I am getting discouraged, I feel like some people are saying I am where I am supposed to be, give it time, etc. Others are saying I am not recovering as fast as I should be, insinuating something must be wrong.
I had L5-S1 fusion, L5 laminectomy with rods and screws.
I am doing better. I can cook some things for myself, bathe myself, walk several blocks. The thing bothering me most is I cant sit for more than a couple hours. I need to sit 8 hours to be able to go back to work. After about an hour or two my back hurts, and it hurts for a long time after. (before the surgery I could not sit in a straight chair at all, maybe for a few minutes)
I did have some setbacks. I was in the hospital for a week because of high fevers, sweats, O2 in the 80's and HR in the 120s. They ruled out that it ws not an infection from the surgery. The inscision was clean and white count normal. I have lyme disease and coinfections, and it could be the trauma of the surgery caused one of them to flare up. Or it could have been a herx from the IV antibiotics they gave me, or I could have just caught a bug in the hospital. I am better now, but that may have delayed my recovery.
I worry because sitting hurts my back. It does not seem to be the muscle, but pain right in the middle, along the spine. It seems like the pain is higher than it was before the surgery. Could it be the upper levels resting on the instrumentation instead of the lamina that used to be there? Or is it just resting on nothing?
Can anyone give me hope that it will get better? Or is something wrong?
roro, Ive had 4 back surgeries and each recover time was different.do your self a favor relax you had a big surgery it takes time for you to feel better. Take each day one at a time and you will see improvement.recovering is hard because we want to feel better fast, but this is a slow process.Listen to your back about sitting, dont force your self to sit untill the pain is so horrible. good luck . allie
I too have had 4 surgeries and at 20 days post op you are doing great. Back surgery takes a long time to recover and you need to listen to your body. Pain is a sign that you can't afford to ignore. It means to slow down and back off for awhile.
Remember no lifting, bending or twisting. Don't rush yourself and take it easy. Listen to your doctor and do exactly what he says. I would take this time of healing and consider it an investment in your future.
FYI - About 12 weeks sitting becomes a little easier but remember some of us take longer to heal than others and some heal quicker. Remember you are unique and your circumstance is different from everyone else.
roro, I'm 28 days post op L4-S1 fusion and I also can't sit for more then about 2 hours. If I get up and walk around a bit I can then sit again for an hour or two.
Oddly enough, I get pain in exactly the same place and yours. I've come to the conclusion it's a couple of things. First, the discs above are probably not used to the new configuration and second, I have never spent this much time in bed - ever. I think my entire body is getting overly tired when I do anything now because I have never been bedridden for this long.
I too have to be able to sit for 8 hours in order to do my job. Don't worry, we'll get there!
Part of the problem is that all during the time you were in pain, some of your muscles, ligaments, etc. were working overtime, compensating for those that were affected by your "problem." Usually things are quite out of balance by the time you get around to having surgery. (I may be an extreme case, but I waited 3 years.) You will need to learn how to balance the workload and try to get all these muscles working the same amount, working together.
You may find that as a result of the surgery, you are carrying yourself differently, your posture has changed, etc. Again, it takes awhile for all this to get going again.
None of us should be sitting for longer than about 30 minutes at a time. You need to be very careful to watch your posture and be sure you are not hyper-extending your back, slouching, etc.
Finally, are you in a position to make any changes in the fact that your job requires you to sit for 8 hours? Could you stand part of the time to do your work? Or maybe get one of those kneeling chairs that is better for your posture? Or......????
Please take your time, you only have one chance to heal rite, don't mess it up by trying to hurry your body along. I have failed back syndrome. I have had 4 fusions surgeries in 3 yrs. that was over 2 yrs ago. Each and every one had a totally different recovery period and many things differred in each one. All my fusions were from L4-S1 also. My Dr. told me not to rush in doing things and sitting is the hardest thing on your back, so you trying to sit longer than your able to can really mess things up, you don't want that. Like others have said listen to your pain, stop doing whatever is causing the pain asap. If that means sitting for only 10 minutes at a time thats what you need to do. Working thru that pain will cause problems. You might also want to make sure your taking your pain meds "as prescribed" if it says every 4 hrs then take it every 4 hrs even if it means setting your alarm to take it thru the night. The most important thing you can do in your recovery is to manage your pain because good pain control means your body will move more freely and less tensed up and that will get your new posture moving in the rite way. As the other comment said your body went thru alot of trauma with this surgery. Did you know that fusion surgery is just as traumatic as open heart surgery? They shifted your spine into a new position! that means everything in your core of your body is now moving differently. Give it time and take your meds at the right time even if it doesn't feel like you need them. Trust me, it will get better, your almost over the hump in your recovery after about 3 months it gets better much faster, IF you follow your dr.'s orders to the letter. So lay back, don't worry ( I know that easier said than done) and try to enjoy the recovery. You will be at work before you know it and wishing you were on vacation, lol.
I also went home with IV antibiotics, I had bowel problems (diarhea)for months afterwards from the fact those meds strip your digestive tract of all bacteria good & bad. My pharmacists told me to eat yogurt it helps replenish the good stuff in there. I ate one container a day for one week and it was better. Just thought if your having that trouble you might want to know that.
"Thru every dark corner is a door to a new light"
I can assure you that sitting is the last thing that you are able to do, after a fusion. I have had 2 fusions myself, and I remember thinking the same thing as you, but I know at 5 months, I was not sitting for a couple of hrs., more like an hr. at a time. If you can get up and move around for even a few mins. every hr. or so, you might find that you can sit longer than you are now.
ohhhhhhhhhh my oh myyyyyyy going back to day 20 ! let me see. That was just 10days at home, as I was kept in for 10 days. Okay. Still had he bed down stairs, possibly was able to walk for 10 minutes, hadnt ventured out, only up and down the road. My back felt if there was a huge concrete block in it, I used to all it the KNOT, it was this intense feeling of pressure where the fusion was. I could sit for maybe 10 minutes on a good day and over the weeks, and I mean a good number of weeks it went to about 30min.
I am 14 Months (no not a typo 14 months) since by double fusion... Do I regret it no. But it hasnt given me the quality of life I thought I would have. I can sit for about 90min in a car. I cant stay up longer than 5 hours without having to lye down for an hour. then up again........ repeat....... I am on oxycontin 60mg aday.
You are doing great......... I would be so so so happy if I were you. Your recovery is sounding like it should be. It sounds like what I would have expected. You are only 20days......... at 20 weeks I would have been happy with that.
How debiltating was you back before your fusion.......... had you intense pain, were you lying down alot with it???? I would love to know, so I might see why you are discourage at this stage. You are doing so good, believe me, and I hope it will be a success. Please dont try to rush your recovery you have only one back, mind it, and if that means more time off work, let it be, that is what it needs.
I have had the same two surgeries at the same spot. The reason you cant sit long is because the muscles that suround the spine are very week due to surgery. It took me about a good 4-5 months to fully recover. The best thing for recovery is walking and eating good foods high in protein. Also, if you smoke, STOP!.....Smoke can actually halt the fusion process. Well,good luck and dont push yourself too hard too fast. Everybody heals at different speeds.
I am better at some thigs before the surgery, and worse at others. I am still glad I had it done because I can walk now. I could not walk more than a couple blocks before. Not because of pain, but just literally I could not walk, my legs would buckle and just give out after a while.
I was on 15 mg MS Contin 4 pills a day, now I am on 5-6 pills a day. I was taking vicodin 5/325's about 2-6 a day, now I am taking 4-6.
The only thing I could do better before the surgery is sit in a reclining position for longer. I could not sit in a straight chair at all. Now I can sit in a straight chair about an hour or two, and a reclined chair it does not matter, still only about an hour or two.
It does not help to walk around for a few minutes in between, I am already doing that. After an hour or two it hurts and I have to take pain meds and lie flat for a few hours to feel ok again.
So most things are better.
I am discouraged because my dr is pressuring me to go back to work in a couple weeks, and I dont see how I am going to do that when I cant sit for long. He also wants me off the pain meds too. I feel like I can maybe go back to work OR go off the pain meds, but not both right now. I get my pain meds from a pain clinic, so its not up to him anyway, but still.
And I feel so weak from the diarrhea, I lost 10 pounds already since the surgery. Thats a half pound a day! I am fat, need to lose about 30 more, but this is not a healthy way. I still have fevers. Maybe that is from the lyme disease flaring up again, but I dont know it just feels like some kind of bug I caught in the hospital.
Maybe in a couple weeks I will be completely healed and ready to go back to work, so I guess I should wait and see. But I dont know what to tell the dr if I am not. And it will be a different doctor, my surgeon is going away a whole month and his partner is seeing me.
I feel like everyone on this board is saying it takes months to heal, not weeks. But the dr's are pressuring me, and I had so many complications as it is. I want to go back to work, I miss my job, but I am also scared of messing up my back permanently.
Why are the patients experiences so different from my dr's expectations?
>The thing bothering me most is I cant sit for more than a couple hours... It does not seem to be the muscle, but pain right in the middle, along the spine. It seems like the pain is higher than it was before the surgery. Could it be the upper levels resting on the instrumentation instead of the lamina that used to be there? Or is it just resting on nothing? Can anyone give me hope that it will get better? Or is something wrong?
I wanted to respond to your OP and subsequent post. I don't think your sitting problem is due to your hardware (at least not solely); I didn't have a fusion and have no hardware, just had a laminectomy (9 weeks ago) and sitting is still my main problem -that and doing things that normally require bending (yet not bending and still doing them somehow). I feel the pain higher than I did prior to my surgery, too (mine was in my buttocks and down both legs prior to surgery, kept me from walking and standing and is now from my tailbone up to above the top of my incision), and I also feel it (now in recovery) in my spine rather than muscle. I was told that it hurts b/c the nerves that were newly 'freed' w/ the surgery have all the pressure put on them again when I sit --and also simply b/c such a large muscle group was cut open/into and the spine worked on. That's apparently enough, let alone having instrumentation as you do. I (also like you) cannot sit in a straight chair more than 2 hours. My legs go numb before even 1 hour, actually, and the one time I sat for 2 hours (straight chair) I went completely numb from the waist down and wasn't able to walk when I stood up (and was in God-awful pain). I tend to sit slightly reclined with my legs up/supported and then I can sit for looong periods if I want to. I have adjusted and do some things standing now, even work on the computer. I propped my keyboard and mouse up on boxes when I was newly home from the hospital, so I could log on and check emails and such. I can sit now to go online, but also stand at the computer still, too (so I can be at it longer than if I only sat down). I just take the keyboard and mouse down from the boxes when I sit and put them back up when I stand (and tilt my monitor up when I'm standing). For me, breaking up sit time with standing time makes all the difference and I can then do more --and for longer periods of time. I ate meals standing up all the time when I was first home from the hospital (for several weeks), but now sit for most (but not all) meals. And, if I have to use a straight chair, I 'comfy it up' with pillows and wedgies and such (even out in public --I don't care how it looks as long as I can do it w/ less pain or for longer). I don't think I'm going to be like this forever, but I do think I'm going to always have more challenge with sitting than I did before. From the information I've gathered before and since my own surgery, I think it's going to take me several months rather than several weeks to really heal up. I know I feel TONS better today at 2 months than I did at 3 weeks, where you're at now. I suspect you'll surpass where I am now when you get to even 2 months, let alone further out than that --b/c at 3 weeks post-op from my back surgery, I was only managing to walk up to 6 [U]houses[/U] from my front door and that took me 20-30 minutes to do so.. with someone holding my arm to steady me when it got too hard for me (usu about 1/2 to 3/4 of the walk) --and I had to walk up my driveway or any slight incline (or down declines) sideways holding onto someone's arm b/c I couldn't do it facing forward or on my own. Those walks drained me, but I tried to take 3 or 4 a day. I walked like a slow-motion Frankenstein, but I walked without my sciatica pain and that's all that mattered to me then. I had back pain, but not sciatica. As for sitting, I couldn't even sit 15 minutes without one of my legs going fully numb at that point, too. I had to be steeply reclined when resting/sitting with my legs up then and had to ride (passenger, of course) in the car fully reclined/horizontal. I didn't have the level of surgery you had nor the length of hospital stay (and I had no surgical complications), but at 3 weeks I was not quite where you seem to be at now --so I hope that gives you some hope. I couldn't sit 15 minutes at 3 weeks and can manage 3 times that now before I start having trouble. I don't think that means you'll be managing 6 hours at 2 months, but I do think you'll definitely be going longer than 2. As for being pressured by your Dr to return to work.., I'm really sorry that you're receiving such pressure. Before surgery, I was told I'd be able to resume my 'duties' at 4 weeks. That is not how things worked out. I only resumed driving 2 weeks ago (just within 5 minutes of home for the first week+) and I still can't even release the emergency brake myself (it's on the floorboard -my son trips it for me). When I drove my son to his Orthodontist last week, I had to drive 10 minutes, then stop and rest 10 minuets (fully reclined --w/ ice that I'd brought), then drive another 10 minutes and rest again before continuing the last 7 minutes. I left an hour early to make sure we had enough time. We got there a little early, so we walked to relieve the 'sit pressure' rather than have me recline again. Today when I drove us both the 22 minutes to physical therapy, I drove straight there, no rest stops needed. Everything improves daily, it seems, and then it really begins to add up as a week, then another passes (although, setbacks occur, too, but then they move forward again).
I'm no expert to offer advice, but I think you should take the time you need to recover well before returning to work and then, maybe just return p/t at first. Also, if you can make some 'standing adjustments' to your job, try that out, too, when you do go back to work. My opinion is that, if you can, you shouldn't return to work before 2 months at the earliest (w/o sitting for 8 hrs... somehow). Oh, and the meds pressure from your doc --grrrrr to that pressure he's putting on you, too. I went off all meds at 3 & 1/2 weeks, then went back on Rx meds just one day before switching to OTC meds f/t from then on (week 5 and since, I think). Now, I'm back to taking some Rx meds again when I need them, am taking something, OTC or RX daily. I'm doing more now and in PT for recovery now, too, and it makes things hurt more. A little pain, I think, is good b/c it tells you that you're doing something wrong (or doing too much), but who needs more than a little to get and listen to that message? Ugh! If you need the pain medication, Rx or OTC, I personally think you should take it, regardless of your doc. And, I think the same as you do about going off the pain meds AND returning to work --both at once does not make sense. However, I would worry about you taking pain meds and returning to work f/t --not feeling the pain that the lengthy sitting is causing you. I really think that waiting to return to work f/t is best --although, again, it's just my opinion and I'm no expert. I hope your doctor's partner is more sensitive to your road to recovery -and wish you luck with the change in care provider while your doc is gone.
--Meghan (who is excessively chatty today --hope that was okay with you... you're post struck a chord in me)
Sorry just want to clarify one thing, is it your Dr or Surgeon is urging you to go back to work?. If it is your Dr. is he fully aware of what a spinal fusion is, how long recovery is? even how long the surgery is? My Ortho said to me. " I was working on your back for 9 hours, and my own back was sore ! you have had major major surgery, a hip replacement I can do in 40min. and look how long that takes to recover from for some". Take it easy.
Please do not rush back into work. I think you should just try and forget about it get it out of your head, wondering what the dr. will say. I am still not back to work and I am 14months since surgery. But to be honest I have had back trouble since 2000 and was confined to bed alot. So this is a big difference to me. It is only in the last 3months since I have found a new physio and PM that my life has changed. I am still having to lye down but I am able now with the help of the meds stay up longer.
I am talking about the surgeon when I say dr. I have not been to my primary care dr since the surgery at all. So up until now, just my surgeon.
He leaves next week to go away for a whole month, so my next appointment will be with his partner, who I have not seen yet. Hopefully he will just take my word for it if I am not ready to go back to work, sign the STD forms, and I will wait longer.
Or if I do feel better by then, hopefully he will have good advice whether I should go back or not.
Roro, I'm 4 1/2 weeks post op and see my surgeon next friday. I hear tell he'll release me back to work if I so choose, I plan to tell him I want a full 8 weeks of STD and then I'll go back. I get 8 weeks at 100% and then 18 weeks at 80%. I think 8 weeks and I'll be good enough for my desk job.
Mostly, I've been in bed almost all this time and I have to at least start getting more active before I consider going back to work. I figure a few weeks of starting to get out a bit, some trips to stores and stuff, and I'll be ready.