View Full Version : The tortoise and the hare...

02-13-2009, 02:43 PM
Hi friends! I was just thinking about how this recovery business is kind of like the tortoise and the hare somewhat-- although as long as you finish the race, everyone can be winners. I am one of the tortoises, though. :p

Yesterday I had my 21 month check-up with my scoli doc. I go every six months now. After all was said and done, Dr. H was very pleased with everything and of course, that made me feel good. All those little worries that nag at you are put to rest... ;) and you feel like you can tackle the world again. I've noticed lately that there are many of you who recover so quickly it practically makes my head spin. I am so excited for you! :) It's not that way with everyone though. I am still making progress but have not "arrived" at being "recovered" yet. I think I will be one of those that takes the full three years someone once mentioned (as in 1-3 years), to recover. Or longer... But I am still really excited about how far I've come and how well I am doing. That is why I'm sharing.

Dr. H said I am walking really well (PT REALLY helped with my stride and posture!) and that all in all I was looking good. (Right, thankfully he didn't mention the extra weight I'm still working on getting rid of!) The neck aches are apparently age related, mostly due to arthritis. The lower lumbars we are watching, but they are ok still. We were playing the odds with whether or not to include L5-sacrum, and didn't. Time will tell. The pains I get sometimes in my mid back are probably hardware. But the fusion and all that looks good. I do not have serious aches and pains-- just mostly fatigue and aching after a long day at work, and, as I said, tenderness in my neck/upper back and in my lower lumbars. I hardly ever take anything for the aching-- and never did prior to my surgery either. The aching I had then was different-- more like gravity was pulling my back down on itself as the day progressed. I don't have that anymore! Occasionally, if I have a bad day (or two) or overdo things, I'll take a darvocet and that takes the edge off and helps.

Whoo hoo! :D He also lifted most of the restrictions that I've had, saying to use common sense and to use proper body mechanics (squatting, etc.) mostly. I think he probably assumes that by 21 months I am now healed enough that occasional stress won't cause a problem. And that my DDD and arthritis will keep me from doing anything too foolish! I am gearing up to hold those two first grandbabies (Oh yeah, "bubs" as some of our Aussie (or British???) friends say) of mine that are due to arrive in May! Did I tell you both are little boys? And then I'll get through this wedding in June. Lots to do this spring and early summer! :D :eek: :D

Mostly I am posting some of this because there will be others who don't progress with the speed some of you have, and that doesn't mean that we won't continue to get better too. It just takes longer for some of us. Slow and steady wins the race... or at least finishes it!

You are all so dear-- I know I don't post nearly as much as I used to-- I run out of steam and have other priorities to deal with that "call my name" much louder these days! But I visit the forum every day and read as much as I can and tuck away the info in my head. I often say "I'll get back to that thread and add my little bit" but often it doesn't happen. Oh well! :rolleyes: Or I'll see that an old friend posted after being gone for quite awhile and I mean to send a PM to say how great it was to hear from them... but then it doesn't always happen either. Double oh well and then some. :(

You're a great bunch!!! Thanks for your friendship! :cool: Hugs, Susie

PS-- I got digital copies of some of my x-rays yesterday, so hopefully sometime soon I'll attach some that are much better to my signature. But don't hold your breath! That's hard for me.

02-13-2009, 03:02 PM
So great to hear about your progress and lifted restrictions, Susie. You are an inspiration to all of us. It's such a great reminder to all of us that everyone is different and we all recover at our own speed. And you have so much coming up in the next year to look forward to and enjoy. I'm glad you can do it with those little nagging doubts put to rest by your surgeon.

I have been feeling really worried lately about Sidney's drooping shoulder and torso list to the left which is still there three months post-op, even though the surgeon says it takes longer than 3 months for those to resolve. Your post helps put things in perspective. Thanks.

Mary Ellen

02-13-2009, 04:15 PM
Thanks, Mary Ellen. And if it helps any more-- it was at 6 months post op that I began 8 weeks of PT, 3 times a week, during which time my PT guy helped me soooooo much with posture and shoulder height, etc. (I was kind of shuffling along, a bit hunched over and one shoulder/hip higher than the other-- those needed to be relearned, as that is what felt "right" to me, because of where my muscles and brain were used to having them...) And that is when we worked on increasing my stride and stuff like that. I bet Sidney just needs to work at it some, along with allowing more time to go by.

02-13-2009, 04:31 PM
Good for you Susie! I am so happy to hear about your good doctor's report. Double good for you on restrictions being lifted! Will you continue to go for a check every 6 months?

I think we probably all get new little aches and pains. THe trick (for me) is to try not to worry that something is wrong. I'm getting better at that as time goes on.

Congratulations again!

02-13-2009, 04:48 PM
Great post Susie...as I read I almost felt like it was meant for me! lol Ive been doing alot of complaninlg as of late, which Im sure is deemed as normal, but I dont think alot of us say it :out loud" all the time. (post it) LOL In my spare time, which there is alot of right now, Ive been thinking to myself that Im too hard on myself and I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and start thinking positivly. Hopefuly I can keep this new found attitude up! Ive decided that Monday, I will start a new routine. A friend of mine is going to take me to the mall 3 times a week so I can walk around, while my aunt watches my youngest at home. The only trouble w/that is that I love shopping so she will have to keep me in line & remind me that we are here to WALK not SHOP! lol I also decided to start eating a little more healthy. Ive been lacking in that department for awhile! (I talk like Im 500 lbs huh?-lol)
I had a great day today with very moderate pain that was very tolerable. Im hoping to shower, do my hair as best as I can, throw some makeup on & find something comfortable but not to "messy" and head out for a little valentines day dinner w/Paul! Fingers crossed this actually happens! Have a great weekend everyone & Susie, thanks for the post, it brought a smile to my (pasty white from lack of sun) face! :cool:

02-14-2009, 10:05 AM
Debbe-- I'm scheduled to go again in 6 months, so I seem to be on a 6 month cycle. I am glad he's keeping tabs on me... I don't really worry in the true sense, because I know regardless, things will work out... It's just this tiny nagging at the back of my head that there's a possibility my vertebrae are developing a problem either above or below the fusion, when those areas start bothering me... so it's more like an awareness that something could be "up" with them. It's a relief to know it's ok so far. Know what I mean? :confused:

LynnMarie-- Yes, be patient with yourself. We all move forward from this surgery at different speeds. Nobody is the same; we have different lengths of fusion, procedures, conditions, and our bodies don't heal at the same pace anyway... I know I was a little disheartened from time to time with how long it was taking, but we took a lot of pictures because I had planned to make a scoli scrapbook and it really helped me to look back at pictures from the hospital and early stages of recovery when I felt down. Then I could actually SEE the progress I was making, even if it wasn't as fast as I had hoped. Journaling would do the same, just not visual. Think back just two weeks ago and you'll remember how you could hardly do anything compared to what you are able to do now. One thing this surgery does is teach patience, whether we want it or not! ;) Good luck with your new plan. And it's important to eat healthy foods for your body to recover well, so eating wisely is a super idea. Good for you for tackling that too! I hope you also have a wonderful dinner out with Paul! :)

Happy Valentine's Day to all my scoli sisses and bros! You are soooo cool! :cool:

02-14-2009, 01:48 PM
Congratulations on a good check-up, Susie -- and from one tortoise to another, keep up the good work!

I suspect that like you, I'm also on the three-year recovery plan. The dust has definitely not settled for me yet, physically or emotionally. But I'm really grateful (and relieved) that I experienced pretty dramatic improvement at the year-and-a-half mark. What used to hurt is now just stiff. Funny how stiff doesn't feel like pain anymore. It's all relative, eh?

Anyway, best to you and good luck with the new grandchildren!

02-14-2009, 08:26 PM
I've always said slow and steady wins the race!

02-19-2009, 09:10 PM
Susie, you and I had our surgeries the same month and both long fusions. Reading your post really hit home with me. At one year post op I thought I was doing pretty well and then 3 months later I seem to be having lots of problems that continue today. But I still do not regret having the surgery. I will make it through all the little set backs and come through a very strong person. I am back in Physical Therapy again but this time I am noticing a big improvement with my lower back. I am also back in the water doing aqua classes and no more land equipment for the time being...hopefully someday. As I strengthen my low back I am now having the shoulder problems again that I was having about a year ago. I see my surgeon again in May I will most likely wait until late June as the end of the school year is hard to take time off. I was told that the last set of x-rays showed the hardware is all in place but the PT said it also showed the L4 -L5 disk is wearing I am hoping to get many years out of that disk so hearing that has really made me think twice before I do things I know I should not do. It is always good to hear from you and how positive you are on everything. Its also nice to know I am not alone in this long slow recovery process.

02-20-2009, 08:40 AM
Hi Susie,
I'm finally getting around to posting a reply (I'm a tortoise in more areas then just recovery:rolleyes:)
I'm glad to hear your appt. went well. It will be nice to be able to enjoy your new grand-babies! You definitely have been an inspiration to everyone here. I'm sure you have been a great help to both the tortoises and the hares as far as keeping things in perspective.
Keep popping in and checking up on all of us.

02-20-2009, 04:17 PM
Thanks, Ladies :) One of the funny things is that I would have no idea about length of recovery except from reading on here. (Well, the Wolpert and Neuwirth books indicate quicker recoveries, but I still think they are mostly talking about young adults with possibly shorter fusions...) :rolleyes: Anyway, even back at the hospital I was told I was doing better than most... but that makes me wonder what some of the others do, or if it is a ruse to get you on a positive track. It doesn't matter. I had a lot done to me, and I've worked hard to recover. I can't do more than that.

Other than feeling "down" every once in awhile, mostly during the first year, I've thought my progress was going just fine. I think it's been in the last 6 months on the forum that so many people have recovered very quickly. I'm not sure that is the norm, so that is why I have to mention those of us who are the apparent tortoises. I know we have often said it's like you get hit by a Mack truck when you have this surgery. There are so many variables involved in that whole "impact" scenario. I just know that when I got "hit", it left me totally weakened and I am still continuing to build back my strength and abilities. But I'm getting there. The really frustrating thing is that I was always a strong person, with plenty of mind over matter attitudes. But I just couldn't do it with this... Oh well! We're all getting better and that's what counts!

It would be interesting to plot our progressions on a graph... mine would pretty much be a steady incline-- but with a very shallow slope. Patty's would have at least a pretty big drop when her recent problems developed, etc., then building back up. And Chris started off with problems and took a long time to get going, because of her leg problem. Sharon plummeted with her infections... We could go on and on. But fortunately for all of us, usually the general trend is upward.

02-20-2009, 04:27 PM
So glad to hear your good news, Susie! I go back in May and it will be a year for me then. Your tortoise and hare analogy is spot on.

02-21-2009, 02:54 PM
PS-- I got digital copies of some of my x-rays yesterday, so hopefully sometime soon I'll attach some that are much better to my signature. But don't hold your breath! That's hard for me.

Well, I just finished adding some of the digital x-rays to my photobucket account and then adding that link to my signature. Thanks again to Pam for telling me how to do that, about a year ago... I could never do it without following those instructions! :eek:

I paired up x-rays from just prior to my surgery along with ones from my appt. on the 12th. Sometimes I sort of feel "apologetic" that my major curve was ONLY 52, which sounds so slight compared to some of you, but when I look at the x-rays and how crooked I was, I know in my heart of hearts that I, too, was pretty darn crooked! I think I look soooooo straight now. Who wouldn't be happy with those results???? :confused:

Also, if some of them appear cropped, they most certainly are. It's bad enough to post these-- they are practically indecent! So, many have the bottom portion cropped off -- ;) and others, where it would work, have at least a little of my "bloopiness" sheared off. Just wish it could have been more!!! but then there wouldn't be anything left to see. Ha ha! :rolleyes: I am, as always, working away on my diet-- and have managed to lose 12 lbs. so far. Yay! :D

Nancy Joy
02-21-2009, 11:46 PM
I really appreciate your post. I am one that many have commented on how quickly I have recovered. I would like to set the record straight. From those first days after my surgeries and my complications and extra surgeries, yes- I am lightyears away from that. Am I recovered?- long way from it. I was at my sisters this weekend and she had a big part in my after surgery care. She couldn't believe how great and "normal" I look, walk etc. I was extoling the virtues of my "old" pain being completely gone and she said "So, if you stayed just the way you are now, it would be OK?". No! I would take the old pain back in a heartbeat if I were to feel the way I do now for the rest of my life! I have not yet had a pain free moment and I still take pain meds but much less. The difference is, the pain I have now is from extremely major surgery that will take a long time to heal internally and I am confident it will. I look forward to not feeling my spine and my rods and the very tight bear claw grips. My Dr. said it would take at least a year to recover and maybe longer. I am grateful I can work again and take care of the basics of life so therefore, I do not complain about the "healing". Before, there was no chance of getting better, only worse. THAT was completely depressing and scary where I consider today a part of an experience that will eventually give me a much brighter future. I see this part of my life as part of the journey and I can choose how I view it. I choose to view it as positive even though there are still times that would be considered total misery by many people. I just don't want others to get the wrong impression that I am out running foot races and sailing thru a day pain free and completely healed and therefore, they should be also. It just isn't so. Sorry this is long but it is from my heart.

02-22-2009, 06:37 AM
Nancy Joy-- thanks so much for the clarification. So much of it is all relative! I understand totally about it being a different pain now from before surgery-- and the tightness and all. I'm hoping when spring and summer warmth arrive, some of the tightness will go away with the cold temps we have now. Time will tell. If not, I'm pretty much used to it by now! ;)

At 21 months, I would be ok with living this way for the rest of my life. I actually feel good almost all of the time-- just get achy some and worn out some, but I think some of that comes with my age and what I do. If I had had a desk job, I'm sure I would have been able to return either at the 3 or 6 month times. Now I know I am making gradual progress still-- and that gives me HOPE that I'm still getting better and better. I can think back to when I went back to work last August and could barely survive the day... I am still tired now after a day's work, but it's nothing like that. It's more like the normal tiredness after a day's work, but just a little more that I attribute to still being in recovery...

It sounds like you are doing great and have a terrific attitude. You'll see-- time is the best healer, especially when coupled with determination and fortitude. That, of course, includes our willingness to work toward that end... like walking, doing PT if it's prescribed, etc. I really think it takes some work that way-- and pushing ourselves to the next step, sort of. But only after it's the right time and we are healed enough to take it.

Best wishes as you continue on-- and to all you others-- both turtles and hares, present and future! ;) Hugs, Susie

02-22-2009, 08:06 AM
N ancy Joy,

I also appreciate your post. My hat's off to you and others who maintain an energetically positive attitude through all this. The importance of a positive attitude is sometimes drummed into us here and elsewhere, but the truth is, you can't force yourself to be someone you're not. I have always been a tightly-wound, high-strung person and I took this surgery very hard. I've also been determined and highly motivated to recover, and that has served me well.

When it's all said and done, there are as many different types of recoveries from this thing as there are people who have it done, and we all get there -- eventually!

Best wishes to you.

04-28-2012, 02:59 PM
Hi all,
I wanted to "bump"'this thread, as Ed says. It's one that I have always remembered and try to think about when I am having bad days. I am six weeks post-op now and thought I would be off narcotics and driving by now. I'm not, so that bums me out. But I am trying to be like SusieBee and focus on the progress I Have made. I have decreased my pain meds a lot, I am capable of tagging along to important things like kindergarten registration for my daughter and doctor's appointments for both my kids, and I am taking fewer naps. I'm still sore, but that will take time. I am very grateful for no major complications, so far. Anyway, I thought others who are recovering might like to read this thread again.


04-28-2012, 06:51 PM
Hi Evelyn...

I had a goal of being back to work full time at 3M postop. I didn't make it, and looking back, I realize it was just a number. On average, I think most people get off of narcotics around 3 months, but there's a very wide range. Hang in there. Six weeks is still pretty early.


04-28-2012, 07:15 PM
I agree, we are all different. I didn't have any goals in mind, other than to eventually resume my life. I didn't start to reduce dosage until at least 6-7 weeks and spent several weeks getting off the medication. I relied on my instincts a lot. I just knew when it was time to do this or that. I was 3 months when I first drove. I was very fortunate in that I didn't have a job to get back to so I was able to take my time. I wish we all could simply "take our time."

Just an addition to my post...I think it helped that my surgeon told me it would take a year to recover, possibly 2. So I never felt rushed. I really think my surgeon did me a huge favour telling me that.