View Full Version : Home Again

02-29-2008, 05:58 AM
Anterior surgery went well on 24th January but I was poorly after Posterior surgery on 7th Feb. What a nightmare, pain out of control, severe hallucinations, was unwell and needed a blood transfusion several days after op. Did not come home until 18th Feb. Spent 27 days in hospital and it felt like a lifetime. Was fused from T3 to S5. I wish I could be as active as others but I seem to spend most of my time in bed and sleeping. I can't sit up for more than 30-50 minutes and can only walk outside about a hundred yards before I come back and need another sleep!! My Dr says it's because I'm on a lot of pain meds but when I tried to reduce them yesterday it was just too hard. It has to get better doesn't it??


02-29-2008, 06:39 AM
Welcome home, Hazel -- yes, it does get better !! For some of us it just takes a bit longer. Try not to compare -- everybody reacts differently to this crazy surgery. I wouldn't try to cut back on pain meds yet because at this point it's easier to stay ahead of the pain rather than catch up to it after you're late with a dose. I dragged around on a walker for three months post-op and am just starting to feel like myself again at 8 months post-op.
Don't fight the need to sleep; it's what your body needs.

02-29-2008, 07:25 AM
We all handle this at our own pace. My posterior surgery was on the 29th. I was getting so frustrated because it seemed all I did was sleep. This week I'm just starting to notice some differences. I am able to stay awake all morning- just need a long afternoon nap. I've stopped using my walker around the house. The only problem is I don't seem to have the energy or motivation to walk much.
I can't blame it on the weather. It has been in the 60's here in Arizona. I'm hoping that will come. Probably, just have to push myself. My sister is coming to visit tomorrow. It will be hard today not to overdo it- cleaning house. Oh, well the point is we need to have patience with our bodies. We're not all the same.
There is not a time table we all need to be on. Healing will happen.

02-29-2008, 08:46 AM
It's so good to hear you are home, Hazel-- and good to hear from you too, csc! You are soooooo right! Everyone is different and speed of recovery depends on so many things. We just need to accept that, and then do our part of doing the things we're supposed to do (and not doing the things we're not supposed to do!) It has taken me much longer than I imagined, even with what I'd read and heard-- about taking 1-2 years for some.

You are both pretty "fresh" out of surgery, so get ready to be patient with yourselves. Recovery is hard work too-- and the hardest part is learning to look at your progress in terms of "baby steps"-- and seeing how much more you are able to do than you could do before, rather than looking at how much you can't do. It's like looking at the half filled/half empty glass... One way will give you encouragement and the other, discouragement. Of course, it's hard to ALWAYS look at the positive, but don't lose sight of it. When I get discouraged at how LONG this is taking me, then I stop and think back... I really can do so much more now, at almost 10 months, than I could even a couple months ago--and what a huge difference from when I was fairly fresh out of surgery! But I still have restrictions/limitations to deal with. I'm hoping more will be lifted when I go back to see my doctor next week. We'll see.

They say walking is the most important thing you can do at this time, for your recovery and for the fusion process, so try to force yourself to do a little walking every day-- even if it's just walking inside your house. (Believe me when I say I remember not wanting to walk much!--but I know by a little less than 2 months post-op I was walking half an hour almost every day...) I live in snow country too-- just got a few more inches overnight, so I haven't been walking outside for quite awhile--am afraid of falling. Sometimes it seems like good walking weather is so far away time-wise. If you can afford one, have the space for one, and have someone who can set it up for you, I would recommend getting a treadmill. Then you're not dependent on the weather--even last summer, I had problems with rainy days and with hordes of mosquitoes and deer flies, etc. That makes it doubly hard when your balance/stride is a little precarious and continuous swatting kind of increases the instability... I ordered a treadmill in early January (after my PT was over) and it finally arrived last week-- it makes the whole walking process so much easier! I wish I'd gotten it sooner! It has handgrips, so you really can't fall-- then you can increase your stride. I found that my walking outside had caused me to sort of hunch over (so I could see better--bifocals, you know)-- plus I was taking little tiny steps. My physical therapist got me over those problems by using the treadmill. He also had said if there's only one piece of equipment I could get, that would be the best in the long run for me... it's good for strengthening all your weight-bearing bones-- to hopefully prevent osteoporosis, plus is a simple enough exercise that is also good for your heart, so will be an exercise you can do over the years ok, barring any serious problems.

The other thing to try to do is eat nutritionally. It's very important for the healing process too. Get your milk products, fruits and veggies, some protein, etc.

So--be patient with yourselves and do your part. You'll notice the progress, even though it's not as fast as we'd like it to be. Pam is the rare exception, so don't expect to recover at the rate she is! Of course, if you were able to (and did) play strenuous ball, including sliding into base, then you can expect to resume a pretty strenuous life sooner than the rest of us. I don't think too many of us fall into that category. ;)

02-29-2008, 09:43 AM
I remember that is all I could do the first month or so as well. Up for about 40 minutes and then back to bed for another 40. Give yourself the time especially because of the complications you had. The first 3 months are rough. It will get better. Hang in there.

02-29-2008, 10:14 AM
Interesting. When I had a recent discussion about getting a treadmill with a woman I met from my support group who had surgery four years ago, she told me that her doctor discouraged its use saying you can too easily lose your balance on a treadmill after spinal fusion. So she just resorted to walking around her house until the weather allowed her to walk outdoors.

02-29-2008, 10:18 AM
I was told no treadmill for the first month. Then I was cleared to use it but only when I had someone with me. Now I am allowed to use it by myself. Of course I have to actually get on it with it turned on for it to have any positive effects!

02-29-2008, 10:25 AM
My surgeon told me to walk as much as possible, even if for very short periods but to do it often. Living where there was quite a bit of ice and snow this year I would have been lost without the treadmill. I find I am much more balanced (bars to hang onto) on it and have less pain as compared to walking outside. It is also a very good way of gauging your recovery...how far, how fast you have gone and it is encouraging to see the slow but steady improvement. I still use it on rainy days and my surgeon was all for it.

02-29-2008, 10:36 AM
Chris-- I suppose that all depends on how you do it. I think most treadmills have the ability to go down to 1 mile/hour, which is a VERY SLOW pace. If you can't manage that pace, then of course it would be best to wait till you can. When I was at PT (at about 6 months post-op), I think he started me off at 1.5 and raised it to 1.8-- also VERY SLOW. They seemed way too slow to me then, but I did what he wanted, because he was trying to gently get me to increase my length of stride. Now, at home, at almost 10 months, I usually start off at 2.0 and then quickly move on to 2.5 and on up to a brisk (for me!) 3.0 after a couple of minutes... and walk for half an hour. Again, there are good strong handles to hang onto and an emergency key/gadget that can stop it if you should somehow panic... just a matter of disengaging a magnetic key that's attached to your clothing and the treadmill "brains." It also gives me the advantage of not having a weather-related reason for not walking. (Rainy, too muddy, too hot, too buggy, too cold, snowy, etc.) It also helps me look forward rather than down, as I don't have to worry about mole or ground squirrel holes, or the natural ups and downs, tree branches/stems, etc., that are on my walking trail. I will still enjoy walking outside when the weather turns nice, but won't be confined by the parameters of that day's weather. It's good you mentioned the caveat-- maybe it's not good for everyone. We are all so different. I think it's a good choice for me.

02-29-2008, 10:49 AM
I have a treadmill and I'm starting to use it now for just a few minutes at a time. I'm trying NOT to hold on since my problem was standing up straight and I don't want to fall into the trap of unconsciously bending over again. (My balance is off a little too, so I stay not TOO far away from those handles!) I think if you have a treadmill and you live in the frozen north like I do, it's the best way to start your walking program. Needless to say, I'm hoping for an early spring!

I do want to pass on something (somewhere?) I read a long time ago that I thought was interesting. It said all other things being equal, walking outside is better than the treadmill because the treadmill is doing half the work for you by propelling you forward. I had never thought about it before - duh! - but it explained why I was always able to walk longer on the treadmill than I could when walking outside. Just an F.Y.I.

Hazel - considering what you have been through I think you are doing just fine. Everytime I complain to my family about sleeping so much, they say "your body is healing." My doc gave me a 30 minute limit on sitting. Walk and sit as you can, but don't push it and don't feel guilty when you need a rest afterwards. It's normal. Hang in there - it WILL get better.

02-29-2008, 11:08 AM
Pam is the rare exception, so don't expect to recover at the rate she is! Of course, if you were able to (and did) play strenuous ball, including sliding into base, then you can expect to resume a pretty strenuous life sooner than the rest of us. I don't think too many of us fall into that category. ;)

I'd just like to point out that while it may seem I'm just whizzing through this, I AM human, as well.

The last 2 months before surgery, I did NOTHING but get the house ready and work on physical conditioning because I knew I was going to be recovering solo. The 5K was a goal I set before surgery knowing I'd *need* one ... I didn't just spring out of bed at week 2 post-op and decide I was healed and going to do it. It's taken a lot of planning, and if I've made it sound like a walk in the park, I've not described it the way I intended.

I DO still hurt at times (I've mentioned I'm still on pain meds), and I think I slept for about 3-4 hours yesterday evening after I walked. I just don't post all that often when I feel like sh**, but maybe I should: I feel like my posts are making some feel worse vs. encouraged, and that's the LAST thing I want to do.

Never would I intentionally try to make anyone here feel this is some competition or that they're lacking in any way. We're all doing the best we can, and it really does hurt to know that I may have made some feel poorly about where they are in their recovery :(.

02-29-2008, 11:10 AM
truly--it's funny how the handles have the opposite effect with us-- hanging on gives me the added security so that I stand up straight and look straight forward. :D

Hazel-- I keep thinking about what all you went through and am amazed that you are doing all you are. Rest up and sleep to your heart's content-- it's what you need most at this point. Just get up and walk around a little in between. (Like just walking from room to room as needed, etc.) It'll be time enough to work at it harder after you've mended a bit more... And for goodness' sake, don't worry about the pain meds at this time either. You need to be able to feel good enough to do ANYTHING after all you've been through! Hang in there!

02-29-2008, 11:18 AM
I'd just like to point out that while it may seem I'm just whizzing through this, I AM human, as well...

...Never would I intentionally try to make anyone here feel this is some competition or that they're lacking in any way. We're all doing the best we can, and it really does hurt to know that I may have made some feel poorly about where they are in their recovery :(.

Pam--hope my comment didn't make you feel like I was picking on you. I really wasn't. I just wanted to remind people that might be comparing their progress to yours that we didn't all start off on equal ground either. Most of us just aren't in your shape. That doesn't mean that you aren't going through (dare I say that word???) **** just like the rest of us did. But you are bouncing back faster/better... Of course you have pain and problems. And you are far too kind-hearted to intentionally want anyone to feel like they're lagging behind. No, it isn't a contest. Yes, you do inspire us by what you can do. And Yes, we realize you are human too and feel lousy some of the time, but you also always seem to push yourself on and accomplish so much. So you are a source of inspiration and we appreciate you! Please do not think I was trying to diminish your input-- it is so important!

02-29-2008, 03:26 PM
Hazel, your amazing that your even walking at all!!! What fused T3 - S5!!! Your amazing girl that your able to sit and type into this forum. You've had an amazing amount of back fused - so go easy on yourself.

After what everyone else has said I just want to comment that my friend had her Gall Bladder out and she said it took her SIX MONTHS just to feel normal again and full strength. Also for some people it can take a long time for the Anesthetic (sp?) to work it's way out of your system and your body had a double dip into it!!! That coupled with your pain meds would definately make you feel very very tired.

Also stick to your pain meds as recommended by your Dr is my advice. I have noticed that now that I have been reducing Elysia's pain meds she is lying around more - she seems to be much much more active when I give her one of her Endone tablets - and I want her to move to get all those muscles working again.


02-29-2008, 04:38 PM
Thanks for the encouragements. Please keep them coming! We've had strong winds and heavy rain today so I haven't been outside but I did sneak to the bathroom without using my crutches when my husband was out so he couldn't catch me out and tell me off!!
I remember there being a thread about whether your other half should share your bed after surgery or not. Hubby was sleeping on an airbed by the side of my bed until 2 nights ago when we had an earthquake 5.2 Richter scale - the largest for 24 years here in the UK. I was so scared I DEMANDED he get back in bed with me there and then!


02-29-2008, 04:54 PM
I've been fused T3 to L5 not S5. Can I put that down to age, too much anaesthetic, lots of pain meds or plain stupidity? Your call......


02-29-2008, 05:38 PM
Well you do have an excuse Hazel, yes your heads foggy from pain med! What's my excuse for typing that and not picking it up. The Sacrum doesn't have S1-S5 it's one solid piece - isn't it??

Why the crutches, oh that sounds so dangerous to me! Did your Dr recommend them or did you just think they would help you get around?? If you need something to aid your walking for a little while to keep you steady, what about one of those gieatric (sp?) walkers?? Elysia was asking for me to get her one BEFORE her surgery - I didn't get it for her, she didn't even need any support in hospital to walk - but then she's just turned 13!
Here is Aus you can hire them for very little from the local pharmacy!

Keep up a positive frame of mind - one step backwards, your reply? - two steps forward!!!


03-01-2008, 03:49 PM
I was given the crutches at the hospital by the physiotherapists to use until I could walk properly again. I assumed it was "normal" to be given them.


03-03-2008, 06:16 AM
I, too, have never heard of crutches after fusion surgery (which may very well mean absolutely nuttin! - LOL). As a crutched veteran after countless knee and ankle, um, "incidents", I'm just thinking out loud here ...

Are these "under the armpit" full crutches, or hand grip, waist height stabilization crutches (think Tiny Tim)?

Proper use of full crutches dictate *not* resting on the armpit area, but supporting your weight on the mid-level crossbar. It seems full crutches would exert FAR too much load on the fusion used *either* way. You're supporting the entire weight of your body through your torso, and I'm seriously confused why they'd want you doing that anytime soon.

Additionally, waist height crutches - actually, either type - bring to mind "just one more thing over which to trip!".

Most commonly, a walker is prescribed (if anything, post-op - and simply for balance). Crutches, on the other hand - especially for someone who isn't used to crutches - can *cause* imbalance. Again, even if you *are* used to them, it just seems they would pull on your fusion.

I'm going to see what I can find out today on the use of crutches after fusion sugery: This prescription really concerns me, Hazel ... it's certainly not standard. Maybe I'm overreacting, and they were provided for some reason of which I have no knowledge; I just can't imagine *what*.

I hope you're feeling better ... you've been in my thoughts!

Best regards,