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Old 01-29-2012, 02:53 PM   #1
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Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

Hi all, I'd written before his surgery. The surgery went well, but had complications after, with major problems with the pain and his bowels and also looks like he has sleep apnea. This caused him to stay in the hospital an extra 5 days. His recovery has been good and the pain had lessened. We have tried to reduce the amount of medication, so he can go in for his sleep study. But this morning at 4:15am he woke me so I could give him his medication. Then at 9:15am I gave him double pain medication and a muscle relaxer. The pain seemed to ease off a little but now it is 3:30pm, and still is at a 6 or 7. I just gave him 2 more pain and another muscle relaxer. Unfortunately his surgeon is out of the country, and a call has been made to his back up DR. which we are waiting for a call back.

The weird thing is, is that he has not done anything to mess things up. He walked back and forth in our small house 10 times. (and unknown to me he did so with a cain and not the walker). Our house is very confined so the walker bothers him(also stuborn). After reading some of the posts prior to the operation and other info that I've read, this is probably all part of his nerves readjusting.(am I right?) He did have alot of growth around his nerves that the Dr. had to clean out. This has really upset him, and I don't know what else to do for him. We had thought about taking him the ER but his operating hospital is 2 hrs away, and really sure what they could do for him. He's scheduled to see his surgeon on the 7th of Feb.

For you who have had this type of operation, is it true that one or more days will look and feel good as recovery goes and then all of a sudden more pain then you've felt will just hit? Any thoughts or ideas will be appreciated. Thank you

 
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Old 01-29-2012, 04:01 PM   #2
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

You can def have good and bad days....and have to be careful not to overdo it on the "good" ones (I speak as someone who stunk at resting!). It is still VERY early and it is expected that he'd still be very tired and hurting a good bit.

It really is a "months" recovery, although you should see little improvements over time. I didn't notice changes each day, but I do think there were changes over every couple of weeks.

 
Old 01-29-2012, 04:48 PM   #3
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

Thank you for your info, I conveyed it to my husband, he understands what you're saying, but it still doesn't make much since to him. We'll keep healing!

 
Old 01-29-2012, 04:56 PM   #4
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

What doesn't make sense to him? I'm happy to elaborate on my exp or my general understanding but not sure what else I can explain.

I did read some article recently on pain and sleep...the two can def snowball together. Not sure about apnea, but pain makes it hard to sleep which makes more pain. I did use Ambien for a bit after surgery and am glad I did....Dr Dad (his partner was my surgeon, he's also a neurosurgeon) said it was a great idea to ask for it and he considered it a really helpful move in healing (I struggle to sleep in the best of times).

 
Old 01-29-2012, 05:43 PM   #5
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

He just doesn't understand how he can be feeling so good for a couple days, with little pain and then all of a sudden the pain (out of no where) starts in and doesn't let up (in the middle of the night no less). I did give him more meds about 3 hours ago and the pain is just now bearable.
I understand about sleep and he has been sleeping, except when his back starts to hurt and wakes him up. But I don't know if he would want to take any more medicine. He's on alot of meds for depression/bipolar, alzheimer, and other problems.
Have you heard about the nerves causing pain as they begin to wake up/or start to heal and hurting intermitinly?

Thank you for your info

 
Old 01-29-2012, 06:14 PM   #6
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

I had my surgery 3 weeks ago also (Jan 6). No fusion - they removed bone spurs, scraped out the central column, removed part of a herniated disc. I was also surprised (and angry) about how I could have a great day, and then the next day be so bad I had to spend most of the day in bed!! Recovery is simply not a straight line.

Like another poster, I do tend to have a good day, perhaps overdo it, and trigger a not so good day. But there was a day last week when I did NOT overdo it, and then had a dreadful following day (can you tell I am still angry about it???)

I somehow expected that by now I would pretty much feel normal - I remind myself that I feel so much better now than the week after surgery, or god help me, the month before - that I need to just stop whining!! And my understanding is that the fusion makes it a good deal more difficult on the road to recovery, so your husband has it that much worse.

Please tell your husband "I feel his pain!!" and the two steps forward, one step backward is the way this often seems to work.

Kate

 
Old 01-29-2012, 07:40 PM   #7
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

One thing that gives patients a false sense of their recovery is that when the surgery is coming to an end, it is customary to bathe the area with a big dose of antibiotics and steroids before closing up the patient. This serves to help with the pain at the beginning of recovery, and gets the patient over the very worst of the pain. But most patients are not aware of this, and so at about ten days to two weeks, when all these steroids have worn off, there is suddenly an "increase" in pain. In reality the pain has been there all along; the patient just wasn't aware of it.

This may be partially what is to blame for your husband's apparent increase in pain.

But rest assured, it is common to have what seems like a period of progress followed by what seems like a step backward. This will continue for at least the first three to six months. As your husband becomes a bit more active, there will be days where muscles will be stretched, or ligaments and tendons will experience some new realignment as the body heals.

This is all perfectly normal and a normal part of the healing process.

I found that I needed to get up every couple hours at the beginning and take a little walk around the house. I couldn't go to bed and expect to stay there for a "normal" night's sleep. This prevented me getting stiff and kept the pain down.

Be sure your husband is drinking lots of fluids.

 
Old 01-29-2012, 08:01 PM   #8
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

Thank you for your info. My husband does drink alot of liquids... Your input is helpful, it's just frusterating for him. I've tried to convey that patience is important and neccessary, but he doesn't normally have any or very little patience anyway. Thank you for your help....

 
Old 01-29-2012, 10:07 PM   #9
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

I'm afraid he has a long haul in front of him. It took me a good 3 months to start feeling even relatively "normal" after my first fusion...and at least six months before I started to feel my energy returning. It was a full 12 months before I began to forget that I had surgery!

Of course it varies from person to person, and there are so many variables that one cannot really compare oneself to other patients...but, in general, people seem to agree that it takes about a year to fully recover.

So do what you can to encourage your husband to develop patience and to stay positive. Attitude is important with such a long recovery.

 
Old 01-30-2012, 06:50 AM   #10
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

About three weeks out from my fusion, I was up w/ the BF when he nuked a heating pad (for him, actually). I was standing there, pretty okay, and then I just SAT.....like I just decided "Let's not stand anymore" but I hadn't decided anything. My Doc said it was a nerve reset of sorts and normal...so that can happen.

Dr Dad says 6m to feel human after major surgery. I found greater strides around 4-5m than before then. Frustrating, yes....normal, yes.

 
Old 01-30-2012, 09:04 AM   #11
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

Thank you all sooo muuch for all of you input!! He is feeling a little better today and with all of what each of you has said he is finally understanding more of what he is going thru and what is ahead of him. I really appreciate all of you and these boards are so helpful and comforting, it's making my life alot easier. Thank you all and HUGS to all!!!

 
Old 01-30-2012, 01:52 PM   #12
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Re: Husband's L4-S1 fusion surgery 3 weeks ago

I'm happy if we can ease someone's anxiety, or pain, or just help to answer a question. Doctors don't have time to answer all their patients' questions, plus they aren't even aware of all the little details that pop into the head of a recovering patient! Experience truly is the best teacher for some of the details!

Please return any time with your comments or questions. We all learn from each other.

 
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