11 Weeks Post L5-S1 Surgery

There were many days that I didn’t think I’d make it 11 weeks post op. I’m not fully recovered now, but I am close to ~80% of my normal life. My biggest area for improvement is that I need to get more strength in my right leg. I had major weakness since the disc rupture. The good news is that it is coming back (but slowly).

Overall Progress on Laminectomy Recovery

There is no doubt that I am in the “recovery” phase.  I’m focused hard on rebuilding and seeing some progress.  Every few days it seems that I am even doing more things in life and thinking less about how to do things.  Strength is coming back and I’m more distracted with normal things in life.

The good at this point:

  • I’ve been out for 4 rides on my road bike. Real rides, on the road. I’m weak, but there is no pain. I’ve been so happy to feel wind on my skin again. Even riding around on the cruisers with the kids is nice and fun.
  • Every day activities are much more natural.  People don’t look at me and think there is something wrong; I look pretty normal and less stiff.
  • I’ve been out in my boat and friends boat a few times; even in the ocean.
  • I get to spend good time with the kids at the pool. I mix in exercises from my pool therapy, but it is great to do things with the family and just have fun.
  • I was able to make a day trip to San Jose. About an hour flight each way. Cautious with bag (backpack for computer) and minimal weight. I do a lot of travel for work and am stuck on the phone mostly still.

Challenges still:

  • I still have a lot of numbness. It used to be from the hip down, now it starts a bit above the knee and goes down. I can sense temperature in my foot again which is an improvement.
  • My right leg is very weak.  This is likely a combination of atrophy and the nerve healing. It is improving, but I am still not close to being able to do a right calf raise on land. I do lots in the pool and can just start to raise my heel on land.
  • Sitting in a chair is not comfortable for long periods. Longer car trips are out for a while.
  • Joints are still stiff, but PT is helping.

Physical Therapy

I’m still doing both land and pool therapy.  The pool is great for lots of things and the land really helps loosen things up.  I’m also re-learning how to do a lot of basic things like walk, pick things up, sit down and move without stressing my back.  I am also starting to pick up some basic exercises for my core and back that I’ll likely use the rest of my life.


I am walking less now because I am doing more “other” thinks like biking and swimming.  I still make sure I get plenty of walks in.


I’m on the stationary bike and my real bike much more.  I can dig deeper now, but standing still exposes the significant weakness in my right leg.  I do think there is some improvement there.


Pain is generally down.  I get some nice sore muscles from use, but nothing from the back really.  I do get occasional tingling in my left leg, but that goes away with some stretching.


For two weeks or so, I’ve had a sensation like a crease in my right sock.  There is none, but I think that is sensation coming back.  So, I notice differences, but there is still plenty of numbness.


I did travel for work; a day trip to San Jose which is about an hour flight both ways.  The hardest part is sitting events; taxis, meetings, the plane seat and other things.  I was very uncomfortable, but not in real pain.  So, I’m not 100% back to normal when I was traveling a lot more, but my back is not really limiting me too much.


It is hard to put a number on it, but as mentioned above, I’m doing a lot more.  Rarely are we deciding if I can do it because of my back.  There are many activities I’m doing without thinking about it.  So, I’m starting to sense that life will go on in some meaningful way.  It will be months before I know where I balance out, but things are going in the right direction.  Slow, but in the right direction.

  3 comments for “11 Weeks Post L5-S1 Surgery

  1. Thank you for your blog. I’m recovering from similar surgery and really appreciate your blog. You’re a light in the recovery tunnel.

    • I’m glad it helps. For me, things have gotten better and very few people even remember my back issues. I have a few bad moments here and there, but that is fine with me.

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