View Full Version : first time user in recovery

loves to skate
03-19-2008, 12:17 PM
I quite accidently came across this forum about three weeks ago, signed up March 11,2008 and because of some snafu wasn't able to get in until today March 19,2008. I am a 68 year old female 3 and 1/2 months post-op from posterior fusion surgery, L2-S1 and 3 months post-op from anterior fusion of L3-L4, L4-L5, L5-S1. I wish I had known about this forum before my surgeries as I was extremely nervous about having the surgery. I was very fortunate to have many people praying for me so by the time of my first surgery, I was completely at peace, praise God. I am doing quite well now walking up to 1 1/2 miles in about 35 minutes some days. I've been off my oxycodone for about 5 weeks. I still have a little pain but not more than I can handle without medication. My biggest problem with pain right now is at night when I go to bed, but most troubling is restless leg syndrome. My ortho surgeon tells me this is caused by the nerves regenerating where the sciatic nerve was damaged and has me on 300 to 600mg gabapentin as needed taken at bedtime. It does seem to help slow down the restless leg syndrome so I can get to sleep. Does anyone know if this problem eventually resolves itself and how long it might take?

As you might discern from my title, loves to skate, I have been roller skating since the age of 40. I know, I got a late start. My surgeon told me before he operated on me that I would be able to go back to roller skating after the fusion takes place and after physical therapy. Am I crazy to want to go back to skating? Have any of you folks in my age category (68) done this, either ice skating, roller skating or skiing? I would love to hear from you or anyone who might have thoughts on this subject.

03-19-2008, 06:49 PM
Hey, Welcome to the forum!

I'm three months post op too! I just saw my surgeon today, and he told me that I should wait about a year before doing any skiing, or other sports that carry a risk of falling down or injury. I'm only 22, but I imagine that it would be about the same length of time for you.

I hope you are doing well, we are all here for you, and each other.


loves to skate
03-19-2008, 07:09 PM
Hey Roseann from Seattle, You can't imagine how excited I was to get my first reply to my first post. My husband grew up in the Seattle area and we will be attending his 50th high school class reunion from Sedro Woolley High School in July. A year sounds about right before attempting a sport where there is risk of falling, since they tell me it takes up to nine months for the fusion to actually take place. I don't know why I didn't ask my Doctor. The brain turns to mush in the Doctor's office and I forgot to write it down. Thanks for your reply.


Linda W
03-19-2008, 08:45 PM
Hi Sally,

Welcome to the Forum. It is a wonderful life line for all of us. Your surgery sounds very similar to mine and was also done by Dr. Frank Rand. I thank God everyday for Dr. Rand. Sorry, I cannot help you with your restless leg spasms or advise you about skating. It took me 5 months before I was able to sleep through the night, and I was fortunate not to have leg spasms -- just a garden variety of discomfort. It sounds like you are doing a great job walking and being off the serious pain medications. Congratulations!! Feel free to send me a PM if you would like to chat or if I can be of any support to a fellow Bay State resident.

Take care,
Linda W.

03-19-2008, 09:20 PM
Loves To Skate,

I have had restless leg syndrome for years - hoped it might resolve after surgery but it did not. I take .5 mg of clonazepam at bedtime.

loves to skate
03-20-2008, 10:05 AM
Hi Linda W,
Thanks for the reply. I would like to send you a PM but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. I'm not really computer literate and I looked in the FAQ section on how to send a PM, but it doesn't make sense to me yet. Do I have to send a new post and pick your name from the user list?

03-20-2008, 10:13 AM
If you click on the person's name/title there should be a drop down menu. Click on Send a private message and get started! Good luck on sending your 1st PM! :D Hope this helped.

loves to skate
03-20-2008, 10:59 AM
Thanks Geish for your help. Sally

03-20-2008, 01:18 PM
Sally---I would absolutely love to roller blade again. I almost cry everytime I see my skates in my closet!!!
I never-ever fell in all of my roller skating time but I guess I'm concerned it could happen.. After all I've been thru with this operation, I do greatly hestitate but am so dying to do it this spring.... :) :confused:

03-20-2008, 01:27 PM
Sally-- just wanted to say hi and welcome to the forum. I didn't find it either for awhile-- about 5 months post-op. Oh well! At least we have it now. There's some great support here.

Wow, I'm impressed with your desire to return to skating! I can't help you there, but best wishes with whatever you decide. Take care. :) Susie

03-20-2008, 01:37 PM
Hi, Sally ...

I saw you tried to PM me and it was returned (I didn't realize I was over quota - and it only holds a measly 70 messages).

Sorry about that, and welcome! While I can't advise on whether skating right now is a good idea, I do love your attitude and your spunk!

I hope this comes across in the right way, "I wanna be like you when I grow up! :)".

Best regards,

03-20-2008, 04:02 PM
Wow - 68 and skating???? Geez! What are they feeding you people over there!!! I am feeling more ashamed each day when I read what some of you amazing people on here can do!
Good on you Sally - your obviously very fit so I think you will make a wonderful and full recovery - You'll be out doing spins in your short little number in no time - but not without your Doctors permission first Huh!

Good Luck and welcome to the forum!
Cyber hugs

loves to skate
03-20-2008, 06:24 PM
Hi everyone,
Thanks for your replys. It means a lot to me. No, I won't skate until my Doctor tells me it is OK. Since I got such a late start in learning to skate, I never got into freestyle, so no spins or jumps or roller derby for me; just skate dancing and school figures. Some of my skating buddies are in their 80's and they are good skaters. Too bad a lot of the roller rinks are going away from lack of interest in roller skating. If it was an Olympic sport, that would promote interest. I have seen some teenagers who have roller skated after scoliosis surgery, but I am not aware or any older adults who have done the same. There must be some ice skaters out there though since it is a more popular sport.

03-20-2008, 06:40 PM
My doctor told me I should be able to do everything as before at about 8 months post op. I would probably be too scared to skate at 3 1/2 months post op just for the sake of falling. I do think it is great though that you feel well enough to want to go back to skating. Good for You !!

loves to skate
03-21-2008, 01:26 PM
Hi JamieR,
I hope you really don't think I want to start skating again now at 3 1/2 months post-op. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid. I know it will have to be at a minimum 9 months to a year post-op. I was just wondering if anyone in my age catagory has ever gone back to a sport like skating. My doctor told me that one of his patients in my age catagory is back playing doubles tennis and her surgery, T12-S1, was more extensive than mine. That seems to me a more strenuous sport than skating. I got a concussion while playing tennis in my youth. Also have fallen off of my piano bench. Life can be dangerous. All joking aside, thanks for you reply.

03-21-2008, 05:51 PM
You women are amazing and you put someone like me to shame. Just wondered what you thought of this. We were in Florida visiting my Parents and I was talking to a woman who had the fusion done about ten years ago when she was in her late 60's. She said she waited at least 6 months to go back to playing golf. She said that after 2 years, one of her rods broke probably from her being bent over so much playing golf. Does anyone know if that is rare? Of course, that is the last story I wanted to hear when I told her my daughter just had surgery. Mind you, she had a second surgery and everything is great. But she said she isn't playing anymore. I thought that once you are fused, then it is safe to do any kind of bending. I know she had bone taken from her hip. Any comments?

03-21-2008, 06:20 PM
Yes! It is frightening to hear or read about something like that. I'm eight weeks into recovery from surgery. It seems like I read or heard that this can happen from repetitive movement. It is comparable to bending a paper clip again and again. Eventually it will give. Golfing was one of the activities that was mentioned. One needs to consider how important some activities are in daily life.

03-21-2008, 06:26 PM
That was one of my concerns too Melissa! All the documentation that I've read about rods breaking has been concerning the Harrington Rods and they too seem to fail when the "Magnitude of the pre-operative curve" was over a certain limit. Like a paperclip which once bent forward and backwards over and over will eventually snap - I think this was the case with the Harrington System.

Can someone answer some technical questions for me.... (so I don't have to spend hours reading through on line journals) - How long has the new CD system been in place?? Any cases of those snapping?? Is it from improper care of the back ie... not lifting correctly, playing aggresive contact sports??? What about Titanium versus Stainless steel??

It's all very scary - I know very well that I can't sing and dance now that surgery is over, well a little bit, but it worries me about what the future holds!


03-21-2008, 06:36 PM
There's some info on it in this thread from not too long ago... and (unfortunately) it doesn't just happen with the older Harrington rods.


03-21-2008, 08:16 PM
thanks Susie, I must stop being lazy and asking dumb questions before searching the threads! That was a good link to the Doctor!!!


03-22-2008, 01:09 AM
When I knew in my heart that I was going to have the surgery, one of the first questions I asked my Doctor was, "will I be able to golf", and he explained to me that because I would not be fused to the sacrum, that I should not have a problem.

I am fused from T-1 to L-5 with titanium rods. I feel less pain now after 18 holes, than I did before the surgery. I have taken a fall, one that I consider minor, and it took me weeks to recover. I think everything depends on our own circumstances, length of fusion and unfortunatlely age plays into it.

I know when I've pushed myself too far and I tend to avoid doing it again. And I don't think anyone of us or even the doctor's can predict what can cause a rod to break. I can only say that my biggest fear is falling.


Diane BCSW
03-22-2008, 02:41 AM
I'm fascinated that you were fortunate to find a surgeon who would operate on you. I was told from the get-go that the cutoff age- give and take- was 62 yrs. If I have figured this right I was 60 at the first operation in Aug 03; a pelvic screw failed and in Dec 03, was reopened from top to bottom again (T11 to L4) just in case any little other pelvic screws might have migrated up to my waistline or shoulder blades. {I'm convinced this is how their brains work}. It was after this second surgery that I was moved on the second day over to a nursing home (a skilled nurse facility by any other name is a nursing home) across from hospital, where I was instructed to stay in bed always and never to raise my upper body higher than 30 degrees. Even at 61, I was the youngest patient there so I was told. 7 weeks flat on your back has no element of fun whatever.

So that second surgery (1st revision) lasted a year and then the same doctor discovered there was no fusion throughout the thoracic area, so in Jan of 2005, he reopened the thoracic from either T12 or T11 down to T1 and then I was good until the first rod break in June or July of last summer. But what blows everyone's mind is that another set of rods broke about 2 weeks after he released me, leading to the Jan 28 revision.

After that third operation by my original doctor, Dr. Shelokov, I received a letter of cancellation of his medical services to any patient who had United Healthcare Insurance. He was in dispute with it.

I found another doctor on my first try in downtown Dallas and I just love him.
He's now operated on me twice after rods have broken each time. I am 2 months out today on the last operation. It's a hard recuperation, much harder than the others. At my 12 week checkup, I go for cat scans, one day then the next, and take the film to my doctor. Supposedly he is to look over the scans to detect how much or how little bone growth I have.

If there is not enough, he wants to cut inside my lower back on each side following the path of the lowest rib to give him access to place more BMP2 on the anterior side of the places he worked up in January. I asked him why didn't he put the BMP2 in there on the anterior side in January and his answer was that it has not been approved by the FDA for that area of the body.

I wonder what they do in these cases? Do they seek special permission from the FDA to use it in that manner on his Patient X?

You mentioned your doctor worked on both the anterior and the posterior of your lumbar spine. Do you know anything about the BMP2 and if it was used?

You were a skater and are dying to get out there again. I was a square and round dancer, and it's breaking my heart that I cannot dance. My doc told me originally it would be 6 months before I could. That statement was made in September. !!!

Again, welcome, I must have missed your name, so will watch for it again.


03-22-2008, 03:17 AM
She said that after 2 years, one of her rods broke probably from her being bent over so much playing golf. Does anyone know if that is rare? Of course, that is the last story I wanted to hear when I told her my daughter just had surgery. Mind you, she had a second surgery and everything is great. But she said she isn't playing anymore. I thought that once you are fused, then it is safe to do any kind of bending.

Melissa, you have to be more specific where she was fused. They're not all equal.

I golf AND throw my body all over slowpitch and fastpitch infields. I know all surgeons are different, but I've been told I can return to abrading skin on red dirt infields in early June (he said 4 months post-op). I'll be sure to post footage here.

I'll assume if pulling a bat, and snapping my odd, near sidearm throw is ok at 4 months, my clubs will be gravy. BTW, it requires MUCH less effort to get 250 yrs out of a driver (and no bending ... really no twisting because your hips lead!) than to hit a low, hard line drive drive that makes the 3rd baseman scream "eeeeek!".

And, CSC, some things ARE that important to some of us. I'd rather die trying to LIVE than be miserable watching life go by.

Susie, I asked Hanson VERY SPECIFIC questions about my Stryker XIA system - and Vitallium rod strength. He saw NO issues with me playing ball - even the WAY I play ball. I posted his verbatim response here.


03-22-2008, 08:23 AM
This brings up an issue I've been thinking a lot about lately: where do you draw the line between being cautious and living your life in fear?

On the one hand, having spinal fusion is not like getting treated for cancer. It's not something that I myself view with an "I can beat this thing" attitude. It's a permanent condition that has been arrested, and there are common-sense limitations that are just naturally attached to our condition.

I am by temperament a cautious person. I know I would never have the nerve to play golf (too much twisting) or softball (self-explanatory! LOL), but I often wonder what I DO have the nerve to do. At this point -- NOT MUCH. I think I will feel much better when I go back for my one-year checkup in June to make sure that the fusion is solid. Like Shari, I fell once and it was terrifying. With my weak leg, I feel very vulnerable. I also feel vulnerable being fused to L5 -- I really don't want to have to extend the fusion to the sacrum someday.

I love to garden, but I don't plan on doing it this year. Am I being too cautious? I wonder.

loves to skate
03-22-2008, 10:46 AM
I guess I started a good dialogue here. Age of surgery: I was told that there was no limit on the age of the patient. I think it is all a matter of physical condition at the time. I wanted the surgery sooner than later because who knows what the future holds. I did water therapy to keep my body strong since physically I couldn't do anything else. My scoliosis Doctor likes to use stainless steel rather than titanium because it is stronger. He said that if there is the smallest nick in a titanium rod (and that can happen during surgery) it can break. In the anterior surgery, He did use artificial bone substitute. I don't remember if it was BMP2 or something else. I have cages at L2L3 and L3L4. At L4L5, he used a ring of some sort. All this will give me a much stronger fusion. I was hoping to be able to do some gardening this spring but I don't think I will be able to do much as I can get down, but unless I have something to pull myself up with, I can't get up.

03-23-2008, 07:30 PM
Hi Sally,

I Rollerblade and snow ski (downhill) I did go back to skiing 2 days before my 1 year anniversary. Just for the record I did fall, kind of a sliding sideways fall (like sliding to a baseball base.) And my first thought was that I got it over with and was fine. But, I haven't put my blades back on yet. I want to go to an adult only skate session (To get my wheels back under me.) I don't want a little one cutting in front of me and causing a problem. I don't want to choose between a child or myself going down! I think your skate dancing will be no problem. I like to go FAST!! The ONLY sport my Dr. didn't want me to do again is water skiing. I agree, I have gone down fast, hard and not know what the heck happened! At least when skiing I know when I am going down. I am all for being cautious but, life needs to be lived.

BTW my Dr. did a fusion on a 93yo man last year. I have no specifics but pt. is doing well and thanks my Dr. every times he sees him.

2/22/06 T10 to L4 at age 43
L49* now 8*