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Old 11-15-2010, 03:30 PM   #1
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Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

Hi,

What will be the recovery time for L4-5 Spinal Fusion from the back? Could not go from the side or front. How long a hospital stay? They are saying two nights which would be on a Saturday as my surgery is on a Thursday afternoon. In other words how long out of work? I have abundant sick leave up to 6 months. Would like to be absolutely certain that I am comfortable going back to work which includes bending, riding in a truck 4 hours a day and desk work for 4-5 hours a day.
What can I expect immediately after surgery? Two weeks later? etc....
Any help please if anyone has had this surgery.

 
Old 11-15-2010, 10:03 PM   #2
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

With a one level fusion the recovery time will be at least a few months. You can indeed be out of the hospital in a few days. Are they using hardware to fuse?

The surgery can be painful so don't be shy about asking for pain meds but also be prepared to push through some pain. The worst pain is when you get out of bed the first time but you'll be amazed how much better you'll feel once you get up and move around.

Some of the best helpers for post surgery I've had were:
*24-36 inch grabber to lift things that have falled (i.e. tissues, socks, etc)
*toilet seat available at big-brand pharmacies for around $30.
*toilet seat riser also available at pharmacies for about $30.

Not sure if you live alone, but if you do plan on having someone stay a day or two with you or until you are comfortable and then having someone available to do some shopping, cleaning, etc.

Some surgeons send you home in a brace though this is less common in single level fusions such as you are having.

Given your job responsibilities take as much time as you can. Does your employer offer Long Term Disability should you have a difficult recovery? Check on all available short and long term illness benefits "just in case".

Develop a good relationship with your surgeon's nurse or medical assistant. They are the key to getting refills on prescriptions, answering questions, etc.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:40 PM   #3
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

Many thanks, yes hardware bone cage spacer. And work, I have 6 months of sick time saved up and am on FMLA. I work for the state. I will have help (my wife who works, a son who lives at home but is at work or in college, and his girlfried. My daughter who lives nearby is a RN. I am truly blessed. I have never been in the hospital nor put to sleep for any reason. I am anxious for sure. Anything someone can tell me about would be super.

 
Old 11-16-2010, 06:14 PM   #4
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

Still check to see if there are any Long Term Disability Benefits or Disability Retirement benefits available. I'm not saying you'll need them at all as 6 months may be enough recovery time, but it's always good to know what benefits are out there for you should recovery be tough or you are unable to return to your job.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 11-17-2010, 09:22 AM   #5
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

Thank you so much for your insight. My surgery is tomorrow and I will return to the board and let you know how it went. If you could, today, let me know about being put to sleep and the requirements to leave the hospital. Also PT information...want to be fully healed before returning to work.

 
Old 11-17-2010, 02:02 PM   #6
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

The anesthesia is easy. They will start an IV in the pre-op area with just a saline type fluid going into your veins. After you meet with the surgeon and anesthesiologist for the pre-op last minute talk the will put some versed in your IV. Ever had a few margaritas? Versed is like a few of those in the system. If you are nervous tell the anesthesiologist that you are new to this, a bit nervous, and can he give you a bit of sedation at the earliest point. Sometimes you are so out due to versed that you don't recall going to the OR. If you do recall, the most you may recall is a cold room, people moving around, and a soft mask on your face. It's not a bad sensation it's just some anesthesia. I usually ask the ansethesiologist to give me versed as soon as possible and then have me as "out" as possible before I get to the OR.

For my spinal fusion last February I recall getting versed in the pre-op area. Then I slid over to the operating table from the gurney in the OR. The nurses were talking to me and I was in mid conversation when they had me fully "out". They knew they were talking to me just to keep me cool and calm and talk me into oblivion.

When you wake up you may feel a bit nauseous. I always tell the anesthesiologist "give me everything you can for nausea before I wake up" and they do. In the post op they can give you more meds for pain or nausea, just speak up. Waking up is odd, it's not like waking from sleep, it's more like "where am I and what just happened?" then it takes a few minutes and you think to yourself "oh yeah, surgery"

Most doctors and hospitals require that you are getting up out of bed and walking around, along with being able to use the bathroom yourself, before going home.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 11-20-2010, 10:53 AM   #7
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

Ok Everyone, I am finally home!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lots of pain esp post surgery. Had to do not only bone cage spacer fusion but also screws and plate. Surgery was 2.5 hours instead of the 1.5. Had breathing problems during surgery which I did not count on. Had to put in a breathing tube which scratchy throat and could not talk well. Internal stiches with glue on outside and stitch sticky on outside with bandage. Tried to man it out with pain med and took none at hospital last night only tylenon. None this morining for 2 hour ride home from Charleston, SC but am chasing pain now for sure with perkacet. Stopped up and would like to know what is good for that? Said next office visit 3 weeks and no theropy for 12 week recovery then talk about work. All in all I am happy with everying but hurts to sit at computer and get in and out of bed. Have a recliner with a laptop also and should use that but I like to listen to internet radio. Anyway, any comments would be appreciated.

 
Old 11-20-2010, 12:23 PM   #8
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

Take the pain meds exactly asprescribed to keep it under control. This way you wont be in a pain crisisand will be better able to get up, walk around, etc. So if it says percocet every 4 hours then take it that way. The result is a constant amount in the blood to keep a therapeutic level. You have had major surgery and it's a painful recovery that can be better managed if you keep meds in your system.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 11-22-2010, 08:38 AM   #9
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

I hurt bad today, day 4, did have a movement but it hurt real bad, will continue with softners. Trying not to do meds but once a day if possible. Willl do 1 1/2 perk and 1 5.0 lorcet today is my goal. Use tylenol rest of time...............

 
Old 11-23-2010, 06:40 AM   #10
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

I have to agree with Spine, in order to heal we need to control the pain & not allow it to get out of control.
My shoulder surgeon gave me good advice. He said always stay one step a head of the pain, don't wait other wise you play a game of catch up & you will not want to rehab that shoulder. He was right as when my pain was up I was more apt to sit & do nothing at all, not to mention how cranky it made me.

As far as your problem there is Miralax, Mettamuccil everyday with stool softeners as needed. If your constipated & have not had any activity in a while I'd definantly consider the stool softners. Activia much to my surprise actually helps me out. Fruit juice, raisens can help along with some other things. Water, lots of water.
Good luck with your recovery. Sammy

 
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:27 AM   #11
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

Got stool under control. Now I have real bad bruising on my butt, could it be from the back brace or from surgery? Anything good for bruising like aloe or something? This is day 8 after surgery. Many, many thanks to all for suggestions etc.....

 
Old 11-26-2010, 11:37 AM   #12
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Re: Please Help! L4-5 Spinal Fusion this Week

Bruising can definitely be from the brace. If it was custom made then call the company that made it. I was able to get an appointment the next day and get the brace altered a bit for comfort.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
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