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How long might I need help

tknow1978ttknow1978 Posts: 30
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have had prior microdiscectomy and laminectomy/decompression, but am now going for posterior lumbar fusion. From what I have heard my previous surgeries will pale in comparison to the recovery from a fusion. I am a single mom and because I needed help and felt it was safer and fairer for my daughter, I stayed with my parents for 2-3 weeks after those surgeries. I hate to think that I may have to rely on someone longer than that, but want to be prepared in case. What have you guys' experience been with this? By the way, my daughter is 10.


  • I should probably add that I am, like many of you, one of those people that hates asking for help. After my first surgery, I went home after 2 wks at the parents and on day 20 re-herniated the same level I had just had surgery on. It re-herniated the day after I did some cleaning. So I'm also a little paranoid.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    You'll definitely need to stay with someone for 2-3 weeks at a minimum. Your daughter is of an age where she can help a little bit (which often makes them feel good since they are helping you feel better).

    The two best tools I had were a grabber (around 3 feet long and I could use it to grab things on the floor or otherwise out of reach) and a toilet seat riser. Both are available at national drugstore chains.

    I was on my own during the day around week 2. If it had not been for my husband I'd have needed help with people buying groceries, some laundry, picking up prescriptions, driving me to appointments, etc.

    I also hate to ask for help but with this surgery you want to do everything you can to heal right.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • hi! :H please be sure and get adequate help for yourself after your surgery.. you cannot take care of yourself alone and your daughter is alittle to young to do what you need done... please check out the "Back and Neck surgery forum" for ideas on what you will need after your surgery and other good tips! good luck and let us know how you are! the forum can be a good friend during recovery! Jenny :)
  • I had a micro/lam 5 years ago and after surgery I spent 2 weeks with my parents. On 6/28 (2 wks ago), I had a lumbar fusion, and again, I stayed with my parents. I am married and have 2 daughters, ages 13 and 15. I knew that they could hold down the fort here at home. Having the opportunity to stay with my parents was not only a blessing, but a necessity. My mother was able to take a leave from work. My children are at the age that they are capable of handling all of the household chores as my husband wasn't able to take any time off of work because he had an ACDF at the beginning of May, exhausting all of his vacation/sick time.

    As long as your parents are willing to have you, I'd definitely take that offer. Every night one of my girls would also come to sleep at my parents. Personally speaking, I know that it my parents feel wonderful needing to be needed again :) I came home Friday night and have basically done nothing but read and walk. I thank God for all of the help I have. I am going back to sleep there tonight because I have doctor's appointments tomorrow and it'll just be easier to be there because my mom is bringing me.

    Take full advantage of ALL the help extended to you. I also have problems asking for and accepting help, but with this particular surgery there was no way around it. As someone mentioned earlier, your daughter is at a great age to help out with small chores and be your "runner", as I call my girls. It gives my girls the satisfaction of being able to help me and also knowing that I won't attempt to do anything myself makes them feel at ease. Prior to surgery we had a round table family meeting and detailed what everybody's "jobs" would be and also made them aware of how crucial it was that I not bend, twist, lift, push, or pull. Well...they've taken that information to the extreme, as I can't even get my own fork! :) I will forever be grateful to my family and am determined to get myself well and healthy so that when they need me I'll be available.

    Best of luck to you! Wishing you a speedy recovery:)
  • From my experience with several fusion surgeries, I think the most important thing for you to remember is that the recovery from fusion may not necessarily be more painful, but it will be longer. Once you recover from the immediate post-surgical aspects of it, you will still have months ahead where you will need to be careful and will need to be paying attention to your recovery.

    I would think that 2-3 weeks at your parents should be sufficient to get you back on your feet. But since you do not want to have to repeat the fusion, this will just be the beginning of your recovery. Even though you may begin to show signs of fusion as early as around 3-6 weeks, the bones will not be reliably strong and knit together for about a year. So during that time period, it is important to keep your restrictions in mind, learn to listen to your body, and not push yourself.

    It seems like most people are able to resume most activities between the three and six month period, but of course, it will depend on restrictions that your surgeon gives you. I would suggest that you might want to reprogram you brain for awhile as you won't be able to do simple housekeeping chores like running a vacuum, sweeping a floor, etc. You will need to learn to close your eyes and walk past the dust bunnies unless your daughter is old enough to help!!

    When I had my first fusion, I had a surgeon who gave almost no instructions or restrictions beyond "if it hurts, don't do it." Later, with a different surgeon, he was very strict with me and told me I could do NOTHING around the house until he saw signs of fusion. The only thing I was allowed to do was walk. He didn't even want me cooking. I think he is a bit extreme but he had his reasons....You might want to ask your surgeon ahead of time what you can expect post-surgery. That might help you to prepare more than anything we can tell you here.

    Good luck. Hope this surgery is the charm.
  • when my husband went back to work after my very big 360 fusion - I kept the phone with me - my husband would get me up early in the morning before he left for work to help me to the bathroom, fix me some oatmeal & juice, help me while I brushed my teeth & washed up, maybe changed my gown - & then take my medicine & go back to bed.

    I had a neighbor who came in mid day & mid afternoon. I needed help for a long time. I would take advantage of all the help you could get if I were you.

    Also, I couldn't stand to shower, was not steady enough, couldn't have made it without the bench that goes in the bathtub.

    I also cleaned my house & did everything single thing I could think of before surgery because I knew I would be unable to do much for a long time.

    Good luck & I'm so glad for you that you have parents to help, good luck now

    Oh, & I also had the teenage daughter of a friend come in once a week & do little cleaning things for me that my husband couldn't get to - she was such a help
  • Some good advice on this thread.

    I had L5/S1 fusion on June 11th and just returned to work today. I work from home, so it's a little easier.

    I spent 5 nights in the hospital (stomach/esophageal problems due to pain meds) and found that the first week at home, I was in constant need of help.

    I could not bend to dry my legs after a shower, I needed support stepping out of the shower. Putting on shorts? Not without the grabber. Oh.... and you are going to get those support stockings, at least I did. I think it would be impossible to put those on without help.

    It was not really until 21 days after that I started feeling like I could handle more than the recliner or bed. I did lots of walking (still do) each day, but that was about it. Just this last week, I have taken the car to get coffee, lunch, etc. Help comes in many forms. If you go to buy groceries, how many bags and how much do they each weigh? How about making lunch or dinner? Is your pantry stocked with stuff on mid-high level shelves? Same with the fridge.

    Now..... It is all about watching the BLT's and the stiffness of the mid section. The day before the surgery, I could bend and put my palms on the floor with my legs straight. Today..... bending enough to spit out toothpaste is about as far as I get. I'd pay money to be able to do some serious stretching. Thank goodness physical therapy starts in September! Best of luck and do indeed take any and all help offered. It's a 6-9 month process for you, no harm using up the help in the early and harder stages.
  • Thanks for all the very helpful advice and info. I think I will definitely err on the side of caution and stay a good while. My parents don't mind at all and they aren't that old, but they both too have had 2 back surgeries each. I think some of it is mental, no one likes to feel like they might be a burden. I am super thankful for my family and sometimes wonder how people survive when they live so far from family. I consider my daughter to be a blessing, especially in bad back times. After my second herniation I couldn't even stand long enough to make a sandwhich. She was so self sufficient, she amazed me. But I decided ater 9 days of being stuck on the couch that it wasn't fair to her and my mom came and got me and took us to her house. I am rambling, but at any rate, I won't be so hard headed. You guys are right no sense in risking my recovery. Thanks.

  • I found that being mentally prepared for a long and hard recovery, helped me to deal with it. It even didn't seem so bad, after some of the stories that I had read.

    I definately did need a lot of help and support, especially in the early days. My husband was amazing and so supportive. My sons and daughter were also very helpful.

    Do accept all offers of help, and think of them as expressions of love for you. One day you will have the opportunity to return the favour for your parents, and your daughter probably feels that she is returning the favour for you. :-) She is obviously a very caring person, and will grow up to make you very proud. :D

    Once you are recovered your independence will return. Give yourself enough time to heal and get strong again. In the meantime your loved ones want to help you. :X
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