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Old 03-11-2010, 04:19 AM   #1
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Some Questions about surgery and recovery

I have a couple of questions about my surgery that probably won't be until November because I only joined a health fund 4 months ago and have to wait for the 12 month exclusion for pre-existing ailments. It will probably be a 2 level fusion or if at all possible I would like to talk to the Neurosurgeon about a disc replacement at L4-L5 and fusion at L5-S1 but that is only a speculation at present.

I wondered how long I might expect to be in hospital and will I have to be able to sit in the car to go home?

Also how long will it be before I will be able to get around the house safely on my own?

I am also unsure of what sort of physio or rehabilitation I will be needing and if that will start while I am in hospital?

Also will I be able to sit in the car to go to physio and doctors etc?

It seems to me that it will be a problem as I have trouble sitting for very long even now. I have to lay on the couch or recline right back on the lounge to watch TV and I can barely sit in a dining chair long enough to eat my dinner. So I am imagining it being very difficult to get out in the car much. I might have to get my doctor to come and see me to get my scripts etc.

The wait until I have surgery is still about 8 months but the time is flying by and I am saving for any extra expenses that will definitely pile up even with my insurance, So I should have a couple of $K by then.

My parents have told me that they will come and stay here to look after me after I get home. I have an on-suite here so it's not far to the loo and my shower. I am very lucky to have them to care for me and later on as I get a bit better I'll probably go stay with them until I can look after myself. We try to help each other when we can.

I know it is early to be asking questions but I feel like I want to be a bit prepared and also I am wondering what I am getting myself into. Not that I have a choice as things are getting progressively worse. The pain is moving from the centre of my back now out to my hips and down through my butt into the back of my thighs and if I do anything physical at all I have terrible shooting pain up my spine that is the worst pain and burning sensation I have experienced. I just wish they would do something sooner but they only call it an emergency if I was to become incontinent or lose feeling and/or control of my bowels. It hasn't got that bad yet so I have to wait.

I would appreciate any advice and answers to at least some of my concerns.

Thanks, Allan.

 
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:11 AM   #2
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Hi Allan,

I can answer only some of your questions because i am 3 weeks post op from L5 S1 fusion but there are others here that can help much better than i can. All i can tell you is what i have been through, I was in hospital for three days and i wont suger coat anything about this surgery it has been rough it is a very slow recover and quite painful they will get you up and walking while in hospital and if you have stairs where you live they will make sure you can go up and down before they release you.

Make sure you have a talk with your doc before you do this about pain management after you get home for me it took almost a week before the doc wrote me a scrip for something that helped so he first 4-5 days were the worst pain i have ever had.

When they let you go home you can sit or if you have a big enough car you can lay down, there is a sticky at the top of the first page with post op tips read this it has so many helpful tips lots of great ideas. You will need someone to help you for awhile cant say how long just depends on how it goes for you, you might need a walker when you leave the hospital, and you may or may not need a brace in my case i did not need a brace and no walker but i do use a cane. I hope that i answered some of your questions but like i said there are others hear that can help more than i can since i am so early into this. Good luck...Kellie

 
Old 03-11-2010, 06:28 AM   #3
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

[COLOR="Navy"]Allan,

You will need help when you come home from the hospital. I would plan on having someone with you for the first couple weeks at least until you get back up on your feet. This is major surgery and it takes time for those nerves and muscles to settle down and heal. You will be instructed that there is to be no BLT..and take that to heart. You don't want to jepardize all the work that your surgeon has done.

You will be able to ride home in the car. A large trash bag put on the seat will make it easy for you to pivot in and out of the car. They will give you a dose of pain meds before you leave so that they will take effect and you will have pain coverage for the ride home.

Make sure that you have your scripts before you leave the hospital.You will want them filled so you have them on hand. Don't try to tough it out without something for the pain. Your body needs to heal and it doesn't need to be fighting pain at the same time. And remember to stay on top of the pain, otherwise it will take longer for your meds to take effect.

Use the stickies at the top of the page for ideas..such as getting a grabber tool. it is a godsend when you drop something and need to pick it up. You might want a riser for your toliet so it isn't so difficult to get up and down.
If you have handles in your shower - great! Otherwise there are ones that are suction placed that can help with your balance when bathing and getting in and out of the shower....

Good luck![/COLOR]

Last edited by ibake&pray; 03-11-2010 at 06:29 AM.

 
Old 03-11-2010, 07:02 AM   #4
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Thanks for your advice and just being here for me. I hope to be here a bit more in future. I am generally over at Chronic Pain. Sorry BLT? Allan

 
Old 03-11-2010, 07:13 AM   #5
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

[COLOR="Navy"]LOL......Sorry. No Bending, Lifting, or Turning.[/COLOR]

 
Old 03-11-2010, 07:16 AM   #6
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

1.15 am here still can't sleep over tired just a pain in the butt. Allan

 
Old 03-12-2010, 05:07 AM   #7
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Finely got to sleep about 4.30am and was up at 8.30am so I'm tired tonight. I know I am not here much but I will be around for some time so if you don't feel like jumping in I will ask the questions again at a later date. Bye for now. Allan

 
Old 03-13-2010, 02:45 PM   #8
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Hi Allan, and welcome to the back board. You've come to a good place for answers and support. There are lots of us here who have similar problems. My issue is different from most people on here, but the treatment was the same: fusion. I have 14 fused vertebrae, done in two separate surgeries 30 years apart. The last one was 2 1/2 years ago and was 8 levels.

I won't sugarcoat this. It's a huge surgery with a long, hard recovery. But that said, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. It was worth every second of pain! I'm officially disabled now, but I'm still so much better off than I was before this last surgery. My pain then couldn't even be touched with pain meds. I'm more restricted now, with so many levels fused, but my pain is more easily managed with pain meds.

You've already gotten some good answers here, but I'll try to add some more. And please ask whatever questions you have. It's not too early to plan and prepare. The more you can prepare ahead of time, the easier your recovery will be. And that's just wonderful that your parents are able to come and help you for a while! I COULD have taken care of myself after surgery, but it's so much easier if someone can help. My boys brought me breakfast and lunch in bed for the first couple of weeks. My husband works long hours, but he helped as he was able. I did not need help getting into the bathroom at all. It was hard, but I could manage by myself. You might want to look into a raised toilet seat. It's hard to get up and down. I put a satiny type bottom sheet on my bed so I could slide to turn over and to get to the edge of the bed to get up. It made it much less painful. That's the same principle that Ibake&pray was talking about with the plastic bag on the seat of the car. You don't have to fight friction. Trust us. With an incision, you'll be glad you can slide!

Speaking of getting up from bed, I took advantage of being up any time I needed to use the bathroom and walked, walked, walked. You need to walk to get blood circulating around the spine, and that's essential for getting fusion going, so try to walk as much as you're able to tolerate. At first, that was only about 10 minutes at a time for me. But I gradually added a tiny bit each day. Then lay back down and rest! Your body needs to get lots of rest in order to heal well. Put new batteries in your remotes and plan to be a lazy bum for a while, with our blessing and encouragement!

I was able to sit in the car okay to ride home from the hospital. The orderly insisted that I keep the pillow he wheeled me down with and helped to prop me with it. For follow-up appts, I had my son drive me the first couple of times. He only had a learner's permit, but he was a gem, being so careful not to go over bumps too fast and braking so gently.

Make sure you read the sticky at the top of the page called "post surgery tips." It has a ton of great suggestions that will help you. And whatever else comes to mind as you see doctors and prepare yourself, post again and ask. No question is too big or too small, and there's no question that's "stupid." If it's important to you, ask! We know what it's like to be going into this. It helps a lot to know what to expect.

I wish you the best and I hope this will give you your life back!

Blessings,
Emily

 
Old 03-13-2010, 03:51 PM   #9
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Thank you Emily I don't always get good responses to my questions but I suppose there are all types here. I really am hoping that this surgery will improve my quality of life as the last 10 years have been not so hot though I have achieved a lot in removing alcohol and smoking from my life. But I also went through a divorce. That almost sent me to the funny farm but I pulled myself out of that place with the help of my family, councillors and AA. Now all my problems are about pain and emotions. I had one more relationship but I just can't be there for anyone now as my own life takes some doing. I am in so much pain and on a roller-coaster that sees me with periods of agony and occasional relief when I feel semi-human for short periods time but next thing I do something to send me spiralling out of control. The good times don't last long normally but I hope things will be a little better for my butt and legs at least. This now has become worse than the lower back pain that dominated my life for a long time.
I am taking note of all the advice. Anyway I am talking about myself to much so I will get off. Thanks Allan

 
Old 03-14-2010, 03:15 PM   #10
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Allan, you're not talking too much about yourself at all! That's what this board is for! We've all had our times of need, and this is yours!

It sounds like you're slowly getting your life under control. You've been through the wringer, but you're going to come out on the other side with a new start and a new improved body. One thing at a time. The divorce had to have been hard, to say the least. But getting rid of the alcohol and smoking, man, I don't know you but I'm so proud of you! Those are both very difficult to kick. You'll only be stronger for getting rid of them, and not just physically! Now you know you have it in you to do what needs to be done! After succeeding with those, this surgery will be a cinch for you! (Okay, maybe not a cinch. It IS gonna be painful for a while, no getting around that. But you have the strength to overcome!)

Everything won't change overnight, but I bet a year from now you'll look back and be amazed at how much you've changed and how much better your life is.

Keep in touch and let us know how you're doing.

Emily

 
Old 03-14-2010, 06:30 PM   #11
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Thanks Emily I love when someone responds to my thread I don't always get understanding people here that is why I mostly stay on the Chronic pain board. I do like to come here though because of the experience here with back surgery. I do feel I need support and that is how I got through alcohol and smoke addiction. I had a good sponsor who actually had a 2 disc replacement back about 2 years ago. So he also helped me control my pain.
But now I am on my own and it is easy to get lost on your own. So I have been seeking that support here. I know it works and I will seek out the help I need. I am trying to loose some weight and get a little exercise to stay mobile but when I am at home on my own it is easy to blow out my efforts. I have been given the name of a naturapath slash chiropractor and I am going to give him a call to see if he can help otherwise I will find a physio to start preparing myself and maybe motivate me to stay on a good diet.
As you mentioned I have been through a lot over the years and I am fairly resilient to punishment so I believe I will get through the surgery ok. I worked as a concreter for about 15 years, and not just anyone can do that as it can be absolute torture. I did it those last 5 years in quite a lot of pain for my wife and I to have a good life when I didn't really want to be doing it and my body was telling me give up. But I went on with it and I pay for it now.
Anyhow that was the past and I am working towards bettering my life now and hope to one day be some sort of normal. It will not be easy but I have my parents and some others to help me and you guys of course.
Some here have very little faith in me and don't agree with my plans and medication etc but I have to brush them off and try not to over react. But sometimes I get angry but I will try not too, and stay positive in the chooses I have made and in the Neurosurgeon I have found.
Thanks for your support. Allan
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25-Nov-2010: ALIF fusion L5-S1. 9 years of Chronic lower back pain. Nearly 18 months of pain across my upper pelvis, through my butt and down my left leg into my foot. Sciatica relieved by surgery.

 
Old 03-14-2010, 07:40 PM   #12
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Hi Allan,

I really dont know how you have delt with the kind of pain that you have for so long i delt with mine about three years and was about to lose my mind. It is a very good thing that you like your surgen sucks that you have to wait till november but you now have the time to plan for everything. I am 4 weeks post op from L5 S1 fusion and now i wont say that it has been easy because it has been really bad the first 2 weeks were the worst pain every week after that gets a little better.
I still have alot of leg pain and my foot is kinda numb i have hope that this will too get better. Sitting still haveing probs with that so alot of walking and laying down.

I understand where you are coming from about some people here that think you are just jumping into surgery no one here wants surgery but when you have tried everything else and it does not work this is last resort. I truly hope you will be all fixed up and try to get back to a normal life what ever normal is for me not sure what normal will be been so long just want to get back to living my life. Good luck to you and hope to chat more we all need someone to vent to every so often. Have a good night...Kellie

 
Old 03-15-2010, 06:15 AM   #13
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Thanks Kellie, I have been going through this a long time and I still don't know how I don't loose my mind. I have come close sometimes but as I have learned that a man can cry I have done a fair bit of that at times. It does help letting all the emotions come to the surface and let go of them.

The pain is just relentless and I haven't meet very many people that are going through this apart from those here. I do understand that no one who hasn't been through this could even imagine what it is like to be in constant pain with peaks and different levels that are not predictable they can come at any time. And if you don't have the medication to control it then it is off to hospital for emergency treatment. I was taken to hospital in an ambulance several times before I could get the BT meds I need sometimes, more than others. It is so unpredictable.

But sometimes I just know I have overdone it and that is happening with less activity now than 6 months ago. So there is very little I can do before I am in trouble. So I have had to take it very easy. But that causes me to put on weight so I am now trying to diet for the first time in my life. I don't know if I will loose much weight before the operation but I imagine I will loose some afterwards.

I expect to do some sort of rehabilitation after, so I am researching were I can find the treatment I will need. Thankfully the insurance I have will make it easier to find somewhere and I plan to walk and exercise as much as I will need to. I do want to have the best outcome I can with the help of a physio or wherever I can arrange to do rehab.

Thanks for listening and I appreciate your positive feedback.

Allan
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25-Nov-2010: ALIF fusion L5-S1. 9 years of Chronic lower back pain. Nearly 18 months of pain across my upper pelvis, through my butt and down my left leg into my foot. Sciatica relieved by surgery.

 
Old 03-15-2010, 10:17 AM   #14
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

Allan, I just got a treadmill that a friend wasn't using and needed to get rid of. I happened to mention it to the right person at the right time, that I needed exercise but was limited, not only in what I can do but also because I take care of my MIL, who has Alzheimer's and can't be left alone. She's in day care two days a week, so I get to the gym on those days for a very careful workout. I found that walking on the treadmill is good exercise because I can hold on, so I can go a little faster than I could if I just walked outside. I still go pretty slow, my full speed being about what everyone else's warm up speed is, but I'm not there to impress anyone or win any awards!

What I'm so thrilled about with this treadmill in my own house is that I can walk whenever I want and for how long I want and can get right off and go lay down if I need to. It gives me a way to exercise with a lot of flexibility. (Funny how I use that word so much now that I'm completely inflexible physically! )

Wishing you nothing but the best,
Emily

P.S. I know what you mean about some people not really understanding. I just ignore those people. There are plenty of others who do understand. Some of those who seem to be rather unhelpful, though, really do mean well. They're just a bit clueless. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes it's best to just move on to others. No one who doesn't have serious back issues can really "get" it!

 
Old 03-19-2010, 07:36 PM   #15
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Re: Some Questions about surgery and recovery

I am really upset at the moment as my sister is on my case again. She just said to me that she had a big operation a hysterectomy and she was back at work in 2 weeks. Also she continues to relay things from her Asian boss who had a double fusion some years ago. His latest statement is that I should not rely on other people to much and I should do most things myself because you don't want to get used to depending on others. I have already arranged for my parents to come and stay for a week or two to help after surgery but I am thinking now that I might go there instead. It has really hurt me and I just feel like packing up my things and leaving. It is hard because I am not able to work and my sister always has worked and also her partner. I have not always been able to as my problems with alcohol and self esteem in the past has kept me from keeping a good job for longer than 2 years. I know I am not perfect like she is and I don't know what I have to do to be able to call this my home. I am starting to feel that I have not got it in my to cope with this for long. But I have no where else to go. She has confronted me again and and is telling me that she doesn't want to hear me talking about my back all the time and I do understand how hard it is for her as well listening to me grunting and groaning when I get up out of a chair or sitting down at the table. She has her son and daughter in law coming from England to stay for 2 weeks and she is on her high but that is getting me down as well. I don't have anything else to talk about only my pain or my guitars but she hates that I by things of ebay so I have to keep that to myself. I use the computer and she thinks talking to people here is dragging me back and not making me positive. I have a boat but can't go out in it. I can't go out much as it causes me so much pain.
What do I do? Maybe I should go to a Psychiatrist and try to get help to stop me talking about my back and to try to help me not be scared or worried about the surgery. I just don't know. I want to see a physio to get some info on what I should be doing but I am in so much pain that anything I do only aggravates the nerves that are compressed.
If anyone has any ideas for me please help as I am nearly at breaking point.
Allan
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25-Nov-2010: ALIF fusion L5-S1. 9 years of Chronic lower back pain. Nearly 18 months of pain across my upper pelvis, through my butt and down my left leg into my foot. Sciatica relieved by surgery.

 
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