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WooHoo!! 4 days post op and doin great

MagsMMags Posts: 57
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey everyone. I don't think I would be doing this well today if I had not read so much on this site before my surgery. Thursday (1-29-09) I had PLIF at L4/L5. The first couple of days were so incredibly tough. I was having horrible spasms in my upper and lower back and at first no one would listen to me. Finally when they gave me something for the spasms I would fall asleep and would not have changed positions for a few hours and would have even worse spasms when I woke up. It was frustratring when someone would demand that I do something myself because that was the only way I would get better. I couldn't get them to understand that I wasn't whining or didn't feel like doing it....the muscle spasms were literally stopping me in my tracks. Finally my night nurse figured it out and was absolutely AWESOME working with me. There was no comfortable position sitting or lying so when my meds kicked in I would just move as much as I could. It definitely made PT easier. They sent me home Sunday. Oh, it's so good to be home! Today has been a great day. Took my meds and found a chair that works ok. Have been walking all over the house and went with hubby for a very short trip to the grocery store. All in all, the only pain I have is localized in my low back (L4/L5). I do still have muscle spasms, but nothing is radiating down either leg. All that leg pain is gone. Hubby said dr came out of OR with a big smile on his face. He was very pleased with his work. 3.5 hr surgery only took him 2.5 hrs. He didn't find any major surprises when he got in there. The arthritis on the facets was major and the disc was bulging way more than he thought. He did say the disc wasn't just leaking....it was more like a slow pour. Sorry I'm rambling, but I just am so grateful that I now have a chance to be pain free. I'm looking forward to working hard for that gift. Take care, all. Will keep you updated.


  • Congrats!! I am 12 days out L5-S1 ALIF, mostly good days with a few days of weird new pains/sensations that go away the next day, and have been able to ween down to 4 percocets a day. Going on 2-3 walks a day. No nerve pain since waking up (knock on wood!!)
  • I am 7 weeks PLIF with discectomy. I had 3 disc with tears only 2 removed. I am not feeling as well as you are. I have leg and back pain, but met with Dr and he said nothing looks bad. I guess thats all they look for at this time. My right knee has swollen the last 4 days so I called Dr and will see a ortho specialist here on Weds. I had appt scheduled already for carpal tunnel surgery 3 month surgery review. Anyway, I am so happy for both of you and hopefully I will get to that point soon. I had two years of unbealievable pain before surgery, so I know my nerves were severly damaged. So my boat must be a tug boat and you both got speedsters! :H
  • So glad you are feeling so good now!! Muscle spasms are the worst!!!

    Take care and keep us posted!

    Take care,

  • Thanks for all your comments. Congrats to you too Aimless and Iowarobin. It'll be nice to have others to turn to that are just a step ahead of me in this process. Aimless, I am looking forward to having med free days too. I really think it'll be possible for me. Iowarobin, do you think your radiating pain is possibly from nerves that are refiring or do you think it's from permanant nerve damage?

    Ok.....I haven't looked this up in the search engine yet so I thought I'd ask about the BM issue. I can't use laxatives at all so it has to be as natural as possible. I have increased my water, fruits and veggies and I take Juice Plus as well as stool softeners, but if anyone knows of a magic little "cocktail" I'm all ears! Also, my always entertaining Aunt Flo has come for her monthly visit...12 days early. Is it ok to put a heating pad on my back for those cramps or is that out of the question right after surgery? Thanks for listening.
  • I'm pleased you are feeling so well.

    Please be careful to not overdo it. I would also caution you about riding in a car so soon after your surgery. Even though you feel well enough to do it, you're really better off waiting awhile. Those lower discs take all the pressure of your everyday movements, and when you are sitting, you are putting about 40% more pressure on the discs than if you were standing. Also when riding in a car, with every movement of the car, braking, turning corners, stops and starts, all the muscles and ligaments that support your spine (the ones that have just been traumatized by surgery) have to work really hard to try to hold your spine upright and in alignment.

    You may not cause any damage by riding in a car, or driving too soon, but after all you've been through, why risk it?

    The biggest mistake patients make is in trying to do too much too soon. Please take it easy, do your walking, and REST. Give your body a chance to heal and recover!
  • She has great advice :)))

    Mags, try fish oil (omega 3) for the bowel issue, I take it twice a day and I have seen a few others here recommend it as well. I also take Peri-Colace twice a day and between those two, I've been able to go almost every day. Not sure about the heating pad, call your doc's office perhaps? My ice pack has been my best friend, also in an attempt to curb some of these meds.

    I'm definitely having my share of aches and pains, and weary days, trying to listen to my body as best I can. I get frustrated and depressed easily and must not let little setbacks get to me, I'm prone to that so I guess being conscious of it is part of the battle. And I am determined to be med-free at some point!
  • Mags, so great to hear your good report. I am almost 6 months out of L4-5 fusion myself. I too got the horrific spasms, took skelaxin, then soma with some relief. My doc said ice or heat on low was fine. Check with yours. For the BM issue I took colace, miralax, ate raisin bran, drank plum smart juice, and dulcolax suppository when things got really. Keep up the good work. There will be ups and downs and the occassional flare-up. Take care, >:D< Cali-Sue
  • heat will increase blood flow to an area, which speeds up healing, but if the area is inflamed, this has to be brought down first, or the extra blood will cause more swelling, which will add to pain.

    ice will bring down the swelling, as will some of your medication. if your swelling is down, go ahead with the heat pad, it will do good..but if you want alternate with heat and ice..which is prob the best for a few days before using just the heat.

    only advice, im no doc....so check on it and hope you get relief
  • Sounds like your are doing great! But I also caution, from personal experience, not to overdo. Listen to your body and remember that these early days are critical to good fusion. Walking is the best thing you can do. Not too much sitting, though. Shazza is right about the heat/ice. My doc wouldn't let me use either for the first weeks. But I certainly don't think a heating pad on your tummy would cause any problems.

    We all have the constipation issue. I don't typically like eating prunes but they are one of the best natural laxatives you can take, plus they are nutitious. I started with the soft ones in a jar and I'd cut up 4 or 5 and mix into my yogurt. Then I heard about a new Sunsweet product called "Ones." In a plastic tube looking package and they really taste good. Also do drink water. And if all else fails, suppositories will work as long as it's OK by you doc (can't imagine that it wouldn't be).

    Keep up the great recovery. Also to iowarobin and painless.
  • As long as i had nerve pain from torn discs for two years. I am sure that is what it is from. I hope it isnt permanent. But I just try to do as Dr says, and I dont drive unless I have too. You have to remember that every tine you lift your leg to brake and stuff it is using your back. Also sitting is not good. I lay as much as possible if I am not standing. As far as natural laxitives, fruit juice, fiber cereals, raisin bran, prunes or plums and frsh friuts of any kind. I try to stay away from breads and pastas as these things tend to weigh me down. Orange Juice, Simply Orange has high pulp. Good Luck and may we all have a good day. :H
  • Thanks so much for all your suggestions. I have absolutely no plans to overdo it since another surgery is NOT on my list of things to do in the future!! I did call my dr after reading some of the suggestions and concerns that many of you mentioned. He told me sitting was definitely ok to do. He said so many of his patients can only find a comfortable position sitting so that would be fine as long as it doesn't hurt. If something hurts don't do it. Also he said I can use heat on a low setting and alternate with ice. I feel like I have a good understanding of what I can and can't do and have been setting small goals.....some are little daily goals and other are a little bigger. Someone mentioned elsewhere that her hubby stated that healing is her job and that perspective has been invaluable. Thanks so much for all of you and this whole site. Without it I would be clueless and have no idea what kinds of questions to ask or what I'm supposed to do. Thank you thank you thank you!!! Hugs to all.
  • It's good to hear you're doing well, but remember to take it easy because recovery is a long process filled with ups and downs. So far it sounds like you're doing pretty good <:P . If you get hit with bad constipation and can't wait any longer to go, I recommend Fleet enemas. It works in less than 5 minutes :W . It is best to keep things going with laxative/stool softeners, fluids, and fibers. I love the Sunsweet Ones prune snacks. Snack on those throughout the day and you'll be doing fine :D

    Well, I had my 2 level TLIF about 9 months ago and unfortunately still deal with chronic back and nerve pain. I wish I did as well as you post op, but I will always stay hopeful something else will help. Just follow your doctor's recommendations and things will turn out fine. Take care :)
  • Glad to see your doing good! I also had my PLIF L2-L5 on 1/29/09, got discharged 1/31/09 and overall doing great. I can't lay down flat as then I can't get up but doing fairly well in a couch chair propped with lots of pillows.

    Are you having just incision pain as well? I take valium and flexril for muscle spasms (Valium works best but puts me to sleep for an hour, drowsyness), oxycodone for pain, hydrocodone for breakthrough, and on cephalexin.

    Sad part is I have better pain control at home then in the hospital. They had IM valium, IV morphine for pain and they choose to do lortab instead due to me losing my IV sites often. ;)

    Well anyhow good luck to you and keep updated! Cool we had it on the same day. I hope we can compare and talk with eachother on improvements and issues!
  • Hey there. Congrats to you on coming out on the other side of it. Sounds like your doing a little better each day. Today for me was not nearly as good as yesterday, but I'm so thankful to finally have surgery done. I'm only taking percocet 10, lyrica, and zanaflex. I only took 2 zana's today so that's good. Hopefuly in a day or 2 I won't need them but every now and then. The percocet's another story though. Soon. It's a goal. It's great they got you home so quickly. It's definitely more comfortable to be uncomfortable at home!(My own twisted logic). Take it easy and keep us posted.
  • Hi everyone. Just wanted to let you all know I'm still feeling pretty good. Some days are harder than others but I really don't feel like I thought I would. I'm much more comfortable up and walking around as opposed to sitting or lying down. I'm listening to my body, but I was worried I was doing too much. Since I don't feel like I'm overdoing I called my dr to ask if they thought I was. Dr told me I just turned the corner earlier than most and to continue increasing my activity if it feels ok. It must have been the constant up and down ALL night on the 2nd and 3rd days in the hospital while hubby was sleeping. Anyway, I just want to say thanks again for all your tips and suggestions. I put many of them to use and I felt armed with knowledge as I began recovery post-op.
  • I am glad you are doing well and wanted to also thank you for posting your experience
  • I am happy to hear how well you are doing. I really believe that the attitude you go on with is a big factor in recovery and it seems like you've got it.

    Rememeber it is normal to have down days as well as good days, but just keep up that general positive attitude and I'm sure you'll do well!

  • Thanks so much. I really think that going into my surgery with the knowledge and stories that I learned from so many people on this site is what has helped me be where I am right now. When you really don't understand what's going to be happening to your body there's just no way to have a clear idea of what to expect afterward. And the knowledge allows the attitude. After reading everyone else's stories I realized how much work I was going to have to put out to help myself. I am proud of my resolve, but the thanks really does go to all of you who have gone before me.

    Zach, congrats to you!!! I wanna be like you! I have to say though I sometimes wonder if I'm not twisting or bending. Sometimes it's just hard to know if I'm doing it right. I wear my brace at all times when I'm up, which is pretty much all day. I guess I'll figure it out.

    What should I expect at my 3 week check-up? Just curious.

    Anyway, thanks again everyone for your support.

  • Zach - it is so great to hear you say you feel great!!!!

    Mags - be careful how much you wear your brace. Its great for support, but you need your core muscles to do some work too (unless your doc said to wear all the time?). The more you wear your brace, the less work they are doing, its good to have a balance.

    I worry about twisting too. I've decided the best I can do is be conscious of it and try my best to avoid the BLT/reach rules, you're only human, right? :)))
  • My dr did tell me to wear my brace all the time. I;m supposed to remove the ab plate in a month. Am I not supposed to reach at all? I don't reach forward or back, but I have reached up (only a small amount)and it didn't hurt. I am glad to know I'm not the only one who's concerned about doing it right. I see your surgery was just a week before mine....how are you progressing?
  • Sounds like you are doing great. Wear your brace all the time if that's what your doc told you. I've noticed that the word "brace" is used here a lot, with some variance in meaning. Just follow your doc's orders, for best results.

    No reaching means NO REACHING, especially up over your head. Usually things don't hurt while you are doing the activity. But then you find out later, that, indeed, it does hurt. So try not to reach -- move your body to where you need to be. This is especially true with any twisting activity. This is the motion that herniates many a disc!!! Twisting and reaching at the same time is even worse.

    What happens at the 3 week check-up will depend on your doc. Usually they examine the incision and ask lots of questions. Some x-ray, some do not. It's usually pretty basic stuff unless you have a problem. Write down any questions you may have and take the paper with you. Sometimes you or the doc will go off on a tangent and you'll forget everything you meant to ask.

    Keep up the good work. Remember to be patient. Healing takes longer than it seems it should. Do not overdo, no matter how peppy you feel. We all learn this lesson the hard way.

  • If your doc says to wear at all times, by all means do. What kind do you have? (Obviously always follow your doctors instructions but its interesting to compare notes here.)

    I have a soft corset brace, my instructions are to wear for comfort only. I did alot of phys therapy / pilates work prior to my surgery and my surgeon doesn't want me losing the strength I built up. It seems each surgeon also has a different philosophy on bracing after surgery as well.

    What do you mean when you say "I'm supposed to remove the ab plate in a month"?

    I'm doing well this week. I took the dressing off and see I have about a 3" incision. There are still steri-strips covering it so I am leaving it alone. I'm down to 2 percocets a day. I walk twice a day, almost 2 miles total, but I do get tired. Standing is more comfortable than sitting, but I can get comfortable reclining in bed so I do that when I want to sit (sort of laying down, less pressure on the spine).

    I do get aches, my surgeon's offices has advised not to worry unless they get worse. What they have indicated is that I should be on the lookout for weakness. So far, not an issue (and hopefully will not be an issue!)
  • Wish I had been given those instructions. I was told no heavy lifting and that was about it lol :(
  • Gwennie....thanks for the heads up about the 3 wk check up. I will not be reaching up anymore!!

    Melissa....My brace is a Cinch-Loc LSO Spinal Orthosis with a rigid front plate (ab plate) that supports my abs (dr doesn't want me to engage them) and I'm supposed to remove it after a month ...right before I start PT. There's also a rigid back plate. I wassn't able to do any kind of exercises for a couple of years before surgery as it caused horrible pain. So that may be why my brace is different from yours. I'll be glad when I can walk up to a couple of miles a day. It's a slow process and I'm working for it. Yesterday wasn't a good day, though and I only made it to the end of the street and back. I know there will be ups and downs, but I strive for patience with myself.
  • Is the constant tight feeling I have just swelling?
  • Can you describe where you feel the tightness? There might be some residual swelling. Another possibility is that some of the soft tissue is having to learn a new position to help support the surgical revisions that you have had.

    You mentioned you couldn't exercise prior to surgery, so I imagine your body got used to being in a certain position. We all overcompensate for pain. This usually involves a bit of contortion as we hold ourselves differently in order to lessen the pain. The muscles and ligaments "learn" this new posture.

    Now that you've had surgery and are wearing a brace that is guiding your back and supporting it in this new position, there is a bit of readjustment going on, which may be causing the feelings of tightness.

    Also there is probably some pulling sensation going on as the more "interior" stitches heal and pull the tissue together.
  • I feel a tightening sensation at the surgical location (L4/L5). Usually I begin to feel it while lying down. But now I'm starting to notice it more often. It does sometimes feel like pulling, so maybe it is the inner stitches? I don't know.....it's not painful, but it's really weird and awkward. I was just wondering if others have had this strange sensation after surgery. Thanks.
  • Hi Mags :)

    Did you get all the info you needed on the BM issue?

    I was in desperate straights there for a while in the hospital. Finally a Prune Junie and Milk of Magnesia cocktail did the trick - and within 2 hours. The nurse recommended it and I was ever so grateful.

    Love that you are doing so great!!!
  • Thanks for your post! I did get a lot of info on the BM issue. My only challenge is that I can't seem to tolerate ANY kind of laxative no matter how mild. I get so sick from them and the job doesn't get done. What is a Prune Junie? I tried the Sunsweet Ones and I just can't make myself eat one....uuuugggghhhhh!!!! I've just increased my intake of water, fruits and veggies, fiber, etc. and I take stool softeners. It helps a little. I guess I'll keep with it until or unless I run into more serious issues.

    Just read your issues....how are you now? Are you still having the same problems or have they changed some?
  • Prune Juice + Milk of Magnesia AKA Brown cow as we call it in the nursing field. Expect a "blow out" soon after hehe. Best to take it as a shot and follow with water. could always eat some Kentucky Fried Chicken (just playing)!

    How long has it been since your last bowel movement? Generally your suppose to have one prior to release from the hospital. (I had mine a day after leaving the hospital).

    As far as the tightness, I have that as well at times but I find icing the incision relieves it and allows me to walk normal without any pain. I have been icing my incision every 30 minutes on the hour religously.

    Also, if your on antibiotics daily (I take keflex 4x daily) watchout for thrush. I woke up a few days ago with it. I "personally" (not med advice here) brushed it off with my tooth brush + paste (then tossed the brush), started taking my acidolphlus pills and swishing yogurt in my mouth + swallowing. (thrush is a white film that grows on your tongue/mouth), can be painful ruins taste buds. Call your doctor and they can order some nystatin swish-n-swallow.

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