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annmarie824aannmarie824 Posts: 57
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone,
I am sooo glad I found this forum! I am having a lumbar laminectomy and L5/S1 spinal fusion on the 17th of February. This past October I had rotator cuff surgery. (was hit by a drunk driver last March!) Anyways, my question is what kind of bed would be better to sleep on when I get home? My bed is super hard and sorta high up so I was thinking about the sofa bed in the family room. I dont know if I need to get some sort of foam topper for it. I am so stressed about this. I was a rec director who loved playing golf before all this happened. I dont tolerate pain meds very well. (super nausea). But dragging my left leg around and not being able to walk or stand for very long makes the surgery my "golden ticket" I hope to return to some sort of "normal". Any info on this would be appreciated! Thanks!!


  • :H
    Hi AnnMarie!
    I would highly recommend getting some type of pillow top topper for your bed after surgery. I was fortunate enough to already have a pillow top bed and it is a blessing! Also make sure you have LOTS of pillows around you to help get comfortable. I thought my bed would be too high as well when I got home but it actually worked to my advantage because I could sit right down and my husband could just help get my legs up as I turned. I would also recommend making some type of sheet under your bottom to help maneuver your bottom around, your not going to be able to do it alone. (I actually grabbed one from the hospital 8} I know I know bad girl but I knew it would be super helpful) Hope everything goes well for you I will have you in my thoughts!
    >:D< -Michelle
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,837

    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

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    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message
    The type of bedding that would be best for you is something only you will know for sure. There are some basics, but each person will react differently.
    To me, there are two items that your bedding should be able to do:
    1- Offer a hard/soft feature via some type of air bladder
    2- Reclining position (now that is expensive, but you can get a foam wedge that would basically do the same thing)

    Please take a look at some additional details that this
    Spine-Health site provides:

    Articles on Sleep, bedding, pillows, etc
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks for the quick reply. I will look at this site for "bedding" suggestions. Can I ask you another question? On my instructions from the doc and things I have read, they say "no bending". Well then, how do you sit without bending?? I go Feb 6th to my surgeon to ask any questions but sometimes they try to make it "not so bad". Its nice to hear from someone who has experienced it!
  • Hi AnnMarie,

    I had the same procedure PLIF (L5-S1)in December and having a higher bed was helpful. I also worried about my bed prior to surgery, but after getting home I was able to adjust with some pillows, etc. Sometimes I wonder if my bed isn't too cushy.

    As for getting back to "normalcy", I can't say when that will happen. Just be prepared for a long recovery period. I was not. I thought I'd have the surgery and within a month or two I would be semi normal. Not so. The fusion process takes more time than I was ever told, but being on this forum has provided me with so many answers and support.

    As for bending, I squat instead and I use the grabber to get things for me. Unfortunately, I had knee surgery three years ago and my knees get very stiff and painful. I also had shoulder surgery (torn labrum and rotator cuff) two years ago. The PLIF surgery was by far the most difficult and it is very humbling. I am anxious to be able to use my elliptical and do some physical therapy. My NS has not released me for either yet. Hopefully by the 3 month mark he will give me the go ahead.

    Good luck with your surgery prep and planning. Don't hesitate to PM me if you have questions.

  • :H
    As far as no bending and how to sit without bending, I squat, bend at the knee and not the waist. It is a tough recovery, I am 8 1/2 weeks post op and feeling good, I try and walk about 2 miles 3 x a week, but I am definatly not ready for work yet. Recovery is different for everyone, I agree, I thought I would have surgery and be perfect a month later so I am just trying to maintain a positive attitude. Its hard being 24, laying around in bed all day, especially when I am a very active person. But the best of luck to you and any questions you have this is the most amazing website!
    Take Care-Michelle
  • reccmd: Bed: either a temp-sensitive topper or go for the Gold Standard & buy a TempurPedic mattress, as you'll be spending a lot of time trying to sleep.. also PILLOWS, as in LOTS of them, for under your knees, behind your back, & to bolster yourself as your try to find a comfy position (best one I found: lie on left side, bottom leg straight, top leg bent at 90 degrees w/ a small pillow under the knee, then a small pillow in the small of your back (away from the incision) & then your right arm wrapped around a larger pillow for ballast...on a TempurPedic (or deep matress topper) you can actually get 3-4 hrs of sleep (more as you recover) I've found, as you don't have to move & can rest pretty well.
    As for bending: well, you can't. So as other suggested, carefully squat ( as your knees will allow) & have a walker or cane handy when you get home. Toilets are the worst--be sure you have a high one....'nuf said! :) You'll get so used to not bending that by the time you can do a bit (like I can now @ a year out) you acutally forget how!
    Re keeping meds down (I get sick from everything) You'll need good pain meds to help your thru this...try taking ZOFRAN (an anti-nausea drug) w/ your meds & b4, during & after sugery. Tell your doc about your sensitivity to meds...you DON'T want to get sick & you'll be so sore/harware hurts enough, etc. My NS RX'd Zofran for my fusion & when I took dilaudid (morphine dirivitive) afterwards & I had no problem keeping things down/in. Can't tolerate codeine or straight morphine.

    You can never be too prepared! I had my PLIF & lammy one level above yours....it's a very tender area...be prepared to do a lot of resting! And a nice cozy bed, lots of pillows & good pain meds will help in that dept. TIME helps the other areas, but ya just gotta wait for that one!

    Good luck! Keep us posted! You have some time yet to wait...that drove me nuts...ask your doc for some Valuim if you get the jitters thinking about all this...works well!

  • Hi, AnnMarie...I'm actually wondering about the mattress thing too. My bed is on the 2nd floor of our house...will I be able to climb the stairs (up and down) a couple times a day after my ALIF? And if so, my bed is pretty low...not sure if that's a good or bad thing! I have heard tons of people on this board recommend those Memory Foam mattress toppers...they're pricey but apparently worth it!

    Good luck to you!
  • Hi AnneMarie, take a look at the post-op must-haves list at the top of this surgery forum. It has a lot of good ideas on getting prepared. I would say a tall bed will be easier to get in and out of than a low one. Mine is medium height and I added a 3 inch memory foam topper. It really helped me get more comfy, rest longer. Yep no BLT. I had a brace which helps you remember the rules. Sitting was limited to 10 minutes per hour as it is very hard on the post-op spine. I used a satin baby blanket as a pull sheet to help turn over. It worked great. Check out that list and ask away, we are here to help. >:D< Cali-Sue

  • I bought a 4 inch memory foam topper for my bed and it has been a Godsend! It allows you to lay in several different positions without putting pressure on any sensitive areas. I actually ordered mine online at Overstock.com about a week after surgery because I was so uncomfortable in my bed and couldn't sleep more than a hour or two at a time. Once my daughter got it put on my bed, it felt SO good!
  • Thank you all! You have been a Godsend to me!! We are all "partners in pain". I sometimes wonder if I shouldnt just keep dragging my left leg around (foot feels like its broke!) and deal with the backache. My biggest fear is that I will go thru this nightmare and wont be any better. I am in Buffalo, NY and my doctor is really wonderful. They are so "matter of fact" in trying to convince me that I will be better off. Sometimes I wish they would have said "surgery tomorrow". All this thinking is driving me mad. Thank you thank you regarding the tip about the antinausea pill. I had my shoulder done in Oct. and that was a BIG problem. I do get sick from everything. Not to mention that constipation. Not something I want to discuss with the family. They have been really really good and patient with be but I feel sometimes they think "now what?" although thats probably in my head too. EEEESSSHHH! Who would have thought this would happen. Anyways, I WELCOME any and all tips to make it thru this journey.
  • I had a PLIF end of Nov. The way my doc explained the bending thing to me was to do everything I could to keep my spine straight. Imagine the entire lower spine is held in place by a long rod. Bend at the hips to sit. That's how you sit. Bending at the hips doesn't cause your lower spine to bend when you sit down. But that only pertains to sitting. Never bend at the waist. Don't bend over to pick anything up. If you have to pick something up, either use a handy "grabber" or you'll have to squat with your back absolutely straight. Don't do any bending that puts any pressure on the spine.

    Be sure to limit your sitting. I'm 10 weeks post op and still can't sit for more than 30 mins without getting up and stretching. For you 10 to 15 mins is enough. I use a small pillow as a lumbar support in my favorite chair.

    As far as "getting better," sounds like you are having some significant nerve issues with your legs. I did too. But be forwarned that recovery cannot be counted in days but in months. Nor can you compare one day to the next in recovery because you'll have your good days and bad days. But live month to month. I can do much more walking now - could do none before surgery. The pain is lessening. And slowly but surely, the nerves are healing. Let me stress again the operative word - slowly. It takes at least a full year for nerves to recover from this surgery.

    About your nausea. I have the same problem. It's common with narcotics. For the first few weeks when I was on the stonger doses I also took a pill to help with the nausea. Your doc can help you with that. Another note about narcotics, have plenty of stool softener on hand. Constipation is a common side effect.

    Finally, be prepared for the emotions. I was not. You may be the type of person who is so steady and single minded that you won't experience the ups and downs but if you do experience the emotional roller coaster that so many of us have, please rely on this forum for support. The people here are very, very special and understanding.

    You may PM me anytime you would like. Best of luck to you. Do please keep us all up-to-date and ask any questions you need to. You'll get tons of great suggestions here!
  • I also got one of those memory-form toppers. Problem was that it made my bed too high. So...I brought in my kitchen step stool (which has a back to hold on to) and use it to get in bed with.
  • If you get nauseated with narcotics make sure you have gravol suppositories for home and gloves and maybe glycerin and bisacodyl suppositories for constipation. As for a good bed I have a memory foam mattress which has been great for my back since I bought it a few months ago. I haven't had surgery but I have similar symptoms at L5-S1. I hope all goes well for your surgery and healing. We'll be here to support you. 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
  • Tall beds better so you can get out of bed easier. If your bed is not tall enought(doesn't sound like your problem), you can buy bed risers that go under each of your bed posts(I found them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for like $20 for four.)

    I like my memory foam bed topper. However, when you first get home, make sure you sleep on a large beach towel. First of all, your wounds may drain and you don't want to ruin the good topper or sheets. Also, if you are having trouble turning over, your spouse/s.o./friend/whatever, can pull on the edge of the beach towel and you will roll to your side or back or whatever you need.

    Good luck to you. This site is so full of information! Make sure you check out chat, particularily in the evenings as it gets quite lively!
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