View Full Version : 7 Weeks Post Op

11-15-2010, 10:54 PM
Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to send another update on my progress, as I know this information will help a lot of you!

At 7 weeks post-op I am truly feeling more and more "normal" by the day. I am only taking occasional tylenol as needed. I still get sore when sleeping from being in the same position for extended time, and I still have sore spots when getting up from laying down or sitting back on a chair/couch. But, my pain level is really nothing what I expected at this point. I am very happy to say I was able to get off the Dilaudid, and I recognize others are on heavy pain killers for a lot longer.

I had tingly sensations for a few weeks in my left side, which has now almost completely gone away. I still have a bit of numbness in my very lower abdomen and back, and both areas are a slight bit swollen (which thankfully clothes hides well). The middle of my incision is still completely numb, an area that was originally about the size of a melon and now about the size of a softball. My scar is still a bit itchy from the steri strips (I left them on way too long, over 4 weeks).. and I am using Bio Oil on the scar almost every day for conditioning and fading.

I am walking almost every single day and doing a minimum of 2.25-2.5 miles each time. I did something sort of crazy 2 days ago, I actually walked over 5 miles to a friend's house - and most of it was UPHILL. I was thinking, I am not even sure I'm supposed to be walking this much. By the end I felt a bit winded and my legs were sore, but my back didn't bother me at all.

I started driving last week. I wouldn't say my back "hurts" while driving, but it is not the most comfortable thing to do. My muscles feel like they're moving and not completely ready to work just yet. Driving is just one of the things that I felt surprised how much we use our back muscles to do! Anyway, it is nice to have some independence back.

I went shopping by myself and I didn't last long - I was worn out quickly and I felt that carrying things in a store, as well as my purse, was pushing it. But, again it was nice to do something on my own. I know this will all get easier in no time at all.

One little issue I'm having is a minor sciatica in my right leg (I'm guessing that's what it is, anyway). It is a sharp, nerve-type feeling that goes from my butt down my leg. It is not terrible and just happens occasionally, but when it happens it catches me a bit off-guard. My question is, does anyone know if walking "too much" can irritate this? Should I be resting more? I hope that's not the answer :).

I go back to work in 2 weeks. I am very happy to have some more time to get my stamina back, as I still feel like I have improving to do. Also I do a lot of walking in my commute and I am hoping the "sciatica" gets better by then.

All minor aches aside, I feel really great.

I'll send another update soon!

11-15-2010, 11:32 PM
Thank you for your update! I am one of those who is happy to see that there's life beyond narcotics, seven pillows, and feeling like the walking wounded at three weeks post-op. It looks like the little victories continue well into recovery, from driving to shopping to going back to work ... I can't wait!

11-16-2010, 01:41 AM
Good to hear you're doing well jamieann. I could've wrote a duplicate of your post ha (I had the same surgery date 7 wks ago for those who don't know). I definately relate to your 'feeling much more normal' progress. I too started driving a week ago, and went shopping etc. My only concern is junctional kyphosis: my upper upped back is still hunched from my kyphosis and my neck sticks out forward and wants to look down. I get neck aches and fatigue from holding my head up for periods of time. Hoping it will work itself out though!

Good luck with going back to work :) cheers and thanks for the update

11-16-2010, 09:40 AM
I could relate to a lot of your post. I am almost 7 weeks postop and feeling pretty good. I am also taking Tylenol but also a few muscle relaxers...no heavy meds. I get sore spots too after laying in 1 position too long. Overall I am not in a lot of pain, I would say its discomfort or uncomfortable at times.

I am amazed at how far you can walk! Super! I do my daily 30 minutes but its probably only half a mile. I'm thinking I can step it up now a bit farther.

I see my surgeon today for my 1st followup. I'm hoping he will let me start diving. I need some independence and I know my husband is tired of being a taxi!

You sound great. Us older folks take a bit longer to mend. LOL! Good luck going back to work in 2 weeks.

11-16-2010, 07:16 PM
Hi Juliet, Ryy, Iray and Jamieann,

Can you tell me how much height you gained, any changes in weight, how long you were in the hospital and whether you had any difficulties eating post surgery. My surgery is scheduled for Dec 13th. Also, what is the pain like? I know they give you lots of pain meds but I'm still kinda scared about the whole thing. I have never had surgery of any kind before so I still feel like I don't know what to expect even though I have read the literature. Thanks for sharing your experiences :)

11-16-2010, 08:58 PM
Hi, LaurieAnn -- I gained about an inch in height, but my curves weren't extreme.
I lost some weight at first because of not eating for a couple of days after the surgery, then gained some from bloating (lots of IV fluids), and now have leveled off at what I weighed before I went in - 117 pounds.
I was in ICU for one day, the hospital for four days, and the rehab hospital for six days.
I didn't have an appetite for a couple of days, which is normal. After that, all my eating problems had to do with constipation from the pain medication. Practically everyone has to deal with that, but there are things you can do about it, and once you're off the meds it's no longer a problem.

The thing that scared me the most was the idea of the pain, not knowing what it would be like. Turns out it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. They do give you a lot of effective medication when you're an in-patient. There were a couple of times I didn't get pain pills on time, but that was the worst of the pain events, and it was a mix-up by the night nurse. Then after I went home there was another mix-up with my meds that took about a week to straighten out. My advice would be to be very assertive about whether or not your pain is controlled, and whether or not the medication you're sent home with is effective. There will be a certain level of pain/discomfort, but not one that's unbearable, plus it changes throughout the day rather than being constant. Things are going well now 3 weeks post op, and I'm even able to start tapering off the medication.

Everyone in the hospital was great, the nurses, doctors, and especially the CNA's and technicians. I remember one night in rehab when I was anxious, the tech spent a long time with me, adjusting my pillows until I was comfortable (they know ALL about that), talking to me soothingly, and once one of the O.T.s gave me an abdominal massage to relieve the bloating discomfort. Therapy sessions were fun, and didn't hurt at all.

When you make your final decision, it won't be one made out of a place of fear. It will be from a place of knowledge. It was a great idea to ask this question, to fill in some of the blanks. This experience is different for each of us, but also similar enough in many ways that all the stories can be knit together to give you a big picture of what it's like. I should say that despite all the discomfort, pain, worry, and inconvenience, I'm glad a made the decision to go ahead with the surgery.

11-17-2010, 09:49 AM
Hi Juliet, Ryy, Iray and Jamieann,

Can you tell me how much height you gained, any changes in weight, how long you were in the hospital and whether you had any difficulties eating post surgery. My surgery is scheduled for Dec 13th. Also, what is the pain like? I know they give you lots of pain meds but I'm still kinda scared about the whole thing. I have never had surgery of any kind before so I still feel like I don't know what to expect even though I have read the literature. Thanks for sharing your experiences :)

Hi Laurie,

Weight - I had gained a few on purpose :) because I knew I'd lose. I think I gained 5-7 pounds before, and am down 7. I'm back to my "normal" weight but feel like I look better with a slimmer waistline.

Height - I gained a little over 1/2 inch.

Hospital stay - I was in the hospital 5 nights. I was scheduled for 4 nights and they kept me 1 extra night because my hemovac (not sure if I'm spelling that right) was still collecting drainage. It is a tube they insert during surgery that allows your back to drain blood afterwards. Don't worry you dont' feel it at all!

Pain - I was concerned about this too. Just remember if you are in a lot of pain to speak up. They will help you but you may really need to push the issue. They never want to give you more pain meds with someone else telling them - this must come from YOU. I woke up and felt very little pain. I was able to speak to my family in ICU. In fact they asked me what is my pain level like 1-10, and I said oh I dont' know, and 8? The nurse said, you know we consider that to be extreme pain, right? I said oh... ok maybe a 4? I was so out of it :). She knew I was doing ok and then moved me to my own room. Don't worry so much about the pain. You will get through it.

One thing I wish people told me re: pain in the hospital - once they take the cathedar out you obviously need to get up to pee on your own. I had to pee a lot because of all the IV fluids. Every time I got up I really needed to make sure I had a RECENT dose of pain killers. Otherwise it really was more uncomfortable/painful than it needed to be. At first I also needed anti-nausea meds to stand up. The only time I felt bad pain in the hospital was when I hadn't taken pain meds in 4 hours and got up to use the bathroom. I didnt' make that mistake again!

As the days and weeks went by the pain decreased all the time. And it wasn't like unbearable pain - to me it was a constant soreness. I never felt pain in my incision/fusion area at all. I was never aware of the hardware. Others may tell you different. It was mostly the muscle pain.

I think you are really doing the right thing with the level of your curves, and being young. You will really come out a stronger person physically and mentally in the end. Please let me know if you have ANY other questions at all!

11-17-2010, 12:03 PM
Juliet and Laurie,
Thanks for your informative description and hints for pain management in the hospital. I'm reading the postings very carefully and hope I remember the hints when I need to.


12-12-2010, 09:50 AM
Well it's here - my surgery is tomorrow with Dr. Lenke at 7:30am. Thank you all for your thoughtful insight! One more thing I have been wondering is what is best kind of pillow to use? It is safe to use a contour pillow or will that mess with spinal alignment? What was most comfortable for you post-op? Also, my bed is a bit soft (sags a little) and I'm kinda concerned about being able to keep my hips and shoulders in alignment when getting in and out of bed - how did you handle?

12-12-2010, 02:03 PM
Having a tempurpedic was KEY for me. I am almost 11 weeks out and the few times I've had to sleep on a pillow top it was uncomfortable - especially the time it was a bed that sagged in the middle. Maybe if you find that it isn't working for you you can get a tempurpedic top?

I didn't have any trouble with pillows. I still use a pillow for my torso when lying on my side for additional support. I think you will make what you have work and you won't really know until you're there.

Best of luck - you will do great!!

12-12-2010, 02:27 PM
My memory foam mattress topper was key to my comfort after surgery. My husband and I are amazed at how comfortable and supportive it is. Thank goodness we got it.

Best wishes to you tomorrow. You are in great hands!

12-12-2010, 02:54 PM
I do have a memory foam topper but bed still seems a bit saggy...guess like you said I won't know til I get there. What about pillows? What worked for you all? Did you use a contour or just feather?

12-13-2010, 08:51 AM
Sorry I am responding too late but when you eventually read this :), just know that whatever you need you will figure out when the time comes. I used a combination of a hospital pillow (I took one home) and 3 feather pillows. The arrangement of pillows changed by the week. I tried to just keep my head straight/aligned. You will be fine!

12-17-2010, 03:29 AM
This is very helpful! Thank you!