View Full Version : Can you garden afterwards??

05-11-2006, 04:12 PM
My back had been feeling great this spring and for the first couple of times I went outside to work in the yard, and then everything fell apart. Now I can barely hang in there for 20 minutes before I have to go sit against some pillows. And I'm afraid to do too much PT with the stability ball because everything's so sore.

Are any of you post-op ladies able to garden as much as you want? I'm no Martha Stewart, but I do lilke to pull weeds and trim hedges and plant some stuff.....


05-11-2006, 04:30 PM
I certainly can't do anything as much as I want... but I do what I can. My PT guy just told me to take it easy. Garden, but do it in 15 minute spurts. Pay attention to your body mechanics (bend with your legs/hips not at waist) and no heavy lifting. I have been doing little spurts and then making sure I rest well too. Don't push yourself too hard, or your body will push back and then you can't do anything! Just start slow, and (eventually) your garden will be as you like it!

05-11-2006, 04:42 PM
Hi Chris, I looked back at a few of your posts and it looks to me you are pre -op. I Had the same problem you described before my surgery. (Feb. 22,06.) I am fused T10 to L4 and have been out carefully bending down (Back straight, bending knees) to pull a few weeds here and there. I feel that I will be able to continue gardening more as time passes. I wonder if I will be able to carry my weed sprayer when I am fully recovered... It is like a backpack with a sprayer. (We have creeks that I spray to keep clear.) It doesn't seem to me you would not be able to do what you are doing now. (minus the pain, when you are post -op) Suzy

05-11-2006, 05:45 PM
Hi, yes I'm pre-op and if I ever muster up the nerve I may be post-op by this time next year. Last year I was able to do a normal amount of gardening and this year I'm not ..... it's a big change (along with my shrinking at an alarming rate).

But if I hear that post-op people can do a bit of gardening without a lot of pain, that's a big motivator for me.


05-11-2006, 05:54 PM
Hey Chris one other thing to think about..........the older we get the less flexable and the less correction % the Dr's can get. I swear I want to yell from the roof tops "DO IT WHILE YOUR'E YOUNG!" I can't imagine having done this in my twilight years. I went to a suport group when I first found out I needed surgery and all around the room were these women waiting to get the nerve up or whatever to have surgery while their curves and pain worsened. (Some had been waiting for years and were really crooked, all were in pain!) I can't wait to go back and show them what a wonderful thing this surgery is! Suzy

05-12-2006, 06:21 AM
Suzy, your enthusiasm is very encouraging! I'm not exactly young -- almost 51 -- but certainly young enough to have this done. I'm tentatively scheduled to have surgery in March 2007, but I'm not quite ready to say it's definite, even though in my heart I suspect it IS.

I've just never been so scared of something in my entire life...which is why your success story is very important to hear.


05-12-2006, 11:08 AM

While I can appreciate your enthusiasm for this "wonderful" surgery, it is not for everyone. This is MAJOR surgery and not without risk for some serious complications. After reading posts on this forum the past several months, I've observed that although most patients appear to do well initially, they eventually begin to experience surgical after-effects. Being fused to the sacrum can lead to back pain, hip pain and leg pain and levels of spine left unfused take a beating over time from carrying the weight of the part of the spine that is fused. There are pros and cons to this surgery and each patient has to carefully decide if the benefits outweigh the risks.

At age 57 and with a server lumbar curve, I'm not experiencing the kind of pain that is disabling and keeps me from leading a normal life. On the other hand, I could decide on surgery and very well end up with pain that does disable me.

I do not regret having surgery when I was younger. I never experienced discomfort associated with my scoliosis until recently. For most of my life I was pain free. If I did have surgery years ago, it's quite possible I could have been one of the many who have since undergone multiple surgeries and experienced ongoing complications.

This has got to be the most complex surgical procedure in the orthopedic community and deciding to undergo such a big operation must be very carefully evaluated.


05-12-2006, 12:40 PM
Hi Chris --

With her enthusiasm and your caution, you and Suzy represent opposite sides of the surgery-or-no-surgery debate. I think the true odds of success lie somewhere in the balance. What's taking me the longest to accept is the fact that I'm in a tight spot whether I have the surgery or not -- possible complications (with repeat surgery) if I have it, and increasing pain and deformity if I don't. If only we had a crystal ball to see ourselves in 15 years, to see if we'll really be as bad as the doctors say we will!!!!

On the other hand, I just talked to a woman at my daughter's school who had a Harrington rod fusion in 1979 and she says apart from mild backaches if she does something strenuous, she's fine. So go figure!!

Keep us posted on any developments -- :rolleyes:

05-12-2006, 01:29 PM
Hey Chris,
I have run across the same opinion you have about all the risks, complications, possable future surgerys & post-op problems coming mostly from people who are waiting "for the right time" to have this surgery. I know this is a major surgery and it takes some time to weigh the facts. It is wonderful that the TECHNOLOGY exists! Did you know in the last 3-4 years this technlolgy has taken a great leap in results? (Per a few Drs. I spoke to.) As to the risks of future surgery and problems, of coarse I knew that going in. I may need to be fused to S1 in the future (I am to L4) BUT,it depends on how I take care to protect my lower discs and vertabra. You know from all the Drs. and P.T. I talked to the people having most of those problems post-op are OLDER! They are the ones whos curves have gotten so bad and are older, overweight and not as healthy as those who are younger and in shape having the same surgerys. We don't heal as well or fast as when we are younger, as in any surgery. As Linda Racine has stated before a lot of the scoliosis patients who have had good results don't come back to this forum. My pain was starting to affect my standard of living. No it wasn't disabling, but faced with the fact I was pushing 4 degree changes per year I wanted to get it done as soon as I could. While I was young and flexable enough to get the excellent results I got. I feel to some extent this surgery is a bit like root canals. You never hear about the good ones........ You know there are a lot of happy post-op people on this forum. There seems to be a lot of negative feelings toward scoliosis surgery & I feel it scares a lot new people on this forum. I'll tell you I don't look forward to the possability of a future surgery if it comes to that. But, in the mean time I will point out the fact that this surgery CAN be a positive one. Yes, everyone does need to weigh the pros & cons. But in that decision making they need to know also the positive out comes that are happening out there. Just my out look on this subject..........Suzy

05-12-2006, 03:47 PM
Personally speaking, I feel that most people on this forum(that I have gotten to know)are mostly happy w/ there outcomes... or maybe I just retain the happy stories.......I think that's the case.................. :) :) :)

speaking of gardening...I over did it today---ouchhhh!

05-12-2006, 04:38 PM
Lynne -- I think a good attitude has a lot to do with a good outcome. I know you have your moments but overall you have a great attitude about it all -- so you should do great !! ;)

05-12-2006, 05:11 PM
I think it's personal to someone if they want to have this surgery, and that's why I would never push a person one way or the other, it's a big decision with risks involved-as with many other health issues-and this comes from a person who decided to have surgery in a matter of months, b/c for me, the pain was starting to affect my life and I wanted to get it done. But I took the decision all on my own, and didn't get pushed into it from family and friends like I was almost at the age of 18, and backed out. It's our bodies, and only we know when we're ready. Also, when we do get surgery, we can't blame anybody if the outcome is not what we expect and we have post op problems.

As far as post op problems, there are many people who don't have any problems who don't come on forums, of course. But I also know people IRL who have the surgery very young, have problems and are fit otherwise and don't even know about this forum, some don't even have the internet(yes that exists). And about having a positive attitude, it sure helps recuperation, but if there are post op problems that are going to happen, they will no matter how positive one is. The positive outlook will help how we face them wether it is surgery and recuperating, or other treatments and having the courage to attack the pain and problems, and not giving up. I believe that being older is harder for the healing(like the fusion), but it happens with younger people like myself-and many other who's rods broke for example.

So IMO I'm not totally on one side or the other, I'm trying to be realistic, and I agree that as much as it is a complex procedure and that it is a unique experience to everybody, it is good that the surgeries have evolved so much in the last decades, and that people of any age can have this surgery with successful outcomes, I didn't even know that before I joined this forum.