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ALIF recovery update - 5 weeks

robgz66rrobgz66 Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:59 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey everyone, sorry I have not given an update sooner but here it goes:

The surgery itself – ALIF to fuse L4-L5 and L5-S1, Dr. said it was a textbook case, everything went great, (shameless plug - EDITEDTulsa were awesome) the Hospital staff was very responsive to all my needs and the doctor came to check on me the evening after the surgery and every day I was in the hospital. The surgery was on Wednesday Dec 7th and I was discharged on Friday around noon. Even though I was prepared to be in pain afterwards it was fairly intense but to my surprise I did not have a PCA pump and was able to control the pain using pills. I was up walking that evening, just to the bathroom. Then Thursday I walked to the ice machine, about 100ft one way, my wife helped me take a shower that night, my gosh it felt great. Did not have to worry about incision due to them using derma bond and a waterproof dressing. Friday they were concerned that I had not had a BM yet but the Dr. decided that since I was passing a large amount of gas that it would be ok to release me. Also Friday I walked down to the nurses’ station, about 250ft they agreed that I was ready to go home, but they did give me a good talking too for pushing myself too much, they could tell, I was covered in sweat and truly looked worn out.

The trip home, 3 hours, was a little rough, only regret is that we did not stop more for me to get out and move around. I had some family members waiting on me and they helped get me in the house and situated, we visited for a little bit then I went to be because I was so worn out and tired.

Sunday I finally had a BM, was cussing the Dr. for not telling me that the wiping process was so hard. Next few weeks were fairly uneventful, walking is the key though, the more you move around the better, they say the body heals when you sleep but once I got into the routine of sleeping an hour or 2 then walking for 30 or 45 minutes during the day, my recovery seemed to really take off.

I was released to limited work after 12 days, and even though my chair at my home office desk is really comfortable, what was even better was simply standing. My wife and I got some cheap Ikea end tables and put on top of my desk and it brought it up to a nice working height. This way I was able to work for about 3 hours then take a nap then go at it again for another 3 hours or so, rinse and repeat as needed.

Follow-up with Dr. EDITED 2 weeks after the surgery went great, was released to limited driving, and by limited he means do what you can stand, your body knows what it can handle better than anyone else does.

Sleeping at night, this has been an adventure unto itself, there are nights I am able to get comfortable and stay that way all night, other nights I toss and turn (somewhat). Starting out it was hard to get up and down, would have to use whatever I could to get up and down, now it is almost back to normal. Some nights I will try to roll over and it will hurt really bad and other nights it is fine, I think the changing weather has something to do with it. Satin sheets, at least a bottom sheet does wonders, hot and cold packs help as well.

All in all, I wish I would have done this years ago, but NS I had at the time got me so afraid that the fusion was going to limit everything I do and dramatically change my life for the bad. It was not the case, basically I will have to change how I bend over and do things but for the most part I don’t think it is going to very life altering, except for no spine pain. For 5 weeks now, I have not had any spinal pain or the radiating pain in my legs. Don’t get me wrong, I am in pain, just a different kind, I feel like I have a major muscle cramp in my buttocks and my legs hurt from all the walking and using them more instead of my low back to get up and around. Bowles are back to normal, incision is all healed up and looks great. I am starting to taper off some of the meds from 4 time per day to 3 but they do help with the healing process, if you are in pain you are not healing.

Well, it’s time to go for my walk with the dog, everyone have a good day and make sure to talk to your Doctor, he is there to help you, if something does not sound right, ask another doctor.

Take care everyone.

Naming of Health Professionals, Doctors and Hospitals or any type of Health Facilities is never permitted on this website as per the Spine-Health Rules. Post Edited by Moderator Numbskull


  • AND i am a lot further back than you were my operation also went text book .and was done by one of the uk's best consultants .my main problem is a dry mouth and being continually tired even showering takes it out of me ,my appetite has not yet returned to normal and all i want is ice lollies !! and water ,my consultant told me that it would take up to 3 years to get over this operation due to the state of my back .there is no way that i could walk 2 miles a day ! god i can just manage to get to the toilet.i think the physios are being a bit optimistic ..for the first few days i had to endure the indignity of my wonderful wife cleaning me up post MB {not nice for both of us} .its going to be a long hard recovery
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • You sound like you're doing really well for only 5 weeks out.

    You're right about walking - I walked and walked, initially in small lots and gradually increased the distance. I don't do long distances now but take my dog out twice a day for 20-30 minutes each time. Two years ago, I had two dogs, but wasn't able to walk them until 7 months out, but then they're large ones.

    I hope the rest of your recovery goes just as well as these early weeks and that you can eventually get off all the pain meds.

    Keep letting us know how you're going.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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