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L4-S1 Fusion - 3.5 weeks post operation follow-up

robertnischwitzrrobertnischwitz Posts: 9
edited 04/01/2014 - 8:57 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I wanted to post earlier but I'm just now getting around to it. I've thought a lot about the people on this board/forum b/c I know they've been in the same situation as I have been, looking for answers, and providing support.

First, a quick recap. I had disc degenerative disease and I had a herniated disc at L5/S1, or as my Dr. put it, completely shot. Additionally, I had what was beginning to be a bulging disc at L4/L5. The Dr. recommended spinal fusion at both L4 and L5 to which I did.

The medical procedure performed was an anterior/posterior approach, highly invasive. The surgery took 4 hours to complete.

I was given lots of heads-up about pain expectations, especially in the first few days. I suppose everyone is different but after the surgery I didn't feel a whole lot of pain. I didn't take the pain medication nor did I use the pain pump by the bed. The nursing staff came in to press the button for me as I believe she felt it was broken. In all honesty, I didn't find the pain to be that bad. Saying that there was minimal pain however is different from saying there is no discomfort. There is a lot of discomfort, at least there was for me. I was cut open in 3 places so there really wasn't a position I could get in where I was comfortable.

Here's my advice on what to expect besides lots of discomfort. You get no sleep. Your body begins to itch in several places. I have dry skin plus some hair had to be shaved from my stomach and when it begins growing back it itches. I started to take some pain medication after the 2nd day called diladil. I honestly don't know why I did. I didn't need it but the medical staff recommended I do it. They gave me this medication b/c I told them I don't do well with vicodin or tramodal. They give me headaches. Diladil gave me headaches as well and I was all messed-up when I left the hospital. I just wanted to get home and rest and not take any medication. By the 5th day post operation, I was off all medication. The only medication I actively was taking were muscle relaxers.

A big tip for some of you who are slightly taller than the average male, request a longer bed. Probably the biggest source of pain for me was that each time I got out of bed the nursing staff had to come up and move/slide me up the bed so my feet weren't into the foot of the bed. This was very painful. I was too out of it to request a longer bed but I would have thought they would have brought me one had it been an option. Ditto if you decide to rent a hospital bed for when you go home. I used it for about a week and I do recommend renting a hospital bed. Again, request a longer bed. I am not tall but it just seems like everything is made for short people.

As far as how I'm doing... I think I'm doing pretty well. I do have pain but I'm thinking/hoping it's the surgical pain. I'm not in as much pain when I go to get up in the morning any longer. I used to have to put my hand on a nightstand to get up and it took me awhile to get going in the morning.

It's too early to tell as I'm not bending or lifting anything heavy. I can't say that I feel like bending but at the 2 week point I did ask the Dr. if I could get in plank position and do some push-ups and core exercises to which he said No!

I walk quite a bit I think. I'm back to work half-days. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the fusion will take and all will be a success.

Please let me know what questions you have and I'll do my best to answer. I wish you all the best.



  • CratticusCCratticus Posts: 21
    edited 04/01/2014 - 7:45 AM
    Thank you for your post. Very helpful, and promising. My L4-5 disc shot, and Doc says a fusion will fix me right up.
    The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
  • HI Robert, Thank you for your lengthy and informative post. Even though I'm not a tall male (short female :-) ) , I will be having the same op as you in May (Fusion L4-S1) I have spondolistisis (sp?) and DDD. Doc said I will lose 15-20% of my range of motion due to fusion. Did you find this the case with you?
    It makes me feel hopeful that I could possibly head back to work in about 4-6 weeks.
  • I asked my Dr. about range of motion and he indicated that my range of motion loss would be minimal as the bending of waist and hips doesn't come from the lumbar spine. He told me that he has patients that have had this surgery and can bend forward and touch their toes. I do think it will take some time w/ flexibility and stretching should help.

    Best of luck to you in May. Feel free to reach out to me w/ questions prior and post surgery. I'll try to check in here as much as possible.
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