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1 week post-op (ALIF)

heidihohheidiho Posts: 17
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Had my ALIF a week ago today (L5-S1 with PEEK cage, BMP and no instrumentation).

Home from the hospital on day 6. I don't have much communication with my OS, so I'm a bit unsure as to how things should be going and what I should be doing. So far, I am in bed (I rented a hospital bed) most of the day, getting up to use the bathroom and walk the hallway a few times......and to shower. That about does it for me. I feel 'guilty' for being in bed so much, but is this normal? I know about no BLT, but how much 'rest' is normal? Also, I tried sitting up for dinner last night, but it was too painful, so I just eat in my bed with it at about a 45 degree angle.

Last night was my first night without a sleeping pill since surgery and I didn't sleep at all. I've also had some nausea last night and this morning. I think I'm doing quite well, but I'm don't really have anything to compare it to. For pain, I take 30mg morphine every 4.5 hours (it was every 3 hours at first). Need to take a few ES Tylenol as well.

If anyone has any advice or suggestions as to what I could/should be doing, I'd appreciate it.



  • Hey there Heidiho,
    We are all doing the recovery thing different.From my expereince,lots of good rest was needed.If you can tolerate getting up and around,do it as much as you can.You will start to get stronger with each day.I understand the guilt thing,but don't let it push you into doing too much.Our bodies are amazing things,but we have to give them a little help.So I would say,set some goals for each day,trying to increase your time walking,sitting on the couch etc...I know it seems like the pain will never stop,and maybe it won't completely,but recovery from the surgery itself will get better. Hang in there girl,and think happy thoughts! Take care Sagehen
  • There are no awards for how fast you can recover. This is your one and only job at the moment. Your body has been through a BIG surgery and healing will take longer than you think it should take.

    My first two weeks after lumbar fusion are pretty much a blur. I took my pain meds faithfully 'round the clock, even setting an alarm to take the nighttime dosage. When I got up to go to the bathroom, I did my walking. At first this consisted of walking the length of the house and back. When I was not doing that activity, I was in bed. (We moved a twin bed into the den so I didn't have to be stuck up on the 2nd floor by myself.) I ate meals in propped up in bed for a long time. I conducted my life from the bed for weeks after surgery.

    I was on pain meds for the first eight weeks. (I had a PLIF at L4-L5 with a PEEK cage, BMP and rods and pedicle screws.) I had one of those docs who said "listen to your body and do what feels comfortable." He did not say I had to walk X distance by X weeks -- thank god. He said "you can do anything as long as it doesn't hurt. If it hurts, don't do it."

    Make your healing your only priority. You do not want to have to repeat this surgery...so do everything you can to get it right the first time. A year from now it won't matter if you were back on your feet and going about your regular life in six weeks or six months. Develop patience and learn to really listen to your body.

    Post often with your comments and questions. No question is to small or trivial, and there are many of us on here that have been through fusion and can share our experiences.

    Add reaching to your BLT rules. Learn to move your body to the object rather than reaching for it, and do not reach overhead. I can't help you with the sleeping issues. I was on Lyrica and it really knocked me out!

    Good luck to you. Before you know it, you will be coming out on the other side of this ordeal.

    xx Gwennie
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  • I had surgery just a couple days before. Mine was a bit different. I would keep in touch with your OS if you have questions, even if they don't keep in touch with you. Everyone is so different, but I feel better when I get up and move on a regular basis. Hopefully now that you are even further out, you're feeling better. I'm out and about in the mornings (the better time of the day for me), and I rest in the afternoon. I'm able to cook meals, do laundry and some basic errands. I hope you're feeling better! Andrea
  • Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I will take all that advice. In fact, the resident on my case, who came to see me each day in the hospital, said exactly that....don't do anything that hurts and let your body be your guide. Almost all my pain today was directly a result of being up. It seems that anything more than 10 minutes is too much. I did go out of the house and walk to the corner....a very short walk but I really felt vulnerable and nearly panicked. That's not like me at all! I'll take a cane with me next time, just to feel more secure. I may also be trying too hard to wean off the pain meds. I just think that what they have me on was too much-30 mgs morphine every 3 hours as needed....so i'm trying to go 4-5 hours. I will see my family doc to get it changed to percocet. I think that would be a better drug for recovery. Anyway, thanks again for your comments.
  • Were you in the hospital six days?

    I don't know about your meds. I was on oxycodone, hydrocodone and Lyrica. I thought I was tired from the pain meds...but now that I am back on Lyrica after having been off it for one year, I know it was Lyrica that made me want to sleep 23 hours per day!! I thought I was just tired from the surgery!

    There are probably other less strong pain killers that would take care of your pain. Morphine does seem a bit much to stay on for awhile.

    Do you have someone that can walk along with you? Maybe for the first trips outside, that would make you feel safer. You need to find the right balance between doing a little more each day and not doing too much.

    Part of the equation is the extent to which you had become deconditioned prior to surgery, due to your back problems. I waited so long to have surgery that I had pretty much become a couch potato. Near the end I was driving to the mailbox at the end of my driveway to get the mail. I could only stand about a minute...so it took me quite awhile to get my strength back.

    So, do what you can and don't worry at this point about the things you cannot do yet. It's OK to relax and let others take care of you while you are healing.

    When you do feel like sitting up, limit the amount of time to 15 minutes to a half hour at the beginning. You are better off standing or walking than sitting.

    It's nice when others are able to do more, but don't let their experiences influence you or make you feel guilty. Your main job right now is to rest and walk, rest and walk. Everything else can wait for a bit!!

    Maintain a positive attitude and do some things that make you smile and laugh!

    xx Gwennie

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  • Yes, I was in for 6 days. I did get a prescription for oxycodone and will start that tomorrow. And yes, I am also deconditioned. I could feel my thighs today after doing a few very deep knees bends yesterday!! I can't find a 'grabber' here that is long enough......so I had to resort to doing that. I am suffering today! I forgot all about those muscles. I do feel better today. I'm sure each day will be better than the last.

    My problem now is that I don't know if I've overdone it until afterwards, when it's too late. Will take some trial and error I suppose.

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