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Out of the hospital - day 5 post surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,623
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Ok, this is my first time to post after surgery. The surgery was last Thursday. It took almost 6 hours. It was a a level 2 L3-4-5 fusion. They used 6 screws and cages.24 staples. I don't know al the intricate words but I will know everything when I see the doctor next week. Recovery took a long time to get my pain level under control and there was a lot of bleeding during surgery. I was up in my room by 5. surgery started at 9.

1st night was rough, the spasms were killing me and I ended up going through the morphine pump and had to go 90 minutes without meds.

2nd day I was able to work on the log roll and did very well at that. I walked about 50 feet in the morning and the same again in the afternoon and the evening. They added valium to my meds to help control the spasms.

Saturday was the day from hell. I could get comfortable and it took 3 people to get me on my feet and I could only walk 10 feet.

Sunday I had my first bowel movement and made it to the bathroom for the first time since Friday. I walked steps!!! 4 up and 4 down. Its amazing what you can get excited about. They took me off the pain pump and started me on percocet.

Went home Monday afternoon. I am walking for 5 minutes every 2 hours around the house. It just feels good to be at home. Those hospital beds are not good for sleeping with a bad back. I have a walker that helps me get out of bed but
i walk on my own. I love the grabber and the belt around my chest helps alot.

On average I have a pain lever of 7 right now but it gets as low as 4 and my numbness in my legs is 90% gone. Staples will come out sometime early next week and I hope to be back at work by end of the month. Spasms happen about every hour or so and are very severe still but at least they are slowing down. Thanks for the words of encouragment. I will keep in touch.




  • That just seems too soon to return to work after a fusion surgery - that is only 25 days away??? I am 3 weeks post op and I couldn't imagine going back to work. I guess we all heal at different rates for sure.

    Keep us posted on your very speedy recovery. Don't over do it- you may end up making things worse for yourself.

  • I am 6 1/2 weeks out from my alif360 and am doing well. I just want to let you know, the first 4 weeks are the worst, just experimenting on trying to find the best place to sleep. My husband and I played musical beds with the rented trapeze we got. First my bed which is a temperpedic mattress, really doesn't work, it sucks you in and it is impossible to move and get comfortable. (amazing spent $2000.00 on a bed i won't be able to sleep in for at least a month!!!), then we tried the couch in our living room, and it was very comfortable, but it is where everyone gathers in the house (teenagers etc. to watch tv, etc,) and i just couldn't get enough rest, so then we moved me to the couch in the office, which was ok, but after a while I got irritated with the fabric, sooooo finally i took over my son's bedroom and moved him to the couch and magic!!!! I finally found a spot that was just right. My poor husband who was so patient moved the trapeze thing around all over the house! He is earning some major husband points!!!
    Anyway, what type of work do you do? I am 6 1/2 weeks out and am soooo much better, can walk 2-3 miles 3-4 days a week, but think about it- there is sooo much we can't do yet: sit for very long without 5-6 pillows around for support, bend, twist, lift. In general, even though I am sleeping better (and keep in mind this only happened at or around week 5), and feel much improved, I can't imagine going back to work for at least another couple of months, maybe 3.
    Anyway, just take care and don't push yourself. You should be doing 3 things: walking as often as you can (Strolling is more like it), resting and spending time thinking positive about you and your recovery.
    Sorry this is so long, but I remember my first weeks home and if you need any advice ask!!!

  • I am sheduled for MI TLIF at L5/S1 at end of October. What can you tell me about the back brace worn after surgery? Can you put on and take off by yourself? I have a few friends but will be basically on my own once at home. Sucks when you don't have family.
    I am with you, I have read enough to know that talking about returning to work in terms of weeks instead of months is unrealistic. A fusion won't even set for 3 months. After going through all the hell of surgery(not to mention expense), you'd have to be insane to jepordize the success of the fusion by not taking adequate recovery time!!! From what I have gathered, 2 months is pushing it and 3 months is a much more realistic timeframe for even thinking about getting back to work.
  • What do you do for work? You might want to think about going back part-time to start and then building up. I got out of the hospital at the end of November, 2008 and went back to work part-time at the end of December. It was March before I was back to work full-time. I'd have to say that even now there are days I wish I could just go home and lie down, but I make it through most days just fine. I have (mostly) a desk job. There are times when I have to crawl around hooking up computers and stuff, but mostly I sit and do paperwork. Don't push yourself too hard. You'll pay for it later.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi Derek

    I bet it's good to be home again and starting on recovery. Do keep taking things steadily. As others have said, it seems a bit early to be thinking of returning to work at the end of the month.

    That is good that the numbness in your legs is nearly gone.

    Wishing you all the best for your recovery and let us know how you're going.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I had surgery last week too! One-level (L5-S1) PLIF with hip bone and instrumentation. I'm now about 10 days out and I can tell you that my goal is to be back to work at the end of the month or by the 2nd week in November at the latest.
    I was back to work after my first surgery in four weeks! I have a desk job that allows me to get up and move around whenever I need to and almost everyone I work with can and will help me with lifting just about anything. We have a walking path around our office so I walked each day to help with stiffness and to work towards recovery/rehab. It can be done--but if the doc and I agree that I'm not ready by my goal date, then I will just stay out a little bit longer.
    The nurses in the hospital said I was the poster child for log-rolling in and out of bed! lol! I noticed just this morning that I can roll up from my back and out of bed with very little discomfort. My incision site swelling is reduced more and more each day.
    I walk without a walker, but do use a cane after getting out of bed for awhile because my leg and low back are usually weaker after laying down for any amount of time. After that, I walk slowly without it. I've been walking up and down the hallways of our apt building a couple of times a day since I got home from the hospital--takes about 5-10 minutes--and I also go up and down a flight of stairs every time I walk.
    As far as meds go--currently I take one percocet every 2-3 hours. If I take two, I get nauseous so I stagger them and keep my pain levels even. If I can, I stretch out that time to 4 hours, but only if I'm not in any kind of pain--it's harder to come down from a high pain level than to keep it even.
    Anyway Derek--I'm with you on your goal of returning to work in a few weeks. It can be done as long as we follow doctor's orders and do what we can to help.
    Good luck on you recovery!

  • I am not using a back brace and seem to do pretty well in moving around. I am trying my best to walk around the house several times a day. I can get to the bathroom and back to the bedroom in 8 minutes now. It was 12 minutes two days ago. I am going to take my first shower today with some assistance. The doctor will be taking out my staples next Monday. I only use my walker to get myself upright out of bed and occassionally in the middle of the night when I am very stiff.

    As far as work goes. They are very good at giving me enough time to recover but my doctor seems to think that part time after 3-5 weeks for a couple weeks is realistic and I will be off all meds by then. I have a desk job and can be fitted for a sit-stand desk so I don't have to me in one position for long. I am just pushing myself enough to keep my spirits up and not over do it.
  • Felicia, there are two schools of thought regarding back braces. #1 some doctors believe in using them to support your back and help remind you not to bend twist etc. #2 other doctors don't use them because they feel it is better to depend on your own muscles as you recover, it helps you to get stronger faster. Both have there drawbacks. My surgeon doesn't use them and I havn't had any problems. The no bending,twisting,lifting seem to come naturally to me because I feel all the metal in my back and it is a constant reminder to me not to do these things. Also, I have heard that the brace can get annoying and sweaty, so i am glad i don't have to deal with this!!! So I can't offer any advice about it at all. How are you doing otherwise!!!
  • Felicia, there are two schools of thought regarding back braces. #1 some doctors believe in using them to support your back and help remind you not to bend twist etc. #2 other doctors don't use them because they feel it is better to depend on your own muscles as you recover, it helps you to get stronger faster. Both have there drawbacks. My surgeon doesn't use them and I havn't had any problems. The no bending,twisting,lifting seem to come naturally to me because I feel all the metal in my back and it is a constant reminder to me not to do these things. Also, I have heard that the brace can get annoying and sweaty, so i am glad i don't have to deal with this!!! So I can't offer any advice about it at all. How are you doing otherwise!!!
  • They are hot and tight. I've had mine for almost a week now. I can go to the bathroom or take a shower without, but told to wear it all other times. I can get out of it OK, but haven't been able to put it on by myself. Mine was molded to fit me perfectly. The people who fitted me for it, said it was very hard to put on unless you were lying down.
  • Yes, I have been told they are hot. Being that I have another disability which affects my spine mechanics, I am sure imobilization will be best for a good fusion to take. As unpleasant as the brace may be, I would rather suffer through it to assure success. No one wants to go through this horrible nightmare twice! If lying down to put on the brace is what it takes, so be it.

    Deezerk, sounds like you are working hard at rehab and if effort counts for anything, you should do well. Best of luck to you
  • I have a quick-draw brace that wraps around my waist/back and velcros together in the front. After that, I have two "quick-draw" bands that tighten it further. The biggest problem I have with it is how it digs into my incision and just above my tailbone. I wear it as much as I can tolerate it now and then once my incision has healed completely, I'll wear it almost 24/7.
    Right now, my incision is itching like crazy! I don't have an staples (nurse told me in the hospital). I just have steri-strips.
    Went grocery shopping with my hubby today. I pointed at things and he put them in the cart!! :) It was good to get out and even though it took over an hour due to my slowness, I think it was worth it. I came home and took a 2.5 hour nap though! :P
    I'm not superwoman afterall!
    Keep on keepin' on everybody! Take care!
  • I had a two level fusion from L3-5 and bone spurs removed at L5-S1 on June 30th. I was in the hospital for five days as they could not get my pain under control. I was told by my doctor to wear my back brace for three months. I recently has my three month post op and I am still not completely fused and still has some muscle inflammation, but was told to start weaning off my brace. I have to say it is much harder than I thought it was going to be. My back pain has come back with a vengeance. I look forward to putting it back on as it makes me feel so much better. I can see why some doctor would choose not to use one due to the fact that you do end up relying on it, however, I can't imagine what it would have been like with it. I am feeling like a big wimp as I read your posts and guys are planning on only being off for like a month! I am still not back to work. I have a sedentary job, and I just can't imagine going back yet. I barely can get out of the bed in the morning, I just started driving again, by the time I would get to work I would already be miserable from the normal morning aches and the commute and then to sit all day. sitting is the worst. My boss has been really patient, and I know he is hoping that I will be coming back the beginning of November. I just started therapy so I wanted to see how that goes. It is increasing my pain and I have some numbness and tingling starting in my feet. What scares me the most is feeling that if i do go back my attendance is not going to be consistent. This past week has been utterly agonizing with the colder temperatures and all the rain, I know I would have had to call in sick at least on two occasions, because I could barely function. I am still on a lot of pain meds, which don't really help all that much so that is the other concern in working on that. I worked for so many years in so much pain, maybe I have just gotten used to the luxury of being able to stretch out in the recliner, go for a walk or lay down whenever I need to. I commend you guys. I hope all goes well and you have a speedy recovery.

    herniated discs L3-4 L4-5, degenerative disc disease, L3-S1, facet hypertrophic joints, stenosis
    2000-2006 - injections, therapy, etc
    2008, Laminectomy supposed be done at L4-5, but was done at L3-4
    2008-9, more injections, meds, tens unit
    3/2009 trial of spinal cord stimulator
    6/30/09 two level fusion with instrumentation and BMP, just started physical therapy. Currently taking Oxycontin, Norco, Valium, Baclofen and Cymbalta
  • Hi. This is my first Post! I'm having a laminectormy and 2 screw fusion in L5, L4, S1 this coming Nov.2,'09. I'm 66 and this is my first time. I just wanted to say that these comments you and others here gave are very helpful to me. I too NEED to go back to work in 6 to 8 weeks after surgery (Doc said ok)but of course we will see. I don't have a lot of lifting to do etc.. (or sitting).
    Here's something different I haven't read about on this sight. I have a heart issure--angioplasty several months ago. I won't go into too much detail, but my back surgery was STOPPED last month because I developed heart pain after I went off my heart medicine (blood thinners). I'm ok now but must take at least ASPIRIN during surgery and after.
    The heart doctor and back surgeon FINALLY agreed do to this surgery with just a little extra risk (of bleeding). Anyway, your comments and others sure helped me.
  • Gerry- see how you feel once you are home and through the first couple of weeks from surgery. Being realistic about your come back is important. This is a major surgery and it will take a long time to heal. You don't want to risk doing more damage to yourself by jumping back to "normal" before its really time to do so. I say "Great to those who are up and moving about early." Your back will never be as God intended it be. Your lifestyle changes even if just a bit.

    I wish you luck and a fast recovery!
  • Every spiney is different in how they heal and from what sort of injury they are healing from. My surgery was a "redo" of an surgery 2 years ago that did not fuse. I had a speedy and I thought good recovery from that one until I started having recurrent pain/numbness/tingling etc about a year and half after surgery. I can tell already that this surgery has been harder than the first (lumbar) that I had done. I had a harder time with the dilaudid in the hospital and I'm more reliant on percocet (I think anyway) at home. I want to be switched to vicodin at my post-op next week. My doctor will probably prescribe both and I'll use the perc for breakthrough pain.
    I hear ya lizzyboo on the back brace dependence! I can totally feel my muscles slouching when I take it off and that really bugs me. I like wearing it after I'm more mobile because I don't have pain to tell me when to stop but I do have the brace to tell me that I'm trying to bend too far or whatever. My girlfriend had a one-level ALIF done a week and a half before my PLIF. She's back to work full-time already! No brace and only off work two weeks! Amazing! Kudos to her for sure!
    My boss has already acknowledged that I may be off for up to all of the 12 weeks of FMLA. I have short-term disability that pays me (I think) 66% of my normal wages. I can cover most bills (including benefits from work) with this, but I fall short on child support. My ex is a millionaire so I really don't care about that!!! (the child support office actually feels bad that I'll be stuck in arrears because they're on MY side!)
    Ok--I'm babbling... I just wanted everyone to know that I was not pushing for EVERYONE to go back to work as soon as I am planning. And please--follow doc's orders as far as restrictions and wearing that brace are concerned. Use the aids that are available too (if you can): raised toilet seat; reacher/grabber; cane; walker; shoe/sock aid; etc.
    Keep on keepin' on spineys! :)
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