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ALIF 4 weeks ago - Progress!

patgibson93ppatgibson93 Posts: 67
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:51 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hello All!
I posted for the first time a week ago regarding my progress from L5-S1 ALIF on 2/22/11. At that time I was still feeling pretty terrible, I couldn't eat, and my pain doctor had disappeared (no joke!).
Today I'm happy to report that I have definitely improved - true it's is just baby steps, but positive progress. I do still have to spend the majority of my day lying down. I have progressed from walking in my house (we have a large home so I am going further than that sounds) to strolls in my neighborhood. I also spend some time sitting up but not too much. Sitting and standing provoke my presurgical nerve pain. I think it's encouraging that the nerve stops hurting after I lie down. Maybe once the swelling and inflammation subside (now that the mechanical cause of the pain has been removed) it will not flare so quickly.
Last week I was really struggling with sleeping, a total lack of appetite and food aversions. I was feeling so ill I had to see my pain doc to ensure it wasn't a medication issue, which it wasn't. My surgeon was concerned it might have been infection - particularly since I was running a low fever. Xrays and lab work was done. No bacterial infection was found & the Xrays looked great. Consensus was it may have been viral. I was very reassured by the Xrays. I think we all are terrified that in spite of being very careful, somehow the hardware has moved etc.
So I soldiered on. I fought the symptoms of low blood sugar (from lack of eating?) by sipping on juice, eating small high protein snacks if I started feeling weak & shaky. I found the few foods I could stand - no complex tastes - and made a real effort to eat. That seems to be paying off and I have been able to eat more. Naturally that provides more energy.
My medications are now basically what they were before surgery. I was able to stop the oxycontin and zanaflex completely. Now I am taking 75 mg of nucynta 3x a day, 600 mg gabapentin, and ambien for sleep. The postop pain is almost gone. My incision still burns, but it healing nicely. My brace definitely helps control muscle pain. I wasn't put in it until last Monday. Before I got it I was guarding my back so much I was provoking the spasms. Once in it I felt so much better and my ability to relax & sleep really improved.
There is a long road still ahead of me, but what a difference this week has made. My next appointment with my surgeon will be April 4th. I'm hoping he will allow me to up my activity level. I became so deconditioned prior to surgery even with pt 2-3/wknd, that I will have a lot of work to get back in shape. Although I am 54 I had been very active before my injury. Although I no longer danced (ballet) I had tremendous flexibility and did both yoga & pilates. I hope to be able to go back to both.
I think being positive makes a huge difference. Yes I hurt. No I can't do a lot yet, but resting and not overdoing it keeps the nerve pain away. I'm tired of wearing only yoga pants & loose tops. But considering my brace makes me look like an albino Teenage Ninja Turtle, I'll wear what I can to accomodate it. Yes you can wear it over your clothes but then that means you have to take it off to go to the bathroom. That is a real pain - pun intended.
Yes it's been a long month. Would I do it again? Yes. I don't have any doubts it was the wrong thing to do. Conservative treatment did not work and the pain dominated both my life and my family's life. I was unable to continue working and I was unable to do anything. The surgery has been tougher on my husband. He has never seen me in hospital before or so ill. Nor does he have any kind of medical background so he is in uncharted territory. We've been married 17 years and he's the one who has had all the health issues. Seeing his distress has been very hard to bear. We'll make it through.
Sorry this is such a long post. It's been a big week. I know I'm not going to wake up one morning and be ALL better. But I will be better each day.
The sun is shining this morning and Spring is here. I'm going to go outside and enjoy all that vitamin D!

Onward & upward!
Pat Gibson
L5S1 ALIF 2-22-11
Now L4 Retrolisthisis


  • your progress as i am interested in your recovery as i too need ALIF surgery too
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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