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L5 - S1 MIS TLIF Spinal Fusion Positive Experience

wbill39wwbill39 Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello...My name is Bill and I am new to this forum.

I am 39 years old, athletic and have suffered with a dynamic grade 1 spondylolisthesis with bi-laterals pars defects and severe L5 nerve root stenosis. Simply I suffered with pain.

I never took narcotics (do not believe in meds to cover a problem) and I never had injections.

I was terrified to have spinal fusion surgery because of all the horror stories I have read online, but I needed to try and get some pain relief. I searched high an low for the right doctor...I ended up picking a neurosurgeon at Ceders in Los Angeles, CA. I went to 4 other neuro's and ortho's before I selected him.

Long story short - Had surgery on 3/24/2011 and I am 13 days out 4/6/2011. Surgery went well and my x-rays today look great.

3 nights in the hospital were tough (I will admit it takes a while for the medical staff to concoct the right pain/muscle relaxing cocktail to make you comfortable). I was walking day 2 in hospital.

I am walking everyday now and doing quite a bit on my own - No Bending, Lifting or Twisting.

I am off of all pain meds. Some days I ache a bit more than the days before. Usually because I did too much. I have no problem taking 1 hydrocodone or a valium on these days.

My tips to those who are extremely afraid:
#1 - Find the right doctor that you trust (someone who answers all of your questions and allows you to speak with former patients).
#2 - Talk to patients in the waiting room at your doctor visits when trying to select a physician.
#3 - Check out their (your physicians) Health Grades and Vitals online. See what people say about the docs.
#4 - Get as strong and healthy as you can prior to surgery (I was riding a bike 15 - 30 miles once per week prior to surgery - Yes with pain).
#5 - Know that you will feel pain, but it is controllable.
#6 - Start taking laxatives (Colace, Pericolace) immediately after surgery - Meds constipate.
#7 - Take pain meds conservatively. Don't over do it.
#8 - Catheter removal for me was one of the worst parts for me...Others don't even feel it.
#9 - Have a good support sytem around and stay positive.
#10 - Walk - Walk & Walk a little more. Know what is too much.
#11 - If you have trouble peeing after the catheter is removed ask the staff to stand with you in the shower and pour warm water over your genitals until you can collect some urine. Visualize yourself peeing.
#12 - Don't be afraid to have a suppository to help you have a bowel movement. Helped me a great deal.
#13 - Get a walker and a telescopic grabbing tool to help you pick light things off of the floor.
#14 - Trust your doctor and have faith that things will work out.
#15 - Pray for guidance if you have religous beliefs.

So far so good. Don't believe all of the horror stories. We have no idea what condition many of these people are in prior to surgery. We are all individuals and strong people with great doctors will do well and those who are weaker or who who have selected bad doctors may not do so well.

I hope this helps some of you thinking about spinal fusion surgery.

Thanks - Bill


  • Hi there!

    It is great hearing you are doing so good so soon after surgery. That is great news.

    I am almost 1 week ahead of you. I had open PLIF on March 18th on L5/S1. I had unstable spondy at L5/S1 with bulging disc giving me left leg sciatica.

    I'm doing pretty good. I had a rough time after surgery with still having severe sciatica in my left leg. Neurontin seems to be finally taking care of that for now. I am weaning myself off of pain meds. I am hoping to be off of them next week. My first post-op appointment is on April 19th. I am wearing a brace for 4 to 6 weeks. No PT until after 2 months. No driving until after post-op appointment either.

    You offered some good suggestion for future spineys.

    Best of luck with your recovery! May we both have a good pain free summer.
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