L4 L5 TLIF Results
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mrincredibull posted:
Hello all, just wanted to share my recent experience with TLIF surgery. I am as of this date 11 days post op. Going into the surgery I had done lots of reading and was quite concerned about what to expect, recovery time, pain management, etc. As this was my second back surgery in 2 years, (first was a micro discectomy L4 L5), I only had a limited knowledge of what to expect.


About me, I am 51 years old, 6'6" 290lbs male. My spine was for the most part healthy all my life but I made the decision to continue to play semi-pro football until I was 39 years old. In hindsight not the best idea as it eventually took its toll on my back. I stayed very active, running, lifting, racquet sports etc. until the pain basically brought me to a back surgeon for relief.


Speaking to my back doctor there were a couple of things he recommended pre-op that I am very glad he did and I followed. First if you are looking at this type of back surgery and are even a little overweight LOSE THE TONNAGE! I went from 290 to for me an anemic 240 the month before the surgery and this is one of the most important things I could have done for myself. I could not imagine trying to haul around all that mass post-op the first week, it would have been very difficult. My advice is lose all the weight you can any way you can before the surgery, you will be VERY glad you did. Second was to prepare yourself mentally. By this I mean gather and harness a positive mental attitude toward your surgery and your recovery. Do all the research you can and get your mind around what you may be or may not be able to do post-op.


So as I said as of this writing I am 11 days post-op. My surgery went very well according to my doctor, (my anatomy being large helped he said), and I was walking 24 hours post-op with a brace. 36 hours post-op I was released from the hospital and at 72 hours post-op I was off pain meds. 84 hours post-op I stopped taking muscle relaxers and was at that point pain and med free. There was some soreness around the incision site but certainly nothing that needed prescription pain killers. I found relief with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I will be returning to work tomorrow 12 days post-op, (I sit at a desk in front of a computer so not much of a challenge there).


The point I would like to stress is that everyone will experience this surgery a little differently. I have read stories where folks have had very rough times post-op for months and I have read stories like mine where there was very little problems. If you are facing this type of surgery don't worry too much about other folks, focus on what you can do for yourself to make it as positive an experience as it can be and look forward to the relief it can bring. I was at a point where I could not walk, right leg was "flopping" and there was incredible back pain almost constantly. This surgery turned it off like a switch. I am very grateful I had it and am looking forward to see what 6 months from now feels like.


I will continue to post my progress as time goes on and pass on my experiences on this post. Good luck and God Bless!
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bj1208 responded:
Hi and welcome to the support group.

it's great you are pain free 11 days post op. We don't get too many success stories from back surgeries.

I would caution you on going back to work so soon especially if the surgeon has not released you for thus. Even sitting at a chair all day can put extra stress on the lower part of the back.

with any type of back surgery during the recovery period muscle tone can be lost whereas physical therapy is usually given once your surgeon has OK'd this.

you can click on mist members name or pics and read our stories of what we have been thru.

please keep us posted how you are doing and be very careful as the first 6-12 months are the most crucial for recovery. Take care ~~ Joy
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
~~ Joy ~~
 
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mrincredibull replied to bj1208's response:
Thanks Joy, I will be very careful trust me. I have an understanding boss who will allow me work from home days and half days if needed. Funny you should mention "success" from being pain free, just last night something went a little sideways and I experienced quite a bit of discomfort most of the night. I think that kind of goes along with what most others are saying, good days and bad. Got up and still have a zinger down my right side...


My surgeon told me to be extra super careful on my back to work attempt. He didn't exactly approve it but did caution me not to push too hard. If it was up to him I would just lie on the couch for 8 weeks but that is not financially feasible for me. He said with my size I am putting huge amounts of stress on the titanium construct around the vertebrae so I try to be cognizant of that and I wear my brace almost 24/7, only take it off at night as I go to sleep.


I will keep posting my progress, especially the work return attempt.
 
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bj1208 replied to mrincredibull's response:
Hi again

most of us have a hard time sleeping. I can only sleep on my left side and I use extra pillows between my knees. I sleep bout 3-4 hours a nite. If I sleep mire then my left side goes numb. Can't and haven't been able to sleep on my back for almost 3 yrs now and if I do I wake up screaming and crying. Scared my hubby first couple times it happened but he has gotten used to this. So I set me alarm on my cell and keep by me so it will wake me up.

just remember even if sitting down you are still putting pressure on the lower spine and this is a crucial area as all weight etc is focused there. So be extra extra careful. Take it easy~~
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
~~ Joy ~~
 
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mrincredibull replied to bj1208's response:
Hey,


Sorry to hear your not sleeping well. I don't have as much going on with my back as you do,(yet...), but I will share something I believe in very much and maybe it can help you too.


Our bodies our designed to hear/repair at night. In collage it has hammered into us that you don't build muscle/bone density in the gym, you build it in bed at night. Our bodies busily repair damage at night. So I had a strength coach who turned me on to Casein Protein Powder shakes just before bed every night I worked out. It was magic, no matter how hard I lifted I was never sore anymore the next day. Casein is slow release protein that releases all night long and spikes your BCAA's (Branch Chain Amino Acids), basically super fueling your bodies repair process.


My surgery was at 7;00AM and lasted until 11:00AM. I came out of post-op noon-ish and was in my room by 1PM. I had brought the protein with me and even in the hospital since the first night I have been taking the shake just before bedtime. I only missed it twice and BOTH times had miserable nights because of it.


I am a firm believer, (maybe psychosomatic??), but for me it really helps. Might be something to try at least, better than pain meds...


My first day at work was uneventful as far as back issues, I have apparently a pretty good chair that seems to unload my back well. I am curious to see what 2,3,4 days strung together feel like.
 
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bj1208 replied to mrincredibull's response:
Hey Mr Incredibull -

thanks for the tip on the protein powder. I have it written down and will check into it.

at this point I will try anything to help. Some nites can't even lay on my left side cause its too sore even sleeping as little as I do.

yes we always tell new members who have problems when they get home after having back surgery that the best recovery us rest and sleeping. I was told that by my first surgeon and his PA. Of course I had Anterior approach on first fusion and had to wear a back brace 24/7 so only way to sleep with brace on was with lots if pillows was in a reclining position in bed. So that's how I slept fir several months. Plus I had to wear this device for 4 hours and it had a type of pulse (couldn't feel it) that was supposed to help fusion and bone growth. After a month of this I noticed it was making me feel very ssick to my stomach so that was stopped.

anyway don't overdo yourself and take it easy ~~
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
~~ Joy ~~
 
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trs1960 responded:
Rule of thumb is every 10lbs on your gut is 100lbs of stress on your spine.

T
 
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mrincredibull replied to trs1960's response:
trs1960 is right, amen brother I can sing that from the mountain tops. I lost 50lbs before my surgery and am sooooo glad I did. Can't imagine what it would have been like trying to haul that kind of tonnage around after.
 
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mrincredibull replied to bj1208's response:
Day 19 Post-Op update


After finishing my first week back to work I was struck by how quickly just sitting in a chair can wear you out after this surgery. I really didn't expect to be as tired and sore as I was but in hind sight going back to work is not just sitting. It is interaction with folks, problem resolution, discussions, meetings. In short it kicked my a**. I really felt that I did myself a disservice recovery wise by returning to work early.


This week I will be working from home at least 2 days, maybe 3. Good lessons learned as it taught me a bit of humility and respect for the healing process. Feeling OK does NOT = healed.


Still doing protein shakes nightly, really feel that is a big help.
 
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bj1208 replied to mrincredibull's response:
Hey there -

I can understand your statement. I had my hysterectomy done 1993 and both my daughters were home with me as they had chickenpox. And they went back to school start if 2nd week then my ex came home with chickenpox and I sure as he** wasn't gonna stay home with him so I went back to work and it was hard. So I fully understand.

take time to heal ,- sleep and rest is best sk take it easy!!
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
~~ Joy ~~