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4 weeks post PLIF and still tired and sometimes lightheaded-advice?

kathyykkathyy Posts: 586
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My husband took me to the grocery store today. This is my 4th outing to shop. As with the others, after about 40 to 45 minutes of buggy pushing I found myself feeling faint and very tired and irritable. I seem to be able to walk about a mile which takes about 20 minutes and I don't get lightheaded but shopping seems to take more out of me.

I'm wondering if I may still be anemic? Or is this weakness just normal for some of us after this surgery? (I am, after all, 56) During my 6 hour procedure I did lose more blood than my surgeon would have liked but since my hemoglobin was not quite as low as an 8 (12-15 is normal), he decided against a transfusion. From what I've read, they don't like to do transfusions unless absolutely necessary. It was 8.5 when I was released.

I did try taking an iron supplement when I got home but believe me, the upset to my system was terrible! I was plugged up for a week!

Think I should see my regular doc and have my blood hemoglobin checked again or is this pretty normal for this surgery/recovery process? Kathy in Atlanta


  • I recommend seeing your doctor. After my surgery, the surgeon came in and said that I can either promise to eat high iron foods and take supplements or I would have to have the transfusion before going home. It wasn't bad enough for him to insist on the transfusion. My husband immediately went out and bought all high iron foods and he made sure that I took a pill everyday. My sister is anemic and has to take shots every month. She feels the same way that you are descibing during her bad times. At least call the nurse at the doctor office and see if she recommends that you come in.
  • Kathy,

    You said you were "buggy pushing." Specifically, what were you pushing? Was it a shopping cart with groceries in it? If so, that's probably more weight than you should be dealing with and I'm not surprised that you would feel tired and maybe even lightheaded, especially with your blood loss from surgery.

    I was told not to lift more than 3-5 pounds for the first six weeks. I took that to mean that I also should not push or pull anything weighing more than that either. Actually, the only thing I pushed for roughly the first 8 weeks was my walker, and that was only for the first few days. I didn't even move my potty seat - my wife did that for me.

    I didn't end up in a store until around week 10, and that was only for a few light items where I did not need a cart. I just used a cart for the first time last week, almost 4 months after surgery. That much time may not be necessary - I was just being overly cautious.

    Having said all that, with your blood loss, did your surgeon tell you to take an iron supplement after your surgery? That should help elevate your platelet count, if it is still low.

    I would discuss this with your surgeon, but make sure you tell them what type of activities you are doing. I hope everything gets back to normal soon. :)))
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  • I haven't had that surgery but really think you're overdoing it. More frequent trips to the grocery store would be better than long drawn out shopping. It wouldn't hurt to see your Dr. regarding your dizziness and he may order the bloodtest. Are you short of breath at all? and tired? Anyways I always say to check it out and call your Drs office. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • This is major surgery and it does take a lot out of you. Not to mention, your body is working very hard at replacing and growing new bone. My advice is eat lots of foods rich in Calcium, Vitamin c and Iron.....chilli is great for building the iron back up, as are kidney beans, red meat, dark green veggies and ofcourse your daily calcium and multivitamin...I even switched to prenatal vitamins because they have more iron and folic acid.
    Hang in there and know its a long road, take naps and relax when you can.
  • Love chili and love that suggestion! Am taking lots of vitamen supplements (Dr Taubs) and I do have some iron supplements I could take....they just upset my system so.

    Mark, you are always sooooo insightful. I have been pushing the buggy full of groceries. I kinda use it to lean on like I did presurgery and I NEVER thought of it as being too heavy. So glad you suggested that. Anyway, gives me a great excuse to get my dsh (dear sweet hub) to do the pushing (LOL)! To be fair, he offered to do the pushing and he spends his life trying to help me, he is so sweet.

    I get the best suggestions from this website. I don't know about the rest of you but it has literally become a godsend for me.

    At this point, I just want to do everything I can to help myself heal. For over 20 years I was a runner and weekly gym attender and this is, for me, not just physically difficult but psychologically very challenging. The last thing I need is anemia on top of everything else. Kathy
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  • Hi Kathy:

    First of all, I think you should call your doctor because each case is different. I can tell you my experience. I was 57 when I had my TLIF about 14 months ago. I had an emergency colon repair surgery a week later, so my old body went through a lot of trauma. I did have a transfusion after the second surgery. Before and after surgery I took iron, I have for years. As far as how you are feeling at 4 weeks...this is a long recovery process, you will need to be patient and take it slowly for months to come.

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