you, and I still hang on to hope things will get better. You are indeed an inspiration. Congratulations =D>
  • Hi Meydey,

    Thank you for your congrats. B)

    How long has it been for you? Are you PT'ing to get back on your feet? Any set backs? :?

    I still have this persistant pain at the base of my hardware...I think it is causing the puffy numbness in my right foot. I hope this will disapate with healing and PT.

    Little by little I'm starting to lay flat on my back again in bed. I been using a wedge to keep one or both legs up.

    How about you..any querks?


  • Walking is the best. But start out with a walker and/or cane.
    Ah...now you got a segway...If you insist on rehab while your in the hospital...it appears your doc is willing to approve it. It will be the best thing you do for yourself and family. Go for it.

    There will be pain, but different pain. I was on morphine for 2.5 days followed by 2 weeks of 750-1000MG of Vicodin every 4 hours. I was given Lyraca 2wice a day for to control the nerve activity. .....You will feel pleasant to unconfortable sensations in your legs and the Lyraca takes the edge off.
    At 2 weeks I've gone 5 hours with 750MG and its getting better with the excercise. I plan to be off the pain killer s by 4 weeks.

    My Doc said, don't be shy to use the drugs for 2 weeks.

    Take it very very slow, small steps, just rolling onto your side,and or back... It will get easier each day.

    I am learning my balance all over again and really trying not to BLT.

    You will need some assistance for everything. I was fortunate enough to get into a wheelchair and to/on the toliet on my own from day 3. I saved some dignity.
    Plan on showering with a friend during the 1st week, and sitting down. You look like a tall guy...your feet are a long long way down!

    Best of Luck...I'll be here cheering you on! =D>

  • >:D<

    I wandered into a few shelters last weekend. Had to circle back because I met a little guy that didn't seem to belong.
    He was full of love and engery, and was receptive to the family visit.

    A 2 year old shelty/dacshund mix....

    I rescued him on Tuesday. What a blast, he is very well house trained and is learning his way around his new home/family.

    He has been my walking buddy now for several days, and its great.

    A great end to a long path to wellness.

    Time to catch up on the Dog Whisperer episodes and web site!

  • MeyDey,

    When laying down for a while, I relized I have to move very slow with my legs, before I roll over. Otherwise I get a very deep hardware/bone rattling jolt :jawdrop: :''( at the base of my spine and across my back. It happens as I try to roll onto my side as well.
    Once I'm up It passes.

    Does this sound familiar? Will this improve when the fusion sets hold?
  • I bet you're running marathons by now :) I wish I had good news to share with you. My pain has gotten worse and I'm on Fentanyl, pain pills, muscle relaxers, Cymbalta, and motrin to get a handle on this. It's been six months since my surgery and it looks like it won't work out for me, and I might be having a stim or pump down the road. As far as the bone rattling feeling, I that and then some. When it gets cold, you will feel that hardware and many people experience increased pain. It's common to have flare ups during your recovery, but if it's bad you must let your doctor know. My fusion set okay, but for some reason the surgery didn't work out for me.
    Well, I look forward in seeing you do great with the recovery. Just be careful and you should be okay.
  • Hi Meydey,

    I know everyone is different....Heat or Ice.

    I noticed a pattern that either the heating pad and/or the moist heat at PT increases the chance that the "deep bone jolts" will occur.

    I'm sure the hardware gets toasty and radiates into the bone.

    I'm using the bone fusion stimulator 24/7....I'm not exactly sure when the fusion will set in. 4-6 weeks? Will fusion reduce the jolts?

    No marathons yet...rough day yesterday after PT.

    Soo soo sorry your going down a bad path.
    Are you exercising? I know its hard to keep motivated and bounce after PT...but it really does help to minimize all querks.

    As for excercise...When I was in the rehab center I noticed those who complained the most...were those who were not making any effort to try to do minimal PT.

    Is it possible more was needed and something more is going on with you? Did your doc clean up any scar tissue, free up and test all the nerves before closing up? What is his explaination?

    I'm doing my damdest (if thats a word) to break off the vicodins. I hitting 1 tab every 5-6 hours now which I think is great.
    I choose to have some wine last night instead of the meds...I was so dam achy this morning (more than the head). I'll just have to behave myself and stay on the meds.

  • what is a bone fusion stimulator - i havent heard my neurosurgeon speak of it... i meet with him on monday to have my last chat before my two level fusion on the 30th - should i bring this up - or do they just do it in the hospital???
  • Hi TCR, a bone fusion stimulator is a device that emits an electromagnetic field over the fusion site. It is suppose to help facilitate fusion. My surgeon gives them to all his fusion patients regardless, but many surgeons only give them to people at risk for failed fusion, such as smokers or redo fusions. Mine is only worn for 30 minutes a day, but for 9 months. Others are worn for 4 hours a day, 24 hours a day. Some are even implanted internally during the surgery. I will post a link to mine. Good luck with your upcoming surgery. >:D< Cali-Sue

  • Hi Tom

    I just had my TLIF L4L5 and dynamic stabilisation done on L3L4 on 16 Jan 09. It is been 5 days. This was my 2nd surgery. Mt first one was in 1999 for L4L5 herniated disc. The disc herniated again and thats why I had to go for this second one.

    Just wanted to find out how is the leg pain after surgery? My sciaitic pain on my left leg & buttocks before my surgery was 10. There was no pain in my right. I could not sit and had pain all the time.

    After the surgery the pain was a 3. But the pain is diffirent....more of a deep aching pain like you ran thousand of miles...no sure if you know what I am talking abt.....I am also doing Rehab and using a brace (doc orders) Just wanted to find out if this is normal to feel like this? I thought the pain would go away completely like it did in my first surgery.

  • Hello Red,
    Sorry for the late reply, I've been busy back at work and PT and have not been checking this board. Its been 3 months ppost op for me.

    I went the same route...blown disc , micro-D, and then the TLIF 3 years later.

    I must say my back pain, as it was, is gone. My pain in my left leg was replaced by an intense numbness in the upper left thigh and similar in the right. There was and still is some reoccuring numbness in my right outer toes. The thigh numbness did quiet down to barely noticeable at three months postop. The right toes still flare up.

    My buttocks were intense and burning aching prior to surgery probably because of my pars defect, and are very calm now. Its night and day.

    I have been going to PT 3x a week, but could not take advantage of the deep tissue massages because I have continued problems with laying down.

    If I lay down on my back or front everything settles down and a muscle in my left back tenses up....any slight movement will trigger a seriously bad muscle spasm accross the lower back. Its a hair trigger; talk about true tourqe!

    These spasms have lessened in frequency and intensitiy over time but I still have to be really...really cautious on how I roll over in bed, moving the legs ever so slowly and at a specifc flex angle of the knee and hip.

    The PT staff can easily feel the tense muscle and finally pulled out a massage chair for me...ah so wonderful...no more fear of laying down and freaking everyone in the place out trying to get up. They can really work the muscle now without fear of setting me off.

    Not meaning to scare you, but no one told me about these spasms and was really scared a screw was loose or worse, I wish I knew this was normal, even the doc played it down and gave me muscle relaxors which didn't help at all.

    I did manage to get feed back from another person that had a similar recovery and they said they experienced the same spasms and they decreased to nothing by 6 months.

    Good news is....I feel GREAT, each day I'm gaining more mobility and flexibility back. I don't bounce around like before, and am very cautious...especially with this icy winter we had. The surgical area is solid with no tenderness at all. Occassional toe numbness...no big deal and is mostly due to the healing process.

    As you may read, I've adopted a little dog and he is my motivation to get out and walk...I'm up to about 2 miles a day and feel up to more when it warms up.

    Be reassured, you will continue to feel better. Keep up the excercise and PT..why not apopt a pet while your at it! :)

  • Thanks for your reply. I am really not sure what is happening to my body..so need some feedback....I was on arcoxia (pain killers 1 x a day) and lyrica (2x a day)after my Op. After I meet my surgeon 2 weeks after, he reduced me to lyrica (1x a day)...and gave me only 2 weeks of arcoxia..and said I do not need to use my brace.....Since then, I have been swimming and walking. I have already have 2 small kids so I no need to adopt pets as they always accompnay me for my walks :) It is now 6 weeks after my op..What I am worried is the deep aching pain which is now only noticable in the evenings...especially in the outer thigh and the calf of left leg (I only had pain in the left leg before surgery) In the mornings I have slight tingling sensations and this slowly mounts up ...I hope is is due to me weaning of the painkiller and lyrica...cos I take it in the evenings before bed. I am lucky not to have the muscle spasms. Not sure if this is right for me to still feel this pain. Unlike my first surgery I totelly felt no pain at all in the legs after 2 weeks..so I am totally confused in these feelings..Pls advice
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