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Thread: 3 weeks post op and doing great

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Bend, Oregon

    3 weeks post op and doing great

    I have been waiting for my 2 week check up for a full report to give you guys. I posted in another thread about my feelings of some sort of guilt, because I think I’ve had it fairly easy compared to some of you. But I’ve read a couple posts lately about people’s fears of upcoming surgery, and how hearing about horror stories of recoveries has created more fear. I want to let all of you facing surgery know that not all, or even most, of the surgeries and recoveries are bad experiences. This report is for you!
    I know several of you have had some pretty difficult recoveries, and I don’t want to ever seem like I am flaunting my own experience, or demeaning yours. Each case is so different. I consider myself very lucky. I had excellent care and a wonderful, caring doc and husband. I also believe that personal attitude and realistic expectations play a large part in how you perceive your recovery. Being educated is the greatest tool you have to fight the fears, and to be prepared for the “battle”. I compare it to going into childbirth with no idea of what is happening or why. Labor is SO much easier when we are prepared.

    Ok, so here it goes…first, a review of my presurgery symptoms for those of you who haven’t read about them.
    -wore back brace in the late 70’s-from 15-18 years old
    -Thoracic and lumbar curves both in the 70+ degree range.
    -Took NSAIDS for 15 years and had epidural injections for 10 years to control the pain.
    -Occasional vicodin on the worst days. I hate taking pain meds!!! (I had to be literally dragging my foot and tripping before I would take them…)
    -Shrank 3” from January ’10 to August ’10
    (the “aha” moment when I knew I had to schedule surgery.)
    -bend films showed decrease in flexibility after shrinkage, now they hoped to decrease curves from 70’ to around 58’. Maybe I waited too long????

    On January 10, 2011, I went in for over 9 hours of surgery, stayed for 7 days.
    -Did not have to remove any ribs to decrease the rib cage hump. YAY!!
    -Ribs no longer sit on my pelvis, so that pinched, scrunched up feeling is gone!
    -Got correction of both curves in the 35’ range. I have not been that straight since before my scoliosis was discovered in ’76! It was in the 45’ range back then.
    -No more pinched nerve pain-none! My back is unrecognizable. It is pretty straight and hump, lump and bump free! I actually have the figure I always dreamed of-an hourglass shaped back! See the pics I attached. Too bad I’m half a century old, now. Damn…
    -My doctor said I have the bones of a young woman. All those years of staying active- working out, skiing, hiking, wakeboarding, snowmobiling, rock climbing, etc., totally paid off. I was determined to stay in shape and put surgery off as long as possible. I believe it really worked for me, since several doctors have been wanting to fuse since I was in high school, except for Dr. Moore. She is very non-invasive unless it is absolutely necessary.

    My recovery has been ever-changing. Some days I feel really good, then stay up too long and over do it. Then I pay the price the next day…

    The first week was pretty rough. Normal things like constipation, gas and bloating, nausea, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. Yes, I was in considerable pain, but I expected that, and we were learning how to get it under control. For me, it improved drastically when I got off the morphine pump and onto oral pain killers. I had one really bad night where they had trouble keeping the pain under control. I was shaking, hurting, and had mentally withdrawn to a place I don’t think I’ve ever been before. My back felt like it was wet concrete, and was setting up in places that were hard as a rock. Lots of spasms. My hubby was there spending the night and I woke him up with my labored breathing. He felt that I was in the beginning stage of shock. Being a pharmacist, he and the nurse went over my meds list, and he suggested they give me a med that they give patients before certain procedures, and also for cancer treatments, to help with nausea and make you sleepy, and it also has a calming effect. I don’t remember what it was, but it melted under my tongue, and within a several minutes, I quit the shaking and felt so much better. Then I actually went to sleep. The next morning, the nurse took out the pump, and I improved drastically from then on. The pump just didn’t work well for me. I would finally go to sleep, so then I wouldn’t press the button, then would wake up in pain again. I didn’t know when I pressed it last, or if I had reached the max of doses. I just felt like I wasn’t in control or knew where I was with the doses. The oral meds did a better job of keeping a constant level of pain control. But the pump DOES work well for a lot of people, so try it if the doc orders one for you. We are all different.

    Second week was pretty darn good. I started eating normal foods again, but smaller portions. My constipation was under control. I did lots of walking around the house, and short outings out to town to get mail or groceries or small errands. I was able to sit at the computer and type or search. I could stay up long enough to watch a movie in the evening. My pain level was amazingly low, compared to what I was expecting. Not really bad pain, just uncomfortable and sore. I asked at my 2 week appt. if I could start cutting back on the oxycontin or oxycodone. She said no, not yet. She wants me to feel well enough to continue to build up my walking, and to sleep and heal. She felt that if I cut back this early, my pain would be enough to maybe set me back. Ok, fine! But I still plan on cutting doses ASAP….

    Now I’m ending my third week, and different aches and pains have started kicking in. Especially hip pain-maybe due to the pelvic fixation? And I feel a kind of burning, pulling sensation from where I believe the top of the rods are. Not bad, just uncomfortable. I do know that I stay up for too long of periods of time. I hate laying in bed! Thank God for the laptop, and that I love reading and writing.. I find that I can’t lay in bed or sit up in a chair, either one, for too long. I have to keep rotating positions. Walking is when I feel the best. There is a definite link to doing too much and being more sore and achey. My inlaws took us to dinner a few nights ago. We went to a nice resort with great food. But those types of restaurants take a long time to make it through all the courses, so we were out there too long for me this early in recovery. Keep it simple when you first start going out and having a dinner out on the town!
    I am going to watch the time and switch from laying to standing more often… Luckily, laying on my back isn’t too bad. The incision itself is numb, so that doesn’t hurt at all. I have several of those microbead “cushie” pillows that work great for propping. They are much easier to move around under my legs and knees than a bulky pillow. They work great under my head, as do those “u” shaped travel neck pillows when on the laptop or watching a movie.

    So, in looking back, I am very pleased with how I’m feeling and what I’ve accomplished so far. I am very glad I did it. The waiting and wondering is truly the worst part. It does seem weird to think that I am actually on the other side after all these years of playing the waiting game. Time to move on with phase 2 of my life!!!!

    After surgery.jpgBefore surgery.jpg
    Last edited by jeneemohler; 01-31-2011 at 04:00 PM. Reason: forgot something
    Bend, Oregon

    Braced 3 years in high school
    Lumbar 70'+ Thoracic 70'+
    I had 3" shrinkage in 6 months...

    Surgery Jan 10, 2011
    9 hours
    T3 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Both curves now 35'

    Possible revison for Flatback Syndrome
    Loose/broken hardware-awaiting CT results

    Here is the link to my before and after pics..

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    I'm really glad to hear you're feeling so well. It's great to get these success stories.

    I would really, really encourage people to be open about their recovery, whether it's good or bad. About six months back, people who were still in pain after surgery said that they felt bad about sharing stories about their pain because everyone seemed to be doing so well that they felt like outliers. Now it seems like the pendulum is swinging the other way, and people who feel great after surgery feel odd about sharing.

    It's so important for all of us who are still deciding that everyone feel free to talk about their results, whether good or bad. So, thanks again for posting your story, and glad to hear it's so positive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Amen to that.

    And. . .I am so glad to hear that your recovery is going well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Easton PA

    Smile Jenee'

    Congratulations on your amazing recovery thus far. Thank you for posting your experiences. As one of those facing surgery, it is very helpful, and encouraging. I am scheduled for T4-S1 fusion also, so your insights are especially of interest to me. I hope your recovery continues to be smooth sailing! Lori
    Lori in PA, 52 yrs. old
    Surgery 6/7/11, T3-S1, all posterior, with pelvic anchors
    Gained 2 inches!
    Dr. Boachie, HSS, NYC
    12/10/13 Hardware Removal for infection
    Lost 2", gained PJK!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Looking good.....Hard to tell, but I donít see any rib hump....Hoo hoo. I never had any doubt that you were going to do just fine.

    Great thread!

    Brings back memories of Hawaii with extreme sciatica (pre-surgery). I went to a restaurant with a friend, ordered drinks, and couldnít hang AT ALL. I threw $20 down and ran out. I was saying ďtake me back, Iím going to dieĒ. (4 lumbar herniations)

    After my surgeries, it was a couple of months before I was just the slightest bit comfortable in a restaurant. (Combination of all the surgeries and beginnings of my gall attacks). Poor seating doesnít help either. I figured that if I would put in the effort to eat out, it had to be a 5 star restaurant. Anything else, just isnít worth the effort.

    You sound pretty good...the aches will subside in time...
    49 yr old male, now 61, the new 61...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion

    My x-rays

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Los angeles

    Red face

    I am amazed of your recovery!!! Keep it up!
    the pics look very good!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    congratulations, jenee!
    you definitely look taller in the "after" if someone came along and just stre..tch....ed your body out!
    if one didn't know better, one might think you simply lost weight and learned to stand straighter...
    but you have something so much better than that...
    you have a permanently straight, beautiful spine...a taller, straighter improved you!
    i am so very happy for you!
    hope you feel better with each passing day!
    (and thanks for including those dramatic pix!)


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Me too (so happy for you, Jenee'.)

    Your back looks wonderful!

    And I agree with hdugger. If we are to be of help to those facing the decision for surgery, we must be honest because it's only fair that they are aware of the whole story, the good and the bad.
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Long Island, New York
    Jenee' I sent you a couple PM's did you get them? I am so happy for you and I PRAY I have the same success =)
    2 sons, one Syracuse University graduate (working for the Mets now), one college sophomore, one great husband and two fabulous cats
    54 years old March 5
    AIS 45 degrees Thoracic at 14, Milwaukee brace for one year in 1977 then in 2012 I found Dr. Baron Lonner ❤️
    Surgery April 8 2015
    Presurgical curves T77 L66
    Post surgical T27 L22
    Fused T3-S1 pelvic fixation, osteotomies and all the other stuff but you know what? It's done...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    near Philadelphia
    Your back looks fabulous. Congratulations!
    A/P fusion on June 19, 2007 at age 52; T10-L5
    Pre-op thoracolumbar curve: 70 degrees
    Post-op curve: 12 degrees
    Dr. Boachie-adjei, HSS, New York

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