View Full Version : About "Backissues"

11-10-2010, 10:12 AM
This is the first thread that I have originated. I have been in touch with many of you via PMs, telephone, and emails. It is great to have such support from people who care and who really understand. Some of the following has appeared in earlier postings but I wanted to repeat it so you know what is going on with me.

I have pain in my right leg when I stand and/or walk for more than 10 or 15 minutes. This has been going on for more than 20 years and has gotten increasingly worse. I call it my "chronic state." I have learned to live with it by using a "cane seat" or “sport seat” when traveling or shopping when there is no cart to push. Otherwise, I do the best I can. I can bike, kayak, and cross-country ski because I am in a bent, or sitting position. I can be pain free when sitting or lying down.

Over these years, I have been to different pain management doctors and orthopedists and have had epidural shots and nerve blocks that have helped me get out of “acute” situations but put me back to my “chronic state.”

I’m really not concerned about the cosmetic change that surgery will make, but the change to the quality of life. Luckily, my shoulders are even but my hips are not. The right side of my back sticks out vertically. You know what it’s like to try on clothes and see what you look like in a 3-way mirror so you can “disguise” your back.

My last, longest, and most painful acute “attack” was in the summer and fall of 2009, I had acute pain where I couldn't sit up or stand at all without excruciating pain. (Think running back to bed while brushing your teeth and finishing after a reprieve.) I spent the summer in a beach chair (even brought it to restaurants). I had several nerve block and epidural shots that didn’t do any good. I met with several pain management doctors and orthopedic surgeons. Because of the scoliosis, one surgeon wouldn't touch me. It is an added complication. Finally, Dr. Rand (New England Baptist Hospital) suggested facet joint shots at L3-4, both left and right side. It was like magic. After 4 months, I had relief and was back to my "chronic state." (It had taken me almost 4 months to get an appointment with him.)

I have had an MRI, myelogram, CT scan, and X-rays. The diagnosis is that I have scoliosis, stenosis, several bulging discs, degenerative discs, and arthritis in my back that is causing the narrowing of the canal, especially at L4-5. This makes for an unstable spine. I’m scheduled for fusion surgery (T8, T9, or T10 to the pelvis) on December 7.

You have all shared your experiences with me and for that I am grateful to all of you who have done so. It has given me the courage to pursue this surgery and change my life. I have spent much time making the decision and feel it is now or never. I am not getting any younger. Looking forward, if I don’t have the surgery, I need to be satisfied with pain standing and walking and plan my life around this pain, OR have the surgery and be able to walk and stand perhaps as much as I want.

If anyone is sorry they have had the surgery, I haven’t read or heard it. (I have been following the thread about Joyfull and am deeply sorry and hope for her recovery.) Ed has the great thread about “the benefits of being fused.” The surgery and recovery won’t be easy but I have a high pain threshold and am determined to do whatever I need to do to be successful. I believe I have the right doctor at the right hospital in Boston.

Thank you all for sharing. Since I read so much about all of you, I wanted you to know a little bit about me.


11-10-2010, 12:13 PM
It sounds like you have made a good decision based on everything you have tried up to this point to relieve your symptoms. The next month will probably be filled with anxiety as you near your surgery date. That is normal so feel free to share your feelings here...this is the best group of people who know what its like to have scoli and have had the surgery.

My best wishes to you for a successful outcome!

11-10-2010, 03:51 PM
Hi Irene,

You're entering that most difficult stage - the countdown. As Ilray says, if you need to talk, we're here. It helps to get your worries off your chest especially with people who've been there.

Take good care, get as much exercise as you can, eat healthily and try not to focus on the surgery, but on that light at the end of the tunnel. The one where you're healed and living a vastly improved life and things are getting back to normal, and you're pleased that you had the surgery. It really helped me to do that.

11-10-2010, 04:58 PM
Thank you both. Unfortunately, I can't really exercise that much because of my back. I am doing Svaroopa yoga breathing and poses. I do 20 minutes of yoga breathing at least once a day and sometimes twice. This is supposed to help. I walk when I go to a store that has a carriage. I worry about exercising enough although I run up and down the stairs at home.

What exercises helped either of you?


11-10-2010, 07:53 PM
Hi, Irene,
I know your date is fast approaching and I'm right behind you (Jan. 5). You'll be well on your way to recovery, when I have my surgery. I'll look forward to any pointers you and others can give me. I've been buying someof the items that I think I will need following surgery. I kinow from talking to you on the phone that you're as prepared as possible. I was called yesterday with the schedule for all of my pre-op tests (7:00-4:00) The reality will hit on the 17th. Best of luck!!!

11-10-2010, 08:38 PM
The only exercising.I did prior to my surgery was walking and swimming. I tried to just keep active on a daily basis whether it be climbing stairs as much as possible, walking whenever possible, and hiking on our family camping trips.

I'm using my legs/thighs a lot now after my surgery, from getting off the toilet (TMI!) to squating down. The better shape you are in before, the eaisier your recovery. Also make sure you have someone at home with you 24/7 post-surg for the first few weeks. My husband has been just wonderful these past 6 weeks!

11-11-2010, 02:24 AM
Irene, I would imagine that running up and down stairs would be excellent exercise, if you can do that. I'm no expert, but it would be good cardiac exercise and any weight-bearing exercise is good for the bones.

11-11-2010, 09:48 AM
Are you still on pain meds or have you been able to taper down? My husband is retired so he is able to be home with me.

One other complication that occurred last week, I had Moh surgery on the top of my right hand to remove an small invasive squamous cell carcinoma. I have 8 stitches on the outside of the top of my hand. This is my dominant hand. I've learned to do things with my left but am worried about the lack of use and muscle issues with my right hand. The soreness is getting better and I'm having the stitches out next Tuesday. Then, I'll be able to do more weight bearing in my right arms. Luckily, the tumor was removed and that should be the end of it. I hadn't had it very long but I found it. It looked like a dried whitehead. This I didn't need at this time.

My husband has been in training for the "real event." I've helped him cook but just with my left hand. He's great!!

I'm headed for my stairs.

Wishing you a continued, smooth recovery.


11-11-2010, 01:05 PM
So sorry to hear of your cancer diagnosis. Hopefully it was caught early?

I stopped taking the stronger pain meds (MS Contin and Percocet) one week after being home. I didn't like the side effects at all. I am only taking a muscle relaxer and Tylenol now. I walk 30 minutes a day and try to get outside as much as possible to keep my sanity!

Glad to hear that your hubby will be there for you! Support will be so important.

11-11-2010, 01:46 PM
Irene, Thanks for posting, sounds like you have good support and that is SO important. Stairs are excellent exercise, I try to use them at work all the time and we also have them at home. I tried not to focus on the surgery as much as what I would need at home for recovery. Kept me from going crazy as well as being prepared. Good luck to you and keep us updated.

11-11-2010, 03:36 PM
Thanks again.

Svaroopa yoga has been great for me. I have mentioned it before but my yoga teacher tells me that the yoga breathing and poses will get me through. It is difficult to have a different vision of exercise but she says I can be strong and aerobic using yoga. I certainly have a flexible body, not that I stand on my head or anything.


Supposed the skin cancer has been removed and there is nothing left. I can't wait for the stitches to be taken out next Tuesday. I'm figuring this is a test of how fast I can heal and the incision looks good. Let's hope I do as well with my back.