Lumbar Spinal Fusion and Learning to Hope

Goodness it has been a while since my last post! Sorry about that!

For those who have read some of my posts in the past, you might recall that I was in need of a lumbar spinal discectomy and fusion. Fun! Well I finally had it on April 16, hence the lack of post-age.

So to back up for those who haven’t followed my every move (*wink), My boyfriend and I were in a car accident about 2 years ago; a guy rear ended us going 60 in a 20 in the middle of the night, on a completely deserted road…ya.

This was the lovely result:

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We were in the middle lane on the access road and were thrown into the guardrail of the outer lane. Everyone walked away, but not without a cost. We sued the guy who hit me, but he had nothing, not even the car was in his name; so we ended up only getting the insurance pay out, which by the time it paid the medical bills we had accrued, left us with very very little.

The lawyer sent us to a chiropractor first, who ascertained that we both had multiple herniated discs due to the accident. My lumbar one was pretty severe and my neck one was moderate but touching a nerve. My boyfriend’s lumbar one was moderate but his cervical one was extremely severe, pinching his spinal cord.  The chiropractor met with us 3 times a week for about 8 months for physical therapy, but knew we would end up needing surgery for the herniations. About 2 months in, the lawyer sent us to pain management for steroid epidurals and pain meds. After a series of 3 in both neck and back along with a variety of prescription meds, we both showed little sign of improvement and were finally sent to a neurologist.  He confirmed what we already knew, that surgery was eminent.  The lawyer used that info to plead our case, hoping to finagle any more money out of the insurance company to help pay for the multiple surgeries, but we ended up with very very little.

So we decided to do my surgeries first, mainly because I still had insurance under my parents. I have a couple of previous posts about my cervical surgery here, which I had in August of 2014. I had a really rough recovery for various reasons, explained in the posts, so was very apprehensive about the supposedly ‘more difficult’ lumbar fusion.

So, after a long ordeal with the insurance company, which you can read about here, I finally got my surgery on April 16, 2015.

This surgery was a lumbar discectomy and fusion at L5-S1, which is basically the very bottom of  your spine, where your back meets your booty.  This means the remove the disc from between the vertebra and fuse it together to add stability back into the spine. I was very apprehensive about this surgery because I would have a long recovery and was not looking forward to more pain. In addition, I was worried it would be just as difficult as the last one and that maybe it would not leave me pain-free.

But, intuitively, I could not find a reason that I did not need the surgery, so I went ahead with it. I was in the hospital for 4 days after surgery, which is pretty typical.  I had some problems with nausea every time I would stand and it turned out to be from too much Norco! This is pretty exciting if you have read my posts about my cervical recovery, in which I required high doses of Norco and could not manage the pain. So to require a lower dose was very exciting for me.

When I got to go home, I was put in my brace and told to where it all the time except when lying down and to continue working on walking as much as possible. It was about 4 days before I could shower and that was utterly exhausting. I am now on day 19 and walking fairly well without the walker, am fairly self reliant, and mostly just need monitoring on taking showers and long walks.  So now to the good stuff, First off, here is a pic of what it looked lie with and without staples 8 days after surgery. Please keep in mind this scar is very low on your back so you can see some booty, but I zoomed in a lot for privacy sake; please be respectful.

w staples staples out It’s hard to tell but the second one actually has most of the staples out at that point.

The scar is probably  about 5- inches long going vertically down my low back to my butt…so really not that big.

So now for tips on making it through this surgery!  I had done quite a bit of research prior to this surgery so I knew what I was getting myself into, and what tools I needed to help me out.

At the hospital:

warming blanket- it’s freezing in there

extra socks- again with the freezing

water bottle- this is really good when you are reclining or lying down and don’t want to spill all over yourself

robe- I used this on top of my gown for extra privacy

extendable reach device- this is just a device that can help you wipe after using the restroom. No one mentioned this to me, but it is damn near impossible to do when you can’t move your waist.

body wipes- these are great to help you feel fresh and clean

face wipes- to help you feel clean and look good

basics- toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, brush, and maybe a little makeup (powder. mascara, and blush) to help you feel better

easy clothes for leaving- stretch pants, and a comfy shirt, slip on shoes

At home-

grabber- this is absolutely necessary, so helpful for absolutely everything

walker- they will likely have you sent home with one

tennis balls-for the bottom of the walker

step stool- to help you maneuver your way onto the  bed

back scratcher- because sometimes you just cant reach it

recliner- where I have spent most of my recovery

medicine app for phone- great way to remind yourself when to take meds

tv tray- to move back and forth from the recliner to the bed so you can keep water and meds in reach

lots of different sized pillows- you will constantly be changing them to get comfortable

So I think that about covers it all. I know I have had a great recovery so far with these items and am looking forward to getting up and moving more. I will keep y’all updated!

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