Hello! To Everyone. Happy New Year. Well, I had surgery on November 5, 2019 and I am 3 months out into the time the fusion is to have fused completely. My doctor fused the L5 & S1 area so I have two bolts and four screws with a disc insert. Also, did a decompression from L4 to L5 to release the pressure on the nerve which was causing the loose bowel and the numbing in my lower legs. Went back for post-op appointment to be sure all was going well, to remove the surgical bandage and that there was no infection-everything was going well! Very well indeed and this is the best decision for my health and back that I could have made! I have my life back and I am recovering well. I go back for my 3 month check on March 6th to be fully released with my next appointment being in 6 months and then a year after that.
From beginning to this point it is very detailed and lengthy but well worth the time and read to help others thinking of having the surgery, going thru the surgery, had the surgery and on the road to recovery. Of course everyone is different and will experience the matter different but I found that if you have a good rapport with your doctor and the staff, ask questions to be informed/what will work for your body (and what won't!) and follow fully all the instructions given concerning the do's and don'ts, you will come out on top and your life will stay there!
I was told surgery would be about 3 hours from check-in to recovery. However, I was in the operating room for 3 hours alone-yikes! It was due to the amount of Arthritis that was in my spine which was much more that expected. The doctor told my family that he was able to get it all out . . . who knew you could clean out Arthritis??? The incision looks about 6 to 7 inches long and really looked good at the 2 week appointment but I did cry some because I didn't expect it to be so long. But it has now blended into my skin and is smooth with no keloid's (glued no stitches and it is shrinking) to where you can hardly see it-well just a little (smile).
From recovery to hospital stay was 3 days. Everything that was attached to me that I thought would still be there when I woke up had been removed (no pain with that part) so I was very happy about that. Woke up alert and in the room with all sorts of stuff connected to me but only for 1 day and then just the IV for that wonderful pain medicine. It was great because the staff didn't want me to be in pain so they took great care of that and I slept most of the time. Next day was physical therapy and I thought nooooooo but it turned out to be okay. Before you can go home you have to be able to walk down the hall, have a bowel movement and urinate. Success, I was able to complete both!
At first I was really scared to move but PT doesn't play around and you must get up and moving. Turned out there was nothing to be scared of because I didn't feel any pain, it was mainly the weight of the hardware and "SORE" muscles. That was the only part that had an effect on me but in time and as your body is coming back together it goes away as well. Keep ice and heating pad near because you will use both and plenty of soft, soft pillows because discharge instructions were "NOT TO MOVE & LAY FLAT & USE BACK BRACE"! So that was life for the 1st week. Second week I was up and walking for 5 minutes with daily increase times. Started out with the walker and by the 11th day using the cane and by the 2nd week no aids at all! Continued to increase my walking (this is a must for the rest of your life-keep it up-does wonders for recovery). I continued to wear the back brace since it really kept me from bending which was a serious no-no. No domestic work at all, yes! I used the brace up until about the 1st week of this month and I no longer use it. I move around without a care of pain in this world and it is marvelous. I have to remind myself that it was just a few months ago that I was in so much horrible pain, loosing my feeling and reflex in my feet moving up my legs, walking with a cane and unable to sit, stand, walk or move due to pain. Unable to eat because everything was going thru me and having someone assist me with the bathroom, shower, help getting up, laying down and pillows-just so many pillows, heat and pain pills, I could go on and on but I won't because each day I get stronger and stronger moving forward to getting my life totally back. But I must say that I don't take it for granted that I have 3 titanium inserts on the left and right side for SI Fusion and all the hardware in my lower back, actually I am very grateful to God for it or else I would still be in enormous pain.
So, as of now my sitting is still limited to no more that 2/3 hrs but I try to spread it out if not then I take a break, lay down and rest afterwards. I'm back to refurbishing furniture (we try and keep it elevated so there is no strain on my back), driving much more however, with my pillow behind me (for now due to the sitting-it is getting better). PT is a nightmare since I'm not in pain when I arrive but in pain when I leave. Usually have to take the prescribed muscle relaxer and I'm happy that Thursday will be my last day. But they work with you if you explain your in pain and some exercises I just wouldn't do! But again they understand and they don't want me to be in pain.
With all that said, I realize bending will not be in the future for me and I'm okay with that because I have a great grabber stick! Took my first bath at the end of January (yes-smile)-its been 2 yrs because I could not sit (we used a rubber float for me to sit on for cushion), showering by myself and I have been cooking like I'm a chef and going about the town and visiting my family and friends. Will be back at church and my duties after my doctor visit.
For awhile I have to monitor where I go as far as sitting and how long. I keep a pillow in the car for hard seats and no long drives past 2 hrs unless we get out and do some good walking then I'm good. The plan is to stay aware that my body is fragile but yet strong, be careful not to do much but yet do enough, no longer need help in my daily living but know to ask and remember where I once was at in this situation but not to stay there and live my life 100%.
Hope this helps & I'm eager to answer any questions. God bless you all and be in good health.