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One Week Post-Surgery

Today marks my first week of recovery from my L5/S1 fusion surgery.  I decided to have this surgery because my L5 (the lowest of the lumbar vertabrae) had slipped forward over the S1 (the first sacral vertabrae).  I had quite a lot of movement in the L5/S1 joint, which compressed the nerve, causing pain.

I tried non-invasive treatments, but because I had so much movement in the joint, I felt that I would not make any real progress in relieving my pain without surgery.

Basically the surgery involves going in through the abdomen and replacing the disc between L5 and S1 with a mesh cage filled with synthetic bone replacement material (ALIF).  This allows the two bones to fuse - it takes about 6 - 8 weeks for the fusion to begin, and 9 - 18 months for it to complete.

Once the cage was inserted, the surgical team turned me over and added rods and screws to keep the bones in place while the fusion completes (PLIF).

This is one tough surgery - I've never experienced pain like this and I know the recovery is a long and slow road.  Here are ten things I learned in the first week:

  1. I totally underestimated the amount of pain I would feel, post surgery.  
  2. Percoset helps manage the pain and also makes me feel loopy.
  3. I have an allergic reaction to percoset - my skin is super-itchy.  Benedryl helps relieve the itchiness, but makes me sleepy.  (Everything has a price)
  4. I now understand what people said about feeling like my insides were put back in a slightly different way than they were originally.
  5. I'm not supposed to bend, lift or twist.  And you would be shocked at how much everything you want to do involves one or more of those.
  6. I am embracing my back brace in a way I never expected.
  7. Walking uses a lot of your core.
  8. My office is making it very easy to be out recovering.  I expect to be out at least two months, and even then, will be moving slowly.
  9. Fatigue is a real and debilitating thing.
  10. My husband, family, friends and co-workers have been amazingly supportive.  I feel so lucky to have all of these people in my life!

Has anyone else had this surgery?  Any words of wisdom?


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Anticipated discharge date:


We missed you Mommy!

It's great to have you home.

Here we go!

Ready for my surgery.  Sheepy is too.


I'll be going under the knife  on October 22 at 11:30! This has been the fastest approval process I've had yet.  I give credit to Dr. CGL's new office staff. Now I've got a week to get ready.  Lots to do at work, not so much at home.  Have to find bell substitute for my handbell choir... potentially for the Christmas concert.  I'm so happy to have this set.  Maybe by next spring I'll be out of pain!

Nice waiting room...

Anyone like Torrey Pines? ;-)

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Guess what I found out at the podiatrist today.  Did you guess? I broke my *&^*^#+ foot.  That's right.  Left foot, second metatarsal.  In a nice long diagonal break.  8 - 10 weeks in a boot.  Lovely.  I'm sure that will help my spine pain.

Another Day, Another Bracelet

Maybe not the bracelet that one might want however. Today was my (most recent) diagnostic SI joint injection.  Dr. CGL believes that if I were to have a positive result - which would be a 50% or more reduction in pain during the diagnostic period - then SI fusion surgery would be indicated.  I did have a blessedly low-pain period after the injection!  And as a side note, never believe someone who is about to put a needle in the most painful part of your back when he says "you're going to feel a little pinch."  I am fairly certain that Doc Brutus has never been stabbed in the back by his pain management doctor.    Sadly, the diagnostic period is only a few hours.  I now also have extra pain from the procedure itself.  That pain will happily be going away in a couple of days - yea! So, the diagnostic injection worked.  Not too surprising, since I've had this injection three times already.  First thing tomorrow I'll be sending a message to Dr. CG

Sometimes it's the little things...

I've had a really good couple of weeks, activity-wise.  I've managed to walk more than 11,000 steps each day this week, I've been to the pool twice and had an amazing massage. Pain-wise?  Well, that's a big jump in activity, and I can totally feel it.   I know that I need to get stronger, and to do that I need to move.  And stretch.  Being careful not to move the wrong way. I still have times when it is hard and I wonder if I'll ever get back to normal (whatever that is...).  I feel like those times are fewer.  Chronic pain is crap. Hot tea on a rainy day is nice though.  Sometimes it's the little things.

Look, Mom...

No hands!