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Old 11-18-2006, 07:41 PM   #1
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Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

I will be have 2 level fusion soon, I have had 2 prior back surgeries (lamenectomies). I know after those surgeries it took a couple of months till I felt that I could do just about anything. But now were talking fusion. I have been working as a Corrections Officer for 10 + years. The physical requirements are "able to lift and carry 50lbs, able to drag 100lbs, able to restrain combative inmates, able to respond to alarms (run)...
Can someone give me some idea as to what I can expect my physical limitations will be? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks

 
Old 11-18-2006, 08:07 PM   #2
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

hi, what levels are you talking about? I can tell you after my two level fusion, it was twelve weeks and I don't have a physically demanding job. I was told a physically demanding job would have been six months post op rather than twelve weeks before I was allowed any activity other than walking, and certainly no lifting as you describe. Hasn't your surgeon told you what your restrictions will be yet? I would imagine they will be very restrictive for several months in your job - no physical holds, no restraints, etc.

 
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Old 11-18-2006, 08:34 PM   #3
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

Thanks MKF for replying so quickly, to answer your questions, I will be having L4/L5 S1 fused. I just recently found out (last Tuesday) that I needed the fusion surgery, this was directly after my "Disco gram". I will be scheduling surgery when I see my Dr. on the 21st. I am sure he will be able to answer my questions then, but my employer is asking me if I am filing for disability. In fact, I received a letter yesterday from my employer saying that I should be filing for Social Security Disability now. I have been out of work for about 6 weeks now because of my back, and I honestly do not know if I can return to that type of work without fear of injuring my back again, and I do not believe they want me back with this type of surgery. Its a confusing time right now, just do not know what to expect.
Thanks for your reply.

 
Old 11-18-2006, 08:48 PM   #4
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

Hi Porter. You have a very demanding job which requires you to be able to do some strenous activity at any given moment which is very taxing on the spine. I would say that after a double fusion (I assume yours is lumbar), that is highly unlikely you will be able to return to do that type of work and be able to perform at those same levels again. Nothing is impossible and you could beat the odds Porter. I would hope you plan to discuss this with your surgeon and get his/her thoughts about it all as well.

I do wish the best for you and a full and speedy recovery. Take care. Tammy
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Old 11-18-2006, 10:26 PM   #5
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

[FONT="Verdana"][/FONT]Hi , I am new here but have suffered evry back problem you can imagine. This is one thing I know apply for your disability ASAP it takes a long time to get thru the process but worth applying for.

 
Old 11-19-2006, 07:45 AM   #6
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

Hey Porter,
Yes, it's a confusing time. There are a lot of unknowns for you right now. I'm glad your employer isn't just ignoring you. You might want to apply for short term disability if you have that through your job. It's very hard to get permanent disability, though if you really are permanently disabled you should apply. But more likely, you'll need to find a different line of work. Are there other positions with your company that you could transfer to?

But getting to your back problem: I suggest starting a list of questions for your doctor. You'll be thinking of all sorts of things between now and your appt. The doctors are used to people coming in with a list, and they're generally happy to patiently answer every question. They know that you'll have an easier time if you know what to expect. There are also tons of tips here on the board for post surgery. Come back and ask questions here, too, and you'll find a wealth of information and lots of people who have already been through it who can tell you what to expect. For starters, look at the post at the top of the page called "Post surgery tips." It's the first one. It will help you get a picture of what to expect.

Do you have a support system at home? Are you married, live alone, etc? I'm sure this must be a very stressful time for you, not only because of your pain and upcoming surgery, but also because you're suddenly looking at a whole life change with your job. Hang in there! There's a light at the end of the tunnel. And people here will understand. Ask questions, vent if you need to, and read the previous threads. I've found such help and encouragement here. I hope you do, too.

I wish you the best!
Blessings,
Emily

 
Old 11-19-2006, 09:38 AM   #7
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

I had a 2 level thoracic fusion recently (3 weeks ago), and the restrictions are not to bend, twist, or lift anyhting over 5 lbs. And I have to tell you, with how uncomfortable it can be...(sorry to be honest, but this ain't a walk in the park and I am usually a pretty tough cookie)...you will not want to interfere with the fusion and pick up anything at all. No driving as well. These restrictions continue for 3 months. It takes a good 6 months for the fusion to really start to take...a year for it to come close to completion. I am assuming that I would not want to interfere with the healing process during that time. FYI.. I am a nurse, and do not plan on returning as a floor nurse for a couple years b/c I would not want to go through that surgery again....that is, if I interfered with the fusion healing process. Hope this helps. good luck.
babs

 
Old 11-19-2006, 05:45 PM   #8
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

Hello-
I have to agree with Babs, I would not risk injury by doing your job for at least a year. I am going through my second fusion surgery. I am near 5 months post-op and I just started walking a 12 lb dog on a leash using a training halter to keep her from pulling. My back will not tolerate strain at all, at all. That was very true for my first surgery as well. Despite PT, daily stretching and exercising, my lower back tweaks and squeaks at next to nothing! I can't imagine having to drag a person across a floor at this point. I truly think a doc would not release you to this job for quite some time. AND I stress that it needs heavy thought to consider the worth of having this surgery if one is going to or has to put it at risk in this way.
I seriously doubt if I will ever be 100 % again. I think 70 -80 % may be a more reasonable expectation for me. Your case may be different but the job you describe seems to require 100 % physical ability in order to ensure everyones safety. Food for thought. I wish you the very best of luck - Suzy-Q

Last edited by Suzy-Q; 11-19-2006 at 05:47 PM.

 
Old 11-19-2006, 06:16 PM   #9
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

Thanks Suzy and Babs, I figured that this surgery would be a life changing decision. I really do not have much of a choice though, unless I want to continue with this pain daily. I was offered this surgery a couple of years ago but declined because I thought I could "tough it out" but I cant take it anymore. The pain has gotten so bad that I can barely walk some days, and on the days I feel OK, I end up in pain because I try to do normal activities (when will I learn?). I have not been able to return to work for almost 2 months now because of the restrictions my Dr. has given me.
I have tried everything else to manage my pain-PT, Epidural injections, and PM. Nothing is really working and my pain continues. I will go for the surgery and pray that I get some relief and may be able to continue in the Corrections field that has less physical standards. Thanks again for your help and advice. Good luck to you both.
Porter

 
Old 11-19-2006, 06:34 PM   #10
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

porter107 - i had the same levels fused in june and I'm back at work and doing well. I can't imagine you'll be able to go back to your line of work but depending upon your age and health I don't know why you would need to consider yourself disabled either. You say you've done this type of work for 10 years - what did you do before and what else do you do? Are you in good health otherwise? Is your back problem due to an injury? You can recover from two level fusion at this level and go on to do other things as well. Wait and see what your surgeon says on the 21st - don't give up just yet! Good luck and keep us posted.

 
Old 11-19-2006, 06:37 PM   #11
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

I have a 2 level fusion also and I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you can pretty much forget going back to your previous job. I was in construction which has about the same requirments as yours and my doc said theres no way will I be able to do those things ever again. Ive been told i will need job retraining.. no lifting over 50 lbs (less, actualy). anything more and the discs above and below will get too stressed and they will probably go out also. pushing and pulling heavy items are out too.. as for restraining combative inmates thats a big no no. it places huge stains on your back - remember, it will not have the flexability it had before. it could do tons of damage to your back.

while it is possible you may be able to return to it, the odds dont look good your best bet is to talk to your doc after its fully fused, and that may take a year or more.

best of luck though. everyone is different, so dont give up. just do everything the doc tells you, especially paying attention to PT.
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Last edited by zeroman; 11-19-2006 at 09:58 PM.

 
Old 11-27-2006, 09:49 PM   #12
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

I talked to my supervisor, the Deputy Warden at the correction facility I work(ed) at. He advised me that because of the long healing process of my upcoming surgery, that he had no choice but to place someone into my position. I thought I was going to lose it completely! I came very close to telling him what he could do with that job, but instead I swallowed my pride and told him I understand and that he needed to do what was best for the facility. About the time I thought he was finished, he said "Now understand this is just in the interim, as soon as your able to return to work, the job is yours. Again I about lost it, this time in a good way! I have worked very hard for the position I have. It is a specialized position and a position that every Lieutenant at the facility wants. It has been mine for almost three years now, and I could never willingly give it up. Although my physical limitations will more then likely prevent me from returning to Corrections, it was nice to hear that he (my supervisor) is willing to return my job to me when (if ever) I return. Made me feel good.

Porter

 
Old 11-28-2006, 04:25 AM   #13
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

Wow, Porter! I'm very glad for you! Even if you don't get to go back, doesn't it mean a lot to be wanted and respected?!

Another example of "a gentle answer turns away wrath."

Blessings,
Emily

 
Old 11-28-2006, 09:43 AM   #14
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

Hi Porter,
I'm so glad to hear that your job will be waiting, that is certainly motivation to get well. It sounds like yoru in pretty good shape to be able to perform that job at all. I have had 4 fusions L4-S1, I have nto had very much success in fusing, but that is not the norm, only 10% do not have a successful fusion, so dont' sell yourself short just yet. I am disabled, but I can't be fixed either. I worked in a animal shelter before my problems started, those big dogs can get pretty rough sometimes. I got to where a cat was too heavy before I had surgery, so I understand very well why you waited so long.

I woudl apply for whatever you can apply for, worst case is that you can go back to work and will not need it, but if you do need it it is better to get those wheels rolling asap. I waited 4 yrs, yes 4 years! to get my disablilty approved. But I thought you have to be out of work for 6 months before you can apply for it, you might want to check into that one, but short term disability you certainly will qualify for.

I do wish you much success in your recovery, it is a long process, and the first few weeks you will be wondering why you ever agreed to it, but it will be well worth the struggle to get rid of that pain.

God Bless

Good Luck

Carol
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:21 AM   #15
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Re: Curious about physical restrictions post recovery? (FUSION)

Thanks Carol for your reply. Yes I still have hope that I can return to my job. My position does not really have any physical tasks, but because I am classified as a corrections officer, the physical requirements are very stringent because of the opportunity of physical confrontation with inmates. And because of my position, that opportunity is likely to occur someday. I am the Disciplinary Administrator at the facility which in essence is equivalent to Magistrate Judge except I only deal with the inmate population. Some of my decisions as far as the sanctions I can impose, tend to upset some of the inmates, and they can, at any given moment, decide to take their frustrations out on me especially when I take their "good time away" which can be up to a year. But anyway, I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can return, but I am also preparing myself for the bad news that I wont be able to. Either way I am happy that my "boss" is keeping that position for me if I am able to!.
I have contacted Social Security, and they are sending me an application so I can get started on it. Sounds like a lot of paperwork for sure!

Porter

 
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