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Thread: Flying for the first time since surgery - any tips?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Flying for the first time since surgery - any tips?

    Well, friends, I am almost 13 months post op, and this week I will be getting on a plane for the first time since surgery. I'm not too concerned about the metal detectors - from what I've read, it shouldn't be a problem. My biggest worries are about trying to get my shoes back on after I get through the chaos of security, and the sitting for long periods. I'm bringing my wedge seat cushion and my little back pillow and my inflatable neck pillow. I think I'm going to be well-padded in my seat! But I'm feeling pretty good these days, and I'm not too worried overall about traveling. Sitting still kind of sucks, but I'll just have to annoy the flight attendants by standing up a lot. I hate trotting out the "I'm recovering from back surgery" line to get special treatment, but I may have to at some point during the day. It's two 2-3 hour flights with a layover in between. Fortunately my husband will be with me to do any heavy lifting of suitcases if it comes to that.

    Anybody have any handy tips for getting through a day of travel with a fused spine?

    Saw Dr. Errico this week as well, for my one-year check up, and he says everything looks good and is still bolted into place. He says "year two is crucial," and I should keep my weight down, keep going to PT, and don't take any falls. And then I was released into the wild. I was so excited about how good my X rays looked that I forgot to tell him about all my little complaints about my various aches and pains (my feet hurt, my ribs still hurt, my tailbone hurts when I sit, etc.) But this past weekend I made it through a day of chores and errands without needing a nap, and I took a drink from a drinking fountain the other day just like a normal person would, bending at the hips. Well, sort of like a normal person. I didn't have to squat down with the knees at least. I am beginning to think this saga may some day come to an end, and I will be just like any other human being, albeit one who can only bend at the hips!
    Surgery June 18 by Dr. Errico at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases at age 41.
    Fused T10-Pelvis.
    "Ask me about my brand new lordosis!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by the_baroness View Post
    Anybody have any handy tips for getting through a day of travel with a fused spine?
    For flying, wear an open backed shoe or sandal that doesnít require any bending or reaching, and is quick to put on.

    For years now, I have always stuffed a down pillow in a carryon. The seats on planes are not the best and offer no lumbar support. They stopped offering pillows so now its even more critical. I donít think I could fly without a pillow placed behind my lower back.

    Congrats on a year.....Interested in what Dr E had to say about the second year? For me it was challenging pushing the envelope to see what I could actually do from a physical standpoint. Now, Iím 6 and a half years post and forgetting what happened. LOL

    Eventually, you donít think about your spine anymore.....and you become smarter about things like asking people to lift for you, and grabbing a chair instead of a booth. Hopping in the front seat of a car instead of the back. Things like this.

    My surgeon asked me how it was going last year when my neck herniationís flared up . I held my hand to just below my neck to below my waist and told him that everything between the hands is great. Its everything else thatís falling apart. (smiley face) Maybe our spine pain just overrode everything else and we didnít even feel all the other aches and pains?

    Iím not complaining....Iíll take a Zebra hip if I have to.

    Attached Images Attached Images
    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Ed....LOVE the cartoon! not know how you feel about fashion...
    but for flying, and for comfort. there is a "sandal" made by can google it and find it easily...i put that in quotes because it is just a slip on...slides
    on just like a slipper does...(i am seconding what Ed said)
    it is rubber stuff and easy on the feet and no bending down required...
    i thought you might wear that for going thru TSA, and then maybe change once you are on the plane....
    the sandal is easy on and easy off without that might be worth it to you.

    i am told by surgeon that i could have fusion T10 or T11...he would "prefer 10" to sacrum, instead of initial plan of T4-sacrum....
    i am considering it, since it is less of a fusion, in terms of length, than was first told me some 10 years ago....

    congratulations on good check up and best of luck for year 2 to go smoothly....
    have a great trip...
    jess...and Sparky
    Last edited by jrnyc; 07-15-2014 at 10:24 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Waterloo, IL
    Congratulations on a good 1st year check-up. I often had rib pain (well worth the rearranging of the ribs because I no longer have the rib hump) and also tailbone pain like you mentioned. I don't remember exactly when those aches and pains became less frequent, but at some point they did. At a year, I figured that this was as good as it was going to get, however, much to my delight, I felt considerably better after my 2 year anniversary.

    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.

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