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Recovery tips for dual fusion

Hi all!! I am having an anterior posterior dual fusion of L4-L5 and L5-S1 at the end of October. Also having discectomy as I have ruptured disc at these sites as well. I am 30 years old, a nurse in the ER, in good shape, just about to complete my nurse practitioner degree, and have a 4 year old. I need to return to school and work as soon as possible. I was just wondering how other people who had similar surgeries as me found their recovery. Were you able to go back to work sooner or later than you anticipated? How soon were you able to stay at home alone after your surgery? How long did you stay in the hospital after surgery? I am just unsure of what to expect, despite what my surgeon has told me (he told me I could go back to work with light duty, and slowly progress my way back up to 12 hour shifts after about 4 weeks as long as I wear my back brace). Also he told me to expect to wear the brace for up to 6 months. Just curious and wanting opinions on how your recoveries went. Thanks.


  • Just want to say hi and wish you well for your surgery. I had surgery in April, one fusion and one artificial disc, so not the same as you. Surgery was straightforward with no complications. Took around 6 hours. I spent 8 days in hospital, needed help from my Family for week 2 and by the 3rd week was ok on my own but had a lot of support with cooking etc.
    I was told beforehand to expect a 3 to 6 month recovery ( I only heard the 3!!!) After surgery I was advised of a 6 to 12 month recovery which I didn't believe.
    I'm now 5 months post surgery and doing well most of the time but the surgeon was right, recovery takes time. I'm not back in work yet and am still wearing a brace. I walk ALOT and go to a hydrotherapy pool but have not been cleared for PT yet.
    I do hope that things go great for you and have a speedy recovery. How long are you planning to take off work? 12 hr shifts sound tough.
    Take it easy.
    DDD. Married,Mum of 2, Age 45: 2007 & 2008 L5/S1 Discectomy
    April 2013 L5/S1 Anterior Fusion
    & L4/L5 Artificial Disc Replacement
  • Thanks for the well wishes. I am hoping to only be off for 8 weeks, as I am working PRN and do not have any vacation or sick time. The time I am taking off will be without pay which will be tough financially, so I need to be back to work as soon as possible. My co-workers are great and will ensure that I don't overdo it. I will basically go back as the triage nurse so I will only be walking back and forth, taking vital signs, and checking the patients in to the ER. No lifting, pulling, pushing, or bending over a stretcher. He told me I could resume working 4 hours at a time after 4 weeks as long as I wear the brace and don't lift, pull, etc. I think that is crazy and I don't plan on going back to work that soon at all. I do plan on returning to the clinic to do my clinicals for school after about 4 weeks. The fact that you were self-sufficient after 2 weeks makes me feel good. My husband will be with me for the first week, then my mom will stay with me if I need her. The main thing I am worried about is my 4 year old not understanding why she can't jump and climb on me. What kind of work do you do and when do you plan on being able to return to work?
  • HybridhattieHHybridhattie Posts: 72
    edited 10/02/2013 - 12:40 PM
    I know how you must feel. Being off work is hard. I work with special needs children. I miss their company and my co workers.
    I was also on unpaid leave for the first 3 months, it's scary but we managed.
    Triage work sounds ideal for returning afterwards but take it easy.
    Try and get organised beforehand. There's a great list of things you may need under back surgery. Some relaxing music and a meditation cd really helped me prepare mentally.
    I'm glad you have family support, so did I and I couldn't have done it without them. My kids are older so they understand, their rooms are a mess but I can block it out now!! My niece is almost 4 and understands very well and always hugs my leg.
    It's getting easier now and I'm glad I had my surgery.
    Keep in touch.
    DDD. Married,Mum of 2, Age 45: 2007 & 2008 L5/S1 Discectomy
    April 2013 L5/S1 Anterior Fusion
    & L4/L5 Artificial Disc Replacement
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