Spinal Fusion TLIF Recovery – Week One

Introduction.   Good morning, let me introduce myself. My name is Phillip. I am 47 years old, have been married happily for 26 years, have two wonderful children, a fantastic son-in-law and the cutest granddaughter you ever did see.  Up until March 8, 2011; I also had Spondylolisthesis and Spinal Stenosis. These two conditions had been impacting my quality of life for about 22 years. The impact was first felt when I worked for a drywall company. I carried 150 lb bundles of drywall all day long. At 5’11 and about 160 pounds I was in good shape. I worked hard to keep up with guys much bigger and stronger than me. And I did good too! No brag, just fact. However, one Saturday morning, I was done in when I took out the garbage and flung the five pound hefty bag into the dumpster. My back locked up and I was curled up like a spider. It cleared up after a few days – after all I was 25; and I went back to carrying drywall. The next bout did not come for a few years. I think it came after a hard 2.5 to 3 hours of basketball on a Monday night at the church. I went to see the doctor and received my first diagnosis of Spondylolisthesis. He told me I should take it easy, take some steroids and wait at least 10 – 15 years before I even consider surgery.

I did my best to take it easy and still maintain my athletic lifestyle. I still ran 4 to 5 times a week (approximately 4 miles each time in about 32 minutes) and I lifted weights using machines that did not load my spine. I pretty much maintained my weight and a good level of physical health. By 2011 I was still 5’11 and up to 176 pounds on the day of surgery.

The flare ups have become more common over the years. I had tried 3 spinal injections during the prior 5 months with no lasting relief. The pain was persistent every day in my right hip/buttock area and of course, the lower back. I had not played basketball in months and at the urging of my regular back doctor and my wife I had planned on never really playing again. My regular back doctor at Austin Spin Clinic (who had done a very good job) said that he had done all that he could do and we were just putting on band-aids that were being less and less effective for shorter periods of times, steroids, injections, etc. He suggested I talk to the surgeon. I agreed.

I talked to a wonderful surgeon at Austin Spine Clinic. He said the situation called for a L4 and L5 spinal fusion, posterior lumbar spinal decompression with cages and a Laminectomy. This is what is referred to by most patients as spinal fusion or simply “back surgery”.

This blog is meant to record my journey and hopefully share some insight of what to expect. Please let me add the following disclaimers. I am not a doctor, and I don’t’ even play one on TV. Everybody’s journey is different. Everybody heals at a different rate. This is just what I experienced.

Pre-Op Planning: My main concern and prayer going into my surgery is that I will be patient and not worry about anything during my recovery time. See, I am a fairly busy person. Over the years I have worked in an office; for a great insurance company; Farmers Insurance. I have been blessed to work for them for 21 years now and they have been very good to me. During that time not only have I have been blessed with a wonderful career but I have made some wonderful friends within the company. There are people I can call on anytime night or day from Farmers and they will come running. God has been good to me! I have also been blessed to serve in ministry and am a bivocational pastor. I pastor Onion Creek Baptist Church. It is a wonderful congregation on the South East side of town. I can also call on any of them anytime day or night. Come look us up if you get a chance. Well, back to lining things up.

If you are going to go through this surgery, let your employer know well in advance. That way you can help train your replacement or do some big report in advance and have one less thing to worry about and encumber the healing process. I had about 6 weeks to do this. This amount of time allowed me to get the Leave of Absence paperwork started, and the cross training for my desk started. The time also allowed me find some great pulpit supply for the church. I was able to connect with some old friends and rest assured that the flock would be in good hands during my absence.

Take care of other things too. Who will watch the dogs, the kids, the cat, the husband? Who will mop the floor, mow the grass and do those things you will not be able to do for 1 week? 2 weeks? 6 months? Make a list that of priorites to take care of prior to surgery. Men, buy a mirror for the shower so that you won’t have to bend over to shave. Buy some new underwear and pajamas to take to the hospital. Buy some undershirts to go under that brace you will be wearing all day long. At home, put everything you need at waist level because trust me, you will not feel like bending over! Have that dog’s nails trimmed two weeks before surgery. When they see you that first day back they will jump on your legs! If there is something that you think you may need to have done, make a list. Schedule it out prior to the surgery and then make it somebody else’s list! Go into the surgery knowing that all you need to do is rest and recover! That is your Pre-Op Plan. Another item to include in your plan is prayer. Pray for strength to follow the doctors orders and be sure to let others know the areas you are concerned about so that they can join with you in prayer. The bible says in Philippians 4:6 – 7.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

That was the Pre-Op Plan for me, prioritize my “Things to do list” and Pray. Not necessarily in that order.

Things to Do Before I Have Surgery
1. Pray for patience for me, strength for my family and healing for my body.
2. Mow the Yard
3. Set up a contract for someone else to fertilize.
4. Take the dog in for a toenail trimming.
5. Buy Easy Frozen Paninis for Lunch along with fruit.
6. Buy those Yogurts I Like for breakfast (since I won’t be running I want to follow a good, healthy diet and not gain weight). But I want plenty of nutrients so my body can heal.
7. Buy a Grabber and Reacher tool. The Gopher for $9.99 at Walgreens is working great!
8. Buy a mirror to put in the shower for shaving purposes.
9. Line up replacements at work and church.
10. Be sure to give my list to someone else to complete or toss for me after the surgery because then, Rest and Recovering are my Goals.

Tuesday March 8, 2011 Day One – Marta and I got to the hospital about 7:30 and the people were awesome. The staff was very nice and they took us back to a room within 15 minutes of our arrival even though we had showed up about an hour early. We needed to be prepared for a wreck in Austin traffic. The operation was scheduled for 10:00 but the one my doctor was doing before mine was running long. He came in to visit with me at 10:10 to let me know he just finished and was going to take a short break. Did that bother me? No way! “That’s okay doc, take five. I don’t need you cramping up at a crucial point.” (At least that’s what I said on the inside!) I let him know that I had been praying for him and I just knew everything was going to be great! “You take all the time you need Doctor” I said out loud. The operation finally commenced about 10:45; I think. I received my IV about 10:30 am and a few minutes later I was given a shot into the IV that Marta who has had a few surgeries in her time refers to as “THE MARGARITA”. Once I received “THE MARGARITA” I must say I did seem a little more relaxed and lot wittier. From that point on Day One the details are a little fuzzy. I don’t remember much more about Tuesday and that’s okay!

Day Two – Wednesday I woke up and the first thing I noticed was I did not have any of the back pain that I had prior to the surgery! No pain in the hip bone, etc. There was some heaviness at the incision site but no back pain. There were some other discomforts though. I was nauseated and had a headache. About 9:00 am the physical therapist came by to take me for my first walk. Yes, you will be asked to walk the day after surgery. The walk itself was not that painful for me. However, the effects of the medication and the general impact of surgery on my body had left me feeling rough. I still had the IV for maintaining my body’s nutrients and fluids, etc and I had one of the hand held buttons you push for the pain killers. This allows you to have a shot of pain killer every ten minutes and let me tell you I was hitting that button it like I was surfing channels on cable TV! Because I am allergic to certain pain medications, I was put on some medication called Dilaudid. At least I think that was the name. It should have been called “deluded” because that’s what I was if I thought hitting that button all the time was the answer. I wasn’t hurting that much but I kept remembering everybody saying before the surgery to, “Stay ahead of the pain.” Let me tell you I was ahead of the back pain. The back pain was not even visible in the rear view mirror. But due to me hitting that button so much, NAUSEA was in the backseat and HEADACHE was behind the wheel! I believe my over use of the pain medication had made me sick to my stomach. I was unable to keep anything down – like my migraine maintenance medicines and you guessed it – I got a migraine which only aggravated the cycle of NAUSEA. NAUSEA soon moved into the front seat.

I ended up throwing up big time, the kind where you swear you just lost a toe nail. Let me assure you, dry heaves after back surgery is no fun. I could not keep any migraine medicine down long enough for the headache to stop. On Day Two, Day Three, any day, be sure to know your level of pain. Yes, stay ahead of the pain, but don’t be so anxious and worried about the pain that you put yourself in a bad spot. Overmedication is never good. The pump limits you and you won’t OD, but you may feel like you did! Did I pray for relief that day? Yes, I think so. But even Day two is still a little foggy. A nurse came in told me, “You look awful.” Then she added, “Well, this is the worst day of recovery.” I am sure my prayer was simply, “Help me Lord.” During this day, my faithful wife Marta was putting cool towels on my head, interpreting my grunts for my nurses and doctors, and watching me take my first of two walks down the hall with my Physical Therapist. Just as importantly though she was letting me know she was there for me and letting my friends know my needs so they could pray for me. The bible says in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Be sure to have your support network ready when you go to the hospital, you’ll need it and appreciate it. That was Day Two.

Day Three – Thursday, as I recall. I was still having headaches and nausea. I had now been on some anti-nausea medicine called Zophran for a couple of days and it had not helped. The doctor had added Phenegran to help with the NAUSEA. This is the equivalent of calling in the big guns. After having the dry heaves again at 2:00 am, I definitely agreed with the decision. The only problem is that Phenegran puts me in the monkey zone. What is the monkey zone you ask? You know those old monkeys at the zoo that just sit there in the August sun and don’t move? You know the ones who never blink they don’t even reach out for the peanuts that the kids chunk at them? That was me! I was in the monkey zone. I would mumble every now and then that I had a headache, sip some sprite, take a pill and watch the clock hoping to stifle a gag reflex for at least 20 minutes.

This was the day that I had the nurse who was going to “cheer” me into wellness. During the little neurological tests they give where they ask you to push your feet up, then your knees, then stick out your tongue and then smile, she wanted to see a “bigger smile!!” What she perceived to be a bigger smile was actually me baring my fangs at her. I was almost ashamed of myself and would have apologized if she had not so cheerfully pointed out to me that “that this was usually considered to be the worst day of recovery.” Fortunately before I could bite her and make my headache worse, she was paged and had to leave.

Day Three was the beginning of a turn around as my doctor and I discussed utilizing Tylenol #3 with Codeine to fight the pain rather than the pain button. I began taking the T3s about noon and did not hit the other button all day. I refused. I would have if I needed it but my pain was not that bad. Except for my headache, my back hurt less than before I had my surgery. My plan was to only use that button, which was still available if I needed it. Two T3s seemed to work fine every 6 hours. Still had to hide my eyes from the light and fight nausea, but hey, I was not reading any books and I was trying to get that other medicine out of my system. Day 3 – at least it progressed with me getting on board with a plan to move forward.

Day 4 – Friday. I started off the day and prayed pretty hard. I was feeling a little better but still had the headache. I asked the Lord to make this a break through day. When it was pill time at 6:00 am, I did not feel that bad and I asked if I could only have one T3. The nurse reminded me to stay ahead of the pain. I told her I felt pretty good and said that if it did not alleviate the pain sufficiently, I would ask for two next time and hit that pain button in the interim. I was still on the Phenegran and Zophran and some Reglan (?) for upset stomach. I ordered some yogurt for my stomach because I knew the impact of being on antibiotics for several days – diarrhea. I wanted to try to head that off at the pass if at all possible. During this day I was able to keep down a half of a piece of toast for breakfast, a half of a yogurt for lunch and another half of a yogurt for dinner!

The general practitioner in charge after the surgery visited me about 2:00 pm, the first direct visit since day 2 (not complaining, just saying, because she was great!) and saw the wet cloth I was covering my eyes with and said, “You have a migraine. Those are classic symptoms.” What I heard her say was, “I see the hiding of the eyes with a wet cloth, the baring of the teeth, and you appear to be in the monkey zone. We are going to try to migraine medicine again.” That’s why she’s a doctor.

The Imitrex was brought a little while later and I prayed to the Lord to help me keep it down. He did! About 75 minutes later my headache was gone! Thank you Lord! I was finally able to rest peacefully! Inside rainbows burst through the clouds, sunlight danced upon the meadow and children sang the Hallelujah chorus! He did give me a break through on that day! It wouldn’t be the only break through though.

As I was lying in bed about 3:30 pm resting, it seemed like my problems were all behind me. Then all of the sudden my problems WERE all behind me! My stomach rumbled and I had the quick, explosive effect of having had antibiotics and a whole lot of medicine for 5 days. That’s right – the runs, the “quick steps”, Montezuma’s revenge, a.k.a. Diarrhea. Only problem is a man don’t run so fast after back surgery. The feet refuse to take quick steps which can cause a problem. See the prior post about my failure to bring enough clean pajamas.

The physical therapist came by and wanted to know if I had been getting up to walk. “Yes, I have!” She decided in my current state to come later. The nurse reported my condition to the doctor who did not want to give me anything for the diarrhea in fear of it locking up my bowel and causing some even worse problems. This to shall pass I was told. I am sure they loved telling that one to a preacher.

Six o’clock rolls around and though my stomach has slowed down, I am still having issues. It is always about that time when you have no pajamas and are relegated to your last pair of clean underwear (no pressure) that someone comes to visit. My such visitor was Deacon Mike. Deacon Mike was real cool and understood that if he was gonna stay, he was gonna gave to abide by Deacon/patient confidentiality and not tell anybody about my constant shuffling off to the bathroom in my skivvies. I like a Deacon that can keep a secret. I also like a deacon that knows when to ask others to pray for an “unspoken prayer request”. I am glad Deacon Mike got some others praying because that night my stomach problems ended. The bible says “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Thanks Lord and thanks Mike.

Day 5 – Saturday , I woke up at 5 and laid in bed watching TV until 6. The hospital bed was not too hard to get comfortable in. I had been trying to lay on my side most of the night so that I was not putting as much pressure on the incision. I wanted to avoid pain and painkillers IF possible. I wanted to stay ahead of pain but did not want to risk overmedication and let NAUSEA climb back into the car and upset this much more peaceful ride I was enduring. At 6:00 my nurse helped me to put on my brace. Once she was assured that my head was clear and I was not dizzy, she allowed me to go for a walk down the hall all by myself. I had on a gray tank top under the brace and some pajama bottoms – the only pair I brought – which would prove to be a significant detail. The walk was great. I went all the way down the hall and met the lady who answers the call button. This lady had a very nice demeanor and never answered my calls with a tone of “Yeah, what do you need now?” kind of attitude. I thanked her for her service and her much needed help in the last couple of days.

I got back to my room and sat in the chair until 6:30. Then I called in my breakfast order; scrambled eggs, toast, 2 pieces of bacon and a yogurt. I finished the eggs, 1 piece of toast, the yogurt and some of the bacon. (Nobody makes bacon like my wife makes bacon!) Then because one can only sit up for 30 minute increments, I took off the brace and went back to bed. I tried to spend an hour in bed and 30 minutes in the chair. I went for another walk on my own too.

At 11:00 am one of the various physical therapists who ministered to me during the week (and it is an important ministry) came by to see me. I greeted her cheerfully and let her know that I had gone on two walks already but would love to go again. She said that she did not recognize me. I don’t think it was because I had shaved for the first time in 3 days either. (By the way, have someone shave you if you don’t feel good. Spend some $ on a cheap electric razor so it doesn’t feel like you are pulling them out with pliers when finally shave after several days and you use that disposable razor you brought to the hospital with you.) I told her my headache was finally gone. The therapist said, “Good because you were grumpy.” My wife said, “Yes you were.” I tried to remember is she was the one I bared my teeth at. “Did you ever ask me to smile?” She looked at me funny, and I just apologized. She laughed and accepted my apology and thanked me for waking with her when I must have felt so bad. All day long I apologized to everybody I saw just in case I had been grumpy to them too.

About 1:00 pm the nurse from the surgeon’s office came by and saw the progress I had made, and that I was eating well and said I would be able to go home the next day as long as I did not have any set backs that evening. I had only taken on pain pill at 6:00 am and not needed another one yet!

Everything was going great. I was tired though and at 7:00 pm I had a temperature of 100.4. This was higher than it had been all week! I was worried because the nurse said if it got above 101 they may not let me go home. About 8:00 pm I took another T3 and some Robaxin, a muscle relaxer and about 11:00 I called my nurse who gave me an Ambien so I could go to sleep. That was day 5.

Day 6 – Sunday. On Sunday I woke up at 5:00 am and felt great! I got up wnet to the restroom and no diarrhea! Thank you Lord! I put on my brace all by myself and went for a trip up and down the hallway. After making the rounds I got back to my room and rested a bit. My nurse let me know that I was doing well, my temperature was only 99.3 and that the doctor would likely release me about noon. I took another walk before we received the paperwork to leave and we pulled out of the hospital parking lot about 11:30. We headed off to Walgreen’s to drop off 2 prescriptions – Tylenol #3 and Robaxin.

I had practiced driving with the brace prior to the surgery and wearing the brace prior to the surgery and let me say that riding in the car after surgery is a little more painful. It is more painful because the brace pushes in on your and seems to put pressure on your incision. Perhaps the pressure comes from the inside, perhaps the pressure is just in the mind. I don’t know but I do know it is uncomfortable. Get used to it. My brace does not pinch or bind, but I while I am thankful for the job it is doing, I will be glad when I will not have to wear it again. Oh well, 6 months is nothing compared to having a good, strong back for the rest of one’s life. Anytime I have to do something that is uncomfortable or inconvenient I always think of Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Anything God wants us to do, He will helps us to do.

We arrived home after dropping off the prescriptions and making a quick stop at Sonic – yes, my appetite was back! Our three little dachshunds were so glad to see me that they were dancing and jumping up and down. I can see that if somebody had a big dog waiting to greet them they would have to really be careful. It was awesome to be home. I went for one more walk that day and tried to rest. Some friends from the church brought over an enchilada casserole and dropped of some wonderful cards of encouragement. They let us know that our church family had set up a rotation of people to bring by meals each day for awhile so that I could focus on FOLLOWING DOCTOR’ ORDERS! It seems everyone was concerned that it would be a fulltime job for my wife to make sure I did not over do it. It was like they were afraid I would not push too hard and do to much.

Let me assure you, I do not want to do anything to compromise a great outcome. For that reason, I make the following pledge. On my honor, I will abide by my doctor’s orders; I will take my scheduled medications; I will follow the Lumbar precautions and live by the Girl Scout Law. I will also chart my walking and observe the 2 hour rule. If I walk or do something and I am hurting after 2 hours, then I have done too much and need to cut back. Following are the LUMBAR Precautions following Spinal Fusion.

LUMBAR Precautions following Spinal Fusion
1. Log Roll to get in/out of bed at all times. Move your body as a unit; keep your hips, shoulders and knees in line.
2. Alter positions in bed – from supine (lying on your back) to your right side and left side. Use a pillow between your knees and one behind your back if needed.
3. Limit bending or twisting!
4. If you must pick up an object off the floor and a friend is not available and you do not have a Grabber and Reacher tool, then squat and keep your back straight and bend and your knees and hips – NOT your back.
5. Limit the length of time in sitting to less than 30 minutes at one time. It is okay to get up to stand or walk, and then sit for another 15 – 30 minutes.
6. Wear shoes with good support. NO flip flops!
7. Take short but frequent walks. The goal is to walk 3 – 4 times per day. This does not include the short times of standing between the 30 minutes of sitting. Gradually increase walking distance and time. Chart it so that you do not OVERDO it.
8. NEVER lift anything over 10 pounds. A full gallon of milk may be too much.

Overall the journey through the surgery went much differently than I expected. I did not expect to have as little back pain. The only pain I had in the back was from the incision. I had none of the prior back pain – yay! But I also did not anticipate the setback with the migraine and the throwing up. It was difficult but I survived. I had family and friends taking care of me and praying for me. The Lord received and answered those prayers. Yes, through it all, the Lord was good and gracious. He had my back. He always has our back.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. Psalm 116:5

More posts to follow.

212 Responses to Spinal Fusion TLIF Recovery – Week One

  1. Rita Santiago says:

    I found your blog. I am so sorry you had to endure such setbacks.
    Maybe it was a good thing I wasn’t able to make it to the hospital. I love you, but I can only witness bodily functions, coming from my children. 🙂
    The picture of the potty, seriously! We all know what that looks like! But, I would not have expected any less from you. Good to see you still have your sense of humor.
    May you continue to recover, rapidly. You are in my prayers. Much love to you and Marta! God Bless!!!! Rita

  2. I stumbled upon your website after searching for post op x ray photos after l4-l5 spinal fusion. I had Spinal Fusion surgery less than a month ago. After reading your blogs, you give me hope for a great recovery. It is nice to be able to relate to someone who has had the same operation as I. I too live in the Austin area and was pleasantly surprised to see that. Thank you for creating this website. You are definitely an inspiration to keep having patience through this crazy recovery process. Thank you!

    • Hi Britten, glad to be of service! The Lord has blessed me with a great outcome. I played basketball today outside for two hours with some guys 20 years younger and the back felt fine. I am still not in the same shape I was prior to the surgery but the lower back is great. I will pray that the Lord will bless you with patience and a wonderful outcome.
      In Christ,
      If you ever ave any specific questions don’t hesitate to ask.

  3. Rose Amerson says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your story. My husband goes for this surgery one week from today. We have a 21 month old daughter. Any idea how long it’ll be before he can pick her up again?

    • Hi Rose, It was six months before the doctor released me to lift anything or anybody weighing over 10 lbs. So that will likely be the same case for your husband. Of course doctors vary on their restrictions. The good news is that at my six month check up (which was pushed back and delayed two weeks due to a business trip – aarggh!), anyway, at that check up I was released to do anything I wanted – no restrictions. Running, lifting weights, playing basketball and picking up my granddaughter who was about 22 months old at that time. It was definitely a blessing to get to pick her up again and fly her through the house! Until your husband gets released to pick her up, he can still sit with her on his lap. I will pray for a great outcome and for his healing and his patience. May God bless you both.

  4. Mary Saylor says:

    Pastor, I just found your blog tonight. I love your faith and sense of humor. I am 5weeks post op fusion of L3-4-5. I don,t remember the first few days except 2incidents when I evidently became a wanderer and had some hallucinations for about 4days -probably related to the Dilaudid. I too have many allergies and am a retired nurse – therefore my “out of body/mind” experiences brought about many team discusions re pain control. We finally agreed that extra strength Tylenol for pain and Ativan and Benadryl for sleep would be acceptable. I also stayed for 5days inpatient rehab, that was great -provided much reinforcement of my post op spinal precautions. I am doing very well post op. I have little pain, occ take Tylenol, and only take benedryl at bedtime. I wear my brace faithfully and sttll use my walker – although using less in house. Thinking back overv the last month , I am pleased and proud of my progress. I am exhightedly waiting my next check up. I know that this is proof of if God leads you to it He will lead you through it. Have a blessed day and recovery.

    • Hi Mary, Glad to hear that your recovery is going well. It has almost been one year since my surgery and I feel great! I pray that you will continue to progress and that the Lord will bless you and your family. Continue to be patient and follow the doctor’s orders.

      Blessings to you and yours,
      Pastor Phillip

  5. Deborah says:

    I found your blog while looking for post op experiences. I had L5/S1 fusion with instrumentation. My back issues were resolved, but another complication presented itself…RSD/CRPS in the left thigh traveling down my leg. Will you pray for me? Thank you, Deborah

    • Hi Deborah, I am sorry to hear about your complications. I had weakness in my right leg for a few weeks following surgery – about 4-5 as I remember. Yours sounds much more serious. I will definitely pray for you and ask that God heals you quickly. Stay strong in your faith, I know that He will take care of you.

      Pastor Phillip

    • Jason says:

      This could be an issue with a condition called MTHFR and the inability to assimilate b vitamins, specifically vitamins B6, B9, and most importantly B12. The long and short of this in order to help with RSD and neuropathy is to get B12 (cobalamin) in its enzyme activated form called methycobalamin. 5mg of methylcobalamin can reverse these issues with nerves. B12 gets rid of heavy metals and regulates the nervous system. Many people do not produce the enzymes that allow our bodies to break down B12 and so taking it in its enzyme-activated form allows your body to complete the complex process called methylation. Most issues with degenerative disk disease and autoimmune inflammation that destroys disks are caused by condition (MTHFR). Many diseases are actually symptoms of this condition like having a runny nose is a symptom of having a cold. Please research this. This knowledge comes from discoveries made from the human genome project and the price of getting your own genome becoming inexpensive. I am not selling you anything. You will need to do your own research to “discern” if this shoe fits. It is funny because I have been able to reverse a lot of the autoimmune disease that I have been dealing with my entire life but not in time to save my spine. I was looking up what to expect for spinal fusion sugery. I am 42 and I do not have any disks left between my L4-L5 and my L5-S-1 and will most likely be under the knife in less than two weeks. I was 6’2″ four years ago and today I am 5’11.25″. Something has changed our genome. Our great grandparents never had to deal with this. It might be related to a smart business model but not an ethical one.

      • Hi Jason, I will be praying for you. My experience has been good but I always counsel people to pray and seek out what the Lord would have them to do. Sometimes He sends us to other doctors and leads us to try different options. Let me know what you decide.
        May the Lord bless you,
        Pastor Phil

      • Meridith says:

        Jason, It is my prayers answered that you found the preacher’s site and that you responded. I am 3 wk post surgery and dealing with the nerve issue you answered about in my entire leftleg and only have use of my foot. When the surgeon pulled out the retractors, he said my tissue turned to mush and he hadn’t seen that before. He said he thought I had an autoimmune disease. Three years ago, searching for pain relief, I did have genetic testing and found that I don’t assimilate my B’s; a gene from not one but both my parents. I took special vitamins for a year or so and then (stupidly)stopped. I never put the nerve pain together with the necessity of that vitamin. You may not be a doctor, but posting that info out there for me to help put 2+2 together and promote regeneration and healing is such a blessing! I can’t thank everyone enough for posting in this blog and sending me on the road to recovery!!!

  6. Rita Waycaster says:

    I will be having this surgery tuesday, March 27th. I am so thankful that I found your post. I freaked out when I was told I needed this surgery, I know everything happens for a reason and I feel safe,
    Thank you

  7. Lynn Svoboda says:

    I will be having TLIF surgery with fusing of S1, L5 and L4 within the next 2-3 weeks, and I am scared to death. I have had surgeries in the past, but the idea of them making a 7-8″ incision in my back just scares me. I am not one to just sit around and after I get through the surgery, that will be my next hurdle. I have alot of support from family which is great, but I am not one to ask for help. Thank you for sharing your story and I love your humor about your experience.


    • Hi Lynn, I will be praying for you to have an excellent outcome. I know that the Lord will watch over you and grant you patience. I am so glad to hear that you have a good support network. What a blessing! I look forward to hearing a good report from you. Just do your best to follow doctor’s orders and you will be fine.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

      • Lynn Svoboda says:

        Thanks so much for the prayers. Well the big day is almost here. Tomorrow morning I will be having my surgery. I have to admit I am very nervous, but feel I have made the right decision to have the surgery. I will let you know how it goes.

        Thanks, Lynn

      • Hi Lynn,

        I am expecting nothing but the best! May God be with you and your family! Stay strong in your faith and please know that I will continue to pray for you and your family.

        Pastor Phillip

    • Kathy Hamilton says:

      Lynn, wondering how you are doing? I am going to be 7 weeks post op next Tuesday.

      • Lynn Svoboda says:

        Kathy, glad you asked. I am doing great. Tomorrow I will be 5 months post op. If I over do it I still get a little sore, but not like it used to be. I can carry my grandchildren and not have to worry about my back hurting the next day. I wish I could have had the surgery a year prior to April because I know I missed out on alot of thing. I go back in to the doctor in a couple of weeks for a CT to see how the fusion looks. How are you feeling?

    • Jason says:

      How did it go for you Lynn? How are you doing?

  8. Tiffany says:

    I very much enjoyed your blog about your surgery. I am 9 days out of surgery and am pretty miserable. I, unlike you, do have a lot of low back pain still….and leg pain still. But they say this is normal, and should get better. I also got a migraine yesterday (first bad one since surgery, since I am a chronic migraine sufferer)….and I thought I would die with all the vomitting! I had my fusion…etc…done at the L5/S1 location….so pretty low….I think this is one reason I am still having such tailbone pain. I am praying constantly….taking pain medication as scheduled and a muscle relaxer. Unfortunately the pain meds don’t seem to help too much. 😦 I just pray I made the right decision by having this surgery done and that recovery goes okay. I also started PT in the hospital, but someone messed up my orders for home health PT, so they are just now coming tomorrow…so that’s awhile without PT. Requesting prayers from everyone who reads this….as I will do for you all as well!
    Take care all!

    • Hi Tiffany, Sorry to hear about the migraine – oh how I hate those! I will definitely be in prayer for your recovery. I think that by this time next week you will feel so much better. By your one month check up I think you will already be glad you had the surgery. Keep following doctor’s orders, take it easy as much as possible and be patient and keep praying. I am certain that you will have a successful recovery and a great outcome!

      God bless you,
      Pastor Phillip

      • Cindy Sandene says:

        I want some of what you have. Your faith. I had a TLIF fusion at L4-L5 on October 31, 2012. I have some nerve damage in my left leg, so I had to have the surgery. I am so scared all the time. I really do not have that much pain or maybe I was in so much pain before that it is all relative. I am scared I wont get better, I was so active last year. I worked fulltime as a nurse and rode my bicycle across Nebraska and Iowa in the summer of 2011. I am 55 and single. I can lunge down and get things off the floor and I use my grabber. I can shower by myself now. I can walk 1 to almost 2 miles. I am so scared I will overdo or move wrong. Moving feels better than staying still. I get sore in my hips and left leg if I lie in bed for too long. I am losing my insurance after December 31, 2012, because the place where I worked is closing. Workman’s Comp was denied because my medical records don’t say it was a work related injury. I am paying a mortgage with the help of two roomates and I took my pension early. I am afraid to go to court to ask for more alimony revision because I am afraid of my ex fighting me in family court and further depleting my finances.
        I have to get better so I can find a job and get insurance. CHIP insurance is unaffordable. I pray all the time. I am bitter for what I’ve lost and then I feel gulty, because some others have it worse. I have Xanax to help with this anxiety. I want to be my independent, cabable self again.I am having so much trouble accepting this! Cindy

      • Hi Cindy, I will definitely lift you up in prayer. I know that we can trust God to take care of us in all situations…but sometimes knowing that and walking in that are two different things. It is easier to preach than to practice sometimes. It sounds like you are healing well and that you will be able to be released to go back to work. Please let me know how things go so that we can continue to pray for you. I am reminded of the man who asked the disciples to heal his son and they were unable to do so and then he turned to the Lord. He asked the Lord to help “if you can.” Jesus replied to him, “If you can? All things are possible for him who believes.” The man replied, “Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

        I have wrestled with believing that the Lord would take care of certain situations before in my own life but He has always come through. I trust He will do the same for you. Keep praying, keep believing and keep the faith.

        Pastor Phillip

    • Kathy Hamilton says:

      Tiffany, how are you feeling now? I cried alot and prayed alot asking God to Please be with me, which was silly, as I know He is Always with me!! I then started singing or saying The Lords Prayer esp when getting on or off the.potty as the pain! Then suddenly I.started to improve, daily, small, tiny things ,so I changed to.thanking andpraising God each and every time I walked from here to.there, got on and off petty, or just changed.positions.without Aweful.pain. from.then.on I have continued to Improve.

  9. Sis says:

    I am having a fusion of L4 L5 in a few weeks and also getting my stenosis cleared up. The doctor told me i would be in the hospital for 2 nights, could drive after 2 weeks and go back to work after 2 weeks if i felt up to it. After 3 months i could do anything-From your blog and waht i have been reading, it seems this is very unrealistic. I work full time and need an idea of how long i will be out of work. i am calling the doctors office tomorrow to talk to the assistant to see if i heard correctly. God has been giving me confirmation that i am doing the right thing.

    • Hi Kristi,

      I would have to say that does sound pretty optimistic. But I would also add that I think that I could have gone back to work after 3 weeks. And driving would not have been a problem after 2 weeks. But everyone is different and some doctors take a more conservative approach. A lot will depend on how the nerves react and respond and what kind of pain you are having. Most people I have spoken to have gone back to work at 4 to 5 weeks.

      I will pray that you will get a good clarifying response from your doctor and that you will have a great outcome.

      May God bless you and your family,
      Pastor Phillip

  10. Jamille George says:

    Pastor, I am so happy to have found your blog that I am moved to tears! I had Googled pics of spinal fusion and somehow your blog popped up so I took it as a sign. I’ve been reading for two hours now and I’m so glad to have your posts to ease my mind. I had my laminectomy 4 weeks ago and have experienced much of the same things as you. I’ve cried and laughed (which I probably shouldn’t be doing because it feels weird). I’ve experienced despair, worthlessness and cabin fever but you’ve definitely given me hope. I too, have done some things that my dr would frown upon (no evidence LOL) but I won’t anymore. I appreciate the scriptures you reference and will use them and your posts as continued inspiration. May God continue to bestow His blessings on you and yours.

    • Hi Jamille,
      Glad that the blog has been informative and inspirational. My recovery has gone very well. I was on my feet yesterday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm setting up for a Car Wash to raise funds for Youth Camp. Despite being on my feet for the entire morning and washing cars for 3 hours, my back was fine. I am so glad that I had the surgery. I pray that you will also have an awesome recovery. Hang in there and know that things get better with time. May God bless you and your family.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

      • kim spears says:

        Pastor I am so glad to find your blog.I am 5 weeks out of l5 l4 fusion.the pain isn’t that bad but the depression is.I am praying for god to give me stergeth thru this….I am a mother and feel very usless.pray for me!

      • Hi Kim, Glad to hear that the blog has been helpful. It was very therapeutic for me to write. I will pray for God to continue to provide you strength. Hang in there! Philippians 4:14 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

        May God bless you and your family,
        Pastor Phillip

  11. kim spears says:

    Thank you so much!

    • Kathy Hamilton says:

      Kim, I had horrible depression for at least the first 4 weeks. I cried so much, was terrified of being alone once husband had to return to work and kids to school. I’d love to talk.if.you want a friend. my email is workinmomof3@ATT.net.

      • Cindy Sandene says:

        Hi Everyone,
        Depression seems to a common theme with us all.
        My surgery was 10-31-12, a TLIF L4-5 with a laminectomy. I am 55 year old single female nurse. I haven not been able to work since 07-23-12. In 2011, I traveled abroad, rode my bicycle across 2 states, went cave spelunking in the extreme as wella s white water rafting.. I was paying down my mortgage and finally having the time of my life after a long unhappy marriage and raising 3 extra kids from drug addicted brother. Almost suddenly…..
        I was struck down by nearly unbearable pain and loss of income. I was and still may lose my home and independence.
        I was so angry at God! I went to a chapel and literally yelled at Jesus on the cross. It was kind of crazy, but I was so mad! I told Him that I have helped people my whole life and why did He make me worthless? He made me realize how vain I was to think I could do it all myself. For me, the fear has been the worst thing!
        I do not hurt so much anymore. I may lose my insurance in 2 weeks, but a woman from the US Dept of Labor called Friday and said I would win if I went to court. Pre-existing conditions will not be covered until October if I get new insurance policy. I will never be able to go back to my job if caring for people with disabilities as I can no longer lift.
        Dealing with all of this has been the fight of my life! I know other people have faced worse things and then I feel bad for being so depressed.
        God has my back! I will pray for all of us.
        Thanks, Pastor for the blog!
        I pray your health and happiness continue!

  12. Lynn Svoboda says:

    Thank you so much for the earlier prayers. It’s almost 4 weeks since my L1-S5 fusion. I am feeling very well. I started driving at 2 weeks, then back to work at 3 weeks. I was so happy to get out of the house. I am currently working my full 10 hr shift and feeling just a little tired at the end of the day. My best advise for anyone having a fusing, is to follow the doctors orders. You don’t want to mess up a $110,000 surgery!!! I feel great and can’t wait for my doctors appointment in June. Hopefully will get the ok to go to the gym and start doing strength training. At this point, I am very happy that I decided to have the surgery.

    And to Kim, I am also a mother and a grandmother. The hardest thing after surgery was not being able to hold my youngest grandchild who was just 2 months old. It will get better. My advise would be to get out. Even if it is just having someone take you for a drive or short walks. I had alot of support from family and hope you do too. It will get better!!

    Thank you again Pastor for all your prayers.

    • Hi Lynn,

      Fantastic! We will continue to pray for your recovery. You are right, the hardest thing to do is not to pick up those little ones that we love so much. Keep following doctors orders and may God bless you and yours.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  13. Brian says:

    I am glad to have found this post. I am scheduled for L4 L5 S1 surgery the 28th of june. I am scared to dealth and have not been able to sleep for a week due to worring. its nice to see a few people that has had a successful fusion. I’ve seen way to many negative post about them. I’m only 32 yrs old and scared not to be able to play and do things wt my 5 yes 5 children. bt my doc says to expect to be out of work for. 4 months. due to the type of job I have. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for you posting a positive surgery. trust me they are very hard to find.

  14. Mary says:

    You will be rewarded a thousand and fold if you follow instructions. I am now 7 1/2 mos post L3-5 fusion- I have done what was requested and now I am blest with recovery. I truly believe that if he leads it to you, he wil lead you through it.

    god bless

    • Brian says:

      thanks so much for the kinds words I hope everything does turn out ok.

      • Rachel says:

        Had t lif June 25,2012 surgery went great. Thanks for all the post opp post because I would have thought I had already done something wrong. This is my 4th back surgery. The only fusion so I was happy to read your blog Pastor Philip .it helped me to just put my faith in God. Knowing I can do all things through Christ who strenghtings. Me

      • Hi Rachel, glad to hear the surgery went great. Keep the faith and keep following doctor’s orders. There will no doubt be a few challenges here and there but I know God will take you through them.

        In Christ,
        Pastor Phillip

      • Kathy Hamilton says:

        How are you doing Bryan?

  15. Kathy Hamilton says:

    What a blessing to find this blog of your pastor. Thank you so much for posting all the not so pleasant details, as for me it really helps to know everything to expect. I am scheduled for a double t-lift on July 17th, 2012, L4/L5 & L5/S1. I too had many nights sleepless with fear, but my doctor has assured me a good 40+ years of a better quality of life as I am only 42 yrs. old. I too, am a mother, but my boys are teens or older. When I first injured my back I was only 25, and had to babies, and I couldn’t pick them up for almost 6 months, so I feel for any moms on here who can’t mother their children. I too, feel useless this past month I have sat at home since another injury, while waiting for the surgery. I’m scared, but having just had a hysterectomy in December, I feel I am a little more prepared for surgery since I just came out of a major one, though at the same time, I’m dreading the long recovery as this will def be longer than that one was (8-10 weeks it was). Dr. said I cannot ever return to heavy lifting my new job, so I have been praying that God has a better plan for me career wise once I recover as we cannot afford for me to not work ever again, as it will truely be a burden while I recover without pay. God’s blessings to everyone who has or will be having surgery. I hope to stay in touch with many on here so we can help one another as we lay around and recover according to God’s Will. Thank you again Pastor for publishing this.

    • Hi Kathy,

      I will add you to my prayer list. I hope that you will not be as scared and that you will continue to trust in the Lord for a good outcome. I know that He will watch over you and be with you during this time. May He bless you and your family in a wonderful way.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  16. Kathy Hamilton says:

    Thank you for the prayers. I feel less scared each day I get closer. I feel so badly you had such a rough time and I can relate a little from past surgeries and having sickness from either anesthesia or other medicines and it’s just aweful I know. How are you doing now, how many weeks out are you? I just got a new mattress today (hooray) as even though we are facing rough financial times without me working for who knows how long, my husband new I needed it, esp now with surgery and all. I hope to make it to church tomorrow also, I got a card in the mail today from my outreach ministry wondering where I’ve been, so I feel badly. First I got this new job in April that kept me away on Sundays, then now with my current back injury, I either can’t fathom sitting in a pew or I am not comfortable being so drugged up and in church. I have kept in touch with my youth group leaders as I am the treasurer, but I forgot to get the word out, so everyone else doesn’t think I just up and went mia. Thank goodness I can watch worship on line though I just remembered tonight.

    • Hi Kathy, I am really doing great. My surgery was about 18 months ago and all is well. My back is wonderful and I have not had any problems. I have kept up with the blog and made it more of a weekly devotional after I was released from PT at about 9 months post-op. I did put in a one year check up entry. All in all things are going great! Nobody lets me carry anything too heavy and that is probably okay. I run 4 times a week and lift weights 3 times a week so I am back to my usual routine. You will get there… it just takes time and prayer.

      Pastor Phillip

      • Debbie says:

        Thank u !!! July 11 2012 I had Tlif L4-L5 and 2 wks later (July 25) needed a revision surgery because 1 screw came completely out of my bone and needed to be fixed. I had 2 laminectomy/ diskectomy surgeries in Feb & March of 2011. I am 35 with a 3 yr old & a 4 month old. Doctor says I can now hold the infant therefore I am being very careful about holding him an and doing it slowly and mostly having my mother or husband put him in my lap. I am having problems with anxiety and depression and I noticed that since both recent surgeries I have a lot of guilt … of not being able to take care of my children. (I hope) this will give me a better quality of life. I continue to have pain in my legs hips and back and I thank you for this site…

      • Hi Debbie, sounds like you have had a tough time. I will pray for your strength and your healing. I know that God has some wonderful things in store for you and your family. I am glad that you have your husband and your mother there to help.

        May God bless you all,
        Pastor Phillip

  17. Mariselle says:

    The Lord has given me comfort through your blog. I will have revision surgery in September 19 it will be Tlif L4-L5-S1, I am 52 years old, please keep me in your prayers. Thank you for sharing and for being a blessing. God bless you and give you good health always.

  18. Kathy Hamilton says:

    I just had tlift fusion of L4/L5 & L5/S1 on July 17. I would be happy to share support or anything you need. I do want to emphasize prepping your home and having help 24/7 for first few weeks. Feel free to email me anytime. God blessed my surgery & my recovery, I am sure He will yours too!

    • Kathy Hamilton says:

      To Debbie: I had depression and guilt the first month and I cried a lot, I think Its normal, It’s rougher than I expected at first. ((Hugs)) to you!

    • Mariselle says:

      Thank you Kathy for caring, sure I would like to email you. Can you give me your email? God bless you, Pastor Phillip and all in this page.

  19. Kathy Hamilton says:

    Hi. It is workinmomof3@ ATT.net cannot wait to talk some more.

  20. Kathy Hamilton says:

    I will pray for you also.

  21. Brandi says:

    My boyfriend found this blog for me because I am scheduled to have TLIF surgery on L4-L5 and L5-S1 on November 14th. When I looked for information all I ever found were negative outcomes and replies. I have been battling back pain for 8 years and within the last year or two the pain radiates down the back of my legs and sometimes my feet become numb. I am only 38 years old….I have 2 boys (13 and 3) and I want my life back so I can do things with them. I can’t even bathe my 3 year old at night due to the pain. Thank God for such a close family because they help me out so much. Neurosurgeon said about 3 days in hospital and 4-6 weeks out of work. Hoping closer to the 4 week mark because I don’t have enough time to take off and don’t have short term disability. Praying that my surgery and recovery go as good as what I’ve read on here.

    • Hi Brandi, I am glad that you have a close family and a faith to see you through the recovery process. I will be praying for your strength and healing. I expect good things! May God bless you and your family. Follow doctors orders and I think you will do great.

      Pastor Phillip

      • Brandi says:

        Thank you so much Pastor Phillip. I have had so many mixed emotions about the surgery because of the things that I read. When my boyfriend found your blog and sent it to me it gave me peace about it. Thank you for the prayers. I will keep you posted when I have it. I know that God will watch over me and have faith that my recovery will go well. God bless!!!

  22. Mariselle says:

    Hello every one. Today I am on my 22 day post op, thanking God he has my back in his hands. I got a revision surgery on Sept. 19. My old rods are out, my knew rods are from T3 to sacrum, I have a metallic cage from L5-S1. I am walking with a walker or a cane, I am still on pain meds and am doing rehab exercises at home. I have a little numbness on both legs from half of my calf up and also on the left side of my chest. This is supposed to get better by time. I am grateful for all your prayers and to my Lord that is so good and faithful, I am happy and thankful. God belss you all.

  23. Kathy Hamilton says:

    I just emailed you. Be strong and before you realize it you will be feeling better each week. Find joy in the smallest of.things you can do each day. Praise God it went well and Your on the long road of recovery.

  24. Mariselle says:

    Thank you Kathy, the same to you. The Lord is our Shepard. I also emailed you back God bless you.

  25. Brandi says:

    Tomorrow is the big day. Ready to have the surgery and get into recovery mode. Praying for a speedy recovery with the pain gone so I can have my life back and do things with my kids that I haven’t been able to do in years.

  26. Kathy Hamilton says:

    Hang in there, recovery is rough. I prayed with every move that hurt post op, then as I started to move with less pain I praised God for every movement I could do. Don’t get discouraged, it will seem.like you aren’t progressing, but you must walk and move immediately to recover. I feel pretty darn good at 4 months out.

  27. Lynn Svoboda says:

    Brandi, hope your surgery went well. I had the same surgery on April 30th, 2012. I feel great. I still have some good days and bad days, but for the most part, my pain is gone. After 6 months, my back is most of the way fused. Take it easy and don’t rush the healing. You will not regret having the surgery. I regret not getting the surgery sooner. Take care and best of luck to you. .

  28. Brandi says:

    Thank you!!! My recovery is actually going great. I go this Wednesday for my 2 week post-op checkup. I am getting around quite well and everyone is shocked that I’m doing so well so quickly. The toughest part is not picking things up (especially my 3 year old son). I am truly blessed with all of the help that I have from my family and boyfriend. If I keep progressing so well I will have no regrets except wishing I would have done it sooner.

  29. Cindy Sandene says:

    Hi Pastor Phillips and everyone else,
    I just found you again. Thank you for your ministery via your blog! God has my back! I am six weeks post-op..
    The incision has healed and tonight I am going to drive 50 miles to see my boyfriend for the first time.
    I was doing well until yesterday when I thought I had exhausted all avenues to keep health insurance. The old terror came back and with it, the pain. The fear seems to make the otherwise bearable pain level worse!! ( Mind you, all I have been needing is Tylenol Extra strength every few days .) Another back surgery would bankrupt me,so I have been very very careful.
    Today, I got a call from the Department of Labor at the federal level. She said that the law is on my side about keeping COBRA insurance. I do not wish to be ugly and sue my employer. I pray that she will get educated on the law and comply.
    Then, today I found your blog again!

  30. Kathy Hamilton says:

    Hi. I hope you are blessed with being able to keep your insurance. I lost mine, but we have always had my husbands insurance so we are ok. I am 5 months post op and have mostly good/decent days. I am realizing that therapy makes me have rough days. I lost my surgeon, he up and moved away! So I will see a new dr next week for a follow up. I don’t when I can ever work again, as I did heavy lifting and cannot ever do that again. I want to go back to my previous sit down job but I also have severely herniated discs in my neck so I can’t sit at a computer all day either. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas. I also found I cannot make cookies, even with pre-mixed batter, just a few sheets worth and sitting while scooping, etc. made my entire back really sore, I had to lay down for hours afterwards, so I wont be doing that again. My family did all the decorating also as that is too much. I mainly can do short errands, a small sink of dishwashing, and mail/paperwork each day, not much more. My son cleans the house for me, I’m still not allowed to clean other than dusting with a super long handled duster.

  31. Barbie says:

    Thank you so much for creating this site and your words of comfort and support. Reading about your experience was comforting. I am 33 years old and will have spinal fusion surgery L5-S1 in January and am petrified to say the least. I’m a dancer and am afraid I will not be able to dance again, or that there will be some sort of complication. I will continue to pray and read your site. Please say some prayers for me, I need to just Let Go and Let God. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

    • Hi Barbie, I have no doubt that you will dance again. I am about 18 months past surgery and I lifted weights this morning, ran 4 miles and because my wife worked today I went in search of a basketball game this afternoon. I do not think you will have to give up the things you love. May God bless you on your road to recovery. Follow the doctor’s orders and be patient. You will be in our prayers.

      Pastor Phillip

  32. Kathy Hamilton says:

    Cindy Thank you so much for sharing!!! I am more thankful for how I am recovering but I also daily think is this it for me? Is life now accomplishing small things at home and nothing more? I doubt I can ever work again and I am only 42. I don’t feel alone anymore after reading your post. Thank you so very much for sharing.

  33. Cindy Sandene says:

    I am almost 7 weeks post L4-L5 fusion with a laminectomy.
    As a nurse, I did private duty for people so severely disabled that they could not breath without a ventilator or move about on their own or enjoy eating a good meal or adults that could not handle their own personal functions. I always felt it was a priviledge to be the caregiver and not the recipient.
    Thinking about how bad of people have had it and then also feeling mad that I have lost so much just leads to me feeling guilty. The world seems to be passing me by as I wait to heal.
    I have heard people being out of work for a year after a fusion. My doctor gave me a release for sedentary work, but I do not see how I could be anywhere where I could not lie down for 8 hours.
    He told me that it would realistically be about 3 months before I could work and I will never be able to lift over 30 pounds on occasion ever again. The bones have to fuse and that just takes time, even up to six months , even up to two years! I knew 2 people who did too much too soon and had to go into surgery again, because they pulled a pin loose.
    I had my handyman decorate my Christmas tree and mop my floors. I bought Christmas cookies at a bake sale. My daughter and her boyfriend hung up my Christmas lights. Everyone knows I cannot afford to buy gifts this year. I will organize the details and people will come over for potluck Christmas. I will think of a treasure hunt for the kids where they will find candy from me. (It’s cheap)
    I am trying to spread out the work, so I do out burn out anyone. I try to show patience and gratitude although I have been waiting hours or days to get something done that is driving me nuts!
    Jesus had a story about two sisters Martha and Mary. One sister worked hard preparing the meal and was jealous of the sister who just sat and talked to Jesus. There is more to the story, but the gist of the story is that Jesus loved them both and that the sister learning from Jesus was actually doing something more important.
    We don’t have to do everything ourselves!

    • Cindy Sandene says:

      I thought that I would add this, so anyone reading it would know what to expect. I am 59.
      I had severe pain for two years after my TLIF. I was unable to to go back to work after a year. I have since read that TLIF through the back muscles with a cage can take two years to get over. Losing my insurance for a year right after surgery didn’t help.
      I fell in February,2013 and injured my shoulder which led to a rotator cuff repair with 3 anchor pins. I am sure that slowed down my recovery as well.
      After one year post-op, I decided to dedicate my life to getting out of pain. I tried Reiki, physical therapy , Lyrica, praying, medical marijuana, positive thinking, Lidocaine pain patches,and counseling. My back muscles were full are hard knots of scar tissue and the physical therapists used ultrasound to break them up. I thought my life without chronic pain was over. I sold my house and lightened my load.
      This spring of 2016, I traveled to South America alone and went to Easter Island. My boyfriend met me in Perú and we climbed Machu Pichu.
      Two weeks ago, I did a 125 mile bike ride over the week-end.
      I hired a trainer two months ago and have been light weightlifting. My leg still goes numb on occasion if I move wrong. My hips will hurt if I sit too long,but it goes away and doesn’t linger. I am back here, because I am researching just how much I can do without hurting myself and leading to another back surgery.

      It is August of 2016 and I feel great. I only take Celebrex every day, because I do have arthritis. I have learned what movements that I cannot do and it is automatic to me.

  34. Kathy Hamilton says:

    Cindy, I know what you mean about guilt. While I am very bored and frustrated I have two friends who post surgery are not any better. I have three boys and we relied on my income and I cannot ever return to my new airline career that was to put my middle son though college, talk about guilt! I have no help but my wonderful boys and husband, but def have had to learn to lower my standards and grow patience. I have lost my surgeon recently too and It’s not easy to find someone else to.follow me post op. We almost lost our home, and I blame myself even though I know It’s not my complete fault but it is some. I can never lift more than ten pounds rest of my life and I also need cervical fusion but after this I will not. I had dreams and intended to always work fulltime, can’t believe I may not be able to ever work as desk jobs have killed my neck and upper back and Dr previously told me sit down work is really bad for me too, so I can’t imagine what I can do. I know what you mean, I need a couch to lay down and what job has that for us? I think maybe you being a nurse can get into management or something without direct patient care? I have no degree to fall back on and cannot afford. To finish mine now either.

  35. Brandi says:

    Tomorrow will be 5 weeks post-op from my TLIF surgery on L4-L5 and L5-S1. Surgery itself went great. Was up walking the next morning with physical therapy. Progressed so well only had to stay 2 nights in the hospital. The issue that I’ve been having for 3 weeks now is I have some type of infection that is not allowing my incision to heal. They have already had to re-stitch again then those stitches opened up and they had to take those out and re-stitch again. My dr took a sample of my drainage and sent off to get cultured. Depending on what comes back on that he may have to open me back up and clean the infection from the inside. I was on one antibiotic then they changed it. After this last time they added a 2nd antibiotic to the new one. I’m just so tired of wearing pads for the drainage bc any kind of tape is aggravating my skin so I’ve resorted to an ace bandage to wrap around me to keep the pads in place for the drainage. Anyone else have this type issue with your incision and infection?

    • Hi Brandy, it has been a busy week for me, sorry for the delayed response, been praying for you but haven’t had time to sit down and write. I never had any problem with my incision. Things went very smoothly in regard to my incision, stitches, etc. Hopefully, you are doing well by now. My only real problem was the migraine in the hospital and some leg pain in weeks 3-5 in the middle of the night when the nerve began to wake up.

      Pastor Phillip

  36. Carrie says:

    Hi Cindy and everyone. I had ATIF L4 L5 on October 11, 2012 a couple of weeks before you and I feel your pain. It’s been 12 weeks since my surgery and returned to work two weeks ago starting 5 hour a day working at my desk job in front of a computer. I still have pain when I sit and feel, I never be able to sit again without pain. I to was a very energetic person and now I feel, like you, that life is passing me by. I go to see my doctor on Jan. 15th to see if I am fused yet. The worst thing for me has been taking the medication because I don’t like any type of prescription meds and the back brace. I take Neurontin and Norco for pain. I pray for you Cindy and everyone else that God answers our prayer. Don’t lose faith Cindy God is with us even when we feel he is not.

    Thank all of you who have shared your experience

    Thank you Pastor Philp for this wonderful website. Please also add me to your prayer list.


    • Hi Carrie, we will definitely keep you in our prayers. I am only 3 months away from my two year anniversary and I feel great. Apart from a little stiffness when the weather is cold I have not had any challenges since the weeks following the surgery. I pray that your recovery will continue to get better and better.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  37. Carrie says:

    Hi Pastor Phillip,
    Thank you for your prayers, they are greatly appreciated.

  38. Brandi Babin says:

    I am now 12 weeks post op and have been through so much since my surgery. I got a staph infection from surgery so after restitching me 4 different times and they kept busting, I underwent a 2nd surgery on January 9th to clean out the infection from the inside. I have been on 2 strong antibiotics for 3 months now and my neurosurgeon wants me to keep taking them another 2 months. This, as you can imagine, has caused massive stomach problems. I’ve had to go to after hours clinics, gastroenterologist, etc and have had multiple tests done but they all think it is due to being on all of the meds for so long. I had this surgery so that I can get my life back and spend more quality time with my kids but this has done the total opposite thus far. I am hoping to feel better soon because my 3 year old asks me daily “Mommy, can you hold me yet?”

    • Hi Brandi,
      Sorry it took me so long to reply. You have been in my prayers. I have been finishing my last semester on my Masters degree and I have had a funeral in the last week – in addition to the insurance claims job I do during the day. Hopefully by now you have been healed of your infections and have progressed even further in your recovery. I was released to hold my granddaughter at 6 months and it felt great! Continue to pray and stand firm in your faith. I know that good times are coming.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  39. Hi Donna, I am about 2.5 years past my surgery and I am doing great! I run 3 times per week, lift weights 3 times per week and play basketball weekly too. I have not had any issues with my back at all. There were a few issues with some nerve pains off and on during the first couple of months following the surgery but it was nothing compared to the situation prior to surgery. It was a very good decision for me. You can check the archives on the website and read about the recovery experience I had during the first year. I will pray for you to have a complete and successful recovery.

    May God bless you,
    Pastor Phillip

  40. Joe says:

    Hi Phillip, I have had two microdiscectomies is 2005 and had no idea that I would be having back pain again. I go back to the doctor tomorrow and I am quite sure he is going to recommend the fusion because nothing else has helped. I have been really nervous about it but your article gave me a lot of comfort. I have thought about not havingthe surgery but the pain is getting worse i have already told everyone I know to pray for me as well as for the surgeon. I believe that his hands will be guided by ou heavenly Father and that does give me comfort. But, then I start thinking about the surgery and get nervous all over again. That’s just me I guess. My nerves will be gone on the day of the surgery because I will be lifted up in prayer. Again, thank you for sharing and God bless.

    • Hi Joe, it is natural to get nervous. I will definitely keep you in my prayers for a fast and complete recovery. Please keep me updated on your progress if you get the surgery.
      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  41. Mike Pikula says:

    Informative journal. How long ago did u have the procedure? R u able to bend? Do you or did u need help walking and if so how long? My wife is getting scheduled for TLIF in jan 14. Any suggestions on prepation? Anything else u can think would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Mike Pikula ps since I’m going to be the primary caregiver for an indeterminate period,any suggestions to make her more comfortable, less irritable, etcc

    • Hi Mike, I had my surgery 2.5 years ago. I can bend pretty well. I have a little bit of stiffness. My L4 and L5 were fused so I think a little bit of stiffness is natural. I made some suggestions on the website for preparations to take prior to the surgery. Some of the main things I would suggest is a comfortable chair in the living room, watch the diet fairly closely and follow doctor’s orders. I really did not need too many accommodations. I really did not have a bad time. My knees were sore from bending at the knees rather than the waist but they got better with time. Plenty of rest will be needed as sleeping patterns will be disrupted. Don’t get in too much of a hurry to walk and exercise too much as that can irritate the nerves, etc and slow down the recovery time.

      Blessings to you,
      Pastor Phillip

  42. Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing your story and encouragement.
    My husband will be having a tlif in 2 weeks and will be sharing your story .
    We also trust The Lord each day 🙂

    • Hi Laura, I pray that your husband will have a very successful outcome. I am glad to hear that the info on the blog has been helpful and even more glad to hear that you are trusting in the Lord. May God bless you both richly. I pray that the recovery process will go smoothly and that the Lord will strengthen both of you in an incredible and amazing way.

      Pastor Phillip

  43. Marquetta Norton says:

    Hello Pastor. thanks for the site. My son is 14 and is scheduled to have the surgery on Feb. 19th. I was just researching to see what info I could fine on the prognosis and stumbled across your site. I bless the lord and trust God for my son’s complete healing. His name is Jalen Anthony Norton. He is a great kid, gifted in academics, arts/music, and basketball! Please remember him in your prayers. God Bless, Momma Norton

    • Hi Momma Norton, I will definitely keep your son and you in my prayers. I have a friend whose son is in high school who had a spinal fusion last year and he had a great outcome. I trust that The Lord will bless your son as well.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  44. Celia says:

    Thank you so much for writing this breakdown of your first week. Today marks one week for me from lumbar fusion L4-L5, I’m 33 (as of yesterday) and our experiences are so very similar. However, I was on the morphine x7 push dose for day one and then Percocet day 2-3, I tried after that to take no pain meds as I was certain it was leading to my vomiting and migraines. I’m down to a low dose hydrocodone now as needed with a nausea medicine, which happens to be the one you described as the monkey zone.. So it will not be going in me no matter what. I’m really glad I read that. Now I find myself in an odd position, I get tired quickly, after interacting with others for 30 min I need a nap. I shake after showers and need immediate rest. I know it’s only one week out but wow, I feel like this has tried to kick while I’m down. Did you feel this weak at first? The way I made it this far in good spirits is really God, my sweet 12 yr old and family. The first thing I thought less than 48 hours ago when I got home was, God is so good and home smells so good. The migraines are getting better (fading daily), the incision site feeling heavy is the weird part (hard to get confortable to rest) and then the overly tired part is the hardest. I’m afraid being like this is impacting recovery, so I walk the length of the house every little bit but in my mind it doesn’t feel like enough. Please pray for me, I would really appreciate it. I know I’m in Gods hands.

    • Hi Celia, I was fortunate that I did not feel too terribly tired. I always seem to have an abundance of energy though. I can relate to having the “heavy” feeling in the back. I would describe that to people and they would just look at me funny. Glad to hear that your headaches are fading. I am sure that you will continue to gain more strength. My doctor told me to take it really slow in regard to walking… just a little bit around the house and not 5 times around the block like I started at week 2. It led to leg pain at night and the nerves in my feet hurting. I will keep you in my prayers. Keep following doctors orders and praying and I know that you will do fine.

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  45. jason d. says:

    I had a microdiscectomy in 2010 and unfortunately I did not have good results from that surgery. I had MRI’s 6 months after the surgery and at the yearly points after that. They showed my disc did not heal and also my nerve root had been pinched. I have been dealing with terrible back and leg pain for almost 4 years. I delayed the inevitable because my first surgery did not provide the desired results. Tomorrow I am going in for a TLIF Decompression and I have been praying for good results. Thanks for your posts, they have given me hope! I’m prepared for healing and your insight has valuable to me. Thanks again
    Jason D.

    • Hi Jason, sorry to hear the microdiscectomy was not successful. I pray that you will have better results and an easy recovery. Keep me posted. You will be in my prayers. Feel free to email me directly at pastorpstephens@aol.com

      May the Lord bless you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  46. Mary Lynch says:

    Hi Pastor,
    I have enjoyed your blog very much, it has helped me to process in my mind what to expect. My decompression and fusion at L4/5 will be in about 2 weeks.I like you have spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. I have suffered with this for 10 yrs. I’ve exhausted all other treatments including injections. My life has been compromised and the constant pain is unbearable. I have recently been put on pain meds to help me get through till my surgery in a couple of weeks. I am very anxious but my faith in God is what I hold onto and constant prayer. I need to surrender all worries to him. I am a woman of faith and hope. Please keep me in your prayers. I’m hoping this surgery is a success like yours. God Bless, Mary L.

    • Good morning Mary,
      It has been 3 years since the surgery and I am still doing very well. Just got back from the YMCA; I lifted weights for 30 minutes and then ran 3.5 miles. So all is going very well. Sorry, you have had problems for so long. We will pray for a successful outcome and an excellent recovery. Please follow doctor’s orders and do your best to stay patient. As I said in one of my blogs, look for unexpected blessings. One of mine was that I started this blog and have kept it going ever since the surgery. It is more of a devotional now but it has been a blessing for me. May the Lord bless you and those you love.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  47. Teresa adams says:

    Hello pastor I,m having the same type surgey as you did,september 10,2014 in jax,fl I,m a holy ghost filled child of the king I call him Jesus,I,m putting all my faith in the masters hand and I,v prayered that god,s anointing be transferred to the whole team working on my body.for the last year my life has been commandeered ,going no where but dr,s offices and back.i,m not at peace with after care I have three son,s and my husband had a strke last aug.and last week they found a mass growing on his lung,I been caring for him.he is in no shape to help me,I have one sister who can help but noy 24 7. So again I need prayer and encouragement that’s to everyone Teresa dams jacksonville fl.

    • Hi Teresa, we will keep you in our prayers for a fast recovery. We will also pray for your husband and the rest of your family. Stay strong and trust in the Lord.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  48. Lisa says:

    Dear Pastor,

    Feeling so blessed to have found your blog. I just watched “God’s Not Dead” yesterday and found this site after weeks of looking on line for post op feed back, Amen!

    I am 45 and 3 1/2 wks post op from having TLIF fusion L5-S1 for chronic back pain. I too was terrified of having surgery and the possibility of the pain being worse post op. I prayed endlessly.

    My surgery went great. I was released from the hospital after just 1 night. I thought the rest of my recovery would be a breeze. Well, I have started experiencing severe muscles spasms in my surgical area that tighten so intensely they take my breath away. I am also having sciatic pain radiating down my right leg into my calf. I have been trying to cut back on my pain meds, but it is difficult since I’m experiencing this. I am also trying to walk as much as possible around the interior of my house and I have been to the gym and walked on the treadmill. (I live in Florida in a hilly neighborhood and it is extremely hot/humid to walk in my neighborhood.) My walk is more like a shuffle…slower than a turtle. I am curious if you or anyone else reading this experienced anything like it? Also if coughing or sneezing was terribly painful?

    I am trying to stay positive and put my healing in God’s hands, but I am feeling discouraged.

    I would love your prayers and feedback!

    Lisa, Brooksville, FL

    • Hi Lisa, glad to hear your surgery went well. I shuffled a little the firt week myself. The nerves bothered me during the 3rd and 4th weeks after surgery but slowly subsided. Most of my pain was at night. It has been over 3 years since my surgery and I am still doing very well. We will keep you in our prayers.

      Pastor Phillip

  49. Christina Jones says:

    Thank you for this blog! I found it to be very encouraging. I was told recently that I have to have a fusion on my L4-L5 discs. I’ve had two laminectomy/discectomy surgeries, but the disc would keep herniating. There isn’t any material in between my discs anymore. I am 36 years old with 2 small children, so the debate in my mind is great as to whether or not I should proceed with the surgery. I’m an assistant principal at a Christian school, so my work can be sedentary when I return. I am hoping to only be off for 4-6 weeks. Currently, the pain is pretty severe. I can’t sleep because there is no comfortable position and it’s affecting what I can and cannot do with my kids. I dread staying in the hospital and being immobile for a while. However, I would love to have my life back. Do you have any advice?
    Thanks in advance.
    Christina Jones

    • Glad the blog has been helpful. I would say that the three most important things at this point are to follow doctor’s orders, watch your diet carefully (I gained 20 pounds in 6 months following surgery) and take it easy. Don’t try to walk or exercise too much too fast. And of course pray. I tracked my first year on the blog so there may be some other tips on there as well.

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  50. tim says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I have had nerve pain down my legs since 1996 when I was 11. I have had 2 discectomy surgeries in 2001 & 2005 on l4 and l5. My first provided no relief. The second made a world of a difference. I was fairly comfortable until the fall of 2013 when I began experiencing significant pain in my big toe. It last for about 6 weeks and went from pain to numbness. Something I’d never experienced before. Then it came and went 2 more times in the form of intense leg pain from the butt to the foot. Now I’ve been in pain since last September and spend a lot of my days laying down unfortunately as the pain becomes unbearable. Just got an updated MRI and even after physical therapy it has actually gotten worse…something I didn’t expect. My doctor has been conservative but now with the newest MRI and my quality of life he is suggesting I move forward with a fusion of the l5/s1 and l4/l5. I have really tried to stay away from a 3rd surgery as i am only 30 but I feel I have no choice now if I want to have a chance at a pain free or less pain life. How difficult was it for you to make a decision to do surgery? Did you try physical therapy prior to your decision? Can you comment on how important strengthening your core and routine exercise is if someone wants to have a positive outcome? Are you completely pain free now? Thanks again for sharing your story. It is comforting to me know that you seem to have had a good experience ultimately.

    • Hi Tim, I am sorry to hear that you are having pain. I did not do much physical therapy prior to my assessment. I checked out to be in pretty good shape during my doctor visits and I did the regular stretching and exercises and my core was in pretty good shape from those and the other exercising I did on a regular basis. I would say that if your confidence level is high with your doctor, go with what he or she says. If they recommend some PT first, then give it a shot. I do know that if that nerve is being irritated by pinching caused by misaligned vertebrae then there is only so much that PT can do. My decision to have surgery was pretty easy. I could not walk the mall with my wife for very long without my back hurting or play basketball without walking like an old man for two days or work out in the yard for more than an hour or so without having problems for a couple of days. I love to do those things so the decision was an easy one. I have had great success. I am back to playing ball, working out, and taking the grandkids shopping for hours without having any back problems or pain at all – and it has been 4 years since the surgery. Pray about it and if you have any other questions, let me know.

      May God bless you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  51. Faye says:

    love this blog. All the others were horror stories. I will be having my TLIF,on my L5S1, on 05/28/15. As the time nears, my fear, gets worse. I wake up at night, thinking about my surgery, and recovery process. I know it will be painful and that scares me, because I don’t do well with pain medication, or antibiotics. I was in a car accident on 09/28/13, and my life hasn’t been the same since. I was a CNA, and I had patients I had to lift, and I just couldn’t properly do my job anymore. My family doesn’t want me to have the surgery, but I can’t take going through life like this anymore. I have permanent arthritis in my lower back, and since the accident I cannot bend backwards or straighten my back up. I couldn’t do therapy, I tried. only making my pain worse, I did injections in the back, the first time, it made my pain worse, the second time, it seemed to help for a day, then pain came back the next day. I also discovered that I have scoliosis, slippage of one of my discs, and degenerative disc disease. I have a lot going on with my back. I don’t have quality of life anymore. I’m 50 years old, and feel older right now. I took so many 800mg of Ibuprofen, that I got ulcers. I’m thankful for my supportive husband, don’t know what I would have done without him. Just hope and pray,my surgery will be a success. I am so tired of the pain that I endure on a daily basis. I put off surgery for almost 2 years, got a second opinion, and was told if I don’t have fusion surgery, I would get worse. They were right. Please say some prayers for me, and I have so many friends and family doing the same. I love reading your story and the others, I’m starting to feel a little bit more at ease. Thank you for your prayers in advance, and I pray for your continued progress, and for all the other people having this surgery.GOD BLESS YOU ALL…

    • Good evening,

      Sorry to hear about your experience. It has been four years since I had my surgery and I am doing great. It is true that the recovery can be challenging but I know that the Lord will bring you through it. We will keep you in our prayers.

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

    • Tim says:

      Hi Faye. Thank you for sharing your story. Like you I really enjoyed reading this blog. I found it back in March and it seems God has reminded me of it with your reply just as I am about to embark on my own surgery journey. Just like you I have a big problem with my L5/S1. I have had nerve pain down my legs due to herniated discs for 19 years since I was 11. I’ve had 2 laminectomy/diskectomy surgies, once in 2001 on the L4/L5 and then 2005 on the L5/S1. My first didn’t provide any relief. My second was a life changer. It took away 90% of the pain I’d say. I felt great until October 2013 when my big toe started hurting. And then I had episodes of it getting a little better and then worse. I’ve had 3MRIs since then and each one shows my L5/S1 getting worse. Even between and MRI done this March and another a week ago. Now I am confined to the floor and the bed most of every day. I don’t leave the house except for doctor appointments. I’m blessed that I have a job where I work from home in the computer otherwise our finances would be out of control. Luckily Nucynta keeps the pain at bay somewhat but only when lying down. I’ve done PT, chiro, acupuncture, massage, meds, 2 injections back to back (no pun intended :), inverting etc but nothing helps to get me back on my feet. Just have gotten progressively worse. It is real frustrating as I am only 30 years old married with 2 small children. It’s tough seeing my wife have to do nearly everything. So anyway this is not to point out look at me and how bad I am but to let you know you are not alone. Its also comforting for me reading your story and others. I’ve been trying to avoid a third surgery but it looks like it’s time. I go in to see the surgeon this coming week to talk one last time and likely schedule my fusion. You hear so many horror stories but luckily there are success stories like this blog as well. I can tell you that the one thing I failed to do after my past 2 back surgeries was to strengthen my core and get in shape in general. I’m not obese or anything but I could stand to lose 20 pounds. I believe that alone is a big reason why I am here today in so much pain. I took for granted the relief my last surgery brought and didn’t build the foundation of strong muscles to keep it that way. I can’t stress enough that a key to our recoveries after surgery is to strengthen strengthen strengthen. I am committed to doing it right this time, for myself and my family. I hope you’ll do the same. I wish you the best in your surgery at the end of the month and will keep you in my prayers. I hope to hear how you are doing through your road to recovery! Good luck to you!

  52. David says:

    I had back surgery on L4 & L5. And I’ve been nauseated a lot. I’ve lost 24 lbs in 2 months. I’m taken Marinol 7.5. Twice a day. Not helping much. I can’t eat or drink much. My back is good. No pain. But the nausea is bad.

    • Hi Dave,
      Sorry you are having problems but glad your back is doing well. I often have problems with kidney stones and have bad problems with nausea during those times. One medication that works well for me during those times is promethazine 25 mg. Ask your doctor if that might work for you. Also, are you taking your pain medication with food? Be sure and talk to your doctor about what you are experiencing and see what he or she recommends. They may be able to put you on something else that does not upset your stomach. I found that peppermint gum or peppermint candies helped me with mild nausea, sprite when it was a little worse but nothing when it is really bad. I will be praying for you. Please let me know how things progress.
      May the Lord bless you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  53. Frankie says:

    Hello Pastor,

    I am glad that I found your posts. I had a laminectomy a couple of years ago and now go in for a TLiff for L4 and L5. I am not afraid of the surgery but all the side affects that I have read about. I will be having my surgery in a different state and need to drive 8 hours back home after 2 weeks. After that I will be on my own with my 2 dogs who I currently walk 1 to 2 miles a day. What I am scared about is not being able to make it back home without major pain, not being able to walk my dogs as often as needed or being able to take care of myself – just in case I fall or something. I have Crohns so I am always nauseous so I think I have that part covered :). I would appreciate your prayers for a successful surgery and recovery (I would love to be able to go back to work after a few weeks). I am glad your surgery was a success and think it is wonderful the way you share your support for others.

    Thank you,


    • Hi Frankie, I will definitely keep you in my prayers. I think you will make the trip fine and you should be able to walk your dogs once you get home. Just be patient, expect it to go slow and you will be fine. Please keep me posted on your progress.

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  54. Chyrisse Patterson says:

    Your sharing touched me. I am a Believer and my surgery date is 8/26 I am having a 2-5 TLIF and a repair of a pars break. I am concerned about my future range of motion as a praise dancer. I am also getting a divorce and don’t have that supportive spouse and I am going into this very uncertain about my finances and future. My husband announced he is moving out at the end of the month and I can’t afford this massive house on just my income and I am concerned about uprooting my 13 yr old into a new school and neighborhood. please pray for me and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Chyrisse,

      I will be praying for you. I know that the Lord will keep His Hand on you and I know that you will be able to continue to praise Him through your life and through your ministry. You will have the range of motion that you need. Follow doctor’s orders and keep the faith. We will pray for you and your family. Stay strong and be courageous! The Lord is with you. Keep me posted on your progress.

      In Christ
      Pastor Phillip

  55. nikki says:

    Hello from Scotland, I hope you have recovered successfully, I am also having this surgery in November this year, I’m 26 with two young children, wondered if I could ask a few questions, firstly how soon after were you able to do strenuous activity e.g. I wanted to do show in December but I’m guessing that’s out the question, and with 2 young boys to run around after I’m really worried Il delay my recovery as like you I’m not the sort of person to just sit and do nothing any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Nikki, I am not sure what kind of “show” you are referring to or what strenuous activity would be. My doctor was very conservative and told me not to lift over 10 pounds for 6 months or jog or exercise for 6 months. After that, I had NO restrictions. I could lift weights, play basketball, run, and do everything. It was hard for me to be patient. I met others whose doctors let them work out after 3 or 4 months. Personally, I felt like I could have done it…. but I tried to follow doctors orders. It is going on 5 years now and I feel great. May the Lord bless you and your family. Feel free to ask any other questions you may have.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  56. Lisa says:

    Thank you writing this and me being able to find it in my need. I just had the same surgery in a german hospital and my experience has been difficult so far. They do things very different than in the states, not.to mention the language barrier. I am on day 4 post op and am at home already. They decided I needed calcium supplements and kind of overdosed me so now I’m having to flush them out of.my system and can barely walk due to the muscle and joint pain it caused. Reading what you wrote help my heart just enough to feel I’m not alone in this and will feel better soon. Thank you and God bless

    • Hi Lisa, Glad to hear that the Lord blessed you through this site. We will be praying for you. It can be tough the first few weeks and it is good to be reminded that we do not walk alone. He has said, “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” I pray that you will have a good week, that you will rest and recover and know that the Lord is with you. Keep following your doctor’s orders and stay strong in the faith. May the Lord bless you and those you love.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  57. Kim Mensman says:

    Thank you so much for information on surgery I am fixing to have. I will hopefully learn from your mistakes. I hope you are doing great and no more back pain. Thanks again.

  58. Jim Lewis says:

    Just had l3-l4 PLIF on October 13, 2015. I am blessed to have discovered your blog and look forward to contributing in some ways to bring glory to God our Heavenly Father. Thank you for doing this! -Jim L.

  59. Holly says:

    Wow it’s good to hear a good out come finally. With a twist of funny. Pastor its 2016 and been a few years how’s it going now? I had a fusion l3-l5 and fusion with 6 screws plates and jacked up my spine and grafts and disctectomy lots of work ,medically called TLIF. Ok now a big thank you for all the info and also a good laugh it’s the greateat medicine in the world to laugh. My since of humor is my gift that God gave me has gotten me through a lot .and God is with me always I have been through the mill.2 neck fusions 2 back ones and had my chest opened t1-2 fusion. And RA fibro to a22nd a few other things but always God has kept me close . it’s a good thing I am short running out of room here. Every time I go looking on line for out comes all I find are negative ones it’s good to hear about your success and thanks again.😄

    • Nice to meet you Holly and glad to hear you have kept your sense of humor and that you have continued to depend on the Lord through it all. I am doing very well. My back is fine. I continue to work out and exercise though I am slowing down a bit due to some recent knee and ankle injuries. It was a joy to read your post, thanks for sharing and may the Lord be with you and grant you peace, comfort and healing.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

      • Holly says:

        Thank you Pastor Phillip
        Sorry to hear you found a few more bumps in the road but God will make sure you are covered take care and may God bless you an your loved ones.praying for you and for His return. Holly

  60. Clementine Holt Pollard says:

    Hi Phillip,
    My name is Clementine. I am 14 months post surgery with continued pain. How are you doing?
    “God’s blessings for you and your family”

    • Hi Clementine, I am doing very well. It has been almost five years and I feel great. I have been running and working out without any pain. Sorry to hear you are still having some issues. Be sure and talk to your doctor. Seems like I had some nerve pain off and on for the first 6 months and was told the healing process for the nerves could be a couple of years. But please talk to your doctor in very specific terms about what you are feeling and when you are feeling it. I will keep you in my prayers. Please let me know how things progress.

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  61. Lisa says:

    Pastor, thank you for sharing your story with us. I had TLIF surgery on February 3 and found your blog the day after I came home from the hospital. It has given me great hope for recovery and relief from pain and reminded me that I am not alone in this. Your other posts have been a joy to read, as well. May God continue to bless you as you bless others!

    • Good morning Lisa,

      Glad to hear that the blog has been helpful for you. May you continue to do well and have hope. May God grant you strength, comfort and patience during your recovery.

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  62. Tina says:

    I had spinal fusion of my L3 4 5 & S1 on October 27, 2015. Thank God I don’t have the pain I had before surgery. I’m out of the brace but continue use of the bone stimulator. The doctor has also given ok to drive Thanks Pastor Phillip for your blog before surgery and your continued support. .

    • Hi Tina,

      Glad to hear you are doing well and feeling better. We will be praying for your continued recovery. Keep following doctors orders and be patient. There will be some ups and downs but keep the faith and hang in there and you should be fine.

      May God bless you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  63. To Phillip: I just read about your spinal surgery that you went through in 2011 and it put a smile on my face to know that you came out on the other side being able to enjoy your life. I was just browsing the Web looking for answers for I am a 53 year old female who is a prisoner of my own body, in pain!!! 24 HOURS A DAY I have seen 3 ortho surgeons and they all say the same 1_5 herniated disk Lumbar surgery, but I’m afraid of the unknown but I can’t continue living my life in so much pain. You have giving me hope that change can be endured. Thank you for sharing

    • Hi Andrea, I am glad that the blog has been helpful. I have continued to do well as far as my back is concerned. I pray that God will grant your relief and healing whatever route you choose.

      Pastor Phillip

  64. Carmen says:

    I just stumbled upon this blog while researching the recovery from a fusion. I had a discectomy in December, and now have to have a fusion at the beginning of June. I never saw myself as being in this shape at the ripe old age of 28, but I know God has a plan. Thank you for your uplifting and honest input!

    • Hi Carmen, I am glad the information has been useful. I had my fusion about 5 years ago and all is going well. I pray that you will have an even better outcome and that you will experience God’s peace, presence and His power during the recovery process. May He bless you and your family.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

      • Jeanna says:

        Hello pastor, I know this blog is a bit old but I was searching for answers and came across it. My fiancé is two months out of surgery. He’s only 25 they had to do an emergency surgery because he had lost feeling in his legs. We also found out we’re going to have a baby! He’s been told sense he was 16 he couldn’t have children. I have three of my on. My three year old son, his father whom is unhealthy mentally and has harmed us both verbal and physical is trying to get visitation. We are living in my mothers home while my father and her are getting a divorce after 39 years! They were pastors as well. Now we have to move because my mom is selling the house. My fiancé was Denied Dissability I’m unable to work! God always provides that’s for sure!!! My fiancé has been vomiting for four days after he feel the other night. 😢😢😢 we go to see the surgeon the 28th the day the doctor gets back from vacation. The list goes on with the stress and anxiety I’m enduring with three kids and seven mo pregnant and fiancé out of spinal surgery. I write all of this for prayer if it gets to you. Thank you

      • Hi Jeanna, I am sorry to hear about the various issues you and your fiancé are experiencing. I will keep your family in my prayers. I know that some of the meds can upset one’s stomach. Hang in there and keep trusting the Lord in all areas.

        Keep me posted on your fiancé’s progress and healing. I am sure he will feel better in time.

        In Christ,
        Pastor Phillip

  65. Faye says:

    Hi Pastor…It has been a year since my surgery of L5S1…My life has forever been changed. Not for the good. My quality of life has changed drastically. I never want to go places anymore because I don’t feel good. Every night like clockwork my back hurts, feels stiff, sore and not normal. I experience burning in my lower back, numbness and tingling going down my legs, and the list go on. I just want to feel normal again. I have to watch how I get in and out of bed, be careful how I turn and be careful of sudden movements. My DR.’s have told me I will probably be like this for the rest of my life. I an 52. My Orthopedist told me it was a 50/50 chance that my surgery would work or not, after I had my surgery. Then he asked if I wanted another surgery to correct this surgery and I said no. For now I will leave well enough alone. If I get any worse I will have to have a second surgery. But all in all, im thankful that I can walk, and thankful to be alive. Please continue to say prayers for one day, I will be pain free…

    • Good afternoon,

      I am sorry to hear that you are still experiencing some nerve trouble after a year. I had some of the same symptoms for a few months but they continued to gradually lessen. I will pray for your healing and recovery. I have some stiffness in my back and occasional nerve pain if I work too hard outside or play basketball too long on a concrete floor but that is on the rare occasion. I had a doctor tell me once that it can take up to two years for the nerves to heal and fully recover from the years of always “being on” and being compromised. Please keep me posted on how things are going. I will keep praying that you will be pain free. You may email me directly if you like at pastorpStephens@aol.com

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  66. Meg says:

    You made me laugh, out loud. I needed that. I had emergency lumbar microdiscectomy on 7/29/16 due to incomplete Cauda Equina syndrome.
    I was fabulous… until week 3. Increased leg pain/numbness on Monday but hey, I had an appt on Thirsday so I just pushed through and marked it as ‘I over did it’. Appt day and I’m in almost the same pain as before sx. Recommends another MRI bc his concern is that I reherniated. MRI done and two more days of waiting for results. YEP. Reherniated and am facing fusion at L5/S1. I’m not nervous per say but I’m very ready to be out of pain and for this annoying numbness in my L leg to go away!!

    • Hi Meg, sorry to hear about the reherniation. I will keep you in my prayers…sounds like you have a wonderful attitude, so I know you will do well. Hang in there and do your best to follow doctor’s orders. Keep me posted on your progress.

      May God bless you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  67. Maria says:

    Thank you so much for your blog! Like many on here I have only read negative reviews of the surgery route. I will be having TLIF (L4/5) next week…I am beyond nervous but faith is on my side. Thank you for the positivity and continued healing prayers for us all.

    I will definitely let you all know about my surgery journey. Thanks again🙏🏽

    • Hi Maria,

      I will keep you in my prayers. I am glad you were able to get some info that helped. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. Stay patient and follow doctors orders. May the Lord bless you and those you love.
      Pastor Phillip

  68. Frank says:

    Hey Pastor
    Thank for your blog. I’m about to have the same procedure in December and everything else I’ve read has been most doom and gloom scenarios. I appreciate that originates for a working dad’s perspective with a good dose of spritual wisdom – its been a nice insight and God Bless

    • Good morning Frank,
      I am glad the blog has been useful to you. I will be praying for you to have a good outcome and to be able to get back on your feet and back to doing the things you love. Stay positive, follow doctor’s orders and keep the faith. I know you will be fine.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  69. Cesper Greenall says:

    Good day Pastor Philip,

    I hope you are well. I came a cross your blog and it really inspired me. I will be having my fusion next week Thursday and I do have mixed feelings. However, with your shared experience and my faith in God, positivity tops my feelings right now. But yes, there’s still anxiety.
    I know with God’s blessing, I will go through with the op with no issue. I will focus on doing the right thing after the op and staying healthy and active as I’ve always been. I just can’t wait to have my life back again. The pain has changed my life and I just want to be able to feel useful and worthy again. Especially to my husband and daughter.

    Please please include me in your prayers. That’s the most powerful tool I have. God has my back and I know He will make miracles.

    Thank you Pastor Philip. And I’m praying for a painfree lifetime for you…. and me… soon. 🙏🏼

    God bless…

    • Thank you for your prayers. I will be praying for you to have an excellent outcome and to have patience during your recovery. May God bless you and the ones you love,
      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  70. Susie says:

    Hello Pastor Phillip,
    I never reply to things like this online, but your message really resonated with me. I had L5 S1 surgery 2.5 weeks ago, and I am already getting antsy. I’m a 38 year old wife, mother, and 3rd grade teacher. I have the most loving and supportive husband, but learning to let go of my household tasks is driving me crazy. I am queen of the vacuum, and my carpet is calling my name. Lol! As a wife and mom, I feel the need to do it all. My husband has pleaded with me to “just rest, walk, and let things go”. Thank you for the reminder from Philippians 4:6-7.

    “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    Your sister in Christ,

    • Good afternoon Susie,
      I am glad the blog has been helpful for you. I am also glad that you have someone to help you and to watch after you during your time of recovery. I found that keeping myself busy with reading scriptures and working on the blog helped keep me from doing other tasks that I should not do. I will be praying for you, your family and your recovery.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  71. Julie says:

    Hello my name is Julie I’m a 37 year old Christian wife and mother of 5 gorgeous kids. Up until my injury in February 2016 I was an Additional Needs Assistant in a Private Kindergarten working mainly with children with Autism. Due to my insurances my operation is finally booked for March 3rd. I’m having my L5/S1 fusion through my back as too many surgeries through my stomach and lower abdomen. Not sure of the correct surgery terminology but it’s part of spine cut out replaced by mesh and two screws either side sounds like something out of Frankenstein. This is the first time I have given in to researching about my operation and especially the dreaded recovery. I have just keep talking to God about any fears that I have had and that was enough until my last appt with my surgeon and we booked my operation and he told me and my husband al of the worst case scenarios. So to the internet I went searching and I discovered your blog last night. I was riveted to the spot until I finished reading every single blog that you and everyone else had written. Around 2am this morning I turned off my iPad feeling a little more prepared and yet still nervous but thankfully not as anxious. The rest of the night I spent talking to God about what I had read hence the kids were nearly late for school today and I fell asleep at 5pm and when my husband arrived home he cooked dinner. Thank the Lord for sending him to me, I’m truly blessed. I’ve known from the moment I injured my back 15 years ago in a minor car accident then continuously putting my back out 1-2 times a year ever since that one day my back wouldn’t heal on its own and an operation would be my only choice left. Over the years I’ve tried many ways to strengthen my back but with each subsequent birth it got worse till last year where several very physical weeks saw me collapse in excruciating pain in my right lower back and buttock then shooting pains down both legs, my right to my calf and my left all the way into my heel. X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, physiotherapy sessions, acupuncture and 2 rounds of spinal injections last year which were horrific but gave me nearly six months with only minimal pain. Then I had the same conclusion from my family doctor amd two amazing Spinal Surgeons and we are here today with my four week countdown. God will prepare me inthese few short weeks and I will write again with a daily journal of my 1st week. Sorry for long email but I love writing, talking, communicating maybe that is what my new career will be after my recovery. Thanks for starting your blog I hope everyone who reads it gets the feeling that they are not alone in their journey to a full recovery. God Bless you Pastor Phillip and I hope God continues to give you strength, courage and wisdom to continue to reach out and help others in need through your blog and website. Blessings Julie from Queensland Australia

    • Hi Julie,

      Thank you for taking the time to provide a detailed response to all that you have gone through. I can tell that God has blessed you in many ways. My experience was much like yours in that I wanted some information but found little about what I was experiencing. I will be praying for you and your family. I know that God will be with you, will strengthen you and will use you to inform, instruct and encourage others. I look forward to hearing more from you.

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  72. Ruth Little says:

    Dear Pastor Phillip,

    Thank you!

    It’s just a little after six am, and I have been awake all night – moving from the couch to the chair to the recliner – trying not to wake my husband. I am scheduled for surgery this Wednesday, and the panic attacks have gotten the better of me. I pray for God to give me the strength to get through this, and I also asked for some sign that I have made the right decision to get my back “fixed”. Enter Pastor Phillip’s amazing story and the bloggers you have helped!

    I am also someone who stumbled on to your blog while researching TLIF recovery, and what to expect. There is no doubt in my mind that God led me here. I feel much better now having heard all the positive messages on this site. I feel so blessed. Again…thank you!


    • Dear Ruth,
      I am glad to hear that the blog has provided some information and some comfort. I will be praying for you as you go through your surgery and your recovery. Please let me know how you are doing from time to time. I know that God will keep His hand on you.

      Blessings to you and your family,
      Pastor Phillip

  73. Cindy says:

    Best wishes, Ruth! It has been four years since my TLIF and I have recovered more this past year even.

  74. Joe says:

    Thank you so much for this blog. Before surgery I searched everywhere for good information and what to reasonably expect during recovery. Your site was the most informative, down to earth, and true to the reality that God is in control. I had my surgery six days ago. It was a 4-hour l4-5 fusion and decompression on 3,4,and 5. I was told it went well for my age of 64 years. Since then I have been following the Doctor’s orders (sparse as they are) and taking the medications. I am having a lot of nerve pain and pain transitioning from bed, to chair, to standing, and back. However, once I get up I am able to walk around the house unassisted and short distances outside wth a cane. Each day is a new day made by the Lord with new experiences. Right now my biggest challenge is balancing the medications between pain relief and functionality. There have been a few times that my conversations have been humorous and not quite coherent. I see my recovery, the coming of spring, and the coming celebration of Christ’s resurrection all as a constant sign of God’s love. Thank you for guiding me also, through this blog.

    • Hi Joe,

      Thanks for your letter. It came at a good time today. I was thinking of spring and signs of God’s love and similar things just now. I am glad that you are following doctor’s orders. It sounds like you have the right perspective. I will be praying for you to maintain that perspective and be patient. I had some of the nerve pain catch me by surprise after a couple of weeks in the middle of the night after I thought I was past some of the painful stuff. The doctor said it was some of the nerves coming awake, regenerating, etc. and was a part of the healing process and to be expected. Don’t try to do too much even on the days where you feel really great. Blessings to you and those you love,

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  75. Terri Kordsmeier says:

    Dear Pastor Phillip, I am scheduled for surgery (laminectomy and TLIF on L5 and S1) on May 11th. Over the past 10 months since the pain started, I have tried 3 lumbar injections, chiropractic are and traction, and physical therapy. Nothing relieved the pain, except the PT has made me stronger which I feel will come in very handy after the surgery. I decided to go for a 2nd opinion to see if maybe just maybe I am a candidate for minimally evasive surgery. I don’t remember reading anything on your blog about what the doctor actually did. Did your surgery include screws and rods? I am confident in my surgeon but people are now making me more nervous because I did not get another opinion. This morning in bed I panicked. I am praying every day and every moment I think of it because I do know God has me, but I’m in the same boat as Ruth. I am 62 years old and I have never even had a broken bone! I ask for your prayers as I prepare mentally and physically for this surgery. My favorite Bible verse is Phil 4: 6-7 and it is written on a chalk board in my home. God bless! Terri

    • Hi Terri,

      I had the T-Lift surgery and have some rods and pins and had a metal cage placed in my spine. I am of the opinion that a person can continue to get opinions and advice but at some point one has to make a decision. At what point is that? It varies for each of us. I only got the one opinion and it has worked out fine for me. I felt God’s peace about it and went with it. I was aware of some horror stories told by some of the guys at the gym where I worked out but I tried to remember that I was in God’s hands and I just needed to trust the outcome to Him.

      I will join with you in praying as you prepare for your surgery and I will pray for you afterwards. Please let me know how you are doing. You can email me at pastorpstephens@aol.com

      May God bless you and your family, may He grant you strength, healing and most of all, His peace,
      Pastor Phillip

      Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  76. Terri Kordsmeier says:

    Thank you for this word Pastor! You are right; trust is the key. I did have peace until I spoke with others who would give their well intentioned advise. I will certainly keep you posted and I thank you for your prayers! God is in control. Amen.

  77. Jenny says:

    Dear Pastor Phillip,
    I had minimally invasive TLIF L4/L5 on February 6, 2017. Seven weeks later after a CAT scan it was discovered that a screw was touching a nerve that runs down my right leg. I was scheduled for another surgery on March 29th. This surgery was an “open” procedure to move the screw that was irritating the nerve. I have soaked my pillow with tears many times as the Psalmist says. My faith has been the rock to which I cling. My husband is my champion and my companion. He also is a Pastor. My mother, my mother in law, my four precious boys, and so many others have helped us through this difficult time. My favorite verse which I remind myself of each day is “Do not be anxious about anything but by prayer and supplications make your requests known to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!” I have battled depression, feeling sorry for myself, and anxiety. Thank you for this blog which helped me not feel so alone and made me smile. Right now I’m struggling with missing Holy Week and Easter services. But my body is just not ready. I will shed some tears about this; but I can rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection here at home. May God richly bless you! Happy and blessed Easter!

    In Christ,

    • Dear Jenny,

      I am sorry to hear of the challenges you have had. I am glad to hear of your faith and those you have to support you. I will be praying for your recovery and for your time of worship this weekend. I know that God will be with you.

      May He richly bless you and your family and may He bless the services your husband takes part in this weekend.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  78. Jenny says:

    Dear Pastor Phillip,

    Thank you for your kind words and your prayers for me and my family. May God bless and keep you in His care as you continue in your ministry here online and in church. Again may you and your family have a blessed and happy Easter!

    In Christ,

  79. lbell911 says:

    Hi Pastor Phillip,

    I am a 43 yoa male, having a MIS TILF L4/5 Done on May 16, 2017. When you woke up from surgery did you have a urinary catheter in? If so did they put it in while you were asleep? If you didn’t have one, how hard was it to get up and go pee? If you did have one, how long till they took it out, and how was the pain when they removed It? I am SCARED TO DEATH of this topic, more than I am about having the surgery or recovery. Thanks in advance for answering my questions!

    • Hi Larry, as I recall I did not have a catheter. They wanted me up and out of the bed pretty quickly. I have had them before and they are not painful, surprisingly enough. I will be praying for you and your recovery. If you think of any other questions let me know.

      Pastor Phillip

  80. Cindy Sandene says:

    The catheter will be put in when you are alsleep. I don’t know your history, but catheters do not hurt, because you are already so groggy from the surgery. The back surgery is the main event. You need the catheter , because it helps them measure your fluid output and is like a vital sign after surgery. You can pee in a portable urinal if need be. Please find a nurse to tell you what to expect.

  81. Larry Bell says:

    Thanks folks……I will address the issue, when I go in for the surgery…

  82. DKT says:

    Pastor Philip, I found your posting while searching for information on recovery from spine surgery. Specifically on L4-L5 and .. here you were! I have been battling chronic and intractable pain for a year and it has gotten steadily worse. There has been more than one occasion where I thought that a “permanent” solution to the pain was my only answer. I’ve tried PT, injections, CBD Oil and always ran from the thought of surgery. I am a disabled female veteran but like so many of us .. am a solitary creature and the pain hasn’t helped. I’ve finally had to accept that fusion is the only option esp. since my L4 is now broken. I’m scared witless since it’s just me and my two short dogs who are absolutely NO help! I need research. I went to the clinic you mentioned and then returned to the surgeon who did surgery back in 2012. I finally committed to the surgery this morning. I figure .. I owe it to the spirit that inhabits me to give EVERYTHING a try regardless of how scary because there is a chance that the crushed and damaged nerves will heal. Maybe it’s just the idea of coming home to an empty house after surgery and figuring out how to manage BUT I keep reminding myself that I’ve faced some pretty terrible stuff before and survived. Sorry for this long, rambling and rather self indulgent message but I wanted to thank you. You made me a little less fearful and, if not a lot .. you atleast blessed me with smiles and reminder that laughter helps so much!! I’ll also remember extra “clean drawahs and jammies!” Namaste, DKT

    • Dear DKT,

      I am glad the blog has been helpful. We have two little short dogs too. My wife loves dachshunds – weenie dogs. The ones we have love to snuggle. Hopefully yours will keep you good company after your surgery. I did not think you rattled at all. I will be praying for you and your recovery. I am about 6 years past my surgery and it has been a very good thing for me. I wish I would have done it sooner. I did have some challenges between months 2 and 4 when the nerves started to regenerate..so don’t let anything like that alarm you.

      You will be in my prayers. If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me directly at pastorpstephens@aol.com

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  83. My name is Mark I’m 38 years old and I have two young girls. I’m here to get advice and hopefully lend some eventually. I have spondylolisthesis grade 2, herniated disc L5 S1. for eight years I’ve been getting injections and they have mostly helped. 5 months ago I had another injection that didn’t help. few weeks later another injection still no relief. and then about a week ago I had nerve pain. severe nerve pain sciatica. I had another injection last Friday and it’s been 4 days and I still have the leg pain so most likely I will have the Tlif surgery done in the next week or so. dr says 3 days in hospital and then he has a strict ambulation plan. My worry is not being able to hold our pick up the kids or do anything around the house because I’ve always done yard work and played with the kids and took care of the pool and the motorhome, ect. my surgery will be in Houston. my concern is getting over the leg pain post-surgery. hopefully it is minimal and I can fully recover in less than 6 months. doctor suggest after three months and I can do whatever I want to do. I will post my process as I go on this journey. thank you for your prayers

    • Hi Mark, I was a little older than you when I had my surgery and I had many of the same concerns. My results were good. I had to be patient as it was six months before my doctor would let me pick up my granddaughter but it was worth the wait. I am picking them up and chasing the two of them now all around the house. I am also still running and playing basketball so for me things worked out well…but it did take some time. Hang in there, be patient and follow the doctor’s orders. I look forward to hearing of your progress.

      Blessings to you and your family,
      Pastor Phillip

      • thanks for the encouragement. surgeon is set for tomorrow’s, June 6th. currently still in a good bit of pain. I’ll document the process and later hopefully be able to report my progress to help others.

    • DKT says:

      Mark .. on the 14th I go in for the removal of a small tumor on the cord, a repair of a broken L4 and a fusion of L4-L5. I live alone (well, with the exception of 2 small dogs). I’ve been told first 3 mths. NO bending/lifting/twisting/leaning. Really worried since I do live alone and really scared about the coming home alone. But scares me more is that I’ll wake up and the same pain that has kept me near suicide multiple times in the last several months (it’s increased steadily since last June inspite of multiple injections and physical therapy) will still be there in my left hip and in the entirety of my left leg. I just have to believe it is going to help to some degree. I need my life back .. I’m a jazz vocalist and have lost my passion for music and my heart for the world outside my small home because of pain that has incapacited me. I hope we both find great relief and success and even greater patience to endure the healing time!!

    • DKT says:

      Mark .. on the 14th I go in for the removal of a small tumor on the cord, a repair of a broken L4 and a fusion of L4-L5. I live alone (well, with the exception of 2 small dogs). I’ve been told first 3 mths. NO bending/lifting/twisting/leaning. Really worried since I do live alone and really scared about the coming home alone. But scares me more is that I’ll wake up and the same pain that has kept me near suicide multiple times in the last several months (it’s increased steadily since last June inspite of multiple injections and physical therapy) will still be there in my left hip and in the entirety of my left leg. I just have to believe it is going to help to some degree. I need my life back .. I’m a jazz vocalist and have lost my passion for music and my heart for the world outside my small home because of pain that has incapacited me. I hope we both find great relief and success and even greater patience to endure the healing time!!

  84. quick update –
    Less than 24 hours after the surgery, I’m already walking the halls unassisted. Was in surgery for 3 hrs. It took a little longer because the vertebrae was difficult to pull back in place. no leg pain. only pain is from the incisions of the now . still have catheter and anesthesia pump. God is good.

    • DKT says:

      Thank you for the update, Mark!! My surgery is next week and my greatest fear has been that I’ll wake up and the hip and leg pain will still be there just as agonizing as before the surgery. You saying no leg pain gives me hope!!

  85. DKT says:

    Thank you for the update, Mark!! My surgery is next week and my greatest fear has been that I’ll wake up and the hip and leg pain will still be there just as agonizing as before the surgery. You saying no leg pain gives me hope!!

  86. Cindysandene@gmail.com says:

    I wish you the best. I think you should get a self propelled mower or better yet have someone else do it. It’s really hard to to refrain from activity while you wait to fuse, but it’s so important !

  87. Joe Moore says:

    Pastor Phillip, Thank you so much for sharing your story and enabling others to share their’s here. I have learned a great deal here both prior to my surgery (March 2017) and during the last 3 months of recovery. I am a very active 65 and have dealt with low back and leg problems for many years. I exercised regularly and tried PT, chiropractic care, and injections to deal with arthritis and unstable spondy. Your story helped calm and prepare me, both spiritually and with practical advice, for an L4-5 TLIF and multi-level laminectomy. The surgery went well, although, being an impatient person, I have not tolerated the restrictions and inactivity of recovery very well. I walked too much initially and paid for it with increased pain. I wasn’t prepared for the sudden increase in nerve pain about 2 weeks in, but it has long passed. My wife still cautions me constantly about overdoing it. My lowest point came the day stomach distress hit and I didn’t make it up the stairs to the bathroom in time (I can laugh about it now). But my high point came the next night when for the first time in three weeks I slept comfortably through the entire night. There have been ups and downs but things are continually improving. Tomorrow is my 3 month followup and I am hoping for clearance to begin more activities and exercising. The entire experience is teaching me to trust fully in God, slow down and enjoy the little things, and especially, to appreciate all the support my wife and grown children have provided me along this journey. I am hopeful, that with a little more patience, I will be back to hiking, cycling, and kayaking soon. My best advice to others: trust God, be well informed and involved in all aspects of your surgery and recovery, and be patient – measure your progress by the week and not by the day.

    • Joe, I am glad the blog has been helpful to you. I am glad you have a good support system from your family and your faith as well as your sense of humor.

      I will be praying for you and your continued recovery. May God bless you with patience and healing.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

      • update:
        It has now been 10 days since my surgery and I am in no pain other than the nerves down my leg aching a little bit. my leg on the right side is still a little numb but they say that is expected for a short while after the surgery. I had severe stabbing nerve pain prior to surgery so they say the nerve aches post-surgery is expected. I have a few more days of no bending and twisting and then I will start stationary bike rehab. today is the first day that I can freely move around without any pain from the incisions or the muscles around the incision. also last night was the first night that I could sleep really well without any pain or aches.

    • DKT says:

      Joe .. thank you for posting your “story.” My surgery (removal of a small tumor on the cord, a break in L-4 and a TLIF of L4-L5) is scheduled for this coming Wed. the 14th. (there is a slight chance of cancellation because I’m not in agreement with Iliac Crest Bone Grafting). It’s nice to hear, just like Pastor Phillip, people share the positive aspects of their experience. Imaginations can run wild and more than enough negative experiences to have made me delay this surgery far too long while the nerve pain in my hip and down my leg has gone from bad to truly unbearable and knee dropping! I am hopeful that someone without a support system (well, I do have 2 little dogs and a canary) can find their way to stay positive, inspired, hopeful, brave, courageous during what is hopefully a recovery to a life not bogged down by pain, pain meds and, hopefully, several hours at a time of restful sleep instead of being awaken by pain every 20 – 30 and being up for a couple hours before trying again. Thank you!!!! Namaste, Dena

      • Joe Moore says:

        DKT – I hope that your surgery went as scheduled and that all is well. The first few weeks can be a challenge but it does get better. I pray that you find support from friends and others around you. Be patient (I read more books than I have in a long time). Hang on to your music. As a fiddle player, music was a great way for me to pass the time; listening at first and then playing again. I was just given the all-clear at my 3-month checkup to begin full activities again with pain being my only guide. So I am back to doing everything and, yes, the aches and pains do provide a clear “you are overdoing it!!!!”. However, with physical therapy and just doing the things I love again, I see improvement every day. Trust in God and yourself and, coming from a very impatient person, – just be patient, as you will experience improvement. All the best.

  88. Kristen says:

    I have enjoyed your post very much . I am having a L4/5 fusion in September 18, 2017 and wanted to ask for prayers for a speedy recovery . I am very active and have 2 young children . I was hoping to wait , but the back pain has become very intense . He told me to expect a hospital stay of a few days . I’m not happy about that , but I guess it’s for the good . Please remember me in your prayers . I have a lot of people who depend on me and need to be functioning quickly . I will buy the grabber and thanks for the helpful hints .

    • Hi Kristen,

      I am glad the blog has been helpful. I will definitely keep you in my prayers. Do your best to stay patient and follow the doctor’s orders. I know that God will watch over you and your family.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

    • be sure to get support for atleast the first 72 hours once you get home..the small things we take for granted will be very difficult at first .

  89. just wanted to say that I went last week to the DR for my 2 month post TLIF follow up(L5-S1) and he said the bone growth looks great and I was free to return to normal activities. No limitations, just do everything in moderation at first. So I did, and I was EXTREMELY SORE the last few days so take it easy once you are released to do more.

    I want to say that my therapy the last 2 months besides walking was getting in the pool and swimming and doing bicycle kicks 4-5 times a week for about 30 minutes. Its also important to remember to do no bending or twisting for the first few weeks. I went ahead and limited my bending and twisting for 2 months.

    The only pain i am in is the soreness from over doing it the last few days, and i really didnt even do much so take it easy.

  90. Carol S. says:

    Glad to find your posts. I am a member of the ‘Back Fusion Club’ also 😉, Nov,2017. Going on week 6 and my story is about the same, but didn’t have the nausea (absolutely miserable, sorry). I went thru the pain pump, narcotic meds (narco), etc. and I was told also -‘stay ahead of the pain’ and in the beginning was absolutely needed .. but be be BEWARE -> get off Narotics (especially NARCO) asap! Very addictive (fast), causes additional aches-pains, mood swings and worse. Step down process needs to be started soon after week 3. I know some doctors keep giving it to patients even into week 8 and more, by then the body gets dependent on the drug. Withdrawal is a miserable experience. One huge ‘secret’ that never seems to be talked about after surgery. Opioid addiction starts small and explodes into a nightmare. 😒 Dependency on narcotics (NARCO) can be as quick as 2 weeks with some people (especially with high doses). Ya get a new back, but get dependent on the pain killers _ Be Smart and get off the opioids

    • Hi Carol,

      I am glad the posts have been helpful. I agree that one does need to be careful with some of the pain pills and other meds that may be prescribed during the healing process. Thanks for your input. I will be praying for your continued recovery.

      God Bless you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

  91. Malissa Kirszenbaum says:

    Hi there Pastor Phillip. I am 55yo and had a decompression/laminectomy at L4/L5 – a rupture disc in November, 2016. Surgery went well except within hours I developed a CSF leak due to surgeon knicking my dura. It got so bad they rehospitilized me, tried conservative measures – 36 hours flat/bed pan only, but to no avail. Day 7, they had no choice but to go back in, try to locate and patch and stitch. It has been one year now and my new neuro surgeon has now firmly stated the nerve pain and loss of feeling is probably damage that came as a result of that second surgery, permanent. In the meantime, in addition to that my lower back has been so painful, 1 Year 4 months, pain every day. I have been stoic in avoiding opioids, taking gabapentin, muscle relaxers when absolutely necessary. After last MRI two months ago, my Neuro is suggesting fusion L3-L5 at Hopkins. On December 17, they gave me a burst of oral steroids (5 days, 50mg each day) and I have felt like I was given a piece of heaven. Although my nerve pain and numbness is still oresent, NO lower back pain – almost 3 weeks now. I am a believer and have a daily walk with my Lord each day. No matter, I give thanks. At the moment, I am praying that the Lord show me whether I should proceed with surgery; I am scheduled for February 15th. I am so very scared since according to my surgeon, my case is a bit gray. I do not know what to do. Thanking for this blog Pastor. It certainly has given me insightful information.

    • Hi Malissa,

      You will be in my prayers. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. It sounds like it has been quite an ordeal. I am glad the steroids helped. I will pray that whatever you decide that you will have long term lasting relief. Please keep me posted on your progress.

      May God bless you and those you love,

      Pastor Phillip

  92. Wow. Did you ever think you having back surgery would turn into such a ministry? It is too sad that good news in the back surgery department is so hard to find, but thanks for sharing. I hope to do the same when it’s my turn. I am currently weighing my options. Don’t have quite all the data in, yet. But basically deciding between MIS TLIF at L5/S1 and an anterior Artificial Disc Replacement surgery done in Germany (I’m from Canada). How are you doing now, several years post-surgery? Any regrets?

    • Good evening,

      I am doing very well. I was telling a lady in the store the other day that for me the surgery was a very good decision and I wish I had done it years earlier. I played basketball for 2.5 hours Sunday after church – full court with some kids ranging from 15 – 25. I felt really strong and did not walk like a grandpa that afternoon or the next day. I have had to start riding an exercise bike due to some pins in my foot from a tendon repair surgery a couple of years ago. Less stress on the foot and I can save the running for my pick up games.

      I am a little stiff as far as flexibility goes, but I have learned to stretch most mornings. The stiffness is not bad and not painful and not even an annoyance. I just recognize that it is there. As I said, it was a great decision for me – and it did get me started on this blog, which has been a blessing to me. I recommend that everyone pray about it and talk to their doctor and decide if it is the right decision for them.

      Whatever you decide, I look forward to hearing your story. And I love that verse!

      Pastor Phillip

      Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

      • Karina says:

        Hello Mr. Phillip,

        My name is Karina. I am 43 years old, and just had a posterior L5-S1 spinal fusion on 3/13/18. I had many doubs whether I should undergo this surgery. I prayed, and waited to see if there was any improvement. I was annointed by oil a few times, prayed over many times, but my symptoms remained the same. Even on the day of the surgery I was thinking if I should have the surgery. But in the morning on the day of surgery, and even when walking in the hall to the admissions department, I experienced such severe pain from nerve impingement (in addition to already present partial muscle function loss of left foot), that I realized surgery was needed.
        Thank you very much for your blog. I have found it to be very helpful. Today is my 5th day post-op. I was discharged on day 2 post-op. Stopped taking Percocet on day 4 post-op, now only take Ribaxin and Tylenol 500 mg. I was really scared post-op, since developed new radicular pains in right buttck and right posterior thigh, which I didn’t have before surgery, but surgeon mentioned it’s common due to some post-op swelling in nerve roots area and some pressure from blood clots, etc (I didn’t have drain placed). On day 4 these new pains started to subside. I started to feel some cracking in my right lower back, which can occur with some discomfort. Even though the pains post-op have been occasionally severe (needed Morphine and Percocet at the hospital), they are nothing to compare to severe unbearable paralyzing pains from nerve impingement before surgery. On day 3 I noticed some muscle function restoration on my left foot, and my toes can go up now to some degree (I had some degree if foot drop before). Pain meds contribtued to constipation, which finally resolved on day 4 post-op with many laxatives, dried prunes, and sour cabbage. Prior to surgery I asked one of the pastors whether the surgery was a God’s will for me. He prayed for my healing and said to have wisdom, follow doctors recommendations, but still hope for possibility of healing even to the point of being on OR table. He said he has seen cases when people had incisions in OR, which were closed right awayabd people were sent homedie to no more disease present when they looked through incisions. Our God is a mighty God! Prior to surgery I had some other problems going on, but at the same timeI saw God’s hand in how He was showing me His love in answered prayers and miracles. Apparently, this surgery was in God’s plan for me. May God bless you all and give you strength and peace and help you with quick recovery without complications!

        With love, Karina

      • Hi Karina,

        Thank you for sharing your story and for the testimony. I am glad to hear about your desire to seek God’s will as you made your decision about surgery.

        I am about 6 years post op now and it was a very good decision for me. I went shopping for about 4 hours the other day and my back did not bother me at all.

        I will be praying for your healing and recovery. Again, thanks for sharing your story. I know it will strengthen and encourage others.

        In Christ,
        Pastor Phillip

  93. Jill says:

    Hi there my name is Jill I am 50 years old and a single mother of two very independent children, one 18 in college and one 14 still living at home. I am going to have a TLIF surgery for similar issues to yours Pastor Phillip and I appreciate the blog. I don’t read the negative postings. I don’t feel the need to do so at this point in my life. I am self employed and extremely active. My pain has limited me to only being able to swim for exercise, which is alright because I love to swim although I am concerned about post op and the inability to swim and also the whole concept of not working since I am self employed and the impact that it will have on my business since I have no employees. So my main area of concern is that I am a recovering alcoholic and I also have a history of abusing pain medication. I have discussed this honestly with my surgeon as I am very committed to a life of sobriety and he strongly advises me to take the medication as prescribed. It is so interesting how I am more afraid of a relapse than I am of the surgery. I do not trust my own brain to let me know if I need the medication because I have the brain of an addict which will tell me YOU NEED MORE so I will take as prescribed. Thank you again for your blog

    • Hi Jill, I will keep you in my prayers, especially in regards to your pain level and your concerns about pain meds. I trust that you will be fine. I don’t think it will be too hard to get back to swimming. I am sure the doctor will give you the time lines to follow.

      I think if you follow the guidelines for when and how much medication to take you will be fine.

      Keep me posted on your progress. I will be praying for you and your family.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

    • Trina says:

      Jill, I had mine in June of last year so basically I’m 7 months out. A lot depends on your pain tolerance. I was in hospital for 8 days but that was more because off a problem I developed unrelated to the actual surgery and the fact that I didn’t have anyone at home since I live alone.

      Do you have a mentor or a sponsor that can support you in your effort to maintain your sobriety while still keeping the pain under control? Maybe someone who has gone through something similar so that your pain isn’t dismissed but so that warning signs might be spotted while they are still just that .. warning signs? That might really help. It is important to not let the pain drive the bus or else your body (and brain) get so focused on that that it doesn’t spend the energy healing. It needs to rest and relax in order to heal.

      • Jill says:

        Trina, thank you for your response yes I have a sponsor and an addictions psychiatrist and I attend AA, I have also been talking about this at my meetings and have found that other people have gone through similar surgeries some successfully in terms of not abusing the pain meds and some have relapsed so I am doing all that I can to prevent this in myself.

      • Trina says:

        You are going to do great! You have been setting yourself up for success and have mentors and people who will be there for you when the rough times come. You and I know that rough times come, with and without surgery, and you lean as hard as necessary on the support systems you have in place!!!! I believe in you .. with or without a relapse (they don’t define you) and having the surgery is ultimately going to make your life better physically AND emotionally because you won’t be carrying the weight of continual pain with you. That gets REAL old REAL quick!!! Namaste!!

  94. Stephen A Silagy says:

    I’m having surgery on Sept 6th 2018 scared to deathy gf can’t be there the whole time and I’ll be alone so I’m more scared

    • Hi Stephen,

      I understand what you are saying. It is good to know that someone is with us during difficult times. I will be praying for you and your recovery. I will also be praying that God will strengthen you and help you to not be so worried during this time. I am reminded of David’s words in Psalm 23, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” I will be praying that you will know that God is with you and that He will bless you with an extra measure of His grace and peace.

      Please keep me posted on your progress.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Phillip

  95. Jason Burton says:

    I’m having L4-L5 TLIF on May 8th when the restriction on surgeries are lifted here in Louisiana. I’ve lived with intermittent severe pain and painkillers for almost 3 years now. Sometime i can go weeks with no issues, and sometimes it’s months of agony. I am ready and resigned to end this cycle. Please say a prayer for me that Jesus may watch over me during this time especially with all that our medical systems are going through with COVID 19. Thank you pastor!

    • Dear Jason, I will definitely keep you in my prayers. I just had my nine year since back surgery anniversary last month. I worked out on the total gym this morning and then ran (okay, I jogged) two miles. My back feels very good. I will pray for an excellent outcome for you and for your patience during the recovery period. May the Lord Christ make His presence, His power and His peace known to you as you prepare for and recover from surgey.

      Blessings to you and those you love,
      Pastor Phillip

      • Jason Burton says:

        Just wanted to say thank you to the Good Lord and Pastor Phillip for the prayers. I’m just over 2 months out from my surgery and feeling great! I can walk again without pain and off all painkillers. My life has made a complete 180 from what it was a year ago! The first few days after the surgery were rough, but once you past the initial surgery itself it starts to get better really fast. Just remember to do what your doctors tell you and take it easy at first. I am quickly getting back to almost normal.

        Thank the Lord!

  96. Dear Jason, thanks for the update. I am so glad that your recovery is going so well! You are right, following doctors’ orders and taking it patiently and thinking long term are very important. Thank you for sharing your story and your testimony. Yes, thank you Lord!

    Pastor Phillip

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