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Feeling down after 2-level fusion 7 mths ago......

SueDSSueD Posts: 545
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I must be honest, I haven't posted for a while although I have still continued to read the topics on SH on a regular basis.

I don't know where to start (or how much of my history you can remember as some of you will obviously be new members).

I've just come on again to up-date you and to find out if anyone has had similar issues since their fusion surgery?

I had the fusion in July 2010. Went back to work (in a primary and secondary school) in October. 2 weeks later I was sent home 'cos my line manager (with no medical experience at all) said "I wasn't fit to work" - and this is after my local GP and my employer's occupational health doctor said I WAS!

Anyway, I've been off work, on full pay, EVER SINCE! It's so depressing. I don't feel settled at all because no definitive decisions are being made yet. I'm seeing my occy health doctor again next Tuesday and, hopefully, he will say I'm fit to return. Then we'll all get together (again) for a 'case conference' where everyone involved sits round a table to discuss me. I've attended one so far and it was like an interrogation!

My problem is this. My back/leg pain has blimming well returned (six weeks after the surgery actually). I've tried various medications since then and am now back on the Butrans patches and extra Oramorph liquid as/when I need it. My surgeon said when he last examined me that there's tenderness (it even hurts just to press it) at the S1 left screw and the right sacro-iliac joint. He has booked me in for 2 spine injections which I understand won't happen until May now. I had to send a copy of his letter to my Occy Health doctor which explains all this. What I'm worried about now is do you think, with this new information and stronger pain meds - my employers now might say that working with small children (and all the bending that's involved) means I'll have difficulty going back to work?

To make matters worse, at the last case conference, my line manager handed everyone a copy of my timetable. I noticed there were two jobs/duties I hadn't even done before, that is to work with babies and toddlers. One of her direct questions to me was: How will you manage working on the floor with these children? It took me by surprise and my honest answer was that I've never had to work on the floor before or since my fusion surgery, so I don't know how I'll manage. Between you, me and the gatepost, I cannot see myself working (at their level) on the floor, I'd never be able to get up again, ha! Thank goodness my Union man was there because he said it doesn't state on my job description that I would be required to work with babies/toddlers or on the floor and that he felt they were putting up barriers before I'd even had a chance to return to work. Good for him!

Incidentally, I wasn't very happy this week when my doctor told me that he thinks the back/leg pain I'm currently experiencing will never go away - that I'm stuck with it for life now. This is even before I've attempted to go back to work for a second time.

I just feel that I'll never get back to work and being off all this time is really playing havoc with my confidence.

I'm going swimming now twice a week, I go for long walks on the days in between and have tried (once) to use my daughter's rowing machine (though I'm not sure if this is such a good idea at the moment).

I really thought have having the fusion surgery would put an end to the continuous use of strong pain meds, sort the pain out for good and allow me to do the things I've wanted to do for the past 6 years without having to worry about how it would affect my back all the time. But it just seems that I'm back to square one, after all that. I do realise that there was never any guarantee of complete success, but after the first 2 weeks after the fusion, I did have 3 weeks of no pain, no meds, it was amazing.

I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm having a pity party - I'm quite up-beat and positive most of the time, it's just lately that these things are getting me down.

Should I just try and accept that my job MIGHT make things even worse for me back-wise. NO!!!!! I won't give up that easily. At least they should give me the opportunity to go back to work, resume my duties, and only then can anyone say I'm not fit if I continue to have problems - I at least want to try and find out first before giving in. However, in the back of my mind, I feel they've got a hidden agenda (always have) because of the all the Government cutbacks that are happening at the moment, I think they would be happier if my job didn't exist at all. The longer I stay off, the more I worry that it proves they don't 'need' me - if you see what I mean?

What do you all think?
Has anyone got any comments?
Have you been in similar circumstances and were your issues ever resolved - how?

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 !!


  • I just wanted to welcome you back to the boards. I am sorry that you are having trouble since your fusion and have been unable to go back to work. I remember the trouble you had when you first went back . You are in the UK is that right? I am sure that it can be frustrating not know when and if you can go back to regular employment. I am still waiting for my fusion however, I already find myself wondering if I will be able to do my position after...I am in healthcare. Glad to hear that you are walking and swimming.
    You will be in my thoughts, I will be wishing you all the best for pain relief and the ability to go back to work soon, without pain or trouble from management.
    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Hi Sue. I had my fusion on L4-S1 in late Spet. I was scheduled to be on disablity til Nov 30. But what the Dr. didn't understand was that my employer (A school District) had forced me to go on FMLA/disability in August. This meant I had to come back to work Nov 9, so I wouldn't lose my job. I think it was too soon because I have struggled since then.

    I know you are in the U.K. and I am in the U.S., but we are both in basically Special Ed so you know their expectations are going to be unreasonable.

    Now as far as the pain returning... I thought the same thing, and it did get better for a while. But in Jan I was suppossed to see me P.M. Dr. That was when there was the snow/ice storm here in Atlanta, GA so I couldn't get there. So I went off of all my meds basically cold turkey. (Couldn't another appt for a month) The pain has returned in the back and leg and I am having severe muscle spasms. Then when I got to the Dr. he took me off 1 of the meds. I am trying to do without it but I am going to have to call him on Monday and get back on it. I also saw the surgeon this week and he told me that if I am in this much pain at 6 months, he is going to do a myelogram.

    Sorry about the long post. I just want you to know I understand and am in the same shoes. I get depressed that it will never get better. PLease feel free to post me when you need to vent.
  • When we are under pain it is really hard to have enough imagination to see ourselves pain free or in a better situation. Do not give up. Every issue has a root cause. Do not give up on investigation. Have you though about visiting a psiquiatrist. It may help you with depression and let you see a better future for your case.
    Hope you soon overcome this temporary phase!!!
  • Howdy Sue,

    I hate to say this, but many times our intuition is smack on! I had the same with my job with our government (US), and my Director did similar with the barriers. Regrettably for me, I found I actually could no longer do my job due to nerve damage. I was forced to retire under disability. In retrospect, I no longer regret it, as things have gotten worse. I do know my personality, had I tried to "hang on", I would have done more damage.

    Is there anyway you can 'simulate' your job duties in the safety of your home to *really* test yourself to see if in fact you could go back? Do your former job actions for a few days to see if you really can do it? I did some little tests at home, and the smack of reality hit me, and I resigned to my body, and what I had to do.

    Certain jobs that we love is hard to admit to ourselves that we can no longer safely do it for our customers, co-workers, ourselves. Now if your self test is good, then you can advise your union rep and maybe have new ammo as I know you love your job. Glad to see you back with us.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • thoughts, yes when you first tried to go back to work and you had the round table conference, i do think your line manager tried to set you up, by asking about working with babies on the floor

    good your union rep, got onto that, saying it wasnt in your job description

    re your symptoms and pain now coming back, im really sorry to hear that

    brenda"s suggestion is good, try a simulation at home of your working day, see how you manage and reavaluate over a few days

    wishing you well
    take care
    oh about the rowing machine, i would ask dr, physio about that, i personally wouldnt use a rowing machine
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