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Thread: Questions about Back to Work

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    40

    Questions about Back to Work

    I was wondering how soon everyone went back to work after having spinal surgery? I am 56 years old, had a 2-stage surgery with a 19" long incision on my back and am 7 weeks post-op. I have a desk job but still don't plan on returning to work until my 12 week leave is up. At which time I'm thinking about going back only part-time at least for the first two weeks. I still have many limitations on what I can do and have not even driven my car yet. I am "not" on any narcotic pain pills, I'm just not ready to get behind the wheel. I'm still not comfortable as a passenger in a car as I find leaning back on any seat is "very" uncomfortable. I have been told that my progress has been good, as a matter of fact, better than they expected for my age and for the severity of the surgery so it's not like I'm lagging behind. Praise God!! I've had no complications and was actually released from the hospital much sooner than everyone expected.

    What I would like to know is what has been everyone's experience with going back to work. Please share your age and what type of job you have so that I can get an idea in relation to what I will be doing. What were your limitations, what types of experiences (good & bad) did you encounter. Any other info you think might be helpful to me will also be appreciated. Thank you in advance!!

    Marjorie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    NJ across from NYC
    Posts
    329

    Back to work...

    Marjorie - I was 56 when I had my revision surgery - fused to the sacrum, December, 2010. My leave from work was exactly twelve weeks. I take the bus into NYC and am an administrative assistant so I am at my desk most of the day. I do recommend part-time for the first two weeks or so. I returned full time (my choice) but it is a bit exhausting in the beginning. Sitting on the bus and car is still uncomfortable. I always have a small pillow with me, which helps. The backs of cars and buses are so straight that my neck can't seem to find a good spot. I drive on the weekends locally but avoid the highways as I'm not as confident behind the wheel since I can't turn my neck and torso as easily. With that said, take it easy in the beginning. I remember emailing Lindy, Dr. Boachie's nurse, saying I can't walk as fast in the city, everyone was passing me by. Her response was to take my time and get used to my new body, which takes up to a year. She was absolutely right. I had an uneventful recovery and also feel I did well and am very happy I had the surgery. Good luck and please let me know if you have any questions. LYNN
    1981 Surgery with Harrington Rod; fused from T2 to L3 - Dr.Keim (at 26 years old)
    2000 Partial Rod Removal
    2001 Right Scapular Resection
    12/07/2010 Surgical stabilization L3 through sacrum with revision harrington rod instrumentation, interbody fusion and pre-sacral fusion L5-S1 - Dr. Boachie (at 56 years old)
    06/11/14 - Posterior cervical fusion C3 - T3 (Mountaineer System) due to severely arthritic joints - Dr. Patrick O'Leary (at age 59)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    77
    Quote Originally Posted by mbeckett View Post
    I was wondering how soon everyone went back to work after having spinal surgery? I am 56 years old, had a 2-stage surgery with a 19" long incision on my back and am 7 weeks post-op. I have a desk job but still don't plan on returning to work until my 12 week leave is up. At which time I'm thinking about going back only part-time at least for the first two weeks. I still have many limitations on what I can do and have not even driven my car yet. I am "not" on any narcotic pain pills, I'm just not ready to get behind the wheel. I'm still not comfortable as a passenger in a car as I find leaning back on any seat is "very" uncomfortable. I have been told that my progress has been good, as a matter of fact, better than they expected for my age and for the severity of the surgery so it's not like I'm lagging behind. Praise God!! I've had no complications and was actually released from the hospital much sooner than everyone expected.

    What I would like to know is what has been everyone's experience with going back to work. Please share your age and what type of job you have so that I can get an idea in relation to what I will be doing. What were your limitations, what types of experiences (good & bad) did you encounter. Any other info you think might be helpful to me will also be appreciated. Thank you in advance!!

    Marjorie
    Hi Marjorie, I too am 7 weeks post op and just asked this question yesterday. I too have a desk job and was told 1. sitting is not good right now - get up every 20 minutes. 2. Do not rush getting back to work as fusion usually just begins between 6-8 weeks, 3. Our bodies have undergone a lot of trauma and this will take time. Right now sitting is difficult and we have the luxury to rest when we want and our jobs although sitting is probably a lot more stressful than we think, 4. He said everyone is different, however, a large surgery like ours could take 6 months to return to work. OUCH that is not what I wanted to hear. I told him here is my plan and what I told my job - I would return back to work between 4-5 months which is consistent with a lot of people on this forum. He said my goal for 5 months is realistic but would suggest starting back p/t for a few weeks first. Having said that, that is my plan although my head is ready now but my body definitely is not. I did begin driving yesterday with the ok from my physician but I do not feel that comfortable so am limiting it to physical therapy visits only for now. My back is doing very well but have had some nerve issues with my right leg causing right leg weakness that is probably going to set me back just a bit. Good luck to you and would love to hear more on how you are doing.

    Jean (rockycarm)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Lilburn, GA
    Posts
    201

    Return to work

    I went back at 7 weeks post op. 24 hours a week, desk job. I got up and walked a lot those first weeks but had no problem with fatigue. I drove 3 miles to work but drove one and a half hours every afternoon to pick my daughter up from school. Turning my head to drive is the one thing that sticks in my mind as being difficult those first weeks.
    50 years old!!!!!
    Wore Milwaulkee Brace 1976-77
    Original curve 36 degrees ( measured in the 70s)
    Advanced to 61 degrees 01/2011
    Surgery 07/11/2011
    Fused T1-L2 (curve now in the 20s!)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    571
    Quote Originally Posted by Marina63 View Post
    I went back at 7 weeks post op. 24 hours a week, desk job. I got up and walked a lot those first weeks but had no problem with fatigue. I drove 3 miles to work but drove one and a half hours every afternoon to pick my daughter up from school. Turning my head to drive is the one thing that sticks in my mind as being difficult those first weeks.
    Marina,

    Is turning your head better now? Did you use a back up camera or any special mirrors?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Lilburn, GA
    Posts
    201

    Turning in the car

    Irina,
    Yes, turning is much better now although I still don't twist from the waist like I used to. You can adjust the mirrors and you do not need to turn at all. No special mirrors, just used what I had and made it work.
    I twist from the hips now which is a bit cumbersome at first but you get the hang of it and it's not a big deal.
    50 years old!!!!!
    Wore Milwaulkee Brace 1976-77
    Original curve 36 degrees ( measured in the 70s)
    Advanced to 61 degrees 01/2011
    Surgery 07/11/2011
    Fused T1-L2 (curve now in the 20s!)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    213
    I had my surgery in late August and was back to work full time January 1st. I did telework starting at about six weeks, but it was about like one hour a day and worked my way up.

    I have a pillow for the back of my office chair--still do. I cut it down so it is more square shaped and have a dark cover on it so it's not so "outstanding".

    For sitting in a car, whether driving or riding, I still use the memory foam side sleeper pillow I bought at kohls. I love it. It's soft but it also supports.

    Now at almost 11 months, I have been on multiple business trips and am doing okay. I bring a 2 inch thick memory foam pillow with me for my trips to use for the plane and rental cars.

    Best wishes in your return to work. Yes, you will need to stand up and walk around frequently, but that is just how your world will be for a while.
    Discovered scoliosis when 15 years old.
    Wore Milwaulkee Brace for 1.5 years.
    Top curve 85 degrees, bottom curve 60 degrees

    Surgery completed August 23, 2011 (during an earthquake, can you believe that?)
    Dr. Charles Edwards, II
    The Spine Center at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, MD
    Before and after xrays:
    http://www.valley-designs.com/myspine

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    40

    Thank you!

    Thank you everyone for your responses. It is nice to read that other's are or have gone through this and can offer help and suggestions. I see the surgeon a week from this Monday so I'll let you know what he says about when he thinks I can start driving.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,973
    I took a long time (18 mos) to actually go back to work, but was doing things from the house online...I also had complications, like breaking the bones in my shoulder 10 days before my scoli surgeries.(ski accident) Dumb....really dumb. These things happen.

    I also quit meds cold turkey at 6 wks. for multiple reasons, and one of them was driving. Driving on meds is not advisable, doctors can say its ok, and juryís will say its not, and they will. Vehicular manslaughter in Nevada is 2-20 years.....In Northern Nevada, that would mean rooming at Lovelock with O.J.....pobrecito.

    I donít drive much at night anymore...and my driving has slowed down since my surgeries. No more Steve McQueen stunts, unless Iím headed to UCSF for a scoli meeting. They probably wont invite me anymore because of this. He he

    I started driving short distances, like a mile, which was tiring. I certainly couldnít walk a mile either. (smiley face) I drove with the pillows in the car for about a year. After you heal and get toughened up some, you wont need the pillows anymore.

    When you park, find a spot where you donít have to back up....It makes things much easier. If you do back up using mirrors, do it slowly.

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 60, the new 55...
    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

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