I had a minor back surgery in 2009 - micro-d, hemi-lami, and foramentomy L5-S1. Currently (same level) my Xrays show vacuum disc phenomenon (not sure what this is), MRI reveals severe forminal stenosis, worse on left secondary to both foraminal narrowing and a bulging disc which is quite degenerative and collapsed. An ALIF was recommended in Oct. 2010, I wanted to wait and I also was in denial. Received second opinion stating the ALIF would be the preferred surgery. I am scheduled for an ALIF in May, and I want to know what I can do and if I should purchase any items before the surgery to make my 6 week post op period easier and less stressful. I live in a two story home, no bedroom on the first floor, just very uncomfortable couch and chairs and I also have two large dogs (not the best behaved for me - only my husband). I have a toilet seat riser, separate handicap handrails for toilet, bath seat and a cane.
I am going into this with the impression that it will only be an ALIF with a peek cage and screws for fixation. There is a possibility of a 360 with rods for support. Also my L4-L5 has a bulge - MRI is from Oct 2010, I have had two falls since then. My feet get numb, and my legs are not as strong. I just want to heal fast and do it right this time around. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Before addressing your concerns I am curious about two things. Were you told why ALIF was the preferred approach to your fusion surgery? If stenosis is your main "issue," that seems like an interesting choice to me.
Also, were you told your recovery period would be six weeks?
Many people who have had lumbar fusions have two story houses with the bedrooms on the second floor. They will not release you to home until you can climb the number of stairs that are necessary for you to be able to take care of yourself. You won't want to make many trips per day at the beginning, but you will be able to make the trip a couple times per day.
I set up a twin bed in our den and used it during the day. I would just go upstairs at night and come back down in the morning. I also have two big dogs and I didn't want them downstairs all day long while I was upstairs recovering. The bed was great because I could recline when I wasn't sitting up for meals or walking, and I felt like I was in the midst of the household activity.
You will find a "stickie" note near the top of the page of the back board entitled "post surgery needs" (or words to that effect!) It is a very complete list of things other people have found useful post surgery. Obviously, you do not need everything on the list, but it does get you thinking about what your life will be like as a recovering patient, and how you might want to arrange your space, and what you might want to have near you.
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to teteri66 For This Useful Post: dee289 (06-10-2011), Pandorasback (03-03-2011)
My surgeon told me that the L5 S1 level is easier to access from the front for returning disk height with a cage and that using the cage will return some height back between the vetabraes that are just about sitting on top of each other. Does this sound strange to you? I had previous back surgery and he stated that the recovery would be quicker and less painful if he didn't have to go through previously operated tissue since it is the same level. He seems very comfortable with Alif’s and only works with one particular vascular surgeon that he has worked with for many years. He did say min. of 6 weeks off work until I can return part time (could be more).He never mentioned to me that he might have to do a 360 - I happen to work with this doctor in a medical records position, so I know "what you believe you will be having can change by the end of the surgical procedure". Since I have a bit of a "worry wart" personality, I feel my Dr. speaks with reserve. He has a very conservative and serious personality; I am comfortable with his experience as a Spinal Surgeon and hope I have made the right decision. Anyone out there go in for a one level fusion ALIF and not receive it due to complications with the vascular surgeon moving organs or major arteries?
Last edited by Pandorasback; 03-03-2011 at 08:19 PM.
Reason: additional info, question
Hey doll i had alif on nov 1 2010 and if i can tell you anything stairs will be hard and silk pj's are a must they help you move in bed better and walk walk walk it will help you so much! and i also used a walker for the first 10 days or so i was home i used it to help get up from couch and i know everyone heals different but at 6 weeks there was no way i could of went back to work im at 4 months and just 2 weeks ago started pt! you have to take it slow and make sure you have a stool softner and fiber bars! the surgery has helped me best of luck to you
The Following User Says Thank You to jeanniebugs For This Useful Post: Pandorasback (03-28-2011)
Sometimes a specific approach is done because the surgeon is most comfortable working that way, or has had particularly good experience with it. Other surgeons go by the person's anatomy and specific issues and make a decision that way. I'm sure the decision is not quite this cut and dried...but, you get the idea.
I too suspect your surgeon is being a bit optimistic when he says you can go back to work in six weeks. I suppose it is possible, but will you really want to? Most of us are not comfortable sitting for too long at six or even eight weeks....
Good luck with your procedure.
The Following User Says Thank You to teteri66 For This Useful Post: Pandorasback (03-28-2011)
Thanks so much for your reply, I will be using a friend's walker (he had a 2 level alif 360) almost one year ago. I appreciate hearing about your experience, I went back to work 2weeks after my micro-d, hemi-lami and foraminotomy procedure, and it was too soon - I had many tachycardia runs - not from the surgery but from pain and pushing it too much. My surgery is coming up in about a month, I meet with the vascular surgeon in a couple of weeks. This board has been so helpful and I'm glad to have found it.
Last edited by Pandorasback; 03-28-2011 at 05:44 PM.
hey doll 6 weeks will be too soon to go back after alif i was just cleared to be in a car at 6 weeks and at 4 months i was allowed to go to pt and he said in another 4 months he might release me to go back to work! im a waitress and on my feet all day and i fly all over opening new resturants and when w e go on opens we work 70 hrs a week ..... if you can take all the time you can and goo slow! and member where all here for ya
This Is My Life NOT MY PAINS!! I Will Not Let You Take It!!
Something I still use is a satin sheet and slippery PJ's as it is difficult to move around in bed. You will spend a fair bit of time there as we can only sit maximum 30 minutes. That is still the case for me 4 months into recovering. But if I get up and walk around I can sit again for a while. I use a laptop computer because it is just to painful to sit at a desktop computer unless you have a really good seat. It is easier for me to spend any time on the computer with it on my lap and lots of pillows behind me and a big one under my knees.
That is the other thing a couple big pillows are great, one between my knees when laying on my side. I use a large wedge shapes foam to support my back. Just have to be careful how much pressure is on my butt.
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.
The Following User Says Thank You to allanbruce For This Useful Post: Pandorasback (03-29-2011)
I really appreciate the posts, I was wondering if any of you may have had significant clicking in your back before your surgery. It feels like a knuckle popping - but worse. It started about 5 months ago, when I move, reach, slightly bend I can feel it in my lumbar - no pain with the pop. Now it happens daily, I can't even count the times. I asked my surgeon a few times about it, he asked if it hurts when it happens, my reply no, he said not to worry about it. Did you have anything similar to this? I know my surgery is right around the corner, I hurt - work through my pain - not sure if I should worry about this irritating symptom or not.
[QUOTE=Pandorasback;4718275]I really appreciate the posts, I was wondering if any of you may have had significant clicking in your back before your surgery. It feels like a knuckle popping - but worse. It started about 5 months ago, when I move, reach, slightly bend I can feel it in my lumbar - no pain with the pop. Now it happens daily, I can't even count the times. I asked my surgeon a few times about it, he asked if it hurts when it happens, my reply no, he said not to worry about it. Did you have anything similar to this? I know my surgery is right around the corner, I hurt - work through my pain - not sure if I should worry about this irritating symptom or not. [/QUOTE]
I had a popping or clicking as you called it and i was told by my nero that it was my disk griding against bone but with mine it was awful pain! so be happy that there is no pain with it!......stay tough!!! anyone who deals with this crap is a tough cookie! ill keep you in my prayers keep your head up and be strong
This Is My Life NOT MY PAINS!! I Will Not Let You Take It!!
The Following User Says Thank You to jeanniebugs71 For This Useful Post: Pandorasback (03-29-2011)
Getting major anxiety with my alif surgery date coming up fast, May 9th. I am going for pre-op with my general md today, vascular surgeon on Friday, and one last pre-op meeting with my ortho next week. My ortho made a comment to me the other day stating "there might be a change in the plans" (for my surgery) and he'll discuss this with me next week. I work with him in an ortho office and my anxiety has just skyrocketed. My pain has increased (back, butt, thighs, calves and feet), so I want to be fixed, all of a sudden I am scared to death. I'm sorry to play my violin pity party here, but I don't want to tell my husband how I feel because he can be a real train wreck when it comes to my pain and my health. Anyone else have this pre-op downer debbie symdrome right before surgery? 13 days to go
[QUOTE=Pandorasback;4740093]Getting major anxiety with my alif surgery date coming up fast, May 9th. I am going for pre-op with my general md today, vascular surgeon on Friday, and one last pre-op meeting with my ortho next week. My ortho made a comment to me the other day stating "there might be a change in the plans" (for my surgery) and he'll discuss this with me next week. I work with him in an ortho office and my anxiety has just skyrocketed. My pain has increased (back, butt, thighs, calves and feet), so I want to be fixed, all of a sudden I am scared to death. I'm sorry to play my violin pity party here, but I don't want to tell my husband how I feel because he can be a real train wreck when it comes to my pain and my health. Anyone else have this pre-op downer debbie symdrome right before surgery? 13 days to go [/QUOTE]
Keep your head up hon i promise you it will all be OK!!! have faith in your surgeon's and IN YOURSELF!!!!!!!!..........You be strong and don't let the pain win!.....You have to take it one day at a time and after a few weeks you will be on the road to be PAIN FREE!!!!!!!!!! It's scary but you will be ok huggssssssss
This Is My Life NOT MY PAINS!! I Will Not Let You Take It!!
The Following User Says Thank You to jeanniebugs71 For This Useful Post: Pandorasback (04-26-2011)
It's okay to be scared and it's okay to have a pity party now and then! We spiny's have a lot to deal with and sometimes it can become overwhelming. It's misery to have to think about something a doctor says because you have to wait to have it explained, so your mind just goes round and round and round with possibilities.
At times like this, all we can do is wait and trust. I'm sure the doctor didn't mean to scare you out of your wits, but then, he isn't the one facing a change in plans! I won't even try to tell you not to be nervous or upset, because I know I would be too. But I will say this....if you believe in your doctor, then it helps to tell yourself that he will only do what he believes is right for your case and that it will turn out well.
As for going back to work in 6 weeks, OMG, I can't imagine it! That soon after major surgery, you are just beginning to feel like things are getting better. I have never been released to even sit in a car for 6 weeks, and not allowed to drive for 6 more. Your long term spine health is much at risk in those first few months so it is wise to be careful and proceed slowly.
I sure hope that you will let us know what news the doctor has and what he plans to do.
Hang in there and try to stay positive....as best you can.
Lumbar surgery x 7 over the last 30 years.
cervical fusion...2 levels
medtronic pain pump implanted
Last surgery Oct, 2010, 3 levels
The Following User Says Thank You to maltluver For This Useful Post: Pandorasback (04-26-2011)
Hello Everyone I just wanted to post an update - I am almost 1 month post op and couldn't be happier with my decision to have this surgery. It has not been the easy in the last month, but praise the Lord, I have strength in my legs that I had lost, and the pain is not as severe, and I continue to pray it will continue to get better as my body slowly heals. All of your posts were so very, very helpful to me - I took each one seriously and I am grateful for this board. My hospital stay was 5 days - I didn't sleep the night before surgery, and day of surgery -other than surgical time - I think my PCA wired me beyond sleep ability - also I had a room mate that had a revolving door of visitors and stayed up all night talking out loud and crying. My second day after surgery, I had a major breakdown from sleep deprivation and pain - I went into a minor shock - they moved me into a private room. Then the hospital lost all running water on the floor I was on - the worst part was the construction crew worked at night - 10 pm to 6 am - rotten luck. I have residual nerve pain here and there. One day, I couldn't walk due to my left foot couldn't handle pressure - pain was unbearable (similar to before surgery) - that subsided a day later, achy hip pain, lumbar, toe pain and of course calf cramping - it all is not as bad as before. All part of the recovery process. I wear my brace 24/7 glad I have it (dr. decided after the procedure to have a lumbar brace fitted. That part I was not happy with - since it was the day after surgery the specialist had to roll me in bed to fit me properly - pain-pain-painful. My PCA was dilaudid - I had my first full blown migraine the evening after surgery - I really feel for migraine suffers now. I am walking about 1 mile or so a day, and feel so blessed to have the ability to walk without the weakness. Dr. said I had absolutely no disc left, the bones were grinding. I know this was the best decision I made, looking back I should not have waited so long. Thank you all for your support - I hope my post is helpful to someone else trying to make the decision of having the surgery or not.
The Following User Says Thank You to Pandorasback For This Useful Post: dee289 (06-10-2011)
Thanks for posting about your surgery and recovery, so far. What an experience you had in the hospital! I can only imagine how relieved you were to get back home.
Try to walk several times each day to keep those spinal nerves stretched out --this helps to keep scar tissue from attaching to the nerves. Distance is less important than how often you walk. Some people really get carried away and walk too far, and then wonder why their pain is increasing...I think most agree a mile is sufficient, especially at the beginning, and when it is broken up into more frequent walks, it is even more beneficial.
Please keep posting with progress reports. It is helpful to anyone contemplating surgery!
The Following User Says Thank You to teteri66 For This Useful Post: Pandorasback (06-04-2011)