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4 mos post op L5 S1 fusion, still in pain, depressed and overweight

MingMMing Posts: 1,127
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi This is my first time posting so please bear with me. I am reaching out for answers, understanding, people who can relate or any kind of encouragement at this point. Here's my story:

I went through 6 years of various therapies (chiropractor, spinal decompression, PT, steriod injections 2x's, facet block , radio frequency ablation diagnosis and discogram). I finally gave in and had a anterior spinal fusion of L5, S1 on 7/1/08. One year prior to this surgery I was approximately 70 pounds less. Due to the extreme pain, I was unable to continue with my daily 1 1/2 - 2 hours of exercise. The weight piled on quick and the pain came on even more intense. I am now 4 months post op and still 70 pounds overweight. I am extremely depressed and in constant pain. The only difference I've noticed is that I do not have the muscle spasms as before, however I am still getting the extreme sciatica pain down right leg down to calf. When I sit for more than about 10 minutes my legs get numb (even left side which I didn't have problems with this side before). It feels like that pins and needles feeling when your legs fall asleep. I keep telling my surgeon how much pain I am in and he says I need to wean off the pain meds since my body has become so dependent on them. I am currently on vicoprofin (2-4 per day), effexor for depression, klonopin for anxiety, stool softeners....you can figure that one out and zolpidem for insomnia. I feel I've done good at weaning down on the drugs however now I don't have enough to manage the pain. He is going to do a CT scan shortly to see if the bone is regrowing properly or any other problems. He has mentioned several times that my weight is not helping my recovery, which I completely understand and am very ashamed. I've tried to excercise and everything hurts. Even walking just a little bit which I tried doing. I am so depressed because the pain is stressing me out. I feel completely worthless because I have trouble doing easy everyday chores we would normally take for granted (loading dishwasher, washing machine, mopping, sweeping etc.) The Dr doesn't understand why I can't just get up and push through this pain, lose weight and start feeling better.

Can anyone relate to my situation, offer advice, support etc? I have called the dr 3x's this week to let them know I don't have enough pain meds to last the weekend and they never called me back so I guess I have to just bear it until I can reach them next week. I don't understand their logic.
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Comments

  • You still have sciatica so I would get another opinion if I were you.

    On the weight control...portion control works for me and come to think of it I need to drop some lbs too.

    JMHO

    Harry
  • I was just thinking today that I should get a 2nd opinion. Maybe a neurologist because I haven't tried that yet.

    I know what I need to do to lose weight because I was a lifetime member for weight watchers until the pain got so bad that I haven't been able to work since 2/08. It's so hard when you are depressed, in pain, and have no ambition anymore.

    My father is only 54 and totally disabled and in a wheelchair. It breaks my heart because I feel like that going to be me in 24 years because he started out exactly like what I am going through when he was my age. My brother who is 3 years older is also having very similar problems.
  • Also dr did xrays and said plates, screws, and cage all look great. Can they see sciatic from xrays or will they be able to spot that on CT Scan?
  • I am over weight myself. :( I was supposed to have an anterior fusion this year, but doc won't do it until I lose 50 pounds. I have known this since last December, and have only taken 20 off. ~X( ~X( He told me back then he could do a posterior fusion, but thought anterior would be better for me since I am only 33 with two fairly young kids (12 and 7). I just e-mailed him this week and told him I'm not losing the weight, and am getting worse everyday, and to just do the posterior fusion. He told me he is going to discuss this with the head surgeon and get back to me. :W
    I also can't so much as lift a LIGHT laundry basket, or put a couple of dishes in the dishwasher without a flare up. :''( I have a lot of support from my husband and kids, :X but I'm the Mom, you know. They should depend on me. =((
    It's hard to lose weight when you can't move, and I admit food is comforting. Every time I move and I hurt I think "does food really taste good enough to go thru this?". [(
    At least the surgery is overwith for you, and you will get to a point when you are ready to take the bull by the horns and do something. I'm so sorry your doctor is giving you such a hard time with the pain pills. And no, and x-ray will not show them your sciatic nerve. So you may be fusing, but obviously something else is up. A MRI or Catscan will tell them what's going on.

    Good luck, and PM me if you need to talk. >:D<

    Caity
  • Yes I too can relate. Obvioulsy exercsie works for you in keeping your weight down and it must have been a shock to suddenly stop all that exercise.
    Now I know the gym is out of the question as far as exercises goes but how about a walking machine where 1) you can hold on so it makes it easiers and 2) you can go at your own small pace 3) you can get on and off as often as you like. Just 5 minutes or even 3 to start with 10 times a day will make a big difference. It will also help your fusion.
    Do not be ashamed of putting on weight, this is not something you have control over at the momentand guilt is a useless emotion. Better to channel that energy into something positive.
    Also have you tried aquatherapy???? It is wonderful for assisting with movement in a gentle way.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Hi Ming, sorry you are having a rough time. Have you been to PT since surgery? I have lost 50 pounds so far going to the YMCA and exercising in the pool. I do a therapy routine I learned a couple years ago. It is very gentle, even just walking in the water is good for you. I also am trying to be good, but not that good ;) My pool time got me through the six months before my surgery physically and helped me loose the weight. Personally I found pain and pending surgery very motivating, but I know sometimes it just compounds the problem. I hope you start to feel better soon. Keep advocating for yourself, cause you know the squeaky wheel gets the oil :) >:D< Cali-Sue
  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. there is a weight loss group here on the fourm. pm me if you are interested. you can lose weight without exercise, it is just more difficult. join us and see. =D> you sound very down and depressed. have a look around the different forums and make yourself at home. good luck in your pain treatments. Jenny :)
  • I can certainly relate to your weight gain and pain. For 13 months after my surgery I was in pain, inactive, and gaining weight. Once I was told by my doctors the fusion was a success, my spine was stable, and there was nothing more they could do, I decided to do it myself. What I did worked for me and I am not suggesting you do this. I had awful muscle spasms and sciatica running down my left buttock. Each day, I would do my core exercises, increasing the reps every couple of weeks. I also began to walk. I would walk a tenth of a mile and be overcome with spasms and buttock pain. Each day I pushed a little further. Before I would stop when I hit "the pain wall" but now I was pushing through it. Today, 7 months later I am walking 4 miles a day at a brisk pace. Along with exercise, I watch what I eat. Yogurt cup for breakfast, diet frozen meal for lunch, and a normal, regular supper. I chew a lot of sugarless gum while watching TV. Since May, I have lost 70 pounds and plan to keep losing. My pain is 90% gone and maybe someday it will completely disappear.

    Dick
    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • Testimony that this really is BIT work and we all need to be very patient.

    Your frustrations are all ok and normal. This is such a painful and debilitating experience yet lacks the empathy of other diseases and obvious - ness to the world. You know like a broken leg in a huge cast can get the support and sympathy yet a bad back gets nothing...in fact I am treated with a very high index of suspicion (even around ppl that know me) and a good few that clearly felt very guilty when they found hardwear complications... :O

    Anyway, please hang in there. You have found these boards now and a wealth of support too.

    Four months is early yet. Review all your daily life and see if there is anything there that may be aggrivating you?

    Regards the weight - All you can do is eat a balanced healthy diet. If you can't burn off the calories "yet" then you can't. Don't add malnutrition to your medical problems that really will aggrivate your recovery.

    What is wrong with your father? Is your problems herediatry?
  • I've read some of your other posts and feel we have a lot in common. My husband is not that supportive though so I tend to overdo it around the house and was doing way more than I should just days after coming home from surgery.

    I've done a lot of research and from what I've reviewed, the anterior fusion is better and quicker recovery from the posterior. That's just my opinion. The doctor did say that due to my weight gain it would be a harder recovery and if I was a smoker too he wouldn't even do that surgery. I quit almost 2 years ago. :))(

    I don't know if I mentioned before but I also have 2 small kids 6 and 12 so I completely understand.

    This rainy weather is really killing me today. The dampness goes right to my back. I only have a couple of pain meds left and trying to make them last until I can get ahold of the doctor.

    I am waiting for preauth from insurance for CT scan. I think I set my expectations too high for recovery and was planning on being up an exercising and losing mad weight. I didn't gain it over night and I shouldn't think I would lose it too quick either. The weight seemed to come on so fast though. I blame it on the combo of antidepressants, pain meds, muscle relaxers and the inability to exercise. I also sprained my ankle and that's when everything went downhill fast since I had to put more weight on my right side to compensate for hurt ankle and the right side was where I was experiencing the most back pain. Now I am still having trouble with my ankle too. I feel like it's a never ending battle. I am tired of being in pain and the pain is so exhausting. I am grouchy and tired all the time.

    I have an eliptical which I used to use for 1-1.5 hours
    every day in addition to walking 2-4 miles a day before I sprained my ankle. The surgeon also suggested yoga so I bought a beginners yoga DVD set and still haven't tried it yet. It seems I have completely lost my motivation to do anything because I know it's going to hurt.

    I agree with Dick that if you can push through the pain and keep exercising, eventually it will make you feel better. It's just getting the motivation and will power to push through the pain. I was able to do this when I was on higher doses of pain meds but now that he's weaned me down to practicly nothing the pain is debilitating.

    Thanks for listening to me whine :''( I have to go put my feet up as I can't sit in the computer chair for too long before that starts to hurt too ~X(
  • I was doing PT after my surgery for about a month and then my insurance ran out because my short term disability ran out and my company could no longer keep me as an employee. It actually seemed to make it worse. There were some exercises I couldn't do because it felt like my guts were going to drop out of my stomach :& I just got on FHP so I am going to start PT back up next week. The dr wanted me to focus on weight management and core strengthening.
  • Hi Ming:

    Sorry to hear that you are in pain. This forum will give you some good support.

    I had a TLIF about 14 months ago. I was not overweight before the surgery and I am not now. However, I was many years ago and I had gastric bypass surgery and lost a lot of weight. I keep it off by eating several small meals a day, I seldom exercise.

    As far as recovery from your back surgery, everyone is different. You are still early in your recovery and this is a long recovery process. Cali Sue made a good point, if you can do anything in a water, that might be soothing.

    If the doctor is not responsive, be forceful, if they don't respond then maybe you need a new doctor.

    I hope you can get some relief.

    Ellen
  • I had anterior and posterior surgery... I found the anterior to be MUCH worse. MUCH MUCH MUCH. I think it is all based on each person's anatomy and certain sensitivities. Everyone has their own. Mine must be in the front. My stomach incision is the only one that still hurts when I cough, sneeze, laugh too hard, etc. So I think whatever the doctor recommends as best for the patient is probably what's best... Don't let the pre-op pain be the deciding factor, because it is always variable. There are a couple other people on here that had anterior with posterior and felt the anterior was worse for them. So you never know.

    As for the weight gain... I used to eat from boredom. Now I find things to do to occupy my time so I don't eat for that reason and I lost 35 lbs in 3 months. That might not seem like a ton but I don't have a ton to lose... So, it made a major difference. I also take Wellbutrin SR, which is one of the few anti-depressants that won't make you gain weight... In fact, it has the opposite effect. One side effect is appetite suppression.
  • I think your really over-doing it at 4 months. I couldn't do squat 4 months after my 3 level fusion. Shoot, I'm 9 months post-op and I still can't vacume or sit in a tub comfortably to shave my legs. lol...

    I think you need to kick back and give yourself time to heal, you're working way too hard and your hubby needs to step up to the plate and help with all your household chores, AND you have small children?? He really needs to devote a little more attention to your situation. I just don't think it's so much added weight gain, as it is you doing way to much at 4 months. Take it easy, you should only be doing your PT, and maybe small EASY chores, but no more... You've got a long ways to go in healing, don't mess it up, you don't want it re-done do you? I wasn't even fusing until I was 23 weeks, and I wasn't allowed to even start PT until that point, much less keep a clean house.
  • Ming,

    You are 4 months out and having nerve pain. Get off the elliptical. Forget the PT. Yeah, losing weight would probably help your overall situation, but that doesn't change the fact that you have nerve pain which might mean a mechanical obstruction.

    I SOOOO agree with your doctor and say you need to get off the vicoprofen-but only because the ibuprofen in it inhibits fusion and the vicodin must not be strong enough for you. You SOOOO need/deserve to be on different/stronger/better choice pain meds. YOU DESERVE AN OPINION WITH ANOTHER DOCTOR WHO WILL LISTEN TO YOU.

    I spent too much of my life after my fusion surgery crying, suicidal, feeling worthless, and being told everything was my fault(I was too active, I was impatient, etc.) I knew what was wrong with me(among other things, BMP caused bone to grow on my nerve roots and caused return of nerve pain) and finally went to see another surgeon. Guess what, he not only gave me that diagnosis, he believed my pain and is helping "fix" me to the degree I can be fixed. I am headed for another corrective surgery here soon, but am very thankful I will get more relief. My good surgeon says, "Nerve pain overrides everything else and you cannot deal with other issues until you deal with the nerve pain."

    In my experience, it is hard to communicate with the surgeon when you are depressed. When I would cry, I automatically was dismissed as a nutcase. I don't know if this happens to you, but if so, I would suggest writing things down in a very, very, short, concise way to present to the doctor and give him one more chance. I would suggest no matter what getting a second opinion outside of his practice. You have problems that need addressed and it's not that your weight is the only problem. This is not something that losing weight and getting off pain meds is going to fix, in my spiney opinion!
  • Thanks for the great advice and pray that your new surgeon will be successful at easing your pain. I often break down and cry to my doctor and it does seem at times he thinks I am just a nut case 8} . I have an appt with my PCP on Monday and am going to suggest he refer me to a neuro and see where I can get there since it does seem to be more nerve pain at this point.

    Good luck with everything.
  • If there is anyway you can get in a pool, it was the best thing I did. First, I just stood in the water until the pain went away. And I had them bring out the "stairs" or chair lift to get me in and out. Even if you don't have a Y membership - they usually just charge a nominal fee like $5 per visit. After a few visits of just standing in the water, I started to walk in the water staying in the shallow end with the water almost up to my neck. For months, the pool was the only place I was pain free. But it did work! I would also get a 2nd opinion - you need to be able to talk to your doctor and he/she should be helping not discouraging. O:)
  • Thanks for the advice. I am looking into PT places that use aqua therapy. My parents have a pool and I would just walk around in the water during the summer, however, I live in upstate NY so can't walk in their water any longer :))(
    Anyway, I am just waiting to hear my results of CT scan and then going to call the PT place that my dad went to depending on the outcome of the scan.
  • Hi Ming,
    Hang in there, just like you I am new here. This group is so awesome, very, very down to earth people, and so supportive. I know how a constant pain can be so debilitating. Give your body chance to recover and take it easy.
    I had an MD w/ disc problem too, so, when I was describing my pain, he actually believed me and totally relate with what I was talking about (my back pain).
    Good luck to you. Hope you will find a doctor who can help you with pain control.

    Honeybee
  • Ming,

    I'm a little late in responding but would like to make a few suggestions.

    First of all, if you have not done so already, schedule an appt. with Pain Medicine physician (preferably anesthesiologist specializing in Pain Management) as soon as possible! Ortho or Neuro surgeons focus on diagnosis and treatment--they of course should care about the pain (and many do!) but pain is quite frankly a symptom which helps them diagnose/treat. A Pain Management specialist focuses purely on pain, will do a comprehensive workup and should offer you a variety of options--most importantly, immediate pain relief to get yourself out of pain and able to sleep which helps with weight loss.

    In my experience, lack of sleep not only keeps you from coping with pain (therefore increasing pain or perception of) but also prevents your metabolism from working properly. Prior to my fusion, I was so frustrated with weight gain and inability to move/exercise cuz despite diet changes (either what you eat or less portions), you also do need to move; however, we as back patients are in the Catch 22 situation of moving causes pain, so can't move alot or enough to help us with weight loss, so try to get your pain addressed first--and be sure that you are also getting any sleeplessness addressed...and just hang in there...it's ridiculous :W to expect a back surgery patient to do much other than walking which as you may very well know takes a long time to shed pounds.

    The good news in my experience is that once the pain is managed and if I maintain sleep levels, I tend to start dropping weight. I sleep whenever I can--luckily stay at home Mom--so sleep at night, if not, sleep during the day after our son goes to school. People are quick to tell you not to nap but I take any sleepy opportunity to get a few hours of sleep, no matter what. I know that it won't always be like this but the pain/no sleep cycle is very difficult to manage.

    Good luck and take care. One day at a time. Be good to yourself and take charge of your pain!!!

    P.S. I've lost 35 lbs. total since my fusion in Jan. 08. It is encouraging and I hope to lose more but am at a "set point" and not giving up.

    Kathy
  • I so understand how you feel. There has been so much great advice - I will try to remember everything.

    First, I'm sure at 4 months out, they are still expecting your nerves to heal and regenerate and obviously aren't taking you as seriously as they need to. I was told nerves regenerate at about an inch a month and I waited 2 years with no improvement. My nerve burns from my buttock to my foot and if I could reach it, I could use a magic marker to show the pain pathway. I also have 40%+ numbness on my lateral legs and feet (to the outside). I first noticed then when I nicked the heck out my leg shaving. I now have to be very very careful as I cannot feel such a large portion of my leg.

    Between the lack of mobility, the steroid injections and other meds, and stress eating, I gained about 20 to 30 lbs through the process. I have recently lost over 15lbs, and I did it by going gluten-free. No flour, wheat, bread, etc. It is believed that gluten may cause inflammation, so for me it was worth a try since nothing else was really working.

    The first thing I noticed was that I lost 6 lbs almost instantly but looked like I had lost 20, so I was definitely getting bloated with the bread products. It hasn't been as hard as I thought to avoid it, though, and I will continue it probably forever. The cravings only lasted a few days and it hasn't been difficult to find things to eat in general. I now eat salads, fruit, meat, etc., but no bread, nothing with white flour. I have experimented with gluten-free baking mixes and found a great brownie mix, for example, but I don't need the sugar. You might try that to see if it helps any with your pain (plus I guarantee you will lost some weight and "bloating". It is very encouraging!)

    Lack of sleep definitely causes increased pain and since my nerve pain burns night and day, I don't sleep unless I take sleep meds. I keep myself distracted all day (my greatest weapon), but at night, there is nothing but me and the burning pain. It is tough, so I tend to stay up for hours. Lately, I finally fall asleep around 3 am or so, even with meds.

    We moved in June and were fortunate to find a home with a pool, something we have never had before. I had heard water therapy was really good for those of us with spine issues, and with my limited mobility, I knew I really couldn't expect to make it to a local gym for their pool. As it is now, I rarely drive due to shooting nerve pains and the meds I am on. Fortunately, we live in the midSouth, so do have warmer weather longer than you do based on location.

    I purchased one of those belts that keep you elevated easier and some some other water resistance items. I really enjoyed getting out there in the privacy of my backyard and working very easily on my core muscles. I have been a bit worse since swimming season has been over. I am looking forward to March when we can reopen the pool I have to be careful, though, as colder water tends to cause muscle spasms. The pool is not heated, nor could we probably afford it if it were! lol

    I must stay reclined most of the day due to permanent S1 nerve damage and have about a 20 to 30 minute window for sitting or standing, but am awaiting the spinal cord stimulator trial, which I hope to be successful. This will block the pain signals to my brain and I hope to regain some of my life back. But until then, not much exercising going on from a fully reclined position. Interestingly, my appetite is very small and while at first I wondered if it was the meds, I really think it is the pain. Being in great pain just makes it hard for me to eat, sadly. My stomach capacity is now much smaller, so I can't eat much in one sitting. I tend to eat small meals, up to 6 a day. But I will admit - I do not look like I miss any meals, I can promise you that!

    I would get a second opinion, but will be honest and tell you that most docs will say it is much to early to see if your surgery was a success. For me, I had a posterior 360 fusion and did very well with that. I am considered a fusion success as in my back is finally stable. But my nerve pain was never improved and I was finally given nerve conduction studies and an EMG which proved I do have acute and chronic S1 nerve damage. It took forever for the docs to be willing to do that, though. They just assume we will heal, I guess. I had to learn to improve my communication skills and stop trying so hard to be a success. Admitting my pain was still there was very difficult for me. We tend to put so much hope into these major procedures.

    I personally had 3 L5-S1 surgeries in 12 months. 1st a regular laminectomy/discectomy, but then I fell (had numb feet I didn't fully realize) and had a non-hardware fusion. That surgery was a failure and part of my facet joint was actually missing (broken off in surgery, perhaps?). The 3rd fusion was very necessary as I had over-rotation and shearing causing significant instability.

    Walking is the most I would do in the way of exercise, if I were you. Stretching and any other activity could cause further damage. I would 100% follow my doctor's advice, a trusted doctor's advice. If you no longer trust your doctor or feel they are not listening, I would get a 2nd opinion ASAP. It is so important that we feel our doc has our best interests at heart.

    The more stress we feel, the more pain we have. It is such a vicious cycle. I am sorry your husband is not more helpful. Mine is amazing and really keeps an eye on me to make sure I don't do anything I shouldn't do. Any bending, lifting or twisting and I am in significantly increased pain. Taking care of the house is a thing of the past. The most I can do is wipe off a counter here and there, if I don't lean or reach at all. We actually have hired our 16 year old to be the housekeeper and he does almost everything, along with all the laundry and dishwasher duties. He's thrilled because of the extra money, I am thrilled because my house is clean and hubby is thrilled because he doesn't come home to a second full-time job of keeping the house caught up. We are very lucky in that our boys are 16 and 19 and very helpful. I can only imagine the struggle with having younger children.

    I also had several months of physical therapy, and it made me worse. The therapist looked at my 42 year old smiling face and said "She can do it" and pushed me too hard. Way too hard. My final surgeon (we had moved and each surgeon was in a different state!) shared with me that he doesn't recommend PT unless it is a therapist he has trained. He has seen them do more harm than good when they don't understand the patient's limitations.

    And that brings me to - my first 2 surgeons were orthopedic doctors and my final one was a neurosurgeon. Based on my personal experience, I highly recommend at least a consultation with a neurosurgeon before you make any major decisions. Then you will know you covered all bases.

    I am reading a book now called "Healing Back Pain Naturally - The Mind-Body Program Proven To Work" and it has some awesome meditative techniques. For me, with permanent nerve damage, there will be no "healing". But learning new ways to control the pain mentally, to be able to "handle it" much better than in the past has been invaluable. I am taking it a few pages at a time, trying new things. Anything to distract my mind off the pain.

    I truly believe that what we focus on, expands. Pick a subject. It is so hard to sit and dwell on our pain when it is robbing us of our every movement, but while we are restricted, we have the time to learn new techniques to help us. If our pain is ever gone, we can use those techniques for other things. For now, finding new things to do to help deal with the pain gives me a sense of power over my situation.

    I recently had to have a 3.5 hours psychiatric evaluation to see if I qualified to have the spinal cord stimulator trial. I was found not to be depressed, thankfully, but I believe that having depressive thoughts is only normal. Crying over this level of pain is human emotion. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break and accept that we are OK.

    We aren't going to get over this, but by the grace of God we will get through it. That is my goal. One day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. Coming to acceptance is a very long, difficult journey.

    For now, I pray that you are simply in the early stages of recovery from surgery. That perhaps your nerves and muscles are inflamed and irritated from your increased activity (that perhaps you should not be doing, but whose gonna do it? Right?) Sometimes, I think our spouses get impatient and try as they might, they just will never really understand. That's what we have each other for on this board and others like it. I know that when I share with others who understand, my burden eases just a bit. I don't feel so alone in the world.

    Many gentle hugs for you,

    Cheri

  • Unfortunately, I so relate to everything you all say. I am so sorry for the troubles you all have with back pain.

    I had a discectomy Nov. 21st and I now hurt as much or more than before. I tried everything prior to surgery: PT, exercise, no exercise, chiropractors, epidural (Aug. 08), nerve blocks (Oct. 08), all sorts of meds. Nothing 'cured' me. I always had the pain.

    I went for my post-op app. today and my surgeon said he was concerned with my reported pain and numbness (left foot is numb, tingly, uncomfortable). He scheduled a cat scan for tomorrow and a follow-up with him on Wed. He squeezed me in.

    Does anyone know if severe nerve damage can/will heal in time? I want so much to be able to go back to work without pain. I would also love to jog again!

    I have put on weight and flab from not being able to jog as I did before. The pain and weight gain make me hate myself right now. I actually think at time that a prosthetic leg or not being here at all to have to deal with the pain would be preferable.

    I do hope we all have a more pain-free 2009!

    Joan
  • Obviously Im not that far out in my back recovery so its hard for me to relate just yet to all you mentioned, but in regaurds to pusing through pain and having depression I think I have become an expert on that. The only surgery I can relate to on any level right now as far as "it did get better" is my ACL reconstruction.
    I never knew a knee was that important before. I got angry, depressed, gained weight, lost muscle, lost my friends due to just being stuck in the house or always at PT. I was alone besides the few who stuck by me. I hated the world and I wasn't getting any better. My knee was getting worse every day from general pain and lack of strength. So I set a goal and it helped, but I set a day to day goal even if it was just to friggin shower that day. My long term was to climb to the top of Diamond Head in Waikiki in the summer of that year. I had surgery right after the new year of 99.
    Every day I had PT which was three times a week for three hours both aqua and floor, for four months. Most ACL's dont take that long to recover from. I had a build up of scar tissue and every time i was there they had to break through it. It was like they broke my knee three times a week for four months. It still tops this surgery on pain scale. But I finally just got so angry that I used it to my advantage. I got to the point that by hell or high water I was going to do this (if i didnt i was in for another surgery). Low and behold I climbed Diamond Head that summer, slowly...but I did. It was mind over matter and I NOT belittling your situation or pain. Just that I can relate in some way.
    I lost the wieght, my knee didnt need another surgery, depression lessened...and I wore the shirt that I bought the day I climbed that mountain ten years ago on the day of my back surgery to remind me, give it all I have but it is one day at a time. I hope you start to feel better and get things manageable again. Your in my prayers
    Erica
  • You sound very strong willed and I am too so I know that I will push through this. I think the docs are intimidated by people who come in with knowledge and the willingness to stick up for themselves. I don't know if I would call it intimidation or arrogance on their part though because from their point of view (in my opinion) is that they are the professionals. It really is hard to get myself motivated when the pain is so bad. I've been really depressed before and overweight and would just exercise as much as I could physically handle in one day and it helped me so good mentally. Now I can't do that. I would be happy with being able to do a couple of minutes per day. I cleaned the eliptical off today and by golly, I am going to use it by the end of tomorrow. I need to get in shape if I want to be a super hero =))
  • To me, you are already a Super Hero!! I'm amazed (when reading all your other posts) that you have survived. You have so many obstacles in your life. Please stay strong! Perhaps the eliptical is not the "weapon of choice" for now since you are still having a lot of nerve pain. Have you asked a PT or your doc about using it? Please be very careful!!!
  • Thank you for your kind words Joy. Ortho doc said it was ok. He encourages exercising and resuming an active lifestyle. In fact he doesn't think I am doing enough.
  • Hey ming hang in there, ask your doc if you can use methadone for the pain there is no high to speak of and you will not feel pain the sme way any more it works well its just hard to get off of i was on it for 2 years prior to my surgery and no longer need it, i was working constr. type jobs with a broken L5 and didnt even feel it much so its very strong perfect for you i would say. thanks dan
  • The reason your Dr. thinks it'd easy for you to get off the pain meds is probably because he has not had the same surgery!. Also, I would definately find a neurosurgeon. Thay are the only ones who understands nerves and spinal cord pain. Just be sure to investigate and ask around- ck. them out as much as you can. I have put on weight since my surgery and I have had good luck with the Atkins diet because it burns fat without exercise at 1st. There are a lot of places to eat great low carb and you can have all of the steak, seafood etc. you want. Good luck, I feel your pain and I know how the medical profession can get you down.
  • Dear Ming, I am now almost 3 years past a PLIF with cage, pedicle screws and the horrible BMP. When I look back at how emotional I was when I went to my appointments, I wish I could take it back, but I can't. I was grieving for my former life. Since my back problem resulted from a fall in grease coming out of a store and resulted in 2 surgeries, I had a lot of anger. I have never recieved a dime in medical bills from the store yet and it has nearly killed my business that I saved all of my life for.I have an appt. soon to let him know that I'm still in pain and I am going to be firm, strong and to the point if it kills me. I am also going to remind him that with all of the other surgeries I had, I never had to take meds for long. The next person in the medical field ( no offence) because some have been angels, but if they say I need to wean off meds I am going to ask how much hardware do they have in their back. Please stay encouraged and realize that depression can often go along with all you have been through. I try to be thankful for the things I still can do and the legs that I still have- it's just hard. My prayers are with you.
  • I finally got switched to MsContin 10mg 1 tab every 12 hours and flexoral. They seem to be helping a little bit better and it's nice just taking 2 pills instead of 6 for pain meds. Thanks for you advice.

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