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.