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Anxiety from the "List" of things for surgery

RenfieldRRenfield Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Yesterday I read the "List" that someone compiled of things you'd need before,during and after surgery, and I hardly slept at all last night! It was so extensive (and very well done!) that I began to feel overwhelmed and started thinking how involved and awful the surgery and recovery must be. A Laminectomy is several weeks away, and I've been trying not to think too much about it, because I am prone to worry a lot.

It would be wonderful if someone could tell me something to settle me down and let me sleep again. Thank you!!


  • You don't have to tackle everything all at once. Make a personal list and try to do a few things each day to prepare. The list is there to HELP you and make things easier for you after surgery. You can also have a friend or family member come and help you prepare your home. Make a day of it and include lunch in the mix or order a pizza delivery during the day. Instead of letting it overwhelm you, let it encourage you that life will be so much easier with some of these things done ahead of time.

    Simple things like having daily use items up on the counter top for easy access make a world of difference.

    Remember that you can come in here day or night and find someone to "talk" to if you need to.

  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I know that the list is a long one, but I doubt that there's anyone here whose had surgery that needed everything on that list. I don't know what type of surgery you're having, cervical or lumbar, but either way there are things are the list that are truly "must-haves" while the others are either "nice-to-haves" or not necessary at all.

    Grabber tools are one of the defininte must-haves. Since during your recovery you'll have restrictions including no BLT (bending, lifting, twisting), the grabber tool is necessary to pick things up off the floor, grab the remove from the spouses hand, etc. Pillows another thing that we all couldn't live without. Having things within easy reach at your "station" (where you plan to plant yourself, such as a recliner) is also a good thing. Next to my recliner, I have a rolling table that adjusts up and down and one side tilts, although I rarely use than function. But the rolling table is very handy to keep my necessities on (meds, drink, kleenex, lip stuff, etc.) and it also comes in handy when you're eating, as a TV tray.

    If you're having cervical surgery, bendy straws come in handy as well as soft foods, ice cream, ensure drinks, etc, as your throat might be sore and hard to swallow after the surgery.

    If you're having lumbar surgery, sleeping in something slippery, such as satin sheets or satin pajamas helps you to roll over.

    Don't worry about how extensive the list is. Read around the forums and see what people found helped them a lot. Something that isn't usually mentioned is something to help keep your mind active when your body can't be. Puzzle books, Nintendo DS or other game console, movies, etc. can really help.

    Also, if you're going to have someone with you the first week or two, anything you find that you may need your helper can go and get for you. For instance, after my TLIF, I never thought I'd need a walker. Turned out, that I had quite a bit of nerve pain the first couple of weeks and couldn't walk on my own, so my nurse (aka MIL) borrowed one from a friend and brought it home for me to use.

    There are a lot of variable that will determine what you need, so the more info you give us the more we can help you.

    As for the surgery itself, yes, it's major surgery but many find that it's usually the first two weeks that are the most difficult so staying up on your medications during that time is imperative. After that, you'll start feeling better and is a good time for taking walks, starting with short distances and working up to longer ones. You'll actually want to start walking sooner than two weeks, but you'll feel most comfortable and stable after that amount of time.

    Having had both an ACDF and a TLIF, I wouldn't consider either surgery "awful". Extensive, painful, yes, but it's usually not as difficult as it may sound from some here. Keep in mind that those members that had successful surgeries and are fully recovered move on to live life and no longer post because they don't need the support that they once did.

    So, try not to get to anxious. You'll make it through the surgery and once home, you'll hopefully find what makes you the most comfortable. For each of us it's usually trial and error once you get home to find what position will be the most comfortable, what you can do and what you can't.

    Take care and feel free to PM me any time if you have questions or just need to vent to a fellow spiney.

  • Thank you, both, for taking the time to write -- and for doing it so well! I greatly appreciate your thoughts and your thoughtfulness.
  • Welcome,

    If you tell us a bit more about yourself and the surgery you are having we could probably be more helpful to you. We are a mixed bunch of spineys, neckies and both (speckies?). This is a very supportive group, glad you found us.
  • Hi. I'm 59. For 14 months I've had lower back pain and have tried everything except surgery. Nothing helps very much. MRI shows severe stenosis at L4-5, just at one point. A rather famous neurosurgeon an hour away from me says there is no doubt that I need a laminectomy, and possibly fusion depending on what he finds during surgery. My pain swings between almost nothing to hardly being able to walk. It is greatly limiting my activities and I have a 10-year-old boy -- that's what keeps convincing me to have the surgery even though I have my uncertainties about it. The surgeon says there is a 90% chance that I'll be able to return to my regular activities, including tennis. Maybe it's just that I've heard so many negative stories about back surgery -- I don't want to end up worse than I am now. I am a natural born worrier.
  • Hi, I had a laminectomy and fusion without finding this site and the "list" and I can tell you firsthand that I wish I had found this site with good people, help,ideas, and the "list" prior to me surgeries! In fact, I often wonder if I had behaved better and known what I have learned from SH maybe I could have avoided the fusion longer, maybe not? But Either way, I certainly would have been much better prepared for my fusion and recovery! But I am much better off now with the help of SH! After my fusion I found the list and although by then I had accumulated some of the most needed items it gave me good ideas to help me recover easier.

    Good luck with your fusion! I had my lami,etc. at 50 and fusion (L2/3/4) at 53. I'm 55 now. I'll bet that if you follow your drs. orders you will be able to keep up with the 10 yr old before you know it! Let us know how we can help you more!

  • Thanks for giving us more info. I had a fusion and decompression at L4/5 due to stenosis (man, that hurts, doesn't it?) and bad facet joints.

    I'm just past 10 weeks post-op and I'm so glad I had it done. As it's been said, it's a long recovery, but I found at about 6-8 weeks that the pre-op symptoms were gone and the pain I had was just because of the surgery and assault on my body that any surgery brings. That's a great feeling because you realize at that point that you can consider the surgery a success and just need to get past the surgery itself.

    Just for fun, I can tell you that after ACDF surgery, many people find that when they wake up afterwards, all the arm symptoms are gone. It feels like a miracle. It's so different with lumbar surgery because it's much more painful and because it's at the core, the pain seems to radiate further than with the ACDF.

    Anyway, I'm wishing you the best. I'm sure you're going to have more questions as the surgery get closer so please feel free to post here any time.

    I've included a post below from Jellyhall who had surgery mid March. Jelly posted in the Recovery sections about some very specific questions she really wanted to know and got plenty of responses. Check out her post and see if you have more. I've also included her first post-op post and how she's feeling and doing in the days after her surgery. You'll notice that she says that the anticipation was worse than the surgery - many of us feel that way afterwards. You can post there or in the Surgery section and you'll get all the help that's possible before the big day.

    We're here to help you in any way we can and hopefully you'll go in to surgery with as much info, preparation and confidence that you can. I'm glad you found us.



  • Hi. Once again, thank you SO much for the time and care you've taken with this stranger. I'm really impressed with everyone who has helped me.

    I asked this on my other posting too, but is having a catheter during (and after) surgery any big deal? I guess it's a silly thing (compared to everything else) that's weighing on my mind. It's just my brother had some surgery a couple of years ago and complained a lot about it.
  • Yes, you will have a catheter. Some nurses put it in prior to going into surgery, others wait until you a conked out. As soon as I could get up and around (the next day) it came out. You will be on lots of pain meds and probably won't even notice it.
  • I didn't have a catheter after my ACDF, but did after my TLIF. Not having to get up to go to the bathroom is a blessing the first day after surgery. The Physical Terrorist, er, Therapist will get you up and walking, but to have the additional problem of going to the bathroom is nice to not deal with.

  • =D> Cath and Lisa, these were the right answers! Thanks, again.
  • Just lost a very long and detailed post. How annoying!
    In short, you'll be glad you had a catheter. I didn't and wished I did!

    This site will help you so much; both with information and emotional support from people who know how you are feeling.

    Goi ng into my surgery I felt prepared for the worst but my experience wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared.
  • You will definately need a grabber ( I have 3)
    I find a satin under sheet helps me turn in bed
    I also use a shower chair with a bathboard. The bathboard helps me to get into the bath where our shower is. Theshower chair is good to sit on while showering - you'll feel very tired with very little exursion.

    I was also given a 90 per cent chance of surgery dealing with my stenosis. I am 54 and already feel much better regarding my pre- op symptoms.

    Do keep posting here and ask questions - even those that seem silly! I was good at those. People will be glad to help.
    Do you have a date yet for yoursurgery?
  • Thank you, again, everyone. I'm scheduled for surgery on April 29. I have to go to a nearby city (1-1/2 hours away). My wife thought it would be good to spend my first day out just vegging in a hotel there, then doing the drive home the next day. Hope that's a good idea.
  • I think you'll need to stop every 20/30 minutes to get out and stretch your legs. Recline the seat as much as possible and have lots of different size cushions and towels you can roll up.

    Also take a couple of plastc bags; 1 to make it easier to turn in the car, and the other in case you are nauseous.
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