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4 month PO from 4 level lumbar fusion

xMARxxMAR Posts: 125
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone, I haven't been on the site for a while and thought I'd check in. I know there are some people out there that had questions about what to expect and mobility after a 4 level fusion. I had surgery on Sept.8 for a L2-S1 fusion and would like to give anyone that has questions what it was like for me and still have a long road. I was not (I'll admit it)prepsred on what to expect, but can now relate to people what to expect after surgery and 4 months out. Of course everyone heals differently, some quicker and longer than others, but I can tell you how it is for me. This is such a GREAT site for help and encuragement There's been many that helped me through and I would like to do the same. I am not a physician and can't give any medical advise. I'm just like all of you looking for help and helping others. Kevin


  • good to hear from you, glad you are back and healing. You are so right, I don't think there is any way to truly explain the fusion experience, especially given the fact that we all heal differently, and all the different factors that can come into play from pre-op status, to post-op complications.
    May God Bless and Keep you,
  • First -- Shirley...How are you doing?? I haven't seen a word on how you are feeling...if things got better and you are in less pain??

    And xMar, I would love to know how limited in mobility you feel after your 4-level fusion. I've been told that any twisting activity is out (like forget playing golf or tennis), but otherwise you don't notice it that much. What has been your experience, if you're far enough into your recovery to know....

  • Thanks Shirley, you are so right when it comes to healing and aches and pains we all have. Were all different, but at least it's some sort of starting point for others that have no idea. Thanks so much. Gwennie17, For me I can tell you my mobility limits. It's at least a start for others. I can been forward at the waist about 60degrees, twisting with you back or arching your back is impossible for me. Not that it's painful, you are just locked out of moving like that. I have to tell you you will re learn ways to do every day things to compensate. For me putting on socks and shoes is very difficult. So for that reason I wear slip ons. My biggest mobility problem so far need to be addressed . When you are driving and want to make a right hand turn on a lane that curves with a yield sign, if there is no merge lane is impossible for me. I can twist at the neck with no problem on a normal right hand turn. Thanks and the best of luck to you. Kevin
  • Hi X! I am new to the site since you have been on here last--I am 2 weeks post op--ant/pos spinal fusion--my second fusion--I would love to hear what you have to share--and I am glad to hear that you sound very positve! Jeannie
  • Hi Jeannie, welcome to the best site for encouragement and help. I'm not sure which levels you had fused, but second fusion, WOW!!! I think for being 2 weeks out you are doing GREAT!! Walk, walk,walk, plenty of rest, take you medicine,and do your stretches if given, I can tell you at 4 months out I am still very sore from the anterior incision. Everythings ok, just healing and a lot of scar tissue I was told. My job is pretty simple, sitting,standing,and walking so I was able to go back to work 2 months PO. It was very rough at first but now getting a little better. It's a long healing process and I'm off the MS Contin but still have to take 4-6 Norc 10s a day. There are still times I'll put my brace on for a few hours. I had a rough surgery with a lot of blood loss and then kidney problems. Spent the first 4 days in ICU getting transfussions and what else I don't know. I don't remember those days at all. Please keep us posted in your recovery and feel free to write any time. God bless you and take care, Kevin
  • I have a couple posts under "depression and anemia"
    My pain has not improved, but after a blood transfusion, I feel better,I can think clearly again. Oxygen is good lol.
  • Have you had X-rays since your surgery? How are your fusions coming along? I work with someone who is having a 4 level next month, and would like to be able to tell him about your recovery? He went to Germany to haved those artificial discs which failed to work for him. He has sought out a surgeon out of state who has had great success with these multi-level fusions. I'm so glad that you seem to be doing ok!!!

    Shirley...since you have had a gastric bypass, I'm sure you realize that you probably will never be able to absorb your iron/B12 and other vitamins, especially Vitamin D. I am going to take B12 injections every week for the rest of my life, since I for some reason have low iron storage and B12. I also have my ferritin checked every 4 months. Ferritin is Iron storage, and mine is low quite frequently. When it starts to get low, I take iron supplements. Keeping a close check is the only way to maintain your oxygen carrying capacity. My vitamin D was low, so I take a supplement as well, to prevent osteoporosis.

    Just as a side note; it is important to take these supplements only after being diagnosis deficient via blood levels, as well as having careful follow up labs to prevent excess.

  • I have had xrays taken at 2 months PO. They said they could see a little cloudiness which meant a fusion was starting. They couldn't see anything at L2-L3, but said not to be concerned at only 2 months. I go back to my OR on Feb 3rd and have xrays again. I should be able to tell you more at that time. MY OR said he doesn't expect to see much until 5-6 months PO. Thanks, Kevin
  • Hi Kevin-----I am sure you are celebrating your big win right now (sigh)--just wanted to tell you about my stuff.2 years ago I had posterior lumbar fusion at L3-4.The surgery 2 weeks ago was anterior posterior lumbar at L3-4 with restabilization of L3-4.The first surgery was a nightmare-11 days in the hospital--bleeding issues----.My surgery 2 weeks ago has gone so much better!Different surgeon,different care,plus I guess I was just more prepared this time. I am 59,and very active,so as you know the emotional healing can be harder than the physical.It sounds like you had a really rough time in the hospital as well,and I am glad you are doing so well. It is great to meet you,and if there are any questions I can answer please let me know! Jeannie
  • Wow! It's remarkable that you went back to work only 2 mo. after such a fusion! You mentioned your job is easy but your dr must have thought it was safe for you to do so. As you said, everyone recovers at different rates but there is no way my dr would let me nor could I have gone to work at 2 mo after my fusion, which was L-2/3/4. I hope you continue to do well and that your strength and mobility improve daily. My dr told me that it takes 1-2 years to heal. The 2nd half of the 1st year would be better than the first few months and that by the year mark I'd see a big difference in body mechanics, etc. and he was right! 15 mo post fusion I look back and can't believe how much progress I've made.

    Keep up the good work!
  • Hi Kathy, thanks for your posting. I did go back to work after 2 months, but I'll tell you it was too early. My short term disability didn't cover any more and couldn't afford to stay out on only my wifes income. Even now, by Thursday, I'm pretty sore and struggle to the weekend. I'm glad your feeling much better and I hope it works for me that way also. Thanks, and the best to you and everyone else that is out there. Kevin
  • So hope you can rest and keep your pain levels down for afew days.
  • Kevin!How are ya?---I hope you get some rest this weekend.How is the weather?
  • yeah, this whole having to work for the money thing kind of sucks ;)

    I wish I could have stayed home just a little bit longer after the hardware removal.

    Even coming back at 5 1/2 months post 2-level fusion was difficult.
  • Yes i know I cannot absorb Iron, thats why they dont bother with supplements, I have to have the infusions, I was originally told every 10 years, but my new doc now says could be as often as every 4-6 months, he has a few patients that can go 2 years, but 10 is way off base. I usually manage to keep my b12 in check with the sublingual drops, but occasionally need the injections. I have not had a problem yet with vitamin D. I am not sure yet what my new schedule of bloodwork will be now. My PCP wants me back in 6 weeks for labs, but probably wont have to come that often forever.
    I found out Wednesday that my pre op Hemoglobin for the second surgery was only 9.6, while that is not terribly low, for someone anemic,it should have been monitored more closely post op.
    God Bless and keep You,
  • hi, It's great to hear from you. I'm resting this weekend. By the time Thursday gets here I'm getting pretty sore. So how are you feeling?! I hope you are getting better by the day. I hate talking about weather this time of year. haha!! It's in the low 30s with freezing rain and snow predicted for Sunday. Next week, high in the low teens and lows below 0. I think the cold takes a toll on the body. I've had 4 shoulder surgeries and they always bother me a little every year at this time. Sorry about the game last week. Are you going to watch the Vikings play the Saints?! It's great to hear from you. It's about 9:15pm, my wifes asleep (I know she's tired of all this and my complaining too!) I'm 50 years old, worked construction all my life and it all catches up to you. Just sitting on the computer now with our cat (pounce) at my feet. You have a great night and keep in touch. You can rub it in about your weather if you want!! LOL I can take it. Kevin
  • Continued success and relief!!! In 2005 after years of cervical pain and numbness in my hand and swearing no one would go near my neck with a scalpel I had a cervical corpectomy. I was in the hospital less than 24 hours and came home in a hard collar but pain free for the first time in years and I could feel my hands. 3 Years later I stepped onto a curb and pain shot down my back and my legs collapsed. I saw a doctor who referred me to a surgeon- neuro. The surgeon viewed my MRI before entering the room, walked in looked at me got this very strange look on his face and walked back out. He came back in and stated frankly that by looking at the MRI he thought I was an 80 year old. I was 43. He proceeded to then tell me his second guess would have been a retired football player but seeing a woman he knew that wasn't the case either. I had three ruptured discs and the most severe stenosis he had ever seen and he was amazed I was still walking unassisted. I tried the steroid injections and had to have one a month for 3 months and that was the max I could get. After the third injection, which lasted a month, I saw the surgeon again and in 2 weeks on Feb 12 2009 I underwent PLIF and ended up with lumbar fusion L1-S1 with instrumentation. My husband was told 5-6 hours and the surgery was 8. The neuro surgeon was not anticipating fusing the entire lumbar spine. I was in the hospital until the 14th and used the pain pump only twice and that was the surgery day. I honestly do not like the way pain meds make me feel not to mention the side effects, especially the constipation. I was walking on the first post op day and it was the most comfortable walk I had taken in months. Once at home I had a couple of poor me days at first but that was due to not being totally prepared for the extent of the fusion. I got stuck on the potty but with the addition of a toilet riser that situation was solved and I felt helpless in tending to my hasic needs, needing help bathing and getting dressed. I am happy and proud to say I took very little pain med and was able to manage with tylenol and prior to walking the muscle relaxer my surgeon prescribed. I began walking outside with the walker and my husband at my side several times a day and by the time I returned for suture removal about 2 weeks later I wae allowed to start working from home a few hours a day and he told me I could stop using the walker. By March 20th, 5 weeks after surgery I was back to work 4 days a week about 4 or 5 hours a day and 3 weeks after that I was back full time. I still walk twice a day and have become very mindful of my weight. Just a couple of extra pounds makes a big difference. Just this week we went to disney with friends we have not seen in a year. Just prior to my surgery when we were at disney and I couldn't walk but a few feet without a rest. They were amazed at how different I was less than a year later and able to walk the whole park with no rest stops. Everyone is different and every recovery unique but moving is most important to get those muscles back into shape and functioning optimally. Best of luck to you all.
  • you are not rubbing it in about the football game,I will not rub it in about the weather.At least in Minnesota you KNOW it is going to be winter---here it can be 30 one day and 80 the next,so your body cant get adjusted!I am 59----soon to be 60,and I have noticed the last few years the cold and damp bother me alot more than they used to. Do you have big plans for watching the game?

  • What an amazingly encouraging story. If only more post fusion spineys could have such success.

    You give me hope.
  • You are amazing!!! That was a HUGE surgery and how fast you healed is remarkable!! That is a big encouragement for all of us. Thanks so much, Kevin
  • No big plans this weekend. We took Monday off of work just in case The VIKES win. Kevin
  • Thank you both for your words of encouragement. For those that think I am bragging how wrong you are. I heard from many prior to surgery "are you crazy?" Prior to my neck surgery I would have died rather than let someone near my spine with a knife. If I had only heard from someone how much relief there was. There are so many horror stories when it comes to spine surgery that I thought it important to share a success or two.
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