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What should my days look like?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I had L5-S1 ALIF with instrumentation on April 2, 2009. I am curious what my days should be looking like by this point. I have not gone back to work yet because I am having a PLIF with instrumentation and some additional fusion work done on June 18, 2009, but for right now I'm feeling pretty good most of the time. My surgeon has not given me any specific restrictions they just told me not to lay around in bed all the time. I can't do that even if I wanted to because it hurts to lay around for too long. He did tell me today that he wants me walking at least twice a day (at least once without the dogs) if I'm not going to go back to work before my next surgery. Other than that he hasn't really told me what I can/cannot or should/should not be doing. Obviously my LSO keeps me from doing a lot of things but some of my family ask me if I'm not maybe doing too much - house cleaning, very minor yard work (sweeping and raking), picking up my cats and dogs (none weigh more than 20 lbs). What do you all think I should be spending my days doing? I don't want to sit around like a bump on a log but I don't want to do too much and mess up the work I've already had done.


  • You should probably ask your doc about this stuff. I had a three-level with instrumentation. They tried to do it all from the back, but is was not possible, so they went in from the front four days later. It's been six months and I'm finally starting to feel back to normal, but I'm still not supposed to be bending, lifting, or twisting (BLT) without extreme caution. I vacuum very carefully, but I'm not supposed to do twisting yard work like raking. You might see about doing some Pilates, other core strengthening exercises, lots of walking, maybe some water aerobics or swimming. Get yourself as healthy as possible for the next round of surgery!


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I wonder if the sweeping/raking and some of the house-work chores are a good idea? I know vacuuming is hard on the back. My doctor wanted me walking and not much else until about 3 months post-fusion. I was Oked for aqua therapy at about 6 weeks but any BLT was a "no-no". Also, lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk was out for the first 6 months. I think you should talk to your doctor about "dos and don'ts" before continuing some of those activities. (I know it is hard to do feel like you are doing nothing - that, and the boredom - is one of the hardest things about recovery).
  • During my recovery, I have not done any housework, gardening, and BLT. The only thing I did was walk and rest.

    I still have not tried to vacuum. I would definitely call your doctor to get specific Dos and Don'ts.

  • One of the best descriptions I have read about fusion recovery comes from a spine health member, Lakeside. I have copied it below in case you have not seen it. Perhaps one of the most important things she says is about the dangerous point being when you start to feel better and stronger. Heed her warning!

    Yes, some people feel better sooner than others - but it is critical to not jeopardize the chances of your back healing correctly. As a friend who had 3 fusion surgeries told me "Think of recovery as your full-time job. You will be glad you did."

    Here is Lakeside's description of recovery:

    The waiting game...

    You simply cannot rush this whole healing process. You simply must, bored or not, just REST!!

    I had my PLIF in Jan, after 2 priors & here's what I did (or 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 period & 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! Everything 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 remember 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 starting 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!

    Blessings to everyone! Have a restful weekend~!

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