Disk replacement & spinal fusion (L4-L5): Post-op concerns

Posted by user_chf56161a @user_chf56161a, Nov 22, 2018

My surgery was done at Mayo, Rochester. It was 8.5 hours long. I can’t remember minute to minute.
The pain is horrible. They only gave me pain meds for 10 days and I have 2 left. Everyone said the first 30 days are the worst. The best things I bought before was the grabber, I drop anyway, toilet riser,
Slippery pajamas. Any suggestions this is rough.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Spine Health Support Group.

@grandmar

@user_chf56161a
Hi!
So sorry you are having so much pain! I certainly feel it for you, too.
I had an X-Lift fusion of L3/L4 and I am 12 weeks post-op.I also had disc replacement on C5/C6 at the end of February.
T suregery was done as an outpatient. In at 7:30am and out by 1:00pm. The disc replacement went swimmingly. I healed very quickly and I was off all meds within a couple of days. After 1 month, I healed so quickly that the doctor had me start PT (which was sooner than most). We worked on getting my range of motion back. I have, although I shouldn't hyper-extend it or turn my head quickly.
After that, I thought the X-Lift would be about the same. Boy, was I wrong. This surgery required me to stay in the hospital over night. My surgery was not as long as yours. Mine took less than 2 hours from start to finish. I was uncomfortable when I woke up. The pain drugs were great. Honestly, I really don't remember anything other than being in the operating room as they prepped me and meeting with the hospital OT, who showed me how to get out of bed and how to use the walker.
When I got home without the hospital-type meds, I had pain from hell (pardon my language). Not only did my back hurt but my left thigh hurt as well. That has to do with the doctor moving and cutting a muscle on my left side during the surgery. I also had terrible spasms for which I took meds, too. I could not lay down in bed and I slep in my trusty recliner for about a week. I could not sleep in my bed because my mattress is too firm and too high for me to get up on. Thank goodness I have a spare bedroom with softer mattress which is lower and easier to get on to. Going to the bathroom was difficult for 2 reasons. Getting on and off…..ouch, and the pressure on my thighs (while sitting) caused terrible spasms in my legs. Let's talk about blowing your nose or coughing…another big ouch, again down my legs. I also got a grabber to help pick up things around me.
I am very fortunate to have a VERY helpful and caring husband!! He was and is here to take care of me. I could barely make it to important areas of my home. It could take me 10 minutes just to walk to the bathroom (right across from the room I slept in). I couldn't stand to brush my teeth. Mouthwash? Forget that! I was lucky just to brush. Then of course, showers. Luckily, I have a free standing shower. Before my surgery, we put grab bars in the shower because I already had 3 falls. They have been a great aid. As for drying myself, I couldn't….in came hubby.
My biggest concern was the opiods I was taking. I am NOT a pain killer type of girl. Before this, I rarely took pain meds. I had weight loss surgery so my large dose Iburprophen is a no-no. I was afriad to take the pain meds for fear of addiciton so I only took the pain med when the pain became too much. Waiting was wrong because I couldn't get ahead of the pain. So, I started taking the pill as prescribed, every 4 hours. The meds did work fairly well. After a week, I called my surgeon because I still needed the pain meds but again, my fear of addiction took hold. With the help of the doc, we worked on a weaning schedule that worked great.
OK, enough about that. As I said, I am 12 weeks post-op. I still wear my back brace and will continue to do so until I see my neurosurgeon mid-December. I have not been cleared to drive, and I still sleep on the softer mattress. Sadly, during all this, I re-developed an issue in my left knee. It is probably a combination of the muscle cut during surgery and my very bad walking gait. I barely walked for months because of my horrible pain before surgery, leaving my legs VERY weak. At my 8 week post-op, my surgeon said no more walking aids (not even my cane). As far as pain, my right side is pain free except for my hip (again, probably because of the way I've been walking). My left side is greatly improved, too, except for the pain in my knee. Getting out of bed in the morning is difficult. Some days I can hardly move. I've started taking 2 fast acting Tylenol before I get out of bed, it helps. After I get up and wash, I get into my chair and use an ice pack on my left leg. It take me around an hour before I can get up and start my day. TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY i DIDN'T HAVE PAIN AND DIDN'T HAVE TO USE AN ICE PACK. I do not know if it was just a one day thing, but that is OK.. Sitting on the toilet is still difficult. I still get terrible spasms in my legs and back. However, as soon as I get up they are gone. My doc said it is normal.
I have found (as the surgeon said I would), that the more I walk, the less discomfort I have. I RARELY have the horrible pain. In spite of what the doc said, I cannot walk very far without holding on. This is NOT just because of the surgery, it is because of the weakness of my legs. I am sure that at my next visit I will be told to go for PT. I PROMISE IT DOES GET BETTER!!! YOU NEED LOTS OF PATIENCE!!! BELIEVE ME, I CRIED SEVERAL TIMES TO MY HUBBY BECAUSE I THOUGHT THE PAIN WOULD NEVER GO AWAY AND THIS SURGERY WAS A MISTAKE. I know the surgery WAS NOT a mistake, it was just my frustration on how long it took to feel any relief.
I am sorry to be so long, but so often we think we are the only ones experiencing these things or that we are loosing our minds.
Everyone has a different experience and recouperation from this surgery.

I hope this helps you!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

Every word helped me. Thank you!

REPLY
@user_chf56161a

Every word helped me. Thank you!

Jump to this post

@user_chfbbbeff
You are welcome and I am happy to help!
Ronnie

REPLY
@user_chf56161a

You were right! I can do a little more each day. Still having nerve pain, I’m hoping it will pass.

Jump to this post

@user_chf56161a
Yes, you can do a little more each day, but do not overdo!
Not knowing WHAT KIND or HOW THE SURGERY IS PERFORMED, I can only share from my own experiences.
As I mentioned, I had no ill affects from the disk replacement.
As for the L3/4 fusion, that was different.
Before the surgery, I was having terrible nerve pain. Tests showed that my entire body was 'angry at me.' I was ALL inflamed.
When my surgery was done, the doctor went in through my left side, above my hip.
In order to get to the spine, a muscle was cut and nerves were irritated.
As a result, I've had nerve pain in my thigh for which I was taking medicine.
Now, not to be too graphic or TMI, I had horrible nerve pain when sitting on the bowl. Any bearing down is horrible. One day my hubby had to come get me because of the way my legs were.
I am hoping it will improve over time as the thigh pain had. It has been only a week or so since that particular nerve issue stopped.
Mine has been a long journey and it is not over yet.
Each day, in each way, it gets a little better.
Patience!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY

I don't know if any of you remember me. I broke my back last year in a boating accident. Crushed and shattered L4. They wanted to do a 4 level fusion but I would not let them. I found a Dr. That would help me recover with Pt. I go to the Y now swim, walk s mile and can ride the bike. I still have a lot of pain and get tired by the e d of the day. But I think it's better than a fusion. Some day down the line I may need it. Here is my new problem. In February we were on vacation in Texas I fell flat on my face didn't hurt my back, however I had cervical spinal stenosis a out 6 yrs ago. My neck is killing me. I do ha e a fusion in my neck. I got a concussion from this fall. My pain dr. Xrayed for anything wrong they did t see any thing going g. How e er to ct or MRI. She ordered a esi injection. And occipital injection for headache. Got better now back with a vegengace. I don't want more surgery. What would you do

REPLY
@suerc

I don't know if any of you remember me. I broke my back last year in a boating accident. Crushed and shattered L4. They wanted to do a 4 level fusion but I would not let them. I found a Dr. That would help me recover with Pt. I go to the Y now swim, walk s mile and can ride the bike. I still have a lot of pain and get tired by the e d of the day. But I think it's better than a fusion. Some day down the line I may need it. Here is my new problem. In February we were on vacation in Texas I fell flat on my face didn't hurt my back, however I had cervical spinal stenosis a out 6 yrs ago. My neck is killing me. I do ha e a fusion in my neck. I got a concussion from this fall. My pain dr. Xrayed for anything wrong they did t see any thing going g. How e er to ct or MRI. She ordered a esi injection. And occipital injection for headache. Got better now back with a vegengace. I don't want more surgery. What would you do

Jump to this post

@suerc It sure sounds like you have had a time of it. If I read your post correctly, you do have a prior fusion of your neck is that correct?
I would press the doctor for a MRI. The injections she ordered were just temporary fixes to give you pain relief. Yes, sometimes the ESI reduces the swelling enough to provide long term pain relief. My husband had fusions done on c spine and t spine. If this was happening to him, I'd be taking him to the ER (based on his pain level) get a MRI and see his surgeon right away. It's possible that you may now need a fusion at the next level. Or perhaps you need another round of injections. @suerc Like I tell my husband.."we need to wrap you in bubble wrap to walk around the house!"

REPLY

I am sorry to hear you are hurting so much. I guess if I were you I would get current imaging of my back to see what is going on and talk to my surgeon. I don't blame you for not wanting a fusion. However, I just had one 8 weeks ago and I am doing better. I am able to go on walks, shop, coach my kids soccer team. Pain is no fun and it wears you down. The big question I would would want answered is will the fusion help me with my pain? If it will I would do it. As we get older I realize some pain is inevitable, but if the pain is really affecting your quality of life, something should be done to help you out. Good luck to you, I hope you find relief for your pain soon.

REPLY
@salsa

I am sorry to hear you are hurting so much. I guess if I were you I would get current imaging of my back to see what is going on and talk to my surgeon. I don't blame you for not wanting a fusion. However, I just had one 8 weeks ago and I am doing better. I am able to go on walks, shop, coach my kids soccer team. Pain is no fun and it wears you down. The big question I would would want answered is will the fusion help me with my pain? If it will I would do it. As we get older I realize some pain is inevitable, but if the pain is really affecting your quality of life, something should be done to help you out. Good luck to you, I hope you find relief for your pain soon.

Jump to this post

@salsa
I am 100% in line with your suggestions.
I had cervical surgery to REPLACE C5/6, followed by lumbar surgery, less than 6 months later.
I had an X-LIFT FUSION on L3/4.
I had been taking shots for years and they were no longer helping for any period of time.
I had no quality of life!
Just as you said, the pain 24/7 wore me down!
I decided it was time to have surgery.
****On the side, I have no medical proof, but I think that the issues I am currently having with severe nerve damage came from waiting too long for surgery. As you know, the shots do not cure anything, they just hide the pain.
The cervical surgery was a breeze.
I was on pain meds just a couple of days and I felt like myself within a week.
Of course, I was far from being healed.
Now, the lumbar surgery is a very different surgery.
The pain was HORRENDOUS!!!!
For 3 months I suffered day in and day out.
Then one day, I woke up and the pain was gone!!!
I found out that when they work on the lumbar, muscles are moved and possibly cut, which causes the pain.
That happens in the thigh/groin area.
It has been 9 months since my surgery and I am PAIN FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good luck!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

REPLY
@sandytoes14

@suerc It sure sounds like you have had a time of it. If I read your post correctly, you do have a prior fusion of your neck is that correct?
I would press the doctor for a MRI. The injections she ordered were just temporary fixes to give you pain relief. Yes, sometimes the ESI reduces the swelling enough to provide long term pain relief. My husband had fusions done on c spine and t spine. If this was happening to him, I'd be taking him to the ER (based on his pain level) get a MRI and see his surgeon right away. It's possible that you may now need a fusion at the next level. Or perhaps you need another round of injections. @suerc Like I tell my husband.."we need to wrap you in bubble wrap to walk around the house!"

Jump to this post

This is what my husband says. They need to just wrap me in bubble wrap

REPLY
@grandmar

@salsa
I am 100% in line with your suggestions.
I had cervical surgery to REPLACE C5/6, followed by lumbar surgery, less than 6 months later.
I had an X-LIFT FUSION on L3/4.
I had been taking shots for years and they were no longer helping for any period of time.
I had no quality of life!
Just as you said, the pain 24/7 wore me down!
I decided it was time to have surgery.
****On the side, I have no medical proof, but I think that the issues I am currently having with severe nerve damage came from waiting too long for surgery. As you know, the shots do not cure anything, they just hide the pain.
The cervical surgery was a breeze.
I was on pain meds just a couple of days and I felt like myself within a week.
Of course, I was far from being healed.
Now, the lumbar surgery is a very different surgery.
The pain was HORRENDOUS!!!!
For 3 months I suffered day in and day out.
Then one day, I woke up and the pain was gone!!!
I found out that when they work on the lumbar, muscles are moved and possibly cut, which causes the pain.
That happens in the thigh/groin area.
It has been 9 months since my surgery and I am PAIN FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good luck!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

Jump to this post

Thank you all

REPLY

My BFF in Yuma AZ also says that about me!!

REPLY
Please sign in or register to post a reply.