What to expect?

My chiari is on the smaller side but what will I be in for after the surgery? I was told 3 days in hospital and 2-3 week recovery. As I read others stories and discussions I'm seeing alot of you with a different results and I'm trying not to become even more nervous. Especially because I have a 16 mo son and wil be returing to my elementary PE teaching job in Sept - so I don't exactly sit around!
Any reccomendations on what to bring to the hospital to make me more comfortable and help time go by? I also live 3 hours from where I will be having the surgery, I'm guessing the ride home will be painful?
Will I be able to sleep? How big is the scar? Will I be able to wash and style my hair? What won't I be able to do when I get out of the hospital?
I know I have so many questions but, I'm someone who likes to know exactly what I'm in for so I can be prepared as possible. I'd love to hear from anyone who would like to share some advice. I would appreciate it greatly!

I was in the hospital about a week. 3 days in ICU and 2 in a regular room. I was released from NS's care at 6 weeks. But I was still having issues with balance, migraines, numbness in hands and feet, etc... Each person is different. My husband's cousin had decompression surgery and within a few weeks she felt fine and hasn't had any issues since.

I didn't take anything with me to the hospital, but I really didn't have any info about any of this. The only things I knew about Chiari were what I found online.

Sorry I can't be more help. But prayers going up for you!!!

Hi there! First of all they will keep you very comfortable. :slight_smile: I was out in 3 days as well. I went back to work fairly quick. Maybe too quick so do NOT RUSH yourself.
I liked pillows a lot during my recovery and to be up on a slant.
I had my hair in loose pigtails for awhile just to keep the hair off of my incision. You will be a little weak for the fist few weeks so you’ll be able to wash maybe week two but maybe too tired to style too much :slight_smile:
3 hour ride home is long but I’m sure you will have some good drugs to take. You will be uncomfortable but bring pillows. They will make you feel more stable and secure. You may sleep all the way home anyways so don’t worry too much.
Every scar length is different. Mine is 6 inches long but you can’t see it unless you look for it !!!

I would estimate a bit longer than 3 weeks for recovery in that you will feel really tired. Just five yourself that time to heal and allow yourself to SIT STILL.
since you are a PE teacher this is going to be a challenge for you but remember. …this is the time to allow yourself that privilege of healing yourself , you have a lifetime of running around after that so don’t rush it. :slight_smile:

I agree with Sandy. It will take longer than 3 weeks to recover. I would guess you would feel better in 3 weeks, but it will be more like 6 weeks before you will feel even close to normal. It is a major surgery and invasive so you have to give your body the time to rest and take it easy. If you can't do things, don't do them! Do not push yourself at all. I was in the hospital 4-5 days and my recovery time from the actual surgery was about 2 months.


i was in hospital, 5days, i had a 1.5hr drive home, i got a soft collar for the trip, it made it easier, also have stops.

take a pillow with you to hospital a feather one is great as you can mold it to your head,

my NS told me 3months recovery, im not allowed to drive for 3months,

im now 3ks post op, i dont have alot of pain, but i know i need to do NOTHING, i will know when i can do things,

you have to allow your bones to heal, and what they dont tell you is that it takes a yr for bone to heal properly,

you need atleast 6weeks for incision to heal and scar tissue to be ok,


i will say that i had major spine surgery when my youngest was 1yr (he had his BDay the day i got discharged)

i found it easier not to have the kids come and see me, but i did spent 12days in hospital,

3yrs later i had the decompression, and i still didnt allow the kids to see me until day 3, you need that time for you, you can sleep if you want to, i always think of it as a holiday. lol i know crazy but it worked,

when is your surgery????

Hello I hope all is well with everyone. I had my surgery 6wks ago and im doing pretty good but im still not doing things I was doing before surgery. Im still not driving, im still having burning sensation on my left side and a lil stiffness and swelling. All in all everything is good. I would advise you not to rush yourself in doing nothing.


Tradee, you will get there; it just takes awhile. Shirley

how are you feeling about it?


I was in the hospital for a week....In the recovery room after surgery they really try to get the pain under control b4 they move you to ICU..I just spent 1 nite in ICU...

I brought PJ bottoms to wear which made me more comfy...I also brought this soft fleecy blanket from home and folded it and put it on top of the pillow..it made the incision less sore.

I also brought my own face clothes from home....I have worked in hospitals b4....I am weird, I know....LOL..also brought baby wipes to clean my hands when I was too lazy to get up!!LOL

I did not drive for several mths...but that is just me..others here drove fairly quickly.....

When is your operation????

Keep us updated.

Have a good w/e!



Bless your heart....you are a fresh post op!!! Take it easy!!! You will drive again and do all the other things as well....don't be hard on yourself...this is the time to be very kind to Tradee!!!!



I had/have an excellent recovery. My surgery was on 5/3 and I was supposed to be in the hospital for four days. After my surgery, on the same day, I was up and walking around. Made the nurses a little stressed, but I was steady on my feet, but then they grounded me. A discharge error caused me to be discharged on 5/4. My doctor was Dr. Tew from the Mayfield Clinic in Cincinnati, OH. Kudo's to Dr. Tew!

Points of interest:

Did isometric exercises

Walked, but not a lot due to fatique

Was released to drive at 2 weeks

Returned to work part time at 3 weeks

Returned to work full time at 4 weeks

You'll be tired and there will be pain, but it's tolerable pain at around week 2 - and if you're like me, you'll have partial range of motion. I had full range of motion at about 6 weeks. I'll be fully released by my doctor this week, which will be close to 3 months post-surgery.


Supplements, Supplements, Supplements the month before and after. You can buy multivitamins meant for surgery and they have no vitamin e, which can cause bleeding. My doctor let me take them the whole time. I took amino acids, tons of vitamin c and B vitamins, along with a few others. The supplements are what I attritube my recovery to. When going in, I was 48, sedentary, and didn't eat well. But yet I had an amazing recovery. Do I have any issues? Yes, but they're minor and will probably go away after time.