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10 Weeks Post-Op ALIF/PLIF

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been reading the posts in this forum since July but have never posted - so I hope I am doing it correctly. (I have never posted to any site before). But now, at 10 weeks post-op, I decided to post and thank those of you who have shared so much recovery information. It has been very, very helpful to see that others are experiencing similar things. This has been especially true when I was sure that there must be something horribly wrong that I am not recovering more quickly. For example, despite what my surgeon told me prior to surgery, I was not ready to make a trip by plane - 2 flights with 3 hour layover - 6 weeks after surgery. Sitting for 30 minutes was still uncomfortable - I could not even imagine sitting for 6 hours! Nor did I anticipate the overwhelming fatigue that still comes and goes. But reading the posts in this forum have helped me to relax, listen to my body and realize that recovery from this kind of surgery really is a long process with ups and downs, strange pains and periods of discouragement. Thank you.

In case it might be of help to anyone else, I will share a bit about my recovery. I had surgery on July 21 (anterior) and 23 (posterior) and went home on July 25. Other than incision and nerve pain (left leg) the first couple of weeks, my pain has not been bad at all. Because I am extremely sensitive to medication I had to totally stop taking even minimal once a day pain meds and muscle relaxers (Hydrocodone and Valium) after the first 3 weeks because they were making me so sick. But walking and using ice/heat have helped the minor discomfort I have had. I can still feel the hardware and my back muscles certainly tighten up if I do too much or sit too long. A 3 day hospitalization for another issue 3 weeks ago - pelvic/abdominal pain - and the course of antibiotics that went along with that and made me very ill - set my back surgery recovery back over a month in terms of my walking and PT. Where I was walking over an hour a day and going to water PT for 1 hour sessions at 4 weeks, I am now only back up to walking ,about 25 minutes a day. Stamina/fatigue is an issue. But at my appt. last week the surgeon pointed out where bone is starting to grow - I was thrilled! I can sit for much longer without discomfort (easily over an hour if I have my pillow for my back) and usually don't have to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon to keep from being totally wiped out by 7:00 in the evening! And a plus is that I have lost at least 2 clothing sizes! Unfortunately, I am not yet up to shopping for new clothes that fit - all that trying on is just too tiring. Not the diet plan I would recommend to anyone but...

I wear my brace - though not as much as I should. But I do wear it for walking, in the car, or doing stuff around the house that might lead to my bending or twisting by mistake (laundry, etc). My grabber - that I never really thought I would use - has been wonderful and kept me from making lots of movements I shouldn't. Also, my husband has been truly wonderful about doing whatever needs to be done and keeping me from reaching or lifting. If I could just get a bit more stamina and energy that would help the most!

For those who have not yet had surgery, believe it (I didn't really) when you are told that you will need lots of help the first few weeks. My husband (and also a good friend who was here for the first week after I came home) waited on me hand and foot. I have never really had any illnesses and only one other surgery - a total hysterectomy after which I returned to work in just over 2 weeks (however, that was 14 years ago so I was much younger) - so I was totally unprepared for the reality of this recovery. As a normally very optimistic, upbeat person I was stunned to find myself with tears of discouragement running down my face at the end of my second week after surgery - and it seemed like almost every night after that for weeks. It is such a long, slow process and that has been hard to accept.

Well, enough rambling - if this post actually goes through, I will be happy to try to add my meager knowledge and experience with this process to the wealth of info on this site because I have so appreciated what I have learned here. And I would love to hear from others who have had anterior/posterior surgery about their recovery - especially if they had any abdominal or digestive issues!



  • Hi Meg, how wonderful to hear from you and how you have been going. I know there are a lot of people that for some reason prefer not to post but to just lurk and we all find our own time to join in the community.
    It is great that even though you haven't been vocal that you have felt support and help through others posts.

    I often think maybe the best spine surgeon would be one that has had a fusion himself! :))( At least he/she would truely understand what it is like and how much one can really do.

    So welcome aboard and thank you for sharing your story with us.
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Hi Meg, thanks for sharing your honest and positive experience which I know will encourage others.

    Sara - Rumour has it my surgeon has had surgery!
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  • Your story. I am in line to have surgery soon. I am not sure at this point if it will be L5-S1 fusion with disc replacement at L4-L5 or if it will be a two level fusion. I love to hear everyone's story. I really appreciate you "coming out" to discuss. I am glad to hear that you are doing well now also.

    One Love,

  • meg, thank you so much for sharing your experience. i am having L4/L5/S1 fusion ALIF/PLIF next Monday moring both on same day...Do you think that without the other complications you had you would have progressed more?
  • Thanks for the responses! It really is nice to know there are others out there. Today I am really tired and just keep wondering when the on-going fatigue will pass. For me, that is the hardest part. We are supposed to fly to NC next week - 8 hours with layover - and I can't imagine how i am going to make it. I am really worried about that. Some days I feel pretty good and then the next day I am wiped out. It makes me crazy! I try to eat right, take vitamins, walk, rest - but the fatigue still comes and goes. And it is so unpredictable. That makes me crazy! I would love to be able to plan to do something and know I would feel good enough to do it! Enough whining though. I have so little actual pain that I am blessed and should not whine.
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  • Good luck with your upcoming surgery!

    I do think I would have recovered much more easily without the med sensitivities and other issues. I was really doing quite well at 4 weeks then had that other little "adventure" that set me back. It also doesn't help that I am no spring chicken anymore (I am 58) - not old really, but it does take longer to recover as one ages, I think. Several people have said that at 3 or 4 months after surgery they felt so much better - but for some it seems to not take that long. I had planned to be one of the "not as long" ones but...

    A friend of mine who was in great shape and very physically active up to the day before her surgery made a much faster recovery than I. (My pain prior to surgery had significantly reduced my physical activity before surgery).

    One of the hardest things for me was not knowing what to expect or what was a "normal" part of recovery. Reading the posts here and talking to a friend who had had a similar surgery helped so much.

    Keep us posted on how your surgery and recovery goes and feel free to ask any questions!
  • Hi Meg!!

    Welcome, I am so glad you've posted :)

    Has it really been 10 weeks?? I've lost count,I thought I was 9 weeks, but we had surgery on the same day :$ I goofed I guess - anyway....

    I too am doing very very well, but I also find it a trial to sit more than 20 minutes. I walk like a granny for days after accidentally sitting too long (or like a pregnant woman if you listen to my friend describe it).

    Fatigue is a big issue as well - what a recovery, it seems to take forever doesn't it? I am not walking 25 minutes, I have ankle issues as well, so it's not just back, but still 25 minutes seems like a mountain climb for me right now.

    It's funny - we even had second surgeries on the same day!
  • Saltzworks,

    Oh, I do know that waddle. It is the way I was walking just this morning after trying to sit on the floor cross-legged for about 30 minutes yesterday! Not my smartest move. Sitting in a chair is tiring enough!

    Perhaps the inability to tolerate meds has been one of the most frustrating things for me - other than the fatigue. Fortunately, the pain was not too bad - at least, not nearly as bad as my reaction to the meds. But, perhaps in the long run it is OK since I didn't have to worry about weaning myself off of them. (Of course, my sensitivity to meds also applies to things like antibiotics and that really is a problem when I need to take them.)

    I have a friend - my same age - who was walking 5 - 7 miles at 4 weeks and I have felt so wimpy! But there is no way my hip, ankle or stamina will let me do that!

    Keep up the good recovery and keep us posted on how you are doing!

  • Forgot to say I also had to have a transfusion due to blood loss. Because I had not had time to donate my own blood prior to surgery I was a little freaked at getting someone else's but decided I just wouldn't worry about it.
  • Hi croswet

    looks like we're having the same surgery but mine are 5 days apart. It will be interesting to see how we do. Are you all ready for it yet?

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