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Old 11-27-2008, 07:23 PM   #1
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NLena HB User
Smile would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

I had lumbar fusion L4 L5 S1 with cadaver bone bmp discectomy on wednesday November 19th this year. Recovery is going better than I had expected. I still spend alot of time on my back but am walking and sitting long enought to eat at the table..had a pain med change and am doing better with them than the ones they released me with. First day home was excrusiating but progress is noticibly (by inches) happening..I am 8 days out and 5 days home. I would like to hear what your experiences with recovery are good and bad thank you
Lena

 
Old 11-28-2008, 09:13 AM   #2
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Hi Lena, and welcome to the board!

Congratulations on your "Grand Opening!" Sounds like you're doing great! Already sitting at the table long enough to eat? Wow, I couldn't do that for a couple of weeks, and even then it was hard. Keep it up!

One little word of warning: be careful not to overdo it. We've all done that at some point in our recovery. We start feeling a little better and think we can do more than we really should. And then we pay for it the next day! Take it easy, let your body have the time it needs to heal, and rest and walk, rest and walk, rest and walk. Walking gets blood circulating around the spine, which helps to get bone growth going, so that's real important.

Have you read the thread at the top called "post surgery tips?" It has lots of suggestions that will make your recovery easier. I hope you have a good quality grabber tool. That alone will make all the difference!

If you have specific questions we can help you with, please ask away. No question is too big or too small. We won't try to give you professional answers that only a doctor should give (we'll urge you to call your doc, though) and we won't sugarcoat anything. Some of us here have had this surgery already and hang around to help people like you, who are going through it now. I'm so thankful for the people here who helped me through!

I wish you the best as you continue in your recovery.

Blessings,
Emily

 
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Old 11-28-2008, 03:39 PM   #3
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Smile Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Thanks Emily,
It is good to know folks are out there that have experience with this. As far as overdoing it I think I might have in that a new pain inside my hip of all places is making it hard to walk. I laid low today hoping that resting would help it. Has any one else had hip pain during healing from this?. Another thing Im struggling with is constipation..(charming I know)...was warned about this as being the result of pain medication. I am taking a softener and a miralax once a day along with prunes...actually I like those..any other suggestions that dont make 'things' worse?..And Emily? how long till you felt like you were somewhat able to lead a normal life..not build a house or launch a boat but just do the day to day without constantly thinking ow eee.or I should laydown now;-)..thanks anyway and hope you all had a wonderful turkey day
my best
Lena

 
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Old 11-29-2008, 11:39 AM   #4
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Don't be embarassed about costipation.we've ALL been there...I had great success with a table spoon of milk of magnesia.....and a tiny glass of prune juice before bedtime......OR...3-4 dried figs or dates are also in season and taste great...even with some walnuts....great after a meal instead of something really sweet..

Good luck..be patient and go slowly.....rest as much as posssible and walk when you can..Also icing helped me too.

LAF

 
Old 11-29-2008, 06:40 PM   #5
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Hi Lena,
Yes, like LAF said, constipation goes hand in hand with pain meds. We all deal with it! I took Colace morning and evening and a few prunes in the afternoon. That worked well for me. And the prunes you can get now are actually pretty good, pitted and soft, not like those nasty dried up things we had to eat years ago.

For me, three months was my first big turning point when I started to feel human again. Six months was my next big turning point, when I felt like I could "do things" again. I hope that's not discouraging. It probably seems like a long time off for you right now. But really, don't fret. It'll come before you know it. Take it a day at a time. I should add that my recovery was probably harder than average, as I had a lot of levels done, 8 this time around. Hopefully, it will go quicker for you.

You will have ups and downs during your recovery, often for no apparent reason. Don't worry about it. It's normal. But if you have a drastic change, then you'll want to call your doctor and just make sure it's nothing to be concerned about. I kept a running list of questions for my next appt all the time. I also did have hip issues. It was after my hardware removal surgery, one year to the day after the fusion. I had one piece of hardware that was protruding and was very painful to lean on, so my doc took out just that one hook. After that, I had extreme pain in one hip for about six months. In retrospect, I believe it was nerve irritation. Nerve irritation takes a long time to calm down, but when it finally did, it hasn't been an issue since. You probably ought to ask your doctor about it when you see him next, just to be sure. If it gets worse, give him a call before then.

I hope you had a better day today. Please tell me you weren't out Christmas shopping this weekend!!!!

Keep in touch via the board.
Blessings,
Emily

 
Old 11-30-2008, 01:44 PM   #6
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Welcome!

youre doing very well for 10 days out!

just dont overdo it, let your body tell you when youve had enough. follow the docs orders to a "T" as far as bending, twisting, walking etc.

one thing that helps recovery wise and constipation wise is WALK! your doc should of told you walking is very important for your fusion to progress, it gets blood flow to the fusion area and stimulates the bone growth.

about 3 months out was a big turning point. I felt more confident in my movements and the pain was much better at that point. that was when I also got the TLSO back brace off and turned it into a cat toy.

feel free to ask any and all questions you may have, we cant substitute for your doctor but we have been where you are and will do our best to answer.
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back surgery in JUN 06 - two level ALIF (L3-4-5) with cages and BMP - SUCCESSFUL!

 
Old 11-30-2008, 03:59 PM   #7
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Thank you Zeroman and all! I have been doing my best to walk walk..but now with the snow and ice here its not going to be easy..I think I will do it in the garage. My friend constipation is easing a bit but good Lord the colace miralax prunes etc.and the pain in "going" ....is this what is going to be in my diet forever or it is just the pain meds. I do actually feel some places where there was pain before the fusion that no longer is here..I am so encouraged!..thanks again for all the support
Lena

 
Old 11-30-2008, 06:49 PM   #8
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

hi Lena!

the constipation is the pain meds.. as you cut down (and that may be a while) it will get better, and once youre done with them it will be fine. till then you may have to take that "stuff" to help out.

walking outside in this weather is going to be a problem, on snowy/icy days the risk of falling outweighs the benefits so in those situations just walk in circles in the garage I was lucky, I had mine in the summer.

old and new pains may come and go in the 1st few months, dont be discouraged if you have bad days. your body has just gone through major surgery and will need time to readjust.

just hang in there! we are here for you so post away
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back surgery in JUN 06 - two level ALIF (L3-4-5) with cages and BMP - SUCCESSFUL!

 
Old 11-30-2008, 08:33 PM   #9
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

I keep forgetting to ask this..my surg said about 5 minutes before the "lights went out on me" for surgery that he was going to use a bmp growth stimulator in the fusion areas because of my history of smoking..smoked for a long time before this and for about a month before (having no idea I could not use patches inhalers or anything having to do with nicotine to help me quit..(I almost went out of my mind on chantex) did cut down to 2 cigarettes in the month before surgery to prepare..hard to do when your will power is cut so deeply by the depression of being in agony all the time with your back...but thats another story..anyway he said that the bmp would assure a good fusion because of my past history of smoking. Did anyone else have this in their fusion? Also later I was told by the sugical nurse that most fusions are using this bmp whether smoking or not because of the great results..I have been meaning to ask folks if they have any recent info on this...thanks a bunch again..this board keeps me going..having a rough time tonite
Lena

Last edited by NLena; 12-01-2008 at 04:25 PM.

 
Old 12-01-2008, 01:03 AM   #10
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

they used BMP on me also. I had no bone put in, just titanium cages (LT- Cage) between the levels. they soaked BMP in dissolvable gauze and stuffed them with it and also applied BMP around the levels.

I had my last smoke 3 hours before I went in. I was a pack a day smoker till then. like you I was very nervous about it and they wanted me to STOP?? Riiiight.. I stopped after the surgery.

the big thing is that if youre currently smoking, STOP NOW. the 1st few months after the surgery are critical, the bones dont even start to fuse for many weeks, months even. at this stage in the game fibers are forming between the levels that are the foundation for later bone growth. smoking will hinder these fibers from forming and the later bone growth due to low blood oxygen.

smoking during the recovery period has been [B]proven[/B] in multiple studies to reduce chances of successful fusion by something like 10%. but note its the smoking during the recovery period thats the big no no. prior smoking isnt a huge impact, but smoking [B]now[/B] is.

dont mean to scare you, I smoked for 30 years, right up to the morning of the surgery. and my fusion was perfect. but STOP NOW if youre still smoking.

by the way BMP isnt just used for smokers, its just a Very Good Thing when it comes to stimulating bone growth.. that stuff rocks!
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back surgery in JUN 06 - two level ALIF (L3-4-5) with cages and BMP - SUCCESSFUL!

 
Old 12-03-2008, 09:35 AM   #11
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Thank you Zeroman. Its now 2 weeks post op and I can tell you that a dangerous thing seems to be creeping into my life..a mixed blessing I suppose..Im doing things without thinking that I am not supposed to be doing such as grabbing the bottle of tide which I know (when Im thinking anyway) to be heavier than a gallon of milk and twisting slightly to avoid running into a door or some such. Im trying to be good and want to follow instructions to the letter but I guess Im feeling better so Im not thinking about every move. I need to be better about that. Today Im also supposed to pull off the gazillion steri strips over the incision (having hubby do that tonite) as instructed 10-14 days from surgery. I have to tell you these things are not loose at all and seem to be just like they were put on yesterday..not looking forward to that..but all in all Im doing a bit better every day..stronger and not so tired. Resting is getting old fast..boring is creeping into my thinking but I try to remember that I am doing this so I dont have to have all the pain and depression I did before and look forward to a more comfortable life. Thank you all for your support and please let me know how all of you are doing post op fusion...how you are feeling mentally and physically...my best to all of you Lena

 
Old 12-04-2008, 06:47 PM   #12
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Please be patient Lena...You have just had MAJOR surgery..Whatever you do don't smoke..it's not worth it and it will be difficult to fuse and you don't want to go thru this again..do you....

Try a tablespoon of milk of Magnesia before bedtime....once you cut back on pain meds this will subside...

Even though you feel better.........make sure you continue to take it easy....make sure others help you...Have them portion the Tide in small cups....also make sure you DON'T take the wet heavy laundry out of the machine yourself...DO you have a graber...take only the light pieces, undies socks etc out..NEVER the towels.

I know how frustrated/helpless you can feel but remember that most of us had back injuries to begin with because we are "doers" always moving, lifting.
etc. etc remember patience is a virtue....Read the books you never made time for..listen to music...have you family play cards or games with you...

Keep a journal......write down all the things you couldn't do before surgery and realize how much better you already feel...But whatever you do don't rush it....many great people on the boards kept reminding me...so it's my turn to remind you.

For me it's been 10 months since a one level PLIF...I'm 75-80%..I still get a bit depressed I can't do what I did 10 years ago..but grateful my intense pain is gone...I can walk 2 miles and can stand longer than a minute....Grateful the distance I have come...You will be too..Be patient.

Happy Holidays...

LAF in Old Greenwich CT

Last edited by laf761; 12-04-2008 at 06:48 PM.

 
Old 12-09-2008, 09:21 PM   #13
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Thank you all for your replies, It is now 3 weeks post op of my fusion and there are good things to report and odd things too. I have my constipation a bit more under control with the prunes and miralax and an occasional delish milk of mag *(kidding that stuff is awful but gets results). I can sit now for longer than 10 minutes without being in too much pain, walking is better although that was frankly pretty good all along. Im still not able to go much longer than the 4 hours (as prescribed) without the pain meds..and I still take the valium so I can sleep at night..went down to 2 pillows instead of the multitudes in bed..poor dear hubby never complained about it. But different things are now concerning me..when on my back like on the couch I feel like something is wrinkled up underneath me like a shirt in a wrinkle or a blanket ridged under me..its not of course but I would guess its the fusion and that feeling of something in there not right. Others here have called it having a log in my back feeling and I think that might be it. Also the weather here is ice and snow so walking outside is a no no for me..if I had a choice to do this and knowing how important walking would have been to my recovery and boredom I would have chosen to do it when the weather would have at least been safe for me to walk..but choice of when was not an option here so I try to keep that in mind. I have strange pains crop up that come and go like in my hips and buttocks even my left shoulder and bottom of my foot..they come they go. I think the worst of all of this is the boredom and depression of the hoidays and not being my old "get the tree up and all the cookies made write all the cards bring out the "good" dishes and plan a dinner for the family" self. I had no idea how sad that would make me. Today I got a lesson in how little I know my new stamina. Fighting the boredom and the lack of safe walking space I asked my son to take me to the thrift store (its huge and I love thrifting) to walk and look around and just be out of the house..I told him oh go to get coffee and breakfast Ill be just fine for an hour or so...WELL 30 minutes later I was on the cell phone saying..Im done.I hit the wall..he had gone to get the coffee and was sitting outside in the parking lot cause instead of telling me that an hour or so was ridiculous he just figured it was better to not argue...guess I did a good job on him to be so smart. Im not as strong as I think I am and have to adjust my thinking about just what Im able to do.
Please post here and let me know how your recovery s are going I love to hear how you are doing and would like nothing better to be supportive if I can to anyone else who needs it. Thanks so much for the powers that provide this..it is invaluable to me to read...thank you
healing up hopefully
Lena

 
Old 12-09-2008, 11:55 PM   #14
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

I had plif in June and right now the biggest problem I am having is the pain from walking.
My left leg is still numb from hip to my foot and foot numb. But the pain of walking is worse. The doctor said it was severe muscle spasms may take up to a year to go away.
I wish I could find somethng that would help me thru it but so far 2 different pain medicine hasnt helped.
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:51 AM   #15
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Re: would anyone like to share recent lumbar fusion recovery progress?

Hi there and sorry to hear about your pain..was this hip and leg numbness present before the surgery or since? and if it is spasms as your doctor says wouldnt walking be the best thing for that? and if the pain medication is not covering you enough to walk would it be something to consider to call the doc again and say that? I have been warned by my doc and folks here that fusion is a long long recovery with ups and downs..for me, patience is something I find hard to come by..hope you feel better soon..Lena

 
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