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New-Spinal Fusion Surgery

Started by jenann on 06/26/2011 3:29pm

I posted only a few times but after talking (to in person friends/family/medical professionals) I went ahead with a L5-S1 PLIF on June 15th. I have to say I'm am totally surprised at the lack of pain I have in my back. About 10 days out and I'm on just tylenol during the day! I mostly struggle with "strength" issues; it's damn tiring. I'm surprised how much it takes just to sit in a chair with the brace on. Maybe 2 hours at tops. So far, I've conquered showering by myself, up/down stairs a few times a day (I have about 15 from one level to the next) and I even made it over to a friend's house (husband had to take oldest to t-ball game) so she (and some of her family) could babysit my youngest son (and me.) Boy, did it feel good to be out!

I had a small setback where I was put back in the hospital for 4 days just 5 days out of surgery. Bowel issues related to sluggish bowels from anesthesia but that has resolved. Staying in the hospital a few days gave me a chance to get my whits about, learn to do stuff (like shower, get dressed, etc.) and get totally bored. The little setback was still worth getting my back "fixed."

My wonderful friends set up a care calendar and have people dropping off meals (or catering pans full of food) each evening. I've learned to put everything at waist level so I don't bend. Most importantly, when someone asks "do you need anything?", I've learned to say "Yes!"--especially when it's just a short visit.

I'm so proud of myself for braving this surgery but I really feel I shouldn't have been that afraid. I'm limited (which is the biggest bummer in the middle of summer!) but I've accepted that (good days and bad days of that attitude). I've learned to celebrate the small stuff, like getting up this morning, walking down stairs myself, fixing a wonderful cup of coffee (hospital coffee is the worst), fixing breakfast for my kids (okay, maybe just cereal) and folding a load of laundry (in bed-it can be done without much backstrain.)

I'm hoping I'm a success story and can publish the terrific success of this experience. (I mostly read horror stories but then again, who is the first to post online but those that are disappointed.)

PS_ I would love some advice about hip pain, mostly due to laying on my side in bed at night and while resting. Any tips?

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6 Responses


Hi Jenann,

Great to hear that the surgery was a success and that you're finding things going well.

I'm due to have TLIF surgery next Friday (15th July) and I'm hoping that,like yourself, I will
be able to do things gradually and 'by the book'. Having had previous surgery I am aware that
overdoing things will not help but taking help from wherever offered, really is a god-send!

Anyway, as regards your hip pain. I also had hip surgery 3 years ago and can only sleep on my right
side at present. The best way is to sleep with a pillow (or 2) between the legs, at the knees. Other than that, sleeping on your back (if at all possible at this stage!) with several pillows under your knees also takes the pressure away from the pelvis.

Hope this helps! Continue on the road to recovery & take care.

Best wishes, Heather x


Hi Jen!

Thanks for taking the time to share a positive result. It's always helpful for those of us who are struggling with the fear of setting their surgery date! There are so many things that go wrong and alot of people come here to share their not-so-great stories because they need the support of this community. So seeing the positive stories are a great help!

Congrats on your relief thus far (remember not to over do it though!) and keep us posted! :)


For pain at night, try pillows between your legs when sleeping on your side and a firm pillow along your back. I tried lots of different pillow configurations before I found the combination.


Wonderful to know you are doing so well. I also had surgery on July 18th. I was wondering if during your recovery if you ever experienced pain in your legs after sleeping. I am waking in the middle of the night with pain in my ankles, shin bone & tops of the feet. Also happens after naps. I get tired and want to rest and I am building fear about lying down. As far as you hip goes, I can suggest a message. Right after my surgery I had one to relieve the pain that was still present post op. I always had hip pain prior to surgery and she worked out those knots.


Hi, glad to hear your doing great. I had a fusion at l5-s1 March8,2011. I wish I did as well as you did so early but I had been on so many narcotics before my surgery that had to be weaned and went thru horrible withdrawl for many months, but anyhow the hip pain was the same for me. It did take a while for it to go away and once in while I still feel it. Have you tried to sleep with a pillow between your legs when you sleep? I think sleep was and is still the hardest for me. I sleep on my side but I twist and know I shouldn't but that could be part of some acheness in the morning. Sounds like your doing great keep on the good work and good luck to you


I did it! On July 27 I had surgery for spondylolithsesis, spinal stenosis etc. As soon as I awoke after surgery, I knew I was better. I went home on July 29. I used a walker for one day at home. I'm down to one Norco 2 to 3 times a day. My biggest problem is making myself take it easy to allow the bone graft to grow. I walk around the neighborhood a couple times a day. SEX doesn't hurt! I had deep pelvic aching that was worsened by intercourse. I had intercourse (gently, of course) a week after surgery and it was wonderful. I don't walk the neighborhood for sex. I have sex at home, usually. LOL. It is so nice to not struggle to walk. I gained over an inch in height, too. It's easier to sit and stand. I'm up to 50% of my regular very active life. No lifting, bending etc. But that's not much different than before surgery and it's improving everyday. I sleep at least 6 hours without waking 30 times. I don't feel lousy when I wake up. I'd forgotten about that.
Check out the surgeon and hospital. Be a great consumer. Take advantage of resources offered by the hospital. Have someone available to be your guardian and advocate. Follow the directions from the doctor and nursing staff. They know what they're doing...usually. Do not hesitate to ask questions or get clarification of things you don't understand. That's what they get paid for. Don't forget that they work for YOU. If you have a gripe about your health care, tell someone who will do something about it. If it's a big problem, ask for the patient advocate. You don't get in trouble or suffer retaliation for seeking assistance. Your doctor won't get angry. The doctors have a big interest in hospital stays going smoothly for their patients. The shift supervisor, nursing floor manager and social service are all resources for immediate help. Your case managers can help too. Your insurance company usually has a case manager for you, as well.
I wish you the success that I'm enjoying!