View Full Version : Recovery time frame for YOU

Ginger W.
09-06-2018, 03:01 PM
On Oct 23, Dr. Berven of UCSF will perform my surgery from L3 - S1. I read about Linda Racine's recovery (our fabulous moderator) from almost the same surgery. Very helpful. Still, I need more how to prepare for my post-surgery life, considering the recovery of others and considering that I live alone.

I am 65 and in good health besides my inability to walk more than a 1/2 a block due to back pain. Up until six months ago, I could hike up a canyon near my home - generally 2 miles. I also have great balance, considering that I'm fused T4 - L3. (BTW, this is NOT a revision surgery since I've never been fused in this part of my spine.)

I simply don't know how to prepare for my self-care when I go home. The plan is 5 - 7 days in the hospital and 2 - 3 weeks in rehab before I'm on my own.

Whatever your physical condition going into surgery, I'd love to hear about: What things were hard for you when you got home? How long before you could prepare your own meals? How long before you could go out and run an errand? How long before you could do a short trip with low activity? If working, when could you return to work? That sort of thing.

All help would be appreciated.

09-06-2018, 08:55 PM
Hi Ginger...

While there's no clear definition of revision surgery, extension of an existing fusion is generally considered revision.

I was able to make myself simple meals within a week of surgery. I had very little appetite, so I'd eat something simple like a yoghurt or a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and I'd microwave a Lean Cuisine or something similar for dinner. I was home by myself in less than two weeks from surgery, and I generally found it easy to take care of most of my needs. Since I was on narcotics, I couldn't drive, which was really the only problem. Thankfully, I had great neighbors who were always willing to help when I needed it. The hardest part was learning to ask for and accept help from others.

Best of luck with your surgery.


09-08-2018, 11:51 AM
Ginger, I have a brand new smoking fast computer with two 27" monitors, you know, one for each eye. That's my latest computer joke....Ha ha If I told this one at the CES show in Vegas, they would kick me out.

Nice to type on one monitor while the forum is up on the other monitor....

I did not plan......Since I didn't know what was going to happen at that time, and had a whole lot on my plate, I just didn't plan. But I have to say that having a close support team, inner circle, is important. My neighbors all knew what was going on, so I left the front door unlocked and they came over often. The nurses and PT folks came to my home and they would step in and yell, "Ed, are you awake?" Heck, I never went to sleep. I was in a survival mode where every minute was spent trying to get comfortable. The people that did come over would act as gophers since there will be things you will want, and you can't drive on medications. I elected to skip rehab since I was tired of playing hospital. Hoses and drains are a drag and I had a lot of them. Since I saved the insurance company a fortune skipping rehab, they sent the nurses out to my home. If you leave the hospital, make sure you are weaned to orals. This is important. Percoset isn't worth a damn after you are used to the IV and injectable meds. I was on a POWERFUL medication program. Weaning is the hardest part.

Having tons of really soft pillows is a must. They have to be really soft so you can mold them easily. This is important for the neck making the right size neck roll. Rolled up towel's also help. Small ones.

You will need a walker. Usually, insurance companies will give you one, if not, every single nursing home has 500 of them in their basements on a pile. You can get one for free and it's one block away. Grabbers are handy, if you don't have one, use BBQ tongs. This kills 2 birds with one stone. One can get your carcinogens later from the BBQ.

You will want loose clothes. large socks, and sandals or some sort of open step in shoe without laces. You cant bend down for a awhile. No BLT's! No bending, lifting or twisting. The bending thing is really bad, the forces in the lumbar spine are incredible, and you have to fuse.


09-08-2018, 12:08 PM
One extremely difficult thing I had happen a few times had to do with bedroom management. Lets face it, I am not that great in the bedroom. LOL (such self depreciating humor!)

Setting yourself down on the bed is critical. If you are too close to the headboard, you will hit your head and this forces you to lay on an angle. Log rolling is really the only way to maneuver in bed, and rolling out of that situation is EXTREMELY difficult since what happens is your head ends up at the edge of the bed.

When this happens, you are forced to lift your hips off the mattress to change the angle of the body which can be difficult. You cannot get out of bed if your head is at the edge and your feet are in the center of the bed. (2nd photo)

You have to sit down around half way down the mattress from the headboard so your head doesn't hit.

I have attached a photo of this situation.


09-08-2018, 01:02 PM
Ginger, Lets talk about food.

When we are on meds, its almost impossible to eat. I had to force myself to eat, lifting the spoon up with both hands!

And, we depleat ourselves of nutrients after our surgeries, since our bodies are in such an intense healing mode, our WBC (White blood cell) tachometers are revving on redline fighting infection.

Water is important! Sip it all the time. It promotes peristalsis and if you do meds, constipation happens, and that HURTS!!! Man-o-man! Just ask Elvis what happened. The King died on the throne.

Walking also promotes peristalsis, helps keep things moving in the intestines, and circulates needed blood flow in healing zones. Walk often, I did many short walks throughout the day. Every hour! Use ski poles when walking outside. They are good for warding off friendly dogs. You don't want a dog knocking you down.

Have 2 bottles of Magnesium Citrate on standby. This is a powerful laxative. It will break a dam.

My surgeon suggested yogurt. Buy organic yogurt, good for digestion.

My nurses suggested sliced roast beef for protein. We need protein for healing, this is the easiest way to get protein, just pull it out of the bag.

Soups are good food. Already broken down somewhat, digestion can be a problem for us. At one point, I thought I heard a plumber banging on the pipes! It was like Tony Orlando singing "Knock three times on the ceiling if you love me, twice on the pipe if the answer is no". Anyone remember that one? Blast from the past. Talk about corny! LOL

Stay away from dairy! Milk and cheese is hard to digest. Soy milk is an alternative. Low fat.

Ensure drinks.....boy that stuff is expensive! Buy a couple of 6 packs.

My recovery in the first 6 weeks was mostly about lower GI management, not about the spine. Controlling food, meds and constipation is a science that everyone has to figure out.