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Long Time Lurker

garycdewittggarycdewitt Posts: 51
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Long time lurker here.

I want to say there is a lot of good information on this site.

I am having a fusion from L4-S1 in about 4 weeks. The Dr. is going to put in PEEK spacers via ALIF. He swears that therapy and driving will start a week post surgery.



  • i am sorry but NO WAY ....you will be resting for at least 6 weeks {plus legally you can't drive for 6 weeks anyway] .i have had ALIF at L4/L5 on the 29 dec 2011 and i can tell you its no picnic .it's a massive operation .and you will need to rest up post operation .good luck
    welcome to spine health
    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
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    somewhat different.
    I do know of people that have had some serious and complicated back surgery and their doctors cleared them to drive in about 10 days.

    When I had my shoulders replaced, I wasnt cleared until about 6 weeks post surgery. When my hip was replaced last year, I was back driving in about 2 weeks.

    The point is that there are no firm rules. I know that Tony is speaking for his own experiences, but you never know for sure until its your time.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I too question one week. I had a 360 ALIF and my bowels still didn't work a week after surgery. DONT rush rehab! You can do more damage that way. There must have been some miracle advancement to the ALIF to where rehab and driving is good after one week.

    Unfortunately, insurance directives drive surgeon's decisions.

    Dilauro is very much correct in saying everyone heals differently. Just scan all the post on this site to judge healing time.

    Be honest with your surgeon! If you think things are going to fast, slow it down!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I drove at 10 days (2 miles) scared to death btw to my appt.to get the stitches out since no one was available. My teenage daughter was with me to pretend to be my driver ( yes I may have broke the law).

    After two weeks I was taking normal pain meds and started driving myself to the market or the mall for very short outings. At about 4 weeks I started mall walking with a brace and a cane. I was still taking meds but they were the same that I was taking before I had my PLIF so I was very used to them. I was back to work at 11 weeks (outside sales home based).

    Some of the surgery buddies I had were completely off their pain meds and walking 2/3 miles a day 3 weeks out. I remember being heart broken that I wasn't healing as fast as them. But Ron is right everyone is different. We all heal at different rates/ have different problems.

    Hopefully things will be smooth for you. Good luck!

  • you can't drive post op for six weeks .if you do so you are braking the law .and {god forbid} you have an accident you wont be insured .i know that things are different in other parts of the world but .ALIF/PLIF are both massive operations and no matter where you live .unless you are super human you wont have healed enough and could do more damage to yourself ..i would be VERY careful driving post op ..even now nearly 5 months on i still hurt if i drive and don't feel confident driving more than a few miles .{i have had a bad result ..so far ..as i am still in pain .but my consultant did warn me that it would be a very long recovery ..around 2 years }
    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
  • I agree that if we all had the same operation, we would all recover at different stages.

    I also was told not to drive for the first 6 weeks after 2-level PLIF (here in the UK) and got the impression that my insurance cover could be affected if I did drive before this time.

    I started to drive at the end of the 6th week, but unfortunately did something that caused a very sharp pain in my back (I reversed the car and twisted around, as a natural reflex and without thinking, to make sure the way behind me was clear) and have been in pain ever since - having to undergo revision surgery in December last year.

    Obviously I can only speak from my own experience, but I don't think you would be fit enough to drive after only one week - you probably won't even feel like going outdoors that soon after surgery! But what do I know, your surgeon can estimate when you are likely to be able to drive, but he cannot know for sure until after you've had the operation and your recovery/progress is known for sure.

    I hope your surgery goes really well and that you make a very speedy recovery.
    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 !!
  • Different when it comes to recovery and based on Tony and Sue's post, you should check what your laws are, and your insurance in your area.

    I got in the driver's seat for the first time a couple of days ago... At 9 weeks post op, and still don't feel comfortable driving. I only drove for a couple of minutes, but I am still on BLT restrictions, and it is awfully hard to shoulder check with those restrictions. :O I also found it hard since I have yet found a way to drive while fully reclined, :D which for me would be the best.

    Take things easy, don't push yourself too quickly, but hope that you have a smooth, quick recovery.

    >:D< Karen
    >: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
  • Whatever happened to the "power of positive thinking"? There's a lot to be said for going into any surgery with positive thoughts. Bombarding someone with individual realities all contrary to what the surgeon has presented does wonders for helping Gary feel good about his decision to move forward and have surgery.

    If I had listened to all those who told me I would never work, dive, drive, walk, ride, shop, clean house, garden or get off narcotic pain meds, I'd be an overweight depressed angry mess. Instead I chose to listen to my surgeon and to my own inner voice and I have a wonderful life once again.

    Gary, the mind is a powerful tool in our healing kit. The choice is yours whether to use it or not. Choose wisely and best wishes to you for a speedy and strong recovery.

  • Chagland, I'm glad you have a wonderful life once again. I'm also glad your surgeon was upfront with you and explained the whole procedure right down to the smallest detail.

    People are explaining what happened to them. Perhaps their surgeons didn't tell them what all was expected, perhaps what the surgeon said wasn't accurate.

    I can only speak for myself but I can tell you that my surgeon sugar coated the whole procedure and recovery. I've been through a bunch in my 45 years ranging from recreational injuries to on the job injuries. I made the best out of living in a hell hole in the middle east with sand up my backside while deployed, but none of that compares to the recovery I had from my ALIF.

    Most all surgeons talk from what they have learned from books, medical companies selling them products and case studies. I doubt they have had the procedures done to themselves. Again, speaking for myself I went into this with positive thoughts. But after enduring prostatitis (related to surgery), erectile dysfunction (related to surgery) and pain now worse than I had prior to surgery, my positive thoughts have wained considerably.

    I don't believe anyone on this site aims to scare people from having a procedure done. That decision is between the person and their doctor. What we do post however are real world issues dealing with back pain and our own experiences.

    There have been people on this site who had great outcomes from surgery. It's a shame they don't stay on SH to relay their success on to others. But many of the folks here stay here to support one another and to provide real world insight to a very difficult situation.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • You are correct, it is a shame that more folks don't stick around to share positive outcomes. However, that's a problem that I am really glad we have with this and other similar forums.

    Real world insight is fantastic, when it isn't over-sensationalized. Unfortunately with forums like this, when members share they tend to want to make certain they get their point across. As a result the descriptives and correlations become more like a script from a horror movie than the bare reality of what they endured.

    Think about how many times you read people post comments like "I thought I knew pain before, but this is an entirely different monster!" So it is really still all a matter of perspective when you really look hard at it. We could all complain in terms and descriptions that would frightened the daylights out of most, but are we doing ourselves and them favor or a disservice.

  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    it's over, all said and done. And Gary wants to know why no one warned him that the surgeon gave him a near impossible goal? And none of us said anything to prepare him for 4 to 6 weeks. Which is probably the norm.....Let us just say....it's a very lofty goal.
    And for the sake of safety.....Just not a good idea.
    Welcome to S.H. I was a lurker for a very long time!

    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • Im up for a 2 level ACDF in 3 weeks. The surgeon told me I will be up and running in a week and it's not really that big of a thing. Maybe it isnt, but then maybe it is?

    When I talked to my manager at work about sick leave for recovery, I heard myself repeat what the surgeon said, since I believe him and like to think positive, and have no idea what will be.

    She asked me what the worse case scenario is and lets plan for that.
    Smart woman. Now we have added some more time in case I need it, and no pressure, I can take my time and heal. If im ready to go after a week, thats great, but no one is expecting it, its just bonus.

    So I say yes to positive thinking and also a big thanks to everyone sharing their stories about realistic recovery time. I know what Im in for thanks to you guys and will not feel let down if Im not running around after a week.
    Cause: car accident & genetics
    Effect: herniations C4-7, stenosis, osteoarthritis, myelopathy, neuropathy
    Non-invasive Treatment: everything under the sun
    Invasive Treatment: 2 level ACDF, C5 & C6, May 2012
    Moving Forward: SCS
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