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Microdiscectomy surgery and recovery. I did it!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Micrdiscectomy all done. (This after 9 weeks of pain and numbness do do L4/L5 disc herniation. The pain got much better after 4 weeks but the left leg weakness and fatigue never got better in 9 weeks and left me with a profound limp.)

Back surgery all done! Went in this morning at 5:30am... was wheeled back to the prep room by 6:30am.... and put out by 7:30am. Quick! Had all my questions answered while they scrubbed my lower back.. put in IVs and gave me some stuff to calm me down (I had started to panic and was throwing pans and instruments around the room... JK). After that point things got a little blurry. I do remember the fluorescent lights moving above me as I rolled down the hallway... and going into the O.R. with many big round lights and a HUGE microscope and a bed shaped like a cross for arms to be held out sideways :) That's about it though.

2 hours later I awoke. Groggy.. nurse brought me animal crackers and sprite.. no issues at all with feeling icky or nausea. Loads of pain the first few hours.. but a different kind of pain... NORMAL pain.... not at all the awful weird sciatic nerve pain. WALKED to the car! Slept off and on until now. Already my left leg feels slightly stronger than it has since at any time since Sept 7th when the disc ruptured... should be good in a few weeks, but it will take many months to come back fully.

Dr. Bartie said the spinal area was a mess. Lots of old damage on top of newer damage and the nerve was really being pinched hard.. this would have led to permanent damage soon had I not done surgery. He had to remove some bone and lots of disc material.

Now a couple weeks before I can get back to work. Lots of alternating lying down, brief periods of sitting, and walking (treadmill).. that is the bulk of recovery.

Already ONLY TWELVE hour later I feel, in ways, better than I have in 9 weeks. Amazing. Already have walked 10-15 minutes on the treadmill (2 mins at a time at 1mph)

Now I have heard that the pain can actually INCREASE a few days later a bit.. so I am prepared for that possibility.

I am on 2 Percoset and 2 Vesiril (not sure of spelling I only have generic names on my labels) very 4 hours for these first 2 days.

More soon. I'll document my recovery a bit. I remember how wonderful it was to have other peoples experiences to read in the weeks of research I did while waiting my own surgery.


  • Congrats Pete! You've made it over the mountain now you're on the other side! So far it sounds good, but please don't overdo it. Walking is great and I know you're doing it slowly and in short bursts, but bear in mind your body has taken a thumping and it needs to rest and heal. I hope sleep comes easily to you and that you sleep as much as you can. Sleep is very important.

    Hope the remainder of your recovery is as pleasant a surprise as it has been so far!
  • Pleased you are doing good just shortly after surgery. Also glad to see you know you may have some set backs but don't let those get you down.

    You are over the hill and sounds like your decision to proceed was good.

    From personal experience, listen to the doctors on the healing advice . . don't rush going back to work. Keep us posted!!!
  • You must be so relieved to have it all behind you. I hope that your recovery goes well. Remember not to overdo things even if you are feeling better. Please do keep us posted with your progress.
  • I'm so glad you went through with it. It sounded, by your description, like the surgery would be of great benefit to you and I'm so glad you're feeling so much better already. I remember feeling much better after my micro-d too. If I hadn't had such a curve from scoliosis, it might have ended there. I pray your recovery continues just fine and you'll be feeling wonderful in no time.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • First first post-op night sleeping was actually LESS painful than the previous 2 months after my herniation! That was a big surprised! I figured the first night sleeping after surgery the pain would take a turn for the worse... but it wasn't! In my normal bed too!

    Today I notice I can now stand up 1 inch higher on my left foot tippy toes than I've been able to since the herniation happened.. so already some strength is returning.. AMEN.

    I know it may be many months for full strength to return.. and I've been warned I maybe will never gain ALL the strength back.

    "Up and out of bed!" are the first instructions on the post op instructions. So today again I am doing that. I'd say I am walking around the house VERY slowly and carefully 15 minutes per hour. The rest lying down. Lifting limits is 10Lbs until my 2 week post op doctors visit

    They sent me home with a decent velcro strap-on ice pack.. with extra packs to freeze while I am wearing it. One of the most important things is to wear ice the first 48 hours straight. Even slept with it on (of course it warmed up after 3-4 hours)

    I absolutely know there could be set backs and pain down the road.. many experience 2 steps forward then 1 step backwards or more etc. But I'll post here now and then for the next month of so perhaps helping others in my situation in the future.

  • HI Pete :)

    I am so happy to hear this all went so very well for you.

    I look forward to following your progress over these next weeks..

    I am sure a thread such as this will be helpful to others who are still waiting to cross over to the surgery side ;)

    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.
  • Pete,

    So glad things are going good on day 2.
    Gosh I wish I had your doctor. Seems you got more clear and concise directions than I did and it's paying off. Keep posting! I need to feel your positive healing for my own healing that is going a bit slower.

    You are already seeing many more improvements than I did after my microdiscectomy on L5-S1. Congrats and keep up the good job on making recovery your #1 job!
  • That ice pack sounds really nice. I had the Keystone Cops taking care of me at the hospital. They kept bringing me those little paper and plastic bags they fill with ice chips and, of course, they would break and I'd be soaked and have to change my gown and the bedding. When I asked for a gel pack ice pack, they showed up with this big contraption with water circulating through a pad and a chiller. Jeez! All I wanted was a regular ice pack for goodness sakes! I was so glad to get home.

    Hope you are continuing to do well Pete -- probably best to not get up on the tip-toes too much to start out with. Rest and walk, you'll be fine.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Pete,
    Thank you for posting your progress - I am in the midst of deciding whether or not to go through with a microdiscectomy in 8 days.....hard decision, but reading your positive outcome so far is encouraging.

    Curious if you have issues with any other discs, or just the L4-L5? I am nervous, b/c I have herniation at L4L5, but L3L4 and L5S1 are bulging, and I have DDD. Worried that surgery will make things worse...but also worried that nerve damage will get worse.
  • I'm so very happy for you . Now I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but I know from personal experience that the steroids they inject in your back during the surgery helps to mask pain for quite some time after surgery, usually up to about six weeks. For some it's shorter, some longer. And when they 'wear off' it can seem like you are going to hell in a hand basket and it can scare the tar out of you. I wasn't prepared for this and I was sure something dreadful was wrong with me. It's happened with me twice now and ihave one more disc to be operated on Dec 9 and I am sure it will happen again. Just know that if this happens it's normal and recovery from discectomy can take months as the disc retracts and all the swelling an inflammation resolves. Doctors just don't prepare people for this unfortunately. You may also be one of the people who just gets better and better so I'm not telling you to count on this happening, just don't be freaked out if this happens.
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