View Full Version : I'm back-and need to vent

09-22-2008, 11:57 PM
Hello friends,
It's been quite a while since I last posted. I believe the last thread I started was about (what I thought was) my turnaround day. I was so thrilled but apprehensive so I waited a couple of days before posting the amazing improvement I'd experienced. Unfortunately, it was short lived. A couple of days after my post, I was back to where I had been before: tired, in pain, frustrated, unmotivated and just plain depressed. I didn't have the heart to jump back on here and say 'False alarm!'. Things have slowly improved, but I do mean slowly. I'm asking your forgiveness in advance because I feel a bit of a lengthy post coming on.

At the end of July, the band my older kids are members of went on a weekend retreat for 'team building'. The camp was 45 minutes - an hour from home (depending on who was driving) but I felt I was up to making the drive each day there and back rather than trying to sleep on the cots provided. It was 105 degrees all three days and not much shade in sight. I tried my best to not overdo, but I did anyway. I carried too much, got too hot and didn't get enough rest. I paid for that for at least a week. But because of the dynamics of our family, I didn't have a lot of time to recover. School started shorthly after retreat and we were back to the getting up at 5:30am routine. And because my husband and I are presidents for the band booster organization and we are taking a trip to St.Louis over fall break, I can honestly say that every waking moment is spent working on planning the trip, nagging kids and parents to get their money paid, planning 2 meetings per month, then doing laundry, trying to make some headway on the house which has become worse than I ever imagined I could stand and going to school activities and football games to give you a partial list. On top of everything else, we had to have our cat put to sleep 2 weeks ago. We had him for 13 years, his whole life, and that was devastating. My heart still breaks over it. And now I can't sleep. I sleep for about an hour, wake up, roll around hurting, eventially go back to sleep just to wake up an hour later. Unfortunately, I can't seem to wake up so I can get up and do something productive. I'm not sure if it's the hot flashes every 30 minutes or so or pain or something else waking me up. I've tried Ambien and that didn't make even a little difference. I picked up a prescription for Restoril today so I'm hoping it will help. I'm so tired. And the biggest problem is don't see an end in sight for the obligations my husband and I signed up for. We talked about stepping down from our role in the band boosters, but with the trip so close, that would be very, very detrimental to the entire band. So we can't in good conscience do that. I'm trying to be much more organized with what needs to be done by making lists and putting them in order of what needs to be done first, second and so on. It's a pretty damn long list. Oh, yea, and did I mention that I go back to work next Monday?

I have some concerns over the amount of pain I'm still in. I know this is a MAJOR surgery, and I know we all heal at different rates, but I'm still taking 10mg Oxycontin 1-2 times a day and Oxy IR 5mg 2 times a day. I was also taking Gabapentin occassionally for leg pain but I'm out. My surgeon said today that he felt I should be weaning off of it at this point so he wouldn't represcribe. He suggested talking to the pain mgnt doc I was seeing before surgery. I only take it a couple times a week but for the let pain, it's the only thing that helps. I can feel the screws on both sides of my spine at the top of the fusion prominently and can run my finger down the length of the fusion and feel most of the rest of them. It's pretty creepy. They tend to be really tender to the touch and of course they are right where my bra strap goes across. I have got to find the time to get a new bra! And when I lean back in a chair, that is the first place that touches so I don't lean back a lot.

I'm not able to find the time to walk a whole lot. I can feel the muscles in my legs feeling like they are shortening, I don't know if that's even possible. My stride seems shorter and it is virtually impossible to stand up straight. The small of my back feels like someone needs to push on the rods and bend them in a little bit to get a curve to allow me to stand upright. I guess these are all questions for the doc when I see him in October.

I think in an effort to convince myself that my lifestyle was not going to change post-surgery and to feel normal again I ignored how I felt and moved as fast as I could forward. Big mistake! I'm 15 weeks post op and feel 60 years old and not 45. I think I just needed to sound all this out with people that understand and don't judge based on mistakes. Honestly, I'm struggling right now. I welcome your advice and encourgment.

I think the Restoril is kicking in. I'm beginning to feel a little sleepy. What a welcome feeling! Think I'll take my chances and go to bed. Thank you for indulging my with this loooooooong post and I apologize for any ramblings. That's just how my brain is operating these days. I'm looking forward to anything anyone wants to add!

09-23-2008, 07:19 AM
First of all, I want to tell you how sorry I am about your cat. Sounds as though he had a good long life with your family, and you were a caring, responsible owner, up to and through the end. No one could ask for more, and when you see him again (all kitties go to heaven!) he will tell you. Still doesn't fill that hole in your heart right now-you lost an important family member.

I am 4 months out and for the last 2 weeks have experienced increased pain, spasms, and no sleep. So I hate to hear that there's someone else out there going through all this. I think this recovery thing is like waves in the ocean, up and down, but in the end, getting there, like the tide. I see my doc this Friday; you see yours in October. I hope we get reassurance that all is well and this is normal healing.

Girl, I don't know how you are going to fit in work with all your other responsibilities. I am only working 25hrs per week and it's all I can do, along with my exercise 3-4 evenings per week and church activities. This is just my opinion, but...this was a major surgery, as you said. This is your only time for recovery. The band will go on, even if you take a reduced role. There are always other parents who can and will step up, when push comes to shove...I do speak from experience, one kid played trumpet and one played sax. Please think about pulling back and focusing more on your healing.

You are in my prayers-I hope lots of others will add to this thread with their experiences. It will be interesting to see what everyone else thinks. God bless.

09-23-2008, 01:37 PM

Vent away, all you need to, that is definitely what we are here for. However, in my humble, not-yet-been-there-done-that opinion, I honestly think you're overdoing it. You are really pushing yourself, even for someone who hadn't just had surgery a few short months ago! Just reading your post makes me pooped!

I agree with Trish that there have got to be some other parents that could help out, IF they knew you needed the help. Maybe they just all think you're Wonder Woman?? Do they know what you've just gone through this summer?

Edit again to add that I am so very sorry about your cat. We had a dog for 13 years and when he had to be put down I cried for a solid week. Those little sweeties are just not easy to forget.


09-23-2008, 02:53 PM

A little pricey but very durable and look at the back-no hooks and it flattens back fat (a big plus for me). I've found it very comfy after surgery.

09-23-2008, 03:03 PM

First off... You are overdoing it! You need to be very careful about overdoing it because you stand the risk of undoing everything the doctors have done. You need to rest and slowly build back up. Once you get back to work you will not have all this time to do all that you have been doing. Your family has to step it up. Have your kids do some cleaning, thats why you have kids in the first place! (Or so my parents told us growing up :) ) I don't know who does the cooking in your house, but it better not be you right now.

You need rest! Take the week off, and have other people do the work. You just organise their work.

I'm very sorry about your cat. :( In the last 4 years I have had to put down 3 pets, and none of them have been easy. One was my cat that I had for 20 years, that came with me to 4 cities and two countires. Its never easy and I am sorry to hear that with everything else you are having to deal with this pain. :(


09-23-2008, 06:31 PM
Becky-- you brought back so many memories of really super busy times which, fortunately, are behind me. I have to agree with the others that it seems like you are pushing yourself pretty hard considering all you've been through and that your body is still healing. And that's without you starting back to work! YIKES!!! :eek: I hope you can say no when/if you feel it's too much. It really does sound like you haven't planned in any needed "down" and "recuperating" time... You can probably tell how your body is reacting to all that more than we can, so listen to your body and deal with the busy stuff accordingly.

It's really good to hear from you, even if it was to vent and get some support. We are here for you! Keep in touch! Hugs, Susie

09-23-2008, 07:24 PM
I can feel the muscles in my legs feeling like they are shortening, I don't know if that's even possible. My stride seems shorter and it is virtually impossible to stand up straight. The small of my back feels like someone needs to push on the rods and bend them in a little bit to get a curve to allow me to stand upright.

Becky, it's definitely possible. I have the same problem with standing up straight. I'm currently doing PT and we're spending a lot of time stretching all of my leg, thigh and pelvic muscles to correct the foreshortening that resulted from my bending over so much over the last few years.

And I agree with everyone else - you're biting off more than you should. My first surgery was T4-L4 and even though I was a little older than you are at the time, I tried to go back to work after 3 months but had to reconsider. Fortunately, I was able to work at home (from my bed) for another month.

Ginger W.
09-25-2008, 12:13 AM
My surgeon, Dr. Boachie, was very firm with me on this subject - healing requires REST as well as activity.

I am hoping, Becky, you can find some way to create more rest in your complicated life. I know how the solution can look easy from the outside, but you are the one who will need to find a way that works for YOU.

It seems like a lot of people who have gone through this surgery have planned to return to work at a certain point in time and then they postponed it for a month or two or more. Might be worth considering.

I'm so glad you vented! We want to hear about the HARD STUFF as well as the successes.

09-25-2008, 06:26 AM
I have the same problem, I think I over do it sometimes too.
I had surgery June 26, and I think I carry too much stuff in my side bag.
But I just started my first year at college and I have to carry around textbooks and a lap top btwn classes.
Luckily, I live on campus so I don't have to walk too far, but I'm sure I shouldn't be doing this.

And today I'm taking the bus home for the weekend, so I had to make sure I borrowed a suit case on wheels since I didn't have one.

Ahhh it's hard to NOT carry heavy bags sometimes.

09-25-2008, 09:22 AM
Thank you so much for your wonderful replies. Knowing that I can come here and visit with people that 'get it' is kind of like a very soft, warm blanket on a cold snowy day. Makes me feel comforted.

Well, there's good news and there's some bad news. The good news is the Restoril seems to be helping some with the sleep. There is no doubting when it kicks in! It was so funny, the first night I took it was the night I posted the novel above and when I had finished I got out of my chair to go to bed and it was like my legs weren't hearing the signals from my brain to move. I finally got to bed, but I think I sort of floated there. I remember having a dream for the first time in weeks Monday night, and that was pretty cool, although the dream was my car going off a bridge. HA! Wonder what my subconscious is trying to tell me? Anyway, I sleep great until about 3:30, then I just doze until I get up at 5:30 but I'm at least getting several great hours of sleep and that makes a major difference!

The bad news is that life just keeps getting more stressful! It all started with the cat, bless his little soul. Since then, my son isn't sleeping much, he had some money stolen at school, my youngest lost her purse at school with her BRAND NEW GLASSES IN IT, my oldest daughter's IPhone was stolen at school (she had saved for months and bought it herself) and then she had a wreck with a parked car at 11:30 last night. I'm taking lots of deep breaths and going to my mental happy place when I can. We'll just deal with one thing at a time and do the best we can. The good part is that everyone is still healthy and my son got a great night of sleep last night. Let's hope it continues.

It's a struggle, but I'm forcing myself to find even 30 minutes a day to lay down and rest. Whether it's a power nap (I'm not good at power naps) or reading a book, I'm making it a priority. There's nothing I can do about going back to work next week, though. My boss has been so amazingly patient, but I HAVE to have my job and don't feel I can push it any further. I think my biggest issue is the level of pain I'm still in. It's been over 3 months since surgery and there is no way I can make it though the day without the meds. I've tried several times and I'm just not there. I also realize that 3 months is not that long in the whole recovery process, but I would like to be further along. Oh well, I'm sure I'll get there.

Thanks again for the support. You all are amazing and I can't imagine what I'd do without you!

Nancy Joy
09-25-2008, 10:32 AM
Wow- I get worn out reading all you do. I think it is absolutely incredible without having had surgery!!!! I have a little over a week and then I can start my recovery. That is how I refer to my surgery date. I am so limited anymore by pain that I cannot wait to get to the other side so I can get back to my active self eventually. My Doctor has not sugar coated anything and says I will be off work 6 months (I am hoping 4- part time) and that I will hurt for a year. Decided 1 year was very small compared to the next 20 good years I hope to have. I am so sorry about your cat- not only is it a family loss but I bet he was there for you while you were down and there is a hole there also. :( All I can say is I will pray for you. Only you truly knows your situation but your recovery has to come 1st. You are worth it. (and you make me grateful my 2 children are in their 20's and along with my husband and friends, will be helping me, not creating work)

65 degree lumbar curve
Surgery Oct. 8th
T10-S1 fusion

09-25-2008, 04:45 PM
Hi Becky, I wondered where you have been...

So, what I want to know is why do you feel you need to be off your pain meds completely now that you are at 3 months out from surgery? Is that a magic date you set for yourself?
I NEEDED some type of pain relief into my 5TH month ESPECIALLY because I started PT at 4 months out and hit it as hard as I was allowed. I have read about a few people on the forum trying to get off the meds ASAP but then felt guilty they needed them. This is not a contest to see who can get off meds, climb mountains, or do an iron man competition first. We are all different, if you still are in pain take your meds as you need them. Sounds to me like you might want to take them to take the edge off. Stress tends to tighten me up all over and I am sure that isn't helping if that is the case with you. Don't be so proud to think you don't need your meds and suffer to prove this point. "You can't heal as well if you are in pain" this was told to me over and over by my DR.
I am 2 yrs & 8 months out from surgery and when I screw up and hurt my back I still use pain meds to help, I don't try to ignore the pain.

Don't make me fly out to see you and give you a good shake!! LOL!

09-25-2008, 08:38 PM
I saw your post and had to respond even before I did my "I'm finally back after the damn hurricane!" announcement.

My gut feeling is what some others have said ... that you've saddled yourself with some pretty daunting responsibilities for 15 weeks post-op. I know it sounds like a lot of time for recovery to you right now, but it's such a drop in the bucket. If I had to words to convey to you just have much further you'll come, I would ... but I can't. It's truly a journey we all have to experience to understand.

Big hugs on the loss of your cat. Another sentiment words just can't convey :(.

Suzy hit the nail on the head with the imaginary race to get off pain meds, and I'm almost sure I've personally shared my view on them with you. If you need them, use them. At 7 months post-op, I still need 2 Norco in the morning to get moving. Rarely do I take them again during the day, but I push myself pretty hard (that's just how I live - and what makes me happy), and if I need a few after spending an afternoon playing ball, whatever.

I moved (mostly solo) around the first of August, and I was back to taking 6-8 a day for a week or so while I unpacked. To me, it's a non-event: Pain meds serve a purpose, and there's no reason for unnecessary discomfort.

Regarding your leg muscles, as Felicia said, you do need to find ways to stretch your hamstrings daily. When they're tight, your lumbar area will feel tight. Keeping the hams limber will take a LOT of pull off your lower back. You'll find the more limber you become - and the stronger your core becomes - the less pain you'll feel ... and the less pain meds you'll need. Again, take this "limbering up" process slowly. It's a marathon, hon ... not a sprint.

If it's in your budget (and your doctor gives the okay), schedule regular massages. Try deep tissue, Rolfing, myofascial release, etc. and see what works best for you. No doubt, you're carrying around a LOT of tension right now with your schedule and recent loss. Make time for you every day: It's been mentioned here to many other smart women that the world won't stop if you don't do everything for everyone. :)

I don't feel the hardware at the top of my fusion, but I have a definite lump at the L1 bottom attachment. Don't despair you're going to be stuck with the "creepiness" of being able to palpate your hardware - or the discomfort (not really *pain* ... just ODD) you feel when leaning back in a chair. I think I referred to it all (including the numbness) as feeling like I was "wearing someone else's back". Really ... at only 15 weeks out (and, yes ... I know it can feel like a lifetime - but it's not), I can almost assure you it will improve IMMENSELY (like everything else, it takes time).

You're wise to get your frustration out here, babe. It's damaging to keep it bottled up, and I'm almost *certain* that anyone who's at least 6 months post-op will read your post and see something of themselves in your words.

I'd suggest that instead of prioritizing in what order things must be done, you make a list of what you can delegate or just not do, period. Nothing on your list can possibly be worth the (momentary, I know ... you're stronger than that :)) loss of faith you did the right thing with surgery (I can remind you how much pain you were in if you'd like - LOL), or any doubt that things will get better.

They WILL get better, Becky. I swear to you.

Although I may not have always written it here, I felt the exact same emotions at about the same time in MY recovery. I never regretted the surgery, but I did experience a lot of:

"Why does it hurt when I ______ ??? (it was such a small thing *before*)

"Why am I so TIRED just from _______ ??? (I could do it all DAY *before*)

... and mostly, I wrestled with a lot of:

"WHEN (or *will*??) it (the pain/fatigue from these - imagined, I now know - teeny tasks) stop?? ".

It's very easy to get in the mindset at your point in recovery that you feel you can take on the world ... and seemingly simple stuff knocks you on your ass.

Your body is talking to you, sweetheart.


Hang in there, and promise to start that list of "Activities That Won't Cause the World to Stop Spinning" tomorrow, okay?

Big hugs,

10-01-2008, 11:42 PM
Oh, man, I just don't even have the words to express my gratitude for you all. This is truly my haven.

I went back to work Monday for half a day and thinking that since I work in a professional environment, I better dust off the heels and suits to start wearing again. Now, I've been pretty active for the past couple of months, not resting enough, but for some reason those 5 hours at a job that is not physically taxing and gives me the freedom to move about when necessary was so difficult. I was pretty wiped out Monday evening, but I was totally not prepared to not be able to get out of bed Tuesday. I had to call my boss and take another day. I did feel somewhat better today, but this is just so exhausting, much more so than the family stuff I've been doing. I just didn't expect it to take this much out of me. Thanks to the generosity of a few people I work with I've had no interruption in my income the entire time I've been off. BUT, I really get the feeling that one of the donors feels that I'm milking this and wasting the sick-leave they donated to me. I hate feeling that I'm being looked at as a slacker and I truly believe I'm going to have to cowgirl up and work full-time. But I'm tough, I can handle it.

I've been trying to ignore a pain that has reared it's ugly little head. I think the DDD in my neck is either getting worse or the epidural steroid injection I had in the spring has worn off. My neck is so stiff and now I have a shooting pain that goes from the left side of my neck up into the back of my head and down into my shoulder. I think I know what this means, but I'm hoping I'm wrong. I have a call into my surgeon about the neck thing and I'm hoping he will say to try another injection. Don't know if the surgery would prevent that, but that would be the best result for me right now. Hopefully I'll hear from him tomorrow. He's really good about getting back to me quickly.

Think I'm going to try to get some sleep. Thanks again for the precious words from everyone. :)

loves to skate
10-02-2008, 09:59 AM
Hi Becky,

I don't mean to be critical, but what are you doing wearing heels? That is so bad for your spine. Get yourself some really cute flats to wear to work or wear your walking shoes if you can get past the vanity thing. I hope you can get the neck problem under control soon. I know how painful that can be. If you are tired and stressed, it causes those muscles in your neck to tighten up and make matters worse. Do you have some exercises you can do to stretch and relax your neck muscles? If not, get some from a Physical Therapist as soon as you can. If that isn't an option, I bet you could find some exercises on line. Good luck and try to get some rest and relaxation. Sally

10-02-2008, 12:34 PM
Thanks, Sally. You're not being critical at all, it was just a bone-headed move to wear the heels. It's just an automatic thing to put them on because I've worn HIGH heels since high school to compensate for being 5 foot nothing. And you're right, I really need to go find some cute flats now that I'm a full 2" taller! I definately learned my lesson. Fortunately during this time of year I can get away with jeans and tennis shoes. My office is situated out of the way and a lot of days, I'm not even noticed, and I like it that way. Flying under the radar, so to speak.

I haven't heard back from the doc yet, so I think I'll give them a call after lunch to get his thoughts on the neck thing. It's a little better today, so that's a plus!

When I woke up this morning and before I got up, I told myself that it's going to be a good day, I'm going to feel great, and all is well with the world! I'm trying very, very hard to change my thought process and maybe the rest will follow. I can do this!

10-03-2008, 12:25 AM
Hi Becky,

Remember you and I have pretty much the same fusion? I am back into heels. The key is work gradually into them. Wear your heels for a bit then go to flats the rest of the day. Gradually increase the wearing time of your heels till your body gets use to them again. I have gotten back into my 4" favorites but had to get rid of the one 5" pair I had. 2 1/2 -3" are the norm for daily wear for me, you will get there. Keep the positive thoughts and in time you will think back and smile at how far you have come.
All my best, Suzy

2/22/06 T10 -L4 Now 8* (And 6' in heels!!)

10-03-2008, 05:21 AM
Hi Becky,

Remember you and I have pretty much the same fusion? I am back into heels. The key is work gradually into them. Wear your heels for a bit then go to flats the rest of the day. Gradually increase the wearing time of your heels till your body gets use to them again. I have gotten back into my 4" favorites but had to get rid of the one 5" pair I had. 2 1/2 -3" are the norm for daily wear for me, you will get there. Keep the positive thoughts and in time you will think back and smile at how far you have come.
All my best, Suzy

2/22/06 T10 -L4 Now 8* (And 6' in heels!!)

Thank you THANK YOU Suzy, when I read that post last night, it got me down. It's not like I want to get back into heels right away, and I usually work from home and have NO shoes on :) . But it's good to hear that once I'm recovered enough, for special occasions I can wear heels.

10-03-2008, 09:04 PM
You'll get back in them when you're ready. I was actually in heels quicker after this than after ankle reconstruction.

At 7 months post-op, I can handle 4" stilettos easily - and taller platforms. Somewhere on here, long ago, I worried about the same thing ... and swore I'd wear them in bed if nothing else - LOL.

You'll get there.