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Lumbar PLIF Post-op Expectations

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi folks,

Well 11 days and counting until the L3-S1 PLIF with hardware. I'm still trying to deal with this awful fear but I have to say it really really helps to have this forum to read. I guess just knowing that so many people are going through this and surviving just fine helps.

Actually believe it or not it's not the survival or not that worries me so much, (my faith takes care of that). I think the worse thing is the wondering about the post surgery pain and what to expect. It's easy to imagine waking up in never ending agony. I'm sure that vision is a lot worse than it could ever be.

I would just be real interested if anyone can vividly remember what waking up is like and that first 3 to 5 days in the hospital or even the first few weeks. Some people might laugh but even the thought of waking with a catheter is all most more than I can bare to imagine.

I do so appreciate everyone on here and hope for God's blessings for you all.


  • Try not to stress so much, your dr.s and Nurses should keep you as comfortable as possible with the pain meds.

    As for the catheter: forget about it! That should be the least of your worries. Besides, once you are "drugged up" you won't even notice it. Right after surgery you will also be glad that you don't have to log roll your body out of bed to pee.....

    Wish you well, Lisa
  • Hi there. I've had 3 major spine operations since 2006. Honestly The first few weeks after surgery is a blur to me now. I don't remember much from the hospital. After my spinal fusion the only thing I remember is waking up and saying "am I in Hell". The pain meds really help you forget. I just laid there and slept until it was time to go. The first nights home getting home from the hospital was exhausting so once I got in my bed I was sleeping for about 10 hours a shift. I worried ev1 because I slept so long. I took my pain meds as prescribed and got up when I was awake to walk around. Many forum posts I read tells me there are a lot of inpatient people who think after spine surgery the pain is so much better. Well it takes time to get there. There is a lot of healing to do after spin surgery. Nobody can fix you! All the doctors can do is make you better.

    Your having back surgery and that will be painful and if you have high expectation then you will be disappointed. Each day will get better. You will need to be brave and do exactly what your doctor says. Many people who have posted here have been out raking leaves and mowing the lawn a few weeks after surgery and I just wanna scream. No where does it say you can do yard work on your discharge papers. Your back needs a full 3 months to fuses. Then u increase activities very slowly as your doctor instructs you. Because you do not want to redo this operation trust me. :) Take care
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • Try not to worry too much. I woke up with little discomfort but nothing I couldn't handle. I had top notch care in the hospital and I think that plays a huge part in your immedate care afterwards. We all have different experiences- I know that the first 3-5 days were near as bad as the week that followed- I felt as if I had been ran over by a bus. I don't want to scare you- I did survive it after all. Its just a no-joke major surgery. I am almost 5 weeks post op and still I get so tired by the early afternoon. I try to stay ahead of the pain with my medicines. I have a great support group of family and friends and that is so very important in my recovery. I don't expect to ever be 100% but each day I feel a little better. Sometimes when I overdo it, I feel it the next day, and I do pay for it pain-wise. What are your expectations of surgery- what is it that you are hoping to accomplish?

    I want to wish the best of luck with your surgery! be good to yourself! Don't forget to come back and post your progress.
  • about the catheter. I was freaking out a tiny bit about having one because I'd never been in the hospital for any reason, much less a major surgery. But after my TLIF L4-S1, I was happy I didn't have to move to get up and pee constantly! Of course for me that didn't last long because they had me up and walking the next day. It was a little rough, but once I was up there was literally no pain. It was only the actually shifting position that was rough.

    I remember waking up very clearly, and was in quite a bit of pain. Probably a 9 out of 10. But seeing as I felt like I had been living and working with and 8 out of 10 for a good solid month I wasn't too freaked. And the nurses immediately ask you about your pain level, and get sufficient meds onboard to control your pain.

    My best word of advice is to tell your anesthesiologist if you have any trouble with upset stomach from meds at all. I did and he gave me some special meds so that when I woke up I felt good and by the time I was in my room I was ravenous!

    Hang in there and try not to focus too much on the pain, etc. You'll be ok and they'll take care of you at the hospital. Just focus on being positive and optimistic. You'll be fine!
  • Bob,

    I just had a PLIF performed 20 days ago...ALMOST 3 week mark! I was very aware of my surroundings (auditory) in the recovery room. I felt little discomfort due to the anesthesia and was given meds within a short time of being placed in my hospital room. The only problem for me was the first hour-was very difficult to open my eyes-but after I was awake for most of the day.

    Mind you, everyone one's surgery is different, but the second time around I was more awake and "wit-it." However, this time I had a horrible heightened sense of smell...don't ask me why...and this made me sick of every type of food except bland food. I just about passed out when the PT guy came in wearing really strong aftershave/cologne!

    I did not have a catheter for going to the restroom; rather, I had one in my back to drain the blood and fluids from the incision site. Maybe, surgeons have different expectations for their patients...as I was up within 5 hours to use the bathroom (with a highrise toilet). The following day, I had PT twice a day. I was in the hospital for a total of 4 days.

    The worst pain for me was moving side to side...I couldn't hardly at all. I had to solicit the help of the nurses. I log-rolled off my bed (tricky) and walked for my PT sessions.

    Honestly, the first week was very difficult, but I took every challenge one at a time. Some items I found indispensible were: cheap grabber from a hardware store-$5, toilet seat riser-$20. Seriously, I cannot imagine being able to function w/o these adaptors. Oh...don't forget elastic waist pants...I know, I know...not the most flattering...but it's so much easier to pick them up and pull up. Plus, your incision will not be happy feeling.

    I know about the fear, I chickened out and cried right before my procedure, even though I prayed and prayed. But, make sure you have a good support system. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Like Awalker819 mentioned, the pain after surgery is so transient compared to the horrible long-lasting pain prior to surgery. I immediately felt stability after my procedure...to the point where I am sooo happy to be up and walking now! Another tip, walking frequently (don't overdo it) in short spurts will help you heal IMHO. I try to fit a few "longer" ones a day now w/o overdoing it.

    Take care and you are in my prayers,

  • I just had to comment on the long periods of sleeping. The first week it was not uncommon for me to sleep 21 hours out of the day! (|: I could not believe how long I slept. The nurses blamed it on the rain outside...but I normally cannot sleep more than 8 hours. I believe our bodies were just so "injured," sleep was the best way to heal.

    Take care,

  • Seriously, I very much appreciate the response. I guess what's bothering me is that I could lay back here in my recliner for years and not have this done. Butt, If I get up and do very much of anything I pay for it for days. Let alone the problem with bladder control that's beginning. I also only have about 5 minutes on my feet before my left leg goes numb and gets too week to stand without sitting for a bit. I really don't want to live like that for years.

    I suppose the bottom line in a case like mine is getting your mind wrapped around the decision. It doesn't help with the severe depression that comes from too many years of this crap. Sometimes I think I may need some kind of mental therapist as much as the medical help.

    Anyway, thank you all so much and God bless you. I'll follow-up afterwards.

    - Bob
  • Hi Bob,

    Just read your post and all the responses. I am having a single-level fusion (L5/S1) on November 4th. I believe your surgery is tomorrow. Just wanted to let you know that I prayed for you, your surgeon and family during this stressful time.

    Please don't forget to post once you are feeling well enough to do so. I just know you are going to do well. I have severe discomfort and pain right now as you do, and am excited about getting some relief! Take care and be well :)


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