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Am I being unrealistic?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm a pretty independent person... so I don't know exactly how much I am going to need my boyfriend to help. I have a 5 year old son, and after the Microdiscectomy, got home at 11pm and the next morning at 7 or so I was up, got down and sat on the floor to change him and get him dressed... I pretty much did everything. I know my doctor told me not to, and it wasn't very smart of me at all... But I have such a hard time asking for help.

This time I'm having a fusion at L4-L5... I think they would call it ALIF/PLIF... Going through the front with cages and BMP, then metal instrumentation through the back...?

How long should I ask my boyfriend to take off from work? I'm going to have to get my son off to school every day, and when he gets home.... I'm on the second floor in my apartment... Not sure how stairs are. I just don't really know what to expect. I'm supposed to wear a back brace for 6 weeks afterwards, if that helps.

Am I being unrealistic to think I'll be able to use the bathroom and shower and stuff alone without any assistance? It's only a one level fusion, so I figure it shouldn't be too too bad.. But I'd really appreciate it if someone could give me some guesses.... My boyfriend has to take time off in advance, he can't call out at the last minute, and he's the only one I have available to help me... Anyone have a ballpark amount of time to suggest? Please and thank you.



  • Yes you are. My experience has been that you will not be able to bend, lift, twist for a good while afterwards. You may want to get a handheld shower massage installed if you do not have one already. A back brush helps to be able to wash lower body by yourself. You may want to get some of those dispoable tongs that hold tissue for after bowel movements ( you will not be able to twist) and one of those grabbers will come in real handy. Everyone is very different but you will nedd help. As for the time frame I think that everyone recovers at different paces.
  • I would say minimum 1 week. 2 weeks would probably be better if he can do it.
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  • I had a 2 level fusion... but I can share my experience with needing help.

    I have stairs all over my house. the reason i needed help was because of the meds I came home on. not so much the pain, believe it or not. it hurt bad to do stairs before the surgery. so I was pleasantly surprised pain wasn't really an issue post-op when it came to stairs.

    my husband took off two weeks (that included the 5 days in the hospital) initially. then his mom came and stayed with us two weeks. I think if I hadnt' gotten the MRSA infection, I could have transitioned to taking care of my kids the second week post-op... but not doing too much at all. certainly no baths. (I have an 11 year old who can do his own baths, but I also have a 5 year old who still needs help with her hair)

    I needed help with my own showers... but I also think it was to be cautious. who needs a slip in the shower, right?

    I would hope your boyfriend could help you out for a whole week at least once you're home. I know it's hard to ask for help. but... if you can get it... it's worth asking to avoid setbacks.

    I wasn't asked to wear a brace at home. I only wear a hard one to get in the car. my surgery was through the back only. my neurosurgeon told me my brace was now internal... the rods and the screws.

    I read on this board to get a toilet seat riser with the arms. that was an invaluable tip. Also get a "grabber". I bought mine at walgreens for $20. also put a non-slip mat in your shower if you don't already have one.

    best of luck to you. sounds like you're tough & you will do well. :)

  • How does your son get to school? Do you just walk him out the door and the bus stops outside or carpool or does he need to be driven there?

    I'm 6 weeks postop from ALIF L4/L5. I bought the raised commode at Walmart and the arms for the toilet at a medical supplies store beforehand and my husband put them on before I went in for surgery. The raised toilet seat was great cause I didn't have to bend very much to use the bathroom and wiping wasn't too hard either. I could do it and not twist. The first week home, I was doing pretty good to get a shower each day. I could tell my kids what to do but I don't think I could have put on a 5 year olds shoes and clothes for him. Maybe you could pre-lay out a weeks worth of outfits for him and watch while he dresses himself? I could get my own drinks and food, but I didn't want to get up as much. I had a tv tray near my bed and the couch with the phone,cell,TV remotes and my water sipper glass.

    Do you have someone to watch him while you in there? They kept me 3 days (2 full days and I got out around 10am the 3rd day). My kids are 9 and 15, so they helped to wait on me, which even a 5 year old would love to get mom some water or grab anything they can reach.

    I didn't need any physical help myself from anyone. I shuffled, wore my gowns all day and just existed for about 3 weeks. Then, I started to feel better. I'm still trying to rest when I can, but I've been doing the laundry, cooking, and a little dusting for the past 3 weeks.

    I think if your boyfriend could come over and help with your son getting to school....plus depends on how you feel once you get home...can he take a day or two off to stay with you? Everyone's different...it's just hard to say. The evenings may be hard for you to keep him occupied if you just don't feel really good or get sleepy taking the pain meds. Will he watch TV and play, keep himself busy? You may want to buy some things to pull out as surprises that he can play with on his own and you watch or just be in the room. Mine loved those Knex for that age bracket, coloring books, big legos, drawing pictures for me, being on the computer....I'm sure you can come up with some things that will work for you.

    As far as the store. Make sure you have a lot of supplies bought up front. You won't be able to drive and pick up anything. Is your boyfriend willing to be a deliver service for you each day in case you need something?

    I hope I've helped instead of stressing you more. You can message me anytime if I can help with questions. This surgery has been tough on me, and I consider myself pretty tough. I've had 2 c-sections, a gallbladder surgery, gastric bypass...and this ALIF fusion has been the worst for pain and slower recovery since you can't bend for so long.

  • just re-read your post. they're going through the front and back? I am thinking for sure you'll need help two weeks at least.

    and talk to your son. when the help is gone... you will be very tired for a while. let him know you're gonna need to rest a lot. but that doesn't mean you aren't getting better. just so he knows what to expect.

    I had a laminectomy two years ago. compared to a fusion, that was a piece of cake, and trust me, I hurt bad after the laminectomy. this was just a whole different beast. the meds were much stronger for me. the level of fatigue much more intense.

    not trying to scare you... I just think you need to plan to find help for at least two weeks. I know it sucks to ask... maybe your boyfriend can ask for you if he knows your friends?
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  • You guys are quick :) That's awesome! I appreciate your responses very much, thanks a ton for taking the time to read and reply :)

    My boyfriend and I live together... Which definitely will make things easier. My son is Autistic... He talks a little bit, but he can't convey all of his needs. He can't dress himself, is still in diapers, and can't really get his own food. My son is pretty much what I am worried about... I have a high tolerance for pain, so I'm not so much worried for me as I am about being able to care for him. Luckily he LOVES my boyfriend very, very much. Listens to him better than he listens to me!! Lol.

    That is a good suggestion; getting some new toys and things to keep him occupied. With his Autism it gets rough sometimes trying to help him understand new situations.. He gets anxiety and has tantrums and melt downs. He is on an anti-psychotic (Risperidone), which helps somewhat, but of course there is no cure for Autism. My mom works full time and is always soooo busy... But she is taking the day of my surgery off to come with me. I may be able to ask for help for the first week or two, maybe coming to take my son for a little bit... Luckily his school doesn't get out until 3:30pm, and he takes a bus, so he won't be home til at LEAST 4, and my boyfriend generally gets home between 5 and 6 or so.

    No worries about scaring me or stressing me more... These are the kinds of answers that I need. I want the real side of things, so I know what to expect. Doctors usually are not up front with how things will be after. I think they tell you it won't be bad so that psychologically you won't be pessimisstic and doom yourself before you even get home.

    My boyfriend is going to watch him while I'm in the hospital. They said as soon as my stomach can digest food (since going through the front kind of messes it up for a few days), go to the bathroom, and can take pain pills and feel okay, then I can go home. When I had my son, I had a csection and stayed 3 nights. They wanted me to stay another, but I toughed everything up so I could leave as soon as possible. We also usually shower together anyway to save water... Lol... So we've got a system down there, except he may have to do the washing my back and legs and what not. Haha.

    I think my mom may have a grabber thing! I hope so. With my boyfriend taking time off of work, money will be REALLY tight. I've been out of work for over a year now, and we just barely get by every month.. Part of the reason I want to get the surgery done now so I can start working again, even though everyone tells me not to do it since I'm only 22. Gotta do what you gotta do!

    I think I'm going to ask him to take a week off after i get home.. Maybe when I'm in the hospital he can work while my son is in school, then be home for him. I don't know how nice it's going to feel having an incision in the front and in the back at the same time. I have an 8 to 10 inch scar on my stomach from my csection, and a small 1.5 inch scar on my back from the MD.. Trying to imagine a somewhat combination of the two. Anyone have theirs through the front and the back?

    Again, thank you guys so much for your responses.. They are greatly appreciated!!! :)
  • Lo, I would recommend you have help at home post-op for at least a week, preferably 2. You will not be able to bend, lift, or twist for probably 6 weeks or more. I had PLIF on Aug. 5. The hospital ordered me a walker and a raised potty seat for home. I only used the seat for 1 day, and then removed it, as it was uncomfortable and harder to wipe with those arms making it narrow. The hospital had an occupational therapist come see me and she gave me a whole kit with reacher, tongs, long shoe horn, scrubby on a stick, sock putteron-er, etc. I did not have to pay for any of these things as were covered by insurance. I got a better reacher at Home Depot prior to surgery for $20. I use both. I do use my walker more for outside walks, just in case I trip or something.
    I needed help to shower for the first few days, mainly someone to stand by as was dizzy from meds, and to help dry my back and legs. Fusion is a big surgery and you will be very tired and need to rest in bed mostly with intermittent walks. Good luck with your surgery, and keep reading around on these boards, as they are full of a wealth of information. Sue
  • Hi LO,
    I have a step- brother who is autistic and so I understand your concerns. What you really need is to get him into respite for a couple of weeks while you look after yourself.
    In Australia we have respite centres for parents with disabled children, simply to give the families a break every now and then. They are run professionally and I'm sure your local Dr could recommend somewhere near you that is similar.
    I know that emotionally that would be really really hard for you but you have to remember that for you to look after him in the future you need to look after yourself NOW. :D

    At the very least then home help as has been suggested for when your boyfriend is not around. But remember that especially if you have a high pain tolerence that you need to be aware of not doing too much. It is a big op to go through and you dont want to stuff it up by trying to be heroic. Not worth it! :))(

    Blessings Sara

  • Thanks for the other suggestions :)

    I am pretty much a bum and generally only wear sweats and stuff.... Haha. I am prepared in that area! Sweats and hoodies! :)

    I have much less anxiety, hearing the experiences of others. Gives me more comfort & less stressing over it.

    She said it would probably be end of September, beginning of October, but we're waiting on the date from the Vascular surgeon. I just want to get it over with. I don't want to be a boring old cripple for the holidays. Lol. That may be horrible to say.
  • Just a thought...but I read all the things people told you to buy but I would wait if I were you-they provided everything at the hospital for me to take home. I got a 3 in 1 toilet seat -with handles, grabber, long handled sponge for the shower, a contaption to help me get my socks on, and walker.... The only thing I needed to buy on my own was the hand held shower head. Good luck to you!
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