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Recovery Expectations

jh236jjh236 Posts: 27
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi All,

I'd like to thank everyone for sharing their experiences, it's very comforting and valuable to hear how others have faired through surgery and recovery. As with many posts, mine here is related to recovery.

I'm exactly one month post-op from an open TLIF L3-L5, L2-L3 left side discectomy and L3-L5 laminectomy. After a tough 10 days-2 weeks, except for bad leg pain first thing in the morning, I'm left with issues mainly along the surgery area. It can go from soreness/pressure along the spine to fairly significant pain. I think I'm realizing that it's worse the more I sit upright vs reclined. I know it's still relatively early in the recovery time but it does not seem to be getting any better.

I'm just curious how others have faired through similar recovery and whether my expectations at "feeling better" 4 weeks out are realistic.

Thanks to all.



  • Am a month out from a plif and am hanging in there. I feel a lot of pressure at incision site. Sitting up can only be done for a limited period of time then its time to get horizontal. I do have some sciatica on occasion and other wierd/unpleasant sensations, but the physical recovery is moving forward. Mentally, I am having a much tougher time however.
  • tomorrow and had a plif after the planned alif was aborted. I have good days and bad and am still not to the point where I can say "oh I am glad I had this surgery because I feel better now" - I am really waiting for that day but realize I it will be a long wait!

    I feel better sitting, standing, walking than I do laying down as I have very severe muscle spasms that are worse when I lay down. The physical therapist is working on them and I do think they are slowly getting better, but they seriously interfere with my sleep.

    I love this board because I can read about others and know that I am probably right on track with others
  • Thanks. I went into this with no idea what to expect to the posts, like yours, here are very helpful. I agree the mental part is tough. At least for me I need to try and not take it out on those around me.
  • Hope your sleeping situation improves. With me sleeping is interrupted along the surgery line with any change in position so I try and stay still.

    It will get better.
  • I'm about 3 1/2 weeks out from a 360 L1-L3 and L2 corpectomy.

    I'm glad to hear it's normal to still not be "well" at this point. I think this is a difficult time because we recover so quickly at the beginning, but now it starts to become a slower road. And others are starting to expect more of us, too (at least they are for me- I no longer get pats on the back every time I get out of bed, now people want me to be back to my old self).

    I also need to recline a good amount of each day. I am sleeping SO much as well, and sometimes having a lot of trouble waking up- some days I'm just sooo tired.

    But on the positive side, I am just about back to my pre-surgery meds, and I'll be driving again next week :) So step by step, I'm getting back there.
  • I hear you about expectations from others. I sometimes wonder if those around me think I should be "better" than I am, even without anyone saying it.

    That's why this forum is helpful; people that are really experiencing what we are...
  • I had a min invasive surgery and that has been wonderful for me so far. I am doing better each week, although, I have good days, and try to do too much. I know how much harder the PLIF is, as that was my first fusion. Hang in there all, it will get better. Just look back to what you did when you came home. Or should I say, what didnt you do. I am getting in and out of bed easily now. I am tired of my hard brace already, but know it is my closest friend for a few months! :) Keep smiling and keep your chins up. It DOES get better. I know, I have been there.
    I have cut my pain patches from 75 to 50 and am now cutting down my oxycodone. So that is the test. I found the 75 patches were making me sleepy all the time. I realized, that they were probably to strong if I was that sleepy. And now, bingo, I was right.
    I really hope that all of you can look back and see how much better you are now than 3 or 4 weeks ago. Day to day changes are to hard to see. Have a good night all!
  • I have to remember to measure my recovery by what I CAN do instead of by what I can't do. Just over 3 weeks ago, they were trying to put me into a nursing home because I was so sick and weak in the hospital, 2 Weeks ago my husband was putting my socks and shoes on for me and covering me up in bed because I couldn't reach far enough to grab the blankets, 1 week ago I had to ride lying down in the car to go see my new granddaughter. Today I was strong enough to put away clean laundry, drive myself to the store for a few things and even make up some snacks for the football game:) Wow, what a difference it makes to dwell on the positive!

    Since I am dwelling on the positive I won't mention sleep.........peaceful hours of sleep......which seems like such a distant memory! I am sure THAT too will get better with time:)

  • Two steps forward, one step back. On good days, I can get around and get stuff done. This good day is then followed by two or three bad days requiring much rest, pain meds, and lidoderm patches to calm the nerve pain.
  • Robin, I just cut my patch from 50 back to 25 for the same reason. Today I went to the barn for the first time since surgery, and although I didn't do much I did help brush and blanket the pony :) I am sore now, though :(

    I am looking forward to starting physical therapy next week and having some direction!

  • You guys are right on the money and I want to thank you very much. It's helping me see that this recovery is not going to be a day to day thing like it was at the beginning.

    It's the little things that you CAN do, like you've all said, that show progress now.
  • You're so right. Maybe early on in the process there were more noticeable milestones; I remember a couple weeks ago the first time I could get down the stairs without help or a "spotter" being a big moment. Now it seems to be more subtle things and unless you keep these in mind, it doesn't seem like there's much progress.

    Good luck and thanks a lot!
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