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4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

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Old 03-25-2009, 09:58 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Michigan USA
Posts: 64
NLena HB User
Smile 4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

Hello all my fellow Spineys
Been a while since I posted my weekly (or weakly) post op results but Im past 4 months now and wanted to let all those who were so helpful and pulling along with me post op close to my date (Nov 17 08) how I am progressing. Ill do the good news first. I have full range of motion without significant pain bending or turning this way or significant pain upon walking and I do a mile at a good pace at least 3 times a week on an indoor track or lately the weather has been kind enough to do it outside much preferred. That weird "log in the back incision area" is gone. The leg pain is gone, the heel pain is gone, along with the phantom toe pain that would come and go..all gone and thank you God!. I sleep like the dead although I have some help with my low dose norco and valium..this helps immensely because if I sleep in an ordinary position I wake feeling almost perfect. I stand up upon waking and can tell you right then and there I have none zero pain at all...this is HUGE and I am so grateful for that 1-2 hours of feeling like a regular person for the first time in 3 years of agony. Before depression was following like a black cloud over my head due to the constant pain and my impatience in healing..nothing can ever move fast enough for me and I can tell you all that I spent many days to weeks feeling as if this whole thing was a complete failure and waste of time I was going to be crippled for the duration. I am SO NOT and am grateful for my progress.
Now for the not so great news...not sure if I can honestly put Bad News upon this because none of it is as bad as it was previous to surgery this time around. I still have pain. It hurts to sit...mostly tail bone oriented.. Long trips over 35 minutes driving Im feeling awful..but this is way improved to the 10 minutes I could sit normally before....I can describe it as a constant bad aching back. Not crying out loud pain but just enough to pull my butt to the couch and lay flat many many times during the day without pain meds. And for me, the worst part of this is that I am still on pain meds. I take a low dosage of norco 5/350 about 11 am then a 10/350 bout 6 pm. Just to be able to work and do my normal load of activities of life....then another before bed at 11 with a 5 mg of valium. A big improvement over the 10's I was taking every 4 hours round the clock in the beginning and just before surgery. Here is the hardest part for me mentally..I KNOW if I laid on the couch flat and did absolutely nothing I could do with out the pain meds - but for me that is not living, not to mention the state of the economy being bad in Detroit for large corporations?...small businesses like me ( I am self employed) has squashed me like a bug..I dont have that luxury as I assume most of us do not...I have to work or I dont eat..simple as that. Son of a Gun.....that was the one thing I had wanted most of all, is to not be reliant upon meds to get thru the day but there it is. I really am dependent in that way.
My last visit to the surgeon yielded words of confidence from him in the way things were showing on the Xray. Fusion was definitely seen and on schedule He could not be happier with it at 12 weeks. I again asked him about the reliance upon the pain meds as this makes me feel like a junky or Ill never be able to get off and he told me quite confidently that 6 months to a year of discomfort (another word for pain and different for everyone) was quite normal and that is what they were for. He had full confidence in my ability to NOT take them when the time comes that they will not be needed. He added that a so called pain med junky never asks when they will be able to get off but rather how many more can be prescribed...this made me feel slightly better...but feels like weakness to me somewhere in my own level of standards..I have to talk to myself continuously to allay that notion. I better I moving smoother Yes, am I pain free NO. Am I glad I did it Yes because before the surgery I was almost unable to walk. For those who think that this is all useless or that surgery is always a failure I would say that it is a wrong conclusion. However it is also a wrong conclusion that this is a perfect solution and that every fusion result is perfect..its not. But I would also ask...when the quality of life means you cannot walk or do normal things without agony...what else is the alternative?...for me there was no choice and I would advise the same as I did. Which every thing else first that is injections, PT, acupuncture, tilting tables, crystal therapy what ever else seems reasonable to you..and if that all fails...fusion is the best we have at the moment and my quality of life although not perfect is 80% better...I say thats success and better yet..I have 6 months more to go before I can say I have arrived at where Ill be from all this.
Lastly and I apologize for the length and wordiness of this post. Please know that these boards and the experience of others going thru the same or similar thing has been the single most helpful process to me and others when I thought I was crazy or completely alone in this. The kind words of support, kind thoughts and prayers have been more help to me than I can express. PLEASE let me know how you are all progressing or feeling post op as I read and will try to help in any way I can in recovery
warmest regards
2007 L4 L5 laminectomy with tumor removal
2008 2 level posterier fusion with cadaver bone and bmp with instrumentation L4 L5 S1

Last edited by NLena; 03-26-2009 at 07:16 AM.

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Old 03-26-2009, 08:29 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 69
JanKR HB User
Re: 4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

Hi Lena,
So good to hear about your progress and good results. Don't know if you remember me but I had surgery on November 12 last year so we are on about the same recovery track. I, too, am feeling much better these days. Walking regularly with no dimished strength and best of all, no bladder incontinence issues as before!! I still don't have the flexibility that I would like but most of that is due to fear of messing something up. I have been working at it though with gentle stretching exercises and it is helping.

I'll have to say though, there is still a time of day that my back starts aching and gets fatigued to the point that I have to hit the sofa for a heat pad treatment. It has gotten later and later as the days go by and now I can make it to around 4-6 pm depending on what I've done during the day before I have to take a mini break. And, I, too still require the norco and a muscle relaxer in the evening or at night. I was on ultram prior to surgery so I've started experimenting with using the ultram around 4 pm (it keeps me awake all night if I take it later). When I take the ultram I don't need the norco and I get a longer spell of relief with it. Still require the muscle relaxer though.
You sound like you are doing great and I wouldn't worry about requiring the pain meds. I was concerned about it too but like you, I want and need to be up and active and if that is how I achieve that quality of life, then that's what I'm going to do! I figure the only way we are going to get the flexibility back is to keep moving and the meds allow that.

I haven't started back to work yet as I had to resign from a position that I had just accepted when I realized I was going to require surgery. However, I am ready to go back to work and when we return from a short visit to Tennessee in April I will be pounding the pavement looking for something. My previous work required a fair amount of lifting and transporting, so will be looking for something a little less physical. Like you, I have relied a lot on the experiences and encouragement of others on this board. It is so good to hear you are doing well.

Old 03-26-2009, 08:53 AM   #3
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Michigan USA
Posts: 64
NLena HB User
Re: 4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

Thanks good to hear that you are doing well too. I do remember you and seems like we are on schedule with our achin' backs..The boards do so much for us in that, folks who have not had a back problem similar are totally clueless and not great to talk to about pain and recovery...they just cannot and do not get it. Thinking good thoughts for you as you get stronger every day

Last edited by NLena; 03-26-2009 at 08:54 AM.

Old 03-26-2009, 10:22 AM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 366
marshrose HB User
Re: 4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

I am so glad you posted how you are doing it's great to read being 2 weeks post op, I know what you mean about the tailbone pain, I usedto get that months ago, and it's terrible to sit, sometimes in the car I'd actually be telling my SO to hurry and stop so I could get out and stand up as it got unbearable and so uncomfortable.

It is great to read you have improved so much, I can relate to the prior to surgery as can we all.

It is very hard to deal with, my SO got 3 teeth pulled and insisted he went through more pain than my microdiscectomy- whatever. Keep dreaming wussy boy. They have NO clue.
He laughs about it, but I swear in his head I think he's serious- ugk. It's hard to find people to relate to- no one really knows how hard and trying this is to live like this for such an extended time, I've been in my bed constantly for 7 months going on 8 total.

Keep doing well and walking around it sounds like you are doing so much better.

Last edited by marshrose; 03-26-2009 at 10:23 AM.

Old 03-26-2009, 05:03 PM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Michigan USA
Posts: 64
NLena HB User
Re: 4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

Oh you are doing so well for two weeks..If I recall I was pretty much spending my day in bed to the couch to the potty and bed..not much good for you...keeping good thoughts for you and your continued progress;-)))

Old 03-26-2009, 07:46 PM   #6
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: san diego
Posts: 46
vicki19 HB User
Re: 4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

Wow Lena, I almost could have written this post. First... I am almost 4 months (12/2/08) post op.....two level fusion (L4-S1) and a laminectomy (L4-L5) front and back incisions. Compared to my life before surgery, no question, so much better. I can walk and stand longer than 10 min. Well, you know what I mean. I went back to work 5 weeks post op, also like you, concerned about the economy, I'm on my own and felt that was the best thing to do. But mostly like you, DAILY I stress over the fact that I am still taking pain meds and muscle relaxers throughout the day. My doctor isn't concerned. PT wasn't concerned, they expected it. But I feel weak. should I just suck it up and stop. I guess I could stand the pain. But I don't. I take the meds. So anyway, thanks for making me feel better about myself tonight. I needed it.....

Old 03-27-2009, 11:23 AM   #7
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: na
Posts: 383
onyxgates HB User
Re: 4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

Thank you for posting. It is nice to see folks who are a little ahead of me in their progress. I too find it hard to sit. I am able to sit on the couch with a pillow behind my back for support. I can do this for about six hours (I get up every 30 minutes and stretch a my legs and give my back a rest). After six hours, I have to go to bed because it feels as if my back might crumble. Walking is fine. I have no numbness unless I walk too fast then I get numbness but it quickly goes away. I am looking forward to meeting with the surgeon on the 8th. I am still off work until the 11th. Which will be nine weeks post op. The issue is that I drive two hours round trip. I think the drive alone will wipe me out. I guess I will see how I feel in the next couple of weeks. Anyway, thanks again for the update and I am glad you are healing well and I hope that you continue to gain strength. Could you provide information on your physical therapy? I will be starting that soon and am nervous at the extra pain as I will also be weaning from my LA pain meds (fent patch).

Old 03-27-2009, 10:41 PM   #8
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Michigan USA
Posts: 64
NLena HB User
Re: 4 months post op 2 level plif fusion with instrumentation

Sounds like you are doing well. I opted not to go to physical Therapy just yet as my insurance has a huge deductible which for this year I have yet to satisfy. Each visit would cost 128$ and when asked of my surgeon if PT would actually help my fusion he said no. That PT would help with strengthening my body from being so inactive and in general strength. Since I have been to this "rodeo" before with PT for now I am doing my stomach strengthening every day here at home and walking a mile at a good pace at least 3 days a week. Doc left the option of PT for anytime I wanted it and I might take him up to it when I can afford it. If your insurance will cover it or you can afford it it is surely not a bad idea I would go for it. Keeping good thoughts for your continued recovery and let us know how your appointment goes.

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