I will start by giving all the deets. I'm a 28 year old male who is in great shape. I've been an athlete my entire life and regularly workout 5 days a week. Well since high school I've had a burning pain in my lower back and as I have gotten older it began to be nearly constant. After having health insurance for the first time in my adult life I saw a specialist and was diagnosed with DDD which everyone here is familiar with. I have a great doctor who encouraged me to get the surgery (who is well qualified) and whom I trust completely. I too was very scared. It was my first surgery EVER! It's hard getting your ducks in a row in case something happens and still keeping a level head until the big day.
Well the big day came on January 4th of 2016 I had an L5S1 fusion. They did the minimally invasive posterior hardware (two small incisions in the back) along with the ALIF approach through the front. I will tell you I was shaking violently in pre-op and threw up that morning before going to the hospital which coincidentally is a quarter mile from my house. They did their thing and woke up in quite a bit of pain. I'm not going to sugar coat it. It was one of the toughest things the first 24 hours. I had a PCA pump that gave me some heavy pain meds which I was very grateful for. Towards the evening I made my first steps with my back brace on pushing my walker down the hospital hallway. I was shaking from the pain, I was sweating uncontrollable, and I was shaking like you wouldn't believe. I pushed myself to walk the whole floor and even did some steps. By the end I was exhausted and more than happy to get some Benadryl in my IV to help me sleep.
I went home in two days, the second day I stayed by choice. I will tell you one thing and I believe this to be key in recovery from anything. YOUR DIET IS KEY POST OP! Do not binge on garbage, don't eat fried food, don't eat red meat (it causes inflammation). I generally eat healthy, but I upped the ante after my surgery. A simple google search for anti inflammatory foods will do you a world of good. Things like tart cherry juice, tumeric (the spice), lots of water of course, a diet high in omega 3's (walnuts, almonds, advocado's, salmon, etc.) will speed the healing process and cut back inflammation and swelling ten fold. THIS APPLIES TO EVERYONE. What you put into your body fuels your body and it's processes. Why fill it with junk? This is the most important thing in your recovery I do not care what anyone else says.
Another tidbit that I personally did before my big day was train. Get your ass in gear and move as much as you can. Train for this surgery like your training for a marathon. Strengthen your core (this is your bodies natural back brace) it will help tremendously post-op. Do some yoga or pilates these are great for balance and have slow steady movements that incorporate your entire body, core included. The better shape you are in before you go under the better chance you have at a seamless recovery. I'm sure you saying to yourself "oh man, this guy must have not been in a lot of pain!" No I definitely was, I pushed through it. Being sedentary only makes things worse everybody. Don't stop moving. The pre op training and post op diet have been the two PILLARS TO MY SUCCESS WITH RECOVERY. You can do it to. If you need motivation or advice seriously message me. We can talk. Heck you can call me if you like I'm here.
For the first 4 days, I boogied around the house with my back brace and walker and rarely sat in one place for more than an hour. Movement increases blood flow which speeds the healing process. If you are in pain.....grit your teeth and get off your ass. It is hard yes, but a simple go gettum mindset will do you a world of good. Be positive and take it one day at a time. Don't give into to how you are feeling, tell yourself you will feel better, make yourself believe it and....viola! You will feel better.
It has not even been 3 weeks since my fusion. Holy cow do I feel  great. All my pain is gone. All of it. Even from the surgery. The only discomfort I have is from the staples that will hopefully get removed at my doc appointment this next Tuesday. From week 1 on I have been using my Anytime Fitness membership and walking on a treadmill. Even tonight after I went for my second time today it was difficult to not break into a run! I feel that good. Guys it's been three weeks......I cannot wait to get some restrictions removed and continue my regimen and come back even better than I was before.
If your scared, I understand. I was you. I still am you except now I'm fixed. I read so many horror stories on these forums, gained only sleepless night from them. I'm sorry if you have had a bad experience or didn't recover as you should or had a complication. I will say if your pain is there, why live with it? A nerve can only take so much damage, until the damage becomes permanent. Surgery is not for everyone. Exhaust all your options first, but once your at the end. DO NOT HESITATE. You will be okay. I am proof of that, With the proper mindset, a healthy body, and a great diet you can cut your pain back and allow yourself to move freely in no time. Did I mention I have not took any pain meds or flexeril since day 5? I have a whole pill bottle full. This is proof everybody. I am not lucky, I simply was prepared.
If anybody has any questions please message me. I'd be glad to talk with you and field your questions or concerns. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I only can hope it will help somebody overcome their fears and have success after surgery.
Before you try any supplement, herb, over the counter item, exercise program, mechanical aid, brace, etc always consult with your doctor to make sure you get their approval.
Some of these products may be very effective, but no two individuals or medical conditions are alike. What works for one, may cause trouble for another..
Liz Spine-Health Moderator