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View Full Version : Almost 3 Months Post-Op Update



briarrose
09-22-2008, 10:08 PM
Hi everyone!

I just wanted to give an update on how I'm doing. I'll be 4 months post-op at the end of the week. I started back to college about a month ago. It was very difficult for the first 2-3 weeks, but I'm in far less pain now. I'm only taking Percocet once a week before my 4 hour chemistry lab. I'm hoping to stop that in the next few weeks.

I've started to get that phantom itching that so many have had. I'm calling my surgeon about it tomorrow to hopefully get something for it.

I've been trying to do abdominal crunches and I can't. It's really frustrating. I don't know if it's because I'm fused to L2 or if I'm just too weak. I don't feel weak though. Maybe it's just too soon. Has anyone else had a problem with this?

I'm very glad I had this surgery done. I'm a slow healer so it hasn't been easy but it's good to know that the worst of it is over. Thanks to everyone who helped me through those really difficult first two months. Best of luck to those having surgery in the near future!

Shell

Sharshe
09-23-2008, 07:35 AM
Hi!
Glad to hear things are going pretty good. I've been having awful phantom itching for a long time now, and its getting worse. Dr Anderson said there's really nothing for it. Let me know what Dr Fras says, if it helps maybe I'll ask to try it. I'm not sure if you'll ever be able to do crunches with the long fusion but good luck with it.
Sharon

debbei
09-23-2008, 08:11 AM
Shell,

I didn't think we were allowed to do crunches after a long fusion. Of course since I haven't been there yet, I have no clue. I'm curious to see what others say about it.

I'm glad the pain is lessening. Good luck with school!

briarrose
09-23-2008, 08:18 AM
Hi Sharon- I took Benadryl last night and it helped with the itching. I also put Caladryl lotion on my back which helped some since it has an analgesic in it. I think some people on here went on Neurontin and Lyrica for it. I'll see what Dr. Fras says and let you know.

Hi Debbe - My surgeon said I could try crunches at 3 months post-op. I can bend at the waist though. I go to see him in October so I'll ask about it then.

Thanks for your responses!

Shell

loves to skate
09-23-2008, 09:35 AM
Hi Shell,
Good to hear you are doing fairly well. Instead of trying to do crunches right off the bat, try doing isometric abdominal exercises. Lying down, sitting up or even driving a car, pull in your abdomen as tight as you can for the count of 5 seconds for 10 reps. Do this 3 times a day and gradually increase to 10 seconds. There are several other exercises you can do to strengthen your abdominals without doing crunches. You can probably find them on the internet. I take it your Dr. didn't send you for PT. I didn't start my PT until 6 months post op. I think Neurontin or Lyrica will help with the phantom itching. I hope this helps. Sally

WNCmom
09-23-2008, 12:22 PM
Shell--

Thanks so much for keeping us up to date on your recovery. My 13 yo son's November fusion is expected to be similar to yours, so besides wanting to know how you're doing, I'm interested in hearing about what you can and can't do post-op. I know adults take longer to heal, but you sound like you're doing just great! And I can tell you have high standards, so I hope you'll be patient with yourself.

Mary Ellen

Susie*Bee
09-23-2008, 06:19 PM
Shell-- it does sound like you're doing really well. I'm glad it's working out for you at school. Your "crunches" remind me of how different all our doctors are-- that is definitely forbidden for me! It puts a lot of strain on your hardware and spine. If you want some that might be easier for/on you, I think awhile back I posted some pt exercises for strengthening core muscles... as Sally said, there are many that help with those abs without doing crunches. The ones on the second page of this attachment http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showpost.php?p=59707&postcount=14 are pretty good. There are others too, of course, that someone else might suggest.

Your post sure is an encouragement for those about to have their surgeries. Thanks for posting! Hugs, Susie

Ginger W.
09-23-2008, 11:02 PM
So great to hear from you! I no sooner could have gone back to school a month ago than fly to the moon! You really kicked into gear, Shell! I can't help but compare progress since our surgery dates were so close.

From my end, I'm very proud to report that I hiked two miles up the mountain yesterday, gaining 2000 ft. in elevation during the climb. Then, of course, I had to hike the two miles back down again, as well.

I was so worn out that I expect to sleep like a log. Well, my nerves started acting up and I got these bee sting sensations in my lower back several times during the night. Has anyone else experienced that one? I only seem to get this if I overdo. What a way to GET THE MESSAGE.

Guess I won't do four miles on a rocky mountain trail until I get a little farther along in my recovery. But I'm thrilled to know that I CAN do it.

TnGirl07
09-23-2008, 11:37 PM
i have been a little scared to do some crunches, although i have wanted to. Sounds like you are doing fantastic! congrats! I take Tylenol when my back starts to hurt or feel uncomfortable, for me mainly at times its my left shoulder. The itching is a pain in the booty! i've recently had it more and more. benedryl does help, but i just get help to scratch and it soothes mine. lol. thankfully the burning and all has been less! good luck with the crunches, i might try one day. need to get weight level up some (lifting wise) first.

briarrose
09-26-2008, 05:47 PM
Thanks for the responses everyone! I forgot to mention that I still have a difficult time getting in and out of my car, going from sitting to standing position, and going from laying to sitting. Is this normal at this point?

Sally - I will try those isometric abdominal exercises. I didn't even think of them. Thanks for the suggestion!

Mary Ellen - Is your son going to be fused to L2 as well? I was told I'd be able to do everything normally again. It's only been 4 months but I'm hoping this eventually comes true. I'm sure your son will bounce back faster than I did. Taking many corticosteroids as a kid really slowed down my immune system. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Susie - I will definitely check out that link. I think you're right about crunches. Just attempting to do one causes a pulling feeling on my hardware. I'm guessing that's not good!

Ginger - Wow! That's so great that you are able to hike 2 miles up a mountain! I couldn't do it. I do walk up 4-6 flights of stairs everyday which is hard!

Sharon - My itching was really bad for 2 days and then died down a lot so I didn't call my surgeon. I go to see him in 2.5 weeks and I will ask then.

Tngirl - Does Tylenol help you? It doesn't do a thing for me. I'm greatly looking forward to taking Advil again in December or January. Good luck with the crunches. How low are you fused?

Shell

loves to skate
09-27-2008, 10:46 AM
Hi Shell,
I think it is normal for you to still be having difficulty going from sitting to standing, getting in and our of a car and going from laying to sitting. Until you strengthen your abs and your quads, you will have a problem. My Doctor wouldn't even let me start PT until 6 months post-op, but now that I have finished my PT, things are much easier for me to do. However, if I sit too long or am tired, I then have difficulty doing those things because my body stiffens up on me. You will get better as time goes on. Four months really isn't a long time in the overall scheme of the healing process. My best wishes for your progress. Sally

amae28
09-27-2008, 10:10 PM
I just wanted to chime in because we had our surgeries within a month of each other and we are close in age and have pretty much the same fusion. I too was back at school about a month ago and feel really well. My biggest complaint right now is the itching also. I talked to my doctor about a week and a half ago and he just told me it was good, lol... it's the nerves trying to reconnect. Anyways, someone on here suggested to me a while back to put "tiger balm" on my back (it has menthol in it and is kind of like icy-hot). It actually helps me a lot but since it smells weird I just use it at night before I go to bed because that's usually when the itching is the worst. Good luck with everything and I know how those 4-5 hour chem labs go! (no fun!).

Chihuahua Mama
09-27-2008, 10:45 PM
Shell, you said: "I've been trying to do abdominal crunches and I can't. It's really frustrating. I don't know if it's because I'm fused to L2 or if I'm just too weak. I don't feel weak though. Maybe it's just too soon. Has anyone else had a problem with this?"

Then: "I think you're right about crunches. Just attempting to do one causes a pulling feeling on my hardware. I'm guessing that's not good!"

Not good?? Good grief girl! Have you thought about clearing this with your doctor? My gosh, forget youth - doing "crunches" (at least as most non-surgical patients define it) have to be out of the question for us 'rod 'n screw' types - unless they are somewhat modified to not injure fragile backs recently operated on!

Think of your spine and all those infections, Shell. You were in so much pain....and both you and your family have been thru too much to do something foolishy risky so please take good care of yourself!

Ginger W.
09-27-2008, 10:47 PM
There are nerve drugs that many surgeons prescribe to deal with the itching problem. The most common is Neurontin (generic = Gabapentin) OR Lyrica. I use Lyrica in the morning because it keeps me really alert and then I take Neurontin before bed, because it makes me sleepy. You may want to ask your doctor about using one of these drugs.

txmarinemom
09-27-2008, 11:55 PM
My biggest complaint right now is the itching also. I talked to my doctor about a week and a half ago and he just told me it was good, lol... it's the nerves trying to reconnect. Anyways, someone on here suggested to me a while back to put "tiger balm" on my back (it has menthol in it and is kind of like icy-hot).

It was probably me, Abbie ... I LOVE the stuff. The weird smell (I also love - LOL!) you perceive is cinnamon, cardamom, and some other things with much lower menthol concentrate that Icy-Hot, etc. I'd have to pull out my jar, but it MAY contain camphor.

The mild tingly-ness provides just enough distraction to encourage the nerves to stop itching (sometimes effective ... sometimes not ... I stumbled upon the whole "remedy"), and it *definitely* helps relieve fatigued muscles. No blistering of the skin you get with highly menthol-based products, either. Pretty important when your back SKIN is numb ...

Regards,
Pam

briarrose
10-14-2008, 10:42 AM
I just got back from my 4.5 post-op appointment. Dr. Fras said my spine is fusing much faster than normal and he's really pleased with how I look. I asked him about the sit-ups/crunches and he said to not do them and try again in a few more months. He said it was normal not to be able to do them and kept reminding me that 4.5 months is not far along post-op. He suggested I try running but only start out at 1/4 mile or less. I'm afraid to try but maybe I will this weekend. I brought up the difficulty standing and he said that was normal too. Regarding the itching, he suggested I ask for Atarax or Vistaril from my PCP.

Overall, it was an encouraging appointment. I go back in February.

debbei
10-14-2008, 11:46 AM
I just got back from my 4.5 post-op appointment. Dr. Fras said my spine is fusing much faster than normal and he's really pleased with how I look. I asked him about the sit-ups/crunches and he said to not do them and try again in a few more months. He said it was normal not to be able to do them and kept reminding me that 4.5 months is not far along post-op. He suggested I try running but only start out at 1/4 mile or less. I'm afraid to try but maybe I will this weekend. I brought up the difficulty standing and he said that was normal too. Regarding the itching, he suggested I ask for Atarax or Vistaril from my PCP.

Overall, it was an encouraging appointment. I go back in February.

YEAH Shell!! Great news!! I thought of you this morning as I packed 3 of the shampoo caps :) Do you think that's enough to bring?

briarrose
10-14-2008, 12:21 PM
YEAH Shell!! Great news!! I thought of you this morning as I packed 3 of the shampoo caps :) Do you think that's enough to bring?

Hi Debbe,

I think 3 should be enough. I was in the hospital for 9 days and my husband washed my hair twice. You can always ask the nurses for another shampoo cap if you need it.

Shell

txmarinemom
10-14-2008, 06:15 PM
... I've been having awful phantom itching for a long time now, and its getting worse. Dr Anderson said there's really nothing for it. ...

Sharon, many of us are on Gabapentin (generic Neurontin) or Lyrica for it, and have had success in controlling it to a large degree. I wonder why he told you there was nothing available?

Pam

txmarinemom
10-14-2008, 06:19 PM
... He suggested I try running but only start out at 1/4 mile or less. I'm afraid to try but maybe I will this weekend.

Let me know how that goes ... it still feels kind of "jarring" to me, but not painful ...

Pam

Qikdraw
10-14-2008, 06:30 PM
For running have you thought of using an eliptical machine instead? No impact at all, which for us I think is very important! :) We bought one a few years ago along with a recumbant bike and my wife uses them daily! I need to start back up on them as well.

You can get machines that just alter tension or also have different programs that can be used as well. My wife says its one of the best purchases we have ever made. :D

Shell there are also ab exercises you can do that use your legs instead of sit up type exercises. Those would be better than straining your back I think.

briarrose
10-15-2008, 11:43 PM
Pam- I will let you know how the running goes. My plan is to run to my mailbox and back (probably 1/10 of a mile) on Friday evening so I have the whole weekend to recover. Was your first run post-op really painful?

Brad - I would love to try an elliptical machine but unfortunately money is extremely tight now so I can't buy one. Thanks for mentioning it though. When I graduate college and get a job, we may be able to afford one. I do have a recumbant bike but I don't feel like I get a good work out from it. The leg exercises I do help my abs a little, but nothing compared to good old crunches. I used to do Pilates a lot too but I don't even want to try because I know I won't be able to do most of it.

txmarinemom
10-16-2008, 12:07 AM
For running have you thought of using an eliptical machine instead? No impact at all, which for us I think is very important! :)

Brad, I'd just like to note it's hard to make it around the bases on an elliptical.

txmarinemom
10-16-2008, 12:12 AM
Pam- I will let you know how the running goes. My plan is to run to my mailbox and back (probably 1/10 of a mile) on Friday evening so I have the whole weekend to recover. Was your first run post-op really painful?

Shell ... no, not painful at all. I just started with walking a mile or two, then interspersing 30 yrd (or so) burst sprints, full out.

I just felt the impact more when I ran, and I am *sure* it's because every other muscle that absorbed the shock was weaker than before.

Pam

Qikdraw
10-16-2008, 06:53 PM
Brad - I would love to try an elliptical machine but unfortunately money is extremely tight now so I can't buy one. Thanks for mentioning it though. When I graduate college and get a job, we may be able to afford one. I do have a recumbant bike but I don't feel like I get a good work out from it. The leg exercises I do help my abs a little, but nothing compared to good old crunches. I used to do Pilates a lot too but I don't even want to try because I know I won't be able to do most of it.

Shell,

I can understand the money crunch, I think a lot of people, including me, are feeling that. We were lucky that at the time we bought it both my wife & I were working and had the money to pay for it. My wife has been using it pretty consistantly for about 2 years now and the combination of the elyptical and recumbant bike, she has lost around 40 lbs. Now she is tight and trim, and gets compliments from strangers about her legs. lol I'm really proud of her. Now I need to get onto the machines before I weigh too much. lol

I hope you can find something that will not put too much of a strain on your back. Listen to Pam though, she'll have the best ideas I think.

Brad

Qikdraw
10-16-2008, 06:55 PM
Brad, I'd just like to note it's hard to make it around the bases on an elliptical.

What? I would have thought you could lift that onto your back and still sprint around the bases! :D