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I'm having back surgery on tuesday!!! :( Lumbar L4-L5, sacral decompression + fusion (PLIF)

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,622
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I'm 28 years old. It has been almost two years since my back pain started. And after physical therapy, pilates and medicines..I still have a lot of discomfort doing a lot of everyday stuff like walk or sit for a long time and even sleep!
I've a herniated disk on my lower back L5, I'll be having surgery next tuesday.
I would like to know any advise you have for post surgery. How long will recovery take? Is it painful the first week after surgery? Do you gain weight?

Any advise will be really appreciated!! :) thanks!



  • Welcome to the board, we need more info!!! :)
  • As Heidi asked, what kind of surgery are you having? Knowing this info will help us with giving advice. Are you getting a fusion, artifical disc replacement or something else. What tests have you had to confirm your diagnosis? Did you have a discogram done. There are many threads here with helpful hints and info for pre and post surgery. I will see if I can find any others and send to you if it's something I think you will find useful.
  • Hi Johip

    I am having my surgery on Tuesday, too. I have had several different surgeries in my life, but never on my spine. I am having a 2 level lumbar fusion (TLIF). I am pretty anxious about it, even though I have worked in a hospital for over 20 yrs. But my doctor is great.
    I am not as worried about the surgery as I am the post-op recovery period. I am making myself crazy trying to think of everything, like, how do I not bend or twist or lift to do the normal things. But I have a wonderful sister to help me the first week.
    Try to think about the positive, as will I, and hopefully we can check in next week sometime and say all is well.
    Good luck!!
  • Hello!! thank you all for your support! and thank you for the links you sent, they are all very helpful !! I'll print out today the post surgery list to make sure I bring with me everything I need :)

    Here are more details of my surgery (sorry i didn't specify before, I'm new on this!)
    -Lumbar L4-L5, sacral decompression + fusion (PLIF)

    Ann: good luck to you too! I'm more worry about the post surgery too!! Yes let's keep in touch to see how it goes, everything will be well I'm sure!

  • Everyone's experience is different, but I didn't need much of anything in the hospital. I had a drain in my back and a catheter, which is fairly common with any fusion and they wanted you in a hospital gown and robe. I just wore clean clothes to the hospital...had them on about a half hour before changing into gown...and then I wore those same clothes, socks, etc. home. I was heavily medicated in the hospital. Prior to surgery I was worried about what my hair would look like as I normally wash it daily...but, I can assure you, after surgery I was so far into myself (combination of pain and pain meds) that I think I could have walked down the hall naked and it wouldn't have bothered me. I just went into a totally different frame of mind -- one where I had never been before! Also, I had made it clear I did not want anyone to visit me while in the hospital as I just knew I wouldn't want to be bothered...so I didn't need make-up, shampoo, etc. I guess some people take their laptop to the hospital, or other things to keep them entertained, but, again, I didn't need anything. When I was awake, I was with the physical therapist, or I could talk to my son (who stayed with me during the day, and my husband came in the evening)or watch TV...but again, I was so medicated that I didn't pay much attention to TV and could not read.

    I think what is much more important is organizing your space for when you return from the hospital. The three most important items were a raised toilet seat, a "grabber" and satin sheets. It is really hard to move and reposition yourself in the bed as your muscles are weak and/or have been cut and it is painful to move. At the hospital, in my cotton gown on the cotton sheets, I felt like I was stuck to the bed with velcro. Moving was so difficult, even to slightly shift in the bed. Having a slippery bottom sheet at home made this so much easier. Slippery pjs would work as well...I just preferred a bottom sheet.

    It is perfectly normal to be apprehensive, but before you know it, the surgery will be over and you will be on your way to recovery.

    Good luck to both of you. We'll look forward to seeing a report on how things went!!
  • I hope your procedure goes well and gets you started on a fast and successful recovery!
  • Good luck Johip! I'm sure we'll both do fine. I always over-think everything. I have to be at the hospital at 5:45 am, so hopefully my surgery will be early. But since I work in a hospital, I know how that goes sometimes.......

    Thank you to everyone for their well wishes and all the posts which have made me more prepared. My sister and dad are coming to stay with me for the week, so I'll have plenty of help.
    I'm tired of thinking about it...time for a nice, relaxing bath.

  • I agree with Gwennie about the hospital - I was pretty dopey most of the time. I did take my MP3 player and listened (sort-of) to audio books - I found that very soothing.

    At home, I needed quite a bit of help the first week I was so weak and dopey. Turning over was a challenge - I would get "stuck" about halfway over and have to get my husband to help me. I think the "post-op Must-haves" list mentions a chart to keep track of what meds you have taken when - that is a must!

    The recovery is long and slow and requires much patience. Remember that recovery is your priority for awhile - rest, walk, eat, take your meds.

    For me, the recovery was not really terribly painful after the first couple of weeks and I quit taking the pain meds and used ice and heat for pain control. (The meds just made me so tired and sick). Getting back my stamina and energy was the real challenge for me.

    Have lots of little things as diversions - DVDs, books, music, etc. It will help time pass.

    Oh, and my surgeon would not allow showers for 14 days after surgery! Knowing I would lose my mind at not being able to wash my hair I bought an inflatable shampoo bowl at a medical supply store and had my husband wash my hair using it for the first few days. Then I figured out how to sit so we could do it at the bathroom sink. but that first shower after 2 weeks was heaven even though I was weak and shaky - and very glad I had the shower chair!

    Good luck with your surgery!
  • I had the same surgery you are having back in Dec. I had a L4/L5 fusion with decompression. PLIF

    It was painful, but they gave me plenty of pain meds afterward. I had 5 days int he hospital mainly due to anemia and blood loss.

    I followed the list on this website and gathered the things I thought I might need. The Physicla therapist gave me most of what I needed in the hospital - a walker, shower chair ,grabber (a must!!)...

    Just remember to take it slow, have things ot do in bed, you will need it, and any help you can get in the beginning.

    If you have any questions you can PM me at anytime...

    Good luck!!
  • I want to join everyone else in wishing you the best of luck, and best of skill to your surgeon! I truly hope it goes really well for you. Let us know how you're doing when you can.
  • johip,

    You've already received great advice. I have similar surgery Dec. 18, L4/L5 fusion with decompression, PLIF
    4 days in hospital, then home.

    I am very independent and did not want anyone to stay after the 1st week, but you really need someone with you for 2 weeks, from my perspective.

    Don't worry about gaining weight-- last of your worries. I worked out at the gym 6-7 days a week (even though I had to change my work-out based on my deteriating back condition) and I was concerned what would happen with my weight. I am almost 4 months post-op and am 10 lbs less than I was the day I checked into the hospital. There are things you can do to keep your muscle stength up. Feel free to ask any specific questions and use PM.

    Have lots of pillows available at home afterward. You will use them for support. Behind you if you are on your side with an additional smaller one between your legs; under your knees when on your back.
    Those are a few things that come to mind.

    Best wishes to you!
  • Hi I am also scheduled for surgery Tues, this site and all the comments are very helpful. My son is here from the military to help but only for two weeks, is this enough time? I am very independent but I had a back surgery in 1996 L4-5, L5 S1 and it was a eye opener
  • i too had this same surgery. my operation was done on March 25th of this year. i am now back to work full-time, i coach baseball, and i umpire baseball games.
    i told myself before the surgery that i was not going to sit still and let the back control me. as soon as the PT came and got me(day 2 post-op) and got me walking w/the walker, i never slowed down. i continue to walk as often as i could in the hospital. the nurses joked that i was going to walk home.
    i spent 5 days in the hospital due to spiked fevers. once home, i walked & iced every waking hour. i think those 2 thigs expedited my recovery.
    good luck to both of you. any ??? feel free to PM me.
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