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Recovery phase - don't know what to do with myself, suggestions please!

hotcoffee29hhotcoffee29 Posts: 327
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi folks,

I live in Pinellas County in Florida and I am 3 weeks pst op from ALIF and I watch way too much TV due to my down time and have now become entirely addicted to the Casey Anthony case!!!

However, besides that problem......I just don't know how to fill my days. I know this doesn't sound right but if I go about the house and try to do my usual daily activities I end up hurting too much. I take my walks on my treadmill so that helps, but when I take my breaks I lie in my bed as it's a remote control (like a hospital bed) so I can get comfortable.

My husband is telling me I spend too much time lying down. I don't sit in the living room because sitting on the couch is not comfortable for me. I feel bad that I am not doing more with my children as I don't have the stamina to take them out right now.

I just really want to know from others, roughly, as we all heal differently, but at about 3 weeks post op, should I be up and about all day taking a few breaks, can I really harm myself resting too much (hubby says I will get pneumonia) I truly just don't know what to do with myself all day. If I go into my kids rooms, I will kill myself trying to clean them!! The more I am up the more I feel I should be doing!!

I went grocery shopping the other day, made dinner, did the dishes and ended up in so much pain I was utterly miserable, but it's so difficult because my husband thinks at this point I should be able and up doing more. I am not in as much pain anymore when I am resting, so he looks at me as if I am being lazy now. I am just frustrated!! I feel I am at this in between stage where my brain is telling me I can do more (and my husband) but my body disagrees when I attempt too.

Just curious how others spend their time recovering and healing. Thanks as always for all the support I get from spine health!!



  • In place of walking on the treadmill, walk outside, the fresh air will do you good. The one thing I always did during my recovery is organize things, like the kitchen drawers, photos and so on. Also you can make new menu plans for when your feeling better. I also did a lot of crossword puzzles. I did many things to just keep my mind working as a motivational thing. You don't need to be doing a lot of physical things but there are small things you can do with lots of breaks in between. Make yourself a small list things to do, for the day that are within your restrictions and do them. It will help you feel accomplished. The hardest part I had during recovery was getting depressed and complacent. So I developed my own plan of action to feel better about myself. It is okay if you don't finish everything on your list, but so your doing something. Not sure of the age of your children but you could also begin looking for them scholarships for college, or look on the net for free things to do in your area. Maybe start scrap booking. Or if like any of us we could also use more money, so head over to all the coupon sites and find ways to save money on grocery shopping. If you saved yourself $30 on your grocery bill a week that would make you feel really well. Then take your savings and when your feeling better do something fun with the family that you weren't able to do during this time.

    But be sure to let your body be the guide and not your guilt or husband. Also of course following your surgeons orders. I am sure you had a list of restrictions from the surgeon, maybe time to put them on the ice box.
  • So glad you're recovering from your surgery and I hope you heal completely. I know it's still early in your healing time but sounds like you're doing too much at once with shopping,cooking and doing the dishes because doing dishes you're looking down. If you can do one thing a day would be better for you.

    Getting out in the sun is a great suggestion from Tammie and take short walks admiring others gardens. Still don't reach or bend your neck or sewing keep everything at eye level and prop your arms up. I hope you start feeling better soon and praying you get better soon. When do you see the Surgeon again? He may order Physiotherapy and that will keep you busy and they will let you know what you can or can't do so early in your healing. Thinking of you. 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
  • Hi Sandra,
    I agree with Charry, it does sound like you may be doing too much. I realize it is very difficult to take the time and allow yourself to heal, especially for someone who had been so active prior to your surgery. But your body does need time to heal.
    I am home recovering from a TLIF on L 4 5 that I had on 5/17. But my recovery is a very slow and somewhat painful process. I had several complications with mine and had also had a cervical 2 level fusion in January. So my recovery is different from yours, but please do let your body be your guide.
    I know that the idea of walking outside sounds good, but here in FL it may not always be possible :) we are the sunshine state :) I am up in Hernando co, today sitting in the recliner listening to the storm!

    take care and heal well!
  • Do u have anything for pain from ur doctor? Any muscle relaxers?
    Im up and going but my surgeon has me on vicodien and flexeril and my regular doc has me on valium...so my body has something to help me. I have been told my surgeon will give me prescriptions untill my 6 weeks pierod and then put me back under my doctors care in the case of pain management., I think my regular doc will probbably let me back on the tramadol i was on befor ei was diaagnosed with bad disks..Im almost two week post op from having two disks removed .

    I will tell u i know id be in bed without my pain meds. Thast the truth even if it makes me sound like a junkie. I have a low pain threshaold. I was told today at the spine clinci that the brace i have on in itself will cause stifness to the neck, I have to wear it for 4 more weeks.

    I have a limit to what im alowed to do. No vacuming or moping or picking up heavy things includng heavy wet clothes,IM not your doctor and u must conver with him and her. Of u are miserable and cant move much do u think some kind of pain pill would help? If u are already on it,,talk to your doctor... and maybe u need a change. Pain ,meds have a bad rap because of abuse but they are there for people who are in real cronic pain and need them. THis is a time for a talk with ur doctor and tell him or her what you have told us.

    AS for doing things,,, u can still get up and get your body going without putting urself through torture. I dont do heavy work but hired my daughter in law to come up once a week to do that. Do what u can. Please pont try to prove something to yourse;lf., L:isten to ur body/.
    do u have a swing? I have one on my back porch and swing and listen to my radio and watch my son swim. I also do crafts which dosent take much work from my back muscles. I do som,e wash and walk around a bit.I also shop at walmart. I did today after my checkup...

    do a little more each week. its true u should do something,,, take a walk,,, If u can wash some dishes the old fashioned way,,,by hand! If u have a favorite craft like knitting or scrtapbooking get the stuff out and go to work.

    Most of all please talk to ur doctor about your pain. Be open and honest and he may have something he can give u to help u over the hump,. Its true u shouldent just sit there but please dont over do it! Let your body heal.

  • We read so often on here of people who feel they are well on the way to recovery, overdo it and are then back in pain again, or worse still, do damage and delay or spoil their recovery.

    Don't do that! It is not worth it just for the sake of making family feel that you are pulling your weight! Perhaps you could have a talk with hubby, and explain that you want this surgery to be the one that gets you back to your life, so you are not going to risk damaging things. Try to do small, easy things to make you feel useful, but don't let guilt make you overdo it.

    If you get this recovery right, there will be time to catch up with household jobs in the future.

    It is great to hear how you are coming along in your recovery. Keep it up! >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • For really great suggestions, I just feel overwhelmed with the feelings of having to do this and that, and my husband works all day and I know he is frustrated coming home and having to make meals etc.....guilt has been my driving force this last week and I know it's going to end up bad if I continue this path.

    I did more grocery shopping today and my husband calls me from work saying he has had a bad day and has to work this weekend too, so I have to make dinner because I can tell he is in no mood and we have 3 children, so they got to be fed! The kids have been a terrific help, for the most part they are doing the dishes and they help me with the laundry. I will try talking to my husband, it's mostly the every day stuff that gets to me and before I know it, I am bending all the time and I know it's bad for me!!

    I love some of the suggestions to keep me busy so I feel like I got something accomplished, I have plenty of drawers that need cleaned out! I also have a portfolio I want to put together for my son. There is lots of little things I want to get done so those would be good things to busy myself with that wont hurt me.

    Hi Bonnie,
    Phew!! You do know about all the rain we are getting right now, there is a ton of it!! I did go to red box and rent some movies for me and the kids to watch.

    Chatty and Jelly,
    How ate you both doing? I know you are both struggling with pain issues of your own and my thoughts are with you also that you are taking things easy and having a better day.

    I am still on my pain meds, I cannot be without them yet, the ache in my back and my leg pain is still bad enough to warrant my meds. All through the year at work I never got sick, I have been house bound for 3 weeks and I am sick!! I have a horrible sore throat so that is adding to my misery right now!

    Thank you all for all the tips and I am definitely going to try some of them out and I will work on trying not to over do the chores and activities that are going to hurt me. I ave to say that is the hardest part!!

    I hope everyone has a great weekend,

  • Recovery is not easy when you have a family to take care of. You have to give yourself a break and it's okay if somethings are not done or if you have to order take out for dinner. I had to learn to slow down, which has been hard for me. Ever since I developed chronic pain from my neck issues, my kids have had to become more independent. Try not to let the guilt set you back in your recovery. Sometimes you have to just say, "I can't do it.". My husband sometimes asks me to help him with a chore in the house and I have learned to say "no" if I know it's going to put me back on the couch for a day or two. You are still so early in your recovery. Please take it easy! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • I know I am not alone and that's what is so great about spine health, it makes it easier and I feel it gives me validation and a voice! I am happy to hear you say no when you know something is too much for you, I am going to practice!!

    Charry, forgive me.....my I pad changes words and I noticed it changed your name to Chatty!! Ha ha! Please forgive my typos but between meds and an over achieving I pad, a lot goes unnoticed by me until I re-read what I wrote!!

  • I am impressed you can type on your Ipad to begin with. That is something that still eludes me to this day. I can use it for many things but not much computer typing at all. I bought it to help me get back to reading books and stuff, but the touch part just doesn't work to well for me with numb fingers. Now I did get the added keyboard but actually it is harder than my laptop to use. But with your Ipad a lot of those projects you can get done right from your comfy spot. Oh and drawers I have brought them into my bed and worked on them little bit by little bit.
  • Starter.....thanks so much for your thoughts and wonderful ideas. I love the idea of the pitcher, it would brighten the table with such a simple gesture. I did try talking to my husband and he was understanding, some what! He says he fears that if I am not doing enough that will cause problems too and I guess what he saw was me getting more depressed and moping about and he wants to see me up more enjoying life vets us house chores etc, so we really had a communication issue but it helped when I told him I was still in pain and now I have an upper respiratory infection and it just added to my misery and put my motivation on a back burner!!

    Today the sunshine is back out and I really want to do something with all my paperwork, file things better, sort out pictures just like you mentioned and work on that portfolio! Once I get back to work I don't have the time or the energy to get those little jobs done so now is the ideal time.

    On Monday I have a follow up appointment with my cardiologist and that's my other main concern I have like my spine. For the last 6 months I have undergone a bunch of heart tests as I have been suffering from tachycardia, chest pressure, heart palpitations. I was hospitalized once and I have 2 leaky valves, but despite many med changes they are still having difficulty keeping my heart rate down without lowering my BP too low. After my fusion, I was kept in recovery for 5 hours due to low BP, I have had to take my nitroglycerin tablets several times since my surgery or I would have ended up in ER. Sorry didn't mean to get into my other health issues aside from my spinal ones, but my chest gets so uncomfortable sometimes and lately I am just fed up of always not feeling good!! Monday I will have an EKG, and prob another med change as my pulse rate is resting around 120bpm on average.

    Your ideas are good and I need to get out walking more too I'n order to feel part of the world, I hate feeling "blue" so to speak. Thanks so much for being there for me and for sharing some great ideas with me, I truly appreciate it.

    Have a wonderful weekend :-)
  • U know u can make a list of meals that are easy to do. Even ifts hamburger helper or freeezed lasngna! U dont have to go all out. Explain to ur husbund when hes in the mood u are still very sore and need some more time befopre u can get back in the full swing of things,,tell him if u dont u could end up hurting urself again.

    My husbund buys a huge box of lasnagna frezzed. That u can use backed some already backed italian bread,,, warmned up and a pitcher of Ice tea with lots of crushed ice could make a simple but filling dinner for one day. Another day... maybe may mac and Cheese , with backed chicken ( already made jut neeedng warmned up)

    just because foods are aready cooked and processed dosent measn they cant be good. Its qulaity that counts, Tell him there may be a few days u need to do this to conserve energy. But do it ina way that looks apealing ,,like making sure the dishes are nice that u use,,, and surprise him and the kids with a Pitcher of something great to drink thats easy..like ice tea ( my grandma used lemon in here s) or lemonaid. I saw at walmart some beautiful pitchers they were selling that look like the MR Cool aid pitcher but for adults. That with crushed ice and a great drink alwayes availabe might help him see that hes not being ignored. Do it slow and easy though...

    Im doin gmy scrapbooking which i have put off for a year. Its relaxing to me. It eases my mind and really helps. The idea of going through old drawrs and rearanging is a great idea, Put the draw on the couch and your self in a comfy postiona nd as u watch tv just do the job. Then when ur in the mood work on the portfolio for ur son. U can do that and watch the circus of Miss anthony ( its a real circus but mesermising).....

    Also any old photo albums that need to be updated. Not everyone likes scrapbooking but still like the old fashioned way of doing albums. If any are tatterd or torn or if u have a box full of photos that need a home..purchse a photo album ( i actually found one at walmart! They seem to going out of style because of the scrapbooling craze),,if u can find one or if the ones u have are good,,, sort through them... Its a good project and will keep ur mind busy and your arms and hands moving.

    In the morning if u drink cofee.. and have a pirch swing,,, enjoy your cofee on the swing. move gently your legs as you sway.

    THis is also a time u can caught up on that book u have been wanting to read for so long!

    7 years ago i had a open back surgery correcting a slipped disk. I stopped going to see my doctor after two visits and went back to normal activities in my opnion way to soon. I think that one of the theories that is badied about is that my spine that took the hit this time took on the work that the slipped disk had caused,, and strained it. It took 7 years but finally two disks gave way,. So Please listent o your DOCTOR and follow his instructions in what u can do, Hubby will have to understand.

    U shouldent be bed bound... move and do what u can but dont over do it to prove something to husbund.

    People that havent been through this just dont undertsand. They cant untill one has been through it. We do and this is why this message board canbe such a good support system. I have only been here a short wiele and just knowing that i can come here is a releif.

    Blessings and may you have fun with that portfolio.!
  • Being in the sunshine will brighten ur mood. If its hot do u have a nice fan? I have a porch swing i sit on with a fan on me.JUst dont sleep withthe fan on if u are vulnerable to chest infections.

    The pitchers are at wallmart i think in the outdoor dishes department, They are different collors and are pretty, Next week im hoping to get one of those pitchers.

    Get some icetea,,lemomaid and make sure that the pitch is full and theres ice. That might make the kids happy and husbund feel taken care of when he comes home from work.When u shop pick up a package of cookies and some flavored pop sickles. That way theres something the kids have to keep hydrated and happy and u can feel u are taking care of ur kids and not be burdened with gulit u dont deserve.

    Tell ur husbund ur taking the time ot go through the junk drawers and do the little thin gs u have put off for a long time. Let him see u do this so he can asure himsefl u are being busy. If u need a pillow to be comfortable dont deny yourslef that.

    Ill be doing the same thing to. Ill be busy on my porch with my fan and radio and scrapbook....

    Enjoy your work with your pictures of ur son... that will or shoudl brighten your heart as u make this memeboriala piece for him. This really is the time to do that as when u are fully recovered u will probbably revert back to your normal activities.

    ALso if u hurt and the pain meds arnt working get the doctor on the horn and tell him. Thats what he is being paid for!

    IM going to start doing my nails again. Usually with alor of housework its silly but now that i have my daughterinlaw doing the big stuff and my hsubund is vacuming and shapooing the carpets ,,the smaller things are m,y job. Prettty hands can make one feel beautiful. Put some soft cream on your hands and get some nail polish and beautify your hands. It will hep u feel younger and your hunsund may like it! There are so many beuatiful colors now....and top it off with some glosee.... wear rubbber gloves to protect them when u wash any dishes.. same thing with ur feet... just dont bend over to do it and dont do it if that hurts your neck./// pamper yourself !some... Its ok!
  • hi Sandra,
    I also have cardiac issues, a history of SVT and low blood pressure. Both of my surgeries this year ended up with complications from this ticker! Extra days in lovely TGH :)
    They have a hard time trying to manage the low bp and irratic heart rate. It is just one more layer of complexity to add to our wonderful spine recovery:)
    hang in there Sandra, we will get better!
  • It sounds as though you have the exact same symptoms as me!!!! Its not just me!!!!!

    I saw my cardiologist yesterday and she said the medications are not working, my heart rate was still too fast, BP too low...........she said I could be facing a pace maker!!! I am only 41, this is not what I want to hear but she said she is only taking care of my symptoms and not the cause and if I don't get my heart rate slowed down I will eventually have trouble.

    She is sending me to an elecrophysiologist for an EP study and we will go from there, Its enough just recovering from the spinal surgery without feeling the crushing symptoms in my chest!!!

    Please tell me how they are taking care of your cardiac issues.....hope you are feeling better now.

    Take care neighbor!!

  • Hey Sandra,

    It sounds to me (as others have said) that you are doing too much rather than not enough. I had a post op infection that meant I was onlt allowed to walk for 5 mins tops until 5 or 6 weeks post op! With all the leakage I couldn't be bothered to get dressed for that so I pretty much only left the house for dressings to be changed for the first 5 weeks. Once freed to go out I added 5 minutes every day until I was at a stage where I could go out when hubby took the dogs.
    Maybe because this part of my activity was limited I found I could manage to cook etc? I think you can only do so much at once.
    Also there always feels like there is pressure to be better. I didn't get that from my husband but my HOD from work called two weeks post op to ask when I was going to "pop in to see everyone"!! Also the surgeon always thinks that any gripes I had/have are trivial and that I was at the right stage in recovery. In your own head and body you know what you can manage and what you can't. The best advice my surgeon gave me before the operation was that "this is your time to be selfish". You know what? It is your time to be selfish now, Sandra.
    As for housework, well it'll keep! I speak as someone with two dogs and two cats and so my house looks like a bombsite half the time! It still comes clean when I get round to it! ;)

    I hope you can make some compromises that will leave everyone happy. Seems like others have made some ace suggestions above!

    Good luck

  • In addition to some of the great advise given so far, I would strongly recommend that you do take a controlled approach, by planning your day's and activities in advance.

    By doing this you will be able to see how much daily activity is the right amount for you at this particular point in your life and make adjustments from there.

    This will also allow you to review your past accomplishments, which will be emotionally rewarding as well as re-assuring you as to your ability to do more.

    Hope this helps : - )
  • I'm sorry I didn't know of your heart problems and B/P issues also. Did you need a transfusion during your surgery? Also sometimes you can be dehydrated that would put you in sinus tachycardia and low B/P so please make sure you are drinking sufficient fluids also and hope you're getting blood work also done.

    Also for your husband to say laying down will cause pneumonia but if you take short walks and rest and do the deep breathing and coughing exercises they taught you at the hospital should prevent this.

    I hope you won't need a pacemaker but my friend had one put in at 38 and she's 78 now so it can be done but hopefully you won't need it.

    I also think with all these issues try to delegate your housework and whoever said this is "me time" is so right on.

    I have someone come with an agency and help me, the same one who help seniors also help those who are disabled and charge only $55. to clean my house for 2 hours twice a month. It's so worth it so you can heal properly..especially after surgery and they even help with meals if you like. Where are all the family who used to come over with casseroles?

    I know you may feel able to do certain things but you're not supposed to yet so in the long run you will benefit from your surgery and recovery is the hardest part for some especially you younger ones recovering from surgery.

    Can you call family or friends to take the kids out once in awhile for you or with you while you go to the park? I would love looking after my cousins and Nieces when asked especially if ever they asked and needed me.

    I hope your crafts or drawer organizing is going well and hope your Dr. appointment goes well Monday. Hugs 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
  • Hi, and sorry, but i'm to tired to respond to your post right now, except to say just the main thing is keep your mind active.

    Make yourself do things mentally, even if your not ready to do stuff physically.

    Keep your mind sharp, and the physical part will come.

    My best to you.
  • Thanks again to everyone for giving me such good support and suggestions to get through the recovery phase. I think I have a bit of depression and guilt and all those lovely feelings all rolled into one huge mess thats plays on my emotions.

    I have talked with my husband and he does get it, so he has been helping more and taking the kids to places so that they can get out and enjoy part of their summer vacation.

    I have attempted a few drawers but got bored and gave up!! I have watched a lot of TV and movies, but last night I went out for dinner with the family and then a walk down town looking at shops which helped boost my mood.

    I just hope I have a big change in the weeks ahead of less pain and more endurance and stamina for when I go back to work, I wouldn't make it right now but I have another 4 weeks.

    I go Tuesday to see an electrophysiologist to see about getting an EP study and possibly an ablation. I would prefer to try this before resorting to a pacemaker. I know that this arrythmia has a lot to do with my stamina as it makes me tired and short of breath. Come Tuesday I should have a better idea if I am going to have this heart procedure done.

    You are all so wonderful and kind, I really feel that the encouragement here from this forum has kept me going through many difficult days just knowing people care and that I am not alone.

    Many blessings to you all,
  • Hi Sandra,
    I am sorry, I do not get notifications of posts and this thread slid a few pages back.

    I actually did have and ep study with attempted ablation around 10 yrs ago. They were unable to replicate the arythmia. I have been on beta blockers ever since.
    Prior to this years surgeries I have few "break thru" episodes, most of the time the ticker does fine. If I get sick it will happen, heart races, starts jumping and then they start the extra meds to get it all back in sync..

    While in for the lumbar fusion the ticker did it's usual performance and the sent me to the cardiac floor for a couple of days. As I shared with you my bp stayed low and the heart rate rose again.
    Interesting finding while they were checking for DVTs was the discovery that I have a Arterio-Venous Fistula. That is an abnormal connection between and artery and vein. The surgeon came in and explained that it had happened when they did the ablation.

    At this time they told me that since it has not been problematic so far they will just do the watch and wait... hopefully nothing else will need to be done.

    However, I have known a few folks who have had the ablation done successfully! They no longer needed meds and the ticker was going along fine!

    let me know how it all goes, PM me if you want to chat,

    take care
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