So tomorrow I will be one week post op my interbody fusion, Anterior/posterior approach. Radical discectomy, plastic cages & bmp through the front, screws and rods through the back.
Some background for anyone reading that isn't familiar with me or my situation.... I had back pain for a few years but thought it was normal until I developed sciatica in my right leg in February 2007. I was in and out of my doctor's office each time only receiving pain meds, anti inflammatories, and muscle relaxers. I started physical therapy in the beginning of the year, then chiropractic... Had an MRI that showed a moderate herniation at L4-L5, then had a cortisone injection under x-ray, with no relief, and was finally referred to my current Neurosurgeon. Plan was to do a Microdiscectomy to get the pressure off my nerve and try to take care of the sciatica so that I could start physical therapy again (Aquatic) to strengthen my back and see if that route would fix my problems. Well, it didn't, and symptoms not only persisted, but got worse. My surgeon and I decided on a fusion, and set a date of October 16. A couple weeks ago I ended up reherniating L4-L5 while bending over cleaning soap off the tub shaving my legs. I started to get numbness in my right leg and foot and also pain down the front, whereas usually it was the side and back. My right foot became very weak and I couldn't drive without lifting my entire thigh off the seat to take my foot off the gas. At times I'd end up tripping over my foot. They started me on steroids on Friday, sent me for another MRI that night (which showed the reherniation) and had me come to the office on Monday. They told me what happened and said my nerve was being severely irritated, and that they were worried the weakness wouldn't go away, that it would end up being permanent. My doctor was not at the office so the head NS there looked at it and said he didn't recommend leaving it for very long at all. They had me come back on Thursday to see my doctor and told me to prepare myself for possible surgery on Friday to remove the pressure off the nerve. I saw my surgeon and she said she really didn't want to leave it the way it was until my fusion on the 16, that we were risking serious nerve damage and my foot being weak and possibly useless for the rest of my life. Gave me a few options, but we ended up seeing if we could move my fusion up. So she moved her schedule around and called the Vascular surgeon right then and there in front of me and found out if he could switch his up, and they decided to do my surgery the next morning.
So I had my fusion (6 inch incision in the front with stitches, and 4 incisions in the back two about 1 inch, and two that are about 3 inches diagonally with staples) and had a really hard time in the hospital... Waking up from surgery... I had no idea pain that intense even existed. Pain medication wasn't controlling it at ALL. They gave me the PCA pump with Morphine, and upped the dose 5 times... Still nothing. Finally they started giving me injections of Dilaudid with Valium and that was helping somewhat. When I finally got out of bed the next morning, I started feeling somewhat better. My stomach was KILLING me. I was on a clear liquid diet the entire time. Once I finally got my digestive system working acceptably, I was discharged (4 days later). Once I got home I felt so much better. They sent me home with Dilaudid and Valium, and my amazing brace. It's a soft velcro one, with the hard support right near my spine, with a lace connecting the two sides that gets pulled to tighten and velcros around to the front. I have been walking a lot... Went out to the store on Tuesday, the day after my discharge, went to my son's doctor's appointment yesterday, have been sitting in a recliner, walking, sitting, walking, all day... As long as I have my brace on I am good. When I take my brace off, it feels like my guts are falling out. My stomach is still really swollen. It still hurts inside when I eat and try to use the bathroom. My stomach is very numb around the incision site, yet the incision site itself hurts a lot still. The steri strips are still on it, and I can't wait until it heals. I sleep on my back, and tend to wake up once a night for pain killers. A lot of people comment that it must be because I'm so young... I don't think that's it. I think it's that I have a positive attitude towards my recovery. I don't pay much attention to the pain.... I wear my brace and since I feel support, I do what I can do, and that's enough for me. I do have times where I get up without it, and walk around brace-free, so my core muscles are NOT losing any strength. I have great help with my son by my boyfriend, and he takes good care of me, too. I am excited to see where the recovery takes me, and to see how far I can go. Kind of upsets me when people say "you must just be in a lot less pain than everyone else"... Because that is not the case. I take my pain meds and my muscle relaxers, and you can bet your booties that at night when I take my brace off and lay down, my body aches. My body hurts just as much as the next person's.... But it's all about your attitude towards it and how much you let it get you down. If you can walk.... Walk and do something fun
If you can sit.... Sit and watch one of your favorite movies. Find ways to make your situation work for you. I am one week post op and hurting and HAPPY.
So take this for whatever it's worth, whatever you'd like. I just know that I have never had such a positive outlook on my back situation as I do now. THANK YOU to every one who has been there for me, supported me, given me their experiences, their advice, letting me vent... I appreciate it all very, very much
I hope everyone is doing well and having a good night. To those of you who are awaiting surgery, I wish you the very best & hope you feel better than ever!