This site was helpful as I researched and prepared for surgery, so I wanted to write about my experience to help those considering microdiscectomy.
Background: I am a 39 year old active male. I'm a teacher and stay on my feet most of the day. I starting having sciatica in late 2010. An MRI revealed an L5-S1 herniation on the left side. My leg always hurt and was much worse after sitting. Physical therapy, oral prednisone, and one lumbar injection did little to alleviate the pain. After approximately 5 months, I decided to have my doctor perform a microdiscectomy.
Prior to surgery: I had to stop taking Aleve 10 days prior to surgery. I guess I didn't realize how much Aleve was helping, because the 10 days prior to surgery were difficult....driving especially so. My pre-op appointment was a few days before surgery and consisted of chest x-ray, blood work, and full check up.
Day of surgery: My surgery was scheduled for noon. I arrived at 10:30AM and was promptly led to pre-op area. I met the anesthesiologist, the nurses, and Dr., and I was given Versed before being wheeled into the operating room.
Post op: I woke from the operation and was very cold and slightly nauseous - both common occurrences - but I could tell immediately that my leg pain was gone. It was of course replaced with the surgical pain, which at this point was a powerful dull pain in the center of my lower back. By the way, my throat was quite sore from the breathing tube...didn’t know that was coming...and for a few minutes it was difficult to talk.
Recovery room: About an hour after surgery, I was moved to a surgery recovery room. The pain from the surgery was still there and was about a four. I was hooked up to a pain pump containing hydromorphone (a potent narcotic). The pain in my back stayed at about a four or five, but I used the pain pump because I was afraid my pain level would increase. The hydromorphone made me very drowsy and slightly nauseous. I was encouraged to stand and try to use the bathroom - only a few hours after surgery - it was difficult but I was able to do it...by far the most difficult thing was rolling from one side of my body to the other. I was unable to do it...felt like a turtle on his back...and had to completely get out of bed and go to the other side if I wanted to roll over.
Overnight at the hospital: I was able to sleep in 1-2 hour mini naps, but the drugs and not being able to get comfortable in the hospital bed had me getting up every few hours to do a walking “lap” around the nurses station. I still had my IV and pain pump, so I had to drag it with me, and I walked at an extremely slow rate, but I was able to move around and still had no leg pain/sciatica.
Day One (after surgery): I got to go home the afternoon after surgery. No more pain pump, as I was switched to Hydrocodone (Lortab) 10mg. The hour plus ride home was difficult, but when I got out of the car there was no sciatica or leg pain at all...only the dull surgery pain...very exciting! The rest of day one consisted of getting settled in bed, eating some solid food. The pain was at a tolerable 3-4 when I went to bed. The Lortab caused some night sweats and strange dreams, but I only woke twice.
Day Two (after surgery): I feel much better this morning after sleeping in my own bed. I want to continue the Lortab today, even though they make me feel strange, and try to switch to advil tomorrow. My wife changed the dressing on the incision, and I was able to shower...felt great...I was able to take multiple short walks today. I am measuring my walks in steps (100 - 150 steps is good), and I am trying to move around, but I am feeling some tightness in my butt and left leg. I am very worried about a 2nd herniation and a return of leg pain and sciatica, but this leg pain feels like muscle spasms. I take a muscle relaxer (Skelaxin) and 5mg Lortab and go to bed. I wake once at night for a few hours but then go back to sleep.
Day Three (after surgery): I decide to have a cup of coffee. I feel good and the surgical pain is minimal. The leg pain is almost non-existent but I can still feel it a little. This worries me, because I am afraid the sciatica will return. I am probably being paranoid, because I can sit and stand and feel little to no pain in my leg, where before that was not possible. I decide to switch to Advil from Lortab, although I still plan to take the muscle relaxer for a few more days. The pain from the incision and surgery is now minimal, but certain movements are difficult. Lying flat on my back is difficult and rolling over is more so, but standing and walking are becoming easier.
Day Four (after surgery): I feel even better, but my wife and mother are worried that I will "over do it" because I feel well....no worries there...I never want to go back to the sciatica and leg pain I had before...I will do exactly what my Dr. tells me. The leg pain and incision/operation pain continue to be mild. I am able to walk a little bit farther...it feels good to walk but is difficult on any kind of incline...I feel like my left leg (one with sciatica) is weaker than the right. I know everyone has different experiences, but so far this is this surgery is the best thing that has happened to me in a year...I cant believe the relief I have gotten...I hope others fare as well as me.
This is all I have for now but I will continue post updates.
I know everyone has a different experience, and I just wanted to share mine.