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For those who have had Lumbar fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Did you find it hard after returning home to take your shirt off? I read in the post op must have to have button or zipper shirts. I didn't know if that was geared more towards cervical surgeries or not.

And what about showers - how hard was it for you, did you need a seat?

How was it the first week getting out of bed and did you find the couch comfortable or was it too soft? I am thinking of getting a cane to help me get in and out of chairs, out of bed and off the couch,

How long after returning home from the hospital did you have someone home with you? My husband will be able to stay with me my first day home, but after that he has to go back to work. My dad only works about 10 minutes away and I plan on giving him a spare key to the house, just in case.


  • I had a fusion in 2007. You shouldn't have to worry about the shirts...I do think that's more for necks. As for the bed, I really did miss the hospital bed once I got home. I slept in the bed as much as I could (I have a wedge for my legs), and the rest of the time I spent in a recliner. You'll probably get a walker in the hospital to bring home,so that will help you get up and down. I did graduate from the walker to a cane in about 2 weeks. I used it faster in the house, and later outside the house. As for having someone at home, I had my teenagers and my mom full-time. My husband helped me bathe until about 3 days after I got home, then I could do it myself. I had a shower chair and I had 2 grabbers. I left one in the bathroom b/c it never failed that I would drop something in there. I was even able to hold my razor w/my grabber to shave my legs! I also had a toilet seat riser...A GODSEND! You should be ok on your own, but it will take you a long time to do mundane things, and you'll need to write down your pain meds when you take them since you won't have someone there to help remind you. Just plan to have everything at a convenient height and place. Easy prepared meals too!

    Hope this helps! I'm going in for a 360/revision May 5th. It's a tough surgery, but hopefully it will make you feel better afterwards! My sciatic pain was gone for quite while!

    Take Care!
  • Make sure you have everything you will need at waist level once your hubby leaves you alone. Also, get a grabber! It's amazing to find out how many times a day things "slip" out of our hands once we are unable to bend and pick them up! My children (2 teens and an adult) took shifts for the first 2 weeks, helping me when needed. I never needed help in the shower (but I always had to have 2 bars of soap, inevitably one ended up on the shower floor... I yearned for soap on a rope), or dressing/undressing, but be sure you have something to hang onto if you start to get wobbly! I became extremely depressed because of all the times I had to call to one of my kids to help with one thing or another, but eventually you will find you have enough energy to deep knee bend to pick things up/get things lower down.

    Good luck!
  • Shirts - no problem, just remove them like any other garment after major surgery - CAREFULLY & SLOWLY :D

    Showering in the hospital was challenging - VERY TIRING! And once I got home the health care nurse INSISTED on a shower chair for me. I think I could have done without it, but it's also a safety issue - you do NOT want to fall!

    It took me almost 10 days to get out of the hospital, but after I got home I was fine alone. I just took it easy. I found I could not sit at all - all I could do was walk and lay down.

    I would give the key to your dad. Have everything you think you'll need close at hand (where you don't have to bend for it - have the grabber for just in case) and in most cases you will be fine.

    My dr. is very against canes - says it promotes bending when he does not want you bending at all. A walker was what he wanted me to use if I needed it. I did not need it. I wanted a cane - I felt it would make me feel safe - but he was so insistant that I never did get one.

    Best of Luck!
  • I had 2 level last summer L4-S1 PLIF and am doing so much better now. I do use a TENS unit that I got through PT. Just after I got home I used a walker (they didn't like mine since it didn't have wheels so got another one). I didn't go walking outside much at first, but later on did some late in the day when it wasn't so hot. (East Texas can be rough).

    Still have some hurting to the extreme when I get out of bed in the morning. Probably due to laying still during the night (or the cat massages I get)
  • I need to find one. I used to use body gel soap but I don't like it anymore because they can be heavy. I started using bar soap but I do drop it. It's frustrating. I also have a scrubber with a long handle. I didn't have it for the first MicroD and I love it. I can scrub my feet.
  • Like all other answers on this board, there are no one size fits all responses to your questions. So much depends on your particular build, height, conditioning, etc.

    Do you know if you will be wearing a brace after surgery?

    For me the two things I could not live without were a raised toilet seat and a satin bottom sheet. You will find that it is very difficult at first to reposition yourself in the bed and to turn over. In the hospital I felt like I was attached to the bed with velcro. Once home, with the satin sheet, it was so much easier and took a lot less effort to move.

    I also found the shower chair helpful as I felt fairly weak at the beginning. It was comforting to have it there, just incase I needed to sit down. I never needed help with bathing or dressing. I never showered while in the hospital and I did it less frequently than normal once I got home. Even weeks after surgery, by the time I showered and washed my hair, blew it dry and got dressed, I would almost need a nap. That amount of activity tired me out.

    I mainly wore pull on pants with an elastic waist in a soft fabric and a pull-over top so I wouldn't have buttons that might cause discomfort when I was napping. Many "lounge" clothes today blur the line between bed clothes and work-out gear and look quite decent, so I wore that type of thing. I found I could not tolerate anything with a fitted waist band . I just wanted loose and baggy. Some days I wouldn't feel like getting dressed but I still looked OK--not like I was sitting around in a nightgown all day long.

    I think most people find the first week to ten days a bit rough. Be sure to take your meds as the doctor has directed, even if it means setting an alarm and awakening during the night. You want to stay ahead of the pain so it doesn't take off on you. Keep a pad of paper and a pencil or pen next to the bed so you can jot down when you take your pills. You may have medications that you need to take at different times and this will help you remember whether you took something or not. You will probably be a little spacey at the beginning and this will help to keep track of things.

    I was "given" a walker in the hospital. I used it to walk out of the hospital and for the first few days. At the beginning I could only walk from the den to the other end of our house. Make a habit of taking a little walk every time you get up to use the bathroom. Then go back and rest.

    You will want to limit the amount of time you spend sitting up. Most surgeons say about 15 minutes at the beginning. We brought a twin bed into our den prior to my surgery. I wanted a place where I could rest and lay out flat without having to go upstairs to the bedroom. I know many on the board swear by their recliners...but I was told not to use one. Our couch was sufficiently firm, but it was too low for me at the beginning. I did not sit on an upholstered chair or couch for months. I was either in or on my bed or sitting in a straight, ergonomic desk chair.

    If you arrange the things you need after surgery before hand, by really thinking about what you will need, you should be able to get along OK. You might want to have your husband pack a small cooler with juices and snacks that you can keep by your bed so you don't have to get up and down every time you want something. Also keep a carafe of water near you. It is important to push the fluids while you are recovering. You want to build back up the volume of blood that you may lose during surgery, and rehydrate those discs. Also some of the meds may cause dry mouth and you will want to drink for that reason, too.

    I didn't feel like doing much of anything the first week. I did not want visitors and I was too groggy from the meds to be able to read or even watch TV or a movie. I cannot tell you how many movies that I saw a part of...and then slept through the rest!!

    The most important items for your recovery are patience and a positive attitude. Recovery from fusion is a LONG process and it serves no useful purpose to try to rush it along. Those who do, usually end up regretting it later. The process is also baby-steps. You will find that you will go forward for awhile and then you will have a step or two backward. Do not be surprised by this. It is a normal part of recovery.

    Good luck to you. In no time at all, you will be looking back at the experience and offering help to others!!
  • You have been given lots of good suggestions here. I especially agree with the walker (wonderful to help you get up from chair or couch or even the bed - and to steady you those first few days/weeks as you walk around the house), grabber (essential), and shower chair (which I did not think I would need but sent my husband out to buy after I got home). Also, if you haven't yet, do look at the list of Post-op Must-haves on this site. I couldn't believe I would need all those things but later found it to be quite accurate!

    That first week home is sort of a blur for me. I do know I needed help with things like turning over (I would get "stuck" halfway turned over and have to yell for my husband to come and help me - later figured out it was easier to get up and get back into bed in a different position than try to turn over!). I also remember a friend making a chart for me so I could see what meds I was to take when and then I could mark off each one as I took it. That was essential or I would have been hopelessly confused! And I found that setting the alarm so I would not sleep through the time to take the meds was also essential.

    After the first week I put my "stuff" (meds, water bottle, alarm, MP3, etc) in a small gift bag so I could easily carry them from sofa to bed to recliner as I moved around in my attempts to stay comfortable.

    Before surgery I THOUGHT I had everything I would need at a height I could reach without bending or reaching. Ha! I found that the number of things I had not thought about was endless - clothes were in drawers below waist high, spare TP was on the bottom of the bathroom closet, stuff in the refrig was on shelves lower than waist level, and on and on. As you go through your daily tasks pre-surgery try to move the things you use regularly up to waist level.

    You will want someone around or able to come over without too much trouble for at least the first week, I think. I needed much more help than I had ever imagined - of course, I am quite a bit older than you and I know that makes a difference. But by the end of my first week home I was getting around pretty easily and even venturing outside for very brief walks.

    Good luck with your surgery!

  • Everthing the girls above said is absolutely right!

    All my food is crammed on the top shelf of my fridge!
    Pots and pans sitting on the countertop.
    I loved my recliner.
    Gwennie is a genius!
    and soap on a rope i wish I could find some. lol
    I also had a big Ice pack that I liked to use post op.

    Good luck with your surgery.
  • I put a 1" thick exercise mat on my couch that I allows me to watch TV, be near my husband, and able to move smoothly off the couch.

    I also have a back cushion in triangle shape that can recline lower for my back and a cushion to elevate my legs. When using these to cushions, I am in zero gravity position, meaning it doesn't put any strain on your lower back. I love the way my body feels.
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