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Thread: Recovery after spinal fusion

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    El Centro, CA & Baja California, Mexico
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    Recovery after spinal fusion

    I found this website a couple of months ago and have found many answers and things to think about.

    Intro: I have double scoliosis since I was 12. Back 50 years ago the recommendation was to stay in a cast for 3-6months pre and post op. Then about 3-5 years do the same to tighten the springs. Quite scary so I wore a brace for 2 years. I grew up very rectangular with everything crooked inside (I think that even my mind got a bit too). I was born and raised in Panama and had a great life, fantastic high school years etc. Came to San Francisco, Ca for College. Visited 2-3 orthopedic doctors that did not show any great interest in convincing me to have a fusion. So, I depended on chiropractors and massages to get me thru.

    Got married and had two incredibly painful pregnancies as I could not walk much but the deliveries were no-drug, short hours, 8 1/2 lbs and 7 1/2 pound girls four years apart. As the girls headed to college, my bones, joints and empty nest syndrome made us look for future retirement communities (warm, semi tropical, ocean/sea view. and close to an airport).

    I worked for very large corporations during my career and travelled about 1/3 of the time to Latin America. I decided that I did not want to work anymore after the last layoff my husband continues to work.

    We found a community in Baja California in Mexico. Two hours by car across the California eastern border in San Felipe. Decision based on the beautiful location (whole view of the Sea of Cortez, huge ranges of different colors mountain while standing in the desert) the cost of land and building, and proximity to US doctors and feasability of having regular visits from our girls. Both are pursuing their PhD so the house we built with indoor courtyard, pool, casita for them, outside BBQ etc was mainly a place to wait for them to settle and have a family. At this rate it will be some years more before even grandkids.

    Now after living here for 3 years, my back seems to be hurting more than ever. Went to San Diego for a consultation then flew to St Louis, Mo to get a second opinion with Dr Bridwell. I spent 3 weeks in May, returning in the end of july for a flouroscopy before they would schedule any surgery 2-3 months out.

    My obsession-anxiety-preoccupation is a selfish one. After the surgery, it will be all on me and the family supporting but my pains, my depressions, my inability to do things independently, having to give up my independence. I am worried about the recovery from intensive care to release from the hospital to a temporary place with my daughter in St Louis to back home to San Felipe to complete recovery. There are 3 plane changes and 2 hour drive down to Mexico home.

    San Felipe is a fishing village with great local folks and thousands of ex-patriots but no medical facility for emergencies. Not a lot of friends nor activities conducive to stress relief.

    Apologize for being so long with this introduction. My problem is that I am very anxious about the recovery. The Dr in San Diego told me that hospital stay about a week and 2-3 weeks in a rehab center. I rather be somewhere with strangers for a week to learn how to move and when to exercise.

    Has anyone felt or done a rehab after surgery in order to learn how to move, stand, sit, turn before going home? If the question I am asking has been answered before, please let me know where to find the answers. I have read many of the latest surgery and recovery progress but would like the smaller details that newbies might not understand or relate.

    Thank you

    Gardenia

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
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    3,551
    Gardenia,

    Welcome to the forum.

    Very interesting intro.....Being a diver, I know the sea of Cortez...and have traveled all over South America.....In fact Im overdue for a trip, its killing me. (smiley face)

    I would say that rehab would be a great idea since you live in San Felipe. They will not release you from the hospital unless you are hunky dory. They will get you up right away, standing in a day, walking in a day or two......

    Hula hoops and pulling weeds comes a little later. Many of us full fusion patients like to pull weeds!

    Did any surgeon mention which levels they propose to fuse, and would it be a posterior only?

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    Pre surgery curves C12,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
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    1,250
    Gardenia--
    Welcome to the forum. Based on your info we must be close in age. Yes, I did do rehab. Did 8 days in the hospital and then 8 days in rehab. I think it was really beneficial for me mostly just to be monitored and to help regulate the pain before going home. I hope you find lots of helpful info here!

    Also, I am now convinced Ed is not a real person--he has lived far too many lives & done more stuff than anyone I know! Perhaps Super TiEd needs his own TV series. I'm so glad he's here to keep things lively! Janet
    Janet

    61 years old--57 for surgery

    Diagnosed in 1965 at age of 13--no brace
    Thoracic Curve: 96 degrees to 35 degrees
    Lumbar Curve: 63 degrees to 5 degrees
    Surgery with Dr. Lenke in St. Louis--March 30, 2009
    T-2 to Pelvis, and hopefully all posterior procedure.

    All was posterior along with 2 cages and 6 osteotomies.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    United Kingdom, Leeds
    Posts
    128
    Hi Gardenia
    Welcome!
    Where you live sounds gorgeous. Living in the UK we don't get much nice whether and I love the sun.
    As Ed says, the hospital won't discharge you until you can sit, stand and walk and due to your circumstances rehab sounds like a good option.

    I hope you find lots of helpful from others

    Jenna.
    27 yr old Female.
    Scoliosis since 12yrs, fusion to lower curve in 1998, costioplast 2001 and further corrective surgery 26 July 2012.
    Now the proud owner of a very straight spine. T1- L5 fusion.
    Mr Dunsmuir, Orthopaedic Surgeon, LGI Leeds.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    El Centro, CA & Baja California, Mexico
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna.KB View Post
    Hi Gardenia
    Welcome!
    Where you live sounds gorgeous. Living in the UK we don't get much nice whether and I love the sun.
    As Ed says, the hospital won't discharge you until you can sit, stand and walk and due to your circumstances rehab sounds like a good option.

    I hope you find lots of helpful from others

    Jenna.
    Thanks Jenna and all the responses. The place is paradise but I cannot live in a secluded place at 62 without a purpose. I believe that there was a reason for everything that happens in life. I should have been less against having a rod many years ago.

    I read that many having had the surgery end up walking miles per day. In my condition the longest I walk is at a mall because I get distracted with things and ignore the walk. Never did formal exercise because each time I go to pt or class, I would end up with days in bed due to pain. So now, I am worried about the pre-op being fit, I am as fit as I can be. I went into our coutyard pool last week to swim and to float and play around. 3 days later my hips were in such excruciating pain that I could not stand nor lay down for 2 days.

    I am over thinking the future and really afraid of the first 3 months. After the hospital, my husband and I will be staying with our 23 year old youngest daughter who is a grad student in WashU in medical research. Last year, we bought her a 2/2 condo for her while doing her PhD. Problems #1 is that it is on the third floor.

    #2 is my cat follows me everywhere who sleeps or nap nearby me within a foot . Daughter#1 is no problem as is doing her PhD in Columbia (2 hrs away). We are all from California. My cat resides in Mexico and hates being transported in the car for 2 hours to our El Centro (California border town) rented apt where my husband must work on US Soil. I am planning to stay in St Louis for minimum of 2 months maybe up to 4. My husband will be we me the first month then back to take me home. I want my cat but it requires a 2 hr drive and 3 airplanes to reach St Louis. He is an indoor cat and seldom used the carrier much less being in an airplane. He will be extremely vocal.

    Again, I write a lot and I apologize hopefully it will entertain you even though I am looking for moral & emotional support that might not be here for something that is only in my worrying mind.
    Gardenia
    Baja California, Mexico & El Centro, Ca
    pre-surgery 75 and 89 - post ?
    Dr. Bridwell Nov 27, 2012 @Barnes Jewish @62yrs
    T11 to Sacrum Dural leak at L2 & L3 ccmail4g@gmail.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Southern CA
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    As far as your cat goes, go to the vet and a tranquilizer. Both of our cats survived a plane ride from NC to CA. They slept in the carrier under neath the seat and were fine when they arrived in CA.
    Melissa

    Fused from C2 - sacrum 7/2011

    December 8, 2014 - Another Broken Rod Surgery

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    El Centro, CA & Baja California, Mexico
    Posts
    193

    Bridwell's initial proposal

    Quote Originally Posted by titaniumed View Post
    Gardenia,

    Welcome to the forum.

    Very interesting intro.....Being a diver, I know the sea of Cortez...and have traveled all over South America.....In fact Im overdue for a trip, its killing me. (smiley face)

    I would say that rehab would be a great idea since you live in San Felipe. They will not release you from the hospital unless you are hunky dory. They will get you up right away, standing in a day, walking in a day or two......

    Hula hoops and pulling weeds comes a little later. Many of us full fusion patients like to pull weeds!

    Did any surgeon mention which levels they propose to fuse, and would it be a posterior only?

    Ed
    Thanks ED,

    Dr Bridwell prosoped T3 to sacrum and pelvis procedure. In the report, he mentions " have to make use of hooks, screws at the top on the concave left side, good true AP of the lumar spine but not the thoracic spine"

    Saw in once, ran a bunch of tests and hundred more xrays, lung test etc. Asked for a written report as there was not need for another visit with him until they have all my medical records and getting a flouroscopy by him at the next available apptmt in July. Wish this could have been done within the 3 weeks of my initial visit. Until this is done, surgery cannot be scheduled and it would be at least 2+ months out.
    Gardenia
    Baja California, Mexico & El Centro, Ca
    pre-surgery 75 and 89 - post ?
    Dr. Bridwell Nov 27, 2012 @Barnes Jewish @62yrs
    T11 to Sacrum Dural leak at L2 & L3 ccmail4g@gmail.com

  8. #8
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    May 2012
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    El Centro, CA & Baja California, Mexico
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    tranquilizer versus sedation, correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by mabeckoff View Post
    As far as your cat goes, go to the vet and a tranquilizer. Both of our cats survived a plane ride from NC to CA. They slept in the carrier under neath the seat and were fine when they arrived in CA.
    I read that sedation is bad for cats and/or dogs. I just hate the thought of my cat loudly protesting in the cabin like children playing games with sounds, or screaming the entire flight.... I will look into tranquilizers. Gracias.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Southern CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by gardenia View Post
    I read that sedation is bad for cats and/or dogs. I just hate the thought of my cat loudly protesting in the cabin like children playing games with sounds, or screaming the entire flight.... I will look into tranquilizers. Gracias.
    Our vet game us a couple of pills prior to the plane trip so we could decide how much they need. It works fine for us. When we arrived they woke up and were fine.
    Melissa

    Fused from C2 - sacrum 7/2011

    December 8, 2014 - Another Broken Rod Surgery

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC
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    Welcome Gardenia,

    I spent 11 days in rehab between my posterior(5 days in hospital) and anterior(5 days in hospital) surgeries where I learned to walk, climb stairs, get into and out of a shower/bathtub and to take care of myself. I would highly recommend a rehab hospital. We moved to North Carolina to be near water, warm weather, excellent medical care and an airport. Love it here but wish we had mountain views. I guess you can't have everything.
    Sally
    Diagnosed with severe lumbar scoliosis at age 65.
    Posterior Fusion L2-S1 on 12/4/2007. age 67
    Anterior Fusion L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 on 12/19/2007
    Additional bone removed to decompress right side of L3-L4 & L4-L5 on 4/19/2010
    New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, MA
    Dr. Frank F. Rands735.photobucket.com/albums/ww360/butterflyfive/

    "In God We Trust" Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

  11. #11
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    May 2009
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    i believe it is best to keep pet in carrier under seat, unless it is a large
    animal....
    would be very worried about any animal flying in cargo...
    there is an airline that only flies animals...not sure of cost...

    jess...& Sparky

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrnyc View Post
    i believe it is best to keep pet in carrier under seat, unless it is a large
    animal....
    would be very worried about any animal flying in cargo...
    there is an airline that only flies animals...not sure of cost...

    jess...& Sparky
    I am sorry if I did not make that clear. Yes the cats were in the plane with us under the seat.
    Melissa

    Fused from C2 - sacrum 7/2011

    December 8, 2014 - Another Broken Rod Surgery

  13. #13
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    thought you meant crying from cargo....i heard that once...
    very upsetting to listen to!!!
    cannot imagine how loud a cat could get within the cabin....
    i have flown lots of times with people who have animals
    under seat...they usually slept the whole flight....

    jess

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Southern CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrnyc View Post
    thought you meant crying from cargo....i heard that once...
    very upsetting to listen to!!!
    cannot imagine how loud a cat could get within the cabin....
    i have flown lots of times with people who have animals
    under seat...they usually slept the whole flight....

    jess
    When my son lifted the carrier from underneath the seat, the person sitting next to him could not believe that there was a cat there. He was so good.
    Melissa

    Fused from C2 - sacrum 7/2011

    December 8, 2014 - Another Broken Rod Surgery

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
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    3,261
    Wow, I never knew you could bring your cat with you in the cabin. I once flew from Honolulu to Sydney on a cargo flight, with horses just through the wall from me. They made a lot of loud banging noises and the wall seemed thin.

    It's hard to give up your independence. But it's good if you can just sort of, capitulate. Know that it's necessary/helpful to have the assistance for a short time and just accept it with grace. People do like to help. One never knows when one might need help in their lives.

    For most of us facing this surgery, there are brick walls in the way, but one by one, they come down and things work out. In the big scheme of things, it's just a short period of our lives, then life will go on. You come out of it a different person I believe, happier, more grateful, more empathetic and in my case, much braver than pre-op! Best of luck!
    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

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