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Almost two weeks post 360 ALIF/PLIF L5-S1

Good morning fellow spineys, I'm back! (Lol, there is a pun in that)

42 yr old women not walking since April with two previous fusion successes from decades ago.

10/23 was surgery date, long story short: 360 decided on because instrumentation from first fusion compressed iliac vein and worried I would bleed out goin PLIF. They gave me central line, aortic line, regular IV, prepped my thigh to possible rebuild the vein and went in. Vein was able to be relieved through slow(3) hours of maneuvering. Snipped off the offending instrumentation and performed front laminecetomy. Put me back to get her and flipped me for back. The PLIF took 4 1/2 hours surprisingly because he instrumentation used previously was not common and they had to hunt down tools to remove the screws. Could not find so picked and chiseled them out (l3-L5) and only had to leave tiny piece in l3, would not come out. Neuro then finished with l5-s1..sewed me up and off to recovery I went.

Positive pal me, I did well in hospital, stayed 5 days. Chronic pain I had surgery for disappeared upon waking from surgery. Gone completely. I did struggle with a few factors..none of which had anything to do with my back or front or legs. The central line in my jugular was unbelievable uncomfortable and I struggle with limited back mobility and that. Same with all the arm iv's - two broke down when veins collapsed. The only other trouble was the manual hand held pain pump: made me throw up. That made all food stop and switched me to pills. This of course was blessing in disguise and hastened my recovery. Last part I want to say about hospital stay: unable to get rest, just too hectic. This resulted in me being agitated and anxious. All of that disappeared after first night sleep home.

Now 11 days out I can honestly give a 360 accounting: I'm pain free. The chronic pain I went into surgery for is still gone, completely. I've been treated for high blood pressure for last ten years (around same amount of time my vein was unknowingly compressed). My blood pressure for last two weeks is absolutely perfect. I was bottoming out in hospital first two days, so they removed the blood pressure meds, I stabilized. The doctors credit me being out of pain and the uncompressed vein for the change of 140/89 average to 117/72 average.

Needless to say I feel like a new woman! Of course I have incision pain, but I am managing with robaxin and hydrocodine, the latter I am stretching longer and longer and have now set a goal to move off of over next two weeks. I'm also coming down from gabapentin 1600 to 900 for last five days with no trouble. I hope to be completely off of soon. I'm only stepping down out of withdrawal fears, the pain I took the medicine for is gone. I see my pain management doctor on Monday and can't wait to hear steps he can give me to help come down from both.

I have had two plifs before and in those cases I walked like a mad woman. I was a determined woman. And there was nothing wrong with that for me then. I was also younger.

This time, I have been walking, but calmly and not at a push. I sleep and nap as often as I walk. I find exhaustion happens to me if I don't. Seriously I will be visiting with a friend and have to leave room, sleep for .20 minutes, then wake and rejoin conversation, too funny. So I am moderating these two important activities for me. I walked longer and more yesterday than ever. And I slept almost thru the night last night, so hand in hand these two must be for me. The incision pain and my siJoints are the only things that can act up and give me pause. There is no leg pain ( except a slight soreness in legs from non use). And I'm constantly focused on my core:

My physical therapist that comes to the house calls my core technique ZIP: I'm to move my core to the position I would use if I were to be putting on a tighter, sexy pair of jeans and then zipping them up. I love it! So that involves a pelvic tilt, belly button sucked in to back of spine, and a feeling that whole front and back spine area are one. It is not an easy exercise with a front and back incision, and I only do twice a day now for ten seconds..but it is a wonderful feeling when I nail it and am excited to feel these muscles. When swelling and incisions better, can wait to slide into a pair of jeans!

Now from sexy jeans to constipation! Laugh out loud! What works for me with Doctor care has been stool softener, gas x, laxative combo. The doctors knew I had a slow digestive system goin into procedure and didn't want me to have any pain when trying for first movement. Thanks to them I did not! That is huge relief as after the second PLIF I was scared (bowel movement then took an hour and felt like birthing child). Now 11 days out I am weaning from the digestive AIDS quite well and will dissipate when all narcotics stopped, so in next two weeks.

In closing: some of you know the feeling I am about to describe and it never happened to me this soon before: my pain pill was due an hour ago, when I started writing this. Until now I was afraid to get behind pain. Rightly correct too because I was fresh from 360! But sitting here now, I just know I'm really ready. I'm ready to stretch and start this next part of no narcotics. So wishing and hoping I can stretch and if and when I take the pill it helps less and less so I can stop for good. I've been on narcotics for two months now, and as I am stretching each day I feel more and more clear. I feel me coming back. I'm so excited! Me and no pain! Wow!

And finally: I'm walking! I'm walking and in no pain. This was my largest concern goin into surgery. Would I live, would I walk, wheel chair? Looks like walk! Keeping my fingers crossed!!


  • I cannot express how happy I am for you that you are finally getting relief.! I have done a lot of reading and your story sounded like a nightmare. And I truly appreciate you posting your positive experience for all of us here so very anxious about going for surgery.

    My biggest concern is that I only have pain after sitting for 30 minutes or so and my microdiscemtomy in April didn't help at all. So since I'm not in excruciating pain I wonder if it is the right thing to do going for fusion. i feel it is because I don't have any quality of life as I am miserable after I sit, which I do every day for work. But again I am afraid to end up worse. Especially after seeing people on here having one surgery fail and it leads to another and another and another. I am confused but trusting God to help me make the right decision but am worried I won't hear what he tells me. Lol.

    Thank you again for posting and I pray that your recovery, as well as everyone else on here, gets better and better every day.

    Take care, Maria
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 646
    Was so relieved to hear you're doing so well! Sounds like you had the best medical teams possible. And am thrilled about your attitude of recovering with caution for the long haul. It would seem so easy to demand more of our body when we're feeling up to it, especially when we're younger.

    I'm still not back in my jeans yet either, hopefully by the first of the year, but will take some discipline on my part....love making Christmas cookies! And eating them is even better! My Grandma taught me how to make some date/nut filled ones that are so addicting, it's a challenge not to eat too many before I give them away! The process of making them though is time consuming, and a lot of standing in one spot, so I may have to pass up on the making and baking this year. Last year I was struggling with sciatic pain so I didn't try it, but I did try and make another recipe she taught me....date/nut roll bread.....if only it had turned out....something went awry with the yeast rising process...ended up looking like severed body parts....like an arm, had a curve to it to fit in pan....perfect elbow though. My Mom still cracks up about it, cause usually my baking is much better.

    Looking forward to hearing about your increments of recovery. Again, I'm so happy for you!
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