I have been fighting back pain for a good part of my adult life, and seriously considering surgery for the past 7 years. I'm a 43 year old male who was experiencing significant right leg numbness and lower back and leg pain.
I have met with surgeons from Philadelphia, PA to West Palm Beach, FL to Baton Rouge, LA over the past many years. I have MRI's from every couple of years showing a deteriorating condition which includes degen. disc and spondy. A few years back, this began significantly impacting my lifestyle and I could not do many things I really enjoyed.
Between talking to the surgeons, and reading many stories on-line I was scared to death of this surgery. I am an executive at a national bank, and cannot afford the time out of work either.
I finally bit the bullet and decided to go with a doctor in the New Orleans area for an L4/L5 PLIF. He told me up front that I would most likely be driving in 10 days, and back to work part time in 3 weeks. Every other story I got was 6 to 8 weeks at best.
Over the past year this began impacting my ability to sleep, which has a ripple effect on all other aspects of my life and career. It was time.
Reading many of the problems people have with these surgeries had me worried, but in thinking about it, people that don't have issues probably don't even think to get on-line and offer their positive experience. So here's mine.
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009, I had an L4/L5 PLIF (2 rods, screws, etc.) installed in about a 3 1/2 hour surgery. By Wednesday afternoon I was able to walk the hospital floor, and even made it half the distance without a walker or cane. Thursday had a setback as they were removing the drainage tubes, and had to go back in for surgery Thursday night. By Friday afternoon, was able to walk without support.
Came home Saturday. I was doing so well they skipped the therapy session teaching you how to walk, dress, etc. At home I carried a cane just for some extra support. Saturday afternoon walked about 1 mile. Was very sore afterwards, but you really gotta use the meds the first few days.
It is now Tuesday, one week from the original surgery. I am beginning to back off the percocets and walked about 1 1/2 miles today with no cane. Leg numbness is completely gone, and the only back pain seems to be surgery related (incision, muscles, etc.).
Not sure if I'm just lucky or what, but considering the 2 surgeries I went through over the last week, I'm feeling pretty darn good. I expect to be working from home next week part time, and in the office the following week part time. Then back to work full time.
If I knew I would recover this fast I would have done this many years ago. I'm sure it's not over yet, but I feel I am moving quickly in the right direction.
A friend of mine had an XLIF last year (which I believe is less extensive than a PLIF) and he had significant pain, and a long, long recovery. After talking to him I almost cancelled mine, but I'm glad I went through with it.
I really did my homework on the doctors. Make sure you research your doctors. Not sure how much research my friend did.
Good luck to everyone in dealing with upcoming surgeries. Find a doctor you are very confident with, and keep a positive outlook and it will be over before you know it.