Just dropping in to give an update. I am now 8 weeks post MicroD of l4/l5 (2nd one, first was in 2002.)
Overall I think I am doing great, but that is why I post here, to discuss my progress with similar folks in similar circumstances and see how we compare and share advice/news.
I have been back to work for a while now, worked from home for 2 weeks starting 4 days after surgery (laying in bed) before I went back into the office a couple of days a week.
I have had a few setbacks after doing too much, things like picking up my 5 year old, pushing grass fertilizer, long drives, etc. They have turned out to be temporary as long as I was able to stand/walk more the next couple of days. Also my symptoms always seemed to appear a day or two after I over do it. One time I was given Medrol (3 week mark) to help calm things down. The words "You appear to have irritated the nerve but not compressed it" have been said to me a couple of times.
At 8 weeks, I can now do most basic things I did before, walk as much as I want, usually 100% pain free, toss batting practice to my child, etc. I am careful not to pick up too much of course...I leaned my lesson week 3 and was lucky to not re herniate.
Overall here are my remaining symptoms, and I am curious if someone else is similar:
Pre-Surgery: Left Buttock, calf and foot pain to the point of numbness in foot and hip, constant pain, felt like a Charlie Horse from hip to toe. Some moments I would have to drop to the ground, no one could help me, until I got into a position that allowed me to move again. I was basically to the point of using a cane and sometimes unable to move. Surgery gave immediate relief from all symptoms and things stayed that way until the steroid wore off at week 3, when I got the nerve pains back in small amounts doing things like stomach crunches and awkward movements.
Today, at 8 weeks:
Standing - very little/no pain. Sometimes some butt pain.
Walking - very little/no pain. Sometimes butt or quick calf twinge.
Sitting - Nothing too bad *when* sitting, just some infrequent butt pain. The problem is when I have sat (driving, working, anything requiring more than 10-15 mins of sitting) I get more nerve pains later in the day or the next day. For instance, yesterday I drove 1 hr + to work, stood most of the day, drove back - had no real symptoms. This morning, my butt is sore.
By the way I had a 7 week followup with my doc last week because I was feeling nerve pain in different places than pre-surgery (more of an l5/s1 outer foot pain.) After some strength and reflex tests, he said I do not appear to have a s1 disc impingement, most likely I have piriformis syndrome, the tightening (I think) of the piriformis muscle which presses on the sciatic nerve. That explains the nerve pain in different areas and jumping around, as well as explaining why it's worse when sitting. I have a PT eval today and will go 3x week for 3 weeks and see if that makes sitting more tolerable. I assume I will be back to certain stretc es.
As far as medicine, I take an Aleve in the morning if I am sore (I tend to wake up a little sore/nerve pain in the butt down to the calf in the morning - helps the "need to stretch the piriformis' diagnosis.) I take Gabapentin 2x a day, dropping to 1x next week then 0x the week after. I should be off it by now but when I get a flare up after sitting/driving I don't want to change any variables and keep on the 2x Gabapentin. You can have a stroke if you don't wean off Gabapentin so I am dropping to 1x only when I am sure I wont go back to more than that. I take Mobic anti-inflammatory at night before bed. I have recently stopped the muscle relaxers. I take the occasional Tylenol during the day if I feel any soreness. Overall not bad, 2 Gabapentin and a Mobic are the only daily Rx meds I take, soon to be just the Mobic, then nothing a week after that if all feels well.
The other thought I had was this...I know many people here had a microD on l4/l5 right around the same times as me (Mar 12 2009.) I keep an outlook calendar of daily pain, notes, activities and meds I take. What if we had a shared calendar (like a google "march 2009 l4/l5 microd cal" we could call it)where we'd post how we feel, symptoms, meds - so that we can track our progress and look at folks in similar circumstances. If this interests you please let me know and I will set one up and share the login info. We'd just use different colors for our entries or something. I have had private messages with a couple people who had the exact same operation on the same day - small world. It would be cool to share a calendar in m opinion. Let me know if interested via Private Message.
Finally, kudos to my surgeon, who is the most kind, reassuring, caring, patient, listening doctor I have ever met - Bruce Cook at New England Neurological Associates. He not only appears to have done a great job, but he's always there to listen to my complaints and questions and takes the time to answer me slowly so I don't feel like he's rushing to another patient. I now understand why Michael J. Fox and Annette Fonacello went to him for brain surgery for their Parkinsons - he truly is amazing! Anyone in the North East Mass/South East NH area should ask for him.
Good health to all!