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Scared for my surgery due to living alone.

LisaRachelLLisaRachel Posts: 286
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone.. I have so many fears about bending lifting and twisting. How do you not? I think about it all the time now . I usually bend like 20x a day! I have a cat and her litter is on the floor am I going to be able to clean it? I scope it once a day. Our normal reaction is to bend I'm worried I'll forget!! and screw my fusion up Has that happend to any one? My back has been so sore cause I have been working so many hours but I still bend! even if I'm sore..




  • You will not forget, because the pain will help you remember not to do things that you should not. The grabber remains my favorite fusion accessory.

    I had a month before my surgery to get my house in order. I have outlet strips on a table in my family room and bedroom, and my kitchen has most items that I need at waist height.

    Is there anyone staying with you when you come home from your surgery? I had to stay with my parents for 3 weeks, and I needed every day of that. I was healthy and fairly active until a few months before my surgery, and was not prepared that I would need a walker, or could not bend my legs up in the bed. You will need help getting out of bed for a week or so, and then there are the little things like not being able to put your socks on.

    It is important that you don't try to cheat and bend over. I still have difficulty squating, and need help getting back up from that position. I just avoid it.

    Take care, and good luck,

  • Thanks Lisa, I was thinking of putting the litter on a bench so, I did not have to bend and I wil be bying the grabber. I guess I just can't my head around not bending but as you say I'm sure the pain won't let me forget. I will have someone here full days for 2 weeks.

    How are you now? When you were at home were you afraid at night?


  • My doctor insists I won't be able to go home from the hospital until I can take care of myself, and I will get physical therapy in the hospital. It so doesn't mesh with everything I read here!

    What did your doctor say about recovery?
  • Hey there...yes put the litter on a bench.
    If you can, it's worth hiring the kid nearby to come by to change that for you daily.

    OR put out 3 litter boxes and have the neighborhood kid or someone from church (if you belong) come over every other day.

    You can do it! But be mindful not to bend.
    If needed ask your vet for a reference on someone that can come help with the kitty.
  • Put it up on a bench or you might try one of the long handle dog popper scoopers. A friend of mine uses that to clean her litter box. Best would be to have someone if possible to come by and clean the litter box for a while.

    I also live alone and after 2 weeks I was on my own at home. Night time scared me for a couple of days. I made sure the cell phone was charged and I actually clipped it to my pj's so if I fell I had it with me. I gave a neighbor a key to my place "just in case". I think what also scared me as a live "aloner", was the shower and that's because I fell once and the second time the shower chair collapsed. I learned to get everything ready that I would need after the shower and put it in arms reach of the shower and that includes a phone. I also learned to have a good shower mat so I wouldn't slip. Shower chairs still scare me as the one I had collapsed, but I found one that is made of all plastic and there is no chance of the aluminum legs bending.

    Like others have said in the kitchen, put things you may use on the counter (pot, skillet), use paper plates so you don't have to wash as many dishes. Also if you have a refrigerator where the fridge is on the bottom (freezer is on top), move as much as you can to the upper shelves in the fridge. The pain will remind you not to bend.

    Hang in there, I'll be thinking of you.
  • They're right - it's going to be really painful to bend, so you are unlikely to forget. Lisa - you might want to look into getting a kneeler bench. I bought one for outside in the garden (I think I got if from Gardener's Supply). If you use it as a kneeler, the legs become handles you can grab onto to lower yourself down and help you get up. When you flip it over, it's a bench you an sit on when you can't stand any more. I found it very handy for scooping the cat box. I live alone too, so I had to be able to do it myself.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi Lisa,

    I guess I don't need to say put your litter box on a bench since it's been said many times already, lol.

    I'm on the "other side" of fusion surgery and these things you're worried about are things I'm still dealing with. For the first week or so post-op there was no way I was going to bend. Nature prevented that by making it too painful to bend, as has already been pointed out. You will get past that acutely painful time and then you simply must remember to bend at the hips while keeping your back straight, or I guess I should say you need to squat while keeping your back straight, if you must get down that low. The only problem with squatting is that if you're having posterior fusion (sorry, I can't remember at the moment and I don't see it in your signature line) your thigh muscles are going to be VERY sore for at least two weeks, from lying face down on the special surgical table. My upper thighs were apparently the only high pressure points because I wasn't sore anywhere else. I have to say that those sore thigh muscles, along with the sore back muscles, were what I took the pain meds for--it wasn't for pain in my back where the surgery was done. That area never has had much pain although I'm beginning to feel aches in that region now that I'm cutting way back on my pain meds.

    If you can arrange to move things like the litterbox onto a bench, with the help you'll have with you the first two weeks, you're going to be just fine. If they are not going to be with you 24/7, I would strongly suggest you keep your cell phone by your side or on you whenever you're up walking. I used a cane, as well, to steady myself in case I lost my balance. You don't want to fall. Sure, having your cell phone on you will make it easy to call for help if you fall, but you want to do everything you can to make sure that doesn't happen. If it helps, I never even came close to losing my balance during those first acute post-op weeks. :) Now, at over 4 weeks post-op, I feel so good that I have trouble remembering I've had back surgery! That's nice, for obvious reasons, but not so good because I can too easily bend over without thinking and I no longer have pain to make me remember not to do that.

    Twisting is another thing I have to keep reminding myself not to do. That's why I came home in a rigid brace, to keep me from twisting, but I don't wear it in the house--only when I'm "out and about" shopping or running errands in town. By the way, I started driving a week and a half after surgery. I wasn't ever told not to drive and I made sure I didn't have a lot of pain med in my system when I did drive. Never had a problem, except for it being painful trying to adjust myself in the car seat while wearing the brace, lol. I go everywhere now and if I didn't have to wear this brace nobody would know I'd just had major back surgery! I'm betting you're going to do as well, Lisa. It's scary looking this major surgery in the face but once you're on the other side I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised--at least I hope it works that way for you! image

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Lisa is getting the same surgery I'm getting except that she is not getting a cage and her vertebrectomy will be done through the posterior incision (by the way, my surgeon did mention this, and said that the reason he can't do a full posterior on me is that my spine is so far out of alignment. He needs to be anterior to be able to really get my spine back into alignment, apparently).

  • I'm in agreement with what others here have said.

    I was on my own and had two large dogs to look after. I was able to squat down to put their bowls on the floor and used a grabber to pick them up. It wasn't easy, but I managed ok.

    Everything else, I had at waist height. My grabber was my best friend, and also a dressing stick which has a hook on the end to pull up my pants.

    I had friends call in to help me with heavier things and a domestic service once a week.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Thank you all for your great advice! Julie, Linda, Linda and Trish It's nice to know that you guys were fine doing this alone.I decided to get that neclace "I've fallen and can't get up" for the first month. But I will also have my phone right beside me. I live in a apartment and my bathroom is not far from my bedroom. I will have someone here from 8-4 everyday for 2 weeks. My grabber is on order..

    Trish, how did you manage with the dogs? I' sure they kept you company. Do you have a backyard?

    Linda, I'll keep you posted if my thighs bothers me. I'm so happy that your doing so well after 4 weeks. fingers crossed :) :-) :smile:" alt=":smile:" height="20" />

    Julie, I won't try to bath alone for the first 2 weeks when I first had my injury I also broke my ankle and 25 staples as 24 in my back. I was not allowed to get them wet. so, I sat on the toilet and used a wash cloth. I will use the hand held shower to wash my hair. I also orderd a toilet raiser.

    If you guys can think of anything else let me know.. Thank you so much for you posts!! >:D< >:-D<
  • My dogs seemed to know that things were different when I got home and were calm and didn't demand my attention. They're Labradors, and when they get out of the puppy stage, they're pretty calm anyway.

    I've got a large back garden, so there's plenty of room for them to move. There's a creek behind the back fence and a track where people walk, so when the dogs hear a noise, they're down there barking. So I guess they got some exercise while I was laid up.

    That'll be good support for you during the first couple of weeks with someone coming in during the day, and the necklace. Say you should fall, I presume there's something to press to alert someone?? Will the person coming in help you to shower? Your grabber will definitely be your best friend. When walking, just take it very very easy and I think you'll cope. If the phone rings, don't be in a hurry to answer it. With one of my hospital stays, there was a lady in the next bed who'd had a fusion, and she was going to the toilet, the phone rang, and she turned quickly to answer it, and slipped. She couldn't walk for a while after that.

    Have you got all your meals organised or in the process of doing so? And your grocery shopping? It makes a difference having everything organised well in advance.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Hi Lisa,

    You were on my mind today and I just want to drop you a line of support and encouragement. I forgot when your surgery is scheduled for, but know that you are being thought of.
  • I squat for everything now. I also had a hard brace that I wore for 4 months. It would not allow me to bend. I did bend over while sitting on the toilet once because I dropped my grabber..I was almost to it when I had excrutiating pain at my surgical site. I was sure I screwed something up and cried like a baby about it.
    But I was fine..just strained newly cut muscle.

    Please get a few grabbers. I dropped everything the first few months..and still seem to do so...it got frustrating at times and I would get so mad I cried then too. lol

    You never realized how much you do bend until you cannot. I cannot relate to being alone because my husband helped me with everything..even showering..

    Hang in there...thinking of you.

  • I really don't have any advice to give you in direct connection with your post topic, as I am married, and my husband has been very supportive during my recovery.

    It looks like there are so many others (based on all the replies) in your same situation and my heart goes out to you and all the responders who have endured or are still enduring the challenges you will soon face.

    I think you have received a lot of really excellent ideas and advice and that is what this forum is all about.

    I just want to let you know you are in my thoughts and I will pray for an easy uneventful and speedy recovery for you!
  • I'm gonna chime in with agreement with Virginia as my hubby is my best bud and supporter! Just know that you are NOT alone due to this site and us!!! Super *HUGZ* to you, and positive energy for your strength with this! *HUGZ* :)

    Any help options from friends or neighbors? Is there something set up with your hospital for "in-house" nursing assistance for your post op? I know my hospital that I've had my spine surgeries at offer it if "no in home" support - eg - if I lived alone. Some insurance companies also offer this service. Hope they give you thoughts. Trying to toss "more" ideas for you on your post op, and your inner support!! *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Lisa,

    Thanks to my RV, I have this folding step I bought for me to get in and out of the shower. Okay, with that said, (hehehe) I have found that it is wonderful for me to sit on and sift the litter from my fur kids box! I haven't had back surgery yet, but can't handle bending for the littler cleaning, so this step has/is a life saver for that activity!! Hope that helps. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Wow, I feel so supported by all of you! Thank you for your advise and support to let me know your thinking about me.. I wish you guys lived in Toronto so, I could meet all of you special people.

    The plan so far is to get a toliet raiser, 2 grabbers, my cousin is the owner of Obus Form so, I'm getting a mattress topper and few other things from him.

    As of support, I'm going to hire someone for 2 weeks and get the life line neclace when I'm alone at night. I also talked to some of my friends and there willing to sleep on my couch if I need them. I also have the best cat in the world who is so cuddley. When I first had my accident my cat who, never slept on my bed never left my side! She even sat on my lap in my wheelchair. Animals are so special...
    I'm also lucky I have some great neighbours. I even have a nurse who lives on my floor I take care of her puppy sometimes of which my cat LOVES! she keeps telling me If I need anything she will be hear in a heart beat. AND, I have all of you.. Kelly might visit me in Dec! which will great. I still have my fears of course but I also know the more stress we feel the more pain I feel!! I also day dream about my surgeon he is so hot and sexy! I found out from the MRI girl yesterday he's single! I almost spat my coffee out!! You never know!

    I love this group you guys are very special and I pray for you guys that you are healthy and pain free...

    I think I woke up in a good mood! lol..


  • Good that you've got friends and a neighbour who can help you. Sometimes we're afraid to ask for help, but when you do, it's such a good feeling knowing that they will be there for you.

    Your cat sounds very special. Animals have such wonderful intuition when you're sick or unable to get around.

    What a bonus having a surgeon who's single and very easy on the eye!


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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