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S/P L4-S1 ALIF(Surg 8/29/13)

I thought I would take a few moments to give my take on the surgery, the hospital stay, coming home and the start of recovery post Anterior Lumbar Fusion L4-S1.
My surgery was last Thursday 8/29/13....my surgeons(Neuro and Vascular) blocked the morning for me...7:30am-1:00pm...however, the procedure itself, went textbook perfect...and we were in the OR by 8:05am and out well before 11am.
Waking in recovery, i remember that being the first thing i noticed and said--how fast it was.
I was admitted from recovery to my room the the neurosciences floor of our hospital, and even to a beautiful private room, which I think truly benefited myself and my rest and stay tremendously.
A little back story:
I have had back problems since 2003..I was hit, in my lumbar spine, by a "man" which started my 10 year snowball of back problems.
I am 31 now....so many of those years were doctors putting off the inevitable for as long as possible due to my age...which in some ways I have come to understand and respect, being a trauma nurse myself(no longer practicing due to the injury..I have ventured elsewhere in my career)...in other ways, though, I feel as when surgery is the only remaining viable option and age is the only lingering reason of procrastination...doctors are not always doing any favors with the waiting game....its definitely a two sided coin.
I had been thru every form of conventional treatment many times over(injections, meds, therapies, exercise, rest, SCS trials, etc)....but after another positive discogram and an MRI showing greater nerve impingement this year...we decided to move forward with the fusion.
I must say....its so far been one of the best decisions of my life.
I went into surgery without fear, but WITH hope and positive thoughts. I firmly believe those two things have benefited me greatly so far in recovering.
As I states above, I was admitted after surgery to the neurosciences floor....
My biggest hurdle was the first 3 hours post surgery.
IN the recovery room, after I was awake...they made sure to get the pain regulated and verified all my orders were entered and ready for pain meds, nausea meds, etc for when we went upstairs...they told me I would stay in recovery not only until I was comfortable there for the time being, but when they were sure everything was ordered and ready for my comfort upstairs as well.
We reviewed those things together(since of course I had previously worked along side some of these nurses) and once satisfied upstairs I went.
Once settled in...I was ok for a little while...but of course, the pain returned(clearly I just had surgery lol)---Tho, somehow the nurses kept forgetting to come in each time i asked an aide to send one for pain meds.
The vascular resident checked on me a little short of 3 hours post op and by then I was in tears....She of course wanted to know what was going on, since I had been laughing and joking with them downstairs....And once she learned I had not seen a nurse or had a single med since returning from surgery...she fixed that for me quickly......the nurses then could not have been nicer or any better...and the remainder of my stay was easy as can be....
First day was the hardest since I was not allowed ANYTHING to drink until bowel sounds fully returned....the neurosurgeons predicted I would be there from surgery day (Thurs) until around Monday....I ended up being able to leave Saturday.
I was up and out of bed the first night....and walked those halls as much as possible thru discharge day.
(Truly this helps with so many things....its hard at first...and sure, it hurts...but I was prepared for that, not naive about it...but I knew it was something that was beneficial and productive)
It helps the bowels return to normal...it helps with stiffness...and really it made me feel much better.
I did not end up with a backbrace...as my surgeon believes people either become too dependent on them and/or that you do too much, instead of letting your back and pain be your guide.
My legs have been 90% better since prior to surgery. BAckpain still remains, but its not terrible and I already know I will have some backpain always....again...knowing this, understanding it and being aware of it have benefited me.
I am now 9 days post-op.....of course I have my restrictions on lifting, bending, twisting etc....but otherwise, I feel I am doing extremely well.
I am walking close to half a mile a day.....I am able to get around without any sort of assistance....and I am truly pleased with my response to the procedure.
So to those preparing to travel the surgical route in any way....
Stay positive.....be realistic.....understand that you are YOU and YOU are different than anyone else....
Understand your procedure, what to expect....ask questions.....
Wishing everyone wonderful outcomes.!


  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 09/07/2013 - 6:30 PM
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Detailed medical libraries of Articles and Videos that address almost every Spinal Conditions and Treatment

    - The Wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

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    Glad that your surgery went so well and you are well on your way to recovery from the sounds of it. Just be careful not to push too far , too fast or forget that there are restrictions in place for now. Sometimes, when we are doing so much better, it is easy to forget that surgery recovery is a process, full of steps forward, and even more backward.
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