Spinal Fusion: Week 1

This week has been a different experience every single day. A week out I’m feeling really good. My first surgery was an L5-S1 fusion which gave me a TON of pain in my tailbone that lasted for months. I have none of that pain with this surgery and that makes the pain much more manageable. I feel much more mobile and have more energy than the first time. I really don’t know why that is but I did correct a few mistakes I made the last time, like weaning off the pain meds too quickly, that may have something to do with feeling better this time around.

my resting place for the foreseeable future

Also, this time around I convinced my wife to get me a recliner and let me tell you, it made a HUGE difference. I spend most of my days getting comfortable and resting in the recliner. It also makes it easier to get up and down and much easier to sleep in post-op rather than climbing in and out of the bed.

Over the last couple of days I have gone from pain meds every 4 hours to every 6-7 hours and that has been working out very well. I will continue getting that down and with the feelings of mobility and the ease of recovery to this point, I am optimistic that I will be able to get back to doing the things I used to do, things like going to the gym so that I can strengthen my core to a point where it will support my body and prevent any future surgeries like the two I have already endured.

For those who may go through this in the future, here is what I will say about the recovery time: 

1) The initial recovery happens VERY fast and you feel great after about two weeks. 

2) There are MANY plateaus and recessions in the recovery process. After the first two weeks, I remember regressing about a week in how I was feeling. If I remember correctly, there was another big plateau around six weeks, another at six months, and then off and on pain up to about 14 months post-op. 

3) A mistake I made last time was not focusing on prevention of another surgery by working out in the gym. I worked out until I felt pain in my back and then stopped doing whatever that was. What I needed/need to do is find a program that safely builds back full-body strength and pushes through those moments of pain.

out with the old and in with the new

So that is about it for the first week. Recovery is going well and the next weeks will be focused on gaining mobility and weaning off pain meds completely. I need to do that to drive and I need to drive to go back to work. It also takes time to build energy again. I still don’t last a full day without crashing after lunch so regaining that energy is a requirement for going back to work as well. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, sitting at your house on house arrest isn’t that fun so getting healed and back to work is a priority for me.

I’ll give another update when something changes but for now, I don’t think that will be for another week or so.

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