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LMVLMV 03-01-2004 11:37 AM

10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Well it's been 10 weeks and I'm feeling great. For those of you who has just had or is going to have this type of surgery, there's hope. I suffered form sciatica/grade 2 Spondy for almost two of the most depressing years of my life. I went from being a outdoor weekend warrior to a couch potato. Since the surgery, every day gets better and better. I'm more active than I've been in a while and It feels awesome! The best part about it is, NO MORE SCIATICA!!!!! I walk every day and I don't really need my cane anymore. I do have a few mild side affects like numbness in my big toe and a little weekness in my left hip from the bone graft but it's so minor compared to the previous pain I had to deal with. A minor compromise. Good luck to all of those going thru with this procedure and take it slow and easy.
;) :D :bouncing: :) :cool: :wave: :angel: :jester:

onthemendnow 03-27-2004 02:39 PM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation

As a fellow normal-person-turned-couch-potato-due-to-spondy, I was so happy to read your post!

I'm 4 weeks post op; I had L5-S1 fusion/lami/instrumentation on 2/25. I'm also doing well - quite well I think - but I almost feel like I may have plateaued because I don't feel super-progress being made like I did after the first week. Maybe I felt so much better the second week just because the first week was so bad? :) My sciatica symptoms are also gone (what a gift, just amazing). I have questions for you if you don't mind.

In the 10 weeks did you feel like you made progress regularly or in "chunks"? I'm being extremely conservative. I don't do any bending, lifting, per instructions and I am walking about 1 mile daily. Do you think that's too much or too little? I stopped using the cane after about 2 weeks at home (but would use it if I needed it). I also had a bone graft and I notice it's very sore - but I almost feel like what I've read about bone grafts may be influencing me! I've read they hurt, therefore it hurts. Stupid, I know; just may be how I'm thinking.

Do you find it (or did you find it) a mental challenge to stay positive as the weeks went by? I have a support system, thankfully, but I now see weeks stretching ahead of me before normalcy kicks in. Guess what I'm saying is postive upbeat me is starting to see that this thing takes a LONG time, now that I'm actually in the trenches.

Any tips, ideas, helpful hints, thoughts? I'd love to hear anything you have to say since we had the same symptoms, similar suirgeries and (I already feel for myself) successful outcomes.


onthemendnow 03-27-2004 02:57 PM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Oops, forgot 2 big questions I have ...

Are you able to drive yet? If so, when were you allowed to begin? Also, what is your experience with regard to getting back to work? (if you're back, do you have a physically demanding or a desk job?) I'm a desk jockey myself, just wondering how long it'd be before I'd be able to sit most of the day.

Thanks again.

jettsmom 03-27-2004 04:14 PM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Hi, I have to say to the both of you that it is so good to hear that there is hope in having a fusion. I'm also a spondy, grade 1 and I also have a bad disk at L5-s1. If you don't mind I had a couple of questions regarding the fact that your both spondy too. I did go through with a Laminectomy/Disectomy in dec due to a large herniated disk that was giving me horrible leg pain and I would say it took about 6 weeks after surgery to start feeling the siatic pain go away and I had about a whole month with very minimal leg pain until out of the blue my lower back started to hurt really bad and the leg pain started to return and now I'm 3 and half months post with leg pain everyday but my back does'nt anymore. My doc does'nt suspect a reinjured disk but more of my spondy as the source of pain, mainly because what did make a herniated disk feel better (arching my back) is what makes it hurt and hunching my back feels better although does'nt completely take away the leg pain. I guess I'm just curious what was symptoms of being a spondy and like me did the nerve pain only bother you when you walked around? I have almost no leg pain laying down, so I understand the coach pototo reference! My doc is gonna try injections on me but he has mentioned the possibitily of a fusion too. You both give me hope. Hope to hear from you. ;)

tonyroma 03-28-2004 06:29 AM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Hey folks,
Great to hear of your progress!!
I am having a PLIF with instumentation on 4/5 so your posts are perfect timing.
Jettsmom: Hang in there...if you come to fusion it may be the best thing considering your anatomy. Most docs will fuse a spondy if they need to work on the disc.
Good luck to all

LMVLMV 03-28-2004 05:41 PM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Hi Karen.
I'm glad to see your doing well and making great progress. The wonders of modern science are amazing! I think it's wonderful that your walking a mile. Pretty soon it'll be 2 miles :) . I'll try to answer as many of your questions as possible, I hope my ramblings don't become too lengthy ;) .

I made progress regularly AND in chunks. There would sometimes be a plateu where my progress was no better or worse and then one day I can get out of bed easier or bend at the knees. Some days I felt much stronger than others and some days I just wanted to sleep. My hip is still sore. I'm 13 weeks post op now and my hip's not as tender as it was 4 weeks ago. It's lost some sensation just below the scar. I have some soreness in my back and loss of sensation in my left big toe but other than that I feel great. Anything is better than sciatica!

At times it was a challenge mentally. I would lose focus on the "big picture". I got frustrated because I was limited in my mobility which stinks when your bored. I actually wanted to cook and clean but couldn't. My Husband is a great guy. He helped me to remember that it's only temporary and that I no longer have pain from sciatica. He 's always there to talk to when I'm having a "not so happy" day. I also notice that I'm not depressed and stressed out any more like I was before the surgery. The pain is gone and that's such a relief. I'm much happier and feel healthier than ever and look forward to being physically(and-mentally) strong again. I hope to be hiking and rockclimbing this summer.

As for now, I'm back to work part time after 3 months of rest and so far so good. I where my brace only when I'm driving now and I'm definately tired and sore by the end of the day. It's the kind of sore you get when you 1st start working out. I go to P.T. twice a week for 4 weeks and then once a week for 3 weeks. My P.T. assures me I'll be fine once I re-train my muscles. I should also regain most of my normal range of motion. I can also use an eliptical cross trainer machine and this has made a big difference in my stamina. I can do 30 minutes 3 times a week.

Hope this helps. It's nice to hear someone elses successful outcome. Are you working? Are you looking forward to P.T.? Do you wear a brace? Let me know how your feeling soon.


onthemendnow 03-29-2004 10:29 AM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Hi Jettsmom,

I may be wrong here but I don't think spondy in and of itself generates symptoms. The problem that spondy causes is nerve impingement and its accompanying symptoms. I remember reading somewhere that a person can have spondy for years and never know it and not have it cause any major problems.

Before my surgery I had pain if I did pretty much anything besides laying down. Walking, standing, sitting all caused intense pain after very short periods.

Good luck!

jettsmom 03-29-2004 11:33 AM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Hi Karen
Thanks for responding. That's exactly what I deal with now..the pain (leg pain) comes when I'm on my feet for more then a minute or if I'm sitting but when I'm laying down the pain goes down to about a 2 so I am able to get sleep. This is just so frusterating because I did'nt find out that I was a spondy until I herniated my disk at L5 when I was in the last months of my pregnancy so I never really did have symptoms of being a spondy..until now. I think that when I had my laminectomy it weaken my being a spondy and now that's what's giving me nerve problems, I have'nt even had a back ache in weeks just nerve crap. My ortho is taking conservitive treatment, I'm in PT but that's not really helping and in two weeks I'm getting a injection. I'm trying to be patient but I have two kids to take care of and it's becoming very challenging. How long did you wait to get a fusion? I truely do appreciate people like you sharing your stories with encouraging outcomes as do other spondys like Tonyroma, who still deal with this everyday. Thanks :wave:

onthemendnow 03-29-2004 12:10 PM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
I first had symptoms in March 2002 and went with conservative treatments ... PT, deep tissue massage, stretching exercises, chiro. After miniscule improvements in almost 2 years (actually I think I just got used to the pain eventually) I first began to contemplate surgery around the end of 2003 because I knew I was about to close in on 2 years of pain. Had a consult on Jan 5th w/ a surgeon who'd fixed someone I know and surgery on 2/25.

onthemendnow 03-29-2004 03:11 PM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Thanks for much for your reply Lisa! .... the lengthier, the better. Your progress sounds just like mine so far. I'm not working yet - I'm very confused about when to go back, or when to expect to be able to go back. I don't have a brace. When I saw my surgeon at 2 weeks post-op and I inquired about PT, he said 'we'll talk about it next time we meet' which is at 6 weeks, so I don't know anything about PT yet. Sounds fine to me .... will do whatever's necessary to recover as much as possible.

Thanks also for pointing out what should be obvious to me - this recovery period is temporary - but I forget about sometimes. Like you said, it's easy to forget about the "big picture" here. This 6, 8 months or whatever could mean some pain free decades ahead of me. (I hope, I hope)


onthemendnow 05-22-2004 05:01 PM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Hi LMVLMV, are you still out there? I'm wondering how you're doing these days, as you are ahead of me in the recovery phase and I was curious as to how you're progressing.

Hope all is good with you and you check in here!

Rhonni 05-22-2004 08:14 PM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
How are YOU progressing Onthemend?
Those of us with pending fusions look forward to everyone's postings and progress reports. Hope you're doing well.

onthemendnow 05-23-2004 08:10 AM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Hi TxHunni - I know you're anxiously awaiting your own surgery and want to hear progress reports, so here's mine. :)

I'm doing so much better than before surgery, I feel like I've gotten my life back! Pre-surg, I had constant sciatic pain in my leg and that has been gone since surgery. Once in awhile I feel tingly in that leg but so far it's always gone away, plus it doesn't happen often.

I'm in between jobs now so I can't comment on working post-surgery, sorry. I started driving at 8 weeks, and getting into and out of the car still hurts.

I began walking outside about my third day home and now I walk 2-4 miles daily -without pain! I traveled from NY to FL by plane last weekend (2.5 hours) and was fine, got up to stretch once or twice.

The ONLY thing that's bothering me these days is the bone donor site (the incision on my buttock). It only started hurting about 2 weeks ago and it's been pretty sore this past week. However, as my physical therapist pointed out, the point at which pain kicks in has increased tremendously. 4 weeks ago when I got the ok to drive, just doing a few errands for an hour tuckered me out and made me sore. Now, buzzing around the house spring cleaning (carefully) for 5 hours has the same effect. Big difference. But the soreness seems to occur only at that spot - guess it's my Achilles heel for now.

I was dreading PT because I hadn't liked it pre-surgery. Now, with a different therapist, I'm loving it. Afterwards I have that "good" sore from moving muscles that have been sitting on the couch for too long, you know?

All in all, this surgery so far has helped me tremendously. I still feel like I'm a work in progress, recovery for me isn't over yet. I expect (hope?) the donor site to hurt less as time goes on - if it didn't I'm still waaaay ahead of where I was before surgery.

Rhonni 05-25-2004 04:32 AM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation
Thanks Onthemend! This is sure helpful. I hope my progress after my surgery goes as good as yours sounds to be.

Do you know, do they alwasy do a separate incision for the bone? I don't recall my doctor mentioning it. He just said I'd have an incision in front and one in back.

I'm printing off your response. Will be using it as my goal! :)

TAZMZN 05-25-2004 04:52 AM

Re: 10 weeks post op L4, L5, SI Fusion/lami/intrumentation

As I read your posting, I noticed you had a few questions! First: Ask your doc if he/she is going to use the new none bone graft proceedure (BMP), it gives you better/quicker recover time (thats what my doc tells me and also what I have read) Also, on my Fusion L5 - S1 they will only be going through my back! See if you fall in this category! Again, I will be having my fusion in late June and I will keep you posted!

Take Care,

Taz :wave:

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