Well its now 4 months since my spinal fusion L4 L5 L5 S1 cage insertion, rods, screws, etc etc......
Progress has been made, but it is very very slow. I can see looking back on what I could do in the early days compared to what I can do now. For anyone entering into this surgery I would just like to say it is a very hard procedure mentally and physically. For some people they recover faster and for some (me) it has been a battle. Everyone here on the board told me it would be and advised me along the way. What I find hard is that one day you feel fine and plan great things for the next day, and find you are not able to do them. From my earlier posts you might remember me saying I could only do 8 hours up throughout the day, and i was totally frustrated, well all of a sudden it has become 11 hours, now I would be laughing if I could do 11 hours without needing to lye down, but I suspose in time it will come.
What I still find very difficult to do is just stroll around shops that just kills my back, but yet I can walk for 20 min on a threadmill or around the place, I think it is all the stopping and starting looking at things. I am attending physio once a week, and the exercises are getting more difficult, but hopefully I will benefit from this.
Just wanted to say if you are having a spinal fusion the best thing to bring with you is a good frame of mind and be prepared that it will take time. Anyone asking me how I am doing, I just say it will be 12 months recovery, and I suspose that is a fair thing to say. I just hope that I keep recovering for the next 8 months and it gets better.
My decision was easy, I could not put up with the pain and my life the way it was. I was more or less constantly in the bed. To have a shower and dress myself had me back in bed again, then to walk around the kitchen and have breakfast was like a days work. I could walk for about 5 min. My back felt as if it was about to snap with the next step I took. My surgeon came me no gaurantee, he said I cannot say it will cure your pain, and I cannot say it will improve it any bit. I was at my wits end. I lost 2 stone in weight with worry about the operation. Then said to myself I have nothing to loose, that is the way I felt honestly. Having the fusion has been the best thing I have done. My pain has been greatly reduced. I am able to take my son to school in the mornings and that is a major achievement. I still am limited in what i can do. But life so far is much much better than prior to surgery. I used to spend most of the day on the floor or in the bed. So this is major improvement for me. They said my pain was pure mechanical and had DDD in both discs, the pain I had was unnatural. All I can say to you is look at your life and can you deal with the level of pain you are in? Is it going to get worse? I regret I didnt get it done sooner when I was in better shape as I have been out of work for 3 years and spent alot of that time in bed and have alot of muscle to build. I feel if I got it done sooner when I was fitter my recovery might have been easier. But then you certainly do not rush into surgery like this.
Sherry how are you suffering? let me know and might be able to pass on more advice. I know the percentages they give are low. At least we are on the same time zone, note you are in England.
seems to me like you are doing very well physicaly and emotionaly. Very smart outlook to tell yourself to be patient. It was a big problem for me: I had such a fear not to loose my job and the fact that so many people's work in a office depended on me - that I could not wait to go back to work. I pushed myself, my Dr to the point that looking back now makes me smile: how silly and not realistic I was.
Patient is very important for our recovery and less stress we have - better it is. The main thing is to see that light at the end of the tunnel. I can tell that you are doing good.
Continue on your good job and good luck to you!
You sound a little discouraged, but really, I think you're doing quite well. Don't be too hard on yourself. I remember being 4 months out and feeling like I should be much better by then. But, like you, I had good days and bad days. I had times when I could be up most of the day, but even at 5 or 6 months, I laid down for an hour or two in the middle of the day almost everyday. This is such a huge surgery to recover from. There's much to heal and much care to be taken to encourage bone growth.
Even at 11 months, I was still seeing improvement. I was very surprised by that, even though I'd read over and over to allow a full year to recover. They're right! I'm now one year post op from my fusion and I have to say, I've continued to see slow improvement all the time. Sometimes I can only notice it by realizing that I couldn't do something a month ago that I can do now. But it's there.
Keep up the good work with the physio. That makes a huge difference! I considered my PT to be my job. I didn't allow myself to go to bed at the end of the day if I hadn't done all my exercises!
I couldn't have walked around a shopping center at 4 months. Don't worry. That will come. Give it more time. 4 months is still early. Keep being the good patient you've been and keep your good outlook. You're so right that your outlook makes a difference!
Do hang in there, things do get easier. Unfortunatly, you just have got to give it more time. You definatly have a long time to go, so be patient and go easy on yourself. I am now 14 months post op. I feel great. Recently had a CT and everything looks good, but it took a long time to get to this point, and I can still have a bad day. It seems like it took forever to be able to just get up and go by the end of the day. Now, I have to deal with pain from the screws in there. OS wanted to wait 18 months before removing them, so he x-rays every 3 months. I, personally, don't want to go in again, so I am happy to keep putting it off. The moving screws can be pretty darn painfull, but it's only occasionally, so I just buck-it up and deal with it. But trust that things will get better, time does make it better! Good luck!
Thank you all for replying, its good to see that I am somewhat normal !!!!! glad to see you have to lye down too, that was really getting to me, but if its the norm thats okay. I must say the 4th month mark I have seen a good improvement, and when you see that it makes you more positive. Its a long old road I know. Thank you all for your support, and a reminder what I am going thru is what is expected..
Please do the as intstructed and listen to the body as you have been. Shopping at 4 months; I was just starting to turn the corner and starting to think about driving again. IT was a long hard road; it was winter time and was very depressing.
I finally got the okay to start driving short distances at 3 months then at 5 it was like I turned the corner and great strides were made. I would say that you are doing excellent.
I am at 9 months and I am starting to get a little pain in the left shin area at times and yes the back does hurt from time to time.. It is as if there is some poping going on in there at times. My spine Surgeon told me at 6 months totally fused - a poster child he calls me., I will see him at one year and see what he has to say...
I have had 3 things going for me - a supportive wife and 2 great daughters and the fact that I quit smoking and chewing tobacco almost 8 years ago.
I walk on the average 2. 5 miles 5 days a week if not a little more and try to walk 6 miles one day on Saturday or Sunday...
I just found this site and appreciate being able to read your experiences.
I will have L5/S1 ALIF fusion on Nov 6 and I really need to hear your successes, I have seen some negative results posted on other sites. I'm active duty Air Force (Law Enforcement) and hope this won't end my career, I'm 39 and only have 2 years before I can retire.
I had L5/S1 discectomy in 2003, L5/S1 discectomy and Tethered Cord Release in July 06, never really recovered from the last surgery. I have a high pain tolerance but the last few months have been horrible and I hope that this surgery will finally fix that.
I was born with Spina Biffida and had 3 surgeries before I was 1yr old, since I've already had so many surgeries on my back the Dr. wants to do the ALIF instead of PLIF. He said he doesn't want to traumatize my back more than it already has been. So my question to you all is, is it worth having the added pain in the abdomen when I'm used to the severe pain already in my back?
In your opinions and experience, do you think I will recover enough to fulfill my duites, physically, in the Military and Law Enforcement? There is the probability that once I recover I will deploy to the desert again, would I be able to perform such a physically demanding task?
I appreciate any and all advice you can send my way.
Roy, thanks for your reply, I was glad to see it as I know you are doing well have been following your posts and know you are on as much as before so delighted to hear from you. Dont know about the superwoman part, today isnt as good as most but I suspose that is to be expected. I am glad I am able to drop my son to school and just go for a coffee sometimes. But I tell you it is hard work. I saw a girl in the shopping centre this morning and she was shuffling along I knew immediately it was her back. Even though my own is still bad and cant shop shop shop I can get around but God love her my heart went out to her. Roy, I know you told me in the early weeks things would get better and they have, but it is hard hard work. Somedays you just feel will I have this forever, I just watch the other mums at the school with there kids, bending, running etc..... what I would give to me somewhat normal. I suspose enough moaning for one day. Roy thanks again, any other advice welcome.
Ninersguy, I presume you have read my other posts if not just click into round1 and it will allow you read my other posts which I started in May just before my fusion. I had my operation as a result of DDD and not been able to do anything with the pain. Yes things have improved (but sore today so not in the best of form). I had double level fusion and cage insertion, they did not go thru abdomen it was all done from the back. I had bone taken from the hip area, some people say it is sore, but thankfully I have no pain whatever there, wouldnt even know they took it from there. I cant answer whether you would be fit for work or not, I know I am not, I cant stay up fully through out the day and sitting for a long while is uncomfortable, I am glad I had this operation and I just hope to continue to improve. If I can answer anymore questions please ask, will log on later.
Roy, Round 1;
Thanks for the replies, I need to hear positive experiences right now. This whole fusion thing scares me, more so than the tethered spinal cord release I had last year. I'm not sure if the surgery scares me or if it's the thought of being medically retired, I would like to finish my career on my terms, not some Dr's.
Roy, fortunately I'm high enough ranking that I have a desk job, Chief Installation Security, but I think that contributes to a lot of my pain. I can't sit comfortably for any length of time and have to stand frequently, the only resemblance of relief I get is lying down, but unfortunately I can't do that during the day.
I have a lot of questions on recovery times, the Dr. said probably 3 months before I return to work but I don't see him again untill the 22nd so I have to wait for answers. Any recommendations on questions to ask when I go back? I'm making a list now.
Thanks again for the info,
I really dont think anyone can put a true time frame on recovery. I am four months now and no way would I be able to work. But then I was unable to work 3 years before my surgery, it really depends on how you are also going into surgery. I was constantly in the bed with pain. So to get back to being up a full day isnt going to happen overnight for me. You seem to be active enough as i take it you are still working, even though in pain.
I believe I would be further down the line if I was in better shape going into surgery or if I did it a few years earlier. So my advice is dont wait to long.
I can understand being afraid, I lost 2 stone just waiting for my surgery. I just couldnt eat, I was just so so scared, thinking what if, then I just said it cant be any worse. Just be prepared that it is a long haul and sometimes it will get to you. Somedays I just feel not another day...... and the days you are good you will be delighted you have had it done. When is your surgery due. You said you were going back at the end of the month for another consultation, will you get your date then.
I would ask him about the weight bearing and lifting and have him be open and honest. Perhaps the word I am looking for is "BRUTAL HONESTY."
With what I know now and my surgery was S1-L4-L fusion. 2 rods 6 screws and 2 cages. I was opened in the front as well as the back - I can sit longer now than I used to be able to do. But I still need to stnad up and move around from time to time. Get a back brace for the house as well when you return to work. I would think that the doctor would release you back to work starting out at half days for the first few weeks if possible.
I used to work at the 55th security forces at Offutt as the Assistant Training manager and the money ran out. IT lasted about a year. I have just accepted a job as a Dispatcher for the fire station at the base and start on the 17th. I am currently 70% disabled and the VA went and said 100%.
I have informed the VA and they will monitor how I am doing I am sure at the end of the year if I can handle the job they will reduce it to 70% and I will continue to work. Or the other option will be to have to resign from the postion and go to 100% for good. I do not want to sit around, I wnat to be productive and continue to learn. I guess in a year they could go ahead and re evalute me and go totally 100% and I could continue on and do both.
I like you want to continue and be productive....
Best of luck... Sorry I drifted a little bit in the end...
Glad to hear you're associated with us SF members. I have a guy that works for me that's in the reserves assigned to Offutt as an IMA but is working here as a GS in our reports and analysis section. I'm worried about the weight bearing issues. My bundle is due to deploy out but I obviously won't be going, so I know they will be looking at me to take another team next year. I would like to go back but I just don't know about being able to do the physical portion or being able to spend so much time getting bounced around in hummers.
I'm having the surgery on 6 Nov, I go back on the 22nd for the pre-op and to see the anasthesiologist. I am still working and taking percocet to get through the day. Unfortunately in the military I can't call in sick, I have to go to sick call and a Dr. has to put me on quarters. If I get put on qtrs then I can go home, but most of the military Drs. here have little experience with this and rarely send me home. Luckily my surgeon is civilian and works at the University hospital. During my last surgery for TCS and the herniated disc, they removed what was left of my disc, so right now my L5 S1 is rubbing bone on bone and the percocet can't dull that very much, especially when they catch and feel like they're going to pop loose.
I need to run for now, have a great day.