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If you are contemplating lumbar fusion, success story here

I was afraid of surgery, afraid of fusion, but in pain and discomfort so much I could not walk from house to car, or across the room without rest due to pain. I WAS ABSOLUTELY PETRIFIED OF SURGERY, PHOBIC EVEN!!! Had PLIF on 6/4/14 with extensive laminectomy of both vertebrae. Doc (neurosurgeon) said nerve was completely pinned on one side and red and swollen when he freed it, the other side was trapped as well. They don't know how I was mobile at all!

Week 1: learning to actually take meds, but by week end I took them and I was okay. Night 2 at hospital was worst because I wouldn't push the fentanyl button more than once per hour!! Surgery Wednesday morning, went home Friday at 2pm. Lots of pain if I didn't take meds by the time I got home, but if I did take them, I could move about, make coffee, use the stairs, but just had a little trouble getting comfortable. Backside swelling made incision sore. Lots of bruising, but we can all handle bruising!
Week 2: now on meds faithfully, took short trips out, walked to mailbox, walked in yard, cooked dinner! Rested a lot. Had a little trouble getting comfortable in bed until I stopped getting under the covers.
Week 2, day 6: doc says my X-rays look good, I go 10-12 hours with no meds during the day, take Percocet at night,. Today I went shopping at Kohl's, had lunch out (I'm not driving!), bought some new books to read, and came home to nap. Doc released me to go to the gym as tolerated for treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike AS TOLERATED. The ligaments and muscles can slip and make popping noises occasionally, and that feels dreadful, but this is normal. The nurse says if you don't have immediate pain, just relax, it's probably okay.

I can load the top rack of the dishwasher, cook, vacuum (not carry it), dress myself, and do most things with little to no pain
as of today, 6/24/14, day 20. I am pain free when walking, but I tire sooner than I'm accustomed. I have some soreness on the skin of my worst affected leg, a little aching, and I am completely out of shape because I have not been able to walk since November! I need to gain strength everywhere! I'm 44, no lightweight, not in excellent physical shape, but pretty active before the injury. I'm getting my endurance back slowly, but I'm glad I did it. If I had to choose again, knowing it's not so bad, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. BUT, I'd take the medicine they say to take and not try to tough it out.

Hope this helps someone else. :)
Age 44
Elementary Teacher
ESI 2/28/14, PT, chiro, etc.
L3/4 PLIF and extensive laminectomy 6/4/14


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