Anyone have lumbar 2 stage multi-level ALIF & PLIF a few days apart?

Hi, I'm 53 and facing my first major surgery.  I have Scoliosis (since a teenager), Spondylolisthesis, left lateral listhesis and degenerative disk disease.  Oh and some stenosis but with no radicular pain.  All of my pain is in my lower back.  The L3 is shifting 6 mm over the L4 and not much disk left between the L3-L4 and L4-L5 segments.  The Dr is doing to do a 2 level fusion in 2 surgeries, from the front first and then from the back a few days later.  They said I'll be in the hospital for a week.

I have no idea what to expect in between the surgeries or when I get home.  The Doctor has been very vague and just says it depends on the individual and what they find when they get in there.  

I work from home as a computer programmer and pressed him on when I may be able to return to work.  Initially, he said I could go back right away.  Now he's saying 3 - 4 weeks.  Guess it depends on how long I need the pain meds.  I was hoping for less time off as I have a client I'm putting in a tough spot while I'm out.

I'm also wondering how long I'll need to have someone with me following the surgery.  My husband will be with me and his work will allow him to stay home as long as needed, without pay of course.  He also has tickets to a college basketball game out of town a week after my 2nd surgery and I'm wondering if I will be able to be home by myself for the day.

Anyone with advice who has had the same type of surgery is greatly appreciated.





  • Patty,

    When I was 58, I had a two part spinal fusion, back first then a week later through the front. I had some complications so they kept me in the hospital for the week.

    It’s hard to predict how long you’ll need someone around, it depends on what shape you are in, and how much pain you can take.


  • Hi Patty -  I had a 2 part 10 level fusion at age 58 due to scoliosis.  On Monday a 6 hour surgery thru the front and side and on Wednesday another 6 hour surgery thru the back.  Between the 2 surgeries, you just kind of hang out in the hospital.  They actually did get me up to walk on Tuesday but for the most part just rested in the bed.  I was in the hospital for a little less than a week.  When you come home you will tire very easily.  You'll want to just rest a lot and let your body heal.  My instructions were not to be in a vertical position (and that means sitting, standing, walking) for more than 20 minutes at any one time so that may be something to ask your surgeon.  After I was home a week I definitely would have been able to be home by myself for a day or even 2.  The biggest thing I needed my husband for was changing my bandages on a daily basis.  Prior to surgery put everything you will need at about waist level, you know clothes, towels, dishes, etc..  Get a grabber for when you drop things.  If you are still on meds when he leaves town write down what you took and when so you don't get confused.  Keep a phone ON you at all times, not just near you but ON you in case you fall.  One of the admins will probably chime in here and give you a link to how to prepare for surgery and other helpful links.  You can also post in the scoliosis section of this forum, you'll see lots of us there.  Oh and welcome to a truly great forum!

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  • Thank you for sharing your experiences.  It makes me feel a little better hearing from others. I'll definitely check out the scoliosis forum.

  • Patty, I just had a three level L3-S1 spinal fusion.  Day 1 they went in Anterior, Day 2 XLIF and Posterior for screws and rods.  I was kept medicated and in bed the first night since I was having part 2 the next day.  After the second day of surgery, I slept.  did not even attempt to get out of bed until day 3.  I was up on day 3 for a a few times, a few steps the 2nd and 3rd time.  After that it kept getting better. I was in the Hospital a total of 7 days.  5 days AFTER surgery days.  I needed every day.  DON'T rush going home.  get stronger and get stable.

    After getting home, you gradually get more active.  It took me a week to build up to 1000 steps a day and now week 5 I just hit 10,000 steps today.  your hubby should be fine for going to the game a week after you are home.  other than the first few days, I was good from about 8 am until about 3pm when my 15 year old son would get home.  I had a small pouch on my walker (more on that later) to keep my phone in and I could carry a water bottle back and forth with me.  

    You need to WALK as much as possible.  after 2 days of surgery it is the single most effective thing to keep your mood up, get energy back, get pain under control (counter intuitive I know) and to get the anesthesia out of your system!

    Some general things you will NEED.  A walker!  yes you will, one with out a seat, you want to be in the middle of the walker and not leaning forward for it because of the seat. a "grabber" to help you pick up things.  A raised toilet seat if you are over 5'5" is a HUGE help. A shower bench or stool for sitting will get super tired super fast.  make sure you shower at least once in the hospital.  first time water hits the incisions, you can almost pass out in some cases. Loose comfy clothes that can be easily pulled on one handed........same thing for socks.....go for slippers instead. Coloring books......helps to keep you relaxed and pass the time without going TO crazy.  A system in place NOW for your meds......that way you are not trying to figure it out after surgery.  you will be on diff time schedule for diff meds, so up to 8 times PER DAY for taking things.  work to consolidate as much and as fast as possible.  Freezer meals prepped ahead of time.  favorites soups and such that are easy to heat up but also nutritious. 

    Personally I only needed someone with me in the evenings and at night, you will sleep and rest for the first week....a lot.....but by the time you go home, you are able to do most personal care without assistance except the second week home I was doing much more. I would check in with hubby and let him know I was getting in the shower or going for a walk and then when I was getting back......

    Trust yourself!  Prep ahead!  A HUGE suggestion is go see a spinal focussed physical Therapist BEFORE surgery for a session or two on HOW to move post op, that way you can practice and get muscle memory for when you are in pain.... you will be....but not for a LONG time.  

  • Thank you Elizabeth, that's a huge help and puts my mind at ease hearing your experience.  My surgery got postponed due to insurance approval delays and now my 2nd surgery will be the next day without 2 days in between.  Feeling much better about that.  When I asked them when I would be released, they said it would probably be late on day 4 or early on day 5, with day 1 being the first surgery day.  They said they would get me up and moving on day 3.

    They haven't said that I would need a walker or anything, but my brother-in-law has all of that stuff at his house from my mother-in-law after she passed.  So he can bring over anything I find I may need when I get home.  He already brought over her lift chair/recliner and we have it set up in the living room in place of my old recliner.

    I wish I had a good place to walk.  I may be doing circles around the house or laps up and down the driveway if the weather isn't too gold, as we live on a busy county road with no sidewalks or shoulder.

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