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newbie surgery in a week help!!

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Old 06-19-2012, 11:42 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2007
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newbie surgery in a week help!!

First post here in some years. Been dodging back surgery for several years but time is up! Have severe stenosis etc etc L4/5 & L5/S1. Been getting worse last few months. Have had 4 epidurals this year! Suddenly having foot drop, ankle turns. thigh weakness. My OS is out of town but has booked me for surgery Tuesday. I will see him day before. Doing decompression laminectomy. My pain Dr is concerned and has set up EMG for tomorrow. Not sure what that tells us?
This surgery came up fast-like 4 hours ago. I need to do what I can to get ready. Also, concerned about getting thru the next week without nerve damage getting worse. Do I lay low or try to walk/stretch etc. I do about 45 minutes of "core" stuff daily but even that seems to hurt not help now. Do not want to make it worse. I do have a inversion table but afraid to use it. Just had new knee in Dec so I would have to hang by one leg. I am tempted to try it! I just called Hosp equipment people and they said Doc could order a hospital bed for me to use for a while. Seems like a good idea?? Put it if front of the tv if family room?
I am 70. Have lost 50 lbs in last year which I know made my knee recovery a lot easier. Am in good shape for old guy and have strong back muscles.
Any and all advice will be appreciated.THanks

Last edited by olsoneagle; 06-19-2012 at 11:45 AM.

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Old 06-19-2012, 12:33 PM   #2
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Re: newbie surgery in a week help!!

Welcome back! I'm sorry you have a reason to return to the board.

First, please do not use the inversion table. It might be OK but if you have any instability in your spine it could make things much more complicated for the surgeon.

I would suggest you give up most of your exercise and stick to walking until after you have the surgery. You can walk in the water or on a flat, level surface. Now is not the time to walk steps or hills or anything, even a treadmill, with an incline.

The foot drop is a sign of severe nerve compression. I imagine the PM doctor is performing an EMG to check on the amount of damage. He will probably also do the nerve conduction study to evaluate nerve damage.

Do you live alone? If so you will want to arrange for someone to look in on you or stay with you for the first days following surgery. You will be instructed to avoid any activity that involves bending or twisting at the waist, reaching up overhead or to the side, anything jarring or shaking (no amusement park for you!) and you will be advised to limit your weight lifting to a gallon of milk or equivalent.

You may want to arrange things you use all the time so that they are convenient to get to without having to bend or reach up...counter-height is good.

Hospital beds are nice if you have the room. They are not absolutely essential. They will have you up and walking the day of the surgery and if your core is relatively strong, you should be able to reposition yourself without too many problems.

You should get some laxatives and stool softeners to have on hand after surgery. The general anesthesia and pain meds are very constipating. Stock up on juices you like and plenty of fruits and fibers. It is easier to prevent this problem as you will not want to have to strain after lumbar surgery.

If you should suddenly develop bladder or bowel problems (like incontinence) you should call the doctor immediately. This is a sign of the one lumbar problem that is considered a true medical emergency: cauda equina syndrome. It is a sign that the nerve is badly compressed and surgery is sometimes required immediately to prevent permanent nerve damage.

There is a "stickie" note near the top of the Back board first page that describes everything under the sun people have found useful post surgery. You won't need 99% of it, but I suggest you read through it anyway as it gives you some idea of what recovery will be like right after surgery.

Good luck to you, and remember to call the doctor's office ASAP if you have bladder or bowel involvement that develops suddenly between now and next Tuesday.

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olsoneagle (06-19-2012)
Old 06-19-2012, 12:34 PM   #3
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Re: newbie surgery in a week help!!


Static core exercises ( e.g.. planks, side planks, bridges ) should be fine. I would avoid any thing with motion. You can 'warm up' by walking and foam rolling

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olsoneagle (06-19-2012)
Old 06-19-2012, 03:14 PM   #4
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Re: newbie surgery in a week help!!

Don't sweat it, Olsoneagle. I'm 60 and had a decompressive laminectomies at L4 and 5 and forminotomies at L4,5 and S1, 12 weeks ago. I would have gone home the same day after surgery except we got caught up in a huge traffic accident and I got to the hospital 3 hours instead of surgery at 7am, it was at 6pm. Went home the next day with very little pain. Had no trouble getting in and out of bed. Was off all pain meds after about 5 days and was back driving at 2 weeks(could have been earlier but those 34 staples made sitting hard). Knew the surgery had worked within 6 hours of surgery....ankle worked and I could feel my toes. I couldn't feel the gas pedal of my car before surgery and can now feel with ease.

This is pretty easy as spine surgery goes. Like you, I exercise but in a warm PT therapy pool as I have rheumatoid arthritis and a totally fused neck. I was exercising up to surgery and was allowed to start PT back in the pool at 6 weeks post-op. Now back to going 3-4 times a week and when I get my 3 month check-up next week, hope to add more equipment to strengthen my back.

Don't push it could do more harm than good....and don't exceed your doc's orders in re-starting. I did that with my first neck surgery and it was a really bad idea. Broke bones in my neck and had to have really major surgery then. I learned my lesson....take recovery slowly with the spine.

But this was no big deal. Nothing is fused, nothing it grafted....they just cut open the lamina bones to allow the spinal canal to open up and give room to the nerves(no cord there...just loose nerves). Gives immediate relief....but you still need time for the spine to heal(muscles do get cut) and you need a few weeks to slowly get back into shape.

Jenny(61 coming soon)

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olsoneagle (06-19-2012)
Old 06-26-2012, 08:45 PM   #5
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Re: newbie surgery in a week help!!

In hospital-surgery was this afternoon. Dr said it went just fine. R foot still "drops" but Dr said takes time to heal. Have had a colon resection,rotator cuff, and new knee in recent years. So far this is by far the easiest!! Pain minimal and I walked around the hall for about 10 minutes twice. Will try to get them to let me stay one more night--two total. My wife not feeling great andI would not mind a full day of healing. Thanks for all the advice. Had hospital bed delivered yesterday. Think it was about $175for a month. If Medicare does not I will be glad to!

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SweetPeainSF (06-27-2012)
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