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New here..awaiting surgery Tuesday

B52BB52 Posts: 247
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Good evening y'all! I've been reading here for quite some time, but I couldn't register here due to 'puter problems. Anyway, thanks to EVERYONE who's put their stories, questions and advice on here. It's been a comfort and learning opportunity for me. I need it, too, because I'm due to have an L5-S1 PLIF done Tuesday (Nov 10) morning. I picked up my TLSO brace today and have worn it about, trying to see what I may and may not be able to do with it on. I can see that the TLSO is going to be a laugh-a-minute! I guess I'm going to be in that rig for about four months, so we'll have to become friends. Is the brace usually required for so long after the fusion?

A bit about me since you don't know me. My name's Aaron and I'm 46. I live in Arkansas just a bit north of Memphis. I have had back pain on and off forever, but it's really slowing me down the last couple years. On a CT for an unrelated problem, I was found with a grade I spondylolisthesis and a dose of DDD in the lumbar area. So, that's what I'm going to get repaired next week.

If my computer cooperates, I'll post more if anything interesting happens. Thanks again, y'all for putting your experiences out there for people like me to see.



  • Hi Aaron and welcome to the spinal boards :)

    Wishing the very best for your upcoming surgery.

    Hope your computer allows you to keep reading/posting here. As you have found it is so very helpful....
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.

  • Thanks indeed for the well wish, and for being my 1st official 'spiney' connection on this forum:) From reading, it sounds like you're having a tough go of things. I'll send much positive mojo your way.
  • You might want to take a look at the sticky titled post op must haves. Good luck with your surgery and please post when you are able in order to let us know how everything went.
  • Hey J.J., thanks for the shout out. A couple weeks ago I read the 'post op must haves' and printed it out. Valuable information indeed. I think I have what I'll need from the list laid in. I hope I'm ready! Man, someone went to a lot of trouble to compile a list that inclusive. A tip o' the hat to all who contributed to that.

  • I'm not sure about how long braces are required. I didn't have one at all, but sometimes I think I may have been better off with one. You never know! I just wanted to say I hope all goes well for you. Please stop by and let us know how you're doing.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • No brace? I don't think you missed out on much! Lordy, that thing's going to be a real challenge.

    Looking at your 'tag line' on your post and that of others, I can see that you and many have had such great troubles with backs. Take your case, so many procedures, tests and meds. Ouch! It makes me feel, I dunno, a little new I guess and a lot lucky. This will be my first real go at a hospital stay. I mean, I had some wisdom teeth taken out once and had some scar tissue removed from my hip years ago. But as far as a real, sure 'nuff surgical procedure, this'll be a first. I must admit to being a bit nervous right now. I know that everyone must be jumpy when considering this kind of thing, though. Anyhow, it does make it easier to bear when I can read here that so many have gone through it before. And the stories, good or bad, do help me to have a better idea of what to expect. So I offer my thanks to you and all.

    Ciao for now,
  • Aaron - I don't know if you're married or not, but please make sure you take someone with you to the hospital. I tried to go it alone and that is a recipe for disaster. If you don't have someone there to help you, you most likely won't get good care. Have a spouse, friend, or family member there as much as possible to look out for you. It's easy to get ignored when you're on drugs and in pain.

    All the best,
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • all the best on your upcoming procedure.. :D stick close to the forum if your computer will let you! LOL!! i know you will have a healthy and happy recovery!! please follow your doctor's orders. :D that is so important!! i see you have your brace and are checking it out already, good for you!!!! good luck! =D> Jenny :)
  • Aaron,
    Don't let it get you stressed out.. I had the same type of surgery on October 20th. I never had a brace and did not have one when I left the hospital. The only thing I wear daily is this "Spinal Pack" It is a little device like an ipod that has to little sensory pads where each pad sticks on your back on either side of the incision. You do not feel a thing but it is suppose to stimulate bone growth for your fusion.

    As for pain, etc.. The first day I did not remember much simply because you are on a morphine pump that day and in La La land.. The second day was the toughest out of all the days. This is when they get you up and walk you for the first time. That was tough.. However, from then on it was not too bad. I am about 2 weeks post surgery and am getting around great. I walk about 2-3 miles per day, sleep well, am starting to get off my pain meds and knock on wood, I am not feeling any of the pain that I did prior to surgery.

    Good luck and keep us posted on how this works out!

  • @Linda..yea, my wife is going with me. She has her own back issues with degenerative disc problems, but she'll be there. Her mom will help me a lot and my mom and my RN/flight nurse sister will be there the first couple days to make sure no one forgets about lil ole me :)

    @lulusheart..thanks for the shout-out.

    @Mark33...Good to know you're doing well on the other side of what's coming for me. No brace for you either eh? I guess my NS knows what's best in my particular case, and he votes for the TLSO with an additional chest piece that really inhibits my forward movement. I know that the recovery is going to be long and may be quite painful. I'm ready for that (If one can truly be ready for such a thing), but that brace seems kind of intimidating to me. It is SO restrictive and since it'll be with me 24/7 for four months, I'm really nervous about how I'll be able to deal with it. Guess I'll just have to cowboy up and do it!

    I am happy for you on your recovery, as it sounds like you are doing well and I wish nothing but continued success for you. Thanks
  • Hey Aaron - are they going to put rods in your back, or just fill the space where your disc is for the fusion? If you're not having instrumentation (rods and screws) that may be why you need the brace. And, if you are, then I think you're right -- your doc knows what's best for your individual case. It sounds like you've got a great care team set up for afterwards. Good for you! I had to have surgery two hours from home, so things weren't good at the hospital, but were great once I got back here.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Best of luck to you on your upcoming surgery. Just be sure to listen to your body (sleep when you need to, etc) and care of yourself!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I had a PLIF of L5S1 on 16th October. I haven't had a brace either. I didn't really do much morphine in hospital - it made me feel sick and, actually, the pain wasn't that bad. The worst bit was the drain as it kept pulling when I moved in the bed. Once that had gone I felt much better.
    Unfortunately my wound got infected 11 days post op and that has slowed my recovery as i am not allowed to do much to avoid "stirring it up". I must be starting to feel better now because I am actually starting to get bored. Out of all the experience it is the wound infection that has hurt the most! Can you believe it because I can't? I really thought I would come round from the anaesthetic in really bad pain but I didn't.Except for a small amount of morphine that the nurse said I should take on the first night I had only taken paracetamol and ibuprofen for the surgical pain. I was really surprised that it worked - as a spiney you must be used to taking meds and them doing nothing. But the stupid bacteria in my wound made me go back on the codeine for about 5 nights so that I could sleep.
    I wish you luck with your op - I hope that it goes as well as mine!
  • Morning Linda,
    Yep, it's going to be pedicle screws and rods. So far, it's just going to be fusion @ L5/S1, but the NS said he couldn't promise that. Depending on what L4/L5 looked like when he actually gets in there, well I guess that may require work too.

    So for me, it's going to be all the neat little metal bits AND this medeival looking brace. From what I can gather, the NS is one who tends to be conservative as possible in surgery and a little over-cautious. To be honest, I'd rather him be a little over-cautious!

    Peace & Love

  • Good luck on your surgery! I just had a TLIF/laminectomy with hardware on Nov. 3rd. It was my very first surgery ever. I've never broken a bone, had stitches or even gotten stung by a bee. So I feel you on being terrified.

    I had a lot of issues in the hospital (you can see it in my thread "surgery TOMORROW!"). I agree with Isteller, make sure you have a friend of family member with you as much as possible in the hospital. The nurses may ignore you if you don't ask for your meds. I got treated very poorly while my husband was there, but I know if he wasn't there it would have been much worse.

    I'm still have some pain but I'm only a few days post op. Feel free to PM me if you want, we'll have similar recovery times.
  • This is a great site with much useful information and many caring supportive people. If you have a question, post it and someone here will be able to help you. I had the 360 and will be in this brace for a minimum of 3 months and possibly 6 months or more. My brace also goes down to the right knee and has a locking device so that I have to walk straight legged. It unlocks so that you can bend the knee to sit. As you said, it is a LAUGH A MINUTE! I hope you have a successful surgery and a speedy recovery! God Bless!


    Here is a link to my surgery story.
  • Hi Aaron,

    Yep, these next few days are going to be very stressful. Just try to get as much rest as you can - I know, practically impossible!

    Glad the Must-haves list is helpful - it is rather massive - but like you said, better to be overcautious (prepared) than under - right?

    I'm surprised on the brace for you - you really must have a cautious doc. I just had a big stretchy kind of brace (like a huge wide velcro belt) that I'd use whenever I was up. It was HOT in the summer, be glad you're headed into cooler weather.

    Well, I'll be hoping your computer issues are solved for good - and welcome to the community.
  • Hi Aaron, welcome to the group. I have a brace that just goes around the waist. It is hard in the back and on the side but just firm in the front, It wraps around and closes/adjusts with velcro. I have to wear it whenever I am not lying down for 3 full months maybe more. Try not to let your nerves get the best of you :) Enjoy the next couple of days, recovery is very very very ... SLOW. My hospital stay was fine with the exception of my CT the day after surgery. My Hubby was working so he came by every evening 15-20 minutes on his way to pick up our little one from day care. My girls came by on thier way to work every day. other then that I was just with staff, and was fine.
    I will be praying for yoy and an uneventfull surgery.
    God Bless and Keep you,
  • Hey, nice to meet ya! It's too late on the nerves..I'm already getting quite jumpy. I've been pretty good up until just yesterday and today I'm about to worry myself into a tizzy. I almost feel silly whining about my lil ole one level fusion, when so many on here have really been through the grinder! But, whine I may.

    Thanks for your encouraging words. I have been trying to enjoy these days. The weather's great and I have been out on my motorcycle quite a bit. I have tried to enjoy even the most simple things, like my nice hot shower this morning. I thought, "here in a couple days, this won't be near as easy."

    I watched some footage of the surgery on YouTube , as that didn't help me calm down any. Well, I do have God, wife and family looking out for me, so it can't be too bad huh?

    I'll keep you in my prayers tonight, as well as all the other 'spineys' suffering tonight.

    Aloha nui loa,

  • Wishing you all the best for Tuesday. I'm nearly 3 weeks post-op and didn't have any nerves until a couple of days before the op, so it's quite normal to feel this way. And you're not whining about your one level fusion - it's major surgery.

    I'm glad I don't have to wear a brace, and have a plate and screws keeping everything in place. Surgeons have different ideas about braces, and your surgeon believes it's the right thing for you post-op.

    God will look after you and help you to cope.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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