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Ups and downs....

dehoyos13ddehoyos13 Posts: 290
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Ok...fellow spineys. here's a good question for you all. What is with the ups and downs of recovery from spine surgery? I posted a couple of days ago that it was my first day without vicoden. I was super excited and really hyped, thinking that this was going to be the norm.

I bumped my head yesterday getting into my car. Nothing major...just a little jarring. Last night I couldn't sleep more than a couple of hours at a time and that's after taking Ambien. I've been asleep on and off all day with deep aching in my neck and lower back.

This is so frustrating. Its like two steps forward and one step back!!!! Is this the norm or what? I was thinking that this little bump on my head made the differencee but it was not big thing. Hit the side of my head getting into the car and my head jerked to the right a bit. I'm hoping that it wasn't something that minor that set off all this pain again. I've been really clumsy since the surgery so I rarely go out anymore. Its been 11 weeks and this would be head bump #4.

sigh..... :<



  • It sounds like you need a police escort to get you safely in the car, they always protect the heads of the "prisoners" of course yours would just be for safety :)

    I hear you though on the ups and downs, some days I feel like a yo-yo. :confused:" alt=":confused:" height="20" />
    I think we are in that 2 steps forward 1 step back for along time, at least for me it has been that way, sometimes its more like 3 back. :??

    Hang in there better times are on the horizon :daydream:

    God bless and keep you...un bumped :)
  • Bring on the cops...I could use a good motor escort in this city. Folks drive like nuts here.

    I'm with you on the 3 steps back sometimes. I'd really like it to be a bit more predictable. I'm concerned that these head bumps are slowing the fusion time. My doctor keeps assuring me that everything is fine....I am working at believing him. LOL

    hasta luego!
  • I think so too--there are good days and not-so-good days.Please hang in there,Yvonne!Today I found myself walking fast to get back to the car-it was sleeting,and my husband said "Do not hurry!--thats when you will fall!--Just be careful,Yvonne!
  • I was the same way yesterday, but I had already bumped my head! It was just a weirdly funny day. My hubby has these occassional flare-ups of sciatica and yesterday was one of them. He was also scheduled for a colonscopy yesterday which is why I was even out of the house. Its so cold here today!!! I think its like 17 degrees right now!!!!! I've been walking around the house...which really is not fun. Each trip back into the kitchen only show's me a spot that needs to be cleaned or a kids toy in a corner I do not reach! ha ha...

    I'm trying to take it in stride. On the 18th, I go back for follow-up, xray and possibly a CT scan. Hopefully by then I get the OK to drive!!!!

    How are you healing and feeling???? Isn't it great to have such supportive hubbys??????????

    Have a great weekend!
  • This is my own personal, unsubstantiated opinion, but I think a lot of it has to do with inflammation. I'll get back to this in a minute.

    I learned fairly early on with my first surgery that it is better to just think in terms of the "big picture" when it comes to recovery. If you get up every morning and "take inventory," asking yourself "how do I feel today" you will drive yourself crazy. Even going week to week is a bit too often if you've had fusion.

    Healing does not go on a straight-forward trajectory. You do not get a little bit better each day. It is baby steps and many times you make some progress, and then retreat a step or two. Eventually the good days begin to outnumber the bad ones, but this may not happen till six months or even longer.

    I never stopped to think about why this is, other than the obvious...feeling a tad better, increasing activity, then doing a little "too much," and sliding back a bit. But I have a feeling it has to do with the amount of inflammation that comes and goes. I'm not talking about inflammation on the outside of the body, but soft tissue inflammation on the inside. I'm really beginning to believe more than ever that ICING is our best friend in recovery.

    Yvonne, hitting your head and jarring your neck, even a little, may be just enough to get the tissues swelling again.

    I know I wrecked the results of my last surgery because, due to a family emergency, I had no choice but to be riding in cars and standing around hospitals, sitting on crappy chairs, etc. when I was not supposed to be doing anything -- it was about a week after I got out of the hospital. The first day after I got home, I was OK, but by the second day, I could tell I was beginning to have inflammation. By the time I got in to see my surgeon after the emergency resolved, he concurred that I was badly inflamed. He ordered a caudal steroid injection to try to quiet it down...but the nerves never recovered from the whole experience.

    Once the nerve itself becomes inflamed, it takes very little to get it going again, and it is very difficult to get it calmed down again.

    I think something similar is going on with your neck. It starts to quiet down and recover, and then something happens that is just enough to get the process going again...at least that is my best guess!!

    xx Gwennie
  • Gwennie...that's a pretty good first guess. I was thinking something similar but I didn't realize it would be 6 months before there were more good days than bad! LOL... Until this surgery I never realized how impatient I really am with things concerning me. I'm patient with other folks and such but it makes me nuts to have a good day and do nothing. Like...at my last visit the dr said NO LAUNDRY. He said I could sweep the floor but someone else has to pick up the dust. I can't mop. Well...I can wash dishes but I can't load the dishwasher.

    I'm wanting to try getting back into childcare. I only have 2 toddlers to take care of because this is homebased. One one will be coming back any time soon. I'm a bit concerned as is his mother. We might try one day next week and see how it goes. the deal is that he's not potty trained completely yet even though he's over 3. I can't lift him to the toilet, I can't lift his legs to change a diaper. But we sure could use the additional income!!!!

    sigh...I didn't know all of this before the surgery. I would have planned a bit better and saved more money. My surgeon said it was a *itch of a recovery but I still wasn't expecting this!!!! Thank God he didn't harvest bone from my hip.....that would've been too much!!!!!

    Thanks everyone who's responded so far. Its good to know that I'm not alone in this jumble of good days and bad days. Today has not been a good day. Maybe the cold has something to do with it too but I know the head bump sure caused pain to shoot up to my brain for a moment yesterday!!!!! I took a vicoden right away. It was a busy day and my husband wasn't well.

    Well...looking forward to better days. Not just for myself but for all of us!

  • I thought you were going to get a bubble or bubble wrap to protect yourself! I think you need a new car! Possibly have one specially made with a door that opens up and way out of your way before you attempt to get in! Then close automatically once you are safe inside! LOL! Seriously, you need to take it easy, rest and get your pain back in control! It is hard not to do the things you want or need to do but think about the long term, not today, but next year this time. If you do it right this will all be a memory!

    Especially if you want to take care of toddlers. It's a lot of work! They are so sweet and wonderful but unexpected things can happen with them around. Did you consider what you would do if the child became very sick and you had to help them, clean up,or they fell and got hurt, etc....I have worked daycare at home and at school before and know the work involved. You'd feel terrible if you couldn't give the child the TLC he needed/wanted. Also, I think it's risky for your safety and future health to do that so soon. You might want to really be careful and keep your restrictions for the time it takes to heal. Then you will have the rest of your life to do the other things. I hope this doesn't sound bad to you because I mean it in a nice,helpful way. I know how hard it is too and feel for you. I can feel how torn you are about it. I just want you to take care of yourself and be one of the success stories here! Good luck!

  • I am the same. I have a good spell then I do too much and end up back on the narcotics at night for a week or so. Then I feel better and have a good week but round it off with doing too much and so it goes on!
    I have a friend at swimming who is a physio and I talk to her quite a bit. She says it is normal for there to be the ups and downs. She also said that as I am pushing to get back to normal I will probably have some pain until I get there. Makes sense I guess - if I am always making little steps along the way there will probably always be a little pain pay off. I think the hard part is doing just enough to progress without ending up in so much pain I have to stop everything.
    Maybe bubble wrap would be the way to go for you! ;)
  • thats another story....

    My only thought after reading all these posts is this -- is it normal to have this spacial relation issue or where you always a klutz?? If this is happening more often than normal you might want to have your eyes checked to make sure there is nothing going on there.

    I just found out yesterday that my right eyelid is much weaker leaving me with a droop. I had twitching right before surgery which stopped immediately with the surgery but I still have this eyelid problem.

    Sometimes it is just a part of healing but if this is something new for you personally you might want to check it out.
  • These ups and downs are so typical of recovery. I'll have a "good" day, then blow it because I've maybe done too much. Other days its because of the kids: a long ride to a birthday party, then sitting in uncomfortable chairs, another long ride home. Then something else is going on with the other kid, etc...

    Getting in and out of a car is killer, which is why I have basically been housebound since mid Nov., feel like I am going crazy at times, like right now.

    These ups and downs are just part of the long recovery process. Toddlers are tough to deal with while recovering: my first fusion I had a 1 1/2 year old, then got pregnant so had a toddler and infant to care for (what was I thinking?). But there are so many ways you can hurt yourself taking care of them.

    I would ask the Mom to buy a kiddie potty to keep at your house,(no lifting involved) and if the kid is 3 he/she can let you change their diaper standing up. Think pull-up diapers. Just a suggestion, I want you to be safe!

    Take care Yvonne, better days are ahead, hopefully for ALL of us, Lisa
  • LOL......I gave consideration to the bubblewrap. ha ha....but could you imagine going to a store and getting knocked down by kids that enjoy popping the bubbles?????? ha ha...that would not be pretty!

    I didn't consider the points you made about the childcare. I don't want to cheat him of the love and care he's accustomed to here.

    Thinking long term.....gosh, I have to become a forward-thinker! LOL. Its good though to have people like you to show the way. Seriously. To me 11 weeks seems like such a short time, but a few days ago a friend said, "has it been 11 weeks already?" I guess it hasn't been that long after all. sigh......never thought I'd say that I miss cleaning my house! ha ha! I should record that and play it back a year from now when I'm tired of cleaning.

    Thanks Kathy!
  • Gosh....a swimming pool sounds good right about now. Of course.....since its freezing in NYC, it'd have to be nice and heated!

    My fellow NYer (although you're fortunate to be on L.I.), I wasn't clumsy before the herniated disks got really bad, which was probably 6 months before my surgery. I had my eyes check and got new glasses around the same time. I'm still pretty clumsy - dropping things, tripping over molecules (LOL) and the very constant banging of my head on the car door. Yes....I think I need a new car! Maybe the Jeep heard me say I want a minivan and is getting vengeance!!!! LOL....

    My next appointment is Feb. 18th. I believe he'll be sending me for a CT scan as well as the xrays they do in his office each follow up visit.

    I'm hoping to hear that fusion has begun! we'll see!

  • I used to get excited to go a day w/out a pill, but then when I needed one or two the next day I felt like I had somehow failed. I am a bit mental, I think too much! This back thing has been very educational to me on my way of thinking and processing life's info. You get what you pay for, and this advice is free. Forget about having a good day. Start looking for moments. They are all around, we just don't stop and pay them the attention they deserve. Most people can say ..." I had 2 really bad days this week", but can't tell you how many really great moments they had in the last day. Man I sound like one of those self help books my mom read in the '70's. Take those moments and string them together like a strand of pearls. Just be strong, patient, and watch out for depressive thinking. When you start collecting these "good moment pearls", you'll see they may not out weigh the bad moments, but like some invisible rosary just running you mental fingers over the beads can remind you that you will get trough this and will soon be adding another good moment pearl to your chain of recovery.

    I apologize if that sounded stupid, but it is how I survive mentally.

    -norm the factory rat
  • that didn't sound stupid at all! In fact, quite the opposite! You are right...how many of us can count how many good moments we have in a day? If at the end of the week we added up how many great moments vs. how many great days, we would see the number for the great moments is huge compared to the great days!

    I will have to remember this line of thinking and use it myself!
  • You are at the point where you want to more and think you should be able to but your body is telling you NO for a reason, it's still healing. It does bring us down when we can't do the things we want to do or use to do. It takes longer to recover from a fusion than a normal surgery. You are barely into the year journey recommended for healing after a fusion. According to my dr the first 6 months are the hardest and he was right. So hang in there and before you know it you'll be past the worst few months! It is a drag,it doesn't matter how much we're warned, we are not prepared for the recovery period. In the meantime, relax and enjoy the time you have to spend with us before you get back in the fast lane of life. And factoryrat is right, we never see the good in a day. But when I looked back weekly, monthly I could see the progress and the good things better. Now every day when I look back I know I'm better than I was last year or last month and that it could be a lot worse. Then I'm thankful for what I can do. Oh I want to do more!!! But I appreciate what I can do more now than I did before I started thinking this way. Good luck the 18th!!!!


  • Pearls of wisdom, reminding us to appreciate all that we are capable of and to celebrate them, as opposed to dwelling on what we cannot do and crying about them.
    I can think of so many times throughout the day when Damion says or does something that makes me smile, or laugh, weather I'm sitting, laying down, or walking to the mailbox, I have many happy moments every day. Beautiful pearls.
    Thank you Norm for the reminder.
    God bless and keep us all... counting pearls :)
  • Norm....this doesn't sound stupid at all. I think that it makes such absolute sense. funny how I teach that kind of stuff all the time but when it comes to applying it to this....it flew right out the window! Thanks....you reminded me a basic key in life.....being thankful. wow....really made my day.....changed my mindset. This is why I love spine health forums.

    Gracias....thank you. This was great!!!!!

  • Kathy, you're so right. Doesn't matter how many ways people would've tried to tell and a few really did, I couldn't conceive of anything being this frustrating and slow!!!! I've never had a broken bone or any type of surgery that took longer than 2 weeks to recover from!

    Norm's advice was so spot on...like what I needed to hear. Funny how often I've given similar advice and didn't see it for myself.

    almost 3 months in....and I do find myself looking for periods without medicine and I didn't really notice how intense I was about it all until I read these last few posts from others. On the good days, I'm ecstatic...on the bad days, well...enough said. My sister posted on FB today that the journey is the reward. I think I'm getting the message. Slow learner I think.

    I never knew such aching existed as I do now. I mean, like deep in your bones aching that you can't get away from. I do now. I have found some good things through this though....I've made friends which is always a good thing, huh?

    Thanks for all the advice and well wishes. Keep 'em coming. I get desperately bored and lonely during the day.

    And any necky's out there who after almost 3 months still have sore throat pain or with swallowing????

  • Awwww Yvonne,

    I feel for you. The ups and downs are frustrating. I hope you're feeling better and hubby too. I have certainly complained enough for both of us. But I was prepared for the 2 forward 1 back thing, from previous back surgery. But fusion makes that one look like a cake walk. Sigh.

    We're all here for you even , if just to be empathetic or sympathetic with you.

  • The ups and downs do definitely challenge me. Today is a down day. Yesterday was great but even though I limited what I did...4 loads of laundry (I didn't carry anything) and wiped down counters and such, I think that added to the head bump just made for a very painful night. I was up every hour and a half or so. I'm in a lot of pain today so I took the higher dose Vicoden today...twice so far actually.

    How are you? I see you haven't changed your profile pic....LOL. I hope your weekend has been great. Yesterday was great for me....clean clothes and watched a movie with my husband. Great day. Monsters vs Aliens is so funny...I wonder if the kids got it.....LOL
  • we must learn to count our blessings - there are many of them, if we will just focus on them and enjoy each one.

    My emotions go up and down like a roller coaster, depending on if it is a good day or a bad one. Each day has something about it that I can be grateful for.

    Thanks for the encouragement Norm. :-
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