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Supposed to return to work today 1/2 days..but

candle99ccandle99 Posts: 279
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I just couldn't make it. I have an hour drive and got 1/2 way and turned back around and came home. My left side of my neck and into my left shoulder down my arm is killing me. The back of my neck is painful too. It's like a big toothache. I knew if I made it in, that the pain would even get worse sitting at my desk and working at the computer. I'm also thinking that the stress and anxiety of going back has increased things too. What am I going to do? I feel like a big whiney butt and a failure. My husband lost his job the first week of this month and I'm out of leave. So I really have to work. We have some money in the bank, but it's still scarey. I had a C5/6 ACDF on 6/15, after having two lumbar surgeries last year. I just had a followup with my new NS last week and he gave me Zanaflex for the muscle problems I'm having. It helps some, but makes me terribly sleepy. I'm also taking 7.5 hydrocodone, but they really don't touch the pain anymore. I just feel like something's still not right. I've tried to realize that the ACDM did prevent permanent nerve damage in my arms and hands. My right hand has started buzzing again, but I know I also have carpal tunnel.

It's so hard to continue to have pain, to try and be a model patient and return to work, be strong, and it's just hard. I'm worn out still and I just want to give up and give in to it all. My low back still aches and at times I get nerve pain down my left leg. I had cage migration and it's still bulging, but the NS revised my hardware, adding screws to stablize everything and made more room for the nerves.

Thanks for listening. You guys are so supportive and understand like no one else can. I'm a supervisor at work and my employees can't wait for me to come back to lead them, there are a few that are quite dependent and wait to be told what to do. I am driven to do what I'm supposed to do, but I just can't get there this time in my mind and in my body. I hurt. I'm tired. I'm mentally just not ready as well as physically. My husband expects me to go back, my doctor does, my team at work does. I'm letting everyone down. So here I sit, online, at home, trying to do some work from home, on meds, constantly rubbing my neck and shoulder, leaning my head to the right, stretching my arms over my head. And I'm blabbering on and on. :)

I do start PT this afternoon at 2pm. I've decided that if it makes the pain any worse, I'm making an appt back to the NS to see what's wrong, get xrays, something.....


  • >:D< Sending you a hug - you need one! I hear everything you're saying in your post and understand your stress over this situation.

    I lost my job in May due to being absent so much because of pain. I worked in a professional capacity and had a lot of responsibility -- I tried, really, I did, but it's hard to think about anything else when you're in pain. I'd drive to work (only 1/2 hour for me) and pray to God to give me strength to make it through the day. I looked at myself as a failure because I was letting so many people down plus trying to hold on to my job during these tough economic times. My honey had lost his job at the first of the year also. The pressure was off the charts.

    Do whatever you need to do to support yourself right now. You didn't ask for any of this to happen to you and you're doing the best you can with the pain levels you are currently experiencing just to get through the day.

    And let's talk taking pain meds while working -- what I needed to take to be able to stand the pain would make me fuzzy headed and my short term memory sucked. All I wanted to do was lay down and rest ( I have bulging disk L4/L5 with severe sciatica left leg).

    Please don't push yourself to go back to work if you're not ready -- Talk to your company and see if you can work it out. If they value you as an employee, I'm sure they'll do what they can to help you out.

    Feel free to PM me anytime you want to vent -- I truly do understand your situation -- don't have an answer for you but please don't feel you're a failure -- no one's had to walk in your shoes and feel the pain you feel but you. Don't worry about other people's judgments.

    Sending you healing and comforting thoughts,

  • youll get into things at work and forget about the neck. just dont push it and get over tired. keep the ice pack handy...it will be good to kill the pain now and then. when your team at work sees the ice pack they will work harder, solve problems and make your life a bit easier...good luck
  • Pete, I have to disagree with you about getting into work and then forgetting about your neck. When I went back to work part-time in December to the job I absolutely loved, the neck pain was present and got stronger as the day progressed, whether I concentrated on work or not.

    It's really not that simple - computer work and sitting for any length of time is terrible for cervical spineys. It can be extremely painful.

    Candle, my only suggestion would be this: would it help if your hubby drove you to work so that you could adjust your sitting in the car on the way? Also, will your HR dept. offer an ergonomic assessment of your office? If so, that could help a lot.

  • Candle,
    I certainly can understand the feelings you are going through at this point and time. Stress and anxiety do not mix well with neck issues. We tend to carry all of that in the neck, so while you were already having spasm adding the stress didn't help ease the pain. Certainly the position you are in financially is not a easy one either, and just adding to the stress and pressure to perform. One thing I did before i went back to work was starting making some of the tracts in my car that I would be doing while working. It was kind of getting my feet wet but not really doing my job. I was a sales rep covering alot of territory and this helped me deal with some of it as well. I really can't advise you on wether to push yourself or not, as everyone heals at a different rate. The one thing I didn't see in your list of meds was a nerve med such as lyrica, nuerotin or perhaps cymbalta. Something along those lines may take the edge off the nerve pain. In my experience pain meds don't do well on pure nerve pain. Depending on wether heat or ice works for you, you may want to take these in your car as well. Another thing you may want to try is rolling a towel up to place behind your neck while driving to help support you more. There is some other options as far as seat adjustments and stirring wheel that may make things a bit easier, so you can get to work before the pain kicks in really bad. I have seen some who have needed some type of injections following surgery to get the pain under control and or steriods to bring down the inflammation and have done wonderful after these.

    Most importantly you have to listen to your body and know the signs. I would also give the surgeon a call and tell them what happened today, as well. When was your last set of films taken on your neck? For myself after the first surgery long about the 8th week I noticed a change in the way i felt, and returned to full-time work at the 10th week. However, you are not me, and I not you, so what is good for me may not be for you and like wise. I think recovery also depends on the extent of the damage going into surgery. Try and put today behind you and think about tomorrows plan of action. Tomorrow if you just make it to the parking lot, you made it further than today. Try to not beat yourself up to hard and feel as though you are whiney or a failure . We all have set backs on this roller coaster and soon hopefully your valleys won't be so deep and the ride not so bumpy. Hope you are feeling better and the spasms have let up some. Let me also say congrats for making the effort today, all though it didn't workout the way you wanted it to , it will in time. If you hadn't have tried you wouldn't know it would have been like this. So you made a leap and today was not the day, but it will come. Hang in there keep the faith and let us know how tomorrow goes. We are here for you any time. It is so nice to see members trying and getting back into the daily grind life. Take care and I hope the pain has eased somewhat by now.
  • I am taking Neurotin 600mg at night and one 30mg Cymbalta in the morning with my Celebrex and HBP pill. You're right that those take the edge off and without them, I'd be the ER for pain, I'm sure.

    Thanks, Cath for taking up for the computer folks. I was going to respond to Pete's post the same way. I have others that think a desk job is the easiest and it is in some ways, but also the very worst in other ways. For necks, it's the worst for me, since I already an OA, DDD, and all of that. Any constant position that strains or even if it doesn't strain the muscles, I get so stiff and in more pain when I do move.

    I'm pretty well convinced that I still have another problem with my neck that they didn't fix. My MRI report stated fractures, but the new NS said he didn't see anything like that, just the large spurs and the blown disc at C5/6. I wished now that I had insisted on the flexing xrays before surgery to see for sure if I had facets that weren't acting right or the vertebras. Some xrays at the chiro that I'd had showed problems at C6/7 too, but the MRI only stated mild bulging at C6/7, and the NS said he could only do surgery on C5/6 since all my nerve studies showed that's were the damage was from. I'm considering the trigger and ESI shots, but was waiting to see what PT did for me first. I wish that I had opted for both at the same time maybe to get over the hump, so to speak.

    With my lumbar problems and the revision due to the cage migration in December, I have to admit to feeling like Murphy is following me around with my neck too, but it hurts and that's not imaginary.
  • i just reread your post and realized i must have been half asleep when i read it.
    i didnt realize you turned back and went home. you know your body best and you did the right thing. sorry for the bad advice and it taught me a lesson to be more alert. just shows what pain can do to you when youre sitting at a computer....best to you
  • You were just trying to be positive and supportive. I just really appreciate that you took the time to respond. How are you doing? I think I'm just like you, just in the earlier stages. I hope you are doing okay. It's just not fair to have pain from something all the time, is it?

    I had PT and it really helped me. I did some very light exercises like tucking my chin, raising the shoulders, flexing the arms, then they did some kind of deep TENS unit therapy with a heat wrap. I just about went to sleep. I hope it lasts. The PT said that my C6/7 is where I'm hurting at and I have lost strength in my right hand, plus the muscles in the front of my neck aren't working well yet.
  • Hi, Candle.

    My heart goes out to you. It all just gets to be too much sometimes, doesn't it?

    This popped into my head as I was reading your first post. For what it's worth, would you be interested in seeing if you could take Xanax or something to help with your anxiety? It certainly won't help the pain, but anxiety can, as you well know(!), exacerbate ANY problems we're experiencing. If you could just take something to ease that part of your life temporarily, at least it would be one fewer thing for you to deal with right now. (Just a thought.)

    And believe me: Computer work isn't too friendly for us lumbar-types either, so you have my complete empathy.

    I'll be watching for your updates. >:D<

  • Driving is the hardest thing for me, even more so than computer work. Combine the two and holy smokes it hurts. Prior to getting my SCS I couldn't drive more than 2 minutes before I was in agony and my right arm was hanging limp in my lap. Even after I got my SCS implanted, driving was a challenge. I found that the vehicle I was driving was not "neck friendly". I wound up selling one vehicle to get one that allowed me to drive without having to manipulate my neck to see beneath the headliner and also to get in and out of the vehicle without having to tilt my head to one side. The right vehicle makes a world of difference for me being able to drive.

    I also have weak anterior neck muscles and the PT gave me some isometric exercises to strengthen them. I was amazed that these simple exercises could kick my behind so easily and do so much good.

    It is very common to run into the situation you did. Don't kick yourself for it. There were some good suggestions made earlier about working up to the long drive and time on the computer. Your body has been deconditioned tremendously and it will take time and effort to get things back on-line. It is a continual process and I found that coming back from cervical surgery is far more difficult than coming back from lumbar surgery.

    So don't give up on yourself, just drop back 10 and punt.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,848
    Driving is a lot of trouble. Besides the distance, its just sitting in a car and then having to check your mirrors to see where you are.
    Its been over 9 years since my last ACDF and I still can not move my head around quick enough to see who is coming from my left.. My right is ok. I have a huge oversize mirror that helps me, but still, it hurts just to turn my head to the left. Ok, now after driving 70 minutes or so, I would arrive at work and spend the next 8-10 hours at a computer, instant pain, and at the end of the day drive home again. By the time I got home I was in a lot of pain and spasms and I knew I would just have to do it all again tomorrow.
    Lucky for me, about 9 years ago, I started to work from home full time. That cut out the commute, which saved my neck. If it wasnt for that, I doubt that I would have been able to continue working in the computer field
    When you need to go back to work as you described, it is not easy. You want to do your best, you want to do what is necessary for the family. But at the same time, some of that will take its toll on you.
    Its a very hard situation. You can pour yourself into the job to make sure ends meet, or you can pamper yourself and not do it. Someone in between is where your happy medium lies. But that is something only you will know.
    As others have posted here, as much as you want to be a contributing member in the workforce, pushing yourself beyond what you can do will only cause more medical problems in the future.
    I wish I had a mirror ball that could tell the future and tell you what you can and can not do.
    That is up to you. But always know that we are here for you to talk about it, vent, doesnt matter, we are here for you.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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