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Wife having surgery...

My wife is scheduled to have surgery July 1st to fuse the bottom part of her spine.. her diagnosis is spinal stenosis with spondylothesis. I may have misspelled those but she's pretty nervous for the surgery so I'm reaching out.. she's not the forum sort but would like to talk to someone that has been through this. She has seen 5 neurosurgeons and decided on one and the day is quickly coming...

I'm excited for her and the prospect of a life free of the chronic pain she has, the ability to do things she presently can't, etc. Looks like a great resource here and I will be poking around to dig up info on how to help her get through this... I need to figure out how to set the house up for one. We have teen daughters that will be out of school for summer vacation, which will be a huge help. Of course she's worried about many more things.. she's the one getting the surgery.. how much pain, how long to heal, and the list goes on.


  • Good for you to get active on the forums to help your wife! I cannot speak much to the fusion. But I have been on these forums for awhile. I had a microdiscectomy in sept. Everything I have read on here points to fusion people having the same kinds of issues post-op, just alot more severe and a longer recovery time. I am sure others will chime in with better info but I can tell you this, Its gonna be a tough road for awhile. Spine surgery is a big deal, even "micro" like mine. I am 9 months post-op and just about 95%. That does not mean I have been completely helpless for 9 months ( i returned to work in 2 weeks ) but its been a tough road nonetheless. The more help she has the better. And that includes alot of emotional support as well.

    But we will be praying for a successful surgery for her and these forums can provide a ton of support and information. Any road that can lead to an end of chronic pain will be worth it in the long run!!

    Good Luck!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Based on what you said, your wife and I are in similar situations. I am having a double fusion, L4/L5 and L5/S1 on June 10th. I am counting down the days. My husband told me last night that he tried to put himself in my shoes and he can't imagine what I am feeling right now, the apprehension, the fear. I thought it was very sweet that he tried. I have two teenagers who I will depend on quite a bit, I'm sure. My husband is taking a week off of work the day I come home from the hospital and based on the information on here, most people require someone with them full time for 2 weeks. I figure that's what the teenagers are for...lol. There are supply and preparation lists on here that are great, they make you think of things you might not have thought of otherwise. I think the restrictions are going to be the hardest part to get used to, no lifting or bending. The closer my day gets, the more I feel the urge to just bust out crying, I think that's normal, so be patient with the wifey, I'm sure she has lots of things going thru her head right now, not to mention the pain she's in. Looking at some of the surgery buddy posts on here. I've looked at some of the previous months, to see how they are recuperating and it's been very helpful. Good luck to you both, looks like there will be several teenagers doing their own laundry this summer !! :)

  • Hi, it sounds like your wife and I are also having similar surgery. I am having a two-level fusion of L3/4 & L4/5 and laminectomy on June 12th. Our diagnoses are the same. I am pretty nervous but am so looking forward to getting my life back after the surgery and being able to do the things I haven't been able to for the past two years. These forums have been a godsend to me, I have learned so much and they have really helped with understanding what to expect. I have also been reading the previous months surgery buddy posts and they have been so helpful. As Dixie said, the supply and preparation lists that are on here are extremely helpful with telling me things I might not have thought of. I'm not sure how long hubby will be able to stay home with me that first week, he just started a new job last year and doesn't have much leave but I have a grown son who, along with his girlfriend, will be available off and on to help me as well. That's going to be the hardest part for me, depending on someone else as I'm so used to doing things for myself. But I'm sure those first days at home I will welcome the help! Good luck to both of you, it is nice that you are so involved and trying to help her get through everything. She is definitely going to need you and the girls. Keep us posted on how things are going and how she does with surgery and post-op. She will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Shari514SShari514 Posts: 121
    edited 05/31/2013 - 12:02 PM
    I underwent an L-4/L-5 fusion last month for spondylolisthesis. I spent 4 days in the hospital and have been recovering nicely. I am 5 weeks, 3 days since surgery. I think the primary thing is to realize the recovery is very long and very slow. Once I transitioned from the Morphine in the hospital to Percocet by mouth, my pain has been manageable and really not too bad. I took them every 4 hours at first and just tapered down as I could. I saw my pain doctor today and turned in 125 left over Percocet and he gave me Norco 5mgs. I can take up to 3 of those per day, but actually had already switched over as at the one month point I felt the Percocet was too strong. I have more pain as my activity level increases, but i'm taking 1-2 pills per day. Up until the last couple of days, I've spent most of my time on the sofa or recliner. Everyone is different, but for four weeks I couldn't tolerate the recliner and could only lay on the couch. My husband has been really good about helping out at home and with emotional support. For me, I think five weeks was the turning point and I feel able to start moving forward with my life. I promised myself that I would not freak out about any new symptoms or any unpleasant results from surgery for at least 3 months. It's a process and not only does she have to heal, but she has to allow her body to adjust to the trauma and the instrumentation in her back. Best of luck to your wife and to you; you have a pretty big stake in this, too.
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
  • You are correct that this site can be/is very helpful. It is great that you are involved in helping/getting everything ready for your wife. I needed so much help w/just about everything for quite a while after coming home from the hospital. My wife did so much for me after my L4-S1 360 fusion back in 2010. My mother even came up to help w/the kids and stuff around the house while my wife was busy taking care of me. You may have already done a search for post op needs, but in case you have not here is a link to a very helpful list of stuff.

    post-op must haves

    I was lucky in that the hospital had assembled many of the things that I needed after coming home (grabber, long shoehorn, thingy for putting on socks, toilet riser, etc). After a few days, when I was up and walking, the physical and occupational therapist started working w/me. They had a mock-up home where they showed me ways of doing things so I would not violate my restrictions (no BLT -bending, lifting, twisting).

    One other thing to think about for Dixiemerry and others; as far as significant other taking time off. I was in the hospital for 6 days. While in the hospital, the staff helped me w/whatever needs I had. If your caregiver is limited as to how much time they can take off; you may consider having them wait till you are released from the hospital to take their leave from work.

    Also for Goldengirl, if your hubby does not have enough leave time built up at his job he may be able to use FMLA. The Family Medical Leave Act can be used for the care of spouse. I am not familiar w/all the rules regarding FMLA, but thought I would mention it in case you did not know about it.

    If anybody has any questions that you may want to ask w/out posting; I am happy to answer using PM.

    Best of luck to all of you!
  • Best of luck to your wife. Hope the surgery goes well and her healing runs smooth (of course it never does, but if you expect good and bad days up front you are more mentally prepared to deal with that).

    You can search on here and there are lots of posts about things to purchase, etc before surgery. I kind of laughed when I read them because I basically made it through all my major surgeries with very few of the items, but I was "relatively" young. I wouldn't suggest running out and purchasing hundreds of dollars of stuff but I would read through them and think if any of the items "stick out" as something you think she might need. I'd also be sure to ask the nurses before you leave the hospital where to find the best medical supply store in your area. True, places like Walmart and Walgreens carry lots of these items and you can always order online, but if you get home and find suddenly that she really is in need of xyz you'll know where to get it quickly. A few things though upfront... she will want at least one (no need for an entire wardrobe) loose fitting comfortable outfit. We all own old comfy clothes we lay around the house in, but she will probably not want visitors to see her in those, so having one nicer "comfy" outfit like sweats or gym shorts will be nice. She will also need a pair of sturdy shoes, if you live some where really hot you might want to consider a pair of sandals (NOT FLIP FLOPS) with great support that fit snug, or some comfortable stable sneakers. You also want to be sure your shower area is "slip resistant" as she won't be as steady when she comes home as she usually is. You might want to consider quality shower mats both inside and out, especially if you have smooth tile floors. My hubby made me wear water shoes for the first few weeks when showering....lol, Feel free to PM me if you or your wife have any questions/concerns you think I might can help with.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • I also had spinal stenosis & spondylolisthesis. I had a Multi level lumbar laminectomy & fusion with a bone graft and instrumentation at L3/L4/L5. I had surgery one year ago on May 8th. I am doing great at this point fully fused and fullly functional. It feels great to be able to walk and stand without being in horrible pain and having my legs collapse. The first two weeks were very painful after surgery but I followed my orthopaedic spine surgeons instructions to the tee. I was on pain meds every four hours around the clock for those two weeks. I was instructed to walk three times/day beginning the day after surgery starting out at only 5 minutes each time. The pain the first week was some times unbearable. But my original pain was completely gone the first time I stood the night of surgery. It was just a matter of my body healing from the surgery itself. I was back to work 11 weeks after surgery with reduced hours - I have a desk job and extended periods of sitting were painful for the first month. I wore a supportive back brace from after surgery until about Sept. It helped when I went on walks and for sitting all day at work. I did my PT in Sept./Oct. By my checkup in Aug. I was walking close to 2-1/2 miles/day. By my 6 mo. checkup I was fused and the Dr. Was pleased w/my progress. I was still on pain meds as needed but not very often. I don't go back to the Dr. Until my 2 year followup. He instructed me to continue walking and doing my back exercises every day which I really try to do. It has been a long road but I am glad I had the surgery and I am thankful every day for my surgeon he gave me back my life.

    I'm sorry to be rambling but I hope this has been in some way helpful to you. I wish your wife luck and tell her to take it slow and easy and follow the doctors orders and don't be afraid to ask the doctor questions.
  • tri4autismttri4autism Posts: 3
    edited 06/01/2013 - 2:31 AM
    Thank you so much for the posts and information and slp for your experience. I haven't had much time to poke around, but I will and this thread have given me some great ideas... our bedroom is upstairs, I'm wondering if she's really going to want to go up there although she wants to now. We have a half bath on the first floor, I was thinking we might put a single somewhere on the main floor to get her through the first week or whatever since going up stairs might be tough...

    Otherwise, we're taking a cruise the week coming into her surgery... I know this is a huge deal and I just want to be as "there" for her as I can to help her get through this.

    Thank you for the thoughts and prayers! Our church family is going to also be involved in getting us through this one.

    BTW.. she's an L5-S1..
  • I was able to go up the stairs once daily even the first day home. Ask PT to show her how to do steps in the hospital. I spent the majority of my time on one floor of my house. I live in a bilevel home so my livingroom kitchen bathroom & bedrooms are all on one floor.
    I forgot to mention all the things that were most helpful during my recovery: walker w/wheels/raised toilet seat/grabber/supportive back brace/gel ice packs/extra pillows for between my legs when laying on my side and behind my back/Tv tray/percocets & lortab & vicodin/my cellphone alarm clock to set every four hours for my pain meds/good pair of supportive walking athletic shoes for walks outside. BTW I was 50 years old when I had surgery.

    Enjoy your cruise it will be difficult for you wife. I too took a weekend trip w/my husband & 10 year old daughter a month before my surgery. I was on steroids and vicodin to make it through the trip. I had a good trip but the last day we walked from morning to night and I had to take sitting breaks. But that evening while crossing the street in Times Square my legs collapsed and I fell in the street ripped the knee out of my new slacks and cut my knee open. I was embarrassed got up and told my husband when I get home I getting a second opinion and scheduling surgery. That was my turning point that I couldn't live like that anymore.
    My prayers are with your wife. Please update us after her surgery on her progress.

    SLP. Shari
  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 06/01/2013 - 9:17 AM
    Before my first surgery (in 1989, so yes, a long time ago, and lots of changes in surgical techniques/recoveries) my parents spent A LOT of money converting the closet in our half bath down stairs to a zero entry tile shower because of the stair issue. The last day I was in the hospital the surgeon asked my mother if we had stairs in our home and when she said yes he said "Great! She needs to be climbing them several times a day." lol, Oh well...
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Thank you for your comments on this thread. It's so good to hear success stories. I saw my PM yesterday and asked him what would be reasonable and expected regarding pain meds; he said I would probably need narcotics on board for about 6 months. Interesting that it matches up with your experience. You went back to work at 11 weeks; were you feeling pretty normal and able to do your regular routine at that point? I'm 5 1/2 weeks out and feeling like I've turned a corner, I did some shopping and errands today, but my pain did go up and my hips and legs are aching. I took two Norco when I got home. My back is feeling quite a bit better, mostly just hurts when I stretch it too far and I can feel the hardware back there. @tri4autism, I wanted to mention that I have stairs in my house, with a 1/2 bath downstairs. For the first couple of weeks I only went up stairs when it was time to go to bed, they were not a problem for me. The only special purchase I made was a grabber (a real lifesaver). I wish I'd gotten a wedge pillow for my bed, but I don't think I needed anything else. The toilet was not an issue for me, although it is for some people.
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
  • slpsslp Posts: 4
    edited 06/02/2013 - 3:00 AM
    It sounds like you are progressing nicely. I had a lot of pain in my hips and thighs for about 7-8 weeks they said that was normal and it did eventually stop. When I went back to work I was able to function pretty much but the Dr.
  • Sorry it sent before I finished. The Dr. released me to work with restrictions: no bending/lifting/twisting/or overhead work. I also started back the first two weeks working three 1/2 days and that helped me to ease into my routine. I had to get up from my desk job every two hours to take a short walk that helped with the pain from sitting I also wore my brace for awhile for support. At 6-1/2 mo. followup when the Dr. saw that bone graft was pretty solid he lifted all restrictions but told me to use common sense and let pain be my guide.
    I hope this helps you. Take care of yourself take it slow and easy and if your Dr. has instructed you to walk make sure to do it that has helped me tremendously. The walking helped me to lose 35 pounds and it premotes healing of the fusion.
  • Thank you so much, this is really helpful! I'm glad you're doing so well and congratulations on the weight loss!
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
  • Well, she had the surgery and it was a little more surgery than we had both been told. They did the far extent of what the said they "might" have to do and her incisions are much larger than they said they'd be. Otherwise I'm real hopeful it brings her pain free living after she recuperates. She was on bed rest for 2 days, not allowed to have her head above 30 degrees. She went home yesterday and with her pain meds is doing really well. She's doing the stairs up to our second floor really good... we have a walker on both floors to help her with walking.

    I gave her a shower last night... she really enjoyed that having not been able to wash since Monday. We will see how the things go and take it day by day... just wanted to follow up that the surgery had happened and she's doing great... outside of the pain and discomfort. It ended up being an A&P.
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