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8 days from PLIF at L5-S1 and scared

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,322
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am 8 days away from a posterior lumbar interbody fusion at L5-S1. I am 28 and a newly wed. Married the man of my dreams in March. I have an annular tear on the right side and DDD at L5-S1. I have severe back pain and right leg pain and numbness in my foot. I have read a lot of the posts of how bad this surgery hurts and how long the recovery time is and am feeling a bit anxious about the whole thing. Just wondering what to expect after I wake up from surgery and the hospital stay and the weeks after. What are some good things to take to the hospital? Will I need a blood transfusion(is this common?) My doctor really didn't go into a lot of details because at first we were trying for the artifical disc but I have BCBS and they denied me coverage for that procedure. Any advice would be great.


  • I just had a 360 fusion 8 days post op- and in lots of pain but know that it is getting better everyday. I needed a blood transfusion so I don't know how often they are needed. good luck and listen to your doctor.

  • Yes I live in Guthrie. I am having my surgery at the Tulsa Spine Hospital.
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  • Take your pain meds as scheduled. If they don't work or are not stronmg enough don't be afraid to tell the NS or nurse.

    When I woke from my PLIF my left leg was completely numb it came to in a couple days. I had a cathader and a pain pump. The first pain med made me throw up uncontrolable- the nurse finally believed me that it was not the anestesia (after she changed the bedding 3 or 4 times).

    Once your home keep a pain med journal and take your meds as scheduled. If you let the pain get out of control it will take a while to get it back into control. The journal will help your family/friends make sure you are not taking your dose at the wrong time etc.

    Once home walk and sleep, walk and sleep. Even if it just walking around the house in your PJ's or down to the mail box. I think I stayed near my bed for 2-3 weeks.

    My PLIF was a huge success, my recovery was slow (I was out of shape to begin with). I went back to work after 3 months, but it was a good 6-9 months before I really felt strong in my low back. To walk with out pain is a wonderful thing.
  • There is a "sticky" post at the top of this part of the board entitled "Post Surgery Must=Haves." Read through it and jot down the ideas that appeal to you. It is a very comprehensive list. You will not need everything, but it does get you thinking about what your needs will be post surgery.

    You will be in pain when you awaken from surgery but they will keep you comfortable. They will send you home with pain meds, probably a muscle relaxer and probably something for break-through pain. It is wise to take your meds exactly as prescribed, even if you need to set an alarm to wake up to take the nighttime doses. It is important to stay ahead of the pain...thus the reason for taken meds on schedule. If you let the pain get ahead of you, you may find it more difficult to get it back under control.

    Don't let the other posts frighten you. I waited almost three years before deciding to have my fusion. All that time I had been reading various forums. I was so terrified to have surgery and was convinced it would be the most horrible experience of my life. Due to my expectations, it wasn't that bad!! They kept me medicated in the hospital and then the oral medications worked well at home, too. At first it is difficult to move...but they will have you up waking within about 12 hours of the surgery. It gets easier after that.

    One reason people stress the long recovery is because some patients enter into back surgery thinking it is going to be like having their appendix out or similar. They are shocked to learn the reality of the situation. Recovery from spine surgery is long and requires patience. It cannot be hurried along. Those that try, usually live to regret it.

    In the majority of people, fusion will take about a year to develop a strong bond...but at around three months you will be able to do many things again...within reason. My doctor gave me few restrictions after fusion...he was of the "if it hurts, don't do it" school. Unfortunately I would only find out after the fact that something hurt, so it wasn't very helpful advice. I learned much more here from my fellow "spineys."

    It is normal to be afraid...but try to find something that relaxes you...favorite music, deep measured breathing...whatever. Feel free to ask any questions. I think the more prepared you are, the less frightening the experience will be.

    Good luck and, again, welcome.

  • Anyone have to do the bowel prep before fusion surgery? Glad I took the day off before my surgery since I will spend the day on the toliet.
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  • From what I've read, many of us who have had surgery did not have to do bowel prep - I didn't - unless they had the anterior approach.
  • Con grats on marrying love of your life! I married mine 38 yrs ago. I will have Alif on the same day as your Plif. This site is great because of all the caring people here. You will find all the information you need and also all the support you need. Praying for your good health and speedy recovery. 1 more thing-----ROLL TIDE !!! Ha

    God Bless!
  • Wishing you luck on your surgery. You will do great! Regarding bowel prep- I eat lite the day before and drank the magnesium nitrate- grape flavor- However- I ended up impacted- (how I am not sure as I woke up with a NG tube draining my tummy) had surgery on Tuesday and the tube was removed on Thursday- I was discharged on Friday. Again, I had the 360 fusion (front and back) by Monday I was in the emergency room with 20lbs of extra fluid due to the impaction. EVERYONE is different- your will be through the back so they wont be messing with your bowels. I had a gastric bypass in 2006 so I think things will take a bit longer to be normal

    Good luck
  • I have a good friend who is a huge alabama fan!! Our family is Notre Dame fans! Go IRISHHHHH!!~

    LOL ;p)
  • My stupid son in law is a ND fan. Just kidding-I love him dearly! Roll Tide!
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