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Helping friend for the first 24-48 hours after L4-L5 laminectomy/discectomy - What to expect?

BarkerBBarker Posts: 2
edited 08/18/2015 - 11:02 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone!

I am helping a friend who is in her 40's and single after an L4-L5 laminectomy/discectomy with a same day discharge. She is fiercely independent, used to managing everything alone and hates troubling people.

She thinks my only job is to drop her off at the curb and pick her up outside the hospital when she calls me after the surgery, then drop her off at her front door.

I've done a little reading on this site (great post op necessities list!) and am thinking she may be in for an unpleasant surprise as to how independently she will be able to manage this on her own immediately following surgery, so I want to ask all of you what to expect and how best to support her right at first.

Here are some questions that come to my mind:

1. Is it best if instead of dropping her off at the curb, I come in with her and stay until she gets wheeled off, making sure the medical team has my number, or is it really ok to just drop off at the curb?

2. Is she going to be able to walk out of the hospital and get in the car with no assistance whatsoever?

3. Is it likely for her to be extremely out of it and not sure what's going on?

4. Should I be expecting any nausea/vomiting on the ride home (so I can prepare to protect my car).

5. Is it actually ok for me to just drop her off at her front door, or should I be pushy and absolutely insist on getting her inside and making sure she is settled in her bed with all the stuff she needs for the next few hours right by her?

6. If the answer to no. 5 was that I should get her settled inside, then how long should I stay and is it ok if I leave for the night and come back the next morning to check on her? Will she even need me to come back in the morning to check on her physically or would a call/text suffice?

I am trying to walk a fine line between being concerned and helpful, and being annoying/pushy. She wants to handle this entire thing on her own but as this is her first major surgery procedure I'm not sure she realizes exactly how bad she may feel afterwards, and I'm afraid she will have an unpleasant surprise when she realizes she didn't prepare her home properly for it. So I am thinking ahead for her a little bit and am unsure if it will be necessary for me to be a little pushy and insistent at the time of. I know I am not bringing up a ton of stuff before, because she is going to feel bad if she thinks that I am planning to actually walk her in and wait for her at the surgery, and then actually go inside her home and make sure all is good. I don't want her to stress out about feeling beholden to me before the surgery.

If any of you could answer my questions I would so appreciate it so I can prepare myself to help her the best way I can.
Thanks so much!

These are very qood questions. But you really need them to be answered by the Hospital, the Doctor, the Case worker, etc. They are the only ones that understand the details behind your friend's surgery. People here can generalize, but you dont want that, you want something tailored to your friend. All hospitals provide this type of details in both type written documents as well as verbal instructions.

One thing you hardly read about, is making sure she is set for pain medications. Many times the surgeons provide pain medications from 2 weeks up to 4 weeks. You dont want her to wait until the last minute to get a prescription. Start that work now, again, the hospital can help you here. Many people do not take advantage of what case workers in the hospital can do for patients.

-- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator 08/18/15 15:30

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  • BarkerBBarker Posts: 2
    edited 08/18/2015 - 10:44 AM
    Thank you. Ron. By the way, as I am new to this forum, I got confused when I posted this morning and my post did not appear, so I wrote it all out again and posted a second time. Sorry about that and hopefully someone caught it.

    I did read her post op instructions, but they didn't say anything about needing someone around the first 24 hours or explaining exactly how mobile she might be.

    Good point about the pain meds. We hadn't even thought about that. Is that something that she would be able to fill before hand or would we have to pick them up on the way home... anyway, I will help her figure this out. Thanks.

    No problem, we have an approval process for all new member threads/posts. That is why there can be a delay before you see your information -- Ron DiLauro
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,844
    Each doctor / surgeon has their own process.

    For example, I see a physiatrist monthly. She is in total control of all of my medications, diagnostic tests and treatments. When I have gone in for surgery, she stops prescribing my pain medications and turns it over to the surgeon to handle. Depending on the different surgeries I have had, the surgeon has prescribed pain medications from 3 weeks up to 3 months. But there is a point when the surgeon lets me know he is finished prescribing the pain medications and then I go back to my physiatrist.

    Having this in place prior to surgery is ideal. But its never too late. Who has been prescribing any pain medications for your friend now?
    I would talk to them about the situation. I would also contact the hospital and perhaps talk to the surgeon about all of this. I know before any surgery, I had at least two meetings with the surgeon to go over everything we need to know, prior, during and after surgery.

    The last thing you want to do, is have your friend come home from surgery, go through her supply of medications and only find out that the surgeon is not going to do any refills and she does not know where to turn.

    If you have not already done so, take a look at

    40 Questions to ask your surgeon before surgery

    Pre and Post Surgical Must Haves

    The better off you both are prepared the easier the recovery will go. Always keep in mind that some patients dont want a lot of help, they want to do things themselves. Always respect that, but also know that especially in the beginning, it is a tough going and they probably need more help than they know.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I had the same kind of surgery. Your friend will need a walker. I could not walk without one for the first 5 days. She will also need a riser for the toilet. She should have easy fix, frozen meals that she can pop in the microwave. My son stayed with me for 3 days and nights. I could not have managed without him. I honestly don't see how she could manage by herself for at least the first 3 days. If she fell, that would be awful. Does she have pets to care for?
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