Hi everyone. I used this site for a lot of research prior to my surgery and found a lot of helpful information but also read of some bad experiences on the recovery process. Since most people seek out sites like this for advice or help on their condition, I figured I'd share my experience.
The first week after surgery was the toughest. I had terrible constipation and the incision site was so tender and sore. I walked each day as often as I could. Usually a total of five laps around our one acre yard. The second week was better for the incision site but I was so damned tired I didn't know if I was sore from the surgery or sore from lying down so much. On the second week I was still not allowed to sit so it was either walking or lying down. Third week was much of the same.
Beginning the fourth week is when i got worried. The insicion site no longer hurt but I had awful arthritis like pain in my lower back and hips. I was sure the surgery had only activated my long time chronic back pain. I was sad and depressed. During the fourth week I also started physical therapy. They were pretty aggressive in moving me around. I trusted them since I had been to them before.
During the first three weeks of therapy I had up days and down days. I immediately thought each down day was a set back because of the back pain I now had. (My long time pain had been diagnosed as facet syndrome of the L5 and S1).
I kept on with therapy and told my therapist of all my worries and hopelessness that fixing this short lived disc problem had only made my original one worse. Eventually, after getting used to the pain all over again, it slowy died down. I am now nine weeks post op and have just finished seven weeks of physical therapy.
I take it easy, use my elliptical to help warm up my back and keep it loose, but I am also not afraid to move the area where the incision was too. I was causing alot of my own pain by walking around in fear of reinjury. I know that things could change fast in this healing process and it could happen all over again but for now I'm happy that I made it though all of this. My best advice is to keep moving.
I'm stiff every morning when I get up and too much time sitting (15 min) or being on my feet (30 min or more)can aggravate my back so I just stop and take a break or even call it a day. In any case, don't be afraid to move. We're all taught that our backs are so delicate, which I do believe, but what we don't use-we lose. Though it may hurt to move, not moving is worse.
I'll always have chronic back pain, as I've had since my mid 20s, but now that I made it through this discectomy process I'm thrilled that what I've got now is managable.
During the recovery process I took Percocet up until day five only. After that I only used it when I felt really bad-maybe two to three pills during the following weeks. Right now, the last time I took a narcotic for pain was the second week of May and that was just one pill. Last week was my first real test. I helped my dad roll carpet but kept my back straigt and sucked my ab muscles in when needed to give me added support with certain movements. I felt awful only because I haven't used any part of my body that way since November of 2010. I rested for two days and I was fine afterward. Not sure I'd do anything like that again this soon, I was worried I really messed up but got lucky so I'm not going to do anything quite as active as pulling carpet up again anytime soon. It did please me to see that I could do something like that just this once and make it through ok.
I wish all of you the best of luck in your recoveries and in your research if you find yourself needing this surgery.