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What to expect: L4 - L5 Fusion



  • Hi, I just want to give you some words of encouragement and offer support.
    I had similar surgery last April age 44. It's a big surgery and don't be surprised if your wife is wiped out. She will probably need close support for at least 2 weeks. I found that just getting through a shower and getting dressed was a big job. If you provide food and emotional support through these tough days, you will be amazed at the improvement in a weeks time.
    By week three she will probably be glad of a bit of time on her own and may be able to do most things herself.
    I was scared to shower if there was no one home in case of a fall. Tears are normal too.... I never knew the body contained so much water! I sure got fed up and frustrated but there is light at the end of the tunnell.
    I had a single bed in my family room, it's all open plan in my house, so I only went to my bedroom at night. This helped me not only sleep better at night but I was able to control the household/kitchen/kids etc during the day. I was able to lie down but still be part of the family and could have friends visit and still lie down.
    You may not notice the improvements from day to day but try to measure it week by week. You will look back in a weeks time and hopefully see how many things she can do that were imposible last week.
    It gets easier... Don't be afraid to ring your GP if you think medications aren't enough.
    I wish you and your wife all the best and I'm happy to answer any questions based on my own experience.
    DDD. Married,Mum of 2, Age 45: 2007 & 2008 L5/S1 Discectomy
    April 2013 L5/S1 Anterior Fusion
    & L4/L5 Artificial Disc Replacement
  • Hybrid hottie, thank you so much for your encouragement and words of hope. So many of these posts are so discouraging that I am wondering why I am going through surgery on March 24. I will be having fusions on L1-L5 on March 24. Ruby Tuesday has also provided great information. Thanks for the positives and God bless all of you and happy, healthy healing! Romeroom, much luck to your wife and to you as her caregiver.
    Natonia Brazington
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  • MaximummyMMaximummy Posts: 75
    edited 03/04/2014 - 7:43 AM
    I had L4/L5 and L5/S1 fusion eleven days ago with lots of nerve decompression, facet joint taken off at S1 and a cage and bone graft in facet L4, cyst removed from spinal canal and veins cleaned out ... First four days in hospital were very difficult ... Very much like your wife is experiencing now at home. Everybody is different but most seem to have many of the same problems at one time or another in the early weeks. I have learned to take all the prescribed pain meds on time and regularly .. I write down every dose so I know what I have taken. I was on Amitryptyline pre op for quite a few years for all the nerve pain down my legs and am continuing this for the time being.. If she is not on a nerve painkiller and/ or a muscle relaxant like Diazepam then perhaps that is worth discussing with a doctor ... These would give her better sleep to face the day. I am having interrupted nights from lying in one place ... My hips and buttocks are also very sore and tight. If she can lie on her back either good padding under her wound area it is worth experimenting. I find just getting up to shower and change my nightdress in the morning is exhausting. I try to walk around my room, move my feet in bed, push my legs gown against the mattress three times a day. I have not yet managed to get dressed and walk outside. I cannot help but sleep about 90 minutes or so after lunch and co not resist any urge to sleep. I try yo eat dinner downstairs .. Sometimes I can sit but often have to finish my meal standing. I too am sometimes tearful and just overwhelmed by it all .... If she can get her meds and sleeping into a routine she will settle ... It is hard when realisation sets in about how long and slow recovery is. One little misery for me is the pressure of the corset along the bottom of the staples ... They are coming out on Thursday and I hope the corset will be more bearable after that. Make sure she drinks loads of water and sorts out any issues with constipation from the drugs. Logrolling out of bed will become a natural way to move .. Keep her head, shoulders, back and legs all aligned and moving together ... My husband still helps me if I am in pain. Early days ... I was in hospital six nights and it may be she came home a little early ... Do not be afraid to call the doctor or nurse again, especially if meds need reviewing. Wishing you both luck and easier days ahead ...
  • edited 09/17/2015 - 6:45 AM
    after suffering for 6 months with crippling right hip to ankle sciatica pain i finally had l4, l5 fusion surgery. the pain i was feeling was from a growing ganglion cyst that formed from my facet joint. my surgeon said the cyst had no where else to grow so it just kept pressing down harder and harder on my l5 nerve until i could no longer walk, sit or lie down without experiencing extreme pain.
    i've had no sciatica pain since my surgery. the 60mg of oxycodone i was taking everyday for the last 4 months prior to surgery was my next problem!
    since my sciatica pain was gone, the only pain i was feeling was from the surgery itself. it was painful, but nothing an over the counter pain med couldn't take care of. so i decided to stop taking the oxycodone two days after i got home from the hospital. the next 5 days or so i went through a "living hell"
    so for 5 days i could barely sleep, eat or drink anything. my legs would jump and kick around all night long when i was trying to sleep. sweat would run out of every pore on my body, day and night. it was impossible to regulate my temperature. i would sweat and shiver at the same time. and all this time i was trying to recover from my surgery!
    once i got through that horrible withdrawal period, i started focusing on my recovery. at about 7 days post op i started doing short slow walks (5min) every two hours. by week two i increased my walking speed and distance to 10 minutes every hour or so. at that time my appetite and energy levels were still not good at all.
    i just forced myself to move and eat. the after effects of oxy withdrawal are still affecting my thinking, eating and energy levels.
    today, 4 weeks 4 days post op, i'm feeling more like my old self every day. my appetite is back to normal and i'm up to walking 5 miles everyday.
    i still have periods of fatigue during the day and restless legs at night.
    i knew that being 64 years old and trying to recover from this kind of major surgery wouldn't be easy. i now have more good days than bad!
    i see my surgeon again on oct 5th 2015. it will be 7 weeks post op. i hope the x-rays show some bone fusion taking place.

    welcome to spine-health
    please click on link for helpful information!
    ~ spine-health moderator, savage
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