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5 months later and this isn't where I thought I would be!

jayhawkjjayhawk Posts: 1,032
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well....I am now 5 months post op L4-5 360 fusion and this is not where I thought I would be. And it makes me sad.

I am so much better and I have come so far, but I am not there yet. I really thought I would be. I am relatively young, strong and athletic and I thought I could beat this!

Sure, I heard 6-12 months, but really, I heard 6! Now I hear it is more realistic 12-18....

If I didn't need to return to work, I would be doing well. But work is just exhausting me! If I don't stay ahead of the pain....it can be difficult to find relief.

I was in an all day meeting on Tue, 8 hours of sitting. I squirmed, stood up, tried to pace and ended up in pain and with significant abdominal swelling. ugh

In 2 weeks, I have a 3 day training course I have to attend~so more of the same.

I really thought my recovery would be complete by now.....


  • It's difficult when the body doesn't perform as it always did -- never had to give it a second thought before. No matter how hard you try to concentrate on your job, that little devil pain just wears you down. The more pain killers you take, the loopier you get, resulting in triple checking your work.

    I had a lot of meetings to attend also. I brought a cushion and ice pack to my meetings -- I'm older so I just didn't care what people thought of how I looked -- just wanted to make it through the day. I'd go home and go straight to bed to try and rest up for the next day. And, I haven't had surgery.

    I just wanted to post a commisseration of sorts to let you know you're not alone. I'm pretty good now but it took almost a year.

    Sending good vibes your way that you'll get past this phase of returning to work and it will get a little better for you each day. I know the stress of trying to "Buck up" in front of your co-workers each day doesn't help the pain.

    Take care and hang in there,

  • but the healing is coming. It took me a full 18 months till I felt I could even walk like myself again. When you have to sit for a really long time (I do all day at work), you might want to try a BackJoy -- it's an orthotic for your butt that helps you sit up right and takes the strain off your back. You can get them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I have one in the car, one at the office, and one in my sewing room chair. I cannot sit all that long without one.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thank you ladies so much! You are both so right, the unending pain just takes the joy right out of you! I am so very tired of hurting and being exhausted.

    I go in tomorrow morning to have more blood work to see if my thyroid level is improving/increasing.

    The days I work, I come home and crawl straight into bed. My hubby has been travleing and my daughter has been with friends a lot. I feel like I need to let her as I am already in bed. but, it doesn't help my emotional state.

    Each week, I think, this will be the week it gets easier...then the next week, I think, maybe this week...

    Thank you both so much for your support! :)
  • I haven't had lumbar surgery yet, but like Linda, I use the BackJoy - One at home, one for the car. It's funny, they aren't big, and they are comfortable!!

    Sorry you're hurting so much still. Hopefully in the future as your healing continues, like Linda, you will be great! Support *hugz* to ya!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I know it's not much but I do understand.
    I'm 5.5 months out of revision MicroD and same thing. I was doing great...but the further away I get, I feel as if I'm not making progress and worry about going backward.

    I am relatively young and fit too. I didn't go through what you went through...but it's tough putting up a happy face when you are still recovering.

    Time, hugs, time, rest...
  • Sorry you aren't where you want to be yet, but you will get there.

    Fusions are rough and you had a 360!!! Give yourself time to heal. As a "veteran" of 2 lumbar fusions I know its hard to be patient, not being able to do things, getting exhausted from "simple" things we used to do. It will get better.

    Get your rest when you can, its OK. That your daughter has a friend to be with so you can do that is a good thing.

    Take care,

  • Every person "is" different, and no matter how often I'm told that, I keep asking, "when will the pain end"? I'm 59. Had a double fusion, L3/4 & L3/5, just 4 weeks ago. I also had a bone graft. I am a very impatient lady, and not working, makes me even more impatient. But, my daughter who is 36 had a fusion with bone graft last August and she has days when she comes home from work extra tired because of her back. She is doing really well most of the time, but she still has to watch herself. Sounds like good advice from the other members, of which I may do myself. Hang in there.
  • I was 7 months out before I started to be able to sit for longer periods and feel more "normal" and I didn't have a 360. We get so sick of being in constant pain and just long for the healing process to be over and done with.

    Yes, you are young and strong but having to work and sit most of the day puts pressure on the spine, but I would think that you can't take more time off from work. It's hard to keep motivated when you're still hurting like crazy.

    After my laminectomy/discectomy in March 08 (which increased my back pain), I had to go back work, and it was "pure hell" and I don't know how I got through each day. I was at an age where I was able to retire at Christmas 08, and then I was able to plan for the fusion. During this time, because of the pain, I had a couple of "melt downs" in the office, something which is totally out of character for me.

    Are you able to postpone the training course? Three days of sitting in an uncomfortable chair will be very hard to cope with. Whenever I had to do training, the chairs were always uncomfortable and I couldn't sit still.

    From your other posts, I know you're doing everything you can to help yourself.

    Sending you >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D<


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008

  • I am so sorry that you are still struggling being back at work.

    That all day meeting, was just too much for you. Did you have a cushion with you? Although a cushion would help, that amount of sitting is just too much. I can so relate to your description of squirming, standing up and pacing. We were having a meal the other weekend, which was taking a long time. After doing a lot of squirming, I had to stand up and then walk about a bit. Very quickly, the waitress was there, asking if everything was ok. I felt a bit embarressed, but just couldn't sit for a moment longer!

    You have a lot of friends here Shari, who care and are here for you. >:D<

    Roll on the day when you can say ' I have a 360 spinal fusion, and the recovery was very tough, but now I have my life back and am so glad that I had it'. <:P

    Praying for you, that things will get easier. :-)
  • I understand completely. I still have significant pain everyday. And if I do anything even like the 2 loads of laundry I did yesterday I hurt worse. I mean COME ON..lol..2 loads? are u kidding me?

    I was complaining to my husband yesterday that I was sick of hurting and then REALLY hurting bad when I do any little stupid thing. As you know I lost my position after 3 months and I am still out on long term disability.

    We are suffering finacially right now but I tell myself it won't be forever. If I could go back to work 3 to 4 hours a day I think I could but that is not an option now I lost that position. So now I have to wait until I can work a full 8 or 9 to go back. I know I am not there yet.

    We had surgery around the same time and we have both struggled with our recovery. Hang in there. It has to get better..right?

  • From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for your support my spiney friends! I have come to realize that Thurs are just a very difficult day right now and by thur night I am in so much pain and so exhausted.

    I am anxious to get my thyroid level up as I think that will help with the energy. Pain just wears me down.

    I have a friend coming to visit and that will be so nice to just relax and laugh. We were planning on staying at a lake house on the water so the kids could run and play. It has rained nonstop here, the water levels are high, the ground is saturated and the house flooded....and is now covered in muck...

    So, my dear hubby came to the rescue and now we are staying on the beach. That way, I don't have to hostess~I am just too exhausted! I feel a little bad, saying I can't do it, but I just can't.

    I am trying to figure out if I should go back and finish my Physical therapy. I stopped when I herniated the level above and at the same time was returning to work.

    I am torn, it seems like too much, but I know I should....

    Thank you so much for your support! This recovery just seems to be unending!
  • How distressing to have the house flooded and covered in muck. Good that you're staying on the beach for a while - your hubby sounds wonderful! Here in Western Australia, we have the opposite problem - not enough rain and lots of beautiful sunny days.

    With the physical therapy, can you just do your stretches at home and in the office, and perhaps some meditation afterwards?



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

    After my fusion I returned to work at the 8 month mark. Long time I know, Granted it was to a very physical and demanding job with long 10-12 hour days.

    Man can I relate to the grueling pain, coming home in extreme pain only to do what ever it took to rest, relax, get the pain at bay, only to go back and do it all over again. I needed my job. Main support for our family. A lot of good that is doing me now.

    Unfortunately for me I did it as long as I could. 11 months later the pain changed became more severe and other areas joined in the party. I am off work again and this time it has been almost a year.

    I went back to doing the same things I always used to do. Shame on me. I destroyed the levels above and below my fusion as they were taking on so much more abuse after the fusion.

    Please be careful with your NEW SPINE!


  • Shari,

    I am so sorry you are still not there yet. I think going back to work is delaying but not stopping your recovery. I would do as mentioned above and do some light PT at home. Or, try nothing for awhile. You are working hard enough. I never felt the harder stuff helped me, only caused more pain. I gave it all up, because I get exercise at work and do a lot of home/car stuff. I am at a point were I now feel I can start a mild/moderate workout program. But, if it increases my back/leg pain I will stop.

    My prayers are with you and know it will get better. You may be one of those 12-18 month recoveries. Wish you could reduce your job workload, but I understand.

    Take Care,

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I understand totally. If I had to work I don't know what I'd do. I'm 6 months out and luckily on Long Term Disability. There are days where I can imagine going back to work and then an hour later I'll need to lay down, take pain meds, etc and I realize I may not be returning.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • "I think I can, I think I can...." Another work week is over and I made it thru!

    I saw my PM yesterday, my appointment was for this coming Mon, but had to be rescheduled. Thur's are my worst day, so appropriate to see him on the day I feel the worst.

    We spent a long time talking. He noted that he thought I looked so much better (a good haircut and a few highlights:)). He thinks I am too hard on myself.....

    I have come to a cross road of either continuing to taper down the pain meds or switching to something more long term and slow releasing.

    I am not ready to give up! So I am tapering down and pray I can do it. He meantioned that sometimes people remember the horrible pain and the brain perceives pain as always being that intense.

    I've thought a lot about what he said. I think at times I may do that. Tue, I let the pain get ahead of me and it took 12+ hours before I felt relief. So, Wed and Thur, I was much more aware and quicker to take something (I guess out of fear).....

    Next week, is the 3 day training confrence which is madatory issued from the state of Tx...I will go get the Back Joy this weekend. If it allows me to make it thru I will be forever endebted! :)

    I felt a little better endurance wise this week, but the crazy thing is, once I feel fatique , I am flat out exhausted, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

    Had more blood work for my thyroid levels, waiting to hear the results, my level was 86, he wants it in the 150's. I really believe these 2 issues, go hand in hand. I just wish it didn't ake so long to get there!

    Thank you so much for all your support! I try not to get down as I read of others moving on and off all meds. Maybe my journey will be longer, but I am not ready to give up! "I think I can, I think I can!"
  • Well done! Another week under your belt. You did it!

    Probably a good thing to see your PM on your worst day for pain.

    Good luck next week at the 3 day training.
    Do let me know what you think of the Back Joy. Well worth it, if it gives relief while sitting.

    Be patient with yourself. :D
    You had a 360 surgery, and that is the 'big daddy' of them all! We all know that this is going to be a long recovery, and thought we were ready for that, but the time drags so much that it seems much longer.

    Think back to how you were when you first got home from hospital.
    Remember the pain!
    Remember the limitations!
    How much help did you need?
    What could you manage to do yourself?

    Now then, don't you feel better?

    You have come such a long way Shari, there is still quite a road ahead of you, but it is getting less steep and it leads to a wonderful place. The journey will be so worth it. :D

    I really miss you on here and our chats. :-(
    I think of you a lot and pray that you will keep moving forward in your recovery. :-)
    You can do it my friend! >:D<

  • Thank you Jelly! Indeed I do feel better! You are right! Sometimes it is hard to see the light at the end of tunnel!

    I do think, maybe, I expect too much and am too hard on myself.

    I miss you so much! I have been so very tired! Maybe we can chat this weekend! I am home all weekend for some R & R!

    Thank you for your encouraging words!
  • I'm so sorry you are still having difficulties with your recovery. I'm not on the forum much now with a busy work and pt and normal life activities but think of everyone often and hope everyone is improving. Lynette
  • Just checking on ya. have you been feeling better lately, i hope so.
    you know Recovery Lane is a long road, so just hang in there and just do what you can do, and if you cant do it, put it on the back burner for another day.

    take care and my best to you.
  • Heya Jim! So great to hear from you! I think of you often and your daughter and look for your posts! I know you just had a CTscan and are waiting for the results! Please let us know what you find out!

    This journey is so very long and I have had a hard time keeping my spirits up! If I hadn't had to return to work I would be doing great and basically off all meds........but that isn't the direction of my journey. :(

    I really like my pain management doc. He has known me for a long time and remembers "the old" me! When I saw him last week, he told me he thinks I am too hard on myself and don't give myself credit.

    I didn't think so at the time, but have been thinking about it a lot, and I think he is right.

    So, I have been trying to be more aware of what I can do, and not so much what I can't.

    I so wish I didn't have this severe thyroid issue, but I do.

    I need to finish PT or design my own program~I know what to do, I have all the equipment.....I don't have the endurance. :(

    So, I am going to take it in baby steps. This week, I am in a state mandated training course which will require days of sitting.

    I have been scouring the city, trying to find the BAck Joy (in hind site, I should have ordered it off the net~now I think of it!)

    All I'm going to ask of myself other than work, is to just get in the pool at the end of each work day! That's it, just get in, anything other than that will be bonus and I am hoping once I get in, I may feel like some exercising.

    Are you keeping your spirits up? I know it is so hard! The pain can just become too much! Thurs are my worst days and sometimes, I just want to say, "Can I please just have one day without pain, just one day!" LOL ha!

    Hang in there! Thanks for thinking of me! We are all in this together and I don't know what I would do without all of you!
  • Sorry to hear about your thyroid issues and hope they get that under control and get back some energy soon. I hope the Insurance people are fixing up your flood damage also. I had my hot water tank burst shortly after my back injury and it was just awful! I think I should have sued the rental water tank company for stress I had to go through with all that. The Insurance company went after them and I got back some things but some were irreplaceable things I had in the newly renovated basement. It just adds more what I call muscle strain to trying to recover from my injury or in your case your surgery.

    Keep up the good work returning to work and concentrating on what you can do and taking it one day at a time and hopefully one day be back to better than before your surgery. Your courage is what keeps us going after all you've been through. Take care and prayers for your continued recovery. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Awe, thank you for such a sweet message! You really made me smile!

    What stress to have a basement flood at the same time as your injury~right when you are feeling your worst! Things like that just seem to be the last straw! :)

    I finally found a store that had the Back Joy in stock. I pray that it helps and allows me to get thru this training course. The sales lady had really good things to say about it! If it helps it will be worth it's weight in gold!:)

    My health insurance has sent my information on a new program that they are offering that is a support program with 1:1 confidential, personal guidance. They can help with medications, understanding conditions, helping to ask the right questions to the right people and setting goals.

    I think I will use it to help me understand about my body not absorbing my thyroid medication and how long to expect it to take to get my levels up. I have a long way to go to get there (from 82 to in the 150's). I have never been through this before, I could use some help! :)

    Thanks again for your support! It means the world to me!
  • Charry, sorry to hear about your situation with the hot water tank. at least you got some items replaced, but unfortunally not all especially the items that would have more of a sentimental value, then a monetary value. hope you get some kind of reimbursement for your loss.

    Shari, thank you for thinking bout us. my daughter is doing great. she will need at least 1 more surgery but probably 2, but so far we are happy with her progress.
    I had my ct scan done got it on a cd, there's probably 150 pictures on there but im not even gonna guess what im looking at. have to wait 2 weeks to see doctor and let him tell me whats happening, or i can do is tell him how i feel, and what hurts when.

    doctor keeps asking me about not driving a truck again, but im 54 y/o and been driving a semi truck for 28 years, so im kinda stuck.
    gonna call work comp. lawyer and tell him i need his opinion about me applying for ssdi, and have him set me up with a lawyer so they can work together on it to make sure i dont lose something i should have coming to me.
    I figure i would get my injury settlement from work comp. ssdi, and i can start my pension early due to a disability,
    dont need health ins. i can get it thru the V.A. so i'll just pay cobra for my daughter, but unfortunally i know my ex will go after a big chunk of my pension.

    Sorry to hear about your thyroid issues, but i think thats a female thing, and i could'nt comment on it, just wish you the best of luck, and hope the doctor has you on the right track.

    take care and my best to you.
  • I'm interested to know how the Back Joy works for you. Hope you have a easy time at your training sessions.

    Take care,

  • That's rotten when the training is compulsory. Hope the Back Joy and meds help you get through those three long days. I guess I was lucky when I was working in that I could postpone some of the training and get out of the really long meetings. Being older, I was able to retire earlier than I'd planned.

    I wouldn't do anything more than the pool for now. It should help the muscles to relax a little.

    The health insurance support program sounds good - let us know more once you've had a look at what they're offering.

    Hope you get the thyroid issue sorted out soon.


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

    Just make sure you place it right, then scoot back with it for proper position, otherwise you might think you bought a useless gizmo! It's tempting to just plop on down on it, but it won't position you correctly. Hope you like it!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.

  • as you start the course today. :-)

    Hope that the Back Joy is just that, and helps you sit comfortably.
    Hope that there will be opportunities to get up and move about often.
    As occupational therapists they should understand your needs. :-)

    I'll try to find you for a chat either tonight or tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to catching up with you. :D

    Take care friend >:D<

  • hi Shari,
    I know that I have been out of touch for a while and I was sad to read your post. I know you have been through so much and everyday is painful. I hope that things get better for you soon. Just take it one day at a time.

    I hope you get your thyroid results soon and perhaps your doctor can work with you to help stabalize your pain and your mood. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help as you get through this recovery period. You went through major surgery, be kind and patient with yourself. You have alot of people who love and care for you, you will get through this eventually and until them we are all behind you cheering you on.

    I am sorry to hear of all the other things happening to your home, at times it seems like we never catch a break. I do understand that!!! You have a loving husband and daughter, and together you will get to the other side.

    Take it one day at a time, make time for yourself and rejoice in all the good moments and remember the success you have had this far, 6 months from now, even this will seem trivial, you'll see.

    I wish you all the very very best.

    Love Sandra xx
  • Wanted to reach out to my spiney friends as today has been a rough day. Pain levels are up, most likely the result of going away with my hubby for the weekend and stress.

    Had a much needed weekend with the hubby, but over did it. One of those times when a taxi takes you somewhere and you end up walking way too far to get to the second place.

    Sat., just stayed in at the hotel with room service and a movie.

    Today was the sentencing day for the person involved in my nephews death. My sister in law spoke to make the victims impact statement. There were some details that of his death 4 months ago, that I wasn't fully aware of. I am struggling today, have cried most of the day. I worry about talking to my family about it, afraid that if they aren't thinking about it at that momment and I bring it up, it just brings it to the forefront again. The pain is so intense and I long for one more day with him.....

    Thank you for letting me vent. I am praying for a better day!
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