I just wanted to pop in and let you all know that it's been 2 years since my 2-level PLIF and 6 months since my hardware removal and I think I am doing very well.
We did take a 'driving' vacation and that was still a challenge (each day of driving ended with me so sick from hurting that I was close to vomiting from the back pain and backpain induced headaches). But... I LEARNED from it - I learned that I need to GET OUT AND WALK around - often. My body will probably never be able to handle sitting for long periods.
But, all in all I am very pleased with my recovery, particularly since my hardware removal. I almost didn't want to come in here and post (getting a little superstitious I think
So, what helped me? For anyone looking at surgery or still in the recovery process - here is what worked for me.
I think a large part of my recovery (besides the skilled neurosurgeon's hands) is my is due to knowing my limits:
I don't move like I used to. Now I really work at not going outside my 'known parameters' of movement. (my vacation hammered that one back in my head.)
I exercise regularly and I've lost weight. I ONLY do exercises that are dr. prescribed though.
I do very poorly on medications (heavy nausea) and so I was one of those who was off meds quickly.
I work really hard to mentally condition myself on accepting pain levels. I accept that I will probably always have a back ache. Compared to that lightning sharp blinding nerve pain I had before - well, I'll accept the back ache any day!
Some days I have to take some tylenol, but I make sure it's not my first reflex. If I am not doing my stretches every day I can only blame myself.
Keep on keeping on everyone - I wish the best to all of you.