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backissues
12-07-2011, 05:10 PM
Today, December 7, is my one year post-op anniversary. I think it is as important an anniversary as my birthday or my wedding anniversary. It marks a day when I started a new life of freedom to stand and walk without pain. Many people take this for granted. I do not. I suffered with pain for over 20 years, both acute episodes and chronic. As I looked ahead to my senior years, I could see that I would need a walker and/or a wheel chair to get where I wanted to go. My chronic pain was in my right periformis and often down my right leg to my foot when standing and/or walking.

On this anniversary, I can walk 2.25 miles at one time and have actually hiked for the first time in my life. I even bought hiking boots. I can go into a store without a shopping cart to hang over or hang onto. I can stand for hours until I am tired and not have pain to force me to sit. I am enjoying preparing baking, cooking, and entertaining again because I can stand. It used to be a painful experience.

Though I haven’t tried biking, kayaking, or cross-country skiing yet, I have been given the go-ahead to try these sports again. I was able to do them pre-surgery because I could bend over and get off the nerve to do them.

I am not completely pain free 24/7 because there are times when I have overdone exercise or sitting in a certain position for too long. Also, as Ed would say, I have experienced the “bear claw” in my lower back where I am fused. On the other hand, there are aches and pains associated with age.

The surgery did change my flexibility. Tying shoes and boots, as well as reaching for things that fall are different now. I still use my grabber when I am too lazy to get down on one or both knees but do not need any of the other aides that I received at the hospital.

It is all worth it.

I want to thank the people on this Forum who have supported me and answered my questions pre-surgery and post-surgery. This is a remarkable group of caring, knowledgeable people who are assembled around the world. I hope I have helped those people who came after me. Where would we be without the internet?

Thank you.

Good luck to all those still debating, as well as all those who are post-op and healing.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________

Below are milestones and some history of my year:
December 7, 2010 surgery – 11 hours (four units of blood during surgery)
Stayed in ICU for 3 days because of low blood pressure and Duramorph given during surgery. Had one unit of blood while in ICU. Had Drains removed on third day. Dilaudid on a pump.
Discharged after 7 days. I did not go to a rehab. I had my husband to help, cleaning help, PT and VNA at home
Didn’t eat or drink enough taking Oxycontin 10 mg so sodium and potassium levels down – In Metrowest Medical Center during week 3 for 3 nights with IV fluids to stabilize

Off all narcotics at 6 weeks. Used only Arthritis Strength Tylenol for pain in back.

Main Problems
Pain in upper abdomen after surgery, more painful when standing or sitting, relief when lying down (tried intercostals shots, facet joint shots, Gabapentin, Lidocaine patches, Dilaudid, Skelaxin) ( had ultrasound, endoscopy, and CT scan of abdomen and it was all negative), CT scan of spine to see if slippage from cement at T9 also negative.

Headaches (occipital nerve pinched – didn’t find out it was my position at the desktop computer until 7 months post op – went on vacation without the computer and had no headache, switched to a laptop) – until then, took Fioricet for pain, acupuncture may have helped as well

Tried acupuncture at 9 weeks for pain in abdomen but regularly started at 14 weeks – by 23 weeks pain in abdomen was less but still there – went to acupuncture first twice a week, then once a week, then once a month, and continue to do so.

At 19 weeks, found that sitting with a rectangular hard pillow behind me kept me pain free in my abdomen. I continue to use this pillow but don't really need it like I once did.

Milestones
Jewett brace 4 months (brace adjusted after 7 weeks, front was pushing on my chest) weaned off for 2 weeks
Cane for posture 6 months
Bone stimulator 9 months (received it 3 weeks after surgery)
Used foam top for mattress starting at about 7 weeks and continue to use it.

At about 8 weeks was having discomfort in low back and legs but muscular not nerve.
First time out to restaurant at 8 weeks.
Drove at 14 weeks
At 16 weeks, can feel like electric shocks near waist in back. Back is less hypersensitive when touched.
Took 10-week course in Mind Body Stress Reduction starting 16 weeks after surgery
Wore bra at 18 weeks.
At 20 weeks, my day bed came upstairs so I didn’t needing to lie down any more downstairs because of pain in my abdomen (I had the pillow)
At 24 weeks, PT on land and in pool until 40 weeks. Then, post rehab pool time using exercises from PT.

golfnut
12-07-2011, 08:31 PM
Congratulations on your first anniversary, Irene! You did it! I am so happy to read how well you are doing and I'm sure you will continue to improve. The improvements in your abilibites to do things are amazing.
Thanks for sharing your milestones, as well. My sentiments exactly about this forum.

LindaRacine
12-07-2011, 11:21 PM
Hi Irene...

Where do you pillow... your lumbar area? And, when you don't use the pillow does the abdominal pain occasionally return?

--Linda

JenniferG
12-07-2011, 11:57 PM
Congrats on your one year milestone Irene. I agree, it's a special day and will always be my most important day, I think. I'm not big on birthdays or anniversaries, they're just days. But the anniversary of the surgery that changed our lives, is significant.

Glad to hear you are doing so well!

scooter950
12-08-2011, 10:07 AM
Thanks for this post- I especially loved reading your milestones! these are everyday tasks most people take for granted, but it's not! these are daunting challenges for the post-op scoli patient, and I read every milestone with interest! thank you for keeping tabs on your post-op progress, even though it hasn't been all a solid progression you have such amazing improvement at one year! happy anniversary! May you be blessed with continued good health in 2012! Jamie in Texas

jeneemohler
12-08-2011, 01:50 PM
Congratulations, Irene!

I am glad to hear of the things you are able to do without pain now. You have had an amazing journey and come so far. I am so happy for you. And the great thing is that you are still in recovery and will continue to improve even more!

loves to skate
12-08-2011, 04:44 PM
Hi Irene,
I am so happy for you. It certainly is a journey, isn't it. You will continue to improve in the next year. You made me realize that it is my four year anniversary now. I am so thankful for these wonderful spine Doctors who can keep us out of those dreaded wheelchairs. Happy living to you.
Sally

backissues
12-08-2011, 06:34 PM
Thanks for the good wishes. I know you all understand.

Linda,
I had been to book club when my abdomen was hurting and used my friend's sofa throw pillow behind me in a vertical position. I had no pain for 2 hours. Then, I borrowed the cushion at my house to see if it was still effective. It was. So, I had the same upholsterer make me an exact copy of the pillow, same stuffing and all, just different fabric.

The pillow measures 16 3/4" x 11 3/4" x 2 1/4"

I keep it vertical behind me. I believe the pressure it exerts on my T9 and T10 nerves may have done the trick for me. I think the pillow worked when I was using it but the acupuncture worked long term. The shots and meds didn't help.

At this point, the pain in my abdomen is rare and the intensity is mild. I don't attribute this to the pillow for a cure but, just like lying down, it helped me when I needed it. I still use the pillow behind me when watching TV.

Irene

Mojo's Mom
12-08-2011, 09:11 PM
My chronic pain was in my right periformis and often down my right leg to my foot when standing and/or walking.

Wow, that is exactly the pain I live with, except mine is on the left. The worst pain I have along that same route is in the lower leg, where it feels like a nasty cramp.

Thank you so much for sharing so many details of your recovery. It's so helpful for those of us who haven't had surgery yet.

Snoopy
12-09-2011, 06:28 PM
Congrats on your anniversary!

I just saw your post today and the title of your thread caught my attention very quickly. Why? Because Dec. 7th is also my daughter's anniversary! She is now 7 years post-op and this year for the first time, it totally slipped my mind! Not sure why, but in the past I always mentioned to her that today you are ____ years post-op.

Congrats again on your one year anniversary.

Mary Lou

kennedy
12-09-2011, 07:09 PM
Irene that really great

Doodles
12-09-2011, 10:36 PM
Irene--
Congrats on this special anniversary. So glad you are happy with your new back! Janet