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Driving/riding in the snow

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a TLIF just over six weeks ago, am still on restrictions due to the long recovery period for this particular surgery. I'd like to get out of the house (cabin fever) but I'm afraid to drive or even ride in a car while there's snow on the streets.

It just seems like Murphy's law would take over and that would be the one time that I'd have a car accident. Plus there are so many stupid drivers out there that don't take into account that the road just might be a bit slippery as they come up behind you at a stop light and lose control of their car.

Does anyone else have this fear of driving or riding in a car post-surgery while there's snow on the streets?


  • I have been afraid everytime I get in the car since my accident. Sometimes it is so bad I think I need to see a psychitrist. I have to conciously tell myself that I will not allow this to control my life. I have the added pleasure of teaching my 16 yr old to drive now. My hair should be completely gray in the next few months.
  • I just think it makes sense to limit time spent in the car for the first three months when things are especially vulnerable. It doesn't even have to be snow or ice. People are just so distracted these days while driving...it's like watching the road is a secondary activity. @)

    What I'm really terrified of is slipping on the snow. I suspect that contributed to my spondylolisthesis to begin with....(thanks, dogs)
  • Cath,

    It is all about acceptable risk and reward. Yeah higher risk in the snow. But you can't hide in the house for a year while you fuse. You got to overcome that fear and just go drive. Maybe some more rural roads at first so you have some low volume traffic.

    After my 1st surgery I got totalled out hard by a tractor trailer. 7 weeks after surgery. He destroyed my surgeons work. I was so paranoid on the highway after that. I kept on flinching when I saw tractor trailers move over at me. Took a while but I got over it. I'm not letting that run my life. You shouldn't either. Stuff happens...

  • I don't have the snow to drive in,but I really am nervous and tense up when I drive.I can imagine driving in snow is magnified.I am 7 weeks post-op,and still don't like to get out much-my husband is retired,so we do errands together alot.I think it is one of those things we have to get used to--my surgeries have been due to degeneration not accidents,but years ago I was hit in the side of my car-I had a huge cadillac,and the girl had a little car,so I barely felt a bump.She flipped,but was pulled out quickly,and was not hurt.It was months before I would even drive down that street!So I can imagine how fearful it is driving after an accident and hurting.Please hang in there and take good care of yourself!
  • My grandma was in a terrible car accident that made a big impression on me when I was young so I've always tried to be alert. But since my fusion I find myself even more aware of other drivers and the risks every time I get in a car. I'm lucky enough not to live where it snows but we have plenty of rain. But the fact is the risks are there everyday and most often within 5 miles of home. I think Gwennie has good advice. It just makes sense to be extra cautious, not fearful to do anything, but common sense to be cautious.If it were me(and it has been and still is!LOL) I would keep caution on my side, especially for a few more weeks. What's a little time at this point....this too shall pass! LOL! Hey, you play games to keep busy. Can you find a game where you drive or race over the hills and through the woods to the beach or somewhere?LOL!

    I love to drive! I have always loved to drive! I was always the driver,in town, short trips, long trips, any where,any time I was ready to go! These days I'm the passenger more often than the driver and I have to admit I think that is the one thing I miss the most. I miss driving, the freedom and independence to take off and travel alone whether by car or plane, near home or far. Even to be able to take a trip with family to help would be progress! I haven't given up! Maybe I'll get that trip to Hawaii while our son is still stationed there and Maybe someday I'll get back in the driver's seat full time!

    So Cathie, get into your chair and take off! LOL!

  • With Iowa having so much snow this year, and it is the 5th in the amount of snowfall in history of Iowa. I too am a little causious about driving even in town. The piles of snow are so high, that it is hard to see around corners. And even after a year, it still hurts to turn and twist. That and getting in and out of the car more than once will give me serious flare. Also if I ride more than 20 minutes I get a flare. So each time I go to Dr is 2 hours there and 2 hours back. I am usually down for a couple days...But back to the snow. Just take it easy and start with short trips to the store or whatever. You need to start to get over your fear, slowly. I completely understand. I also worry about it still. But if possible, to avoid high traffic, you can maybe feel more control of your situation. Or the heavy snow should be gone in a few more weeks. Just be careful and dont slip. I have fell twice this year. No damages, just sore and stiff. But with yours being more recent, make sure you have a cane with the ice prongs on the bottom to help you. My Dr wouldnt let me drive for 3 months.Make sure your Dr says it is ok. It is very early after surgery. Take Care. Love, Robin
  • Hello everyone,
    I,too, am afraid of driving. Not just in the winter but all the time. I live in Buffalo, NY but we havent had the snow a lot of places have had this year. I was rear ended by a drunk driver 3/21/08. I ALWAYS am looking in my mirror to make sure the car behind me stops. Hopefully, with time, this will pass. Glad I color my hair, cuz I know I am all gray by now!!!

    rotator cuff surgery 10/08
    PLIF L4 L5 S1 2/09
  • I realize that a lot of people have their issues due to a car accident and that can make the fear of driving even worse in any weather. Although my doctors and I believe that my problem started with a car accident, the accident was almost 30 years ago, so I don't have the kind of fear that some have.

    I mostly take back roads anywhere I go because I just happen to like it more. That in itself helps reduce the chances of an accident.

    Luckily, where I live, after it snows, you usually only have to wait a couple of days for the roads to completely clear on their own due to sunshine. I'm going to limit my driving still, and I won't drive if the roads have snow on them (unless it's just in my little cauldesac and the main roads are clear). The other problem is getting the snow off the car. Because I'm still on restrictions, it would be a no-no for me to get wet snow off my car. Snow can get so danged heavy! If it's a fine snow and not wet, then I might be able to do it, but then you have to see if there's scraping involved - that hurts even if you don't have spine problems!

    Anyway, thanks spiney friends for your stories, advice and support. At this point like most everyone else, I'm looking forward to Spring and the warmer weather making its appearance. I've noticed that the cold weather can cause pain in my lower back. It's always caused some neck pain but now that I have hardware in both my neck and lower back I'm not a fan of cold weather.

    I've always told my hubby that I want to live in this state forever because I love it so much, but after all this spine stuff, I can see moving to a more consistently warm climate. My hubby is quite happy about that because that would mean he could golf year round.

    Anyway, guess I'm just rambling now. Sorry. :-)

    Take care and happy driving.
  • Cath111 said:

    I've always told my hubby that I want to live in this state forever because I love it so much, but after all this spine stuff, I can see moving to a more consistently warm climate. My hubby is quite happy about that because that would mean he could golf year round.

    I've always suspected this is why all the somewhat questionable "spine" surgeons set up practice in Florida. They have a ready-made market of spineys seeking warmer weather.

    As we speak, it is snowing here and I am setting off to go see my rearranger guy. Then I have to come home and try to get my surgery denial straightened out.

    Happy day!

  • There's a saying that goes

    Easy Does it But Do It!"

    You cannot live your life like the boy in a bubble. As Z says, life comes with its daily risks. Refraining from living because we are overly concerned with "what ifs" only serves to keep us from living. Don't let others take control of your life.

  • Gwennie, I suspect you're right about the doctors and Florida. LOL But, I wanted to ask: I hadn't heard that your surgery was denied. What's happening with you and the surgery thing?

    "C", as always, you're right. I share your attitude and the 'get 'er done thought. Luckily, I've got so much to do in the house right now that I can leave the driving for tomorrow. I am, however, about to take little Wally out to the park. It stopped snowing this morning (it snowed all day yesterday) and the sun is now shining. Yay. We got about 5 inches and little Wally can't wait to get to the park and see who's done what and where. :-)

  • I received a letter in the mail, which I picked up, late Friday after office hours, informing me my surgery was being denied because there was no clinical or radiologic information that demonstrate that I have any of the conditions for which fusion is the necessary treatment.

    Needless to say, I was shocked since they have never questioned anything previously. I called my doctor's scheduler this morning and she said they had received the notice as well and my surgeon needed to make a "physician to physician contact" call and explain why the surgery was necessary. She didn't know how long this process might take but told me to still plan on having surgery Tuesday (March 2) unless I hear otherwise...so I guess I will be left in suspense for awhile. :S

    How are you feeling by now?

  • My surgeon finally said I could go for a ride in the car to get rid of cabin fever. I live on the east coast,,and we have had more snow than I can ever remember. The roads finally cleared up and got to go out this weekend. Guess what, another storm coming tonight :''(
  • Ih so sorry about the surgery news. I was to have surgery July 31 of 2008 and got a phone call they denied it the day before. Nothing like dashing your hopes after being so worried about it anyway! I had to appeal at the state level and finally got Surgery on Dec 11 of 08. I am certainly hoping that your Dr can get it approved so you dont face any delays.It is hard enough to go through it but to fight about it with Ins Co makes it even worse! I was so ready to get it done, and hopefully get on with my life and the denial just put me into a rage. Anyway...Good Luck and I will pray that they will reverse their decision for you! Love, Robin

    Cath-Did you get out and drive yet? Take it easy. It is harder on you than you ever think. The muscles you use to brake and accelerate you dont realize until you have to drive again. Take Care,,,Love, Robin
  • Gwennie, what a friggin' bummer about the insurance company. I hope the doctor to doctor contact works and it sounds like your surgeon is confident that it will. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    As far as how I'm feeling - much better. It's only been the last couple of days that I've noticed that the pain I have now is from the surgery itself, no nerve pain. My back at the area they operated and the surrounding area is very achy still, but I have good days when it isn't too bad. At this stage, it seems like it's very easy to overdo it though. I also can get some stabbing pain if I forget and do something I shouldn't, like bend or twist. But all in all, I can feel myself getting better and better. And with the pain located where it is now, I can tell that all my pre-op pains have been aleviated. Cool, huh?

    Robin, yes, I've been driving. You're so, so right - driving is harder on you than you think. I've found that out. I'll have big plans for the day and make a list of places I need to go and when I drive a ways, I start to hurt and have to cut down my to do list to get home sooner. But it's all worth it.

    Take care you two.
  • I too have been terrified to even get into a car. I've only driven twice since surgery on 2/2, once to come home and once last Sunday for dinner at Mom's. Both trips were horrible between the potholes and expecting to be hit at any moment. I haven't been released to drive myself yet and really am not looking forward to it. I did finally manage to get out of the house today for 2 short walks since I finally progressed to a cane and we have steps out front without railings! It was pretty sad that was the most exciting part of my day!

    Backpainsara - I too live on the east coast and the snow really hindered my plans to take short walks outside every day. That's why my walking today was so great! I wonder if we are in the same area as we have another storm expected tonight as well. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it's not as bad as they were saying on the news this a.m.
  • gretchen, here we go again!!!! I live in Delaware. I've never seen this much snow in my 53 yrs of life!
  • I'm in Baltimore and so far today we have nothing. I was a little disappointed when I saw how it was snowing in New York on the morning shows. At least I could get out this morning for my morning walk without worrying about snow.
  • Not much snow here. maybe that got it wrong this time. Very windy though. Glad to hear you got your morning walk in. I haven't gotten that far yet. When did you have your surgery?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    if there is snow, rain or sunshine.
    I still cannot turn my head to the left enough to get a complete and full view of whats coming up next to me.

    On the highway, its not much of a problem, because the side mirrors and my oversized rear mirror help me so much.

    The problem I have is when I have to 'enter' a main road or highway. The only way I can really see whats coming up is to completely turn myself around in the car, no seatbelt and look whats coming.

    When I am with people, I just ask them if it looks clear.

    When I am by myself, I venture out slowly and then listen for any horn honking. If there is none, I did good, if there was a lot of horn honking, I probably didnt do right...

    Trouble is, I am over 10 years post my last ACDF and I still dont have the range of motion to my left.

    Now, if I drove in Europe or wherever the driver sits on the right side of the car, I would be much better.
    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
  • I was diagnosed with a pars fracture, spondylolthesis and DDD, after 2 years of being told I had hip bursitis. I had a TLIF w/instrumentation and decompression at L5-S1 on February 2nd and was discharged on February 5th, a day early, because of the impending blizzard. I've also had a home physical therapist 3 days a week, which has been a huge help in getting more mobile.

    I have been going stir crazy in the house but was afraid to venture out because of all the snow. My surgeon advised me to do short walks each day but walking circles in the house gets a little old. It's been hard to make myself get out there and do it but I know it's for my own good. Even though it's hard and I get tired, I feel good afterwards.

    It's been hard and I've had my good days and my really bad days, just like everyone else on here. It has helped me so much to hear everyone else's experiences to know I'm not alone in what I'm going through with the pain and my crazy emotions.

    When was your surgery?
  • My surgery was January 6, almost a month before yours. I'm still not going to drive in the snow for fear some crazy driver will run into me. But, luckily for me, it hasn't snowed too much where I am.

    I do walk in the snow and have been since about three weeks out of surgery. I take my little Wally for a walk every morning and he loves the snow so he's really the one that I got the courage to walk in the snow for. I just make sure I have good boots on and wear a lot of layers.

    It's much more difficult to walk in the snow, I've found, though, so I make it a shorter walk than normal. I also can't do uphill walks - it just kills my back for some reason.

    Take care.
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