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Minimally Invasive TLIF scheduled for Thursday, Dec.3

laughnsmilellaughnsmile Posts: 60
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,

Well, I had the pre-op physical and purchased a much needed
new mattress today. Love the one I have, but much to soft
for back problem.

I know noseovertail had similar surgery, but I was wondering
if anyone else has? Mine will include a laminectomy, removal of facet joints, cage and pulling spine back to correct position securing with rods and screws.

I've been reading posts and am amazed and a little anxious.
Others having a TLIF have been in surgery for hours!

I am told surgery will be 2 small incisions an'd will take
about 1 1/2 hours. I'll spend one night in hospital.

Here's what scares me. So many posts talk of terrible pain
after surgery. I have spondylolisthis grade 2. I've been
in constant pain starting last xmas day. At times, I am
in excruciating pain. crying out, can't move. I am unable
to shower without this happening. I've been "stuck" places.

Is after surgery pain like this excruciating pain or worse?
If so, I'm afraid I can't handle it. Please understand, I
don't mean to whine...this board seems to be a place for
openness and acceptance.

I just need for someone to describe reasonably what after
post op pain is like. I realize their are differences among
each person.

Also, I am only going to have help the day I get home and
2 more days so I want to be prepared.

I feel everyone's life has a turning point and I feel this surgery is mine. I have a 10 and 14 year old daughters and
a 95 yo mother whom I have been the only caregiver for. She
has dementia starting when she was 92. It has been a challenging, emotionally draining and conflicting experience. I work in a helping profession. So the turning
point for me is to take the time to take care of myself.

I've even thought this condition occurred because I need to
slow down.

Well, thanks for listening to my thoughts and any input
about pain will be appreciated. I imagine it like my severe and incapacitating pain when I can't move and that
is scary! Thanks again!


  • Please know that one of the big reasons for an overnight stay at the hospital is to make certain your post op pain is CONTROLLED. It is a rare occasion that someone doesn't receive adequate post op pain control ... a rarity! Keep in mind that this board is filled with many people who are in pain and searching for someone that understands. Those who have successful surgeries and post op care, don't have the same need and so the percentages here are very skewed and misleading.

    Yes there will be post op pain, but it is normally quite different from the pain you feel prior to surgery. The nurses will be there to help you get control of it and stay ahead of it.

    Do you have someone who can be with you at the hospital as well? Having an advocate there, helps tremendously. A 10 and 14 year old should be able to assist with the household chores I would think. Is there going to be someone with you during the day when the girls are in school? Can you prepare several meals ahead of time and freeze them so the girls can just thaw them out and reheat them? Do you have a friend or neighbor who can drop in during the day to assist you if need be?

    I agree with you that sometimes life intervenes to slow us down, when we refuse to do so ourselves.

    If you haven't already reviewed the list of post op must haves, that will help you get your home in "shape" to make things easier for you.

    Best wishes,

  • I like your user name, shows a positive attitude. Agree with C's post above. I also would like to add something regarding the care of your elderly mom. You will be given restrictions on bending, twisting and lifting. You also will not feel up to caring for someone else for a while. Have you made arrangements for your mom's care? There are homes that will take care of her temporarily or respite care that is available. Or do you have other family members that can take care of her for a while? I wish you the best recovery. Be patient and let others take care of you.

  • I know many of us tend to scare the living daylights out of new folks - please know that there have been many, many folks who have posted here prior to surgery and then are never heard from again. Reason? They do well and have no need to come back and discuss pain levels again. My one thought as I was reading your post was -- if you are having those horrible pains and can't manage to shower without becoming incapacitated, aren't you willing to try to put an end to that? You will no doubt have pain after surgery, but as C says, it should be "controlled" pain. Once they get your nerves unpinched and realign your spine, you should be on your way to feeling much better.

    I think you should be okay with your children around to assist you in small things. I live alone and was alone from the day I came home from the hospital. I did very well for quite some time. I've had a few bad flares since surgery (I'm in the midst of one now), but otherwise, things have been fine.

    All the best to you,
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • for the quick and encouraging reply's.

    Yes! I am ready to heal and have a relatively normal
    life again. It has been a challenging year. First ortho. said "rebuild from L4 down", but I needed to
    try all other interventions first....and then get
    2nd and 3rd opinions. I am confidant in my 3rd
    surgeon. Fellowship in spine reconstruction, answered a page of 28 questions, does MIS, has
    stretching exercises from day following surgery and
    increasing each week for 7 weeks. Walking also
    is included. He seems to be a gentle doctor but also
    doesn't "baby" along. One set of "stretches" following surgery could take most of day. Doesn't matter...as long as movement done. I think this is
    to prevent scar tissue.


    Sounds like you have experience being a caregiver.
    Mom certainly has been a big consideration of the time of surgery. However, everything seems to have
    fallen into place at the right time. Due to mom's
    dementia progression, she moved from AL to NH. This
    was very difficult for me. My sister died suddenly
    a few years ago and my dad died when I was a teen.
    It has been mom and I as far as extended family. She
    had me late in life as I also have had my children
    late in life. She is adjusting to NH and appears for the most part to be content. Staff loves her..her personality wins! After some problems and
    my considering moving her, I feel positive about her
    care. (Long story).


    Thanks so much for your encouraging and quick reply.
    This is weekend before surgery, so I was up late
    because my girls have friends over. Not sure if I'll
    feel up to that after surgery for awhile.

    I am blessed with a wonderful husband and daughters.
    Husband will be at hospital. No problem for him to
    advocate for me. My daughters are very independent
    and have done so much this past year. I have not
    cooked in quite awhile. I go to work (primarily sitting). I have to sit on right side even when
    driving. My left hip is a couple of inches higher than right and I have to stand/walk leaning to right. I am in severe pain to have arms out in front of me or if I bend over. Can't stand more than a couple of minutes and can't walk more than
    15 feet (or less) without holding on to something
    and crying out in pain.

    I don't really have any friends who are not working
    and I have no extended family. colleagues have offered to help if I need them with just a phone call. Of course, there is miles of distance involved, but that option is available. I'll only
    be alone from morning to about 3:30 when girls get
    home from school. they have been great with cleaning and laundry, quick trips to grocery store, etc.

    I think I'll be fine if I am not in the excruciating
    and incapacitating pain I frequently escalate to now.

    It is confusing because no medication has helped me.
    But all your posts help me realize that nerve will not be impinged and pain will be different. And that
    pain can be controlled with medication.

    MD said I will probably continue to have some sciatica. That probably is not what is causing the
    disabling pain now.

    Thanks again....yes, I'm soooooooooooooo ready
    to get this over with.

    BTW, many of the posts seem to be long surgery.
    Why is open surgery done so frequently rather than

  • It sounds like you are really ready for this surgery. Your quality of life should improve greatly once you have got over the healing of the surgery.
    It will be wonderful for you to get back to being able to be a wife and mum to your family. They sound like they will be a wonderful support until you are functioning normally again.
    I wish you all the best.
  • I'm currently being evaluated for TLIF vs. other surgery. So I'm anxious to hear your outcome!

    I agree with others about those that post here are still looking for help in most cases so the numbers are skewed. My husband reminds me of that and reminds me that I need to take information here to ask the right questions to the doctor before the surgery.

    Best wishes.
  • With the compensations you have gotten used to making to accommodate the pain caused by the slippage, you will find that you will probably have some different symptoms of pain after surgery. All your soft tissue around the spine will have to go through an adjustment period as your body gets used to the new position that will be created by the surgeon. This can take awhile to resolve. It is very important to be aware of these postures you probably developed as the pain became more severe. You probably have formed some bad habits as a result and it will be important to try hard to regain proper alignment. This will help prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the adjacent spinal segments, and future adjacent disc disease, etc.

    I think in the future more and more spinal specialists will be doing more minimally invasive surgeries. Right now, most spinal procedures are in their infancy in this regard -- just like it was with hip replacement a decade ago. Some of the older surgeons are more relunctant to do it, or perhaps just feel more comfortable with the long track record for open surgeries.

    In more complex surgeries, they almost always want to do those open so they know they are making all necessary corrections. The fact remains that you can see more with an open incision than you can with two tiny holes and an endoscope...and not everything shows up on an MRI -- as we all know, there are sometimes surprises that the surgeon was not expecting.

    When there is more conclusive data showing that results are similar or better to open surgeries, you can bet everyone will be doing them. Also, insurance companies may demand it, if they involve shorter hospital stays, etc.

    Good luck with your surgery. I look forward to hearing from you afterward, when you feel up to it.

  • Today is 5 weeks since I had my surgery. So far so good. After surgery my pain was well controlled. I expected much worse and was also very scared. I stayed in the hospital 2 nights. I was walking the day after surgery. I do not have a brace. I was sent home with 35 morphine sulfate tablets. I still have about half of them. I did have incredible stiffness and aching for about 10 days. This was in the back area and my legs. It felt like I had run a marathon. But I'll take that over nerve pain. I had 6 small areas of incisions, the largest one being 8 staples. The others were about 2-4 staples. I haven't seen my surgeon but I'll have to ask him what's up with that?? I do have some residual nerve pain in my right leg but nothing like before. I feel my leg is stronger and I'm hoping the nerve pain will resolve itself over time. I really do have to concentrate on walking with proper posture. Over the last year and a half I have been walking twisted and trying to compensate for the weakness in my right leg. I feel not quite balanced. I do a couple of simple stretches and try to walk a lot. I see the surgeon in about 2 weeks time and see if I will be starting physio. After one starts feeling better it is easy to over it. Watch the BLT. I found that I was twisting to reach things more that I should and that would bring on leg pain. Sitting, getting in and out of the car brings on more pain, but it seems to get better weekly. If you are on your own during the day just make sure food, cooking utensils, clothes, phone etc are easily reachable. I use my pick up stick alot and also the raised toilet seat. I wish you all the best. Things will get better. Just remember to listen to your surgeon and don't overdo it.
  • Hi there, I know you saw my thread about my recovery... I really hope it didn't scare you too much. I don't think my case was very typical.

    The pain post-op is very different than pre-op, or at least for me. It's more of a 'controllable pain', if that makes sense? I know exactly what you mean by getting "stuck", I have gotten stuck so many times because of my debilitating back pain.

    Everyone else gave such lovely advice that I don't have much more to add. You sound like you're ready to take the plunge, and now that you're loaded with info you can go into this knowing you are making a good decision! :)
  • from folks on this thread.
    As someone who is just waiting for my 5th opinion (but 2nd from neuro surgeon), this information is helpful and balanced.

    Heck, I'd love the 20-page questionaire for the doctor (LOL), I have only 5 pages of questions.

    I really want to thank everyone here for the wealth of information and balanced responses.
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