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Dec. 27th was d-day and 1 week out post op & have a few questions

wildfire_101wwildfire_101 Posts: 68
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
So I finally had my L5-S1 spinal fusion surgery,which they called a TLIF. And omg no one can prepare you for that at all..The pain was/is nothing like I have ever experienced before and that is saying a lot being I have 4 kids...lol For the most part everything went alright.I was in the hospital for 3 days and I had to push myself to do that. I got out on new year's eve to say the least, though the doctor wanted me to stay for another 3 days or so..But i pretty much begged him to let me out then..but so far so good...I know most everyone on here knows that I this auto-immune disease RSD in my left leg which I admit does hold me back a lot. Actually more then i had originally thought. In which was the reason the doc wanted me to stay longer in the hospital. The surgery itself went fine and i had an x-ray done the 2nd day I was there and everything was where it should be. I am taking my pain meds faithfully i will admit..The script says 2 every 4 hrs so instead i take 1 pill every 2 hrs and it stays a constant thing and either way it works out the same. I do hate the log rolling in and out of bed though...I pace my house, b/c it is way to cold to go outside, for about 15 to 20 minutes every couple of hours and that is all i can take. My left leg gives out. The one problem that i have is i don't sleep all that well..and i sleep in a reg bed and it is a pillow top mattress and for the most part comfy. But i can't lay on the left to long or the left leg starts to hurt and throb and that goes for the same on the right one too...So any suggestions on how to help me out with this problem? And I'm so uncomfortable and then sometimes even cranky...lol And when does it start getting better? Because oh man this hurts and I have a long recovery ahead..I just need some sleep idea's. And I always sleep with a pillow between my legs. Anything at the moment would be helpful. Thanks..


  • Hi!

    Thinkgs will get better for you Im sure. Im 1 month out form a pretty serious 3 level PLIF fusion, l3/4 though l5/s1. I ended up with a bunch of hardware ( 8 screws!) more than I thought I would have. The log rolling gets to be the norm, and sleeping flat on your back with a pillow under your legs is probably how you will be sleeping for a while until the pain lightens up. ive still got pain and numbness in my lower leg and foot, Im told this is nerve damage and it could subside ( crossing fingers). If this is your first surgery, Im confident things will get better for you with some time, meds and rest. If you have any other questions feel free to ask, Im here to help and offer support. Remember, walking is your best friend!

    Its cold out here too. where are you from? it was a balmy 7 degrees this morning when I woke up, The shivering alone causes muscle spasms and pain! think warm, beach, tropics, desert, etc :)



    5x back surgery survivor! I'll never give up. NEVER.
  • Fortunately it was 28 degrees here where I live in northern California and not 7 degrees..goodness where do you live at? As for numbness and/or tingling i don't have that..I have the achy and the throbbing in both legs.But mind you I had some of the throbbing in the left leg before surgery just not as bad now. My legs throb so bad now that, it is still keeping me up at night. And i can not sleep on my back at night for some reason. I lay on it during the day when I am i on my computer which is most of the time being there is nothing on TV...lol And i have heard that walking is the best thing for you but the RSD isn't helping..I was in the hospital for a little over 3 days and he(the doc)wanted me there for at least 7..but i begged him enough to let me out early.. Maybe that is what i get for not listening...but thanks for the info and anything else you can add i'd appreciate it..
  • Lawdy, you're right about the fusion operation being something you can't really be prepared for! I had an L5_S1 fusion, but mine was from the back (PLIF). My God that was indeed excruciating. I had trouble sleeping too, and lying on my back and placing a pillow under my knees was about the only thing that worked for a while. Sorry you're having a tough time with this...it will get better. I'm a little over a year post-op and I'm still kicking! It takes a while to get back to normal (so I hear..I ain't got there yet), but you will get better. I'll be sending positive mojo your way!

  • Hang in there! I am 3 weeks out from my L4/L5/S1 fusion (I had mine on Dec. 16th), and my experience is that it gets better and better every day. The first week was definitely super tough, and SO painful.

    I had similar left leg throbbing for about the first 10-14 days. It was my calf along with the back of my thigh that felt incredibly tight, and got much worse if I sat or stood still. Kind of like my muscles were cinching up like a drawstring bag. Walking helped A LOT, but it would come back eventually. Day by day, it's gotten better bit by bit, but still comes back a little if I sit for too long.

    Overall, I'm SO surprised at how quickly things get better. It sure didn't seem like it that first week, though! I know what you mean about getting cranky!!

    You just want to get comfy and sleep, I know!!! For me, I wasn't able to lay any other way than on my back with a pillow under my legs until just 2 days ago. I can now lay on my side and doze comfortably for about 30 minutes, but that was impossible and just too painful up until 2 days ago.

    I agree, log-rolling is hard at first, but you get used to it. I had been twisting a little when I did it, so it hurt, but I found it REALLY helps to keep your eyes looking right between your knees to stay straight.

    Anyway, hang in there. Just hold out for another week or two, and you will feel much better. It's hard to imagine right now, but you'll progress. Another encouraging word: I'm only 3 weeks out, and I feel pretty darn good :) You'll get there too!!!

    (wow, I'm long-winded!)
  • I have taken in everything that I am learning from everyone on this site and it is helping more then anyone will ever know..I knew never knew anything about back problems what so ever before here.I know it's going to be a long recovery but it is going to all be worth it in the end. And yeah I am still getting used to that log rolling let me tell you...thank goodness i have my hubby around for the next 4 weeks to help me out...Still working on the sleeping thing...but hopefully it'll find a happy medium here soon b/c i miss my sleep...lol anyway if anyone has anything to add about all of this please do..I will take all the advice i can get..And this keeps me busy and my mind off the pain and uncomfortableness i'm going through.. but thanks again for all the info...
  • I'm following right behind you. My surgery is scheduled 01/14. I am just terrified of the pain.

    Didn't the morphine pump help at all while you were in the hospital? It wasn't worth it to get better pain coverage and stay in the hospital?

    Also, how do you sleep on your back on top of the incision. I couldn't sleep on my back for a week or two after my previous surgeries because it hurt too much. I used to alternate sides all night. I propped myself up with pillows on both sides. Maybe buy one of those body pillows like pregnant people buy? I plan to look into that myself. Do you need to walk with a cane now?

    Oh, how I'm dreading the recovery, but looking forward to the long term recovery.

    Would it help you to take a sleep aid like ambien?

    Two questions for you, why did you change how you take your meds from 2 every 4 hours to 1 every 2 hours? Also, maybe you need more meds?

    Wishing you a speedy recovery.
  • when i had my fusion done i was on a diladed pump not morphine...It was what my doctor had ordered himself for me...Are you having the TLIF on your L5-S1 disc? And as for being in the hospital, yes the pain pump worked quite well.I won't lie though it still hurt regardless no matter what you take for pain.I just could never get comfortable even in the hospital and I only slept 3 to 4 hours at a time and took some naps during the day when nurses weren't in there doing vitals and that kind of thing..I also i have 4 children in which i wanted to see everyday b/c I missed them and my hubby dearly.So I sacrificed some sleep for that but well worth it.As for sleeping now that i am home I usually sleep on one side and then when it starts to hurt I have to wake up my poor hubby and have him turn me to the other side.I use tons of pillows and yes i do have a body pillow that i use at night when I sleep, that my hubby puts up against my back when i go to sleep. And yes that does really help a lot.And yes in my opinion I would definitely get one of those pillows before your surgery. I don't think they cost that much anymore these days.. I lay only on my back during the day when I am watching tv or on my computer. But i have my hubby prop me up some what during the day when I am laying in bed on my back..But i do get up at least once an hour to pace my house(b/c it is way to cold outside to be out there walking)and walk..everyone keeps impounding it in my head walking is the best recovery therapy....though only being a week post op you walk as much as you can tolerate. And at this point isn't much..But I also have another issue going on unrelated to the back which puts me at a slower recovery rate then others. And no I am not using a cane, though i do have one, but i am using a walker b/c that is all that i can use to walk with. without that i wouldn't be able to walk at all..thought my insurance covered that so it didn't cost me anything.. Do you have insurance? If so try to make sure you let them cover as much as they can and will..all i needed was a script from my doctor saying that i needed it.When I went to changing the way i took my pain killers from 2 every 4 hours to 1 every 2 hours was b/c it is constant pain relief that way. It won't let the pain get so bad before it is time to take more. In which we all know takes longer to take affect. And as for the way my prescription is written rather I take it the way that i do now or the other way it all comes to be the same. So I'm not taking anymore or any less one way or another. And as for more meds, no right now I am fine.I also have a script for Valium to take with the pain killers as well. Which really does help but I try not to take them unless I have to b/c they knock me out. Most of the time i will take one of them with my last pain pills of the night and then I will get at least a decent 5 hours of sleep before i wake up my hubby to move over again. And I don't take any sleep aides other then what I have for prescriptions. well I hope some of this helps and i didn't mean for it to end up being so long but wanted to make sure i answered all your questions and some needed some extra explanations so I wanted to make it all understandable. Good luck with your surgery and you also have a speedy recovery..and keep me posted on all your progress..we can keep each other company here and there...and maybe offer some advice to some other people...once again good luck!
  • of you being able to get 5 hours of sleep at a time Wildfire - I am still waking up every 1-2 hours all night long due to the pain despite trying every trick I can think of or read about and my fusion was 2 weeks before yours. There isn't much I wouldn't try right now to get some real sleep. During the day I feel pretty good but the nights are a very unique form of hell:(
  • I found it helped to have memory foam (about 3") on my bed. It was just enough to allow me to be comfortable on my back and soft enough to be on my side but not so soft that I couldn't roll. Satin sheets help the rolling over quite a bit. Well worth the money.

    they aren't kidding about the walking. Teh more you walk, the better you will feel. Even if it's only 5 minutes, roll out and do the 5 minutes.

    wildfire- it sounds like you have things pretty well under control. good luck.
  • Yes, I'm having the TLIF on the L5-S1 disc.

    I remember from my previous two back surgeries that sleep is hard to get in the hospital. By the time you finally get a good position and fall asleep they're waking you up. I can't imagine being in terrible pain on top of all that!

    My husband will visit but I don't think my kids will visit since I think it will be too traumatic for them to see me in such pain - if it's as hellish as everyone describes.

    Do you have a specific body pillow that you recommend?

    Yes, I also have that walk, walk mantra in my head. I'll be walking inside too. It's in middle of the winter afterall. I will ask my doc to write a script for a cane or walker depending on what is necessary. I do have insurance. Good idea.

    Thanks for explaining how you take the meds. I wonder if I should do that with my Aleve. I am now taking 2 at 8:30 AM, 1 at 8:30 PM and then 2 at 12:30 PM. Perhaps I would get better coverage in the morning if I spread those out (8:30, 12:30) and it would be less hard on my stomach. My doc doesn't care how I take them as long as I don't take more than 1000mg a day.

    Thanks for your long post. I really do appreciate it. There aren't many people to talk to in real life who will know what I'm talking about and can
    offer any practical help. Feel good, you're in my prayers. I'll keep you posted.
  • I thought the same way about having my kids come and visit me in the hospital but my kids range from the age of 14 down to 9 yrs of age...How old are your kids? If you don't mind me asking..and while I was in the hospital they had me on good pain killers so they never saw me upset, crying or in to much pain..but I also wasn't so out of it that i didn't know what was going on either...Though I didn't have my hubby bring my kids to visit me the 1st night that I had surgery..But my surgery was at like 2pm in the afternoon and 4 hours long so by the time i had even gotten to my room it was so late already....but i also didn't want them to see me that way either at least not the 1st day...but i missed them and they missed me...As for the body pillow thing,ummmm actually I had a friend give me a set of bedroom pillows b/c she had gotten a new bedroom set.And it wasn't technically a "body pillow" but I made it one...it is maybe just a tad shorter then a regular body pillow but it was free and does the trick..I would recommend a pillow that suites you and that you like and is comfortable. Everyone has a different pain level. I usually don't have that high of a pain tolerance but i seemed to manage the pain better then i thought. I have 4 tattoo's and that takes some pain tolerance, along with having 4 children as well...and to ease your mind no I am not some woman that has tattoo's and piercings everywhere...lol their hidden so when/if i ever need to be professional i can be...lol and now back to the topic at hand, I am making it one day at a time and you are stronger the you think you are, trust me! I won't lie there is going to be some pain but think of it this way it will pay off in the long run...and we will feel so much better...Once again i am sorry that this got so long winded again...I am usually not this long of a "talker" at least not on the internet...lol Any more questions or if you just need someone to listen I'll be here and have no problem lending an ear or advice.. god bless and good luck...
  • My kids are younger than yours so I guess that's the difference!

    I've been looking online for pillows the past couple hours and some of them look huge! I can't imagine turning over in bed with them taking so much space. Maybe I'm better off buying silk PJs and just supporting myself with a scrunched up blanket behind me and some pillows in front.

    Gotta go now, let's keep in touch.
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