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L5-S1 fusion preparation, Living alone

New here.. I'm 40 and have suffered since I was 27. I've had all injections/rhizotemy/phys therapy, for my bilateral pars defect, DDD, severe arthritis. I meet tomorrow to prepare for surgery and schedule. I'm divorced and my sweet teenager will need to stay with grandparents to shuttle her around. I'm terrified of the healing process and trying to prepare. How much time will I be out of work? 3 weeks? 1-2 months? I work for a busy plastic surgeon and sit at my computer a lot..I know..this is bad for recovery.. Any advice is helpful. I'm petite and otherwise healthy. Panic is setting in! Thank you :)


  • My doctor suggested that someone should be with you for a week or 2. Every doctor is different on how long you are out of work mine said 2-4 months. When I had my neck fused I was out for 3 months. My husband was released at 2 months.
    Acdf C5 C6 12/13/12
    Laminectomy and Discectomy L5 S1 12/12/13
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • SteveTSSteveT Posts: 178
    edited 11/20/2013 - 6:59 AM
    I'm 24 and I wouldn't have made it the first week by myself. I'm now 3 weeks out and feeling fantastic though. My surgeon said minimum 6-8 weeks out for a sedentary job. My paperwork from them says I am to be out until my next appointment on January 28th. I work from home though and have been working on and off since I got home. I highly recommend you pick up a grabber, I use it daily.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • Thanks for the posts. I got some troubling news today but I'm hoping for the best. My 'best case' pain relief is about 60%. I'm opting for the anterior fusion, L4-5, L5-S1, decompression. I'm hoping that recovery is better for me than the posterior. "3 weeks out and feeling fantastic" is good to hear! I've heard the grabber is a lifesaver! Did anyone have a bone growth stimulator? Are they a nuisance? Do they look fashionable?? :)
  • Good luck on your pending surgery. I am now a little over 6 months out from a MIS TLIF (minimally invasive transforminal lumbar interbody fusion) for L5/S1 and I couldn't be alone for the first week or so either. I have 2 black labs so my husband had to do most of that. After about a week, I was able to get up (just slow) and get around to take care of myself. A grabber was a must have and wearing the brace absolutely. Keep us updated!
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • justikind said:
    Thanks for the posts. I got some troubling news today but I'm hoping for the best. My 'best case' pain relief is about 60%. I'm opting for the anterior fusion, L4-5, L5-S1, decompression. I'm hoping that recovery is better for me than the posterior. "3 weeks out and feeling fantastic" is good to hear! I've heard the grabber is a lifesaver! Did anyone have a bone growth stimulator? Are they a nuisance? Do they look fashionable?? :)
    That's the same surgery I had. I have 5 inch incisions in my abdomen and back (typically anterior is combined with posterior), but at this point, I really don't even know they are there. Everyone heals differently, but I am already driving and walking 2.5-3 miles a day following my surgery on Oct 28. I can only sit for about an hour or so though before I need to move around.

    I spent 3.5 days in the hospital and the first week was rough, but I got better each day. I started walking around the house 3 times a day for 10 minutes the day after I got home and I think that has helped in my recovery.

    My surgeon wanted a bone growth stimulator, but it doesn't look like insurance will pay for one. From what I have seen, they look like steering wheels.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • I had a PLIF at same levels as you 6.5 weeks ago. The first 4 days I had someone home with me all day. After that, I was able to do pretty much everything with regards to personal self care (except shave my legs and cut my toenails...still having trouble with those!). Driving took me a bit longer, just started last weekend, but I'm a nervous driver to begin with. Sitting for long periods is definitely hard. I'm off work from my sedentary desk job for 12 weeks, though the surgeon indicated I could try going back part time soon if I'd like...however I know my employer would push hard for more and I choose not to take the chance. Definitely get a long handled grabber, I'm amazed at how much it helps!
    Above all, don't panic! I know, easy to say. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat! The first week is crummy, but don't be afraid of your pain killers! So many of us worry about becoming addicted so we try to cut back too soon. I've seen it again and again in these forums. Good luck to you, and yes, keep us updated!
  • I had my fusion Oct 29 and I find new ways of doing things every day. My first tip is to make sure you can get what you need. I rearranged mycloset and kitchen so I could get to what I need. Get two grabbers because you will drop one. Make sure you have food that is easy to make and reach. I can only reach the top shelf with out squatting. You also might want to just pay attention to things you do daily that require bending, lifting and twisting and try to thing of new ways to do things. I had my grandma stay with me for 2 weeks and it was a huge help, but I could have managed after a few days on my own. At 3 weeks out I am driving myself to pt and other short distances. I can also walk for about an hour and sit for about 2 hours. I'm off all pain meds. I've also managed to do laundry with my grabber. All in all Im able to do a lot more than I expected. I'm want to go back to work but I'm not ready to sit all day. I'm scheduled to be out 8 weeks.
    PILF of L5 S1 on October 29, 2013. Psoriatic arthritis, spondylolisthesis L5 and fractured L5 and DDD
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