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Old 01-18-2012, 03:59 PM   #1
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Question So glad to have found this forum!

I am almost 6 weeks post-op from TLIF of L4-L5, L5-S1, and posterior fusion with instrumentation of L3-S1.

For the most part, I am pretty happy with the results after being in pain for over 15 years! After so many years of so many people thinking the pain was in my head or a case of drug-seeking, I find myself having trouble discussing concerns I am having about my recovery with my doctor.

I am hoping to find some answers from fellow sufferers and survivors.....

The first thing is...I am sooo tired all the time. I am having a hard time doing the walking that the doctor suggests. I cannot imagine being able to ever walk a mile. I feel happy when I can get to the end of the block and back. I get wiped out just going into the kitchen and making myself breakfast. I feel like I am behind the curve on improving and honestly nervous about talking to my surgeon about it.

For some reason I have this feeling of not wanting to "disappoint" him after he lauded me with compliments on how quickly I was on my feet following my 7+ hour surgery. (I was up the evening of the surgery with assistance and without assistance, though with supervision, the next day). I do have a history of treating healing as an event rather than a process but I have been really careful not to over-tax myself...I guess I am just curious if being this tired 6 weeks after surgery is somewhat normal?

Wow, that sure was a lot of typing for that question now I am not sure I want to go on.....but I am going to I do apologize for the length...I am just so happy to find a place where I feel "safe" to post these questions and concerns.

The next issue I am having is that I have been running a temp of 99.5 for almost 2 weeks when my normal body temp is closer to 97.5.....again, I don't want to come across as a hypochondriac but I am quite worried about it. My incision looks as though it is healing well though I am getting a lump about the diameter of a baseball in the center of it. The lump isn't warm or red or particularly painful so I don't know if I should be concerned. All the literature the hospital and surgeon sent me home with uses the magic number of 101 degrees to call them about...

The final issue I am curious about....how many people are glad they went through with their fusion? I vacillate already though mostly just because of the extreme fatigue. For me I had instant relief from the surgery, the pain I do have is so far less intense than the pain I have dealt with that is almost like being pain free...if that makes any sense

Anyhow, for those of you who read my novel...er post...I appreciate it

 
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:45 PM   #2
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Re: So glad to have found this forum!

Hi --

Don't be too hard on yourself. They MEAN it when they say it is a six-month recovery process. Dr Dad says it also can take that long to just "feel right" after major surgery, including getting to full energy levels. I know I'm 5m out from my ALIF and I still notice little improvements in mine as the week's progress. It is a HARD balance...it IS important to walk and move around, both for healing and to stay sane (and avoid just dwelling on lingering pains) but you need to listen to your body if it needs extra rest. It has been through a LOT. No need to be "the best" at healing fast....I know I have a tendency to over-exert too but letting myself have naps etc really did help.

I'm still early to really say for sure if it is a success (x-rays on 2/1!). I do think the past month has finally started to show improvement for me....so be PATIENT. Two months ago, I was afraid I wasn't progressing but I've seen myself moving better and the top pain level is still the same but I spend less time at that peak. Give it the full time before getting too decisive about the results. Don't get scared too early.

Remember, people are MUCH more likely to go online if things fail than if they succeed....most people DO fuse and they move on and enjoy their working bodies! The nature of forums, even this lovely one, is such that they have more folks who are struggling than folks who were success stories.

AND....CALL about the fever. They WANT and EXPECT you to call after a big operation. It is not bugging them....it is actually being a really GOOD patient (again, doctor's kid speaking w/ a doc's direct input on such things).

 
Old 01-18-2012, 04:53 PM   #3
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Re: So glad to have found this forum!

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my thread...it is amazing how much better one feels when they see they are not alone!

 
Old 01-19-2012, 07:17 AM   #4
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Re: So glad to have found this forum!

Welcome to the board. This is the place to find answers to those small, but important questions that you don't want to bother your surgeon about. Many of us have had fusions and can share our experiences with you.

You have every right to still feel exhausted at 6 weeks. You had a 3 level fusion, which is a BIG surgery. It is a major trauma to the body and it can take a long time to get over it. If you are taking quite a bit of medication, that can be another reason for feeling tired. Also, being under general anesthetic for 7 hours is very taxing.

My first fusion was a PLIF at L4-L5 and I was pretty much out of commission for the first 8 weeks. But by 12 weeks, I had to take a trip cross country to look for a house in a new city for five days, and I made the trip without much problem.

However, the first 8 weeks, I was spending a lot of time in bed. I can remember that I arranged my schedule so I only had one thing on my agenda per day. By the time I got up, showered, dressed and fixed my hair and came downstairs, I would be ready for a nap. The days of running multiple errands were over for awhile! Many days I would just get my walks in and go back to my bed to read and nap.

This go-round I had a 3 level fusion and some reconstruction and it was a good 12 months before I realized I was doing mostly everything with ease.
I am now about 18 months post surgery, and I am still experiencing some healing.

Your walking is the most important thing you can be doing, so if you only have a finite amount of energy, drop everything else and just walk and rest. I hope you are taking several small walks each day, even if it is just around your house. It is hard to have surgery in the winter in the frozen northland. I know. I've been through it. So walk as much as you can around the house. The point of walking at this point is to keep the spinal nerves stretched out. It is not to build endurance, etc. Now is the time for you when scar tissue will be forming and filling in. So you walk to stretch those nerves, to keep scar tissue from attaching to the nerve as it forms.

I would call your doctor's office and ask about that lump under your incision...and while on the phone, tell them about the temperature concerns. The "lump" is probably just a hemangioma which sometimes collect fluid and form after surgery...but I would mention it to your surgeon just to be sure.

Feel free to post anytime with your questions or concerns, or when you'd just like some support from people who understand what you are going through.

 
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:08 AM   #5
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Re: So glad to have found this forum!

tetonteri66 thank you for sharing your experience with me! As I mentioned, just knowing someone else has gone through and survived really does help.

I made a call to the surgeon's office and apparently they think the fever and lump are something they want to look into further so tomorrow I have appt for x-ray and then with surgeon (2 different businesses in same building). Basically they moved next Friday's appt up. My surgeon's nurse told me in no uncertain terms that ANY fever, no matter how minor, that lasts over a few days is something to talk to a doctor about especially after any surgery where hardware is placed in the body. Hopefully all good news tomorrow!

 
Old 01-19-2012, 02:24 PM   #6
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Re: So glad to have found this forum!

Glad to hear you called! Hope the appt goes well and they find an answer to the fever issue.

Be GOOD to you and GENTLE. As Teri reiterated, this is major surgery and healing takes time. A rule I try and use in lots of places in my life: Treat yourself AT LEAST as well as you'd treat your dearest friends and relatives. So do get in those walks and the follow-up with the doc but put yourself to bed when you need it!!

 
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