Hi everyone. I happened to come across this message board when I was surfing for information on fusion surgery. I can't believe I've finally found somewhere to turn to for advice and support.
I had an L4-L5 discectomy five years ago. The disc re-ruptured 6 weeks post op. One year later I took a fall off of a porch, flat onto my back on cement and ended up with compression fractures of L1-L2. I've been having progressively worsening pain over the last few years. I went to the neurosurgeon who did my discectomy and after looking at my MRI he said I was fine. I decided to get a second opinion. This doctor told me the disc between L4-5 was disintegrated to the point of it being beyond repair and that my vertebrea have slipped. I also have scar tissue surrounding and squeezing my nerves, which has caused constant sciatic pain down both legs and numbness in my hands and feet. This neurosurgeon suggested a fusion of L4-5, which I have decided to go ahead with. I just need to schedule it.
I am still working full time as a police dispatcher, a job that requires me to sit for 8-12 hours. Sitting has always been easier for me than standing or laying down. I've gotten to the point that even sitting has become unbearable, but I don't want to stop working because I love my job.
My questions are:
1. How long, on average, are people out of work while recovering? I've read some entries where people said they were able to get back to work after 2-3 months.
2. Does anyone else find that their personal relationships suffer because of their back problems? My husband and I have had so many arguments due to the lack of physical intimacy because of the pain it causes me.
3. Do pain pumps work any better than oral meds? I've tried so many and now I have a Duragesic patch (50 mcg/hr), which my doctor just started me on.
4. Anyone have any luck with electrical bone stimulators?
Thanks for listening. I hope to hear from someone soon.
Last edited by julabean70; 04-25-2005 at 03:47 AM.
HI. My husband is 6 weeks post op from a decompression/fusion L5-S1 and he is doing amazing! I was really worried because we have 3 kids and I wasn't sure how I was going to handle them and his needs. He came home being very independant, it was no way near as bad as I thought it would be. He just had his 6 week post op and the Dr. said he could go back to work if he felt up to it, just listen to his body. He said everything looked great. My hus. was walking 3 miles just one week post op. and he is up to 5-6 now. The Dr. said you can def. tell the diff. between the patients who are walking and those who are not.
I just wanted to pass a success story along, prior to surgery he could not walk to the neighbors house without being in so much pain, now he is walking 5 miles a day and doing great!
First of all, let me say hello and welcome to the board! I'm sorry you need to be here, but really glad you found us.
As to your job, many people go back to work too soon. On average, you should wait 3 months. After fusion surgery, sitting is restricted for a while, and the time allowed slowly increased. I had a sit-down, bob-up job and was off 3 months. When I went back, I was ready but I stayed out the full 3 months. So many folks rush back, and end up with more problems.
Most here are familiar with the intimacy problem; it's too bad your husband isn't more understanding. I mean, how much fun can it be when you are about to scream with pain? I have a nasty attitude towards that....he won't die! LOL.
As for the pain pump, if you are going to have surgery, you may very well find that you don't need to worry about that. Hopefully, the surgery will take care of enough of your pain that you won't need meds. That's the whole goal of surgery in the first place, other than spine stability. You are only a candidate when all other measures fail. Pain meds don't work, surgery didn't help, etc. It's a wonderful tool, but having to put one in means you have a lifetime probem with pain. I know....I have one. It's sort of the last possibilty for getting pain under control.
Good luck with the surgery. I hope it works and gets you back to doing your job and restoring your partner's happiness!
I've been where you are. While I don't work for Law Enforcement, I am somewhat in a similar job setting. I had L4/5 fused in '03. I too love my job & was extremely worried if I'd be able to return. I did. I was out 12 weeks, then returned working 4 hrs a day for 2 or 3 weeks. It was rough at 1st but I did it ~ Dr gave written instructions that I was too get up and walk 5 min after each 30 min of sitting. I was fortunate & would have been able to do that even without a note. So as far as restrictions FROM being able to do my job - that was all. Everyone is different of course but I've heard of people going back sooner than I did and for some, a little longer but I think 3mo is a realistic goal for one level ~ I had two ... they fused L5/S1.
I am blessed with a very supportive husband and while things are stressful at times - ours is mostly from sadness and anger of all the things we miss but can't change and all the pain that me being in... means he lives it too. And basically I have Carol's attitude, "He'll Live" and screaming is not real sexy
But he's not given up on me, he just wants me well
I am having revision surgery soon, my L4/5 level did not fuse. I was at the point where my PM was suggesting the pump ~ but I'm trying to save that in the event this surgery does not get the pain to a manageable level.
I am on the Duragesic and it's allowing me to hang on another week or so.
I've no personal experience with the SCS but my doc didn't feel I'd be a good candiate - most of my pain is low back and while my extremity pain is miserable, it's still tolerable.
Thank you all so much for the replies and the advice. I'm scared to death to have this surgery done, but I'm also sick and tired of the pain getting progressively worse. I swear my list of things I can no longer do gets longer with each passing week. It's also nice to know that I'm not the only one with marriage stress because of my back! I love my husband and it does bother me that he isn't more understanding, but right now that is the least of my problems.
I'm meeting with my surgeon next week and hope that he can schedule my surgery soon. I'd rather just get it over with than sit around worrying about it. I'm glad to hear that 3 months out of work was a realistic view. I've had so many problems with trying to get any kind of disability (short and long term) coverage because of my pre-existing condition that my husband and I decided to just take out a personal loan to cover our expenses. It's hard because I'm the main bread winner in the house and I've felt guilty for so long about having to be out of work for so long.
Again, thank you all for sharing your stories with me. I'll definitely be back to visit again soon.
I'm sorry to hear that you're fusion didn't work. I'm so disappointed that I have to have more surgery. Hopefully this one is the one that works. Thank you for being so open about having the same relationship problems. It made me feel less alone when I read your posting and the one from Carol. I spent so much time feeling guilty about not being able to be there for him that I was neglecting my own needs. Again, I am so glad I found this message board. It's nice to finally have people who understand what I'm going through! -Julabean
please don't ever allow yourself to feel guilty. You must think ahead and place ALL of your energy into GETTING BETTER!!!!
I so wish your husband was more supportive for you, the emotional aspects of living in chronic pain alone require some type of support system, let alone facing an upcoming and very scary surgery. We will be your support and I'm sure your hubby will too ~ guys sometimes just have a hard time expressing their feelings, and some are unable to vocalize their fears.
You have TONS of people here who understand what your going through!
please keep us posted on how your doing.