First off let me thank all of you who post here with your progress good and not so much as all of them are read and re read here. Thank you for all of you who have written such kind words of support and understanding with all my progress reports thus far..I think I have written one weekly (or weakly >wink<) since arriving home in November, until this one. Thank you is not a big enough word for how grateful I feel to all of you.
How am I? well to be honest I debated for 2 weeks as to whether to post any more at all about my individual progress since I can say I have had as of yesterday such a bad pain day as to question the worth of all this pain post fusion at all. Today is so so much better but I think it has to do with several things. I have always had as my goal..and basically the original purpose of any of my back surgery (I have had one before this 2 level lami with pseudo tumor removal-unsuccessful) to live a life without pain meds. I have been on norco (various strengths from 5/250 to 7.5/500 to 10/250) and a short visit with lyrica, and now norco and valium the val only for sleeping. The norco for almost 3 years now and the pain about 3 1/2. I have been thru alot. And I am still on them. I believe now that the difference between yesterday being so so bad with pain is that I was once again trying to ween off by stretching out the time between to 6 hours and taking a least mg I have for the last 3 days. I also have been feeling stronger so I am doing more..yes all within guidelines given...so the combination of that and the horrendous frigid temps making it difficult to get out and walk and snow and ice. Today I stood up out of bed with zero pain and that heaven lasted about 30 minutes...HUGE!!;-) but...I went back to the stronger pain meds and I am feeling much much better AND much less depression. I also noticed an insidious thing happened on the days I took less and less strong pain meds...Black depression...the depression of chronic pain that is very very difficult to fight. When I talk to people about this..(there are actually a few in my world who are genuinely interested enough to listen God Love them!) I find that I am so very hurt by their comments of " you are looking at the glass half full/empty...or try to see the bright side...or there are folks so much worse off than you..get your mind off it refuse to let it beat defeat you..etc...ALL well intentioned I know..but the result is more the marginalization of my feelings rather than any help that is meant.
Frankly when I am so depressed if I could look at the bright side I would not be depressed...so I would warn folks who speak to those who deal with chronic pain and are depressed to be more of a listener and ask what you can do for them rather than suggest they just have a bad attitude...this stuff is real...attitude or not its NEVER invited or wanted....it simply is cause and effect.
do you see why I hesitated on posting...I have no huge magic recovery statements to make...I have little steps I am very happy to feel..like my 30 minutes of painlessness without meds...about no none pain in my legs at all..and feeling way way better than imediately post op..so I do feel progress..but also impatience and worry that when the bad days come I am not fusing or something went wrong with my healing...that is fearful and upsetting.
Am I glad I went for the fusion? Yes yes yes. for me there was no other thing to do or try and living as I was was unacceptable...those were the surgeon's words as well..so based on that I will try hard to see that I am still less than 3 months out ...that bone growth can still take place...and the decision to have the fusion was the right one for me and I just have to find the strength to bear the ups and downs cause they surely come...however this is frankly a cautionary tale.....For those who are considering it...please please try EVERYthing first..injections, PT, medications or what ever make sense BEFORE fusion...as it is not a walk in the park by any means for any body..but it is a fix for those who have exhausted every other avenue. Please do your homework, read everything on the topic check up on techniques and interview surgeons (see more than one) as to whether a neuro or ortho sounds better for your particular situation
Devon..what a joy you are to read...I am so happy for you as you seem the miracle man in so many ways...thank you for all your positive posts and also posts to help others..thank you...do you wonder when reading the board whether alif 360 seems to be a better way to go other than plif..I am trying to keep count here with the unscientific method but you alifs seem to be cruising much faster than my plif...only an observation.
Thank you again for being here and lending an ear and kind words..I have been so happy to read hear every day and try to find folks to help too when I can. Please let me hear how you are all doing and whether anyone has heard how Kathy with cellulitus is doing..I cant find her here
Last edited by NLena; 01-28-2009 at 10:19 PM.
Dear, dear NLena,
First of all, a big cyber hug! ((((((((((NLena))))))))))
I know all too well what you're talking about. It was about 17 months after my fusion surgery and about 5 months after my hardware removal that I broke down and made an appt with my family doctor. It was Valentine's Day and I got a wonderful present from him! He walked in and said, "hey I don't think I've seen you since your last surgery. How did it go?" And I burst into tears. He grabbed tissues, thrust them into my hands, and sat down and patiently waited until I got control of myself, kind of. I proceeded to cry for the next 10 minutes, trying to explain how awful I felt, that I knew I was never going to be pain-free, that it had never even been a goal, but I was understanding now that I was going to slowly continue to decline. Even though I'm so much better after this surgery, I'm always going to have pain. I've been in pain since I was 14 years old. I just turned 50. He was so patient and kind to me and told me that depression goes hand in hand with chronic pain, that chronic pain can be very wearing, and was just so encouraging, because he understood, didn't treat me like I wasn't looking at things with a positive enough attitude or that I needed to just get a grip. He gave me a prescription for Cymbalta, since it not only helps with depression, but also helps with pain, the only antidepressant that does that. I'm trying not to sound too weird about it, but it really did change my life! I feel like a normal person for the first time in a very, very long time!
I don't tell my friends that I'm on an antidepressant because they really don't understand the chronic pain/depression thing. I have one friend who is looking at the same extensive fusion I had, though for different reasons. In fact, hers will be 2 levels longer than mine, which is pretty long, 14 levels. She and I talk backs every time we see each other, even though we always vow to talk about something else, but we're the only ones who really "get" it for each other. She knows I'm on Cymbalta, and that motivated her to ask about it, too, as she was struggling the same way I had been. It's been just as good a help for her.
Please don't feel like you can't take something to help you get over this hurdle. Maybe it will be only temporary for you, or maybe long term. Either way, there's no shame in it. Trying to look at the world as the glass half full, well, that's good and may be helpful, but with chronic pain, the source of that depression is always there. A little medication to help in the battle is a GOOD thing!
I hope you can get some relief from this. I know all too well how wearing pain can be!
Hang in there, dear NLena. Please let me know how you're doing.
I am so sorry that you are having such a depression issue. I, myself, suffer with chronic depression. So, I know somewhat what you are dealing with. Many, many people donot understand depression. My husband being one of them. So, it makes it tough for me at times. I have taken medicine for depression for several years and it sure helped. I am taking a vacation from the medicine right now. I am trying to see if I can live without it. Maybe I can, maybe I cant? If not, I will get back on the depression medication. Chronic pain is sure a factor of depression. When a person cannot function due to chronic pain PLUS depression......well, the person cannot help it. Just do the best you can and dont worry about what people say. They donot have a clue.I am fortunate to be doing so well after my ALIF. I also had 2 levels fused. Let me add , all people heal at different rates. So, it is ok that you feel you are not progressed as far as others. It will come. You are doing the best you can, That is all anyone can ask, right? I am not walking as I would like to. I have snow and ice where I live as well. Dont beat yourself up over not walking as you wish you can. It is something you cannot help. You stated that people that have had the ALIF versus the PLIF seem to be progressing faster, I do think that the ALIF is easier to heal from. It is because the docs are not cutting through muscle as when you have the PLIF done. Docs cut through more muscle to get to the disc. So, that being said, of course you are not progressing as fast. You have more to heal than a person that had the ALIF surgery. More muscle spasm's eect. You are really semi early in your recovery also. You said you stood out of your bed without pain and it lasted 30 mins., that is progresssss!!!!!! As far as your meds. go, take your pain med if you need it. Dont allow yourself to hurt trying to wean too soon. Make yourself comfortable so you CAN heal. It is ok to take your pain med if you are hurting. Your goal is like mine. I for sure want to NOT take this stuff if I dont need it. You are making progress :0 I read everything you typed and girl, just try to be happy about the progress you have made so far. Just remember, your surgery was a bit tougher. More muscle ect. Just take your time and dont compare. Everyone is different. At least you feel better post op than before your surgery. That is HUGE progress. As far as your concern about fusing, sheesh, I know I am sure concerned about that as well. I think that is a common concern amongst us all. I have a huge factor against me actually as far as fusing, I am a smoker I dont like admitting that but.....I just did. So, I feel your concern and I am doing all I can to help myself fuse minus the smoking. It is so hard to quit. I hope I helped just a wee bit.....I know being a depressed person myself, people donot realize what they say, that the words they use actually hurt more than they help. You are so right when you said.....if you could look at the bright side, you wouldnt suffer from depression. That is so right. but with a depression issue, we cannot look on the bright side on depressed days. People dont understand.....BUT I certainly do If you need a friend to listen....I am here for you. And Devon too. He is just a great person that types to this forum and has so much good to offer with his kind words. Take care...
Thank you so much for the kind words....I read alot on all the methods and feel like I was so lucky to have a doctor who wanted to do a 360....I had no brace with minimal restrictions (he said just take it easy) lol I thought he forgot to give me all my restrictions and called him back...he said I basically had an internal brace and was fine....just no driving and nothing over 10 pounds seemed to be my only concern....My back feels so strong at this point Im scared to stretch it...I do have herniations in my thoracic T8 T9 that are the cause of all my pain at this point...the surgery for it is a big one and I dont think I want to do it at this point because of all the risks involved....I had a pretty big scare with the first one (my wife, mom and son are all freaked out from my surgery) so they helped me vote against it for the time being....The 360 is both the ALIF/PLIF...not sure if you knew that from reading how you posted it....either way Im soooo happy I had the 360....its a tougher recovery and you get two nice scars but one "good back" as far as Im concerned.
I think any surgery has alot to do with WHO the surgeon is....My doc was so old I actually asked what happens if he croaks during my surgery( hes been doing it for 40 yrs)....Im serious! Sounds mean but I wanted to know my chances.....I always thought the doctors that were young and freash out of school were "up to date with everything"...lol This doc changed my views....experience counts for something too...he is sooo confident and had half the doctors from town in the room with me...and thank goodness he had a good Vascular surgeon there...wheeeew!
I hope everyone is having a good day....I really live my day thinking about all of you!
Now...Im off to my appointment to see if everything is good.....maybe a peak at some early fusion.
Last edited by Devon07; 01-29-2009 at 08:51 AM.
Reason: cant read my own writing
Thank you so very much for the kind support as always..what would I do without these boards? Pretty much I would feel alone. And yes for me at least the depression thing goes hand in hand with how much I hurt..Since I wrote that post I have had 3 good days in a row...why? no idea. But OH LORD will I TAKE THEM YESSSSS!! Like another post...the fast slow up down of this is the most curious thing I have ever been thru. I have had a lot of surgery for other things and it was nearly always the same..straight uphill slow recovery till I just forgot to take pain pills till I ran out and didnt need them again...THIS is an entirely different animal in EVERY way. In less than two weeks I will be 12 weeks or 3 months out and will visit my surgeon for the first time since surgery..boy do I have lots to ask and a few things to share with him. Like I had mentioned, this was my second go round with him (surgically) and his office system post op is, to see the nurse first, then him. I have to say I don't understand that method because I want to ask him things particular to my surgery that will then be 12 weeks past How much can anyone remember with how many surgeries performed since. My case might not be important to him but to me oh yes. Anyway..Im feeling much much better and have to say its also because of your kind support...well wishes from me for everyone fighting this war...And please keep letting me know how you all are progressing
It is so good to read tht you are feeling better. Sometimes, it just takes TIME. As we are suffering, thats the LAST thing we want to hear though ha. Hopefully you will get a good check up Sounds as if you will. I agree, I would want to see my surgeon too on a post op visit. My problem, I always forget to ask all the questions I had. I should write the questions down I suppose? I ended up calling my doc back because I forgot to ask important questions lol such as......can I bend ANY now? and could I vacumm? The answer was NO I am 6 weeks out and still under some restrictions, but, as I slowly learn to have patience, I am healing all the time. So good to hear you are having better days Nlena....i had posted a not so positive post a few weeks ago and then I started feeling better after.....good luck at docs appt...