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I'm new here! I'm having TLIF Surgery in two weeks!

Hey everyone! I'm new here. I am a 26 year old mom of two special needs kids and after two and a half years of horrible pain, and trying every conservative method that there is, I am finally having surgery. I have a herniated disc at L5-S1 and have degenerative disc disease as well. I'm exceptionally nervous and really don't know what to expect. Any advice as to what to do before surgery and how to prepare for after surgery would be greatly appreciated. Also if you would like to share your experiences I think it might put me a little more at ease. Thanks in advance for all your responses.


  • Sorry I can't tell you any info about a fusion, I'm having the same surgery as you are this time next week. I am a 37 year old mother to a 14 year old daughter who has a moderate intellectual disability.

    I have however had 2 microdiscectomies this year. I found I had to be super organised.Even though I was only away from home for 3 days I still wasn't able to do much for the first month. I found out the hard way that I probably did too much too early & when I had my second surgery made sure I did exactly as I was told! Unfortunately my back had other ideas & fusion here I come.

    I have been told that I will have 5 days in hospital then a week or two in rehab (I'm in Australia & we get longer in hospital than the USA as far as I can tell). At this point I'm nervous & a bit scared about the pain & recovery. I have read the thread of surgery post op must haves & gained some great advice.

    Being a fellow parent of a special needs child I think it's worth mentioning that I'm planning on a) doing what I'm told b) asking for help & c) taking any offers of help. I have a fantastic husband & mum who have the first three weeks sorted already. I'll admit though I don't like the feeling of not being in control. I've written them lists detailing daily activities, lunch box contents, & school bag contents. Might sound a little ASD but I'm trying to create myself less stress. I am trying to let go of guilt that this has happened & how much time it's consumed especially over the last 12 months.

    Hopefully I will be in some form of condition next week to give some details of how it all goes. Good luck with your surgery if I don't get back online.

    Microdiscectomy L5S1 January 2014
    Microdiscectomy L5S1 March 2014
    Fusion L5S1 11th August 2014
  • I had a fusion at the same level. Mine was ALIF (performed from front and back). Regardless, it can be a long and painful recovery. There is a pre-op list on here that is a God send in getting prepared for surgery. Make sure you have plenty of help for the first month at least. Usually no driving for 4-6 weeks. No bending, lifting or twisting. I was in bed for 4 months. Struggled for the next year and now am doing very well. Pretty much back to normal.
  • Where is that pre-op list located? I would love to see it. So far I've been basically coming up with my own list. I have people coming in the day to come help care for me and my children while my husband works, and so far I rearranged my room so that my bed is easy to get in and out of. I started physical therapy yesterday so that we can strengthen my back as much as possible before surgery to better aid the recovery, what were some things that you wish you had done to prepare before you had surgery?
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • That is the link above that someone posted. ESPECIALLY helpful that I never would have thought was the toilet seat riser, a really, really good laxative/stool softener (felt like I was giving birth the first time I went after surgery!)

    Silky pajamas so you slide around on bed instead of "sticking" when you try to move. Definitely all things you use regularly at waist high so you don't have to bend.

    Something I didn't have (but sounds like you will) is someone to advocate for me for pain control. Ask your Dr. what meds you will be receiving, and what other options there will be if those are not enough. I was in excruciating pain (morphine doesn't work for me at all) so all they gave me were 2 Percocet every 4 hours. Def not enough.
  • Thank you for the links and the information. Also one more question how long does the actual surgery actually take? An hour, 4 hours? I just want to know what to expect.
  • My surgery took about 2 hours (one level but they also had to "rebuild" the facets on the left side from so much arthritis). But was in recovery for 4 hours! It is a pretty cut and dried surgery, for the most part. But may vary from person to person. Good luck and let me know how it goes!
  • I was the same way with my recovery time for when I had my gal bladder removed. It was a same day surgery that took an hour and I was supposed to be in recovery for an hour and it ended up being four. I was supposed to go home after surgery but I kept waking up screaming and crying in the most excruciating pain and so they kept giving me meds. By the time they were able to get me to calm down from bawling in recovery I'd been in there for 4 hours and they'd given me so much pain medication that they couldn't legally send me home and I ended up having to stay over night for a same day surgery. I have a very low tolerance to pain but a super high tolerance to drugs, I've just always been that way so I don't know what to expect in recovery but thanks for telling me how long surgery takes!
  • Silly me bought almost everything on the list, and I didn't really need most of it. I would say the grabber is a MUST HAVE! At first the toilet tongs to help you wipe are necessary because the pain levels are not pleasant when you try to wipe because you naturally start to bend to do so. The long wash cloth was a great thing to have when taking a shower, face wipes to clean your face not only in the hospital but when you get home too because you can't bend over the sink to wash your face. Have a cup to spit into after brushing your teeth because again bending over to spit in the sink is a no go and do it from a full stand can get messy. :) silky pajamas was also VERY helpful to move around in bed. It's amazing how difficult it can be to do the slightest movements in bed when you first get home. A small pillow might be helpful to put behind your back in some chairs when you get home too. I'm short, and it was very difficult to sit without pain in a chair that your feet don't touch the ground. I am still using an ottoman to keep my legs up while sitting for any length of time.

    I also had a TLIF, but for L4/L5 fusion due to spondylolisthesis. If you have any other questions you might need help with, don't hesitate to contact me by personal message or on this comment board, I am 49, and do not have small children anymore, so I'm not sure I can help you with must haves on what to do with your children while in recovery. I remember sleeping a lot due to the pain meds, so I would have been utterly boring to kids. :) I hope you have a lot of help in that department. Good luck with the surgery! I'm only 13 weeks post op, but I think I'm doing pretty good. Each week you get better and better. I still get achey sometimes, but mostly I'm doing ok. I am not longer on pain meds, and haven't been for about a month now.
    Julie K
    L4/L5 fusion TLIF for spondylolisthesis on 5/12/14
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