I've had my L4-L5-S1 fused. It was done in 2003.
As far as preparing for the surgery my tips are:
-Make sure that you have someone to stay with you for at least 2 weeks. You will not be allowed to drive, and normally at about
1 week you have to go in to have the staples removed.
-Make sure that you have a good comfy recliner - preferably one that rocks - it's quite hard to get up and down post surgery. Also for me it was my "spot" for about
two months. People knew if I was in the room - that seat was mine to sit in.
-Make sure that nothing you will need to reach is below your waist. Bending is going to hurt, a great deal. Get a stack of books and put them beside your recliner or your bed, make sure that your not going to need to bend to grab shorts out of a bottom drawer or anything like that.
-Get a shower seat. The first week or two out of the hospital, at least for me (once approved by your surgeon) felt amazing. But was exhausting. I mean you could have just woke up, taken your shower, and your ready for bed again. Also if you can get one of the back scrubbers with the long handle - it makes getting your feet and legs soo much easier.
-Make sure that you don't have anything planned for the first few weeks - as exhaustion hits when it wants to. Also you HAVE to take it easy on the back. For those of us who are used to just pushing through and dealing with the pain to get things done, it's very hard to rest and relax. I was told by my surgeon that I was WAY overdoing it.
-Get plenty of pillows. It's hard at first (or was for me) to find a position that didn't hurt, or wasn't uncomfortable, the pillows really help.
-Remember after surgery that if it's on the floor - it stays on the floor. If you drop the only pen in existence it's not worth picking up, just believe me on this.
-If you have pets - the need to be somewhere else (outside, locked in a room) when you get home. A pet jumping on you is just not worth the trouble.
-Same things with kids - kids need to know they can't jump on your lap, run up to you to hug you, things like that, every jolt is going to hurt.
-Make sure that you have "quick foods", soups, hot-pockets, things like that, for if you get hungry and happen to be alone at the time. And make sure they are easily reachable.
To give you a brief summary of my surgery -
I went in that morning - with my husband (who got leave from Iraq just for it) - I was really nervous - and eventually told them so - they gave me a relaxant that helped lower my raising blood pressure, and keep me calm. I don't remember anything after that until I woke up in recovery. I remember a whole bunch of nurses all doing this or that to me in recovery. I also was told by a nurse that I was demanding someone went and told my husband I said I was okay - they wouldn't go - and at one point I said fine you wont do it I will, and started trying to pull things off of me - finally someone left the room - it appeased me enough that they said they were going to go tell him - he said they never did - and by law they can't - well - they don't like you trying to get up in recovery - it's a no no.
I was awake and not on and off in recovery - the same for the first hour I was in my room. Then they had a physical therapist come in to show me how to sit up, she said she'd be back in a few hours to help me get up and walking. Well, I wanted to be up and walking then - so she helped me. I got to the door and was ready to go back. For me the worse pain (other than bending) was from where they took the bone graft from. It still hurts now when the weather is getting bad. Anyways... They want you up and walking - it helps prevent blood clots - and improves circulation. They'll also give you a breathing thing - to use so they can make sure that your lungs are okay after being put under. Basically it was walk walk sleep. I had a nurse come in about
every four hours to check my bandages - the surgeon came in daily to look and make sure things were okay. I was in for five days - the last 2 of which were because they couldn't keep my temperature below 101.
The ride home was HORRIBLE. I'm not going to sugar coat it. We lived an hour from the hospital, and it was painful. We got me home - and I went right to sleep. Then it was get me out of bed ( a little harder without rails to help you). We gave me a sponge bath because I couldn't get my back wet yet. On the day they took out my staples, things looked great. The staples came out and I really didn't feel it all. I was home after yet another painful ride. about
4 that night, we started noticing increased drainage from the site. By 10 it was a steady drip. At 12 midnight it was a small stream whenever I sat up. We called the surgeons answering service who had him call me (he called back in 8 minutes) and he said he'd meet me at the hospital ER. I got to the ER and was admitted right away my temp was 102. I'd developed an infection of some sort that was causing tons of fluid so I was back in for four more days. I was then on antibiotics for 2 weeks just to prevent another infection.
Would I do it again? In a heart beat. I will admit that my pain is back, my last pain doctor after tons of shots, told me that he believed it was scar tissue build up. BUT I got two years of immense relief that I wouldn't trade for anything. I've been told the chances of the pain coming back like it has are about
10%. I'm okay that it's back. I know I tried.
Things you might want to do if you haven't are to check up on your surgeon, make sure he doesn't have any major complaints, or anything going on with the medical board. Also - ask your surgeon point blank, how quickly he will respond if you feel you have an emergency. If you have an emergency, how long will it take him to meet you at the hospital?
I wish the best of luck! And take care!
"When we come to the edge of the light we know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, of one thing we can be sure; either God will provide something solid to stand on... or we will be taught to fly.'"
"Cause when push comes to shove You taste what you're made of, You might bend, till you break Cause its all you can take; On your knees you look up Decide you've had enough, You get mad you get strong Wipe your hands shake it off, Then you Stand" From "Stand" by Rascal Flatts
Dx.: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Ulcerlative Colitis, Chronic Inflammation of the Colon, Ruptured & Fused L4-L5-S1 w/pinched nerves, Degenerative Disc Disease, Chronic Costochondritis, Back Muscle Spasms, Asthma, Benign Tremmors (hands)