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Thread: Hello, from a newcomer! Question regarding sitting after surgery.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    99

    Hello, from a newcomer! Question regarding sitting after surgery.

    Ok, here goes! Hope I do this right. Please bear with me as I learn the ropes of the forum.

    I'm excited to finally be able to post to the forum. I've visited this forum as a guest throughout my recovery the past few months and I just wanted to say thank you! Thank you to the admins for providing this resource and thanks to all you posters for sharing your stories. You seem like a very kind and compassionate bunch.

    I'll be 8-weeks post-op this Monday. I had a pretty standard fusion. I was on the fence about going for surgery as I had one of those curves that was slow to progress. But as I got older I experienced more and more pain and discomfort and I was tired of feeling like my scoliosis was always on my mind. Thought it would be good to do it while I was in decent shape.

    I was very active before surgery (yoga, weights, cardio) and so my doctor and his team told me to expect a very quick recovery. He said my disks were in excellent condition which would hopefully bode well for the future. I think I went in naively overconfident and did not expect the drugs to do such a number on my system (realize now I should have expected this).

    My recovery is going pretty well except for the fact it's coincided with a very terrible winter and so I've spent weeks pacing around the house when I should have been walking outside. I'm back to the gym now, though, and that's helped.

    Sorry to be so long-winded!!! My question is regarding sitting. I am having a terrible time sitting! I'm back to work this week and if I didn't mainly work from home I don't know what I'd do. I realize it's normal to have problems sitting the first few months, but it seemed like most members of the forum, even those with lower fusions than mine, could handle it by 8 weeks. I have a ton of pain in my right butt and back (mainly the part of my back that was awakened by the surgery.)

    Should I try practicing sitting longer and longer each day? Or should I avoid it until it's comfortable again?

    Thanks so much!
    Olivia
    Surgery Jan 6, 2014 at 38 yrs
    Posterior Fusion T10-L4, osteotomy 1 lev.
    Pre op-Thoracolumbar Curve-50 degrees

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    570
    Hi Olivia and welcome. It is very impressive that you are back to work at 2 months postop. I am one year out and can sit for as long as I want, but I could not sit much at 2 months. I remember that I could sit for an hour at 3 months and then I had to take a brake. Sitting become better and better with time. You are still very early, take it easy! What type of work do you do?
    I am stronger than scoliosis, and won't let it rule my life!
    45 years old - diagnosed at age 7
    A/P surgery on March 5/7, 2013 - UCSF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    99
    Thanks for the reply and the encouragement, Irina! I work in publishing and I'm hoping my supervisor will understand if I can't come in for a few weeks.

    I would have liked some more time off, but it was hard enough getting a short-term disability extension from 5 weeks to 7 weeks. And my doctor seemed sort of cavalier about the recovery as well. I guess they are used to dealing with super humans? Or maybe a lot of teenagers? I figure my body had over 20 years getting used to one shape, so it was not too happy to have all its nerves and muscles moved around. I guess that's why I was confused and wondered if I was not healing as quickly as I should based on their expectations. I can't imagine sitting all day in an office!
    Surgery Jan 6, 2014 at 38 yrs
    Posterior Fusion T10-L4, osteotomy 1 lev.
    Pre op-Thoracolumbar Curve-50 degrees

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    570
    Wow! 7 weeks of disability only? I know disability laws vary by state. I am in California and we get disability payments thru state. What state are you in? Is your disability thru work or state? Companies don't like to pay disability and it's much easier to deal with the state.
    Last edited by Irina; 02-28-2014 at 03:04 PM.
    I am stronger than scoliosis, and won't let it rule my life!
    45 years old - diagnosed at age 7
    A/P surgery on March 5/7, 2013 - UCSF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    99
    I'm in PA, but the insurance is through work. I am actually entitled to more, but it was a hassle getting it extended (to get it further extended I would need to start PT, get another doctor evaluation, etc) and since I could work from home I decided I'd be able to do it.

    Today I tried to sit for a while and now I'm lying flat on my back again in a lot of pain. Patience is definitely key.
    Surgery Jan 6, 2014 at 38 yrs
    Posterior Fusion T10-L4, osteotomy 1 lev.
    Pre op-Thoracolumbar Curve-50 degrees

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,935
    Hi...

    Unfortunately, I think it's unrealistic to think you could sit for more than an hour or two at a time at this point. Think your surgeon didn't do you any favors by giving you that expectation.

    I was essentially pain free by about 3-1/2 months postop, but I still couldn't sit comfortably for long periods of time. In my case, it was painful right over my sacrum after an hour or so of sitting. I found that using an icepack allowed me to sit considerably longer.

    If you can't extend your disability, I'd recommend that you set an alarm to remind you to get up every so many minutes. (I understand that's much easier said than done. I did it when I went back to work, and I kept finding myself ignoring the reminder, thinking that I'd just get to a good stopping point, and then forget that I was supposed to get up.)

    Take care of yourself. You probably can't do any permanent damage by sitting too much, but it would suck to spend all of the good hours working and all of the bad hours recovering from work.

    --Linda
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Twain
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,572
    Olivia, I remember sitting on a not very fluffy pillow and leaning back into a pillow for many months after surgery for comfort. Hard surfaces were difficult for me. Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal Spinal Cord Injury T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone
    2018: Removal L4,5 screw

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,163
    Hi springchicken,

    Welcome to the forum! You sound like you are doing great at 8 weeks post-op…however, I agree with Linda that your doc gave you an extremely unrealistic expectation of recovery. I think you are at high risk of overdoing things at the rate you are going, what with returning to work at this very early stage. I would just really caution you to take it easy. As someone pointed out above, I worry you will exhaust yourself at work and then spend your evenings recovering from working.

    I had my surgery at age 42 from T8-sacrum, so mine was more involved with fusion to the sacrum and pelvic fixation, and I had extensive degenerative changes prior to surgery. I didn't start driving until 8 weeks, and at that point I definitely couldn't have returned to work. I have a very physically and mentally demanding job, I am a nurse in a busy cardiac catheterization lab. With great difficulty I was able to negotiate a return to work at 14 weeks post-op, with seated (computer) duty only until 6 months post-op. I returned feeling very unready although I was incredibly bored and tired of being cooped up at home. When I returned I had to get up and walk every hour because I was still experiencing very significant "aches and pains" and prolonged sitting was painful. I had a special office chair that I adjusted for myself, with the back very bolt-upright. Over time my sitting ability increased, but I really feel that I set myself back in my recovery by a month or more by rushing back to work at 14 weeks. I too had pressure to return, not only financial, but also because my FMLA had run out and cut-backs were being done. I feared that if I didn't return to work I would be laid off.

    Please take it easy and take care not to overdo it, both at work and at the gym. Remember, you only have once chance to let your back heal properly from this huge surgery, and you want it to be right for the rest of your life. I am curious, what types of gym activities is your surgeon allowing at this point?
    Gayle, age 50
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation
    Feb 2012 lumbar revision for broken rods @ L2-3-4
    Sept 2015 major lumbar A/P revision for broken rods @ L5-S1


    mom of Leah, 15 y/o, Diagnosed '08 with 26* T JIS (age 6)
    2010 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    2017 curves stable/skeletely mature

    also mom of Torrey, 12 y/o son, 16* T, stable

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    99
    Thanks so much for your suggestions and input Linda, Susan and Gayle. It's reassuring to be reminded of what a slow healing process this recovery is. I really am fortunate working from home in that I have a lightweight laptop that I can rest on my lap as I recline. Or I can work standing up. I guess I will continue to practice sitting but just keep listening to my body. And I'll just have to insist on not coming into office yet.

    Gayle, my surgeon ok'd me for light weights and the elliptical and walking. He says the fusion is very strong so I am ok for light activities as long as I feel no pain. I have felt so much better since I've started back on the elliptical machine. That was one of the few things, besides yoga, that really alleviated my pain before surgery.

    On a positive note, I feel this week has been a turning point for me. My pain has been in more acute spots rather than all over, if that makes sense. It feels more bearable like it did pre-surgery though I have a ways to go.

    I also wanted to add, Gayle, your experience sounds like it was quite trying when you returned to work! You are a strong person surviving through that.
    Last edited by springchicken; 03-01-2014 at 05:29 PM.
    Surgery Jan 6, 2014 at 38 yrs
    Posterior Fusion T10-L4, osteotomy 1 lev.
    Pre op-Thoracolumbar Curve-50 degrees

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    806
    HI springchicken,
    You are 20 years younger at time of your surgery than I was at the time of mine---but don't push it. It is still very early and you will need more rest. I had to return to work at 7 weeks---way too soon. But I did have to drive and stand alot. I think it only made recovery harder, but my 1st surgery was done through workers comp and the dr was forced to return me to work with a whole lot of restrictions. It was hard and I did spend every moment at home resting up for the next day. Very hard for sure.
    Now the sitting issue--it is 5 years since my fisrt surgery and I still find sitting hard to do. I can sit for a short time in the car--I can sit some to watch TV--but most of the time I stand or walk.If I sit back my neck hurts--if I sit up my leg goes numb. I just haven't found the right spot yet! And it is 5 years--and that seems long enough to me.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,704
    Welcome to the forum. It sounds like you are doing really well in your recovery. Even though I was much older than you when I had my surgery, I was in decent shape. I couldn't wait to get back to my regular routine of exercising at the Y, but I was given extreme restrictions from Dr. Lenke's physical therapist for many months. While I felt at times that I was being held back from speeding up the process of rebuilding muscles and strength, I now truly believe that the conservative approach was responsible for my smooth recovery.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    99
    Thanks for your message, Jackie! I am so sorry to hear you are still having pain sitting. And I read another thread that you are having insurance problems. I hope you are able to get the injection you need. It is so awful that we have to fight to get treatment when we are physically not feeling our best. I will take your advice and keep taking it easy.

    And thank you too, Karen for your message! I'm trying to remember that I am essentially waiting for broken bones to heel. If you broke your leg, you wouldn't keep trying to lift a weight with it. So yes, it's very important to remember that getting in shape is not the same as it was before the surgery. I am definitely being very careful and listening to my body.

    Yesterday was a bad day for me because the previous day I went to a store with my husband and then had a quick dinner at a diner. It depressed me that I was very achy the next day (from all the sitting). But I feel fine today. We were invited to go to dinner this Friday but I'm going to politely decline because I know I would feel pressure to socialize and sit for a long while even if I was feeling pain. It's so hard after two months because you look fine, and seem healed, and people expect that you must be recovered by then, but in reality you have a ways to go!!
    Surgery Jan 6, 2014 at 38 yrs
    Posterior Fusion T10-L4, osteotomy 1 lev.
    Pre op-Thoracolumbar Curve-50 degrees

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,922
    Olivia

    Just wanted to welcome you to the forum on a slow forum night......It seems that scoliosis forum posting could be related to the weather! Its been tough this last week and a half.....Some of us have this tightening in our thoracic spine after surgery, I call it the bear traps because it just grips and holds. It’s a weather related thing that many of us go through, you will see threads and posts here on this subject.

    Your past the hardest part, congratulations, you made it. Now you just have to hang in there a while longer.

    Try to take it easy with the working thing.....we have seen “posts of misery” of those that returned to work too soon. Remember that you only get one chance at this....so no bending, no twisting, no falling and no hula hooping for now. That has to wait

    “Doc, with a full fusion, can I hula hoop?” They get asked this every day you know.....(smiley face)

    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

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    570
    Hi Olivia,

    I just thought about your sitting at work - can you ask your company to order a standing desk for you? Almost everyone at my work has a standing desk - its height is adjustable from a sitting to standing level by pressing up and down buttons. It's very nice! Even though I can sit for as long as I want, sometimes I raise the desk up and work standing up for a change.
    I am stronger than scoliosis, and won't let it rule my life!
    45 years old - diagnosed at age 7
    A/P surgery on March 5/7, 2013 - UCSF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,572
    One word: patience! I was sitting at a doctpr's appointment yesterday and I realized that now at almost a year postop, unlike preop when I was in such severe discomfort after sitting for a short while that:
    - I can sit in almost every chair there
    - I do not have back pain after 5 minutes

    The changes are so gradual over a year that I really did not notice them. I get flashbacks of times that I needed to lie on the floor or sit on the floor in the pharmacy line. It was not pretty! The pillow at my back was needed for me for about 6 months.

    My PT told me that I was very flexible and that I would do very well postop. Yes, that did help, but there still is a time curve of the muscles that were suddenly (within a few hours at surgery) told to go in a very different direction.

    Congratulations with your recovery! You seem to have such a great attitude, but have patience and realize that recovery is a forward and a backwards progression. Just when you think that all is going well, there is frequently a brief setback.

    I am impressed that you are back at work so soon! Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal Spinal Cord Injury T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone
    2018: Removal L4,5 screw

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