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Sent home less than a week after returning to work!!

jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

Well, here I am again, at home and waiting to move forward again in my spinal fusion journey. Gosh this is a long road!

My L4/L5 decompression and fusion was way back in March '10. That seems like a very long time ago.

Finally after 5 1/2 months, I returned to work.
Monday and Tuesday I was exhausted and in pain by the afternoon, and was glad to get into bed at the end of the day.

Yesterday I was sent home from work because I was in so much pain. I didn't even make it for one hour before I had to go home!

My pain now is in my thoracic spine. It starts over my spine in my back and wraps around my chest to over my spine in the front. My doctor explained that because I have lost mobility at the level that has been fused, the rest of my spine is having to take up the slack and move more. This extra movement has caused a flare up of my thoracic area which already had problems. YUK!!

I have been signed off work again! I will try to return again in a week or so, but must have a phased and very gradual return back to my full hours in a month or so. I am a teaching assistant so lots of bending and stooping. My school has been amazingly supportive, and I am so relieved about that. :-)

I had been doing so well with my recovery. Today I am feeling more comfortable and have accepted that this is probably the best thing for me to protect my back, while at the same time I am longing to get back to my normal life.

I knew this would be a long recovery, but when that is what we get, it is so hard.

So, you will be hearing from me again while I am taking it easy and needing your encouragement. :D

Hope all my spiney friends are having a pain reduced day. :H


  • Very sorry to hear that you can't yet do what you were hoping for.
    What the doctor told you does make sence, so it seems you will need a lot more time to recover.

    At least your school supported you and tried to work with you. But it's just to soon yet.
    Anyway it will be nice to see you back on here, keeping us all company. /:)

    Hopefully you will get paid while you are still recovering.
    My best and take'r easy
  • Wow, it's so good to hear that your school is so accommodating. There are so many here that have jobs that don't really care how they feel, just get back to work and get the job done.

    I'm sorry you're having such bad pain, but you had a very serious surgery and it's really no wonder that it's taking such a long time to recover.

    Take care of yourself and hang in there. It really will get better with time, as I'm sure you know.

  • Gosh, I'm sorry that your back isn't quite ready for your normal life yet. I kow that any of us would be just s anxious as you are. But, I think that you are very smart to listen to your body. Too often we try to push ourselves & end up doing much more damage.
    I've been fighting the inevitable as far as my job goes & finally had to take an early extended leave, because I wasn't doing myself any favors & certainly wasn't doing my job any justice.
    Sounds like you work for a wonderful school district & soon you will be able to return to being the employee that they obviously value so much.
    **gentle hug from one spiney sis to another**
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    Its so hard to predict when a given person is able to return to work after some type of spinal surgery.

    The variables involved are so numerous that only a simple guideline can be given.

    Things to consider:
    - How long did you have the problem prior to surgery
    - How long was the surgery
    - What overall physical shape were you in prior to surgery
    - What type of physical therapy have/are you doing
    - What other treatments are being used
    - etc, etc, etc

    On top of that, the type of work you are returning to makes a big difference:

    - Do you have to drive a distance to work
    - Is it a desk top that has you sitting most of the day
    - Is it a physical job
    - etc, etc , etc

    The best thing to do is work with your doctor and therapist to come up with the time frame that is right for you to return to work.

    Returning too soon can potentially cause additional problems, returning too late, your employer might object.

    Everything needs to be considered regarding this matter.
    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
  • to all for your kind comments. :-)

    Ron, they tell me I probably had this spondylolisthesis since I was a teenager and were amazed that I managed to carry 3 pregnancies without getting a diagnosis. So a long time!

    My surgery was about 4 hours

    I was in pretty good shape before surgery, due to all the walking and exercising I'd been doing to desperately avoid surgery!

    I am having physiotherapy with a great spinal specialist physio. He specialises in getting back patients back to work, and told me in July when I hoped to return to work, that I wasn't ready. I am seeing him this evening to let him know how I am coping with the return to work! I have a surprise for him. :O

    My recovery from surgery has actually been much better than I anticipated and various medical people have been amazed at how well I have done. This problem returning has really surprised me!

    Since my lumbar fusion, I have been having a lot of pain and other symptoms from my neck, which was already grumbling at me before surgery. I am waiting for an MRI scan to see what is going on there. I think they now intend to extend that MRI scan and do my thoracic spine as well.

    My journey to work is very short; about 10 minutes in the car.

    I am moving around a lot all through the day while at work. There is a lot of bending as I work with children and have to view their work to help them.

    I had been passed to return to work, and I had felt that we had been quite cautious, bearing in mind that I had already been off work for 5 1/2 months.

    When I try again in a week or so, I intend to be very careful and watch how I am moving. I hope that reducing my hours to gently phase me back into work will provide the answer.

    I have been managing to do most things at home, and have been so surprised that returning to work has caused a problem.
  • because you were the one person that gave me hope of returning to work pretty soon - as we both work in a primary school (and I'm only too aware of the bending we have to do!).

    I was inspired that you were returning to work. Now I feel so deflated! Why? Because, for the last 2 weeks, my back pain has increased and the sciatica has returned in my right leg :( I believe this started when I tried to drive for the first time 2 weeks ago (and 6 weeks after the 2-level fusion when the surgeon said it would be OK to drive).

    I'll be seeing my surgeon's team on Tuesday 14 September and hope to have an x-ray done on my back. Hopefully it will show there's been no damage and that it's all part of the healing process.

    I thought I'd return to work after 6 weeks, but have been advised not to until I've seen my works Occy Health doctor (21 September). It's depressing as I badly need to return to get back onto full pay, as I'm currently on half pay and have only one month left because I was only in my job for six months before I had surgery.

    I'm so sorry you've had a set-back, but hopefully, you'll recouperate really quickly. The phased return to work is excellent to 'ease' you back in gently (I hope I can get the same).

    Please do keep us all posted on how you are getting on OK? Take care and don't overdo it.
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!

  • ... to disappoint you. I was very disappointed too :-)

    I am going to try to return to work again on Wednesday next week. This time I am going to be VERY careful and have a phased return, only doing part days initially.

    I was surprised that I couldn't cope with the return to work. I have been doing pretty well at home, but I suppose that I have been doing much more bending at work.

    I also found, at about your stage, that my pain increased and I started to get other nerve symptoms. I think they were probably due to the fact that I was moving around more as I improved. My physio told me that he believed that they were from my muscles and it was unlikely that I would harm my fusion surgery. I have found that, when I get pain, if I stop what I am doing and go and lie down for a while, they do go and I feel better again.

    I found, when I started to drive, that the twisting to look behind me was the most difficult position. It did improve as time went on.

    I am very hopeful that I will be successful in returning to work. I will just be very cautious. Already, I am feeling much better again, so by Wednesday I should be ready to go! :D

    My physio has given me some exercises to stretch the muscles over my thoracic spine and also my shoulder blades, where I was getting the pain.

    I hope that your recovery continues well and that your new pains will fade away and allow you to return to work soon.

    I know that I am in a very fortunate position to have such long service that I am entitled to 6 months off on full pay. ;)
  • I'm so sorry that you had a difficult week. I'm glad that your doctor was willing to help you.

    When I was 5-6 months out, I was still very immobile, and had severe pain also. Every month I see very subtle changes, but still have pain and the scarring issues.

    I think that the first year after fusion is the most important one. As my pain pyschologist says, "you must think of yourself first, and make this time a priority for optimal wellness". After he said that, it was the first time that I gave myself permission to put my health first.

    Take care of yourself now, Jelly...you have many years ahead of you to live a productive life, and a great family that, I'm sure, wants you to have that life back.

  • So disappointing for you especially when you were looking forward to getting back to work.

    I felt a lot of pain in the thoracic area for 7 months after the fusion. I've got scoliosis in that area, not sure what level, and I was starting to think the worst. The pain spasms gradually got less after 7 months, so perhaps it'll be the same for you.

    I was lucky in that I retired not long before my surgery, but if I had been working, I don't think I could have returned to work until the 7 month mark.

    Keep working in with your physio and hoping that the stretching exercises will help you.


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

  • ... for your support and care. :D

    Encouraging to hear, Trish, that you also suffered thoracic pain for some time after your fusion.
    It has worried me, that I might now need some treatment on that area. :jawdrop:

    Now, I hope that mine will settle down again with time, as yours did.

    On Wednesday, I will try again to return to work.
    This time, I will be much more cautious and take my time. I am hopeful that I will be successful if I do take more care. :-)

  • Thinking of you my friend and hoping you are feeling better! I have been keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! Have you been able to find the Back Joy? It really helps me when I have to sit at work! I know they have a website...

    Can you modify how you assist the students? Maybe instead of bending to see their work, have them stand up to show you? I'm not sure of all your job entails, but OT's are known for adapting activities to facilitate function. I'd be happy to brainstorm with you if you like! :)

    Take care my dear friend! hugs xxxxx :)

  • When I try to return to work again on Wednesday, I'll try to view my tasks and activities with a mind to the best 'back friendly' way to tackle them.

    If I need any ideas to tackle things in a different way, I'll be right onto you. :D

    I know that everyone at work will be watching me like a hawk after my false start!! :B

    I CAN do this!
  • It's a bummer that the 1st week didn't go as well as you'd hoped but it is really wonderful that you & your job are putting your health first.
    Gentle hugs!
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