Backache has offered some great advice. I didnt know the advice about the nylon/soap deal. That is great advice. And others will also chime in as well and give you some great idea's.
As far as meds go......all docs do that differently. All people have differnt pain tolerances. My doc sent me home with percocets and flexeril and that was sufficient enough for me. It kept my pain under control. I did however end up on stronger meds after a severe nerve inflammation ordeal. But I am now in the process of weaning off all pain meds. So many of those meds cause terrible side effects and to me,, this is my own opinion, its better to get off all medication as soon as you feel no bad pain. Take it as long as you feel a need and then wean off.....ask your doc about the neurontin. I wasnt taking a nerve medication prior to surgery myself. As far as the incision, well, I can tell you what mine is, mine is about 4 inches long and it is on my lower abdomen. It depends on if its your back or abdomen as to what the incision will be. And also how many levels the doc is fusing. Help at home, well, I am married so my husband is here to help and also I have my mother and daughetr to assist. I needed help into the shower at first.....you will need assistance with things at first. I didnt need help too long myself. Everyone is so different though. I used a walker in the hospital to walk. I came home with 1 but I never used it. That too is an individual thing. I didnot have a toilet raiser. I just took my time sitting down and did ok. Some people need that but I just took my time and was ok. I, too, have several flights of starirs in my home. My doc said it was ok but to not go up and down stairs all day. I didnt really consider myself homebound. My doc said it was ok to ride in a car, ex. to go to walmart, that was ok. I think its best to get out as much as you can. Just dont over do it.Walking is the best thing in the world. WALK as much as you possibly can. i wished it wasnt snowing here cause I would be outside walking. My doc told me to walkkkkkkkk.....and so did my pain doc. It will help everything, the soreness, the circulation to the surgical sight. I was up the first night of my surgery. I had a xray shortly after surgery but I dont remember how many weeks post op I was. I just had an xray a couple days ago which was 6 weeks post op. Driving restriction, I was just released to drive and its been 6 weeks. So, I think thats pretty average but all docs restrictions are different. As far as when does your fusion fully fuse......all people are different on that as well. I think it could take up to a year to fully fuse on some people. The common restrictions after a fusion are no bending, lifting or twisting. My weight limit was nothing over 5 pounds. Again., all docs are different. But that is the common restrictions. And no driving of course.At 6 weeks post op, I was told to slowly increase the weight amount. I still cannot vacumm or mop. I will be so happy to have that 1 lifted ugh. As far as the hardware. I surely have no intentions of having mine removed unless it is medically necessary. I had a neck fusion years ago with the same hardware <plate,cages, screws> in my back and it is still there. Has caused me no probs at all. You can still have MRI's with the hardware. They mostly use titanium. Ive had a MRI since Ive had my back fusion due to the nerve flare up.
You can ask any question on this forum....many people will answer. No question is a silly or dumb question. It is much better to ask and get a good understanding on what you are fixing to go through. Of course, as i have said, it is so individual. But many of us that have been through it, can give our own experiences. Things such as the restrictions is pretty much the same. But some doctors are different. Just have a positive attitude
If you have any more question, I will be glad to answer the best I can......