Preparing the children for mom's spine surgery

Last week, we introduced a spine patient, Sarah,* wife and mother to two young children, with a career in the food industry.

Read Part 1 of Sarah's story

Sarah made the tough decision to undergo a 360 fusion at L4-S1 with bone graft spine surgery in December 2013.

Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery and Bone Graft for Spine Fusion

In Part 2 of our series, we will focus on how Sarah managed her children during and immediately after her surgery. We hope that moms of young children who are considering spine surgery will learn from Sarah's experience.

See Preoperative Preparation for Spine Fusion Surgery

Basic logistics: it takes a village

Being completely out of commission for any length of time is tough for anyone, but when young children are involved, the complexity rises to a whole new level. Luckily, Sarah had lots of family and friends willing and able to help.

Sarah's husband, mother, sister, sister-in-law, and day-care provider all worked together to make sure someone was always with Sarah and the children during the surgery and for the next two weeks. Sarah noted, "I was never alone at all during the first two weeks, which was wonderful."

Sarah also mentioned that having someone with her to help her focus on the bright side during her darkest hours of regret immediately following the surgery was incredibly helpful.

Sarah also found support in the December Surgery Buddies thread on our Forums

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Handling the emotions of young children

Sarah's children are only two and four, so explaining back surgery to them was not easy. Weeks before the surgery, she started preparing them by telling them she'd be having surgery on her back, and that she'd be spending the night in the hospital.

Read more: How to Prepare Psychologically for Back Surgery

Sarah felt it was important to let the children know something "big" was about to happen, even if they didn't fully understand the details. She always stressed that the surgery would make her better, and that everything would be fine.

24 hours after her surgery, Sarah spoke with her children over FaceTime so they would not be frightened by the tubes and wires attached to her. By this time, Sarah missed her children immensely, and it was a relief for her to be able to interact with them, if only for a few minutes.

Two days after the surgery, her children visited for 15 minutes, but in hindsight Sarah thinks waiting three days would have been better. During their visit, the children wanted to lay with Sarah in her bed, and that was not possible.

Wondering what to expect right after spine fusion surgery? Read Hospital Care After Spinal Fusion Surgery (2 to 4 Days)

Seeing their mother in pain at the hospital scared the children, and they needed lots of reassurances that soon their mother would be her old self again.

Home again, but not business as usual

Once Sarah's children had their mom home, they went back to their cheerful, carefree selves.

But for Sarah, the hard part was just beginning as she started the road to recovery.

We'll continue to follow Sarah as she recovers from home. In Part 3 of our series, we'll share the essential items Sarah needed to get on the road to recovery, and we'll shed some light on to how she managed her children.

Postoperative Care for Spinal Fusion Surgery

P.S. Pets need their moms too!

Sarah has two cats, so they were pretty easy to take care of. If you have dogs at home, don't forget to line someone up to walk them every day.

*Sarah's name has been changed to protect her privacy