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Am I rushing things following double level fusion?

KellyMKKellyM Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
This is my first post. :) I have had 2 previous microdisectomies at L4-L5 and L5-S1. They failed to do the trick and I am now having a double level spinal fusion L4-S1 with hardware this upcoming Wed.

I work at home full time as a senior medical fraud investigator.. (yep I am one of the lucky ones who conducts investigations of corrupt medical doctors)..

However I told them I only need to take 2 weeks off after the fusion. Am I rushing things? Granted I do not need to leave the home to work. But will I be up to conducting investigations/reviews that quickly??

Thank you!!


  • Ummmm...I'd say YES knowing many fusion patients. A two level fusion, I would say, a month out as a minimum and more realistically 6 weeks. No way you go back in 2 weeks without HEAVY narcotics in your blood and even then it would be unadvisable. Who told you 2 weeks? That doctor needs investigated. LOL!

  • KellyM:

    I underwent a two level lumbar fusion same as you, and my job involves 50% stay at the house and work on the computer (writing summary reports of my visits, etc.). So, I can answer your question with some validity.

    No two surgeries are similar, no two patients are similar and no two recoveries are similar. Keep that in mind.

    I spent three nights in the hospital. After one day at home I was very slowly pecking away on my laptop. Two things motivated me. I wanted to return to normalcy as fast as I could and I did not want to place my job in jeopardy. I was OK with a very slow pace. No pressure from my employers, just from within.

    An unforseen challenge was the "muddy thinking" brought about by the medications. That really slowed me down. I reviewed and again reviewed my work for errors. That slowed me down. Accept that reality.

    Seriously evaluate your body mechanics while conducting computer work. Your mind will leave your body and the next thing you know PAIN has got you. Pace yourself and work steady.

    Any requirement to leave the house is another story. That event should be in accordance with your surgeon's instructions. Fresh air and a change of venue is stimulating, but not when it stresses your recovering spine.

    My surgery was in January 2011. I have an appointment with my surgeon next Monday to discuss a revision surgery, as I have failed! I just can't accept that concept. Anyway, I believe that my actions immediately after my surgery may have been the precipitating event that led to a nonfusion.

    Remember, no two surgeries are similar, no two patients are similar and no two recoveries are similar. Take it slow and steady.

    Good luck.

  • I haven't had surgery but know you will need time to go to Physiotherapy and daily little walks that in itself and being on pain meds will exhaust you and I hear the first 2 weeks is the worse.

    I think you should let your work know you will be taking off 4-6 weeks and then if you do happen to feel better before that you can start back to work but at least you know you gave notice so they have someone to replace you. Have you checked out the post-op must haves list yet? http://www.spine-health.com/forum/back-surgery-and-neck-surgery/post-op-must-haves-0

    I hope all goes well with your surgery and recovery and keep us posted how you're doing alright? Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • you wont even be able to shower yourself in two weeks .you will need about 12 MONTHS off .I AM 10 weeks from same operation and my consultant told me it will take 2 years to totally recover from the operation ..i have only just started hydrophyraphy {best thing for fusion surgery according to my consultant|} ...2 weeks please ..you put a smile on my face anyway ...good luck ..its a massive operation ..don't rush anything post op you will regret it and may need it all doing again ..
    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
  • Thank you so much for the response. It is so nice I am not alone in all of this. Frankly, I am scared to death about Wed.. ): I have had previous back surgeries and was back to work in 3 days. Of course those were microdisectomies and were not very invasive. I really had not given thought to the "muddy thinking" due to the pain meds! Thank you for reminding me of that. I am doing the minimally invasive spinal fusion which basically means, 2 2" cuts on either side of the spine and 2 puncture wounds higher above them. However once he is in there it is the same type of surgery and trauma to the spine. He said I can expect 6 screws and 2 rods. I am not going to rush the going back to work thing. One of the perks of being in a management role I can delegate to others. :) I will wait until I am physically and mentally able to fulfill my work responsibilities with a clear head.
  • After my first surgery I took 4 weeks off. Looking back, that was probably not enough. After the second far more complex procedure I was back at work after 12 weeks. My job entails home-based work and 1 1-week trip with 7 hour flights in each direction once a month. I have been able to cope with that, and now, at 10 months out have completely normal stamina and working ability.
  • It all depends how surgery goes, If everything works out like it should you might be able to work from home sure after 2 weeks,

    So i would not rule it out, Its diferent working from home on a laptop then driving in to work and having to do physical labor and such,

    It should be a good motivater after 2 weeks to get working as long as you know you can rest in between when needed,

    I dont know where Tony comes up with 12 months when sure it can take that long to totaly fuse but unless you are in a coma there is no reason why not to start up the laptop and work from home,

    Only if the surgery failed to fix the issue and like some of us have further complications would be the only set back,

    Best of luck to ya,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Thank you everyone for responding. I also think I will only need a few weeks to get back to work. As stated above once I am no longer popping pain pills I can easily work from my laptop in bed.. :) (fingers crossed no complications).
  • Kelly-

    I had a L4-S1 fusion in October of 2009. Guess what I was doing 2 weeke later.

    I was in a local nursing home doing physical rehab. I urge you in the strongest of terms to allow yourself much more than 2 weeks before you go back to work.

    Your body will be grateful. Good luck and I ask that you keep us posted on your progress.
  • I had a three-level back in November of 2008. I was in the hospital for a week (I ended up with two surgeries instead of one, so had to stay for a while), and I got home just before Thanksgiving. I worked at a university as a department manager and, by Christmas, I was going into the office to pick up work and coming home to do it while lying flat on the couch with my laptop propped up on my knees. The drugs will slow you down. They will make your thinking fuzzy and it will take you a lot longer to do things than you anticipate. Do NOT think you're going to be able to get by without them. I had a microdiscectomy and foraminotomy before I had my fusion and, when I awoke from that surgery, I had such relief, I felt like dancing!! I was pretty much pain free for six months, till everything took a bad turn. Recovery from a fusion is nothing like that. You will, no doubt, feel as though you have been run over by a bus. So yes, you can probably work a bit from home maybe three-four weeks after surgery, but I wouldn't expect to be doing it full time. Your body will need rest. Also, I think that had I not pushed myself to get back to work as soon as I did, I would have healed much better. I gradually started staying at the office for longer and longer when I'd go to get more work and was back to full-time at my desk in three months. Tony is right. I should have taken a whole year off. Best wishes for a successful fusion.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I work from home (outside sales involves computer work & driving 2-3 days a week).... I had a PLIF L4-S1 and could hardly stay awake for 2 weeks (heavily medicated bc of the severe pain.

    If it had been a different surgery that was less invasive maybe it would have been different. I stayed off dor 11 weeks. Maybe could have pushed back at 8 weeks but I was walking as much as I could and doing PT then, Sitting at my desk not so fun.

    I could have gone back to work (pain wise) after 2 weeks after my ACDF but my NS kept me home for 7-8 weeks.
  • and recently started pool walking and a little swimming ...o boy ..the pain is maddening and i now have the urge to pee every half an hour .{i am trying to get seen by my consultant before my due date as i am in awful pain } ALIF and PLIF are massive operations and i have been so careful not to bend twist lift but now i have more pain and more problems so i will stick to my original thoughts and say 12 months to recover {all my recovery info is from my consultant ..i don't just make it up ..LOL
    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 will probably feel exhausted after surgery. Anaesthetic and pain medications could make you feel a little low, let alone the inability to think straight/lack of concentration and possibly experiencing some discomfort from the operation site. But of course everyone is different.

    It took me NINE months to return to work after the 2-level fusion in 2010 and, after completing 8 weeks on a phased return, I only managed to work 2 weeks on full time before I was off again with worsening back pain. Then, after having revision surgery last December 2011, I have not yet managed to get back to work. Mind you, that's not totally my fault because it was my managers decision NOT to allow me to return. How rude.

    When you return home from from surgery and have fully recovered (whether it is 2 weeks or 2 months) only then can you contemplate returning to work. Hopefully you will be pain free by then and able to return on a 'phased' basis to give yourself the best opportunity of a successful outcome in the long term.

    I really hope your surgery goes well. Will you let us know how you get on when you're feeling well enough to post?
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • speaking, two weeks is not near enough for full work duties. But, if your working from home, don't have to lift anything and can go lay down if you need to, it may not be so bad.

    That being said, when I had my 2 level fusion, I was an EMS Inspector for the state. I went back to work in about 7 weeks. That was WAY too early! WC expected me to be off for 6 months and I should have done that. My back is a mess again and I think it's partially because of rushing things.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Well I had my double level spinal fusion. Everything seems to have gone well. I am now 3 weeks out and am wearing my brace and electronic growth stimulator. They expect me to wear it 9 months.. Doc said he is happy we did the surgery as the lumbar spine was grinding bone on bone. No disc space left. He actually says now I am taller..

    For those wondering I went back to work 11 days after surgery..
  • Good for you! My doc said that if you're motivated and want to get back to normal life, you will. And you have :)
  • Thank you. It meant giving up day time pain meds but so worth it. One day closer to being back on my Harley. :)
  • I had L5S1 done on 6/16/11 and didn't return to work till after Labor Day.

    Last 2 weeks were part-time, but I do work out of my home.

    In hindsight ...always 20/20 right ;-) ....I would have waited longer.

    At almost 10 months out and increased pain since last Oct, I was just finally declared a failed fusion :-(

    May have nothing to do with it, but my pushing it around the house... "sure I can trim the hedges", will always make me wonder.

    I don't smoke and new neuro thinks old neuros technique was the issue, but I'll always wonder.

    Now looking at a discogram and most likely a 2 level revision surgery.

    Don't let this frighten you, not my intention, just that you should listen to your body post surgery, not your boss, your wallet, your guilt, or some prefabricated date.

    Some will take issue with that being unrealistic, but I offer up "why do it then" if you're not going to do everything to make it successful?

    With that said, IMHO, the best work items you can own after surgery are an iPad and a MacBookAir.

    Amazing battery life, light weight, and you can tap out emails and docs flat on your back with an iPad. MacBookAir runs OSX and Windows, weighs a ton less, has wonderful battery life. It also uses an SSD drive, so almost no heat on your legs.

    Best of luck :-)
    Jun 2011 -TLIF @L5-S1
    Mar 2012 -NonUnion @L5S1
    May 2012 -Multi Level Discography
    July 2012 -XLIF 2Cages @L3L4/L4L5
    Aug 2012 -All New Hardware @L34L45/L4L5/L5S1
    Mar 2013 -FBSS = Pain Management until they figure it out.
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