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My Journey to Recovery

jan1of1jjan1of1 Posts: 7
edited 05/19/2015 - 6:08 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I''m a 60 year old male that had initial diagnnosis of L4 L5 grade II anterior slip with moderate spinal canal stenosis and L5 S1 DDD. I did not respond positively to physical therapy so my doc and I decided a fusion of L4 L5 S1 via TLIF was the best way to go. I had the procedure 7 days ago and was discharged from the hospital one day after surgery.

I did have some pain from the surgical site, but that has largely disappeared. Since the surgery I have had excruitiating (spelling may not be right) pain in lower back that radiates down my right buttock and then down my leg. Laying down and getting back up brings tears to my eyes as the pain is awful. I'm on all kinds of pain meds, but they don't seem to relieve any of the pain I have while laying down or trying to get out of bed. Once up I do have pain in my right leg, but the more I walk the better it feels. Right now, as I type this, my pain level is around 1 on a scale of 1-10.

Walking is interesting. No problem with my left leg. My right leg is different. I really don't have pain it is more like using a muscle that hasn't been used in a long time - especially the calf muscle. I'm walking because my doc said that is the best thing to do. I do wear a brace and that does stablilizes the back and improve the comfort of walking.

Meds: I'm taking Motrin (already trying to wean myself off that), Percocet (at night), Neurotin (3x/day) and Valium (5mg at night). I have had to take twice the dosage of Percocet and Valium because of the pain at night getting in bed and the pain of getting out of bed. The down side of using pain meds is constipation so I'm on an extra high fiber diet which seems to be working now. In order to get myself going I did have to use mag citrate with very positive results.

Bed: I'm using an egg-shell foam matress and that has helped some, but not relieved the pain completely.

Use of Ice: Icing the back at night has helped some what, but it is difficult to place the ice where it would do the most good.

Comments: I've read a lot of horror stories and very few success stories on the different forums. I think many people have are now pain free and living a fairly normal life, but never followed up on the forum to let us know that. I know I have a long way to go and it won't always be easy, but my goal is to walk through parts of Patagonia the latter part of this year or early next year. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Until then be happy and well.


  • Getting into and out of bed has been agonizing... The pressure to my lower back causes severe pain to the lower back that radiates through the right butt cheek and down the right leg. Last night I slept (almost the entire night) in a recliner with a heating pad under my right butt cheek. Here is what I think is going on: I lost over a liter (that is 1000 mls or ccs), but was expected to lose only 150 mls. The doctor went as far as to call me "juicy." Anyway I have severe brusiing across both cheeks of my buttocks - looks like someone took a 2x4 and whacked me - so I'm thinking a lot of blood pooled in my buttock area causing pressure on my nerves. The only thing I can do is wait for the blood to be reasorbed - a process that can be expedited using heat. When I got up this morning I was sore and still had some pain down my right leg, but I didn't scream and cry as I have in the past when getting out of bed. I'll continue sleeping in the recliner applying heat to my right butt cheek area and let you know the outcome. Oh yes, I'm still walking everyday which also helps to reabsorb the blood. Until next time, be happy and well.
  • No pain from or around incision site. Still having pain down right buttock and right leg, but much less than in past. Doing walking everyday, but am exhausted when I get back. Wasn't taking pain meds - big mistake. So I'm back on them to help keep me moving. Progress is very good, in my opinion!
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  • jan1of1jjan1of1 Posts: 7
    edited 06/28/2015 - 1:45 AM
    Everyday I'm getting better!! Sciata pain down right leg resolved around 3 week mark. Went on vacation to Scotland at 4 week post op mark. Now 7 weeks post op and only initially lying down in bed (with memory foam mattress which is the cause of the problem). Am walking several miles a day and wearing an external bone stimulator. Off all pain meds, but still paying careful attention to doc's instructions - no heavy lifting, no twisting motions etc.

    BTW I think my doc is awesome. Everything, and I repeat everything, he said I would go through post op has come true. Also a BIG RECOMMENDATION for Minimal Invasive Surgery TLIF. My doc's infection rate after over 100+ MIS TLIF = 0. That is ZERO. Everyone's recovery is different so caution is urged on what to do or not do. I think the best thing for me was to get going again - walking everyday. Initially two short walks and then one long walk (all with brace on). Yes, I came back exhausted but perservernce is the key to success. Best of luck to everyone! I'm signing off.
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