L4/L5 Microdiscetomy on 12/13/2011. Post and Pre-Op information on my condition
My name is Mike and i am 34 yrs old. There is a lot of background history I could include but simply put I am 6 ft, 190 lbs, and in somewhat decent shape. I herniated the L4/L5 disc last year (2010)in November and dealt with the pain. The pain was debilitating. I couldn’t stand up straight, I walked like I was a hunched over 80 yr old man, taking little steps. Also, my hip shifted to accommodate for the pain, so, I was also very crooked. I had severe pain in my tailbone/sacrum area and horrible pain surrounding buttocks. The MRI showed a massive herniation in L4/L5.
Instead of surgery i went to the chiropractor, PCP, and Pain Management Doctor for a cortisone shot. After the Cortisone shot I did feel better for about a month. Well there were good weeks and bad weeks I guess. I tried to remain as kinda active as possible for the next 9 months.
On October 20th 2011 I twisted the wrong way i and spent the next 7 days in bed with severe pain. Nerve pain that was really really bad, practically put me into shock every time that nerve pinched. It was so bad that EMS came the one night and they couldnt even get me out of bed. They tried to lift me up and the pain was so bad i told them to put me back in bed and go away. Kicking the EMS at of your house at 4am means it's real real bad...
I was able to get out of bed after two packs of steroids/anti-inflammatories. The Vicodin and Flexural also helped.
I worked from home for the next month and tried to get myself better through diet, good foods, vitamins, heat and ice therapy, and Pulse Electro Therapy.
During this time I found an Orthopedic to review my condition. He scheduled an MRI and it showed a massive L4/L5 herniation just like last year, but, worse this time. He recommended a microdiscetomy surgery and I agreed to it. At this point I couldn’t deal with the pain any longer. The Chiropractor and other non-surgical methods werent helping.
I would have got the surgery a year earlier if i wasnt such a baby and my doctors 'chiro/PCP/pain doc' informed me of the procedure and how common it is, easy recovery, and could make me pain free.
I had my surgery on 12/13/2011. I was told after the surgery that my herniation couldn’t have been any worse. They had to go on both sides of my spine to remove the herniation disc material. I guess there was a lot of that. Also, they had to remove some bone.
It was scary going into surgery of course, but, If i were to feel better afterwards,even a month or two afterwards, it would be worth it. I watched a video of a patient (youtube is a great place to find documentaries on this surgery) were the patient said that a microdiscetomy is equivalent to trimming toe nails. He also mentioned that there are risks, but, there are also risks when driving a car. I used this to help get me through the initial surgery scare.
My Orthopedic Surgeon said he performs multiple back surgeries (3) a day and has been doing this for years. He is the director of the spinal division at the hospital i had my surgery and recently operated on our governor. So, i felt like i was in good hands, that always helps.
Surgery goes like this –
1. Check in the hospital
2. They prep you for surgery/possibly out-patient surgery
3. Go to the room where you get ready to go into the surgical room and hang out. I got to see all the other people coming out of surgery, i prayed a lot.
4. They then give you a tranquilizer (at this point you don’t care anymore)It's like Valium but stronger.
5. They start the anesthesia. This surgery requires a breathing tube probably because it can take 1 -2 hrs to complete. My surgery took about 2:30hrs. While you’re knocked out they administer pain medicine and monitor your vitals.
6. Surgery's over
I woke up in the recovery section with some surgical pain in my back, of course as that’s where they cut me. They administrated a few shots of Demerol so I could deal. On a pain scale it was probably 7 out of 10, maybe less, It was a differnt kind of pain, one that i felt would go away; really more uncomfortable then anything. I didn’t get sick from the anesthesia or drugs, I remember them saying something like I had a couple shots of Fetnal‘super pain killer’ during surgery and three shots of Demerol after surgery. As I started to come out anesthesia and some of the pain meds and they took me to my room.
They said I would need to spend the night at the hospital so they could monitor me. It's typical they keep you over night depending on the time of the operation and the amount of drugs you took. they want to make sure your blood pressures good, etc..
There they provided me Percocet through out the night. All I wanted to do is sleep, but, that is not possible in the hospital as they are always coming in the room and bugging you taking blood pressure etc.. About 2/3 hrs after the surgery I could have got up and walked, however, I was a bit scared and waited till the next day.
So the next day around lunch I sat up with help from the nurse and stood with a walker. I was surprised that the pain I had before was gone. I could stand up straight and walk. I went to therapy and the more I walked the better I felt, it was amazing.
After the surgery I had numbness in my left leg and foot and also my right foot but not as bad. They said because of the nerve damage and them having to move the nerve this might happen. They said it show go away with in a couple of weeks. Also, I had pain from where they cut me, dug in my back, took out bone, sore muscles etc., but still not as bad as the nerve pain I had before the surgery. Also, I was not allowed to shower till 5 days after the surgery. I left the hospital the next day after the surgery and went home. I was only at the hospital for 28hrs including time I reported to surgery pre-op to post-surgery time.
So it’s now 6 full days after the surgery and I will provide you a timeline describing how I have felt during this time.
L4/L5 Microdiscectomy - Bilateral Laminectomy (basically what I have assumed and found what a ‘Bilateral Laminectomy ‘ means is that they needed to go on both sides of my spine to remove the herniated material.
I had a massive herniation that made me bed ridden for 7 days and prevented me from walking normal, walking any distance 50 feet, sitting for more than an hour, and sleeping for more than 2 months.
After the surgery the Doctor said no twisting, bending, or doing anything stupid for 6 weeks. The incision should heal in 2 weeks. The incision is glued together I think with steri strips. Just walk walk and walk during 6 weeks. Maybe they will start to get you stretching and stuff earlier depending.
It takes 3 -4 months for the body to heal the hole where the herniation material comes from near the disc (so i read). So I figure being very careful for at least 4 months. I never want a disc herniation again.
20hrs after surgery I was walking around on crutches in the hospital. Probably could have been 3 hrs after surgery but I waited. Nerve pain was gone in back and buttock (sacrum) area. Just new surgical pain instead.
24hrs - after surgery was on my way home (45 min car ride). A little uncomfortable, but, no problems. Happy to be going home. I made sure I paced the house till bed time. Sleeping is difficult as I am only comfortable on my sides and that starts to hurt my hips. I slept for 2hrs and then need to switch to my other side.
*** The biggest issue at this point is sleeping. I am afraid to roll over in bed as I think I am twisting and I do not want to re-herniate. Also, I cannot do the log roll as my back seems tight, maybe it’s the incision but just worried. So what I do is wake up and actually sit up and Walk to the other side of the bed and lay down on my other side. Im driving my wife nutz..
2 days later – I woke up feeling better and less sore. I still have some pain where the incision is and the surrounding muscles especially on the left side where the majority of the herniation was. I walked around the house all day long hardly sitting. I took a 2 hr nap and walked more till 11 pm, then went to bed. Still have numbness in my left leg and feet. Using crutches.
3 days later – Feeling less numbness in leg and feet. I am moving faster and starting to get my posture and gate back from walking. I have also spent 10min 2x a day on my mini trampoline walking in place. This seems to really help a lot. It seems to be correcting my hips and makes me sweat a little, I just feel out of shape cause the last 2 months I have done nothing. So I have been walking constantly probably like a mile a day inside my house. I use an app for my phone that counts steps and miles, and calories. It still hurts to sit for more than 45 minutes. I have cut down on pain meds. Only taking about two pain killers a day, one in the late afternoon and one at bed time. I have been drinking a lot of water and fluids. I started taking all my vitamins again to help with inflammation and general health. I also started using my Pulse Magnetic Therapy Machine again to help with inflammation and incision healing. Using cane and walking on my own.
- Drink fluids (helps with constipation and recovery). I drink about 8 – 10 cups a day
- Taking vitamins (Omega 3, E, D, C, Turmeric, Cherry Tart). They all help with inflammation and general health.
- Eating good foods to help with inflammation and diet
- Walking a lot around the house. Sit for 30 minutes and then walk more. Standing is great and laying down when I really get bored.
- Using my mini trampoline twice a day for 10 minutes just walking and marching in place.
- Going up and down stairs a few times a day.
- Lastly I have a Pulse Magnetic Therapy Device which I purchased when I hurt my back. These are supposed to be awesome for recovery, but, they are expensive ve $1000 and up. I found a place in Canada that makes them for humans and horses. They do a rent to own program with a three month evaluation. I recommend it, what’s to lose but some more money. The initial cost to get it sent to me was $300. Showed up at my door in 3 days. It’s a circular devie ‘magnet’ you put around you, plug it in the wall, set the time and frequency range. You can feel the difference in the pulsation depending on frequency. Inflammation is supposed to ball up blood vessels therefore running a pulse through the vessels are supposed to break up the blood vessels and allow for faster recovery since the back does not get much blood supply. It’s really supposed to work. I will update you on that later.
4/5 day – feeling easier to walk and get around. Woke up still a little sore on my left and right side, mostly left. Still tough to sleep. Still sticking to my program, walking and eating right.
6 day (12/19/2011) – woke up still a little sore on my left side. Still tough to sleep but feeling better. Getting around much better. Ready to start walking outside and see how far I can go. Incision is looking good. Feeling like im really gettign better. I am so happy i got the surgery at this point and im looking forward to tomorrow.