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How long no BLT ???

jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm trying to gather information about recovery after spinal surgery to prepare myself, just in case.

I have heard that after lumbar fusion surgery, that you should not Bend, Lift anything heavy, or Twist, while you are recovering.
How long does this restriction last for?

Also how much is too heavy to lift?

I also wonder how soon after surgery people feel they could sit and watch a show (approx 3 hours, with an interval). Strange question, but have just heard my son will be in a show in April!! Strange the things we worry about.


  • This is a pretty nice article explaining the GENERAL progression of recovery. Everyone is different it seems, so there will be people that reach certain milestones before others. It just depends on the person and how their "stars align" during the process.


    I would think (based on the general article) it will be at least 3 months before you can lift anything more than a gallon of milk or so.

    Basically, you have to set aside an entire year to concentrate on healthy living, and healing the best you possibly can. But why stop at just the year, make this a total life change. That is what I am going to use to try and stay positive. I am going to be reborn, hopefully pain-free, and health oriented.

    Good luck on making your decision. There are great people here to help.

  • I have been changing my life style to make it healthier over the last year to try very hard to avoid fusion surgery. I have managed to lose weight and am definately fitter for taking walks every day and also exercising in the evening. I eat more healthily and drink lots of water. I know that all these things have helped me a lot, BUT I am still unable to really live my life.

    As long as I stay home and keep sitting down to rest my back, and lie down when I am too uncomfortable, I can manage but what about the rest of my life. I want to get back to doing the things I enjoy. Simple things like going out for a day, playing and picking up my 2 year old grand daughter, going shopping with my daughter.

    I want my life back, but at the same time I'm very scared and worried about fusion surgery.
  • Good advice from Jason -- even though you CAN bend at a particular point, you may find that you do not want to. I had my fusion two years ago and getting ready for holiday company, I was in such pain from the small amount of bending I did doing housework.

    I can tell instantly if something I am carrying is to heavy as my lower lumbar area will let me know. I still ask them to make my bag of groceries on the light side.

    Basically the surgery is very fragile for the first three months. From three to six months you can do more...but your fusion will not be strong until after the year mark has passed. From one to two years the bones are still continuing to develop strength, in most people.

    Regarding sitting that long...if you have surgery soon, you probably could stand that much sitting, if there is a break part-way through. Maybe you could sit on an aisle in the back so you could get up to stretch several times.

    When I had my fusion, the surgery was Jan. 7th and I flew half-way across the country the first week in April. I was uncomfortable, but the experience did not cause any damage...(as far as I know, anyway... @) ).

    I remember when I went to see my surgeon at about one month he asked me to bend backward...and I remember telling him I couldn't do that. He said I could do it just that one time and kind of laughed at me.

    In addition to the BLT rule, you can add reach to the list. You should not be reaching to the side or overhead, like into a high cupboard. It is important to learn to move your body to the thing you want, rather than reaching...and twisting and bending at the same time is just about the worst thing to do. Many people herniate a lumbar disc removing snow boots while standing...or trying to put on socks while standing. You just have to be aware of how you use your body and then revise it to protect your spine.

    Are you coming closer to reaching a decision?

    xx Gwennie
  • Hi Jelly---we are both grandmas that want our life back!I am 13 days post-op from my second spinal fusion-my first was 2 years ago---this one was an anterior one as well.I honestly dont remember when it was officially ok to lift more than a gallon of milk-but having back problems has forever changed how I use my body--it is hard,because I want to get out and run with my dog,and do sports with the grands--the frustration of not being able to lift my 1 yr. grand is overwhelming.I cant move rocks in the garden or heavy plants on the patio-and I hate asking!But,as Jason says,its just a new and healthy way of life----someone posted on here that instead of making a list of things one can't do,make a list of things that one can do,and go from there----Just please remember we are here for you,and I am your fellow "Gammy"! Jeannie

  • I can hardly think of anything else but my decision for or against fusion surgery. Some days, I feel very close to saying "yes, let's go for it" but then just thinking that scares me silly, and I back right off again. I just wish I wasn't so scared!

    I can, at least talk about it without crying now, so I guess I am getting better about the thought of it. I am learning all about what they would do and talking to people on here informs me about what to expect. I think it is best to know the good and the bad. I loved the way that dlbetts said that the anticipation was worse than the surgery!

    I have even started to think about the timing of it. My youngest son graduates in July, so want to be able to go to that. Other son in this show in April. Grand daughter's birthday party in March. Husband is hoping for a party for his 60th in August.

    I think, in order to progress in my decision, I need to go and talk to this surgeon. Even that scares me, because it feels like a step closer to having it! I can have an appointment as soon as I am ready. (I have been in that position since November 2008!)
  • me again-----I was afraid to lift,move,stretch,etc,for along time after my surgeon cleared me (from first surgery).I was also afraid to be in a crowd for fear of being knocked over---getting back in public----but that comes with learning about being aware of your surroundings---but that gets better too!

  • There are so many people on here who seem to have second and even more surgeries. I really don't want to start on that road. But I'm sure you didn't want that either!

    I think that my back has changed how I do lots of things, even before surgery. On a bad day, I hurt my back if I pick up a full 6 pint milk bottle. I already avoid stretching up or reaching for things, because it hurts.

    I know that frustration of not being able to pick up a grandchild. My grand daughter was living abroad until she was 18 months old, which was very painful, now she is here but I can't pick her up and play with her properly. She is very cute as she does her excercises along with her Nanny. She even asked me in the library one day, if I wanted to lie down on the floor!

  • We have lots of snow and ice here in the UK at the moment. I am so scared to go out because I feel so vulnerable. I'm afraid that if I fall on the ice, I'll do some damage, or even if I collide with another car, that I will be jolted and hurt my back.

    I can't wait for all the snow to melt away.

    Thanks for the support, it really does help. :D
  • I know what you mean about being far from the grands----2 of ours lived in Wichita,Kansas up until this past October-they are 9 and 11.Only a 6 hour drive from our house,but still far enough that we missed school plays,sports activities,etc.Now both our children,spouses,grands live about 45 min. from us----I look forward to when they can come spend the night with us again!------The U.K. has really gotten hit hard this winter I know---think spring!-------have you thought about listing the pros of surgery,and also the cons?maybe if you wrote it out it would help you see all sides at once---keep me posted,I really care how you are doing,Jelly! Jeannie

  • of pros and cons, and lots of other lists too. Lists of questions I've asked various doctors, and their answers, lists of my symptoms.

    Logically, I can see that probably surgery would be worth a try, BUT I am so scared! I have been told by one doctor that she thinks I will have to have surgery at some point (said it was amazing that I am managing to walk about). But a surgeon said that it was not inevitable that I would have to have surgery. I hang on tightly to that comment. Mind you, he also said to go home and have a bottle of wine and make the decision!

    Yes, I'm looking forward to the weather improving so I can get out for my daily walks again. They help with my sciatica.

    Thanks for caring Jeannie.
  • wine,beer,Baileys Irish Creme---good stuff,and they all help relax us--you are welcome,jelly
  • I just had my 8 weeks post op visit for 2 level fusion with hardware at L4-S1, (and my fusion has started!) yeah! But the doctor told me I could bend over and move around all I wanted too. I can only sit for about 2-3 hours tops before I have to go lie down.
    Hope this little bit of info helps, and I know that everyone is different in their healing process and different surgeons recommend different things. This is what my particular NS told me.
  • My surgeon has been fairly vague. At 6 weeks he said don't bend. I saw him this week (13 weeks tomorrow) and he said I could try it. I said "no thanks!" cos I can tell that it would hurt. He said a good rule is if it hurts don't do it. Putting socks on is really hard by the way - and tying shoelaces!
    I really can't lift stuff yet. Shopping in and out of the car - needs to be in really small amounts. Stuff that is low down has to be really light, stuff on the work top can be a bit heavier. At school today (I am a teacher) I had to get a kid to lift the laptop that someone had (helpfully) left in an undercounter cupboard because it was too heavy.
    Twisting - I am a lot stiffer in the car - I have noticed that I find it much harder to see at junctions.
    So - although my surgeon said I would be "independent" once let out of hospital I don't know how I would manage if I didn't have the husband to lift, carry, get stuff out of the ground level fridge and cupboards etc!
  • I think this is a good example of how differently everyone's situation and healing process is. Unfortunately I was alone during about 99% of my recovery, including my first few days after surgery and being released from the hospital. So I learned to squat a lot when I needed to get something off the floor (that I couldn't get with the grabber). By my first full day home from the hospital I showered completely by myself (with a shower seat) and even shaved my legs (that made me very happy haha). I was back to work by week 4 of recovery and was told to not sit for more than an hour by then. Aside from that really had no clear instructions other than that I also got the "if it hurts don't do it" speech. By week 6 I was able to sit through a movie at the theater without any pain, just a little discomfort that made me switch positions a few times.

    At my last appointment on Dec 15 - my 10 week follow-up - my OS said fusion had begun and that I was doing fabulously so I should continue whatever I was doing because it was working, and that by Spring I should be able to return to sports (I was an avid softball player until my back ruined that). So obviously the no BLT won't really apply by then. But no matter how well I'm doing, I keep that rule in mind anyway, because no matter how good and strong I feel, it's obvious to me that it is time to make some lifestyle changes to avoid more surgery in the future.

    My point is that there are definite general guidelines, and your surgeon should be able to give you much clearer guidelines that will apply to you specifically. But I would also recommend considering how you can make changes to what you do and how you do it to take care of your back in the long term...no just immediately post-surgery.

    Best of luck!

  • I haven't thought about this before, but how do you clean yourself after using the restroom after a 2 level fusion? Is it possible? I tried going through the motions without bending or twisting, and it is impossible.

    My wife would do it, but I do not want her to.
  • It's not easy. I think most of us manage it, but there are also some TP holders that I've heard you can buy that help... anyone know what I'm talking about?
  • jason,you can also get a squirt bottle,and use it to rinse off---then when you stand,or lie down you can use a hot rag to finish cleaning---I did this,and it worked well--let me know
  • I didn't have any issues at all after my 2 level fusion, not even in the hospital....but then again I didn't have really any of the issues most people seem to after fusion. Or maybe I just have really long arms... =))

    Here is what saltzworks was referring to -


  • I don't think the doctor advises restrictions according to the individual person. It is more a reflection of the way he was trained and what he has found from his personal practice.

    With a fusion, technically the hardware is strong enough to withstand movement, but who wants to push it and later find out you are the one in a thousand that doesn't fall into the category? In the course of a lifetime, it isn't much of a sacrifice to be careful and to limit activity for three months, especially if it means a strong fusion that will be long-lasting.

    Bear in mind that some surgeons are intentionally vague in what they tell you so you can't come back at them if something happens doing an activity the doctor said was OK.
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