View Full Version : 5 months post op, different rates of recovery

05-28-2011, 01:52 PM
Hi everyone!

I've been a bad girl, and have been slacking on keeping in touch. I have been so busy. I thought I would be bored at home, but it hasn't happened yet! It is amazing how much I can find to do...

I have been reading and catching up with everyone. What really stuck with me is the need we all have to know where we are in our recovery in relation to everyone else, and if we are "normal". As if there were such a critter! We are all so diffferent-our bodies, our immune systems, our lifestyle, our pain tolerance levels, and our personalities and attitudes. It is no wonder our experiences are so different. And yet so much alike, also!

That being said, I want to stress again how fortunate I have been in my own recovery. I know people need to share positive stories so that new folks don't get the idea that everyone has complications. Just remember that it is easy to post when you have issues and/or questions. That is the whole purpose of this forum. But I also believe that for eveyone who has a complication, there are many more out there that don't. They just tend to get on with their normal lives and don't post as much. Myself included. Guilty as charged!

But for a recap of my progress... I can sum it up easier with what I CAN'T do. This list is so much shorter. I can't drink the last bit of the soda pop in a can. Can't bend backwards enough to get the last bit! On the same vein, I can't rinse out the shampoo in my hair the same way as I used to. I get soap in my eyes everytime! And certain cars are just not comfortable yet. My car seat has 8-way power, but still doesn't fit my back. I've been struggling with pillows, back supports, etc., and haven't found the ticket quite yet. My husband's SUV is pretty comfortable, but I'm not ready to trade for it! That is honestly just about all my "can'ts". There certaintly are adjustments to some things, but I can do pretty much anything.

I hit a huge turnaround at 5 months. I am still constantly aware of my back, but I feel much more "normal" and not so much like an invalid anymore. It may have something to do with therapy. I am finally sleeping through the night most of the time. I feel so much stronger and have a lot more energy. Some of that annoying muscle tightness has lessened, enough that I rarely have to take a muscle relaxants. The nerve pain has started to calm down, though I can easily irritate it by doing too much. But I still have that pesky, intense itching below the surface of the numb areas beside my spine that no amount of itching will relieve! Also have some weird sensations of prickling and some sharp stabs that I assume are nerves waking up. But they are short episodes that go away quickly. The only issue I have had is some muscle spasms in my lower back/upper hip that make me gasp and freeze up. It is usually when I try to sit up after watching a movie, or when I lay down in bed-always when changing positions.

Therapy consisted of pool therapy at first. It was a GREAT starting point to warm up and gently work those muscles that have been stagnant, but the exercises were too easy. Not enough resistance for my fitness level. I am very strong after years of throwing freight and being physically very active. So we moved on to dry land, and it has been great. Started with resistance bands, light weights, core and flexibility exercises for all around strengthening. Nothing with any impact on the back. It sure helps in my everyday activities. I don't get so exhausted now.

I have taken a couple road trips. The first one was a three hour trip at Easter. I had to get out halfway to walk around, but did pretty good. I was a little stiff and sore afterwards. But last weekend we took a 2 1/2 hour trip and I did awesome. I didn't have to stop, didn't fidget to get comfortable, nothing. I do take a muscle relaxant before I take a trip for preventative measures. It seems to really help. I have still been off all pain meds, even tylenol or vicodin, since my 6 week post op. Please don't take that as coming across as smug. I just have been lucky enough to have been born with a high pain tolerance. A prime example is when I separated my shoulder in a skiing accident and went back to throwing freight that next day. Didn't find out until years later in an xray that I separated it. I should have seen a Dr. because it didn't heal quite right. I just thought "It doesn't hurt TOO bad, I'll just wait it out and see... and I can't miss work!" I'm just stubborn (crazy?) like that. That probably explains my whole recovery experience!

We are remodeling both of our bathrooms and I have done all the painting and some of the actual work. We have cathedral ceilings, so I have to be on a ladder a lot. And lay down on the floor to paint around baseboards and behind toilets, etc. Not fun, even for someone NOT recovering from back surgery! I just throw down a blanket, carefully lay down on it, log roll into position and go for it! I am still paranoid about twisting or bending, so I protect it as much as possible.

I have cleaned out all my flowerbeds of pine needles and mulch, pulled weeds and picked up the pine cones. LOTS of pine cones. (And it is snowing and hailing right now-normal Memorial Day weekend in the high desert of Oregon....)

Oh, and summer is almost here(?), so girly things like paint toenails, shave legs (which I have let go as much as possible-eeewwww!), put on self tanners, shop for new clothes for my new body, and have my hair cut and colored. Woo Hoo!!! Bring it on!

I get the dubious pleasure of experiencing post surgical airport security next weekend as I fly out to Seattle for a concert. Should be interesting! It is a short flight, and I sure hope those seats conform to my spine ok. I'm kinda worried about that. In 7 weeks (yes, I'm counting!) we are going to Cozumel for 2 weeks of sunshine and snorkeling and exploring Mayan ruins in the jungle. Get me outta this house!!! (FYI-The whole 2 week trip including resort motel, car and airfare, was cheaper than just the airfare to Hawaii. And cheaper than last years Disneyland trip! It pays to have time to shop around!) We have 3 short layovers on the flight, so I will be able to take breaks and walk around and stretch.

I was going to say "that is it in a nutshell", but as usual, I wrote a novella. Sorry 'bout that! Hope everyone is doing spectacular and has a great summer! I've missed you guys...

05-28-2011, 01:59 PM
Congratulations Jenee. Sounds like you're doing great.

I don't understand one thing. You say that you're paranoid about bending, but you're doing things like painting your toenails and shaving your legs. Do you have arms that are WAY longer than the rest of us? ;-)


05-28-2011, 02:08 PM
Just super flexible... I can sit down and pull my foot up and put it flat on my groin. Another gift of genetics I've received!!! Having back surgery, it almost makes up for the super high blood pressure and cholesterol I've inherited. (Even though I am slender, rarely eat any fast or processed food, don't use salt, eat mainly chicken and fish and veggies and have always exercised! Oh. And carbs. Lots of carbs. Dang weaknesses...) Genetics are fascinating-and not always fair!

05-28-2011, 05:25 PM
Thanks for the update. It sounds like you're doing super! I can't "drain" a pop can either, so I know exactly what you mean with that. Hope you have a super time on your trip!!! :)

05-28-2011, 10:04 PM
It's good to hear from you again. I'm glad you're doing so well. I think I'm doing fine for this early in the recovery as well. How are you pulling weeds? I have an invasive ground cover that I always work hard to keep it under control. Any tips?

05-28-2011, 10:59 PM
Hi Karen!

I sit on my knees, using a nice foam pad to sit on, but I still can't sit on the ground for very long. I sit on a stool for some things. And I spend quite a bit of time on my hands and knees, with knee pads and gloves, keeping my back straight. I try to change up my position frequently. I try to not get too carried away and let time get away from me, so that I can take breaks, or else I pay the price later on... But it is HEAVEN to be in my garden again and out of the house. If it would ever quit snowing....