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Back to work soon and I need some advice!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a 9 level posterior laminectomy and fusion from C3-T4 on June 8. I developed MRSA and my 11" incision was reopened on July 2 during a second operation to treat the abscess and infection. I was then put on IV Vancomycin twice a day until 2 weeks ago. Now I take Tetramycin orally once a day. My disability leave is up in 2 weeks time and I am supposed to go back to work. I work on a computer all day and answer phones. I visited last week for less than 2 hours and was totally exhausted afterwards and had severe leg cramps that night.

Do you think the next 2 weeks will make a big difference in my stamina and pain level? I am really concerned about this and so fearful that I will go back to work and not be able to tolerate the pain and then I will be stuck since I am out of sick leave and would be off disability.

Any advice, or maybe some little tricks to make the work day better, would be very much appreciated. I've tried muscle relaxers to help with the shoulder, neck, and upper back muscle pain but it just makes my legs so weak that I have had one bad fall and barely avoided falling multiple times. I don't go back to my surgeon until just a few days before I am to report back to work.


  • after what youve been through i'd wait till you feel good before going back. nobody can say you dont have reason to be cautious....just tell them how you feel. no need to trick them....
  • Hi Jennie...I am so sorry to hear about your complications..Gee with the level of the surgery coupled with the infection, you might want to see if you can somehow extend you time off work..On June 9th I had an ACDF 5-7 and also developed a MRSA infection 3 weeks later. I went back to work on August 3rd and even did part time for the first two weeks...I am struggling with full time days and I wish I would have taken more time...The surgery is bad enough, but the infection and the darn antibiotics kick your butt even more..I was on bactrim, rifampin and muciprocin for almost a month..As for tricks , I am trying a new chair at work, making sure I get up and walk around every 20-30 minutes, and try to keep a good posture..Again I would be cautious...Amy
  • Give your surgeon a call and tell him/her what you have just told us. If you need to be off work longer, you can get that okayed through your surgeon's office and remain on disability for a while. Is it an FMLA issue that is making you think of going back to work? I started back to work part-time a month after my surgery, but it basically entailed going in and picking up work that I could come home and do on the couch. I didn't have nearly as many levels fused as you did, and I can imagine how weak and tired you feel. Take care of yourself. If you need more time, take it.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I had a posterior Foraminectomy & laminectomy on June 9. When I went back to work I started with doing 2 hours a day for a week. the next week was 3 hours a day. Now I am up to 4 hours a day. I did that for a month to build endurance. I also wore a soft neck collar only at my desk for posture issues. It also helped with the tired neck muscles. I also got up every half hour and walked for 5 minutes. You can have your doctor write that up for you because mine did and i am also on Fmla. Before this surgery I had a c4 to c6 fusion with a corportectomy in January 2006 and did exactly the same thing when I returned to work. Your employer will allow it because they have no choice in the matter. The law is the law! What the doctors say goes. But you must tell the doctor how you feel and what you think you capable of doing.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • Wow! That's a lot of levels! I just had a 3 level fusion July 27th.

    I agree with the chair. Making sure your office is ergonomically correct is important. Your mouse should be low as should your key board. I wear glasses so when I can I'm going to try to get contacts one close one far distance. They have them for dry eye which I suffer from. If not then I'm going to look into surgery. I can't bend so having my keyboard where it's suppose to be is tough. I have to keep bending from my waist. I don't want to blow out my lower back so those are things on my list.

    Getting up often and stretching is important too. I worked with a PT before I had surgery trying to set up my office so I wouldn't need surgery. He had me put an egg timer next to my desk so I'd stand up every 15 to 20 minutes to stretch. I also found book holders to put my papers and or books at eye level so I would be able to keep my head up. My neck was too far gone so I did the surgery.

    Good luck and take care of yourself. You really did have a big surgery.
  • You had a huge surgery and it takes time to heal. I would never go back to work while I was feeling like you. You need to talk to surgeon and have him order you another months or two at least. You dont want to go and do something that will be detrimental to the surgery and have to go back in. Be careful and rest as much as you can. You have to listen to your body. Ir will tell you what to do. Take care. Be careful, you dont want to repeat the fusion. Keep in touch and let us know how it comes out.
  • I can say that if you must go back (I agree with everyone else just for the record :) ) then use a very high-back chair that you can rest your head on. That will help remove the work of holding up your head. Also if you have to do any phone work, get a headset. I have both at work and they do wonders for me...
    P.S. 9 levels? Wow, my hat's off to you! It's still pretty early I think with MRSA, that is just the worst to try and get rid of, I hope your treatments are working well. Jay
  • I appreciate everyone's comments. I think I do need more time off but I felt like a wimp for thinking that way but all of you have helped me realize that I need to listen to my body - something I have seldom done. I was raised to believe that a person worked no matter what kind of pain or sickness they felt and if they couldn't then my parents called them lazy. Even now I try to live up to the expectations my parents ingrained in me.

    I hope my doctor understands and extends my disability leave but if he won't then I hope he at least lets me go back half days for a couple weeks.

    My employer previously bought a headset for me to use on the phones because it hurt me so much to hold the phone between my ear and shoulder. After seeing my pre-surgery x-rays and MRI, it is no surprise it hurt!

    Thank you all for your comments, advice, and good thoughts. It is wonderful to have this forum where people understand what it is like to deal with spine problems.
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