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1 Week after L5-S1 Microdiscectomy with questions

Soapfan23SSoapfan23 Posts: 11
edited 08/22/2012 - 6:07 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
FIrst I want to say a huge thank you to this entire community because leading up to my surgery and afterwords, these posts have been a tremendous resource! Sorry if this is a long post, just want to give some background.

I had an L5-S1 Microdiscectomy one week ago today to eliminate pain in my right leg / numbness in my toes. I first herniated my back in 2009 when I was 20. Didn't do anything in particular, it just happened after a car ride. Back then I saw a couple of neurosurgeons but decided against surgery because I was able to rehab and manage with Chiro and Physical Therapy. I still had some moderate pain and trouble from time to time, but I was able to mange with muscle relaxers and over the counter meds. Last August I had another acute episode but this time Physical Therapy didn't help. I saw 3 Neurosurgeons, and they discovered the disc was herniated, but I was also showing signs of degeneration. They didn't think Microdiscectomy would help, and they didn't want to even talk fusion. So I tried oral rounds of steroids, physical therapy, epidurals (which were of no help at all). I was unsatisfied but semi-managed until this August when I had another acute episode that was bad. I was in a ton of pain, couldn't stand straight, and could barely walk. I went back to my Neurosurgeon from 2009 (who is now 3 hours away from me), because he's who my Primary Care Physician recommended. He said it would be reasonable to try Microdiscectomy. He said it had a good chance of fixing my sciatica, but it wouldn't help my general back pain.

He did the surgery 1 week ago at about 6:30 at night. He wanted me to go home afterwords, but I was in tremendous pain when they tried to move me in recovery. All of my muscles locked and my teeth started chattering I was in so much pain, they had to give me a lot of morphine just to get me to relax back into the bed and they decided to admit me for the night. That night was ROUGH. I was in a ton of pain when they would try to sit me up or get me to stand, so they had to keep giving me Morphine throughout the night, as well as phinergan and zofran for nausea. They finally got me up and walking that morning but I had to use a walker (with wheels on the front). I saw the surgeon briefly where he seemed to be annoyed with me and dismissed the idea of me needing the walker, telling me I should really be up and at it by now. They sent me on my merry way, and I went to the hotel which I had booked for the entire week.

I started trying to walk the first couple of days in the hotel hallway, but struggled because of bad muscle spasms. They would almost cause me to fall, so I called and they gave me permission to use the walker to keep me from falling. I got in the habit of trying to walk every couple of hours, then got to almost every hour. Making it further down the hallway each time. I had to stay on my percocet religiously taking 2 every 6 hours, if I didn't I got pain down my right leg. It kind of feels like it did before surgery, but not quite the same. We also noticed when I stand, I'm not completely straight, My upper body is leaned to the left somewhat, also like before surgery. It gets better the more I walk and loosen up throughout the day, but I'm wondering if that's at all normal? I asked my doctor's nurse about it last friday, they said it can happen but to call yesterday to see if he wanted to see me if it was worse. It was semi-better yesterday (only standing slightly to the left) and I waited and waited for him to decide whether or not to see me and I finally told them I couldn't wait any longer and I would have to see him at post op. I came back home 3 hours away (which he knew I was doing ahead of time).

He gave me minimal instructions. Just walk, but not an uncomfortable amount. He won't start me in physical therapy for 4-6 weeks. I know I'm not supposed to sit much (I've been saving that for my meals). I can walk, even without the walker now (spasms have calmed down some), but I can't walk like a normal person. My right leg drags some, and I can't take large steps without briging on pain. So basically I walk once an hour (about every 3 hours at night when I try to get some sleep), and the rest of the time I'm in bed watching tv, etc. I run out of pain meds today, which kind of scares me. I called and asked if he would give me a refill so I could transition off of them easier, but I don't know if he will. I basically got the feeling he thought I should be out of pain the day after surgery. I still have my Muscle Relaxer and my NSAID I can take. I'm trying to maintain a positive attitude, which is hard because I almost feel like a failure at this. I know alot of people are fine by day 2 or 3. My dad was off the narcotics his second day. I feel like my neuro's office is of basically no help. I appreciate any advice for my mental or physical situation. Is it normal to stand off center at all? I know the muscles can be swollen and my pain could be the nerve irritated. Should I be able to walk no problem? Normal strides? I'm sorry, I know part of this is rambling. I just have alot of worry / questions and I have been offered basically no support / instructions after the surgery.


  • ben_indianabben_indiana Posts: 288
    edited 08/21/2012 - 6:41 AM
    Hi Soap. Im still a few weeks away from my surgery. I have read alot about this and all that they say is everyone is different.

    I know for sure that you are NOT failing! The pain is not your fault, and your concerns are valid.

    Do you have a local doctor that you can see sooner? I know personally I have been seeing 3 docs pretty regularly through this process. Im not sure that a doctor who didnt do the surgery can help much, but they should at least be able to do an xray to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on. Maybe alleviate your fears a little or at least refill your scrips.

    Its so hard with these doctors, theyre seeing so many patients per day so all of us are just one of many. But to us this means everything!!
    Its a shame that this office is not giving you the support you need.

    Good Luck!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Ok so I wrote this post yesterday when I was in a slight panic and still adjusting to being home after surgery. I learned my lesson, calm down before I post lol. I did manage to get ahold of the nurse and they are going to call me in a refill on my pain meds and possibly a different muscle relaxer for the spasms. She told me not to worry, that at 1 week out it's ok if I still have pain and need something for it, and that it sounds like I'm making a perfectly normal recovery. I'm still slightly worried about my posture, but I think my walking will get better in time. Looking on here helped alleviate my concerns about my strides, it seems not everyone goes out and walkes 4 miles 2 days after surgery. Sorry if my original post was long and rambling, I got so overwhelmed trying to cope with everything and adjust to my new normal now that I'm back at home.
  • No reason to apologize!!! I know how quick that panic can set in. A few days after my first epidural shot, I had some friends over at the house watching ufc. I got up outta my chair a little too quickly and felt a tweak in my back & I panicked. Within minutes I had snuck into the bedroom I couldnt calm down. I called the wife into the room and said "something is WRONG" Well admitting that opened the gates, I overheated, couldnt breathe and the wife called 911. I literally thought I was dying!
    In the meantime I undressed and thankfully my best friend showed up as this all was happening and he & my wife calmed me down. By the time the ambulance showed, I was ok. And that is what a panic attack feels like, I had never had one before ( or after thankfully ). One of the scariest expiriences of my life. I automatically thought " something happened in my back!!" and that started the whole thing.

    But even without an attack, I hurt bad & panic. I get a letter from the insurance that sez the need more info for surgery, I panic. The stress & frustration is always ready to boil over!!!

    Everyday I feel I am getting worse, still have 2 weeks till surgery, cant sleep well at all from the pain & stress. Its a BIG struggle to stay calm & positive. So if youre gonna rant, this is the place to do it.

    I also know that after surgery its gonna be another big struggle not to over-do it. I wanna feel better so friggin bad.

    see, now Im ranting. Good Luck as you contine to recover. Please post often, Im having the same L5S1 MicroD, except mine is on the left, and am very interested in your timetable.

    I am also very thankful & appreciative of like- minded people in similar situations on this forum.
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Hey Soap, sounds like you've had a lack of support from the doc? Check out the thread regarding leg pain after L5-S1 Fusion... Lots of info there that might help.
    I'm having a bit of nerve pain down my right leg after my discectomy/laminectomy at L5-S1....I'm finding the comments from others are helping me to stay positive and not feel so alone through this whole process!
    Hang in there!
  • CdnProf said:
    Hey Soap, sounds like you've had a lack of support from the doc? Check out the thread regarding leg pain after L5-S1 Fusion... Lots of info there that might help.
    I'm having a bit of nerve pain down my right leg after my discectomy/laminectomy at L5-S1....I'm finding the comments from others are helping me to stay positive and not feel so alone through this whole process!
    Hang in there!
    Way to go Laura!


    Different degrees of back pain since 1994
    Cortisone shots Jan/09
    Discectomy and lamenectomy April/09
    L5 - S1 spinal fusion July.13th/12
  • Wondering how SOAP is doing now. I had my mini on 7/31/12 and it has had ups and downs. Was great for a few days, then things began to vary from intense electrical pain (albeit different than before) to low level uncomfortable. I want to be back to yoga and bicyling so I keep my eye on that goal . Right now it is tough to not be depressed at moments...hope to hear from others who have made it through to normal again...although I am guessing those will be the folks who have moved out and beyond the spine (pain) universe website!! I would like pointers for anyone still around as to when you started back to yoga for example. I am hearing it takes about 3 months for the disk to really completely seal itself off again. Thanks
  • Hey Karen, I'm doing somewhat better. I am nearing the two week mark, but I feel like I'm just starting to recover. I got depressed because I hear stories of people who are out of pain and fine by day 2, and I wasn't one of those. I finally got in touch with my doctor's nurse earlier this week and that helped. She got me a refill on my pain meds, and told me it's normal to still feel pain, and it sounds like I'm making a normal recovery. I'm up more now and getting out to walk several times a day, but I still have to lay down often. I'm thankful, to have roommates who help me get meals and run errands etc. I would have been back on spine health sooner, but I can't sit at my laptop too long. I've ordered a tilting overbed table from amazon, so that I can use my laptop in bed. I have my ups and downs but I feel it's getting better every day. If you have any questions feel free to ask, and I will try to get back on here soon. :)
  • Not that it helps you SoapFan23 but I was like you after my MD. Felt like I was the minority who got no relief after surgery and wondered why I had it. I never got any relief from the surgery (back or leg) and not quite as bad as you, the 1st 2-weeks post-op were really lousy.

    Keep up the recovery - limited sitting and frequent short walks to keep that scar tissue off your nerves.

    I ended up re-herniating (well, my 2nd surgeon said it was likely the initial herniation was so large that there were probably 2 large pieces and he feels the first surgery failed b/c the other piece came out as soon as they flipped me after surgery). Anyhow, after 2nd MD, I didn't get relief immediately either but after about 3 months, I stopped limping and my leg pain diminished. Keep being your own advocate and don't hesitate to call the surgeon's office if you have questions/concerns. As long as you are polite on the initial calls, I've found most offices want to help.

    My initial surgeon was a good surgeon but it took a LOT of patience for me not to snap at him at my 6 and 10 week post op appointments. I was so stinking tired of him saying the surgery should have been gratifying. I finally said to him "my expectations must have been wrong or I don't understand how you define gratifying because this surgery has been nothing like what I expected. I'm curled up crying every day in pain.". And with that, he said he'd send me for MRI (which is when I found out why I was still in a ton of pain).

    You sound like you are going well and it's just taking some time.
    Back surgery is tough and the surgery alone is a lot to recovery from.
  • Today has been a good day, I have managed to walk 4500 steps :) Unfortunately, I'm having to lay down a lot when I'm not walking (which is annoying), but I feel like I'm getting better each day.
  • Hi Soap, I am very interested in your situation because it is very similar to mine. I am 1 week away from surgery.

    Any updates?
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Lookin for an update, I am now 5 weeks post op & having a bit of a setback. Looking for you or others who are ahead of me
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • catfishmanccatfishman Posts: 185
    edited 10/15/2012 - 2:59 PM
    what happened ben? you were doing so well, sorry to hear that.
  • ok, i saw your other post.
  • This is actually the thread I saw during a google search and brought me to this community. I actually just made a threat with a rather long initial post too!

    I had the microdisectomy 2 and 1/2 months ago; initially I was pain free and this lasted for about 4 weeks! Then the pain slowly started creeping back and as of now I have a low level pain in my buttocks, thigh and calf. Its not that bad, more annoying then anything else, but I fear it will worsen!

    Initially after the surgery, a rested mostly for the first 5 to 7 days. Then I started to walk a little here and there. By 2 weeks after the surgery I was walking almost a mile a day. I never had pain initially, but was always afraid to overdue. I was so careful with everything I did.

    I wish you all the best with your recovery, please keep us posted! You are not alone dealing with this condition, thats for sure! Its so tough to deal with the recovery because at least with me I don't know what to expect afterwards!
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