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Fusion, here I come

Im not going to lie, I’m really scared of this surgery and the fact that I’m having it at 28 years old. It my only option to try and preserve and hopefully improve my nerve function in my right leg. I’ve already had 4 microdiscectomies. 2 at L4-L5 and 2 at L5-S-1. I’ve prepared myself for this surgery for a couple years yet I don’t feel ready. What tips can anyone give about the first month of recovery? 

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  • I have had 2 lumbar fusion surgeries, a few things that were really helpful for me were, a grabber tool, slip on shoes, cane, walker or both, put anything you can at waist level, even in the fridge, make sure you have clear pathways in the house, most of your walking will be inside for a while. I have posted a couple of links below that may be helpful.

    Practical Advice for Recovering from Back Surgery

    Essential Items for Back Surgery Recovery

    Good luck and keep us posted

    Chip

  • The first month after fusion was a ROUGH one for me. I had great difficulty getting up from sleeping in the bed. I also had horrible pain going from a seated position to standing. I felt like I was going to break in half. You have to get up and walk every hour, and they do not want you sitting or lying down for any length of time except to sleep at night. I am no expert on the matter. These were just my experiences. After the first month I was a bit better and could start walking with my wife a few times a day. Good luck with your surgery. You will probably have it better than I did seeing that you are so young. Please keep us posted on your progress. We will be looking for you.

    Chris

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 3,489

    After my surgery, being in PT was the best thing I did. They taught me not bend, go down on my knees, not to twist, spin on my heels and do not raise my arms over my head. The exercises I learned, I still do to this day. And walking, the most important part. It builds your muscles back up to protect your spine. I walked several times a day and built my time up every few days.

    With you being so young, you should be in good physical shape. And keep a good, positive attitude.
    Good luck!!
    Sandra
    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

  • spineyKD23

    Some good advice responses here already.  PT is very important for recovery!  Also my Surgeon said to start doing some home PT  6 weeks beforehand so I will be in better shape going into my second lumbar fusion surgery in October. 

    Also don't try to do too much right away.....listen to your Doctor and also your body....it will let you know if you are overdoing it.  

    Being scared is ok and normal.  I am an old surgery warhorse with 22 previous misc. surgeries and I still get a bit nervous before each one. But I am still here! lol  You have the advantage of being young and strong and will likely recover well.  

    Keeping a good and positive attitude will go a long way in recovery too.  

    Best of luck to you! 


  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 3,489

    SpineyKD23

    Below is a link that may be helpful to you during recovery.

    Spinal Fusion Surgery Recovery: 1 to 4 Weeks After

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  • I understand your fears! I had my fusion last this year at 33 years old and had two discectomys prior to the fusion. 

    I was surprised by how much harder it was to roll in bed compared to after the discectomys. I am a pro with the log roll now.

    I set up two areas in my house for myself. One in my bedroom and one in the living room. I had everything I needed in both places, including extra long phone chargers. I bought a breakfast tray which came in handy too. I used that in bed as a little table. I also had a little basket with my meds, chapstick and other small things like that in it. Then I could just pull it to me and not have to worry about reaching or dropping the small items.

    A raised toilet seat and shower chair were really nice! The hospital sent me home with a walker and other supplies to make life a little easier. 

    Walk as much as you can! That is so important. My surgeon stressed to me that the people that move a lot are the ones with the best outcomes. Also stay on top of taking your pain meds. I took mine on a set schedule for awhile. I also recommend writing in a notebook when you take them. It's really easy to forget when you're foggy from surgery and all the meds.

    Best of luck! 

  • PearTree.....All good advice! I like your idea of having areas for yourself. It does make things so much easier when needed items and even special comfort items are well placed.  I have all that I need from my last lumbar fusion ready for my next one.  

    The reacher-grabber tool is a lifesaver as I am always dropping things...haha!  I also keep 2 bars of soap in the shower because I often drop one anyway.  That way I don't have to call dear hubby to come pick up the soap.

    Maybe not so important for the guys....but I will also have my hair freshly colored and cut just before my surgery. Like my hairstylist says...."look good-feel good".  I may feel bad from the pain but my hair will look fabulous!  lol

      

  • SunnyDove I agree about the hair! I have had mine cut and colored the week before each of my spine surgeries. It is the little things that for me can really help on the mental side when dealing with a recovery. I also usually buy some new lounge clothes too.

    When dealing with these issues it is so easy to focus on just the physical side and forget the little things that can help with the mind. 

    Another thing I forgot to add is freeze as many meals as you can. It is really hard to stand and cook a real meal after a fusion. I made a ton of lasagnas and other freezer friendly meals for my family. I wanted to take some extra pressure off of my husband too. I know he appreciated having one less thing to worry about when he was trying to manage everything. 

  • Hi everyone,

    Thank you so much for all the advice. I think I will get a back brace after surgery. I’ll ask my nurse what kind she would recommend. I would feel safer with one even though my surgeon said usually his patients just use an abdominal binder. I am going to really stress that I want as much PT as I can. My muscle tone is so low because I was bed ridden for 3 months and even for the other 3-4 I barely did anything because of the pain. 

    I will be moving in with my Mom after surgery for as long as I need. My dog is coming with. <span>:smile:" alt=":smile:" height="20" /></span> I’m so glad I’ll have my Chihuahua for company! Anyway, my Mom has a walk in shower, High seat toilet, adjustable sleep number bed, and motorized adjustable recliners so that will all be helpful. 

    I had not thought about self care like getting my hair done- good idea! I don’t want to look and feel like a mess, lol.

    I intend to buy a u shaped body pillow. When I had laparoscopic abdominal surgery in March I really wished I had one. I’m sure I’ll think of lots more. I’m feeling more optimistic today about to be surgery. 

  • SpineyKD23...

    How nice your Mom has all those helpful things you can use.  Having a little furry companion will be wonderful for emotional support. I wish I had a little dog to cuddle with during recovery!  

    One note of caution if you are going to use a back brace.  My Surgeon ordered one for me after my first lumbar fusion but he did say that using it for too long will actually weaken your back muscles if used for too long. The brace provides great support but prevents your muscles from having to work as much and therefore possibly become weaker. My Surgeon just had me use the back brace for about 4 weeks. And for limited amounts of time during the day.  Something to think about and discuss with your Surgeon.  

    Good luck with your October surgery.


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