View Full Version : Poll -- do you garden?

07-11-2008, 02:42 PM
At my one-year checkup, Dr. B cautioned me against gardening because of its tendency toward repetitive bending. I really miss it. I can pick up sticks with my grabber and trim bushes at chest-height, but I really miss getting down on the ground. Part of the problem is the weak leg, which is still not all the way back -- I tend to bend and strain a little getting up from a squat (even leaning on something), so I hardly ever go all the way down to the ground. Still working on it in PT.

I was wondering if any of you with lumbar fusions have eventually found a way to work in the yard. Thanks...

07-11-2008, 02:49 PM
Chris, have you tried one of the many gardening seats (on wheels, and some even have a pull along handle that can be locked in an up position to pull yourself up, and even have storage under the seat for items)? It would be something that would get you *almost* at ground level, yet not so low you couldn't get back up.

I'll have to look, but I know I've seen some pretty cool helpers in catalogues from Plow and Hearth, Smith & Hawken, etc ...

Let me see if I can find you some links :).


loves to skate
07-11-2008, 03:48 PM
Hi Chris,
I love to garden, but it is very difficult to do now. What little I do now, I actually use my tub bench to sit on if I need to prune something knee level or lower. I did plant a few flowers last week on my hands and knees and can get down on a knee pad by going down with one leg in front of the other and getting up the same way. Finally my legs are strong enough to get back up without having to push off on something. Dr. Rand told me squatting really isn't a good thing to do even if you don't have back problems as he said you can blow out ? tendon in your knees. I wonder how baseball catchers are able to do so much squatting. They are young and supple, I guess.
I hope this helps a little. Sally

07-11-2008, 04:06 PM
I wonder how baseball catchers are able to do so much squatting. They are young and supple, I guess.

Sally, many do have knee problems later.

Younger catchers are more prone to Osgood-Schlatters (initially it starts with swelling and pain where the quad attaches to the tibial tuberosity - just below the kneecap, and later results in calcification - a significant, in some cases, raised knot. I have this in both knees and caught off and on for 11 years - switching out with 2nd base), and residual issues as adults. By age 26, I'd had 2 knee repairs - and at 27, another one to remove hardware I kicked out in karate.

Older catchers ARE more likely to have damage from wear and tear on the ligaments, cartilage/meniscus, and patellas. Fast pitch and baseball catchers take a beating from overall body use (and abuse) like no other position.


07-11-2008, 05:53 PM
Well said Pam...I sure do love baseball catchers and believe they have one of the hardest jobs in all of baseball. And yes, they take a huge beating to their bodies every day. Many won't catch a day game if they had a night game the day before.

I don't garden any more and don't believe I will go back to it later on. It is too hard on my body and if I squat I lose my balance easily and fall over. Not fun at all and often times I land in a position that is difficult to get back up from. My back is fused from T4 to the Sacrum and there is not even a little room for a mistake in balance with out toppling over like a Weeble...but I do fall down, unlike Weebles!

07-11-2008, 09:23 PM
I've always been an avid gardener, so when I got back home after 6 weeks away for surgery/rehab etc, the unkempt yard made me itch to get out there! I got some "long-armed rose pruners' on ebay and they work pretty good for keeping things under control. Fiskars makes a long-handled grass shears, too, (ordered but not yet received), and the dog's old 'pooper-scooper' is ideal for picking up piles of stuff. I use a wagon instead of bins for yard waste and toting things. Too soon for me to be actually diggin' in the dirt yet, but I hope to get back to it in a few months... I thought I'd try the rolling stool idea, too. I have a small yard, and I never pick up anything heavy, asking friends and neighbors for help. Also, consider hanging orchids, container gardening, bonsai, dish gardens on a waist-high shelf. Garden puttering is vital therapy for me... I'm sure you'll find a way to do what you love!

07-12-2008, 12:57 AM
I don't have surgery till October, but I have always HATED gardening. I think because it always made my lower back hurt. So it has always been my hubby's job. Now I know why, so I feel like I've got a good reason. :)

07-12-2008, 07:38 AM
Thanks ladies -- I love the rolling platform and pooper-scooper ideas .....actually, I think I will grass over a couple of my annual beds to make everything more manageable.

As in every other aspect of this surgery, I'm still feeling my way to find the right balance between my limitations and my capabilities. My first priority is proper biomechanics to protect my fusion, but .... I DO want to enjoy life too. I am just starting to actually forget about my back sometimes (what a concept)....!!

07-12-2008, 07:27 PM
Hi Chris,

I HATE to garden!! Actually, all I do is weeding and that is enough for me! I don't have a hard time doing it but if I keep at it my back muscles get worn out. I guess I shouldn't wrestle with the weeds so much and just wait till the ground is a bit softer..... It is all out war with weeds around my house.

Fused T10-L4

07-12-2008, 08:15 PM
Well I am not a gardener, I leave that to my 80+ year old mother-in-law who has 4 grape vines, pear, plum, peach, fig, almond and apple trees, herbs and tomatos too. She does a little each day, never overdoing it. Just inches her way along.

As you mentioned you have to still find your balance between limitations and capabilities. Just don't over do it. There are many ways to do the same thing, they may take a little longer, but are easier on your body.

For now though... If you have children, that what they are for, putting to work. At least thats how my parents saw it. :D


07-13-2008, 10:00 AM
Like Polyphemus, gardening is very therapeutic for me. I'm 10 days post op (T10-L5) and every day since I've been home I've been able to walk about in my garden, deadheading a thing or two at my standing level. Prior to surgery, a few slight bends to reach something sent me to a pain level of 10 immediately, but I'm BELIEVING I will find a way to do a satisfying amount of garden work by next summer. Anything at standing level and and easy reach up should be no problem, but I will have to look for implmements to reach the ground. I know there are lots of tools out there. I just create piles and my husband comes along and picks them up...good man.

I can't remember who said it was a battle with weeds all the time...if it were that for me, I would hate gardening too...


07-13-2008, 10:23 AM
I too, found that the little every day method works best. And remembering to ask for help if you need it is important, too :-)

My husband still hasn't stopped teasing me about the time he found me facedown in a hole! It was the first year after my surgery and I was trying to get a bunch of plants in the ground after buying more than I could really handle in one day. My flexiblilty was not back where it is now and I tried to reach too far to reach something I dropped. Kerplunk - facefirst in a fresly dug hole just in time for DH to catch a posterior view from the sliding glass door in the living room...

Well I am not a gardener, I leave that to my 80+ year old mother-in-law who has 4 grape vines, pear, plum, peach, fig, almond and apple trees, herbs and tomatos too. She does a little each day, never overdoing it. Just inches her way along.

As you mentioned you have to still find your balance between limitations and capabilities. Just don't over do it. There are many ways to do the same thing, they may take a little longer, but are easier on your body.



07-13-2008, 11:30 AM
I have a townhouse condo with an enclosed patio garden and a small front garden and it's amazing how much I have crammed into them! I love gardening as well, and over the years I have accumulated a number of long-handled tools and other assists (not the least of which is recruiting family members to help). I have one word of caution which is especially important to those of us with fusions. If you get a rolling seat like I have, be sure that you sit on it properly so that you slide sideways. Don't try to straddle it the other way, with the wheels in front and back of you because it can - and will - shoot out from under you just like a skateboard! And the unexpected landing on your bum is the last thing in the world you want to experience. OK, maybe you're not quite as stupid as I am .... :rolleyes:

07-15-2008, 06:05 AM
I was always a big gardener prior to surgery. Now at 2 yrs post op, I am again gardening, just slower & more careful. It is very hard not to bend while gardening of course & I try to limit it.
I must have about 6 perennials in containers ready to plant...I try to plant one or 2 a day!
I also have my son lift anything heavy like a bag of mulch etc -- I just cannot stop something I love.....Ly :)

07-15-2008, 07:58 AM
Only container gardening this year *sigh* I really miss getting my hands into the dirt and digging up and changing around my flower beds.

07-15-2008, 10:58 AM
Me too (although I am not fused through the entire lumbar region).

I have a huge (for an urban area) back yard and finally got around to having an 8' high fence installed last summer to keep the deer out as they were destroying everything growing there except the weeds. Yes, deer, and 'possum, skunks, raccoons in an urban area - my house is a few blocks downhill from a string of parks so when food is scare, the critters come downhill. Palo Alto, which is about 30 miles away, just had a mountain lion in its downtown area!

Back to gardening: I have an old table in the patio & had someone lift up onto it a big container, in which I planted a cherry tomato plant. It's doing OK, and perhaps in a few weeks I'll harvest 20 - 30 tomatoes, which is an improvement over when I had 4 - 6 plants 2 years ago but the deer got to most of them.

I also find gardening very therapeutic. I keep looking at the yard and am dreaming of when I can start doing real work in it. There is 1 raised bed, about 18" high, in which I will plant some bulbs. I think if I paced myself (hah!) I could do a little bit each day, but I will still need someone to carry up my 22 front steps any large plants, manure, bark chips, etc.

I love the suggestions about the long-handled tools; I forgot that they exist. Thanks to all for the suggestions.

07-15-2008, 05:57 PM
I usually start the yard work back up at about 9 months post op. I did buy a little gardening stool at Bed Bath & Beyond that has been the best buy!!!! One side is a little bench seat and then you turn it over and the bottom of the seat becomes a kneeling pad and the legs help you to get back up. The legs also keep me from leaning to far to the sides. We also bought a new lawn mower with a key start so I don't have to pull the cord to start the mower. It is self propelled with 3 different speeds. Believe it or not it's actually easier to mow the lawn than it is to vacuum. I take lots of breaks when I'm working in the yard.

07-16-2008, 12:54 AM
I'm 7 months post op, and while my garden is looking great... it's mostly due to the help I've been getting from family. It's winter in NZ and I have Japanese Turnips, Silverbeet, Beetroot (aka 'beets'), snowpeas, lettuce, and weeds growing in my vegi patch. I garden in brief intervals if I'm going to at all. At least nothing is growing at the moment to need weeding out.

I deligate all the heavy stuff to my partner, like digging. He says that he does the brute force stuff and I do the artistic stuff, because I will put the plants in after he has done all the digging! If I had the money and my partner the time, we would put in raised beds and use the 'no dig' method which layers compost and straw... but who really has the time! I'm not THAT domestic.

07-22-2008, 06:56 PM
I was just browsing online at the gardening kneelers, thinking I could possibly benefit from having one in the library while I'm re-shelving books, and ran across these books. Just thought I'd pass these links on in case anyone is interested in seeing some ideas for "challenged" gardeners...



BTW--since this was supposed to be a poll of whether we garden or not, I don't. I used to years ago, but my hubby LOVES to so much that I let him do it. It's his form of relaxing, so he keeps me supplied with lots of beautiful flower beds and pots as well as a nice veggie garden. Why fight the mosquitoes (we get them to the extreme sometimes :eek: ) when you've got someone who loves to garden so??? ;)