View Full Version : December Surgeries: Recovery Thread!

12-21-2007, 07:52 PM
I know there is a substantial group here who had, or will have their surgery this month. I know that I am (extremely) bored, and would love a place to share my frustrations and milestones, and to read about others, so I thought I'd start this thread. I know that is part of the purpose of the forum in general, but I thought it might be nice to be able to share amongst those of us who are at similar points in the recovery process. Others are, of course, welcome to post too!

So to start,

I'm getting extremely frustrated with needing help and not being able to do things...


Yesterday, I was able to wash and brush all of my hair myself - including reaching the top and back of my head. And today I walked 1/4 mile on the treadmill in 15 minutes.

12-21-2007, 10:58 PM
What a great idea for a thread!
I can go up a flight of 9 stairs in under 15 seconds! :D I was thrilled to learn that, and thats 8 days post op.

12-22-2007, 08:12 PM
I'm doing well, but getting frustrated mostly with needing help. My mother inlaw has been great coming over and helping out... but at the same time I have been getting extremely annoyed at her following me around and hanging outside the shower in case I need 'help'. I'm used to my own space, so it's a difficult adjustment. Yes I know she's only trying to help and doesn't know what I need... just GRRR! hehehe.
I'm not sure the distances I'm walking at the moment, but feeling like I'm progressing on that front. I have been sleeping through the night lately too which has been nice. I wake up in the morning quite sore though.
I'm wondering about if it's harmful being in the recliner chair in terms of healing in a funny way. I figured that the rods would keep everything aligned, but at the same time I'm not lying flat. Has anyone been given any advice on this from their surgeons?

12-22-2007, 08:41 PM
Nz - I wouldnt think the reclining position is a problem, you're not bending, lifting, or twisting, and your back is straight, right? I'm jealous you're sleeping through the night - I still wake up 3-4 times.

I walked half a mile today in 20 minutes, and pulled my hair back myself. Still hating bumps on car rides, asking/needing help, and people who are insensitive.

12-23-2007, 09:50 AM
well i have my good days and bad days

i'm having some trouble sleeping. i wake up at least twice annoyed at my stiffness...but i know it'll get better...(looking forward to that day!)

i love walking!! i don't know how fast or how far i walk but i find myself wanting to walk more than sit!

**to comment on the recliner... i don't have any doctor's advice, but i struggle to stay comfortable when i sit in one...it looks so comfortable but its like my back is to str8 to enjoy the recline..**

--oh and i really enjoy company (esp. my boyfriend) it seems like when i'm around others my pain subsides--

12-23-2007, 01:01 PM
Successful surgeries Dec 11th and 13th. Now in hotel in St Louis waiting for my folow up appt next Weds before starting for home. Still need lots ogf help getting up and down but hotel bed is soft and I am hoping I'll do better at home.

Have beeen walking the halls a lot and venturing outside and in the car a little
each day.

I would say I have more stiffnesss than actual pain.

Well - let me get walking!

12-23-2007, 05:08 PM
Glad everyone is doing (mostly) well. I also wanted to pass on that "Rosie"'s surgery on 12/21 went well.

Glenda - I definitely agree company distracts from the pain, and boredom makes it worse! My best friend came to visit me, and it's the perfect distraction! My boyfriend is home for Christmas, and I'm anxious for him to get back for the same reason (among others :) )

I'm getting crazy sensations in my back, ranging from pinching to burning and tingling. I hope this is the nerves coming back...

Last week I stretched the amount of time between medicine doses from 4 to 6 hours, but I still get uncomfortable in the 30 minutes before I'm due for more. I'm so jealous of NZ for being nearly medicine free.

What are your expectations for when you'll be of narcotics?

12-24-2007, 01:58 AM
This surgery has been so different to my first one in terms of pain. I'm not sure if it's the difference between posterior and anterior, or the levels of spine which were fused. I found the thoracotomy last time really painful, so that probably accounts for a lot of the pain! Last time I had about an hour out of four hours where I was comfortable enough to get up and do stuff.

Although I managed yesterday without taking anything, I was quite sore today after my (woohoo) drive to the local beach. I honestly don't notice any difference between taking tramadol and not taking it, and found that pre-op as well. Despite that, I take it anyway thinking that it possibly might be worse without it!

So glad to hear Rosie is doing well.

12-24-2007, 08:42 AM
Yesterday was not a great day pain wise. I just couldn't seem to get a handle on it until after 10 last night. I started having sharp pain in both shoulder blades that took my breath away. I am hoping for a better day today. I have my first in home visit from my physical therapist today. Hopefully she can show me some ways to help relieve the pain. I will be thinking of you all as we celebrate our first Christmas with straight backs! Merry Christmas. :D

12-24-2007, 01:55 PM
I'm trying not to be so dependent on my pain meds..

My doctor said the nurses took me off my morphine pretty early while in the hospital, but i hardly noticed. Of course, i had lortab to keep me company. :)

While at home, at first i was taking 2 pills every 5 hours, but now i'm stretching them out. I take 1 at a time now: usually b4 bed and mid day..my 50 count is getting pretty low already.. in the occasion i have some "bothersome" pain i take 1 too! i have to say my pain hasn't been bad at all..

however, my stiffness after waking makes up for that pain... anyone else REALLY STIFF after a nap or waking from nightsleep?? i feel like a have to press a RESET button for my body.

--sorry for the long post--- i slept through the entire night last night (which was great)

12-24-2007, 07:04 PM
I'm also very stiff, sore, and uncomfortable when I wake up.

I had a rough night last night - I was due for meds at 12, but slept until 3. I couldn't seem to get my pain back to baseline until late this afternoon, so it was a rough day.

Nonetheless, I walked a mile on the treadmill in 30 minutes...

Merry Christmas, ladies!

12-24-2007, 08:32 PM
I get frustrated sometimes because I am still using the walker for support and I live on the 2nd floor of our house. When I need things I can't just go get them myself. My mom is off work for 2 weeks, and my brother is home on leave from the army as well. If I need something my mom gets it for me, but most of the time she forgets to bring it to me because she gets distracted with other things going on in the house. Can't take pain meds without something to drink.
I can't count the number of times I have been forgotten in the last week!

12-25-2007, 03:53 AM
I get really stiff when I wake up too, and an intense pain on my left side (which has always been a problem area) under my shoulder blade :( This seems to happen regardless of when my last pain meds were! It feels much better when I get up and moving, but getting up is tough. This morning I tried several times to get up but each time I rolled on my side I was in unbearable pain. Although I knew the only way to relieve it was to push through it and get up, it was tough! I ended up getting my partner to haul me up without rolling on my side first, and once I was up I was sore but settling down. Not a great start to christmas day, but fortunately I was ok for the rest of the day.

Had a big day today, being christmas day... needed a 3 hour nap this afternoon to recover from the day's activities. Was a big milestone to go to my sisters house for a few hours, but it sure wore me out! Yesterday was my first car trip too, which was fun. Although I'm walking about ok, we found it difficult to find a carpark close to where we wanted to go, so I'm thinking about getting a temporary disabled parking permit, maybe just for a month. I'm still sitting on the fence about that, but I will ask for one if I really think it's necissary. Truly, I'm not up for mall shopping which is the only place that I can think of that I would really need it!

12-27-2007, 10:22 AM
I had two bad day with lots of breakthrough pain and spasms under my shoulder blades followed by a great day! Yesterday I was able to cut out all but 2 Dilaudid doses. What a great feeling to be able to cut back on the meds. The actual surgery site doesn't really bother me too much, but those sharp stabbing spasms in the shoulder blades are getting old.
I have had 2 really good nights sleep in a row, another good feeling, let me tell you. This morning I woke up and was surprised to find myself on my side. I know I started out on my back and have no idea how I managed to roll to my side in my sleep! Now if I could just figure out how to get this darned brace on by myself I would be a really happy camper! I am crossing my fingers for another good day today. Hope everyone else is doing well. Alicia

12-28-2007, 12:28 PM
My boyfriend got back from visiting his family yesterday, and drove (an hour and half!) to pick me up from my parents house. The drive wasn't bad at all, and I think he could see how much better I am now than when he left 8 days ago.

Yesterday I walked TWO miles on the treadmill at a 2.7 pace (about 45minutes) and this morning I organized my dresser drawers so things are easy to find.

I'm getting the urge to try to drive, is that a bad idea?

I'm a bit sore now... I hope I didn't over do it...

12-28-2007, 04:10 PM
My surgery was about 10 hours, they had to give me 4 units of blood during the surgery, then two more the following day because my hematocrit levels were dangerously low. I also ran a fever for two days, not too much, around 101. Fortunately, they let me go home on the 5th day, PT and OT discharged me that morning because I was doing so well :D .

I have to take pain meds religiously every three hours, or I am in too much pain to even move at all. I still have some areas of my body that do not have full sensation yet, but each day they seem to get smaller.

They did not take bone from my hip as they were planning to do, he used cadaver bone, so thankfully I have three choices of how to lay (back and either side). I am not wearing a brace, and I am able to lift my arms above my head and put on tanktops and zip up sweatshirts without too too much pain. I can use the restroom un-aided now, I can get up from sitting in most any chair, and get out of bed generally without too much difficulty.

I'm not sure, but I think I am swollen on my front and sides, as well as my back, it might just be me getting used to my new shape. My rib hump was quite noticeable before, and now it is essentially gone.

My husband takes such good care of me, it is unbelievable!

I'm so happy I had the surgery :) , but when the pain meds start wearing off, I start to wonder.... :eek:

12-28-2007, 04:58 PM
Yay, Rosie! I'm encouraged by every one of you brave ladies ;-).


12-28-2007, 08:47 PM
Yay, Rosie - so happy you're home!

Big news (I'm sort of kidding) - I went to the Mall tonight! We walked around and I even tried on clothes. Afterwards we sat down to eat (yes, in hard, wooden chairs), and I was fine. For the first time since surgery, I felt "normal" again. There were periods of time when I completely forgot I'd had surgery.

I know this is kind of silly, but it felt like a really big step :p

12-28-2007, 09:14 PM
Hi Rosie,
Welcome to the other side!! I am so glad to hear that you are finally home and resting comfortably in your own bed. I'm happy that everything went well for you. Continued thoughts and well wishes for a speedy recovery!

So glad to hear that things are beginning to feel "normal" again. There's nothing better than a trip to the mall to boost a woman's spirits! ;)

Take care ladies!

12-28-2007, 10:31 PM
Woohoo! Those are big achievments Vndy! I feel like I could go to the mall, but don't want to get bumped into (paranoid!)
I went to the local pub the other day, and sat for about half an hour and had a glass of wine with my partner, before walking home. I think I'll choose a nicer pub next time! That one was a bit scungey. It was nice to know that I can do it!

Today I went for a walk on my own, after nearly throttling people who wanted to come with me even though I had done the same walk lots since surgery, and not fallen or needed a break etc...

I'm getting really frustrated with these nice people who are trying to help me, mostly because they're reluctant to let me do stuff that I can do, without fussing. I am not doing a good job at not being grumpy today.

12-29-2007, 08:25 AM
It does my heart good to read about your successes. They seem small and painful to you all, but to those of us ahead of you in recovery, we know you're headed in the right direction. I promise you, it will get much better, and there are milestones where the lightbulb will come on and you have those "aha" moments we've read about. Keep up the good work in your recoveries, I am proud of all of you !!!!

12-29-2007, 07:26 PM
I am a little over 2 weeks post op - was in St Louis 2 weeks and now home 2 days. I think I am doing remahkably well except for 2 related things. 1) I still have a hard time getting myself up and 2) since I wake up every two hrs during the night to go to the bathroom, not being able to get myself up is a pain. I can get on my side with a log roll but then have a hard time pushing myself up with my arms. Does anyone have any suggestions or tips? When can I expect to get through at least 4 hrs without a trip to the bathroom???

Otherwise, walking great. Pain not bad. Going to wean to 1 Oxycotin/day as of tomorrow with Norco for breakthrough pain.

12-29-2007, 09:04 PM
Jan - Sounds like, all in all, you're doing well! Getting up from my bed I often push up from the nightstand. I think it's easier because it's hard (instead of the mattress, which squishes down when you push up on it) and a couple inches higher than the bed too. Best of luck with sleeping, I am just not getting to the point where I wake up 2-3 times a night...

12-30-2007, 11:22 AM
I was going to tell you the exact same thing... Use the night table or a nearby sturdy chair to push yourself up with your arm that is on top, then support yourself on your lower elbow half way up, then press up on your outstretched arm as you go for the rest of the way up.

Also, be sure you are putting your legs off the edge of bed as you push yourself up, it seems to work pretty well like a counterbalance as long as you can keep your abs and glutes tight, trying to pivot on your hip works pretty great.

hope this helps!

P.S. Be sure that when someone is helping you, have them just support under your shoulder, so that you are getting up the same way as you would on your own, but they are just assisting. I'm sure you will get strong enough to do it yourself soon.

01-01-2008, 12:46 PM
My home care nurse came by yesterday. She is really pleased with my progress so far. She did have one complaint though...she said it wasn't fair that I had this massive surgery and yet it looks like I won't even have a scar to show for it! I started laughing. Things have been pretty good so far. I have started walking outdoors, it is very slow going and I tire quickly, but it sure feels good to be out of the house. I have almost no pain, just a bit achy. I am off the narcotic for breakthrough pain completely. I am taking a pain killer every 4-6 hours now and a half dose of muscle relaxers every 8 hours.
I can shower pretty much by myself now, but still cant reach below my waist very well, so still use a bit of help there. My physical therapist comes tomorrow and I am sure she will put me on the treadmill at that point. I finally got an appetite back and have been dying for food. I still need to eat small portions as I get full very fast but it sure is nice to want food again. I have dropped 10 pounds since I came home from the hospital. I guess my jeans will be fitting better now! I still need to wear my brace for the next 3-4 months until the fusion looks like it is taking on the xrays. I think that is a small price to pay to look and feel so good about myself. I hope everyone is doing well and making progress every day.
Have a blessed New Year! I know 2008 will be so much better for us all and our new backs. Mine is already so much better. I will be posting before and after pics once all of the steri strips are gone, but it sure looks good.

01-02-2008, 08:35 AM

I brought a bed rail, the rail has a base (flat board) and it goes between the mattress and box spring. For the first few months I couldn't get up unless I used the rail. I also helped me from log rolling myself righ off the bed.


01-06-2008, 02:08 PM
Hey Everyone.

I'm doing better - I'm almost off the painkiller (Dilaudid. I'm only taking one pill 3-4 times a day). My stomach is still a bit unhappy, it sort of feels like muscle cramps, which isn't helping my appetite, but I think that's a result of reducing the dosage. Once I'm "off" it, is it okay to take a pill occasionally if the pain is bad? Or should I stick with tylenol (which I don't think does much but irritate my stomach)?

I've started to drive, sort distances and avoiding rush hour. My biggest concerns are backing up and parking. I'm going to go into the office tomorrow for a few hours and see how that goes - my biggest worry is parking (it's downtown). Any advice on parallel parking/reversing without twisting would be greatly appreciated... I'm not sure how much I trust my mirrors!!!

01-06-2008, 03:34 PM
So glad to hear you are doing better! I don't think it's a problem to take the occasional dilaudid, I am keeping mine around just in case. However, I really don't have pain per say, just a lot of achiness. I have found that my pain killer, Ultram, seems to do the trick. And I am taking those every 6-8 hours now.

I have had small round mirrors added to my side mirrors. They expand my vision and I was able to back out of my driveway without twisting around and I didn't hit anything! You can pick them up at any auto parts store or maybe even wal-mart, k-mart or Target. I think they run about $2 a piece and they just stick on. Then they can be rotated to give you the best sight line. I haven't hit the open road yet, just up and down my quiet street, but I feel better knowing that I have really reduced my blind spots.
Keep us informed and good luck at the office!

01-14-2008, 09:14 AM
I slept in my own bed last night for the first time since before surgery. Up until now I have been sleeping in the livingroom in a hospital bed. I purchased a 4 inch memory foam mattress topper for my bed a few weeks before my surgery but discovered that I couldn't get out of my bed on my own when I got home from the hospital. I decided to try again last night and am I ever glad I did. I was so comfortable when I got into bed I started crying. It felt soooo GOOD! Once I fell asleep I slept straight through the night. I was even able to reach over, grab my brace and put it on by my self! Then I tried to log roll out of bed...I quickly discovered that my step was in the wrong position and my feet never touched it! My daughter rushed over and helped me stand up then we promptly moved the step to a better position!

My other big achievement lately is I was able to go coach my wrestlers on Saturday! I hadn't seen my team since the first week of December and was it ever great to be back. This is my 7th year as a coach at our local high school and I really missed my boys...all 35 of them. As they saw me walk into the gym the recognition was a bit slow at first, then they started coming over to me one at a time. Next thing you know they were all out of the bleachers, surrounding me and giving me hugs! What an amazing feeling to feel so loved and appreciated. I had kids win on Saturday that have never had a win before and then they would come over to me and say" that was for you coach! ". Of course I stayed too long and wore my self out but I don't regret one minute of it.

I hope everyone else is doing great. Don't forget to post and let us know how you are doing.

01-15-2008, 02:21 AM
I went back to my surgeon today to have my first post-op check-up. This was a fun exercise involving more x-rays, - my stack is already too big to lug easily. I was feeling a bit sad on the way in, because it is very nerve-wracking to have to go to the surgeon and find out what he has to say, and to have to go through this on a regular basis isn't great. But today it was all good news. I told him how I came off all my drugs at 3 weeks post-op, that I have been driving, and what I have been up to, and he was amazed. I also told him that the most persistant pain site I had seems to be gone since the surgery, and he was pleased. He wasn't convinced that the surgery would do anything other than stop the curve from getting worse. So the reduction in pain, straighter spine, and smooth surgery was as much a surprise for me as it was for him. Having said that, my surgeon is known for having a very conservative outlook, and rare smiles. So I was pleased that when I said I was thrilled with the results, he actually looked like he was happy! I also haven't had any pain from my bone graft site, which has been really good. I had been told by many people how painful it is long-term, and I was afraid of having more pain than I already had. I think it is amazing how good I feel six-weeks out, and my surgeon was really surprised at how well I have recovered. For me, most of the time I feel better than I did pre-op. I am really tired though at the moment, and I do have some pain. But I am managing, and it is only sometimes where it is bad enough to make me drop everything and lie down.

I am finding it frustrating still not being able to do everything that I would normally, especially since Bryan still has to do all the housework plus try and catch up on his work. Because we went on our summer holiday for 2 weeks before my surgery, and him having to look after me full time since december, he is really behind. Also one of his staff has taken an extended holiday, so it's been really difficult. I really wish I could help more, and if I need stuff done it is adding to his workload. So all this time I have to think up ideas and scheme, is quite stressful for him! I need to bite my tounge when I think, 'hey, why don't we just do x y z to the house?'

Our kitten arrives in two days, and we've narrowed names down to 1) Orion 2) Darwin 3) Leo, I think it's going to be Orion, but we are still undecided.

I'm hoping to be starting up thesis work soon, but I'm still feeling wiped out. There are lots of things that are small jobs that I could be doing, but don't have the energy. The days are going really fast, but I'm not sleeping well at the moment.

All up, I am so happy with how I've progressed to this point. The surgery was so major, but from all accounts I have done really well. It's been difficult at times, but nowhere near as bad as it could have been. I'm pleased that I have surprised my surgeon in a good way!

01-16-2008, 11:12 AM
NZ--what a great update! I'm so excited for you with the super report from your doctor and how well everything is going. :D I'm sure that's such an encouragement to so many still contemplating or facing the surgery. Bryan probably doesn't feel the frustration that you do. Make sure he knows you wish you could do more, but don't try to do it until it's time! He seems like an understanding and caring person. Remember, your main work right now is to HEAL. That includes knowing your limitations and abiding by them. it's ok for us to push ourselves, but only within those parameters. And have fun with your new kitten! All the names sound cool. :cool: Hopefully the kitten will bring you a much needed diversion! Take care...

01-17-2008, 01:17 PM
So I've been having a hard time celebrating how well my back is healing - no real pain, unless I move the wrong way, and just a bit of muscle soreness - because I've been getting dizzy often, and getting a lot of comments about looking "thin and pale." I'm looking into the dizziness with my primary care...

BUT I have a little victory to share. I tried on a dress today that I bought pre-op. When I bought it it was loose in some places and tight in others; it fit, but not well. I just tried it on and it looks MUCH better - I may actually get it taken in. I think I just might like my new body...

01-17-2008, 03:54 PM
Congratulations on the new body and the new way that clothes fit! I have been told that I look thin and pale too. But I know I lost 10 pounds total and it just looks like more because I am 2 inches taller! What are you gonna do?

How's the new kitten? Congratulations on the great check up with your surgeon. Glad to hear that you seem to be ahead of schedule. Good luck on your thesis work.

I started back coaching wrestling last Saturday. It was great to see my team after being gone since the 5th of December. I was with them for 4 hours. It wore me out but I wouldn't have walked away a minute earlier for anything. This is my 7th year coaching at the local high school and i love those boys like they are my own kids.
I finally got all of the steri strips off and most of the discoloration is gone from around the incision so I though I would post a before and after of just the back so you can see how much of a correction I have. I know it isn't perfect, but I am so grateful for the amount of correction I have and I think it looks pretty darn good! I hope I added them correctly or I will have to go back and edit!

Take care everyone and keep posting your progress, both good and bad.

01-17-2008, 04:09 PM
Ok, I think maybe I've just been given the push I need to get serious about getting serious! Love the tatoo, by the way! I am totally astounded at the difference in the before and after. You must be so pleased! In looking at your before picture it's almost like looking in a mirror at my back and we're so close to the same age (I turned 45 yesterday). Our curves are a bit different, but they are similar, so I'm really interested in hearing about your experience. I don't know how tall you are but I'm a whopping 5' and 1/2" so the thought of growing 2 inches is pretty exciting for me.
Left thoracic 49* T5-T11
Right thorocolumbar 60* T11-L4

02-05-2008, 06:12 PM
I had my 8 week post op today! After the 4 hour car ride to get down the snowy/icy mountain and into LA it looks like my fusion is coming along just fine! It still cracks me up that I am not supposed to go anywhere in the car that takes close to 3 hours to get to (I was told Las Vegas was definitely off limits and it is 3 hours) yet the Dr has no problem with the fact that when it snows up here it takes me 4 hours just to get to him. It was only a 2 1/4 hour drive home though...go figure! :rolleyes:

I have to go back in 8 weeks and I should be able to leave my brace at the Dr's office when I leave! I was cleared to actually get out of bed before I put it on finally. That will be a nice change. I was also cleared to take a bath...I can't wait! I sure do miss my tub. :p All other restrictions are still in place. Hope everyone else is doing well. Take care and keep us posted.

02-08-2008, 05:50 PM
Hey all,

The big news is that I went to yoga for the first time since surgery today - it went well. My (fabulous) teacher modified a lot for me (I put my hands on a chair for downward dog, for example), and didn't bend or twist at all. It was great to see how much I CAN move without bending or twisting.

My 2 month post-op went well - xrays look good, and the doc seemed pleased (Although he mistakenly thought I was 4 months post op!). I was cleared to do any forward moving activity like jogging, swimming, or the elliptical. I cannot imagine running right now, but who knows what the next weeks will bring. I did get caught in a cross walk when the light turned green, and ran about 3 steps to get to the sidewalk the other day - funny how these little things feel like achievements!

My doctor said the rib pain I'm feeling on the side will last quite a while, maybe up to 6 months (his words were "Well, we take all those muscles out, do what we need to do, and then put them back, so they'll stay sore for awhile." When I told him he made it sound so easy, he responded "It's not rocket science!").

Hope the rest of you are doing well!!!

02-09-2008, 04:43 PM
Had my 8 week follow up and Doc says everything looks fine - that is - all the hardware is where it should be. Too early to see bone fusion. Said if I continue to do well can wait till 6 months post op for next visit. I am off all pain meds - have been for a few weeks - and have more energy lately. I don't even nap everyday! I plan on returning to work in 2 weeks. My only worry at this time is my insurance company is making lots of noise about the bill - calling it excessive - saying they will only pay "reasonable" charges. Has anyone had such problems ? What method do they use to determine what is reasonable? I have not seen a bill yet but am afraid I'm going to get stuck with hundreds of thousand dollars!!!! Any suggestions re contesting/appealing insurance claims?

I wanted to attach before and after xrays but don't see the option?

02-09-2008, 06:28 PM

Good for you. I can't believe how much you are allowed to do. Nicole is not allowed to do anything. The doctor is afraid of a fall. When I asked him about activities at 2 months, he said she can't do anything. Next month at her 6 month he better give her the green light. She is being so good and so patient. But come on, she's just a kid. She wants to MOVE!!!!

02-10-2008, 07:20 AM

Remember, every person (and doctor) is different. Maybe Nicole's doctor wants her to go slow because SHE IS A KID. I told you, this phase is very difficult, remember? Poor Jamie had a ton of restrictions and all of her favorite activities were restricted for a full year.

Mary Lou

02-11-2008, 09:07 AM
Mary Lou,

You are right. You did tell me that. Our next appt can't come soon enough. But we have gone through this much, we don't want to ruin anything. It is so hard to be patient sometimes. But we will try. I hope your girls are doing well and that your hand is healing.

03-02-2008, 09:38 AM
I went hiking for the first time post op, actually the first time in years, yesterday. It wasn't very far, maybe between a 1/4 and a 1/2 mile each way. I went up into the mountains that surround my neighborhood. It felt wonderful and I did pretty well if I do say so myself! By the time I got to the top I was winded but the view made it worth the extra effort. I had no pain and I didn't even need a nap! :p I hope everyone is progressing and doing well. Stay strong.

03-02-2008, 10:29 AM
I went hiking for the first time post op, actually the first time in years, yesterday. It wasn't very far, maybe between a 1/4 and a 1/2 mile each way. I went up into the mountains that surround my neighborhood.

Good girl, Geish ... and don't forget you did more than just the distance you measured because you had incline! The only hills we have in Houston are the overpasses - LOL ;-)

You'll be surprised at how regular (even short strolls on hurried days add up) walks/hikes will improve that lumbering feeling you described. Although mine was completely thoracic so I didn't have to wear a brace, I know the first 10 days I was so off balance (some joker rearranged all the pieces!), I couldn't walk a straight line!

I'm surprised I didn't run off my walking partners the first few days. I'd turn my head while walking to look at something and run smack into something/someone else (i..e., 'Wow, that bush is really pretty ... look at those red berries .... I wonder what it *~WHAP~*! OMG .... I'm so sorry, Ronnie!!).

Ronnie learned to be on his toes pretty quickly. Be ready 100% of the time to catch the goofy neighbor so she doesn't break herself or give someone a black eye!

I'm so proud of you, Alicia. You've done the most difficult thing already ... START!

Your cheerleaders may be a motley crew, but we're determined - LOL!!

Hugs, girlfriend,

03-19-2008, 10:23 AM
So last night I took a small tumble down the stairs. I thought I was at the bottom but I had one more to go. I was leaving the house at 9:45 PM to pick up my younger daughter from her softball game and the outside florescent light wasn't fully lit yet. My older daughter happened to be home and she finally came out to help when she heard me using my remote car clicker to make the horn honk.
The back is fine but I am missing skin on both knees, making it difficult to do that whole kneeling thing I need to do to reach low objects. I also have a sprained left ankle. No bruising but it sure is fat and very tender and it hurts to put weight on it. So I guess I spend the next few days hanging out in the recliner with the foot up. I hope everyone else is doing well. Stay strong!

03-19-2008, 10:27 AM
Geish-- that must have been one of those 'way too scary times. :eek: Glad to hear it didn't involve your back, but so sorry to hear about your knees and ankle! Rest up! Hugs!!!

03-19-2008, 10:39 AM

OUCH!! it must have given you quite a scare...glad your back is ok. How old is your softball daughter? My "softball" girl is 15 - just wondering if they've ever played against each other in a tournament?? Take it easy, esp. on those steps! I've come very close to taking a tumble down the stairs a couple of times. Guess the eyes don't adjust as well in the dark as they used to :o


03-19-2008, 10:44 AM
Thanks Susie*Bee! I will be taking it pretty easy for a few days.

Renee~ she is 15 and plays for Big Bear High School. They just finished a 2 weekend tournament in Rialto. Yesterday was the first day of league play and she was in Desert Mirage...a 3 1/2 hr drive each way! She is a freshman and is on the JV squad playing 3rd and left field.

03-19-2008, 10:54 AM

Did you daughter play rec ball also? I think we played Big Bear at a tournament in Rancho Cucamonga last summer & I think we saw them at a Las Vegas Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. Just funny to think our paths may have crossed at some point (or will) :)


03-19-2008, 10:59 AM
Actually she injured her knee during rec ball last spring and didn't play most of the season. She did go to the UK and Ireland last summer on crutches though! She is a People to People Student Ambassador. This year she is headed to Japan.

03-19-2008, 11:06 AM
Wow, what an awesome opportunity!! My older son had an invitation to be a Student Ambassador in 2005/2006 when he was on a bowling team. Unfortunately it was right after his surgery so he wasn't able to attend. He still gets an occasional invite but he's not involved in sports anymore. I'll bet Ireland was beautiful. She must be excited about Japan...how wonderful to see the world at such a young age :)


04-02-2008, 09:23 AM
So I had my latest check up yesterday. I believe it was 16-17 weeks post op. The appointment went well once my Dr got to the office, he was stuck behind a traffic accident. My new xrays looked great and he thought that the fusion was at about 80% and should be complete by 6 months post op. I was still not cleared to be out of the brace but I am supposed to wean myself out of it over the next few weeks. Just a precaution but I was hoping to be able to throw it away. I will post the xrays when I download them off of the camera.

Dr Ganocy said that when he looks at the screws in my pelvis he see no haloing (little shadows that show that things have come loose or the fusion hasn't taken) and that was where he thought he might see some. Actually there are no halos anywhere (definitely not above my head either!). I was cleared to start at the gym, no PT since for some crazy reason he thinks I was fit and active before so just get my butt back in the gym instead. I was cleared to do any leg work I want and have an email in to him to clarify which weight machines I can use for my upper body. No crunches EVER (darn) but and can do any ab work that involves bringing my knees up to my torso without bending my back.

The full count on the hardware is 2 22 inch titanium rods, 12 pedicle screws and 8 hooks plus assorted cross pieces for stability. I was given a card to laminate to carry with me when I travel. Hopefully it helps, I will let you know in November when I go to Maui for Thanksgiving.

I was told that at 6 months I am cleared to return to any activity that doesn't involve bending or twisting my back. I don't return to the Dr for 4-8 months, my call on when I want to see him again. Probably close to the year mark for me unless there is a problem. I am guessing that at a year I will be cleared for rollercoasters but will double check before I take the plunge.
Hope everyone is doing well. Stay strong!

04-02-2008, 09:31 AM
Geish, that sounds like a great appointment on all counts.

I didn't realize fusions can be complete by 6 months. :eek:

That's wonderful.

It is so interesting to read the recovery trajectories from everyone. I appreciate that folks write it all down like that.


04-02-2008, 10:40 AM
Dr Ganocy used bone from my spine as well as BMP and I think that had a lot to do with it, but really I have no idea. I do know that at about 4 weeks or so post op I "felt" more solid in my back. I can't really describe the sensation, just that it didn't feel like it did before surgery but heavier. All of a sudden it felt like my back was better protected and a lot less fragile. I don't know if that makes sense. I have never had a broken bones so I have no idea if it is the same kind of feeling.

04-02-2008, 11:12 AM
I was still not cleared to be out of the brace but I am supposed to wean myself out of it over the next few weeks. Just a precaution but I was hoping to be able to throw it away.
Hey Alicia!
That's fantastic! Ah, I'm so looking forward to being in your shoes! That just seems like at long time from now though.

Alicia, I think you are one of the few adults I've heard about that's been required to wear a brace post-op so you will probably be my go-to-girl for brace questions (among a thousand other questions as well). My doc will require me to wear one for about 3 months. How much longer does your doc want you to wear it? That's one of the many things I'm not looking forward to so any info you would be willing to share would be great.

Again, I'm thrilled things are going so well for you. Congratulations!

04-02-2008, 11:24 AM
Dr Ganocy used bone from my spine as well as BMP and I think that had a lot to do with it, but really I have no idea.

Yep, it does, Geish ... use of rhBMP-2 can cut fusion time by almost 3/4 in some cases :)

Hanson used a combo of BMP and allograft on me (you can see in my surgical photos where they lay the BMP soaked sponges between the rods before packing the rest of the graft).


(and that's too funny Ganocy remembers a wet-behind-the-ears Hanson ... they all know each other in some way - LOL!)

04-02-2008, 11:26 AM
I was told I needed to wear it because my fusion is so long. 15 vertebrae is huge! Anyway I have to wear it for a few more weeks but not full time, he said I can start weaning myself off of it. I know the muscles well be tired now that they have to start supporting themselves so I expect to nap more. If I had had my appt in 2 more weeks instead of yesterday he probably would have said throw it away. Since I am not quite at the 4 month mark he is being careful. I will wear it off and on for the next 4 weeks just to be safe.

He did say that the fusion should be about done, however he also said that they can never be sure that it took fully. He said that people have had the hardware removed a few years done the road only to find that part of the fusion collapsed. He doesn't recommend removing hardware unless there is a real problem with it for just this reason.

04-02-2008, 12:42 PM
I do know that at about 4 weeks or so post op I "felt" more solid in my back.
Funny - that's exactly how I have been describing my back since my last anterior surgery - it feels solid. My doc used BMP this time and I'm also wearing a brace after both of my most recent surgeries. I'm at about the 7-week mark, and will save my recovery post until my 3-month checkup. Glad to hear you're doing so well.

04-02-2008, 01:00 PM
I wore one for 4-5 months post-op-- for 4 months when sitting, standing, walking-- so basically all the time except when lying down. Then they had me wean off from wearing it-- 4 hours off/day the first week, then 8 hours, 12 hours, then totally. I usually broke up the time out of it into shorter increments to make it easier--like half the amount at a time. Even so, my back REALLY got tired and occasionally I had to put my brace on for a little relief in the evening-- or go lie down for awhile. I took an afternoon nap back then, so that helped some. Of course, now I can't imagine wearing it. Geish--mine was 15 vertebrae also. Glad to hear you are doing so well!!! :D

04-02-2008, 01:06 PM
Ok, well apparently I wasn't paying attention! I don't know why I'm dreading it so much, it sounds like it's a good thing. I appreciate your input, ladies.

04-02-2008, 01:16 PM
Way to go, Geish! And just to add my two cents to the brace issue, I actually brought mine along to the hairdresser's today (even though I officially weaned out of it at 4 months), because I need to wear it when I lean back in the chair for a shampoo. I think it has to do with my being so short. Also, sometimes I put the brace on to cook and/or clean up dinner if my back is especially sore.

04-02-2008, 01:24 PM
Singer-- I used to wear mine too, to get my hair done, but my neck still ached afterward... and sometimes I would get kind of wet too. I now take two bed pillows with me to sit on, they give me added height. :rolleyes: I've threatened to come in my pj's too, and carry a teddy... :D Anyway, I think my back feels solid enough now, but I just don't have the height to sit back in that chair at the sink. :eek: Oh well. It's that time again tomorrow. I'll see how I do. I may have to go gray one of these days! :(