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L4-L5 Fusion Surgery

I am scheduled to have lumbar fusion surgery early next month and I am concerned about the recovery period. I have four children ages 10 (almost 11), 8, 5, 3 and my husband and I are clueless as to how to prepare for Mommy being out of comission for 3-4 months.  I have been told that the first 2 weeks I won't be able to do anything, then for the next 4 weeks after that I won't be able to do much more than I was the first two weeks. I am a RN and work in the clinical enviroment so I will pretty much have to quit working for the four months that it will take the fusion to completly "take".  The PA that works with the surgeon has told me that even after the initial 4-6 weeks the list of restrictions are going to be pretty limiting. Has anyone had a similar experience with this type of surgery and having a young, large family?
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482754 tn?1341791494
Hi... I can relate - I had spinal lumbar surgery at the Spine Institute in Clearwater, FL in Dec 1995.  I was 52 at the time and very active.  I  was in hospital for 6 days,  was ordered to stay pretty much in bed for the next week, and then was allowed to ride 7 hours back home to Ga.  I wasn't restricted that much - even  started physical therapy at 3 wks out, and PT let me loose after a week a a half and said I was doing fine on my own.  I continued the exercises they gave me and have til this day.  About 6 weeks after the surgery my husband was transferred, so I had to pack up a 2 story house by myself, and a few weeks later he and I did all the moving out, traveling 6 hrs. to our new home (another 2 story!) and moved in there with no help - just the 2 of us.  Probably a foolish thing to do - I wouldn't advise it - but I was in no pain.  My fusion took right away - 6 weeks after surgery I was put on a 6 month schedule to go back for check-ups.  

I had very good results, however It is now nearly 13 years later, and as I was told to expect much sooner, I am now having back pain again.  An MRI shows some stenosis above and below the fusion and possibly need to remove and re-position the hardware  BUT the pain is mild and only after doing heavy lifting or standing for long period of time, and I'm at an age now where I shouldn't be doing so much heavy work as to bring on the pain anyway and I probably won't have more surgery.  My son who  is 43 recently had the same surgery performed by the same surgeon at the same clinic just 3 months ago and is doing very well.  He took a little longer to feel better, but we all know men are bigger babies!!   But he was only out of work for 2 weeks, no PT, and went on a fishing trip 6 weeks later where he was hauling boats out of the water, climbing, lifting, etc.

I don't  know what your circumstances  are, but I would think you're biggest concern would be finding time to rest and heal properly.  And don't lift that 3 yr. old!!

Let me know how you do... I don't know if I've helped any, that's why I wrote a private message rather than a forum post.

Good luck............Karen

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482754 tn?1341791494
I forgot to mention that the restrictions for me were to not lift over 20 lbs, and not to do anything that involved a twisting or turning movement at the waist like sweeping or raking. I continued all my normal chores - I wasn't working at the time, but I sure wasn't an invalid!  I never stopped going.
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Avatar universal
I am 28 and I had my L4-S1 fusion in January of this year.  I only have my husband and my dog, but we live in a townhouse, and I was doing stairs all the time.  I was in the hospital for 4 days (Friday through Monday).  I was discharged home with pain meds and muscle relaxers.  I think the first 4-5 weeks were the worst.  I used a grabber to pick things up from the floor, and used a adapter to put my socks on.  I was allowed to drive after my 6 week appt, and started PT after that as well.  I highly recommend using land and water PT!  I also recommend walking!  I am also a nurse, and I also have other injured discs in my back, and I was informed that I cannot lift more than 25 lbs, and have not returned to floor nursing.  I am currently working at an insurance company, and I am allowed to sit most of the day, but I can get up and walk around during the day.  Having the surgery was the best thing for me, and I feel great now.  I'm only taking Tylenol for pain, and my leg and foot feel regular again.  My x-rays have looked great since the beginning, and I don't have my next follow up until a year from my surgery date.  Depending on the surgery, some doctors have to go home with a brace, but I did not need one.  

I hope my experience helps.  I'm now trying to have children, and my neurosurgeon has given his blessing but told me to continue swimming while being pregnant to help with weight and pain.  

Let me know how you are doing after your surgery!
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Avatar universal
I posted this on another forum but this may be good news for you too.

My mother is currently going through the same thing & what really annoys me is the way that her doctors are educating her.  I do not believe that they are NOT knowledgeable, but they are incapable of thinking outside of their own box... and often times, there are alternatives out there!
I work for a leading national health insurance company and have had first hand experience as to what type of "inabilities" that doctors have when offering and referring care.  Generally speaking, a medical doctor (primary care, specialist, etc) is trying to make a buck and only trained to do one of four things: diagnose to the best of their ability, medicate, refer out to a specialist, or cut.  There are other non-surgical options that are available that your doctor is NOT telling you about.  Often times when your have a bulging/herniated disc, there are other problems that lye within your spine that your doctors are not addressing.  My mother's one vertebra is completely misplaced, which caused her disc to slip to begin with.  Her doctor and surgeon want to go in and fix the disc; not address the misplaced vertebra - because that is outside of their realm of expertise.  The end result may not even fix my mother's issue and her pain may persist; especially if they are fusing things together to correct the disc surgically.  Fixing the symptom does not fix the problem, it may create more stress on other discs, other areas of your back may start hurting because they are compensating for the problem that still persists, and your surgeries will become cyclical.
My thought... try everything first.  Back surgery (or any surgery) is a serious, serious thing.  I understand that PT can be painful and cause further problems, but I urge you to see a back doctor - not a primary care physician, an orthopaedic surgeon, voo doo, or witch doctor... see a chiropractor and ask about DTS before getting cut.  For many people this could be an option and will allow your body (with a little help) a chance to do what it does best - and heal itself.  Most health plans offer 20 visits per calander year and more if medically necessary.  I urge you - get a referral and go.  

I found one link that I thought was good:

google it, use your resources, talk to a chiropractor and see if this could be an option.
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410475 tn?1262942367
I also had a fusion L4-L5 and it was horriable for me. I've also had both knees replaced and that was nothing compared to this. I pray to God everyday that I never have to have this again. I am just now after 10 months starting to at times not feeling like my back is the first thing on my mind. I think I am having post tramitic stress. it was horriable for me before and after. the pain before was the wrose in my life and after I had to withdraw from some powerful drugs the dr put me on. I never took a drug in my life and I found myself detoxing 2 months after surgery. it was the worse time of my life.
just another viewpoint.
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