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Getting Ready for Surgery--Laminectomy

At 55, I suffer from degenerative disk disease and have been experiencing worsening back/leg pain for the last few years. Next week I go in for a laminectomy of the L4-L5. I'm really scared. I have no friends or family to help me during the recovery period and I'm hoping I will do things right and that the pain will go away (that's the dream, anyway). For those who have had this surgery, can I ask a few questions that you might know: 1) Does being catheterized AFTER the surgery make it easier since you're not getting up and down to go to the bathroom all the time? 2) The instructions keep saying to bend differently post surgery. Does this mean I will never be able to tie my own shoes again? Is doing yard work out of the question? 3) With the bone cut around the spinal nerve, aren't you more prone to spinal injury? 4) What kind of pain meds do they give you post op? I have a very low threshold for pain and feel every little thing. I'm currently on Vicodin pre-surgery; will they give me morphine post op? 5) I have a family function at the end of September, the surgery is scheduled for next week. Do you think I should be feeling better by then?

Thanks so very much to any and all who can help. I am scared and alone.


  • LC84LLC84 Posts: 599
    edited 07/05/2014 - 5:18 PM
    I had a similar procedure in January. I was able to get up and use the restroom immediately after surgery so no catheter was needed. It's best not to bend at the waist but rather use your legs if you need to pick something up. There are also grabbers you can purchase. You should be able to tie your shoes just bring your legs toward you instead of bending toward your feet. Slip on shoes may be a better option in the immediate recovery phase. There are always risks with surgery but a spinal injury only happens in very few cases. Your spinal cord ends above the level that's being worked on. The type of pain medications will depend on your Dr. IV Morphine is commonly used in hospital but you may go home with the pain medication you are currently taking. If it's not helping well enough you can always ask for something stronger. You'll have to ask your surgeon to give you specific post op instructions and make sure to follow them exactly as directed. Since you won't have help, make sure you have easy microwaveable meals and put things in reach so you don't have to strain. The immediate recovery phase is usually 6-8 weeks. Doctors will usually recommend getting up and walking frequently but otherwise take it easy. Everyone is different so it's hard to say when you'll be feeling better. All of these are good questions to ask your surgeon prior to surgery. I can only tell you my personal experience. Recovery can be tough but remember to stay positive because it takes time. Surgery is a scary thing but so is being in chronic pain. I'm sorry to hear that you have to go through recovery alone. There are plenty of people on this site that can relate and we're here for you. I wish you the best of luck! Let us know how things go!
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • I had a decompression laminectomy L2-L5 on December 3, I enjoyed company in our house for the Holiday. I was not so lucky on the catheter deal. I was not able to go until they set me up with one. It turned out not to be that big of a deal.
    I was walking pretty much right after the surgery. The pain that I had prior to surgery was mostly gone. However, I did have pain from the surgery.
    If you don't have anyone at home to help at all, you may want to talk to your social worker at the Hospital and see what they can work out for you. My first few days at home were hard from the perspective of wanting assistance. After that, I was ok home alone for periods of time.
    I would suggest getting things on the home front figured out prior to the surgery. You may need to move things around, get some supplies, make sure you have nothing in your home that you can trip on and those kinds of things.
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