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Old 01-12-2005, 05:26 PM   #1
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Madonna HB User
Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

My husband had back surgery five weeks ago today. He had fusion of L4 & L5 with six screws and two rods. The x-rays look quite gruesome with all the metal in there. Anyway, he is still in a lot of pain. He takes two 20mg oxy per day and about four percs per day. Do you think that is a lot of pain medication for being five weeks post op?

Also, he has been going to physical therapy and drives himself there. Tonight he took a shower by himself for the first time, but I still had to dry his feet and put his socks on him. He was able to do the rest. He has suffered so much pain and was sent to the emergency room four days post op for extreme constipation. That was a real set back for him and an aweful experience.

His doctor is not very nice either. He is very snippy but I guess that is the personality most neurosurgeons have. Also, we were not happy with the care he was given at the hospital. The nurses were not very compassionate. I had to stay with him night and day to take care of him because the nurses sure weren't going to do it.

All I can say is that this was not a good experience for either of us. It was nothing like we thought it was going to be. He had a bad reaction to the medicine they used to put him to sleep. He said when he woke up that he thought he was going to die. His face was all swollen and he had a bad pressure sore on his chin from laying on his stomach for six hours. The pressure sore is healed but no whiskers grow there anymore. This surgery has been so hard on him and he looks 10 years older. I sure hope this surgery works because I dont think he can go through this again.

Last edited by Madonna; 01-12-2005 at 05:28 PM.

 
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Old 01-12-2005, 05:47 PM   #2
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mel1977 HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Seems to me some things are getting done backwards. We all heal differently, so just b/c all I take are percs, doesn't mean he is taking too much. There are many factors that affect how we each heal: age, weight, health etc...I am 27, not overweight and fairly healthy. I have been showering by myself for over a week now and I am just about four weeks post op from a level two anterior posterior fusion of the lumbar spine, hardware too(I like the erector set analogy ) BUT, that doesn't mean ANYTHING. You have to look at what we were doing prior to surgery, I actually did quite a lot of stuff, that many of here couldn't do. That will make a difference. How long has he been doing PT? I wonder if he started too soon? Sorry your dr is such a butt hole. That can be damaging on it's own, to know the dr doesn't seem to care. The way the mind feels and thinks can affect how you feel and even heal. Sounds like it started off bad with his first post op day, and just hasn't gotten better. I think my meds are messin' with me, I can't seem to put any of this right. Well, I don't know what else I can say, except I am so sorry this has been such an unpleasant experience. I hope things get better soon for you both. How is he healing? Is he healing on track???? I am new to this world of fusions too, but there are so many out there who have a lot of great advice, so even though I can't be much help, someone here will be.

 
Old 01-12-2005, 06:01 PM   #3
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Wink Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Hi there, I am so sorry you and your husband are having such a hard time. Here is my experience:

I am 5 mo. post op, from a l4-l5 fusion. I still have imflamation of the muscles and have to be careful with what I do. Different Drs. have said differen things, but for me..he wouldn't let me take the oxy. past 3 wks. and off percs. by 6 wks. (I've heard others say they were on both for a longer period of time).

As for the constipation at the beginning, I think we all have gone through that. It is horrible. It's the side affect from the meds. Percs. I know for sure will do that. I am sorry it took such an affect on your husband. How is he doing with P/T? I've heard others who have had P/T this early...but as for me, the Dr. said not before 3 mos. and I know other's have said 4 mo. So, I guess it's all up to your Dr. If your Husband is doing ok with it..then that is wonderful. If he seems to be in a lot more pain because of it, you may want to bring that up w/ both the P/T and the surgeon. Both of mine have told me to do the excercises, but stop when it hurts. When I tell them that something hurts, they adjust my excercises.

Your hospital stay sounds a lot like mine. Luckily I had my mom there each day or I would have never gotten up for a walk, gotten a heating pad for my migrain (which lasted 3 days straight). One evening my mom had to leave for a couple of hrs. to pick up my kids and I was throwing up from the meds. The nurse didn't come in to clean me up or help me turn the entire time. She came in when she saw my mom get off the elevator. But, that is all behind us now, and thank God we had a family member there with us, huh?

As my Dr. and P/T keep telling me, this was a huge surgery and it could likely take a year for my muscles to get back to good working order. I think once your husband gets a few mo. of recovery behind him...he will see things a lot differently. Those first few mo. are almost unbearable. You will both be in my prayers. Keep us posted on your progress and post as often as you want.

Hugs and prayers,

Lorie
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Last edited by lfoster21; 01-12-2005 at 06:04 PM.

 
Old 01-12-2005, 07:59 PM   #4
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Rhonni HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

If he's actually NEEDING the medicine, it's not too long to be on them. Do know that sometimes, though, the meds tend to be causing some of the problem. This was the case with me.

As my doctor says (and I repeat here on a regular basis)...he had a huge hole in his body. It's going to take a LONG time to recuperate from that. (My doctor would actually be telling him "you're ONLY 5 WEEKS POST OP"

A lot of the pain is muscles screaming. Have him ask his PT to start him out with hot packs to lay on. It helps me tremendously. I go in aching at a 6 or 7 and am down to a 1 or 2 when I leave.

If he's on those meds, he should be taking a mild stool softener with them (not a laxative, but a stool softener). I would wash them down with a prune juice cocktail (1/2 prune juice 1/2 apple juice). Also stay away from cheeses and anything else that will bind him up.

Make sure he's walking...walking walking walking! I know it hurts.. but walk. And then in a few days extend the distance if even by a little. He's got to keep moving. Is he doing his PT exercises at home? ESSENTIAL for success.

Your hospital experience sounds miserable, but not uncommon anymore, unfortunately. At least that's behind you.

I do question how he's driving, but was only to do a shower for the first time by himself today. I'm thinking he's liking the shower attention (smile). Make sure you're giving him care and not pampering at this point. The more he does, the better he'll start feeling (even if he whines a bit). It's all in the attitude.

 
Old 01-12-2005, 11:57 PM   #5
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memawhurts HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Madonna,

I truly hope your husband can soon be painfree and I will keep him in my prayers. Recovery comes in many different forms and times. I am around 4 months postop for a 2 level PLIF, and am still taking Vicodin at times when the pain gets bad. But I believe I got the bad outcome that everyone is always warned about before surgery. You know the one about it could make it better, it could stay the same, or it could get worse. As of now I am still having basically the same pain as before my surgery, so I think I got the one bad apple in the bunch, lol. I'm not holding my surgeon responsible because he is very good at what he does, is very compassionate, and has told me we will keep trying until we find the problem.

Now as far as the bad experiences you guys had in the hospital, PLEASE don't hold it against all nurses. I have been through so much with my own health, I always try to put myself in my patients place. I try to treat them the way that I want to be treated. And you find one or two bad people in every occupation. You go through a fast food restaraunt and get a very rude person one day and the next day at the same place you get a very polite person. And to be perfectly honest with you I have worked with many rude and uncaring nurses before. And I know it is no excuse, but there is so much pressure placed on us, that this occupation is one you can get burned out on very quickly. It's all about how many patients they can put on one nurse now, so noone is able to give the care they would like to. Most of those rude nurses at one point were great and anyone would want to be taken care of by them.

Sorry, I didn't mean to go off on a tangent, I just want everyone to know that there are caring nurses left out there.

Best wishes
Memaw RN

 
Old 01-13-2005, 03:51 AM   #6
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lfoster21 HB User
Wink Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Hey Memawhurts, your are absolutely right about the nurses. Although I had a heck of an experience in the hospital...it was not the nurses that were to blame. These poor things had way way too many patients to tend to. The day nurses were truly greatful that I had someone to help me because they just couldn't keep up w/ everyone. They kept stepping in and apologizing...they just couldn't be everywhere at one time.

Anyone out there going into surgery...just try to prepare yourself by having a friend or family member with you and don't go in expecting a lot of 1 on 1. (And be nice to your nurses) .

Have a great day all,

Lorie
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Old 01-13-2005, 06:49 AM   #7
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Madonna HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Thanks everyone for your kind words. I feel much better now knowing someone understands and cares.

Now my husband and I understand why surgery is a last resort, because it truly is. My husband had taken all the shots and did all the physical therapy prior to the surgery, got an egg crate for the bed, and nothing worked. Then he had a discogram and it showed both discs were ruptured.

He is doing OK with the PT. They told him to ice his back because that would cut down on scar tissue. His neurosurgeon also told him to start PT as soon as possible to cut down on scar tissue. The neurosurgeon said while he was doing the surgery he found a lot of scar tissue from previous procedures he had done like cortizone injections and such. He also found two bone spurs that he removed.

My husband said once when he was in the hospital that he pushed the nurses button and it took them 45 minutes to bring him pain medication. He said that when you are hurting as bad as he was that 45 minutes feels like hours.

He will be off work for a total of eight weeks. He is starting to talk about the people at work now and I asked him about it and he said he was missing work. I think that is a good sign. He will feel better once he becomes productive again. He said now he feels bad because he isnt doing anything. I told him it was elective surgery and we decided together to have it done so we will get through it together. It is just so hard watching someone you love go through something like this because each pain hurts you twice as bad. But yes, I do agree with the other poster that he was enjoying the attention from the showers (tee hee).

I am so glad this board is here and I hope all of you have good outcomes from your surgeries and procedures. I will pray for all of you and I appreciate the kind words and supportive thoughts from you. Thank you.

 
Old 01-13-2005, 08:23 AM   #8
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Jessie1 HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Your husband is really fortunate to have such a supportive wife! A lot of partners are not that way, and I know you are making this recovery easier for your hubby. Try to stay positive, and not get too frustrated. Recovery from fusion is a long, long process, and everyone is different. Please know that you and your husband will be in my prayers!

Jessie

 
Old 01-13-2005, 09:11 AM   #9
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StMishl HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Hi! I am 4 weeks post op of a similar TLIF L4L5 (plus some "work" on L2-L3) with the "erector set" also. I am taking 10 mg oxycontin in the am and 20 mg oxy in the pm and either Tylonal 3 or Perc 2-3 x per day. As you can see - your hubby and I have quite a bit in common .

I had a set back on Sunday when I twisted/bent "WRONG" and now am dealing with increased inflamation. I am walking around the block 2x day, and this morning was my 1st drive (about 8 blocks, all side streets to Starbucks) - as yesterday the dr cleared me to drive very short distances. I have been showering by myself for about 1 1/2 weeks. I work at a desk job, and was told I could go back at 8 weeks, I have had some "at home pt" (leg exercises while sitting), but will not start PT for my back until 8 weeks. I too had tried the conservative stuff, including steroid injections prior to opting for the fusion.

You sound like a very supportive wife and he is VERY lucky to have you. Is hubby reading theses boards too?? Of course you are welcome too- And I know there are several other wives, husbands and Sig. others on board (I wish my hubby would read the boards!!) but he would probably find them helpful too!

Also (please don't take offense, this is only my personal experience) The one time my hubby refered to my fusion as an "elective surgery" I thought I would kill him . He said it jokingly, but to me, while it wasn't a "life or dealth" issue like heart surgery - I was in so much pain that the choice was a life of extreme pain and disability or the surgery. To call it "elective" made it sound like a boob job or something-- again, I'm sure you did not mean it that way, but its just how I took it when my hubby referred to my "elective" back surgery.

Again, welcome, and I hope I didn't offend you in any way, because I sure did not intend to.
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StMishl Failed Bk Fusion, facet joint/hip issues & RA -Wish I could Jump like him!

 
Old 01-13-2005, 11:53 AM   #10
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Madonna HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Dear StMishl:

No, I did not take offense to the "elective surgery" thing you said. All I was saying is that even though my husband was like you, absolutely HAD to have the surgery, he and I still made the decision together. But I know you already know that, so everything is OK with me about it.

Yes, the surgery is very serious business. I feel better knowing you are still taking just as much pain medicine. Well, I really am not glad, I wish you were not taking ANY pain medicine, but I do feel better knowing that his situation is not so unusual. I hope that came out OK

I hope you are feeling much better very soon. I will pray for you and I am glad you are going out for walks. I am sorry that you had a set back. But the walks will keep your spirits up. It feels nice to get outside for some fresh air and sunshine. Best wishes to you.

Thank you to everyone else that said you would pray for us, that was very kind.

 
Old 01-13-2005, 12:13 PM   #11
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Rhonni HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Sadly, the doctors and hospitals and insurance companies consider it elective surgery too...even when you are paralyzed and can't walk.

 
Old 01-13-2005, 09:51 PM   #12
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AlSmith HB User
Re: Five Week Post Op With Erector Set

Madonna, I wanted to echo a few things some folks have said. First, your husband is very fortunate to have someone who cares about him so much and is right there with him every step of the way. I also believe in the idea that if you are in pain, then take the meds. Ideally you don't want to have to take anything but right now, he needs it. In time, he will end up using less and less. I am sorry that you had to come here looking for answers but this is a great place to come and the people here are as good as gold.

I had a microdiscectomy about 5 months ago and I can relate to your husbands frustrations about feeling like he is not doing anything. Remind him his job right now is to get better. Keep a positive attitude and help your husband keep one too.

Alan

 
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