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4 weeks post-op -any feedback would be great.

BpainFree39BBpainFree39 Posts: 127
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello,

I am 4 weeks post-op from PLIF L4 / L5 - L5 / S1 and feel much better; however my back is still weak. I am pretty much in line with my physical therapy program for recovery, but if I move wrong, or sit upright for too long I hurt.
I know each person is different and their body reacts differently to the fusion-making recoveries differ from case to case.
The million dollar question my job and family want to know is “When”, ah yes when. I have read a lot, but I am trying to solicit different feedback on this question. My Dr and PT folks want to get me up and get me going, and believe I am invincible, not admitting I could take time.
I think from the very start in the hospital they want me to get up, and try to convince me I’m okay, and to just get going, denial is a good thing to them. If they can get a patient up, and make them get going and they stay going, it’s better for everyone.
My job wants the bare minimum of time out, needing me back as soon as I can, but I am approved for 6 weeks.
I really am trying to understand how to tell what is okay to live with, and what are grounds for staying out for more time. I don’t want to stay out if I don’t need to, but at the same time, don’t want to fall to the pressure of my short term disability and family obligations, causing me more problems and issues in the future.
If anyone can tell me what their experiences with this,and can give me insight into what I should use as a way to judge my actual state, and not the pressures of being injured. Any feedback would be helpful Thanks,
04/24/15
Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
---------
04/09/13
L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
----------
03/13/12
(PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
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Comments

  • My 2-cents worth - don't worry about what others and work wants. Worry about what you feel and what your doctor thinks is best.

    I had 2 back surgeries...let outside pressures get the better of me when I knew I wasn't ready. But kept my mouth shut. Indeed, I still had issues.

    I had a revision microdiscectomy and on this 2nd surgery, I asked the doctor what time I needed. He said "we'll start with 4 weeks". I thought start? Last time I was working 3 days later and back in the office 2 weeks later. He told me that it could be shorter or longer but that he wanted me to have a chance of success and that would only happen if I focused on me.

    Don't baby yourself but don't be too proud to accept that this was a major surgery and the recovery is a lot on your body.

    I didn't get a fusion but since I did consider it, I was told by every doctor that the minimum was 6 weeks. So I won't be surprised if your doctor agrees to complete paperwork for additional time. But I don't think he can do that officially until he re-evaluates you.

    Good luck with the recovery.
  • It is hard for me to say when the best time to go back is as I had complications. After my fusion I felt like a million dollars and was ready to take on the world. One night at about 4 weeks I was readying for a shower and my incision broke open and there was such pressure on it that fluid sprayed out. I of course thought Awww fiddlesticks ( to quote my 4 yo granddaughter) what now ??!! Went to see my surgeons PA and he sewed me up and said it will be all right, this was also the man who said "it's not deadened? Well there are only 2 stitches left to do" Idiot it's not deadened remember I felt all 5 of the last stitches! Anyway, I ended up back in the hospital when it broke open again and sprayed AGAIN and they found a fluid filled spot in my back the size of a softball. They had to do tests for bacterial growth and to make sure it wasn't spinal fluid. But I agree with the previous person DO NOT let anyone tell you how you are feeling and when you should go back to work. When you do go back work slowly up to your NEW pace and remember you have to realize you have a different body now than what you used to have. You are the ONLY one who knows when you are ready. Start emulating, at home, what you would be doing at work and see how you feel. If nothing else you will build yourself up to returning to work.
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  • I had a similar surgery to you (L4-L5-S1 Fusion, plus some other stuff higher and lower). It will be 3 weeks for me as of tomorrow.

    Since I work from home and I am self-employed, I have a lot of freedom when to come back to work, although I do need to earn money and I am a bit bored by doing nothing so I have a tendency to push myself. Today was the first day I did ANYTHING work wise, and that was about 2 hours of computer work sitting in a standard office chair before my back said "no more". I have to admit it definitely felt good to do something productive with my life (there is just so much TV and novel reading I can do!)

    I'm hoping to push the works hours up as the days progress. I'd love to be up to 5 hours per day (with breaks and using good posture and support while sitting) within a couple more weeks. I know I am incredibly fortunate to have such a flexible schedule, and I really feel for those who have to do it all at once like it sounds like you do.

    PT is a bit weird to me. The PT people in the hospital seem to want you to push it, push it, push it. My doctors don't want that at all, and they won't even start me on my actual PT for another month. They want me to be super careful, walking just enough to not hurt each day. Like you, the surgery has helped a lot with pain and nerve problems, but a wrong step or twist or sometimes just randomly I get these incredibly sharp/stabbing back pains.

    I think the decision when to go back is really hard. I read that bone is living tissue and actually responds to weight and stress being put on it by growing and strengthening, which would mean that the more you do the faster you would heal (within obvious limits, of course). On the other hand, if you do something to much you could hurt yourself and risk that dreaded "failed surgery syndrome". Yikes.

    I think was Chuzzy said is a great idea - Is there a way you can simulate your typical work day at home in little short amounts and see how you feel? I don't know what you do, but if you could try to build up your tolerance to your actual work situation in the next few weeks you might feel more confident when you do go back.

    Maybe none of the above is very helpful :( Sorry. I know I am trying hard to listen to my body, and I have noticed that if I push it a little harder on one day it will hurt a lot, but then I seem better the next day than I was. Of course, you could be totally different so only you can decide when will be the right time with the help of your doctors and physical therapist.

    Good luck!

    - Xena
  • Hello,

    I requested additional time and my Dr. gave me 3 more weeks. Now, I just need to get off my pain meds. Thanks for your help, and I am starting to feel better. Pain is more controllable with "Neutral Spine" bending and I'm coming out of the brace. Thanks,
    04/24/15
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    ---------
    04/09/13
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    ----------
    03/13/12
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
  • Thanks for your help.
    04/24/15
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    ---------
    04/09/13
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    ----------
    03/13/12
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
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  • Thank you-
    04/24/15
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    ---------
    04/09/13
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    ----------
    03/13/12
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
  • I have had 3 fusions. The first 2 I returned to work after 3 weeks, the last one 6 weeks. I was able to get up and walk as much as needed. I was a competitive athlete so was in pretty good shape for the surgeries. Altho the first 2 were only 7 months apart. I hadn't even recovered from the first one!!

    It took 3 years for me to feel totally recovered. Its a long haul and patience is needed. Start small and if that works add more. The worst thing is to be a hero or martyr and overdo. Then there is damage that is hard to undo.

    There will be times when you think you are never going to heal and then bingo, you feel better.

    Pace yourself, listen to your body and your doctor.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Thank you -
    04/24/15
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    ---------
    04/09/13
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    ----------
    03/13/12
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
  • I read these and think of how life consuming our health problems can be. I then think of what it was like before this all started. Wow what a road we travel. I am now on the Fentanyl 75 patch along with Gabapentin and it all helps. I am trying to get over the sleepiness of the patch. It is getting better and the pain is so much LESS, YAHOO!!!! Have developed new problem in left hip area, I thought, but no they say it is ALSO my back causing the pain. Wow does it ever end?? Look for the stars through the clouds and you will find a light to sustain you. Chiropractor upset that doctor did not order MRI. Just tried new pain med combo. At this point, my thinking is wrong I know, but I am just glad pain is less. So glad to find people who understand what it is like as no one else can conceive the life altering change all this causes. The pain, change of life plans, change of daily routine, struggle with meds, struggle with depression. It is all so hard at times and then poof something happens and you get that much coveted break you begged for. Good luck to all of you who can read this my heart goes out to you all.
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