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what to expect

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I will be having a lumbar fusion from L4-S1 in the next few weeks. Pretty nervous and scared because it is the unknown.

Would appreciate hearing from people who have had this about what I have to look forward to.




  • yep...we've all been there and probably felt the same as you. i had never had any surgical procedure prior to my fusion and i was nervous. do what you can to prepare your house for post-surgical recovery.

    did you see the "sticky note" at the top of this board category called "post surgical must-haves"? it is a list of everything one might possibly need or want -- a very extravagant list! but reading through it will help get your mind thinking about how you will be after the surgery.

    there have been many posts pertaining to fusion. run a search and you can read others' experiences.

    what you need to know, imho, is that fusion is a big surgery and recovery is slow and requires a lot of perseverance and patience. you will be in a fair amount of pain for the first week. you will be kept comfortable in the hospital, and will be sent home with sufficient pain meds. take them! your body will heal better if you are not also dealing with tons of pain at the same time.

    they will get you up soon after surgery to walk. you will probably have a catheter that will be inserted during surgery. it is nice because you won't have to worry about having to get up out of bed. but you will walk...and you will need to walk every day after that, several times, hopefully.

    walking is the best exercise after spine surgery. it helps get freshly oxygenated blood to the surgical site and it is the best activity for stretching out the spinal nerves. this helps to prevent scar tissue from attaching to those nerves that are affected by surgery.

    you will probably want someone around for the first week or so. it isn't absolutely necessary, but it is handy. i don't know about anyone else, but i mainly napped for the first week or two...mainly due to all the pain meds i was on. i couldn't really concentrate to read or watch a movie, but i did see tons of parts of movies -- i would time my walks to when i needed to use the bathroom. at first i could just walk across the length of the house, where i had a chair awaiting me. i would rest briefly and then walk back. gradually you will gain strength and be able to walk more each day.

    all the rest of recovery is very individual. we all recover at different paces, are starting at different "beginning" points, etc. i stayed on pain meds for the first 8 weeks, so did not drive up till then. i didn't really feel like going any where so it wasn't a big hardship!! at 12 weeks i flew half-way across the country to look at houses with my son who was about to be married...five days of house-hunting!! at five months, i danced at his wedding.

    some people go back to work around three months. a couple have done it sooner...but i think the norm is more like 3-6 months.

    if you have any particular questions, please post with them and you will get a variety of answers. there are many of us on the board who have had lumbar fusion. do you know how the surgery is being done (what procedure?)from the front, back, side? will you have hardware? bone graft?

    did you find all the articles on this site? here is some info on fusion:


    feel free to post often with your comments and questions. i could go on and on for pages about what to expect from fusion!! again, welcome.

  • I head my 360 alif (front and back)6 1/2 weeks ago. I was so very lucky, got a private room, I am not ashamed to admit that begining at my pre op at the hospital, I began politicing for a private room with whomever I could talk to,I would say "Who do I have to bribe, kiss or beg to get a private room" and they all said the same thing- i will note it in your chart and see what we can do. Even when I woke up in recovery one of the first things i did was ask about the status of my private room. They were very understanding and i was kind but persistant and guess what? I got my private room. The only reason I am going on and on about this is that it makes such a difference not to have to listen to your roomates moans and friends and family, plus, you can have some privacy , believe me so important to be able to do what you need to do without worrying about your roomates. Plus, your family can stay more and it is just better. If you can manage it, beg and try, it made all the difference in my 7 day stay.
    Also don't be afraid to push your nurse button as often as you need to. Just changing positions or trying to get comfortable you WILL need help and about 10 pillows. Have your family bring the nurses and aids cookies and stuff, bribery helps, they work harder for patients they like and who are gratefull than the others. I said thank you a million times and apologized for bothering them every time I asked them for help (even though it was their job) and it seemed they worked harder for me just for appriciating them. Just a bit of advice.
    Also push your pain button whenever you need it, even if you know it isn't time for your meds. They keep track of how often you need it and if you are pushing the button way more than ordered, it tells them you need more then you are getting. For instance, if you can get a dose every 30 minutes, but your pain is unbearable and you push your pain button every 5 minutes, they notice this and may increase the amount of meds or how often you can push for a bolus dose. Keep in mind, this is a painfull surgery and you need to keep on top of the pain or it will run away with you.
    Ear plugs and a mini dvd player were my lifesavers!!!
    Good luck and God Speed!!!
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