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Jennilee
11-26-2012, 10:21 AM
Ok, I know I have so many questions but you are all so helpful!! My question today is what should I be doing physically to be ready for my big day? I have quit smoking 40 days ago and by jan 3, I will have close to 10 weeks smoke free and both surgeons said I had to be at least 6-8 weeks smoke free. I have been on a multivitamin for 6 months now and try to eat pretty healthy. I can't really exercise as my pain and flexibility are both pretty horrible. My rib hump is pretty big and right side rib cage is collapsed on my pelvis so I find just sitting painful never mind exercise. I am only 5"2 and weigh 130lbs.( I've shrunk over 2" in the last year)but I'm not overweight and my job is pretty physical which causes so much pain but that's pretty much all I do for physical activity( I do work 64 hrs a week) so I'm just wondering is there anything I should do to prepare my body?

tae_tap
11-26-2012, 11:16 AM
Doctor said swimming and walking. Swimming is the best. He encouraged me to work on swimming two miles without stopping. Hard to do, but it will really help.

Tamena

JenniferG
11-26-2012, 02:32 PM
Ok, I know I have so many questions but you are all so helpful!! My question today is what should I be doing physically to be ready for my big day? I have quit smoking 40 days ago and by jan 3, I will have close to 10 weeks smoke free and both surgeons said I had to be at least 6-8 weeks smoke free. I have been on a multivitamin for 6 months now and try to eat pretty healthy. I can't really exercise as my pain and flexibility are both pretty horrible. My rib hump is pretty big and right side rib cage is collapsed on my pelvis so I find just sitting painful never mind exercise. I am only 5"2 and weigh 130lbs.( I've shrunk over 2" in the last year)but I'm not overweight and my job is pretty physical which causes so much pain but that's pretty much all I do for physical activity( I do work 64 hrs a week) so I'm just wondering is there anything I should do to prepare my body?

If you're working 64 hours a week and it's pretty physical, I suspect you're doing plenty of exercise, Jennilee. I don't know how you do it in such pain. But of course, walking is good for the heart and bones, so if you can, (and if you have the time and energy after 64 hours work!) a walk that's fast enough to cause a slight puff, is good.

Congrats on giving up smoking!

Susie*Bee
11-26-2012, 05:47 PM
It sounds like you are working really hard to get ready for the big day! Good job!!! My doctor said an important part was to have your heart in shape, so anything that works your heart would be good. I used a stationary bike for a few months prior to my surgery. I know you said you can't really sit... but can you swim? Or can some of you other folks brainstorm some exercises that can be done while lying down, like alternating your arms and legs or something? Can you just sort of dance around to music? I have no idea... but anything that could get your heart pumping a little would be good for you. Best wishes!

jackieg412
11-26-2012, 06:27 PM
I am with everyone else here. You need to use this time to be as strong as you can. I was delayed in getting to surgery for many months. I used that time to get strong--you will need very strong legs to get yourself up. I did a lot of walking--I know it is hard when you hurt,but the walking helps with the pain also. It is a natural exercise and good for the heart. Also a diet rich in iron to build your blood.I know being strong made this surgery a little easier. Eat well and get your rest also. All of this will be helpful.

Jennilee
11-26-2012, 08:47 PM
It seems walking is the most prescribed! I'm going to start tomorrow and maybe my moms elliptical or treadmill also?? Both exercise cardio so I'm guessing they will help. Jennifer, thank you for the congrats! It was hard, but SO worth it.i am a CNA and take care of an 86 yo woman who I love but isn't really ambulatory and is alot of lifting and pulling which sometimes is excruciating but i'm a single mom of an incredible 14 yo in catholic high school which is not cheap and I have never received child support so I'm on my own. That's why I work 64 hrs and there's days when I feel I can't but I just think of my upcoming surgery and how much my daughter means to me and I push on. I have been on pain meds lately but there not really helping..Tamena, how are you feeling? I hope recovery is going smooth for you. Jackie, thanks for the iron tip. I have to start donating my blood in 2 weeks so I'll definitely need the iron. I have a cyst in my left knee so it's not as Strong as I'd like but I'll start working on my legs too. Susie, I don't go out dancing anymore bc of my cosmetic deformity ( it's really noticeable) but I LOVE to dance so why can't I dance in the privacy of my house? Great suggestion!! This forum is so invaluable...thank you all so much for taking the time to answer my questions and put my mind at ease.

jrnyc
11-26-2012, 10:34 PM
hi Jennilee
cardio sounds like the right idea, since you do lifting with your work...
just suggest you start off small, unless your lungs are in great shape, which
may not be the case since you recently quit smoking...
i was a heavy smoker...when i started exercise, several years after i quit,
i had no cardio capacity at all...i worked at it every day....and worked my
way up from 5 minutes on a stationary bike to 60 minutes!!
if you add a few minutes every day, it is do-able...
i switched to elliptical after i built up time on bike....
i have not exercised now in several years, due to pain...

wishing you good luck in your journey to a better spine...

jess...& Sparky

Irina
11-26-2012, 10:57 PM
I prefer elliptical machine over the treadmill. For some reason, walking on treadmill with incline causes more back pain and elliptical is just fine. Plus, you get to exercise your arms on elliptical. I absolutely cannot run - that kills my back. I also do aerobics (interval training), but avoid any jumping. But honestly, my back hurts after aerobics even when I don't jump... And the best thing for me is yoga - not so much for heart, but for flexibility and relaxation.

LindaRacine
11-27-2012, 12:50 AM
Hi...

I agree with those who said you're already doing a lot. The only thing you might try to do is to build up your thigh muscles. Being able to do a deep knee bend and return to standing without an aid can be very helpful when you're postop.

Regards,
Linda

JenniferG
11-27-2012, 03:57 AM
You've already done the best thing you can before your surgery - quitting cigarettes. But Linda's suggestion (and others') to strengthen the thighs is very wise. Because post-op, you'll be crouching to pick things up, with a straight back and you need strong thighs to push yourself back up. My knees played up for a few weeks post-op because of the crouching and pushing up, but they soon got used to it. I think thigh-strengthening is a great suggestion for pre-ops!

Jennilee
11-27-2012, 05:43 AM
With a cyst in one knee, which can swell at times and be painful, thighs are a great suggestion. Might take some of the stress off of my left knee. I think Irina's suggestion about yoga might really help with my anxiety preop. It's just finding the time to do all of these while working 64 hrs lol I'm working right up to my date, jan 3.

JenniferG
11-27-2012, 03:23 PM
Yes, you're going to be flat out until you finally lie down for surgery! At least you're coming up for a big rest!

aileens
11-27-2012, 04:42 PM
I've taken up swimming as per my doc's suggestion. I used to laboriously jog on the treadmill, much to the consternation of Dr. Rand. Funny, now that I've stopped my back feels much better, but my asthma has gotten worse. Just can't win, somehow. I used to do yoga but found that could aggravate my back somehow. I did pilates for many years which was really helpful but I eventually got bored. My exercise of choice these days are the barre classes - the thigh work is just killer, and the core work seems to be amazing. I'm about to embark on a 3 week tour of Asia for vacation so I'll be fitting in my walking that way. I'm up to 5 or 6 days a week of exercise in an attempt to get into the best shape possible, but I sometimes wonder if this amount of exercise is more painful than it's worth :-).

JenniferG
11-27-2012, 05:30 PM
Hi Aleens.
Personally, if it hurts, I wouldn't do it! Jogging for example is very jarring, so not surprising your back has improved since giving it up. Walking is safer, in my opinion and still really good for cardio and bones.

JuliaAnn
11-28-2012, 09:39 PM
One thing I would have done differently is breathing exercises before surgery.
My spine was quite twisted and I had to wear a brace pulled in tight to keep my spine stable. So my ribs didn't expand much when I breathed.
Once my back was straightened, it actually felt twisted in the opposite direction. I had a lot of sharp nerve pain in my ribs because of the stretch and reshaping from the surgery. If I had done deep breathing exercises before surgery, my rib cage and torso would have been more flexible and able to stretch larger to accommodate the surgery. This probably would have made my rib pain a lot less severe.
After surgery, I did a lot of very painful deep breathing and that helped with my rib cage adjusting to the new shape. I told my post-op physical therapist he should recommend breathing exercises to his patients and he told me I should tell my surgeon too. I haven't told Dr. Hey yet but I plan to.

titaniumed
11-28-2012, 10:42 PM
i am a CNA and take care of an 86 yo woman who I love but isn't really ambulatory and is alot of lifting and pulling which sometimes is excruciating but

But, you only have one chance at your recovery.

I know how strong certified nursing assistants can be especially in using the patient straps to lift a person up out of bed. I hope you are not doing this anymore, and of course there is always a hoyer lift. This would be the way to go in the future “if” you will need to do this.

Recovery takes months, and I’m worried about you rushing back to work too soon and lifting. Please convey to your boss exactly what spinal fusion entails.

We all want you to recover and have a successful fusion.....

Ed

Jennilee
11-29-2012, 06:10 PM
Ed, you must know some cna's lol we are strong but only because of how physical demanding the job can be. That's why I switched To the overnight shift So I'm not bending, lifting, and pulling Like I was on the first shift. All I really have to do now is put her on the bedpan a few times in reposition her Which can still be very physically demanding, especially because she's half asleep in the middle of the night and doesn't really help… I also raise her electric bed as high up as I can so I'm not leaning down over her. You're right, I need to go as slow as I have to go for my recovery. I am going to have a long fusion which will limit me to begin with and this family thinks that I will be coming back in March. I am the head CNA so they do depend on me for pretty much everything But I have been training another CNA to take my place in four weeks. My mother also said once I am wheeled into the OR, I will not be getting my cell back so they cannot call and harass me like they do on a daily basis LOL. I feel so guilty sometimes because my patient has three daughters who literally do nothing for her, I do her shopping, doctors appointments, laundry, housecleaning, you get the picture. But now I'm taking care of me and I m not rushing back because it will only slow my recovery, if not damage, my recovery. So I will take both of my surgeons' Advice and of course any advice that I'm blessed enough to receive from all if you here.

titaniumed
11-29-2012, 10:18 PM
Ok. Good. I say these things because we have seen patients who are back at work much sooner than they should be. If something were to go wrong lifting something early in your recovery, you could set yourself back for a long time. It just doesn’t make sense to go through everything that scoliosis surgery entails, and disregard all the specifics required to make it work. Its like cutting your finger, removing the bandage a week later, and then hitting it with a hammer....Its going to delay healing and hurt for a much longer time.

My father had ALS years ago so I know a little about what you guys do. I also know that bending and then lifting produces and incredible amount of force in the musculature around the spine. I didn’t lift more than a dinner plate for around 3 months, then stepped it up to a “few” pounds for another 3 months. I was hesitant about exerting forces in my recovery and walked on eggshells for 6 months. All I can say is “it worked” and it worked well.

After you get your x-rays, carry a copy of your “rack” to educate people. Most have no idea what this is all about, and will help you get out of “lifting duties”. All the people where I work get jumpy when I lift something now, I get a kick out of it. Text books will say that bone fusion takes 12 months, so you can get an idea of what it takes.....

I know that many have bills to pay and set dates to return to work. Going back to work on a part time basis at 3 months would sound realistic, but this re-entry back into the work force should be treated as a minimal kind of thing....It will take a full year to completely recover.....

You will also be very tired....that’s guaranteed, it happens to all of us. The fatigue takes a LONG time to get over. I had to take daily naps till I was 18 months along....

I agree with Linda about practicing squats. I didn’t have to since I’m an active skier, but it will come in handy. I used to RUN up and down staircases to train for skiing when I was younger. You can practice squats in the kitchen with a hand on the counter. Also do heel lifts. You don’t need any equipment for this, and can do this at work.

When you are done with your recovery, you will have to come out skiing. I’m in the red jacket.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tEypv3Vz8o&feature=plcp

Ed

Irina
11-30-2012, 12:32 AM
Ed,

I was scared for you watching that skiing video. Wow, all I can say.

tae_tap
11-30-2012, 08:02 AM
Ed,
I was nervous as you were going through the woods. I have always wanted to try skiing but was always to scared I would break my back. I couldn't imagine doing it now at all!
Tamena

Wish2bstraight
11-30-2012, 12:46 PM
Ed,

You have been an inspiration to me ever since I started on the forum and found you. The camera person couldn't even keep up with you. WOW!

Libby

titaniumed
12-01-2012, 01:04 AM
I like to throw that vid up to show that these things are possible after fusion.

If anyone here should have broken his back, it should have been me... Over the last 50 years on skis, I have had a few really hard equipment breaking crashes. Amazing what the spine can handle.

Libby, I will have to copy this and forward your message to my cameraman. (smiley face)

Ed

susancook
12-09-2012, 02:12 AM
Thanks for posting this question and thanks for all of the suggestions.
Congrats on quitting smoking!
My physical therapist recommended swimming and exercise bicycle for getting ready for surgery. I will add deep knee bends to my regime...thanks Linda for that suggestion. Makes a lot of sense.
Good luck and wishing you a good recovery.
Susan

leahdragonfly
12-09-2012, 11:46 AM
I would agree with making sure to strengthen your legs for all the squatting and kneeling (and getting back up) you will eventually do. Make sure you have thighs of steel!

I am still on bending/lifting restrictions, and the bane of my existence is getting things off the floor. I squat fine, and can get back up, but my knees don't always like it after numerous squats!

I have been a lap swimmer for years, so I upped my lap swimming regimen considerably before surgery. I went into surgery in excellent cardiovascular health, and I think this was helpful in recovery. The long hours of swimming also helped reduce my pre-op anxiety.

loves to skate
12-09-2012, 02:54 PM
To protect your knees when doing deep knee bends, make sure when you go down that your knees do not go forward of your toes. Stick you butt out as if you were going to sit in a chair. Also for those of you who have trouble getting up from a squat, go down on one knee. It is much easier to get up and it is better for you knees. Thighs can also be strengthened simply doing leg lifts either lying down or sitting in a chair.
Strengthen your arms also as you will need to have strong arms to push yourself up as you log roll out of bed.
Sally

jrnyc
12-09-2012, 03:35 PM
Sally...sending you PM

jess

susancook
12-15-2012, 06:38 PM
I would agree with making sure to strengthen your legs for all the squatting and kneeling (and getting back up) you will eventually do. Make sure you have thighs of steel!

I am still on bending/lifting restrictions, and the bane of my existence is getting things off the floor. I squat fine, and can get back up, but my knees don't always like it after numerous squats!

I have been a lap swimmer for years, so I upped my lap swimming regimen considerably before surgery. I went into surgery in excellent cardiovascular health, and I think this was helpful in recovery. The long hours of swimming also helped reduce my pre-op anxiety.

Wonder if a 66 year old can have "thighs of steel". I'm working on it.
Susan

leahdragonfly
12-16-2012, 11:46 AM
Hi Jennilee,

I just was reading back over your thread and I am very afraid for you about your return to work plans. I am a nurse in a cath lab, a physically demanding job but different than yours. My surgeon VERY reluctantly allowed me to go back to work at 3 months, but he did NOT allow any bending/lifting more than 10 lbs/twisting.

I was allowed to go back doing seated work only. Even at this I feel like I went back to work too soon. I was still in pain, and still had plenty of significant "aches and pains" that made my early days back at work less than pleasant. I definitely set myself back in recovery by returning to work when I did, however I felt I had no choice because I am the sole earner in our family, and I was worried what my employer would do with my job. I felt like I am tough and could suck it up, going back to work. I felt like I could be tough and force my recovery to happen faster. News flash...you can't will yourself to heal faster than your body needs.

I did start to feel better around 4.5 months, but still there is no way I could have or should have been doing CNA-style physical work. I was released to full duty at 6 months, but my physician implored me not to lift patients, and I was definitely hindered at work by my lack of ability to bend or stoop. I just don't see how you will be able to do CNA work at 2-3 months post-op. It is simply too soon.

I broke my rods at 15 months post-op. I don't think it's because I went back to work too soon necessarily, but I always have to wonder if it contributed. I am also embarrassed to say I didn't fully understand some of the immediate post-op activity restrictions and I know I did some bending from the waist that I now realize was ill-advised. So I have that on my conscience too. I underwent a very extensive, 8 hour lumbar revision to replace the broken rods, and I'm now about 10 months post-op from that. If you think missing a couple months of work is bad once, try doing this whole surgery and recovery twice. It really sucks, let me tell you.

So please, please do not go back to work too early. Like Ed said, you only have once to do this recovery right, and your back has to last you your whole life. You must give it enough time to heal.

jackieg412
12-16-2012, 06:13 PM
I went back to work in 7 weeks. Way too soon!It has left many complications---not a thing good came from it as I was still so sick from the 1st major surgery. It helped to lead to the next surgery. I though I was ready,but I was still very run down. If you private message me I will tell you why I had to go to work so soon!

JuliaAnn
02-28-2013, 01:19 PM
This thread should be stickied. It has essential advice about preparation for surgery. I wish I had known some of this.

I agree with others about walking a lot. Having strong legs and abs is essential.

I severely injured my back in mid July of 2012. That is what finally led me to get the surgery done in October of 2012.
Because of the injury, I kept my whole middle section really tight all the time to keep my vertebrae from collapsing even further. I had to log roll to get in and out of bed. I kept as straight as possible at all times and didn't bend over or twist. It's not easy log-rolling off an MRI table. The technicians who did my MRI were a bit freaked and didn't know how I would get up off the table. I looked broken in half! Doing all these strengthening motions before surgery for about 2 1/2 months was a big benefit since I was already accustomed to log rolling and not bending or twisting.

The first month after surgery, I was in bed most of the time. I was still strong from before surgery so all that strengthening was a huge help. But then I didn't do enough toning so I lost a lot of strength half way through month two, which was just when I was getting up and moving more. If I could do it over, I would have tried to keep my thighs strengthened by doing leg stretches or careful movement even while in bed. That way I wouldn't have lost so much strength by the third month.

I'm now in my fifth month of recovery and I'm starting to feel as strong as I was before surgery. I don't walk great distances or very fast because my pelvic fixation needs a little more time to heal, but I tighten my abs, back and legs all the time. I'm still in pain but I'm no longer discouraged about the future. Recovery just takes time. Getting toned before surgery is already a huge part of your recovery!