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Really would like help with post L5S1 recovery

BunjieeBBunjiee Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been nervous. 3 weeks ago I had an unexpected L5 S1 micro disectomy that 2 huge discs were removed (biggest ever seen). My pain was relieved immediately but then I was leaking spinal fluid for 5 days which ended up in urgent dural tear repair. I am 1 and 1/2 weeks recovering from the dural tear surgery. My scar is 6-7 inches. My surgeon isn't the most loving person but he is good. I didn't get a lot of post op instructions other than really basic, no lifting, bending twisting etc. I was told to walk and that I could go to work 1 week after the dural tear repair. They knew I sit a lot at work and didn't seem phased. I noticed I couldn't sit long and get up and walk around a lot. But I now have read I shouldn't be sitting a lot at all. I do things around the house and I try to keep my spine straight but bend a little here and there. I don't lift more than a gallon of milk. I'm still taking vicoden every 4 hours and I am in bed today. I feel run down. I feel like I have done too much. I do walk every day for at least 2 miles. I guess I didn't have time to research recovery activities. I am an RN so we tend to do too much and don't listen well to what we are told to do. I became scared after reading the posts here. Everyone seems to not have had good recovery results and have had multiple surgeries. It also seems that slipping the small amount of disc left is very possible especially with sitting. My doc never emphasized sitting was a huge problem. I would love to know what I am supposed to be doing or not doing. I will sit fr no more than 2 min now and get up and walk. I will try to keep my spine straight and not bend or twist. I will walk a lot. I hope to decrease meds every day. I have surgical site pain and aching and it does hurt. I guess I need some recovery advice and support. I am just a bit confused. Thank you for your help


  • Welcome to spine health, you have come to a great place for support and people who "get it"

    Seems to me that you are going back to work very early. I had a two level discectomy/lami 4 months ago, and can still not sit (although my surgery was not a success)Are you able to take a longer leave from work?

    Sounds like you are working very hard with your recovery(barely sitting, not doing any BLT, walking.) So important to stay ahead of the pain,walk short distances with breaks in between and build up on distance as pain tolerates.

    I am also in nursing (but on the floor, do you have an administrative position?) I have not been able to go back to work, and eventually hope that someday I can go back in a different capacity.

    Nerves take a long time to heal depending how long and bad they were compressed. You also had to very large herniations so it will take time.

    While you are recuperating, keep coming on here and chatting with us, we are always happy for the company!

    Wishing you all the best
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Thank u Ouch
    I am a nursing supervisor and can come and go as I wish, so I can sit and get up and walk a lot. I can also make my own hours per se. I do not want to miss work but cut my hours in half this week too. I will work 8 hours a day next week but I am afraid. today I just hot a wall and am in bed kinda with tears. I am tired of pain meds but have to wean off them, tired of this spine stuff (had disectomy/fusion is 2004 also) and just wish I was the tough girl I used to be. I am disappointed I didn't do more research. I may have caused my dural tear-not sure. I have to be tough because I do not have a ton of help at home. But I am grateful. I do not have that horrid nerve pain and I can walk well. Before surgery I was in a pain of 10. i have a great job and I do feel lucky I have great insurance. I got scared reading about slipping the disc fragments by sitting and driving. I just wish I got better post op help. I will ask to go to PT next week at my first follow up. It will be 4 weeks after my 1st surgery by then. I think I am just fed up today
  • I had my micro/lami 3 years ago. I had a total hip replacement last year. I can tell you the the last thing you want to do is try to worry about getting off of your pain meds. Take them exactly as ordered, and give yourself permission to be on them.

    At one month post op, you should have a lot less pain, but that's just for average people. If you have level 6 pain or better at 4 weeks you need to be on some sort of narcotic pain relief. I'd think 10mg Norco out to be more than enough.

    Get ahead of the pain, and stay there.

    L3-L4 Laminectomy micro-discectomy 2008
    ALIF L5-S1 2012
    Facet Joint Ablation L2 to S1 2012
    Facet Joint Ablation. L2 to S1 2015
  • It sounds to me like you are doing way too much. I am two weeks out of a L5S1 spinal fusion and am still spending almost every day in bed. I walk everyday, and am up and about, but probably wont be going back to work until atleas three months. It sounds lke our situations are different, but it does still sound like you should be resting, and NOT feling guilty about it.
    Sarah D
  • Kwilson400KKwilson400 Posts: 42
    edited 07/15/2012 - 4:20 PM
    Good luck
    June 2011 L5-S1 Lamenectomy/Discectomy
    Dec. 2011 Repeat L5-S1 Lamenectomy/Discectomy
    June 2012 New tear L5-S1 w/ Perm. Sciatic Nerve Damage
    Currently- restrictions (including no work duties) for a min. of 3 months to allow disc time to heal
  • KWilson400....good luck with the revision.
    Sounds like you had a similar story to me.
    I was told surgery was easy, recovery is 6 weeks but really that the 2 week period post op was critical.

    Didn't get much in regards to direction on limiting sitting, not sitting in recliner, walking periodically, etc. I started working 2 days after surgery (from home but still working) and didn't realize how critical it was to give me recovery time.

    My new surgeon was convinced I reherniated when they flipped me back over on the table but since he couldn't prove that he said "yep, you are just the statistic that clearly re-herniated early on within the first few weeks post op".

    I had the revision and my surgeon was VERY serious. He wanted me out of work for like 10 weeks which I didn't want to do. So, luckily I can work remotely. He agreed to let me do part time from home starting at week 6 and luckily my office agreed. I then went to only 3 days in the office for a good 2 months.

    I was VERY careful.
    My surgeon did not want me in a car for 6 weeks except to come for my 2 follow up appointments. This was the BEST advice I got. The car jostles you around.

    I took 2nd recovery VERY seriously.
    1) Walk 10-15 mins about 3-5 times a day (treadmill b/c it was winter).
    2) Saved sitting for meals for the first 4-6 weeks
    3) ZERO bending, twisting, lifting. I didn't walk my dog, I didn't walk up hills, I ate extra fiber so no straining in the bathroom, etc.

    You will do good!

    I had a really bad blow out 2 years ago so I still have no feeling but my strength came back and I reduced my leg pain significantly.

    I am having back stiffness now but the doctor did an MRI and things look ok so they think it's arthritic. Overall, I have a life back and it is amazing to be able to have the freedom.

    I did have to adjust my priorities - no running, no biking, re-purpose that time to PT exercises, but overall...doing well.

    Good luck!
  • Kwilson400KKwilson400 Posts: 42
    edited 07/15/2012 - 4:21 PM
    Thank you!
    June 2011 L5-S1 Lamenectomy/Discectomy
    Dec. 2011 Repeat L5-S1 Lamenectomy/Discectomy
    June 2012 New tear L5-S1 w/ Perm. Sciatic Nerve Damage
    Currently- restrictions (including no work duties) for a min. of 3 months to allow disc time to heal
  • Bunjiee said:
    I feel run down.

    After my surgery, I would get winded from just standing at the sink doing dishes. It took a good 6 months for me to build stamina back up to regular levels.

    True story:
    At one point, I literally could not walk; I could only crawl.

    Then, I could walk 1 or 2 steps with crutches.
    After some time I could walk without the crutches, and go 10 steps. I relished the small victories.
    I gave myself permission to not overdo it and be happy with those small accomplishments.

    Eventually, I could walk 20 steps in my back patio. Then, 30, 40, and so on. Finally, now I can walk just about any distance normally.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I had a tumor removed on my spine (major surgery) and am walking a little, resting a lot, swimming a little, resting a lot, sitting at my desk for periods of 1/2 hour, resting a lot, doing a little housework, resting a lot. I had my operation on the 12th June. I was told to listen to my body and not to do too much. I suggest thought that you ask to see someone to advise you maybe a physiotherapist or a neurologist. I was also given 6 exercises to do 3 times per day. 5 of each.
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