I start of this post with my story and maybe the inspiration to help you get thru your recovery from a microdiscectomy.
Currently, I am 8 week post op and to sum it up... I am feeling pretty damn good. For me the surgery was a success and I have to remember this is only a temporary not a permanent solution. It will take a life long commitment to avoid any or all spinal surgeries.
I had L4/L5 microdiscectomy on September 9th of this year and let me tell you folks, WORST PAIN EVER. I am not sure where the disc herniation came from but I am certain it has been since I've had lower back pain since February of this year. For a few month I've had on and off back pain with occasional numbness/tingling radiating down my left leg.
It was September 7th that I had a horrible experience in which I'll sum up... Lost complete mobility of my legs and eventually I lost some bowel control. That's right this patient crapped all over himself on and off since I had some rear bowel control. The pain was sooo much that Tylenol knocked me out and the pain woke me up from the horrible pain. I can describe the pain as being uncontrollable sharp numbness from my lower back to my toes. After a few hours in the ER, the ER doctor explained I had a disc herniation and would require to be admitted into the hospital.
That very Saturday I was my neuro-surgeon that performed some leg test in which I failed and after looking over my MRI, he advised me that I would require emergency surgery the following Monday. I was given sooo much pain medication that my body burned thru it and eventually thru mediation I was able to control the pain myself.
Let me express this has been my FIRST surgery ever and honestly I was excited because my doctor explained it was a non-invasive incision and that pain should be gone immediately after surgery. After waking up from surgery after some hours, I 'd admit the pain was completely gone (still gone as I'm writing this).
Now the horrible part of the recovery phase began for me. I was given flexirol and narco in the hospital all the while the anesthesia was active in my system. It was the day after surgery that it started to go down hill for me and TIME started to slow down. The effects of the drugs was too much for me to bare, now I'll admit the marijuana effects were nothing compared to this. I actually began (high risk) for anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Coming home, it was bad since I didn't want to lay flat and didn't want to do much, the medicine kept me up for nearly 72 hours after being discharged from the hospital. I went on to count sheep, tried relaxing but it was nothing. My first mistake was "looking up" all the horror stories AFTER the fact. I would suggest if you want to research the procedure, ask a doctor and get the facts. Now I acknowledge, everyone and I mean EVERYONE is different. Take into consideration age, activity, diet, etc. By the way I am 32 years of age and again never had surgery before.
First week post op was really bad that I won't share but believe me I was there with my mind going in sooo many directions and constantly watching the clock. It was second week post op that everything turned around after my wife was able to stay up with me and calm me down, she but me at ease to the point that I knocked out. From that point I began to sleep and feel a little better though anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are here. I would suggest having someone to talk to or someone there while you are recovering. I would suggest a therapist even if it's over the phone as it will help your mental well-being.
For your recovery here are a few tips I would suggest so you can move along at a higher pace. Try not to lay flat on your back, I slept on my back with a round pillow underneath my knees and another pillow at my feet. I did that for almost four weeks and it has continued to help week after week. Now, as for the incision keep it clean and try not to cover it, I covered it and got an infection on top on keeping the staples another week (removed third week post op). Take short walks, I've read people trying to walk a mile a day or try, STOP! Listen to your doctor but MORE listen to your body. I've developed a body limit when I try to walk or move. I know my doctor said lifting limited to no more than 10 lbs but if you can AVOID LIFTING at all cost. AVOID BENDING and AVOID TWISTING. I don't care male or female or someone trying to PROVE themselves, trust me you will herniated and only hurt yourself. I know because I lifted my 1 year old son and hurt myself that I landed me in best for almost a day.
I had pain in my left leg during the first three weeks post op but my pain was in my upper left buttock. I hear folks talk about pain returning after surgery, I experienced nearly the same thing and it was the extra pillows and being on bed rest that helped as I didn't push myself. My pain was more when I moved my leg upward and moved forward. To this as my doctor said, pain is guaranteed however rest.
Four week post op I was given my physical therapy order and the doctor said that I was moving along just fine. It was during this week that I notice a bump underneath my incision and muscle cramps started to form in my lower back (I'll address the bump in a little bit). I got off all my drugs that it was this week that I formed my insomnia (still working on easing my mind). If you have insomnia I would see your doctor to get Ambian (I'm still on it and hopefully not for long). I began to sit down more this week which caused the muscle cramps. Try to keep your posture and not slouch, if the spasms become too much or your body reaches its limit, lay down with your pillows or even lay flat while having your feet flat and one leg crossed. It helped me very much and also helped my body move those tense muscles.
Week five and six post op were probably my toughest because I began physical therapy and doing home exercises. My upper back was hurting from keeping up with my posture and teaching my upper back not to slouch. My physical therapist noticed my bump during my evaluation or first visit. What he told me has worked, he told me to rub Vaseline and rub that bump anywhere from two to four times a day (I'll give an update shortly on it). To the effect of physical therapy I need to say be honest with yourself and therapist, he/she is there to help you not hurt you. When he/she ask about pain from your previous visit to the next visit, be honest. Thank God, I have not experienced any pain during physical therapy, the only "pain" is muscle soreness. Continue with the good posture and try not to sit too long. I work with computer so I sit at my job. I would suggest getting a lumbar support pillow and it is sure to help as it has helped me.
Week seven now was a turning point somehow my spasms and upper back stopped not sure why. I continue to do my exercises when I can my body has been reaching a soreness limit so I skip one day if I am sore. AGAIN, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, ITS YOUR HEALTH. It was during this week that I noticed my bump getting smaller and flatter as initially it was possible the size of a gumball. Now I can feel only the surface of the gumball and I don't feel it when I lay flat or sleep.
Week eight which started today, I only have muscle soreness in my arms and lower legs, everything else if doing well. I started to drive this week but somehow I reached a limit of only 20 minutes. I will continue to listen to my body and working on ridding my insomnia.
I know it is tough and I know how desperate we get but remember one thing... when you wait, God works. Keep your mind busy by reading, play a board game, or a console game (PS4!!!!!!!).
I've tried to sum up everything as much as possible and not write lots of fluff. If you have questions please don't hesitate to ask me. If I don't have an answer I'll ask my surgeon or PT since I do have a great support system.
Good luck and God Speed!