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PLIF on 08/18

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My name is Jack. I am 30 years old and have been in the Air Force for 12 years. I began experiencing back pain about 2 years ago. I was diagnosed with grade 1 spondylolisthesis (L5-S1) with severe formaminal narrowing on my left side and moderate on the right side. For the last several years I have tried many different conservative treatments to include epidural injections (5), facet block, traction, physical therapy, nerve medications (gabapentin and lyrica), pain killers, flexion based core stabilization with no significant relief of my pain achieved. My experience has been very painful, depressing and has really forced me to make drastic changes in my life to decrease my pain level. I opted to have a PLIF at L5-S1 w/ a decompression and fusion at the same level. I am scheduled to have the surgery on 18 Aug. I am really nervous about the procedure and my recovery. I would like to continue my career in the military and retire in 8 years when I reach 20 years on active duty. Had I chose not to have surgery I would have been discharged due to inability to perform my duties w/ the pain and limitations that my condition had brought on. I would still have chosen to have the surgery whether or not it impacted my career because it has impacted my personal life greatly. I would appreciate your advice, specifically about the surgery and hospital stay of which I am extremely scared.


  • I hope it all works out for you. Constant pain is so debilitating and depressing it seems to take over your life. (Well, it did mine, shouldn't try to speak for others.) At least now you have a surgery date so you can start getting ready for it. In my experience, hospital stays were not so bad. If you have a good Doc and good, compassionate nurses, they will do their best to keep you as comfortable as possible. I wish you the best of luck!
  • Welcome Jack

    My husband only had a discectomy (2 levels, no intrumentation) but has now gone back to his high school weight and actually re-enlisted in the Reserves. Or course now he is in Iraq ;) I've said it before, I'll say it again, what a silly boy :)

    Here is a pre-surgery list I just copied that I was given before my surgery - it's from fellow board members, but since I saw your post and no one has replied yet, I'll post it here. I had just looked it up for Carrot-top and had it in her 'Surgery tomorrow, what do you wish you knew' thread.

    Good Luck

    Handy List for Surgery
    1 of 7

    Food Items
    • Soft foods including: Yogurt, frozen yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, jello cups, pre-made puddings & tapioca, protein bars, cereal, microwave oatmeal, bananas, chicken stock, microwave dinners, frozen pasta entrees, pre-made mashed potatoes, cookies, chocolate, lettuce, salad dressing, cheese, lunch meat, hot dogs, bread, bakery items. o Check for other soft foods that are healthier than this list ☺o People had a difficult time digesting food. Reports include nausea, increased thirst and fatigue so quick meals were essential.
    • Drinks – Plenty of bottled water bedside, Gatorade, Powerade, coke, ginger ale, other soft drinks, yogurt drinks, Ensure or Boost protein drinks, milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, other juices, tea, coffee with cream/sugar/sweetener, Black tea with honey/lemon that soothes the stomach.
    • Frozen fruit for blending smoothies in a Magic Bullet or blender
    • Protein Powder [will assist with bone fusion, particularly if you cannot chew much]
    • Bag of ice – small cubes
    • Ice chips to help dry or sore throat
    • Flexible and long straws
    • Paper plates and plastic cups
    • Candy, sugarless gum
    • Mints
    • Vitamins
    • Magic Bullet (or similar blender) for individual servings o It is great for individual blending/smoothies, etc. which I lived on for the first 2/3 weeks. It is carried in most dept stores, kitchen stores, etc. It is great at blending up ice and much more convenient to have the individual serving size than the full size blender. Magic Bullet also has a website.
    Page 2
    2 of 7 Shower
    Bathroom Items
    • Shower stool to Chair to sit in shower with soap/shampoo/shower gel on another chair for easy reach
    • Non-slip mat for shower
    • Hand shower
    • Long-handled Back scrubber
    • Nylon bath poof instead of wash cloth; easier to hold
    • Exfoliating skin towel. [Body Shop has these and they are great for rubbing off the dead skin and helping you feel fresh, especially if stuck in bed]
    • Toilet riser with or without side handles - $15-$25
    • Bedpan if necessary
    • Walker and/or cane per doctor Personal Items
    • Deodorant body wipes / wet wipes for freshening up (Drug Store has near the Depends. They are a large size.)
    • Pre-moistened facial cleansing cloths
    • Dry shampoo $5 from specialty beauty store
    • Powder – Shower to Shower or other
    • Face cream (I would suggest small sizes)
    • Hand cream
    • Body lotion for itchy skin
    • Lip balm, Chapstick
    • Mouthwash
    • Throat lozenges o Chloraseptic Spray
    • Kleenex
    Page 3 of 7 Personal Items (continued)
    • Wound dressings per doctor
    • Thermometer to check temp after surgery
    • Stool softener o Suppositories for constipation (Some found they couldn’t keep the pills downand/or they got stomach cramps from the pills) Handy Items
    •Grabber/picker – preferably 36” long. Perhaps one in bedroom and one in living room. $10-$25
    • Long handled shoe horn. $5
    • Pill Organizer or notepad to keep track of what you need to take when and to make notations of when you take your meds
    • Bedtray
    • Bell or walkie talkies to contact caregivers
    • Microwaveable hot packs –great for aching shoulders, etc. o Bed, Bath and Beyond carries some that have aromatherapy and are especially comforting. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
    • Cold packs in freezer prior to surgery
    • Phone near the bed. Get a wireless or wireless adapter from Radio Shack o Cellphone and charger o Blackberry, Treo and chargers
    • IPod, headphones, charger o Update your playlists
    • Books, magazines, audio books, crosswords, Sudoku o Booklight
    • Extra batteries for remotes
    • Remote controls for TV, DVD, etc.
    Page 4 of 7
    Handy Items (continued)
    • Plastic containers to hold and organize items you will use while confined to bed. Also to use after mouthwash or for small trash. o Put all the reading materials, crosswords, pencils, etc. in one. Put personal cleansing items in another.
    • Small, lightweight pitcher for water next to bed
    • Paper towels near bed
    • Small wash basin near bed
    • Small bucket for nausea next to bed
    • Small garbage bags nearby
    • Towel that lies flat on the bed beside you. Put items you may use on top then just pull the towel toward you to retrieve items you can’t reach.
    • Extra pillows to help with comfortable positions
    • Additional sheets, blankets, pillows near recliner, sofa, chair in living room
    • Wheelchair, if necessary
    • Recliner, if possible
    • Think about placing every day items at waist height even if it means storing on counters.
    • Pedometer for post-op walking program Clothing
    • Slip on shoes o Croc shoes with the open back. They are ugly but they are easy to get on, provide great traction, comfortable to wear and were recommended by the hospital.
    • Slippers - not too loose with good soles
    • Soft socks – NAP socks from Brookstone are awesome & keep your feet warm at night. $20/3 pairs
    • Bathrobe
    Page 5 of 7
    Clothing (continued)
    • Pull on pants – make them a size larger so they don’t bother your incision(s); check elastic so it’s not too tight.
    • Front buttoned shirts or zipper tops for trips to PT and doctor
    • Jogging suits
    • Sweat pants
    • Yoga pants
    • Front button pajamas – numerous sets
    • Camisoles or tee shirts to wear under brace, preferably cotton so it breathes. Try the ones with the bra built in. Comfort Items
    • Lots of pillows, body, small, wedge, cervical, etc.
    • Pressure mattress or pads
    • Have plenty of sheets, pillowcases, blankets, washcloths and towels ready for use. o Have sheets, blankets, pillows near a favorite recliner or sofa
    • If you are planning on much reading or computer (laptop) work post-op, consider a stand that adjusts in position and height like a hospital bed tray –Brookstone. $150; There are less expensive ones around $60-70. Make sure they fit under your favorite chair.
    • Linen spray to freshen sheets and pillow cases. Use lavender scent to relax and help with sleep. To Do Prior To Surgery
    • Shave, wax, pedicure, manicure, etc. right before surgery. If you have fake nails, think about removing since they may fall off due to anesthesia
    • Hair cut
    • Dentist
    • OB-GYN
    Page 6 of 7
    To Do Prior To Surgery (continued)
    • Update prescription glasses, both reading and regular if you wear contacts since you won’t be wearing contacts much in the hospital or after surgery
    • Give all doctor names and numbers to caregiver(s) as well as next to your bed
    • Put together phone numbers of all concerned family members and friends on one sheet
    • Check with your doctor for handicap sticker
    • All grooming/personal supplies waist high to avoid reaching/bending
    • Organize essential items at home to be within reach, e.g. telephone, shoes, etc.
    • Arrange for care - someone to be with you for most of the first week post-discharge
    • Make sure you give your surgeon a list of your regular medications including the dosage amount.
    • Give blood prior to surgery and/or family members
    • Checks made out for bills, stamped envelopes ready or online payments done in advance
    • Have some cash handy for family members to run errands.
    • Pet care arranged
    • Car keys and house keys given to appropriate caregivers Boredom
    • Magazines, books
    • Audio books
    • Crosswords
    • Sudoku
    • IPod (updated with playlists for recovery)
    • Nintendo
    • DVDs o Order prior to surgery if belong to Netflix or other service
    Page 7 of 7
    Take to Hospital (check with hospital in case you receive items during stay)
    • Button up pajamas
    • Bathrobe to cover up if use a Johnny
    • Hairbrush/Comb
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Mouthwash
    • Facial wipes
    • Body wipes
    • Hand Cream
    • Facial Cream
    • Lip Balm
    • Lavender linen spray or Febreze
    • For long hair, elastic bands to tie back
    • Loose clothing to come home in o Underwear o Front button top o Socks o Comfortable, safe shoes
    • Magazine, crosswords, notepad, pencil
    • Glasses

    On the day you come home:

    Make sure you put a plastic trash bag on the car seat for easy sliding in and out of the vehicle

    Message from Jujybean

    Many thanks from everyone who made suggestions. I credit all of you with contributions to this list and forgive me for not keeping track of where suggestions came from. Obviously, there are so many items here that if you purchased everything, you would need a separate room to put things in, however, I included many items so people can make their own choices. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Thanks in advance and hope this list makes life a little easier for you prior to surgery. Best of luck.

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