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Thread: Recovery - How long were you off-work?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    86

    Recovery - How long were you off-work?

    Hi all,

    I just hit the 4 week post-op mark and feel in no way ready to return to work. I'm not sure I will even be ready 4 more weeks from now. I'm VERY curious what your occupation was and how long you were out of work and then when you went back what kind of schedule did you follow? I have an administrative type job but am up and down all day and walk around a lot. Appreciate any insight!
    Laurie Anne
    Age 30
    Pre-Op Curves T68, L80, Kyphosis 48 degrees
    Post-Op Curves both around 10 degrees
    Surgery with Dr. Lenke & Dr. Kelly 12/13/10
    Gained 2.5 inches now 5'9
    PRE-OP Photos: http://s1080.photobucket.com/albums/...urieScoliosis/
    5 Mos Post Op: http://s1080.photobucket.com/albums/...s%20Post%20Op/
    1-Year Post Op: http://s1080.photobucket.com/albums/...r%20Post%20Op/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,158
    Hi there,

    I think this has been discussed before but I can't locate the threads. There is no way I would have wanted to go back to work at 8 weeks.

    I had my surgery 13 weeks ago, and I am returning to work next week. I am a nurse in the cardiac cath lab, which is a very active and demanding job. I will be on limited duty for 3 more months, I think until 6 months post-op. I will work 8 hour days, M-F. My duties will be restricted to sitting at computers and monitoring equipment. I will also be up and doing some walking, but no lifting, pushing beds, etc.

    I am feeling nervous about going back to work, and I think I might be exhausted at the end of the day at first, but hopefully I will be ok. My coworkers are very understanding and supportive. I do imagine I'm going to be sore, too.

    I know there is a wide range here of when people went back to work. It also depends a lot of what type of surgery etc. I would not push yourself to rush back to work too soon.

    Good luck,

    Gayle
    Gayle, age 50
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation
    Feb 2012 lumbar revision for broken rods @ L2-3-4
    Sept 2015 major lumbar A/P revision for broken rods @ L5-S1


    mom of Leah, 15 y/o, Diagnosed '08 with 26* T JIS (age 6)
    2010 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    2017 curves stable/skeletely mature

    also mom of Torrey, 12 y/o son, 16* T, stable

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    NJ across from NYC
    Posts
    329

    back to work

    Hi LaurieAnne,
    I am exactly five weeks post-op, and I am certainly not ready to go back to work either. I am an Admin. Assistant in NYC, and I commute by bus to the city from NJ then walk to work. I plan to take off 12 weeks total. I see Dr. Boachie on Monday and will confirm. I hope all is well. I'll be in touch. LYNN
    1981 Surgery with Harrington Rod; fused from T2 to L3 - Dr.Keim (at 26 years old)
    2000 Partial Rod Removal
    2001 Right Scapular Resection
    12/07/2010 Surgical stabilization L3 through sacrum with revision harrington rod instrumentation, interbody fusion and pre-sacral fusion L5-S1 - Dr. Boachie (at 56 years old)
    06/11/14 - Posterior cervical fusion C3 - T3 (Mountaineer System) due to severely arthritic joints - Dr. Patrick O'Leary (at age 59)

  4. #4
    JamieAnn Guest
    Laurie Anne,

    At 4 weeks post op, I felt EXACTLY the same way. I was very nervous about returning to work. But I was able to go back at 9 weeks. When I first went back, I went from having no pain at all, to having a tired back with some pains. I think that was also because the numbness started to fade at the same time. It really wasn't even bad enough to take tylenol, but I usually came home and used a heating pad or took a hot bath. As the weeks went on I really felt better and better.

    Now at over 3 months post op I feel very normal. On a side note I also realized this week that my back muscles are really getting back to normal and I feel even more even than even a few weeks ago. Give yourself time on all fronts - work, muscle development, tiredness, etc. It really will get back to normal.

    I work at a desk job but am very mobile throughout the day - have a long commute to and from work, and just made sure the bag I carry isn't too heavy (and by "too heavy" I mean any more than 2 pounds or so!).

    Give yourself another few weeks and you will be amazed at how much each week makes. I know people say this a lot but I really felt this was very very true.

    Keep us posted!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Pa
    Posts
    31
    Hi Laurie Anne,
    I am a home Respiratory nurse and am 20 weeks post op. I had very extensive surgery and complications and no way could I go back to work now. In fact I am going for surgery Friday to do some revision cervically.I know how frustrating it can be ,but reading these posts are helping me cope (along w/ a great husband) Keep up the good thoughts .

    Donna
    51 yo
    dx 13 never braced
    DJD and osteoporosis ,Fx ribs 10/09(from osteo) downhill since,vertebral slippage w/ nerve damage and rotation
    Surgery 08/09/10 T1-S1 decomp,fusion w/ instrumentaion
    Sacral/pelvic fixation + 4 osteotomies and dura repair
    C 20 degrees to 4 degrees
    T 57 degrees to 15 degrees
    L 38 degrees to 5 degrees

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Carlyle, IL
    Posts
    52
    I think that every person heals differently and as PP said it depends on the extent of your surgery and your job. I returned at 6 wks but was very tired and I have a desk job with a 30 minute commute both ways and small kids. If you have the time to use, I would take off until you feel like you have enough stamina. I actually felt that I was starting to get the itch to return at the end of my 4th postop wk. My fusion wasn't nearly as long as others though. It seemed that at 4 wks I started feeling better each day and my pain level dropped considerably after that. The energy started returning around that time as well. Good luck and decide from the signals your body is sending you.
    Heidi
    35 year old mother of 2 lil girls
    60 degree thoracic
    44 degree lumbar
    Oct. 11, 2010 surgery
    Dr. Lenke St. Louis
    1 year follow up: 15 degree thoracic, 22 lumbar
    fused T1 to L1


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    1,978
    Hi LaurieAnne! Boy, do I remember wondering about returning to work! I thought I'd be able to after recovering over the summer, but definitely not. Then I took off one semester. Here's a thread I started most of the way through that, wondering what to do next (and yes, there are several other threads about going back to work-- I remember them too): http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...ork&highlight=

    It really does depend on our own individual surgeries and how our bodies heal, along with the demands of our jobs. I ended up taking that whole year off, and even then, when I went back to work the following year, I had a rough time. I would come home each day and go straight to my bed and rest for awhile and my hubby would help with supper and he would do the dishes, and that lasted quite awhile... But by that year my duties also included lunch and recess duty every day and no prep time and no free time for anything else-- busy, busy, busy! BTW, the PT I had the spring before (and the exercising I then did on my own) had helped me SO much, so I was extremely glad that I had opted not to try going back to work just because it made me so much stronger in general.
    67 and plugging along...
    2007 52 w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shift)
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15
    CMT (type 2) DX in 2014, progressing
    NEW 10/2018 x-rays show spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 - Dr. DeWald is monitoring

    Click to view my pics: pics of scoli x-rays digital x-rays, and pics of me

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    1,956
    I felt like I was ready to go back at 5 months, (although I didn't have a job to go back to at that point.) I found a new job at 7 months, and at first it was totally exhausting, but I got used to in within a month or so.

    I can't imagine going back after 6 or 8 weeks. I'm sure some people can, but no way could I have. At that point I was probably still taking 2 naps per day!
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    1,956
    Quote Originally Posted by JamieAnn View Post
    Laurie Anne,

    At 4 weeks post op, I felt EXACTLY the same way. I was very nervous about returning to work. But I was able to go back at 9 weeks. When I first went back, I went from having no pain at all, to having a tired back with some pains. I think that was also because the numbness started to fade at the same time. It really wasn't even bad enough to take tylenol, but I usually came home and used a heating pad or took a hot bath. As the weeks went on I really felt better and better.

    Now at over 3 months post op I feel very normal. On a side note I also realized this week that my back muscles are really getting back to normal and I feel even more even than even a few weeks ago. Give yourself time on all fronts - work, muscle development, tiredness, etc. It really will get back to normal.

    I work at a desk job but am very mobile throughout the day - have a long commute to and from work, and just made sure the bag I carry isn't too heavy (and by "too heavy" I mean any more than 2 pounds or so!).

    Give yourself another few weeks and you will be amazed at how much each week makes. I know people say this a lot but I really felt this was very very true.

    Keep us posted!
    Jamie--sorry to butt in here I'm glad you're feeling so much better, but I want to point out that as much as you think you feel normal now, you will continue and continue to feel so much better and more normal. I've read it from others and now experiencing myself, I continue to feel better now into my 3rd year.

    Keep up the good work!
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Reading, PA
    Posts
    93
    Laurie Ann-

    Like JamieAnn I went back to work at 9 weeks. I have an administrative job as well that requires getting up and down a lot. At 4 weeks I was not ready to go back, but at 7 weeks I was itching to go back. When I went back I didn't do any half days and immediately went back to 8 hour days. I drive an hour each way to work as well which makes it a 10 hour day. Surprisingly, I didn't feel overly tired that I had to lay down as soon as I got home. However, I was going to bed by 9:00 every night for two weeks in the beginning. Now that I'm getting close to the 6 month mark I'm amazed how much I can accomplish at work and home without getting tired or feeling pain.

    Don't push yourself too hard. You'll know when you're ready to go back to work.
    Tiffany K
    I'm not short, I'm fun size!

    29 years old
    4'11", never braced
    Pre-surgery, 52 T6 to T12, 35 T12 to L4
    T1-L2, Posterior 8/5/2010, gained 1"

    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...9&l=03212f3e17

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    197
    I've been told that my job only has to be held for 12 weeks and beyond that, they reserve the right to lay me off. I have a 2 hr commute in each direction, and while I can telecommute, I wouldn't be surprised if they "achieve savings" by eliminating my position.

    I feel very pressured to try to return to work post-op 3 months and be in the office and am very worried about that. But you know what? My health isn't worth it. At the end of the day, it's a job. If I can't do it, and they lay me off, then so be it. I'll legally handle that then, but mostly I am p*ssed off that I am being forced to add "locate attorney specializing in state employment law" to my pre-op preparation.
    Female, age 38
    4 years of bracing, concluded at 42*upper/38*lower
    currently 64*upper/40*lower
    Fused T3-L4 on Feb 23 2011
    now 32*upper/18* lower

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sacramento, CA area
    Posts
    189
    It has now been 3 1/2 months since my surgery and I can't imagine returning to work now. I'm still sore, especially from my thoracoplasty area and chest tube wounds, and feel stiff and tired through most of the day. For those of us a bit older and with longer fusions, it takes longer to recup, especially if we suffered any complications. I think that I will probably be returning to work by the end of February. I see recoveries here on the forum vary so much from person to person. Also, a lot depends on you and if you feel ready to return to work. I have to keep telling myself to not feel pressured to go back.

    This is the only time that you will have to really take care of yourself, because once you return to work, it's amazing how co-workers/managers will soon forget what you went through with the surgery/recovery and they may expect too much from you!
    Laurie
    Age 57
    Posterior fusion w/thoracoplasty T2-L3 Oct 1, 2010
    Thoracic curve corrected from 61* to 16*
    Lumbar curve, unknown measurement
    Disfiguring back hump GONE!!
    Dr Munish Gupta
    UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    1,250
    Lily--
    Welcome to the forum--although sorry you have to be here. On the job-return
    subject I retired from teaching before I had surgery. I have no idea when I would have been able to return but it would have been a very long time. Of course, I am older than you which makes a difference. Mine was a 10 hour one. All of those things make a difference. Even when all is the same, everyone heals differently. Just a caution--don't be too anxious to go back quickly. You need to heal and fuse properly so you won't have to go through it again! Like you said, your health is much more important thanthe job! Good luck with all of this. Janet
    Janet

    61 years old--57 for surgery

    Diagnosed in 1965 at age of 13--no brace
    Thoracic Curve: 96 degrees to 35 degrees
    Lumbar Curve: 63 degrees to 5 degrees
    Surgery with Dr. Lenke in St. Louis--March 30, 2009
    T-2 to Pelvis, and hopefully all posterior procedure.

    All was posterior along with 2 cages and 6 osteotomies.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,158
    Quote Originally Posted by Lilysaidwhat View Post
    I've been told that my job only has to be held for 12 weeks and beyond that, they reserve the right to lay me off. I have a 2 hr commute in each direction, and while I can telecommute, I wouldn't be surprised if they "achieve savings" by eliminating my position.

    I feel very pressured to try to return to work post-op 3 months and be in the office and am very worried about that. But you know what? My health isn't worth it. At the end of the day, it's a job. If I can't do it, and they lay me off, then so be it. I'll legally handle that then, but mostly I am p*ssed off that I am being forced to add "locate attorney specializing in state employment law" to my pre-op preparation.
    <snip>

    Hi Lily,

    Isn't that lovely how callous employers can be. I am a nurse in a hospital and my HR department threatened me with termination last week because they say they can't allow me to return with any activity restrictions. Fortunately my department wants me back in any capacity, and all my department doctors are on my side also. What I did was approach my department supervisor and manager about my need for surgery before I scheduled it. I explained what the surgery entailed and how long the recovery would be. I asked for them to help me not endanger my job.

    Now that I am almost 14 weeks post op (from a complicated 8-9 hour surgery which included lumbar fusion revision and repair of a myriad of degenerative problems), I plan to return next week. I have a 20 minute easy drive to work, so that helps. I will be allowed to mainly sit at computers and monitors and do seated work for 3 more months. It definitely helped in my case to have the meeting beforehand with my department who in turn met with me and the director of HR.

    Yes, as someone else posted, bottom line is your health is most important. And One way you can speed your return to work is to get into the very best physical and aerobic shape possible before surgery. Do fast walking everyday, or cardio machines at the gym, or swim every day for at least an hour if possible. I was swimming about 90 minutes a day every day before my surgery, and I think it made me come out much stronger.

    Good luck,
    Gayle, age 50
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation
    Feb 2012 lumbar revision for broken rods @ L2-3-4
    Sept 2015 major lumbar A/P revision for broken rods @ L5-S1


    mom of Leah, 15 y/o, Diagnosed '08 with 26* T JIS (age 6)
    2010 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    2017 curves stable/skeletely mature

    also mom of Torrey, 12 y/o son, 16* T, stable

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