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Sooooo I went back to work...

TraseeTTrasee Posts: 571
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
On Sunday 1/17/10. My L4/5 fusion was on 11/16/09, so I figured 8-9 weeks was enough recovery. My Dr even asked me if I was sure when I asked for release. But being single and out of work for 6 months has made my finances a mess. My non live in bf, helped in an emergency (emergency doggy vet trip) but thats the extent of asking for help money wise etc.

One night at work was enough to convince me I was in no way ready for it. I do customer service, and my company did provide me with a desk that raises and lowers so you can sit and stand when needed. That was of no help. I had to take 2 percs for the 50 min ride home and cried in pain most of the way. As of Monday, I am back off, hopefullly for just a few more weeks recovery. All I can say is don't push it if you don't have to, and sometimes even if you do have to. Hopefully a little more pt, and walking further and faster can help strengthen me. I feel like I am back where I started, but broke now LOL.


  • Trasee, so you tried it out huh? Thanks for sharing your experience. It's timely for me as I'm considering trying to go back to work. I had my fusion about a week prior to yours. My usual work is quite physically challenging, so I don't guess I'll try that. But I was thinking about trying to do some 'light duty' desk work.

    I don't know though; reading what you had to say is just about how I think I'll feel at work. I'm not sure I'm ready to go back. I don't know, but I don't think I can sit in an office chair all day right now.

    I'm really kind of torn between working and not. I am getting bored sitting in the house all day and I don't want to look like I'm malingering. Then again, I really (I mean REALLY) don't want to go back too early and mess up this surgery. It was bad enough the first time!!
  • Sorry it didn't go well with work. You made the right decision to take more time off to heal, that is most important. Give it time, it will get better.
    Was your surgery done from the front or back? I've had both ways done now, both 2 levels each, and I can tell you that the posterior fusion was much tougher to recover from. Regardless, give yourself time to heal. Take care
  • I am glad you have decided not to push it! I hope you get stronger before you try to go back---I think sometimes we think we are ready,but then BAM!I think it is interesting that alot of spineys,myself included, often feel like we are malingering,and should be doing something constructive.What it comes down to is how you feel,no matter what anyone else thinks.It would be nice to have a tee-shirt that reads"If you havent been through this,........"its like childbirth---I hate to see my spiney friends go through the agony of dealing with their work
  • I went back 11 weeks post PLIF on 4th Jan. I am a teacher and spend a lot of time on my feet and I have had to change my way of working quite a lot. The first week, even after 11 weeks off, was tough even though I only did half days to start. School haven't been very supportive to say the least! I am now released to work full days but (fortunately) I am part time and so only do three full days a fortnight.
    It is still hard going and I don't blame you at all for taking the extra time to recover. I hope that your experiment won't cause you too much grief - I pay quite dearly when I over do it. Take your time and go back when you feel able.
    Can you do half days when you do go back? Then you can rest a bit in the afternoon.
  • Thank you for all of the information on this post. I am 11 weeks post op of a 2 level fusion L4-S1. I am looking to go back to work on the 25th of Jan. I personally would like to be home one more month because i have some leg pain/problems that we are working on fixing but as of right now my work is not being very helpful/supportive. I dont want to push things and risk injuring myself or doing too much too soon. But I dont want to lose my job. So it is a tough situation. I go to the doctor on Friday so I guess we will see what he says but it seems like i dont have a choice and i need to go back to work on the 25th. I guess i better rest up as much as i can this week.
  • how is the classroom management coming? who is not supporting you?
  • Gosh I'm sorry that you had such a rough first day back. I understand the need to get back asap financially, as I had to take my whole time off after surgery unpaid. But lucky for me I was ready to get right back into it after 4 weeks. I'm sorry you're still having trouble but sure hope you continue recovering and getting stronger though, and can get back into things soon!
  • I'm sorry you were in so much pain Traci :( It's good that you can take more time off work though. Can you apply for short term disability or anything? I'm beginning to look more & more into that myself. How are you feeling now, have you been resting your back? I hurt myself the other day somehow, my back felt like it 'slipped' or 'went out' for a second and it was excruciating. I've been resting ever since.

    How is your PT going?
  • Thanks for the replies everyone. Lisa my surgery was posterior, and my incision is still healing nicely after the infection. But that sucker is LONG, it's approx 8 inches. I really don't know what the hell he was looking for in there. Hidden treasure?? Anywho, I have been on Short and Long term disability. I am hoping working 9 hours won't force me to start that process all over again. I have Prudential for that and they are soooooo nosey and pushy. I hate filing claims with them. But on the bright side, I am really hoping an extra 2-4 weeks will make a difference. I can't believe you went back after 4 weeks Ms Walker. Thats awesome.

    Andrea, Pt for this type of surgery really is a joke, isn't it? I only have like 3 visits left on my insurance so it won't be a factor much longer. I am more into the walking anyway. I am just careful of tripping and falling. I hope whatever you felt slipping was "nothing" I don't think you need much more to deal with.

    Hugs Everyone!
  • I'm sure the extra 2-4 weeks recovery will help you. Recovery can be pretty boring at times can't it !! At least you tried to go back to work but also had the good sense to know that you needed more rest.

    I'm 3 months out from my ALIF and still find sitting at my computer a problem but it's getting better gradually.

    I decided not to go with physio this time because it didn't help after the decompression in 08 and I persevered for 5 1/2 months. This time, I've kept up the walking every day and just do the simple exercises they gave me in the hospital and I'm feeling really well.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Hi Traci,

    As I'm sure i've mentioned it before on this site, I have had both types, posterior and anterior. The posterior fusion (my first) was a long and difficult recovery, much more so than the anterior one.

    I know it is hard to be patient, but it is a long recovery. Is it possible for you to start back to work on a part-time basis and work slowly back up to longer hours? I know everyone's job situations are different, I hope it works out when you do go back.Use this time off to take care of yourself as much as you can. Take care, Lisa
  • It is really amazing how employers do not understand how extensive this surgery is!! I'm dealing with the same thing. I had a PLIF L4-5, 8 weeks ago. My coworkers called me, and frankly, I feel interrogated, and they think that I should be back to work. So, I sent one of my coworkers part of a disability form that stated that my disability would be "approx. 3-6 months. No more phone calls!!!! Having to deal with stress concerning job and disability issues absolutely effects how you heal!

    I am a nurse, and lift heavy equipment, beds, and patients. I tried to go out to a coffee shop last week, and after 1.5 hours, I was delirious, with pain. I have also been doing pool therapy which has helped some with flexibility but does leave me in severe, burning pain. Driving my car for 30 minutes causes intense pain, and I just have to lie down to recover. I still have difficulty just putting my clothes and socks on....

    As time has past since my surgery, I have come to accept that there are going to be many challenges along the way. Just hope that I'm strong enough to deal with them.

  • Trish, I know how you feel. I hope it gets easier for you. We all know sitting is the worst possible thing after this surgery. I will keep you in my prayers and hope you can get up and mkove when you can.

    Lisa, Unfortunately at my job, you can only go back after FMLA or Personal medical leave with no restrictions and full time since I am a full time employee. I actually cried in the HR office mMonday because I am so concerned about my job and have to keep my insurance. And I AM SO NOT used to having NO money. I made sure that I bought my dogs the biggest bag of their food at Petsmart last Friday, so when I am out of money, my pets wont suffer. I feel like such a loser at this point. Ughhhhh.

    And sleepgirl ( Lisa too) I swear everyone at work was nice, but when I left monday they all looked at me like wtf?? Anyone that hasn't been through this has no idea what this pain does to you, runs you down, makes you physically sick to your stomach and pretty much wrecks your life. One chick said to me, "aren't those so much easier now?" I didn't bother to answer. I really wanted to slap her, and she is usually really nice.

    So thanks for the concern everyone, you are all the best ever. You guys have kept me going thru the depression and just crappiness of all of this. Thanks you and HUGS.
  • Man - people that haven't had this don't get it at all. You look fine therefore you must be fine!
    All I can say is that the last week or so have got better so maybe you will be ok to go back soon and feed your dogs. I have even managed to increase my exercise regime the last two days without too many ill effects.
    I was lucky in that my contract (in the uk) allows me 5 months sick in 12 months and as I didn't claim sick over our summer vacation I had just enough to get me through. I can't imagine how hard it is when you don't have that flexibility.
    Texas- the staff just don't get it. Nothing organised for my return and stupid comments like "at least it's just muscle pain now". Yes I know it's better than nerve pain but it still hurts! moan moan moan!!! No concept at all that I may still be finding things difficult - I am just supposed to be normal now. Well, I am not! My surgeon said this was a time to be selfish (not natural for us teachers) and I am doing just that. If I can't do it then I don't!
    On a positive the kids have been great! So much more perceptive -ask me things like "is it worse in the mornings?", "what if you fall over?", etc. They are all doing their best to make life easier for me. I am quite touched actually!
  • I work in a school in the UK too (Teaching Assistant) and can sympathise with how manic life in a school is. You must protect yourself from overdoing it, or you will regret it. Do you have a sympathetic Teaching Assistant in your class?

    Take care and keep healing.
  • No such luck Jellyhall - Private secondary. I know I have it easy in some regards with the private thing but in other ways it is pants! Nothing is done properly as far as staff are concerned. I am just making sure that I don't do what I feel I can't. I suppose I am just fed up with the attitude and lack of empathy. I didn't mean to hijack tjis thread though so will shut up now!
  • I knew the kids would help you!!!My kids were always so wonderful when the day wasnt going very well---I was always honest with them---whether,another class hadnot gone well,or something stressful was going on at school(we had several teachers pass away)-that kind of thing.These were elementary kids--I think yours are older?-----I cant remember,but do you wear a brace?---do you work with a team?I know you teach Science--are there other Science teachers that could help you?
  • I think this is one of our toughest battles. Unless you have a cane, walker or wheelchair, there is no visible sign to others that anything is "wrong" with you, and many of us spiney/neckies get quite good at hiding our pain and discomfort. But what's the alternative? To moan and groan to others so they get it? I don't think they would anyway, then we just become labelled whiny pain in the butts.

    Its a really tough situation to deal with. Being a stay-home Mom there are certain issues that I have or have not to deal with vs. those who work outside the home. It breaks my heart to say "no, I can't play that on the floor with you, play tag"....etc. But I can't imagine dealing with the general public during a rough time either.

    I start freaking out just thinking about going back into the "real" world of work once the kids are a bit older, will I even be able to find a job that is compatable with my physical limits?

    When it comes down to it we all have our own situations to deal with, but in many ways its very much the same. We all just need to find a way to deal with the hand we are given, way easier said than done. Sorry if I got off on a tangent, my meds may be kicking in!

    Many thanks to my spiney/neckie friends here, you are all a blessing, Lisa
  • I know we have all done this at one time in our lives --- remember when you saw that lady or guy in the work-out suit getting out of their car that they just parked in a handicapped spot? And you thought "what a jerk"!!

    Well now we know that person probably had a reason to park there - it just didn't show on the outside. People do not know how lucky they are not to know hidden pain.

    So when someone tries to tell me how I feel or what I should be able to do I try to remember that I was like that once too.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    So I'm guessing your employer doesn't offer any kind of Short Term Disability for while you are out?

    Maybe, when you begin to feel better, see if you can increase your at-home sitting tolerance to that which you'll have to do at work. Not sure if it would help but it may give you an idea of how you improve over the next few weeks.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Kris - I know what you mean. I suppose we all judge from our own stand point. I also understand that people don't get it because why would they? If you haven't lived with it then you don't understand. I think I am more empathetic these days as a result of my own pain. I am also a lot more cranky though so probably appear less empathetic! lol!!

    Texas - yes the kids have been ace! I teach high school ages 13-18. They pick stuff up when I inevitably drop it and move things around for me. My lessons are a bit hit and miss as nothing really has been sorted for me instead of writing on the board. Because of the arrangement of benches/taps etc in my lab it is hard to get a projector in a sensible position. I am persevering though and have rigged up a digi projector and type rather than write. Not ideal as the projector is attached to the lap top by a short lead etc etc. I have given up raising issues. In the three weeks I have been back no senior management have spoken to me to see how I am getting on. My head of dept lives in her own little world and it is just too hard to keep telling her the same stuff. Head of science is also oblivious. Like I say - I am back at work so must be better now.
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