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Thread: 3-months post op - feeling pretty good!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Sioux City, Iowa
    Posts
    100

    3-months post op - feeling pretty good!

    Hey, everyone. Today marks me being 12-weeks post op. I am feeling pretty decent - but I know I have a ways to go!

    I was off all meds at 6-weeks which felt good, but I do still take Tylenol on days when I feel "crappy." My biggest complaint right now is that I still can get that "knife in the back" feeling on my low left side. It's not constant, but it can flare up when I don't really know what I've done to aggravate it. When that is hurting, the pain will radiate to my left thigh. Since it radiates, I worry that it is sciatica, but it's more of a muscle pain than a nerve pain, so I think the pain is in the low back muscles that go down and attach behind the knee. My back pain is in the exact same spot where my rib hump was, so do you think that those muscles and tendons are still healing from being pulled back during surgery??

    I had TERRIBLE thigh pain after surgery. It hurt like crazy if I even slightly touched my thigh. It is finally fading away. It's still there, but not near as intense as it was in the beginning. I shed WAY more tears over that pain than I did over any back pain after surgery! Totally unexpected!

    I also struggled with hip bursitis on my right side after surgery - I was walking WAY too much. Once I cut back on long walks and did several short walks, it went away. But, before my surgery I had bursitis in my left hip from my hip being out of whack. I hadn't been able to lay on my left side at all for months before surgery and even after surgery. But, I can tell that is starting to get better and I'm able to lay on my left side a lot more than before. Hopefully someday I can sleep all night on my left side.

    Insomnia - FINALLY I'm getting better sleep with no sleep aids. I thought the insomnia would never end! I did resort to taking Valium 3 nights in a row at one point - I just needed sleep so bad. I tried Tylenol PM and that didn't really help. But, I guess with feeling better and just being patient, I'm slowly getting more sleep. Still not as much as I'd like, but enough to function on. I do still take Tylenol (not PM) at night thinking it might help some ache or pain and help me sleep a little bit.

    Exercise - I walk 30-minutes 3 times a day. If I feel like it, I'll do another 20-minute walk at night. I have added some hills (I live in a hilly neighborhood). But, I will admit, there were times that my legs were killing me and I had to cut back on the hills and my pace. (The competitive runner in me just had to try it!!) I've learned to be patient with my body and if it means walking slow on flat ground to have less pain, then I guess so be it.

    At my 6-week post op check up, I was cleared to ride my stationary bike, do the Pilates ab exercises that I was doing before (laying flat and just raising one leg), and my weight limit was up to 20 pounds. I learned that because I had anterior approach - my stomach muscles were NOT ready to any sort of exercise! I think I won't even try those until I'm 4-months out. When I came home at 6-weeks, I felt weak and too skinny. I had lost weight that I didn't really have to loose. But, in these last 6 weeks, I have gained the weight back and I feel WAY stronger than 6 weeks ago. I can tell that the walking has given me back muscle tone in my butt & legs.

    This might be too much detail or too personal, but I was thinking of Misty's recent post about her 6-week check up. For me personally, there is a big difference in how I feel now at 12 weeks versus then at 6 weeks. I too, was athletic and had to give some of that up. But, like Ed, I had to give it up before surgery, so I am already mentally past that. You will get there. And, you might be able to go back to some of your previous exercise habits. I have definitely been on the "see saw" Ed mentioned and have been on the down side many times. As I sit here saying I feel pretty good, I'm embarrassed to admit that just last week one day I literally cried myself to sleep. I was just sure that nagging pain on my left side was NEVER going away. I don't usually act like that, but this surgery definitely brought on weird emotions!

    I'm anxious to get through the next 3 months. I'm hoping that by 6-months post op the pain on my left side will be mostly gone. It is a nagging thing that sometimes scares me.

    But, all in all - at this moment - I am happy that I had the surgery and am happy to be "on the other side."

    Ed - Can I also email you with exercise questions?

    Kathy
    Last edited by KathyInIowa; 09-16-2016 at 12:16 PM.
    Decompression surgery L4/L5
    April 3, 2015
    Twin Cities Spine Center - Dr. Joseph Perra
    Fused from T11 - Sacrum anterior/posterior
    June 24, 2016 - 55 years old at surgery
    Twin Cities Spine Center - Dr. Joseph Perra
    Before Surgery: 42 degrees lumbar, 28 degrees thoracic
    After Surgery: 10 degrees lumbar, ?? Thoracic
    2 inches taller

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Chaska, Minnesota
    Posts
    41
    Quote Originally Posted by KathyInIowa View Post
    Insomnia - FINALLY I'm getting better sleep with no sleep aids. I thought the insomnia would never end! I did resort to taking Valium 3 nights in a row at one point - I just needed sleep so bad. I tried Tylenol PM and that didn't really help. But, I guess with feeling better and just being patient, I'm slowly getting more sleep. Still not as much as I'd like, but enough to function on. I do still take Tylenol (not PM) at night thinking it might help some ache or pain and help me sleep a little bit.

    This might be too much detail or too personal, but I was thinking of Misty's recent post about her 6-week check up. For me personally, there is a big difference in how I feel now at 12 weeks versus then at 6 weeks. I too, was athletic and had to give some of that up. But, like Ed, I had to give it up before surgery, so I am already mentally past that. You will get there. And, you might be able to go back to some of your previous exercise habits. I have definitely been on the "see saw" Ed mentioned and have been on the down side many times. As I sit here saying I feel pretty good, I'm embarrassed to admit that just last week one day I literally cried myself to sleep. I was just sure that nagging pain on my left side was NEVER going away. I don't usually act like that, but this surgery definitely brought on weird emotions!
    Good afternoon Kathy,

    I am so glad to hear that you are feeling more like yourself at the 3 month mark and that your thigh pain is going away. Talking to people in similar situations gives me so much hope and I look forward to that 3 month mark myself now more than ever. I can totally relate to your insomnia complaint as I am in the thick of it now myself. I think I have slept a total of 8 hours all week and I'm just barely hanging on today. So very tired, but when I lay down at night I toss and turn all night long. It is so aggravating. I tried Tylenol PM and it had the opposite effect on me... so jittery and awful. Unisom helped me fall asleep initially, but I'd be up again an hour later back to the tossing and turning. I'm trying very hard to not take the valium on my nightstand because I feel like that will just be back to square one so I am trying to tough it out. Today I have debated making an appointment with my primary care doctor to discuss prescription sleep meds, but I think I will see how the weekend goes.

    I'm glad to hear that your walking is going well. I'm surprised that your restrictions were lifted at the 6 week mark. I was told at my appointment that I have another 6 weeks of 10 lbs. or less and walking only at this point. He did say I could try my stationary spin bike but not to go crazy. Because I have such pain this week at the graft site, I am barely keeping up with the walks so for now the bike is out of the question. I'd be interested to hear what others have to say about how to do some core work further down the road. I too have lost about 10 lbs. that I didn't need to lose and worry that it is likely all muscle weight. Being 'formerly' athletic, this is hard for me. I loved being fit and now I just feel weak, thin and frankly kind of gaunt looking. I'm hopeful that it is a phase and some of the weight will come back, but in a good way.

    Keep up the great work and have a wonderful weekend. I don't know about Iowa, but we are having some beautiful fall weather here. It should be a nice weekend to get outside and walk and look at the leaves starting to change.

    Misty
    • 42 yr old female
    • Diagnosed at 13yo w/ a 32* lumbar curve at Gillette Children's Hospital
    • Braced for two-years
    • Pre-surgery curves L55, C37
    • Surgery scheduled August 1, 2016 to fuse T6-L5
    • Dr. Jeffrey Dick, Twin Cities Orthopedics
      Post-surgery curves L24, C21



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Sioux City, Iowa
    Posts
    100
    Hi, Misty.

    Your sleep problems sound EXACTLY like mine and at EXACTLY the same time frame. I was averaging 1 - 2 hours of sleep at night until about week 8. That was when I gave in to the Valium but I don't like narcotics so I took it for 3 nights just to get some sleep. Then I just decided my body was going to do whatever it wanted and I couldn't fight it. So, by now at 8 weeks it does seem to be getting better. I also tossed & turned all night long. I just couldn't settle down and I couldn't figure it out. For me it was a lot of leg pain and I could only lay flat on my back, which is not my natural way of sleeping. But, if it gives you any hope, for me my sleeping did get better around week 9 or 10. It's not like I'm sleeping soundly for 8 hours, but I feel good enough getting 6 hours of sleep.

    I also considered talking to my primary care doctor about sleep aids but decided against it. It's just not for me. The side effects scare me - but I understand that they are necessary in some cases for some people. But, the thought of sleep walking scared me with my new back - I could just see me tripping over something!!

    I was surprised my restrictions were also lifted. I have ridden my stationary bike - but it's not a spin bike. It's actually my outside bike that we have indoors on a "trainer" stand. I bought the bike last year when my back just couldn't take my racing bike any more. I refer to it as my "old lady" bike because it's one with high handle bars and my back is perfectly straight when I ride it. So, I'm OK doing that. But, I'm not ready for any "toning" work yet. That can wait. I can tell my back muscles and core muscles are not ready to be challenged other than some serious walking.

    I definitely lost muscle tone. But, I am surprised how quickly it came back with just walking. I can tell a big difference in my legs and butt in the 6 weeks since I've been back home. So, if you are feeling like you've lost your muscle tone, I believe you will get that back w/o running. I would have never believed it until I actually lived it!

    We are also having wonderful weather! That's why I keep walking and not riding my bike indoors. I'm saving that for the winter when I have no choice!

    Hang in there Misty. You will feel so much better soon. I noticed a difference every 2 weeks. In 4 weeks you will notice a big change and for sure you will in 6 more weeks.

    Kathy
    Decompression surgery L4/L5
    April 3, 2015
    Twin Cities Spine Center - Dr. Joseph Perra
    Fused from T11 - Sacrum anterior/posterior
    June 24, 2016 - 55 years old at surgery
    Twin Cities Spine Center - Dr. Joseph Perra
    Before Surgery: 42 degrees lumbar, 28 degrees thoracic
    After Surgery: 10 degrees lumbar, ?? Thoracic
    2 inches taller

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,972
    Quote Originally Posted by KathyInIowa View Post
    Ed - Can I also email you with exercise questions?
    You sure can, but you know what Iím going to say....

    Follow your scoliosis surgeons orders (smiley face)

    My testimonial......

    I didnít do much of anything for around 8 months other than walk and squat. I didnít lift much more than a dinner plate.....(my arm and shoulder were broken at that time) Maybe since the arm was hampered, my surgeon didnít want me trying to do too much. It was not an easy recovery.....I was hit by a freight train.

    It was around 8 months when my shoulder was operated on and then started a physical therapy program for my shoulder, not the spine...which was great!

    I especially like the arm bike, where you pedal with your arms. Forward and backward starting with NO resistance. You can emulate with no weight, or use soup cans. This works the upper body. 12-18 inch circles. It toughens up the paraspinalís that run over the screw heads in the thoracic. Same as a karate master who chops cinder blocks with his hands. They start out slowly and toughen up the hands....I couldnít imagine chopping a cinder block for a few months....

    I really walked on eggshells for a long time as I was worried about fusing.....Maybe there are just too many surprises around here, I just didnít want to take that chance. I took 18 months off work.

    I started my leg stretches (for shoe tying) around 8 months using a stool. One leg up, and hanging the arms down gently stretching to reach my shoe laces. I would simply hang and not pull down. It was probably one of the easiest minimal force stretching regiments I have ever done. I did this for months.....Left side, right side, 30 seconds, a few times per day. I can tie my shoes, no problem, but it took a really long time. Putting on ski boots is especially challenging with full fusion. But I didnít give up, and figured that out. I cant see down, so buckles have to be felt. That was at 14 months post.

    I did not want to hear that pop.
    I did not want to hear that pop.
    I did not want to hear that pop.

    Ok, now you understand. We need to fuse. We need to fuse first.

    Bending is not allowed....If you cant reach it or squat to get it. Forget it. Donít go there....Donít do it. Someone else will get it.....

    My ďincreasesĒ in physical activities happened exponentially. In the chart attached below, I would submit my exercise rate value as the green line.
    Lets take the bottom line, 1-10, count that as months. Lets look at the left scale and consider 1000 as 100% effort. That is your exercise effort.
    Look at the increase of exercise effort from the beginning to number 4 on the bottom line. Notice hardly any increase. This effort starts to rise at the 4th month. See how slow it rises?
    I wanted to give an example of my exercise value and effort timeframe. I ran the green line, perhaps you being younger could run the blue line.
    Hope this helps some....Try not to push too hard right now. Patience!

    Also, any exercise effort that produces pain should be stopped immediately. Pain is a signal, and the slightest pain is the first warning that something is wrong. I would take it to just the slightest pain, then stop but never push harder as to aggravate. Like a finger on a flame, you move the finger close till you feel the heat, then immediately back off. Try again, and feel your pain threshold. Itís a slow process.
    Ed
    Attached Images Attached Images
    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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Warsaw, MO
    Posts
    373
    Don't start things too early. It will hinder things in the long run. Just because you can pull your leg up to tie your shoes or cut your nails doesn't mean you should. I believe that I did everything too soon and that is why I did not fully heal and eventually broke a rod. I went back to work as fast as I could, which in my field of feet required me to bend and take X-rays, bend to remove shoes, bend to cut casts off or to remove sutures. I tried to squat, but found myself bending more than we should. I am fused T2- sacrum with pelvic fixation and can still touch my toes (which I know we shouldn't do). Take things slow and try to be aware of the positions you put your body in so you do not hinder your healing.

    Tamena
    Diagnosed at age 12 with a double major curve

    Braced till age 15

    SSBOB T12-L2 Anterior age 34. (October 22,2012) Dr. Robert Gaines Jr. ( Columbia, MO)

    Revision Surgery T2-Sacrum with Pelvic Fixation Prosterior age 35 (November 13,2013) Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, MO)

    Revision Surgery L4/L5 due to BMP Complication age 36 (November 20,2014) Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, Mo)

    Revision Surgery due to broken rod scheduled for October 19, 2016 with Dr. Michael Kelly (St. Louis, MO)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,972

    Sleep and cell phones....

    Our recoveries are special periods of time for us. We go in, get hit by a bus, experience major physical and emotional pain, and we adapt, learn and heal some....

    Sleeping is difficult while being in pain. We manage to get some sleep only to be woken up by more pain, and it can be from any body area.....as we heal in time, sleeping becomes easier. Our sleep becomes a priority since we become sleep deprived. Using foam, and soft pillows is a must, but also having no outside interruptions is important. I live alone, and even though my front door was unlocked due to so many nurses, friends and neighbors coming, it was nice to be able to sleep whenever I could. People that have family need to train the others that this sleep thing is really hard for us, and that they need to know that if we lay down, please do be really quiet and leave us alone so we can try to get some sleep. We truly need that 8 hours of interrupted REM sleep, cat naps just donít cut it. It takes a long time to get there....

    Even though every single place I went, I had my cell phone on me. (Just in case I had to make that ďIíve fallen down, and cant get up callĒ. He he) Of course, that never happened, but the damn thing was beeping while tying to sleep, and eventually I just shut it off. The hell with connecting RIGHT NOW! This article explains some thoughts on this subject.
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/our...of2&yptr=yahoo

    I donít text....., I want the whole story and I want it face to face. I donít want to connect, I want to truly communicate.

    But sometimes we donít need to communicate, we need to be alone to heal. Yeah......I told everyone, NO TEXTS, and e-mails will be answered in a few days. I cant do dinner, you know? I hope this doesnít seem rude, but you have to do what you have to do. I cant do trivial emergencies right now, please understand what is happening to me right now.

    Others or outside problems are not what we need right now. Our recoveries happen only once in our lives, and we have to make it count. STRESS KILLS, been there done that, and its STILL happening to me. It affects the joints that I have left, and it really takes effort to ELIMINATE this stress. It seems unavoidable, but it takes work. If we could all go to this special place, a healing center of some sort where this is controlled, that would be a good thing.....

    And no cell phones would be allowed.....you get the idea.

    For our minds we try to stay positive and focused any way we can.

    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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    57
    I am feeling like I should chime in as a recent post-op girl too. I realized I have stopped counting which week of recovery I am. That is a pretty big deal, as I was hanging on each week there for a while. I can relate to every emotion discussed. Sometimes I feel giddy with joy that it is over and I am not paralyzed. That was my biggest fear. The sadness and frustration is there, yes. I feel weak, gaunt and I have no energy. I went grocery shopping with 3 kids today and prayed I would not faint at one point, after morning housework and vacuuming out my car ( without bending). In addition to all that, imagine having a significant visual deficit as a result from your spine surgery. I stopped counting the weeks because it is pretty obvious my back is going to keep recovering but my double vision/lazy eye is the same. I have learned how to drive, albeit very cautiously, with basically one eye. It makes me extremely upset to think I will not ever see the same again, so I try not to think about it. I feel the hardware all day long and I have yet to get used to it. Do you feel like your back is just so different now? I am getting more comfortable turning to my side in bed, but I still go back to laying flat in my back. The exercise stress is there everyday, as in I feel I should be doing more, but I just don't feel like it. Walking long distances ends up hurting at the top of my fusion and I hunch over terrible. Today was 106 degrees as well, so I am not pushing it. All I know is that surgery took every single thing out of me and I am trying to rebuild my physical and mental health everyday. This was such a big deal.

    Jana
    Diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis at age 11
    Dr. Edgar Dawson of UCLA
    Braced and "stopped" below 50 degrees
    Age 25: 47 degrees, 48 degrees
    Age 38 (3 babies later): 60 degrees, 63 degrees and 2.5 inches shorter
    Age 41: 64 degrees, 70 degrees
    Dr. Gregory Mundis Jr. of Scripps Hospital, La Jolla CA
    June 2015-ALIF on L5-S1 for a slipped and degenerated disk
    June 14, 2016-T4-L4 spinal fusion with instrumentation
    Post-surgery: 16 degrees, 12 degrees and 2 inches taller

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