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PLIF in 3 weeks and terrified!!

Having L5/S1 fusion in three weeks. Herniated disc and avulsion fracture of a vertebrae 14 years ago has finally gotten to the point that I can no longer stand it. Can't run, shave my legs or even sneeze! I have, as I'm sure most people here, lived with pain for a long time.

Very nervous about the surgery and the recovery. Will I really be unable to drive for 30 day... having 2 children 9 and 12 that will make for a very long summer.

I have a very physical job as a surgery/anesthesia technician in an animal hospital. Lots of heavy lifting of sleeping and recovering pets. I love my job and want to return to work as soon as I am able.

Any information or advice would be appreciated!!
PLIF L5/S1 fusion 6/12/13
ACDF 5-7 7/17/13
44 year old Mom of 10 and 12 year old girls, full time veterinary technician.


  • Hello Chris, and welcome to Spine-Health! :-)

    My very first fusion was at L5/S1. At that time, I was just about to turn 35 and I found myself feeling quite well once the pain fully subsided at the surgery site and the surgery itself. I fell into a trap of feeling "too good" and began to over-do it. Between my stupidy and genetics, I have had 2 more lumbar surgeries, which were a revision of L5/S1 (posterior approach to add screws/rods) and then to fuse L4/L5 and to extend rods to that level. Also fused at C3 thru C7, but that's out of the scope of this discussion.

    To be honest, I would follow everything your surgeon instructs you to do to a tee. I can understand the love of your job, but your surgeon will likely cringe. Is there a way another worker can help you with the lifting so that you won't risk compromising the fusion?

    Best of luck and I look forward to seeing how it all goes! :-)

  • Hi Chris, I'm 3 weeks, 2 days post ALIF with posterior pedicle screws. I'm 52 with 3 adult kids (out of the house) and a 10 year old adopted daughter. I have driven twice since surgery but am avoiding it since it still isn't comfortable. A car wreck would be devastating at this point. I'm still not completely off the Percocet, but when I know I need to drive I make sure I have 12 hours between my last dose and driving. My daughter has been a tremendous help and support to me. My husband is an airline pilot and is gone for several days at a time; Abby and I are managing just fine. I was pretty nervous about surgery/hospital/recovery, too. Thankfully I don't remember much of that first week. I was in the hospital for 4 days, came home Friday afternoon and that weekend is a total blur. I was taking 2 Percocet every 4 plus Soma which kept me pretty loopy and I'm thankful for that, I didn't have any problem managing the pain. By day 7 I was feeling better and started backing off the meds. Every few days I notice improvement, but you have to be prepared that there just is no "fast tracking" recovery, it takes time and can't be rushed. Best of luck to you.
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
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  • Shari, Glad to hear you are doing so well! that is encouraging!! Hoping my girls will be a big help also. Looking forward to updates on your recovery. Charlie, I am also having a 2 level cervical fusion 3 weeks after L5/S1 fusion! would love to hear the details of yours... aslo have cervical radiculopathy with 2 herniated discs pressing on spinal cord. It's going to be a long summer!!!
    PLIF L5/S1 fusion 6/12/13
    ACDF 5-7 7/17/13
    44 year old Mom of 10 and 12 year old girls, full time veterinary technician.
  • I am a 36 year old mom of a 10 year old and a 13 year old. I had a ALIF (Anterior lumbar interbody fusion) and posterior fusion, laminectomy, discectomy 4 weeks ago on L4-S1. Every surgeon is different with restrictions. I was given the ok to drive after 2 weeks if I felt up to it and lift up to 10 pounds. So far I have only driven short distances and I always wear my brace. You will not be allowed to lift, bend or twist for a while. Driving has been a challenge. The first two weeks were rough. You will need help. A lot of surgical pain. You need to take it easy and follow the doctors directions. You do not want to do anything that may jeopardize the fusion or healing. Take care and best of luck with you procedure
    injury 12/29/09. L2 henamgioma L3-S1 desiccation protrusion narrowing, L5-S1 nerve rood displaces, L4-5 annular tear DDD L5-S1. surgery 4/24/12
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