Living alone, and other concerns

Hi, I am new to this forum. I am scheduled for a spine fusion in late February (L5-S1, with rods, screws, bone from hip). I am in my early 50s. I live alone and this fact has been occupying my mind to the exclusion of all else. I've been searching everywhere online for insight into post operative recovery for people who live alone. It's why I signed up for this forum/website. 

If I can find someone to stay with me after my surgery (big if) how long will I need someone to stay with me - living-in/overnight.? Any other insights as to recovery time and what limitations I will experience and for how long. 

I don't have a lot of money so I can't hire anyone beyond what is covered by insurance. I can't hire a live-in aid. I am hoping I can interest a friend who can move in for a while.  

I first considered having this surgery a few years ago and was told then to plan on not going back to work for six months but this time am being told what seems to me a preposterous six weeks (it can't be so short a recovery time?!? I might have misheard) 

People who live alone - how did you solve this issue of coming home to an empty house? How much time did standard insurance pay for re rehab facility after hospital (a week? I am hoping to do that if possible and told that no extended stay will be covered). 


  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 809
    edited 01/05/2017 - 6:39 AM


    You will really need 24/7 help at least the first 2-3 weeks... especially if you still have lingering nerve pain.  Fusion at the L5-S1 level is a BIG surgery and you will need to find help somehow.  If your friend won't stay with you maybe ask the hospital for their recommendations.  I'm sure there must be some kind of community outreach assistance program available. Nursing homes usually are knowledgeable on available community programs.  The key is you really need to sort something out BEFORE your surgery... don't wait until after surgery and try to get something sorted out... you won't be in any kind of shape to handle it.

  • Thank you hvills. I wonder if 2-3 weeks is enough.  I was reading another post from someone who had a lumbar fusion. His post was really detailed and helpful for getting a sense. I know experience will vary, but these are some of the things he said: 

    2 months before he could do stairs3 months before he could bend to get something without a grabberAfter 2 weeks he was able to move one piece of wood to his wood stove (and since wood was his primary heat, I imagine he was heavly motivated)
    He passed out twice while using his walker because of intense nerve painThe first few weeks he spent taking his medication and sleepingHe said to sleep as often as possible for first month as it helps with healing. 

    I also now that physical therapy does not even begin until three months out, which says something about the process. 

    I have a broken vertebrae and a grade 4 slippage of the vertebrae. They'll pull that back to a grade 2 probably, use screws, cage, hip bone etc. 

    The oddest thing is two surgeons who described two very different recovery times. One said expect not to work at all for at least six months and arrange for someone else to drive you to therapy beginning three months from surgery.

    The other surgeon acted like I would be back to work and driving around, etc. within 8 weeks. I'm in my 50s - I am not seeing that at all

    Re work - my work is not physical labor, it's office based.

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  • jls129jjls129 MinnesotaPosts: 1
    Hi!  I had an L5-S1 fusion, and didn't have anyone to come home to.  My insurance refused to get me a stay at step down facility or even give me an extra day at the hospital, knowing I'd be alone.  I ended up going to a friends house for two days, then had ladies from my church come to the house twice a day to put a plate of food next to my bed and run the dishes or laundry.  I had a fracture and two bulged discs, and after surgery I was able to climb stairs right away.  I have had almost zero nerve pain, it has all been in my lower back and hips.  I hope my recovery info helps you, maybe try meals on wheels and ask if they can help, or if they know anyone who could help you?  I still have a nurse coming to my house once a week and someone to help me bathe twice a week, and its been 1.5 months since surgery.
  • Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I have a fracture too and my vertebra has slipped a lot. I am having an L5-S1 fusion too. 

    What I am sort of hearing from reading your post and others,  is if I can find a friend or someone to stay with me for a period of time this would be best. What do you think is the minimum amount of time? I am trying to start now and want to be able to describe to friends. If you had had the option of someone staying with you, in hindsight, would having someone there for the first month be enough? In a pinch, would the first two weeks be enough? (Not counting the nurse's visits) 

    I don't know if I'll find anyone to stay with me for a day, but have to start to try to arrange something now. 

    Encouraging that you were able to do stairs right away. 

    I hear you on the insurance denials - It's so tough, isn't it? Can feel like a pretty cold world, but it feels better to know, even though we are alone, we really aren't. There are many of us in this position. 

    Thanks again. 
  • Hello everyone. Well. My Feb surgery was rescheduled to Sept and I am at this very moment 4 weeks post-op. 

    L5-S1-Pelvic fixation. Posterior entry, rods screws. 

    2-4 day hosp stay turned into 7 days. 

    All my concerns about staying alone were not well founded. Though ,my hospital stay was long, I was definitely able to go home and recommend homecare even if you live alone over rehab, if you are able. I have nurse and pt visits

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