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Recovery from surgery

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've posted something like this before, over a year ago and because I see so many members that have just had surgery or are going to have surgery and have recovery questions, I want to post this reminder about surgery recovery.

I'm going to speak for 99.9% of us that have had spine surgery and say that recovery is a very, very, very long road. I'm posting this because I've seen a common threads among spineys that say they're still in pain after 4 weeks, or 6 weeks, or 8 weeks or even longer.

Well, you know what? Darned right you are! You betcha!

I didn't realize until after I experienced my surgeries, seeing others' experiences and talking with folks here on SH that any spine surgery is very major surgery, even if it holds the title "minimally invasive."

That's NOT to say that it isn't worth doing because so many times it is (both of mine included), it's just to say that you and your loved ones both need to realize you are embarking on a long journey, not necessarily a BAD one, just a long one.

I've read and talked with members that have tried to do things way too soon out of surgery (I'm talking at even three months) that are putting themselves in a position for failure. We all need to remember that we can't do housework, we can't walk up or down hills, we have to adhere to our restrictions, and we have to rely on others for quite a long time.

The most difficult part of recovery is when you think you're feeling better and the boredom starts to set in. That's when you do more than you should and pay the price the next day or even the same day. This is also the most critical time to remind yourself that you're still healing even though you may look pretty good on the outside, you still need to adhere to restrictions, you still can't do many things that you used to do, and you still need help with some things. The time will come when you can do more, but no matter what anyone says, recovery from surgery is a very long road and has to be treated with respect and patience. Don't risk a failed surgery because you're bored and/or see something not getting done that you think you can do yourself - you can't. Just do a little more walking and something to get your brain moving, like thinking-type games, movies or reading.

With that being said, SH is a very valuable resource for you because you'll find a lot of information here on these forums and outside these forums, and you'll also find support, others' experiences and friendship. And when it's over, you're finally recovering and someone asks you what surgery you had, you can hold your head up high (hopefully LOL) and say that you made it through a very difficult spine surgery - with success!

Now, take care care of yourselves post-op and have a successful surgerical outcome.



  • Amen to this post!
    Thanks for posting this as I'm 9 months post op of my 2nd surgery. I'm doing generally well.

    However, even 9 months after...I have my days. I lost my footing a week ago and I handled it pretty well but was a little sore. My husband, bless him, reminded me I am to take it easy on house work for 2 weeks...it's been a reminder that it's ok not to run through life.

    You know what? It has been giving me the time to stop and smell the roses. I found a wonderful open field space about 15 minutes from here. I am not really able to hike with me & the dog by myself anymore so I have to find alternate places to take her....I've found a world of wonderful rail trails (flat hikes) and open space (fields) paths that are wonderful for 'hiking'....and very peaceful too!

    Remember those recovering...it's worth the patience! And yes, even those minimally invasive back surgeries...are a big deal! Take your time, take a breath, and remember...you are not alone in your recovery. We are here for you.
  • Cathie,

    Excellent timing on your post. My title? I did that because I think now that we are entering heavily into the "Holiday Season", people tend to overdue as there is so much rushing around "as just a normal" person, never mind a person with spine issues, and most especially recovering from surgery! Shopping, packing the car with purchases, unloading them at home, hiding them or wrapping them, all can and does = PAIN and flares. Attending work or family holiday parties, other family gatherings, road trips etc. All take a toll. We try to keep the "Happy face" and push on, but we already know (yeah...I can see you guys nodding your heads in agreement here!!) we will pay, and sometimes pay dearly!

    Last year I reduced what functions I would go to, and did most of my shopping online. Once all my packages were all in, it was wrapping night. I started using the bed as my staging ground, ended up moving to the floor, and before I was done, in a ball of tears on the floor the pain was so bad! At that point I was like 3.5 months post op! Just food for thought. Try to keep this holiday season jolly for all, but especially for you and your one and only spine! *HUGZ*

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

    I'll say Amen too !!

    Can you make this into a Sticky so that it stays at the top of the page?


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Well very well put I had my L4 L5 fusion surgery on Oct 21st and am getting along very well I think accept for legs aching waking me up after a few hours of sleep but other than that I feel very good weening off pain pills accept bed time ...Ok here is the Biggie
    I asked My Dr about black Friday shopping and he said I am good to go just don't twist This is a big day for our family we live for this day lol and I missed it last year do to this problem (killed me) but I am def going this year so Hope it goes well lol but I know my limits if i get sore I will go to car .but we are only going to 3 stores and only be a few hours so it should be a fun morning . :H
  • Thank you for your post! I think I will send a copy to my family who think that I should be fine one month after my surgery. My surgeon for god sakes!said It might take a year and at least 6 months back to work, He also said, it all depends how much I like my job.:) Again, great post. I will look back on it after my surgery...

  • Regarding the Black Friday ...

    I would avoid ANY place that has crowds. I was pregnant the one and only year I did Black Friday and I tell you- it was scary. No carts, masses of crowding so bad that if you fell you would not be getting up anytime soon and the mayhem!

    As for the recovery period - I second everything here. Seriously you do not want to take the SLIGHTEST chance that you will mess up what the dr. fixed. I mean - do you REALLY want to do this all over again???!! Just for a simple bend when you should have not, just for a few hours shopping, just because you were bored and thought 'hey, I think I can do that now...'

    Don't do it. It's not worth the years of pain and agony that you are risking starting all over again.

    Hmmm- maybe I should take my own advice - I was contemplating skiing again this winter - not now!
  • My SIL has tried for years to get me to join them on their "open-open-open" run! They are at the doors before the store opens, and live for the rush as the crowd crushes against each other to get in the store. That is the last thing *I* want to be involved in! (G)

    I'm not a big shopper either. I make a list, get my stuff and leave! Be careful!! *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I'm guilty of being an impatient patient! In my defense though I am following doctors orders. They told me I could do as I normally would as soon as I came home from the hospital. I'm now five weeks post op and they told me to do as I normally would. Ok. We've had some beautiful weather here the past few days so the leaves and flower beds have been calling to me. I worked outside the past two days and honestly was careful and didn't lift or tug at anything heavy. My son was out with me and at one time I said, I need to go inside and sit down for awhile. He said you should be almost healed by now shouldn't you? The doctor said you can do anything you want. So I stayed out and kept 'piddling' around. Guess where I am today? Sitting here with my heating pad and wishing I'd stayed in yesterday too. I followed doctors orders and guess what? He's right...it doesn't hurt him at all.


  • My surgeon said the same thing, BUT when I quizzed him about specific things like picking up my granddaughter, gardening and housework, he then was much more cautious and said to wait 3 months longer, and then be very careful.

    I did think at the time, that it would be very easy to take him at his word and hurt myself.

    From reading others here, who are given restrictions, or those that haven't been given any who go on and hurt themselves and set their recovery back, I knew to be more careful than he indicated.

    I hope that you will feel better very soon, and then do take it easy! >:D<
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I like you have listened to others advice here and stopped myself from doing many things that I thought about doing. I've also done things that really set me back. (My friends here know how stupid I can be!)

    My problem now is that my family know what the doctor said and they think I should be doing 'whatever'. If the doctor had given me restrictions it would be easier for me to not do things. I feel like they think I'm just being lazy if I don't make an effort. I've reminded them and myself of how long it takes for the actual fusing to take place.

    Thanks for your concern. I am doing better today and have been taking it easy. It's just not worth it...and I tell myself that time and time again and yet I still do these things. At least no one can say I give up easily. lol.

    Hope you're having a good day.

  • I know what you mean about family, or others, thinking that perhaps we should be able to get back to our usual tasks sooner than we are actually able to. This recovery seems long to us, but it does to our family and friends too.

    Sometimes, I believe that it is just in our own heads, that people are thinking this, and a sense of not pulling our weight (once we are over the worst, initial stage of our recovery), causes us to feel this way.

    We have to convince ourselves, as much as our loved ones and work colleagues, that full fusion takes a long time and we don't want to blow it.

    I think that all of us over do it at some point, and live to regret it. If we are lucky, we get away with it, and only have temporary pain.

    Our full fusion and recovery is too important to risk spoiling that. (Now I must re-read this and take my own advice!!!)

    Keep up the good healing, and don't feel guilty for taking the time you need to fully recover. >:D<
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I agree that it's probably just me feeling guilty for not doing stuff. I do cause myself extra pain but I'm very, very careful to not do real damage!

    Now, like you, I need to take my own advice. I think we all are probably guilty of not doing that. I know I am.

    I'm the type to worry more about others than myself. All night the night I had surgery I kept asking my husband if he was tired, if he was hungry, etc. I also was talking on the phone with my son until after 1:30 in the morning because he was home by himself!! lol.

    Take care and have a good evening.
  • =)) we go to a small town and just do walmart and a few other stores and I generally stay out of the way
    lol I just like going with the family it is a blast
    and we go out for breakfast afterwords just a few hours so it is a good time Yes I will def be careful
    thanks Brenda hugz back atcha
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