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New member needing info on PO multi back fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
>:D< Hi everyone...i'm new to this site and hoping to get some answers and support for my husband that had a 2 fusion surgery on his lower back 2 months ago. He has multiple discs that are not in so good shape above these but not to the point of surgery and actually I read on here that a 3 disc fusion is very rare due to the movement. Anyway... my main concern is how he is feeling after 2 months and if this is normal. He is actually doing alot better than he was the first month. But like I heard on here, it seems he takes 2 steps forward and 1 step back. One day he would feel really good and decide to get out and try to do something (it takes alot to keep a good man down)but later that afternoon and the next day it's pure hell...he can turn one way and he says it feels like his back has broke in two. he's still taking some baby steps and still sleeping in the hospital bed that they delivered to him once he got home from the hospital. When he rolls over to different positions in the middle of the night I can hear him moaning. Prior to this surgery he was in excellent shape and a stocky muscular guy but now he gets depressed because he is so limited to what he can do. Another concern of mine is his pain medication. When they sent him home they had him on Percocet and Valium but he decided to change to Lorcet 10 and Soma or Flexeril. I know he needs the pain medication but the last thing I want is for him to get an addiction problem on top of all this other. Is there anyone out there who is around 2 months PO or later? If so then would you please give me some insight on this and how you are progressing. How long is this recovery gonna last? Any help provided would be greatly appreciated...

Thanks so much!!! ;))


  • One of the best descriptions of what recovery is like was written by another member - I copied it but neglected to include the author. However, I read it over and over in my first few months to remind me that I wasn't the only one who found this a slow and difficult process. I have copied it below, but the bottom line is walk, rest, eat, walk, rest, eat, over and over. The tendency on days you feel good is to do more - then you pay for it.

    If you are concerned about your husband's pain then do please check with your surgeon. However, turning over in bed and sleeping all night took me awhile. I found it really helpful to surround my body with lots of pillows, ice packs, and microwave heat packs when I went to bed. I also found it helpful to get up every couple of hours during the night and move around - even just walk to the bathroom - it really helped to keep my muscles from stiffening up and thus having muscle spasms. (During the day, I got up every hour and walked from 10 - 20 minutes).

    Patience is one of the hardest parts of this recovery. It is difficult not to get depressed because it takes so long. At 2 months post-surgery, I went to my family doctor (he has been my doc for 30 years and knows I am not a wimp or a whiner but that patience is not my long suit) to say I
    was tired, had little energy, etc. and wondered what was wrong with me. He laughed and then told me that, regardless of what my surgeon had told me, this is a one to two year recovery and I needed to have much more patience. I have to keep reminding myself of that. Some days I found myself in tears believing I would never get better. It is a roller-coaster ride.

    Here is the post from the other member:

    I had my PLIF in Jan, after 2 priors & here's what I did (nor not)for the 1st 3 months: no BLT (of course!) No housework of ANY kind; no exercise except WALKING (no PT); no meal prep; no social life; no visitors; took AM nap & PM nap & drugged-out sleep at night; took opioids for 5 months; didn't shave my legs from January to March (yech!) but really didn't care; cried when I felt like it, laughed when I could; watched "Days" and other mindless stuff (couldn't concentrate on anything else much) & told myself "this too shall pass" ---and now after 9 months ( & a return to a F/T teaching job) it's lots better---not perfect & never will be prefect (the most sobering thing about all this) but MUCH BETTER than at 0-6 months out...

    It' just wrecks you. I'm not trying to scare anyone or bring anyone "down" but it is the hardest thing you'll ever do. So respect that, go with it, allow for the tedious boringly LONG recovery periord & know that it DOES end...but not quickly. And when you start to feel better & stronger, that's the dangerous point: do LESS when you start to feel better. Ration out your energy: if you do something or go somewhere on one day, then REST the next day, etc. Say "NO!!" a lot! Protect your healing time! Be stingy w/ yourself! Stay in your PJ's and put out the "Do Not Disturb" sign & tell any telemarketers (b/c phone calls make you tired) "I've just had surgery" & hang up...seriously! Everyting extra that requires any effort takes your energy away from healing the wound & making the fusion work...so be CAREFUL and protective of that. What we've gone thu....OMG....99.9% of the general population has no idea of the pain level...so take your Gold Medal for withstanding that & feel proud!

    I rememeber when it took me 45 minutes to take a shower, hanging onto the grab bar the whole time, feeling woozy & weak,only to fall back into bed again & wonder how I'd ever be well... but now I am (mostly) so Terri, thank you for staring the post & Rose, just be prepared to "stay down" for awhile....there simply is no "quick fix" to this...but in the LONG RUN, you'll be OK. If you have your surgery as scheduled in Dec, by NEXT SUMMER (not sooner, sorry!) you should be feeling much better. But those 1st 4-5 months....! Zowie! I thought, after 2 priors, I was prepared...hah! Nope! Worried

    It's not a sprint; it's, rather, a long-distance run. But we can do it--I did it-- you will also. Just let TIME do its healing work --it'll drive you nuts--I always wished I could "divorce" my mind from my body for the duration, but you just can't....sort of like having a baby: just gotta get thru it, & beyond it to the reward that awaits!

  • Both your husband and you will need to learn patience, probably like you've never known before. Anyone who has not had spinal surgery cannot really relate to the time it takes to recover. Also, almost everyone has had a bit of back pain at least once in his/her life and thus assumes his/her experience is comparable! I'm so tired of having people tell me all about the severe pain they were in, and how they have to take two Advil and rest for awhile...so they really understand what I'm going through. HA!

    Anyway, eight weeks was just about when I started feeling somewhat human again. I took all my prescribed pain meds up to that point, and then by 10 weeks, I was off everything. I did not start driving until that point, and I began physical therapy around 15 weeks.

    Every surgeon has his own time line though, so just listen to your husband's surgeon and follow his instructions. Tell your husband not to worry or even think about day to day progress...as there will be little bumps in the road. Rather, take stock every couple weeks and I think he will notice progress.

    None of us got to the point of needing surgery overnight or in a couple weeks' time so we cannot expect to be recovered that quickly either. One year is usually the figure thrown out when the fusion is pretty solid, the body has recovered and strength has returned.

    It seems to me I started feeling reasonably recovered from the surgery by about 12 weeks. But then it took a long time to regain my strength and stamina. I had waited over three years to have fusion, so I had become very "deconditioned." (badly out of shape ;) )

    I too can remember the process involved when having to leave the house for an appointment or simple errand. By the time I showered, dressed, and fixed my hair, I felt like I needed to lie down for awhile before I could continue on my way. And I could not do more than one thing at a time. If I went grocery shopping, that would be it for the whole day.

    I wouldn't worry about the prescription pain meds. Just be sure he is taking them as prescribed by the doctor -- not taking them sooner or doubling up on them.

    Is your husband able to take short walks several times each day? Right now walking is the most important activity for him. It not only gets the blood flowing to an area that does not have any vessels running directly through, and helps to carry away any toxins that have accumulated, but it stretches out the spinal nerves, which is very important in helping to prevent the formation of scar tissue around the spinal nerves.

    Be sure he drinks lots of fluids and eats a nutritious diet. Even though the recovery process can be fairly boring, just remind your husband that it's better to put in the time now and fully recover than to be in a hurry and push too much, resulting in some damage to the surgery.

    There are lots of us on the board who have had lumbar fusions...so feel free to ask lots of questions! Someone should be around to respond.

    I don't know what part of the country you live in, but many of us are having a hard time with the damp spring weather this year. The barometric pressure changes seem to be hard for us to take!!
  • anyone have a great success story?
  • The post I quoted earlier was from Lakeside (dated 10/3/08) and I can't thank her enough for it! Reading it saved my sanity more than once!
  • I am post 3 months a 3 level fusion. I had a lot of difficulty laying flat especially in bed, as I could not turn sides easily, it was VERY painfull to turn. I can honestly say it was about 2.5 months before I started laying in bed turning without much discomfort, still difficult due to the change in mobility to some extent.

    Although my pain was gone about 1.5 weeks after surgery. I deal with occasional soreness, especially if I do anything out of the ordinary, and my restrictions are not lifted yet, cant lift above 15lbs, no pushing/pulling.

    I still can't sleep in a bed, I have to sleep sitting up in a chair, not even recliner. I can last about an hour in a bed before I become very congested, can't get comfort and start having pain/discomfort in my upper back. I think sleeping straightup for 3 months has messed my sinuses up lol.

    Curious, did he do physical therapy, if so how much and when did it begin?

  • I had my first fusion following a vertebral fracture at age 22. I was fused L2,L3 and L4. 6 weeks post-op I was taking ibuprofen and riding horses. I had the instruments out a year later as they were protruding but the whole experience was extremely positive. (or as positive as it can be when you break your back and are temporarily paralyzed)

    Turned out that my back broke due to an underlying genetic bone problem and 6 years later I had to have a total fusion. This was NOT a positive experience but that is a much longer story.

    Good wishes to you.
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