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Pushing yourself - is it possible?

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Chronic Pain
Welcome to Spine-Health.

A new member, PhilC45, made a post in the New Member section titled "My Post ACDF Experience" and I liked it because I've pretty much discovered the same thing as he has. I'm making a new post because with his thread title, I'm not sure it will reach as many members as I think it should, so I'm going to start a new post. But I encourage you to read his post in addition to this one.


I had a 3-lvl ACDF in 2008 (severe issues from cord compression - clumbsiness, pain, and chance of paralysis if something happened) and a 1-lvl TLIF in 2010, which took quite a while to recover from, I'd say a year total.

I was off work for two years and although I got out most days, I could be fairly sedentary. I walked my dog every day, cooked dinner and did laundry sometimes, some housecleaning, but I really didn't feel "up to it".

Then, one year and a month after my TLIF, I finally found a job - but guess what, it's a very active job that requires lifting, being on my feet, reaching, walking and pushing carts, standing, squatting, bending and sitting. A large variety of activities daily.

I thought it was going to kill me before I started and was worried, then I was more worried when I did start and the pain was intense the first few months. Now, six months later, I feel stronger and better than I have in a long time.

Don't get me wrong, my issues are not over as I still get pain and headaches from my upper neck issues and I occasionally have mechanical pain from the movement above and below my lumbar fusion, but my surgeon works with me on that. However, with that said, I believe that if I didn't "work out" at work every day (and still walk my dog, too), I'd feel a lot worse than I do now.

There's a lot to be said about activity and pushing yourself, even though you're scared. I'm not saying that's possible for those that have cord issues, are waiting for surgery, or have certain issues, but if you've had surgery, are through the major part of your recovery and your surgeon says you're good to go, aggressive activity can really be helpful to many people, myself included. I think that many of us are too scared to try - for myself because I sat and thought about it too much, worried about re-injuring myself, and I think it was sucking the life out of me. My new job has forced me to try things I otherwise wouldn't have and guess what? I can do them and they actually make me feel better. I'm amazed.

I never would have guessed that what I thought would take me down made me stronger than I've felt in years.

Please don't take offense if you truly cannot "work out". This post is not meant for you. It's meant for those like me: I know I'm fused, am in full recovery from both surgeries and not facing another yet, but was too scared to get out and try things I thought I couldn't. It has put a whole new perspective on things, really life in general.



  • i hate not being active .but when i can find some extra {spoons} the spoon theory....i may swim or walk the dog or clean the car BUT i suffer for it so much whilst i am doing it and then afterwards ,one of my new back problems is feeling like i need to pee when i am lay in certain positions ..i stand up ..it goes away ..i ask my doctor he told me its more nerve damage ! typical with long term damaged backs .he also recons the fusion wont do much for me either .its been too long in the waiting and i am too damaged .but he still recons its worth it ..to stop any more damage ..who knows !!!
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • It's so true. I know that being sedentary has taken it's toll on me. When you're more active, you actually have more energy. And sometimes, the pain afterwards is worth it depending on the activities that you're doing, especially if it gives you a renewed sense of self-worth. It is hard to go back to work the first few months, but once you get your strength back, it does get easier, unless of course, you have other injuries that are causing problems. Maybe one day, they'll make new discoveries and can figure something out to get us all back to work and enjoying life to the fullest!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • and now my neck is killing me. Dang, why is it that we can't just go about life and not have this friggin pain come along and knock us down?

    I'm feeling this, my hubby is wondering if there's something we need to talk about with our relationship, but I'm just pissed off that I made this post and now I hurt again.

    Maybe I spoke too soon.

    Tony, you're a different animal, my friend. You're waiting for surgery and are extemely limited. This post isn't for you, but I so admire that you keep trying.

    Kelly, I think you hit the nail on the head that it's all about self-worth. Doing what you can to make you feel better emotionally, spiritually and psychologically, because we all know this takes the toll. Why else would we have a Depression and Matters of the Heart section?

    We continue to suffer in more ways than most and it sucks, to put a fine point on it. It truly sucks. But all we can do is try a little more than we're doing and see if it works. If not, don't do it. If so, then it's worth it.

    Lord all mighthy, the enormous range of emotions that go through on this forum, myself included, is unbelievable. How could anyone understand what we're about and what we endure, how we think about what we want to try, how we think about what we can't do and what we do, what we wish for...a spiney's life is so different from the regular population and the only thing left to say is thank God for those that support us, whoever they may be and where they get their strength.

  • Cath111 said:
    Lord all mighthy, the enormous range of emotions that go through on this forum, myself included, is unbelievable. How could anyone understand what we're about and what we endure, how we think about what we want to try, how we think about what we can't do and what we do, what we wish for...a spiney's life is so different from the regular population and the only thing left to say is thank God for those that support us, whoever they may be and where they get their strength.

    You make it sound like spineys are some unique animal in the universe and no one else has pain. You couldn't be any more wrong. There are millions of people who have physical pain from so many different medical issues. Then ones with mental pain. Then the mix. There is nothing unique about spinal pain or spineys. It's just another medical condition that causes pain.

    The guy who posted about his approach will surpass most on here because he pushed.
  • She did say "the regular population" Graham, so I don't think she was including any other group that suffers from pain. And to say that most don't push on here is not exactly valid, how do you know if people are pushing or not? You don't.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    There is a very fine line that we can follow in terms of what we can do and what we shouldn't

    By nature, once we start to fell better, we want to return to some of the things we did in the past.

    Problem is, we cant always do that.

    I know that by becoming more active, trying to ge lean and fit, eating better, etc are things we all want to accomplish.

    Can we do that? I believe to an extent we can. Each situation is different. What Cathie has and .her limitations are not the same as mine, or yours.

    But when we can and where we can, we should try to push ourselves a bit. For some, that may mean taking a dog for a walk, for others that may mean raking a lawn.

    But as Cathie pointed out in her original thread, sitting back and doing nothing wont help, we have to push ourselves a bit , just to be able to move ahead.

    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
  • Graham,

    I love you to death, but in our world "we ARE a unique animal"... Just like if we had cancer and were on another support site, we are unique there! I think you were a bit harsh on your response.

    I am facing more surgeries this year, and even with that, like Cathy mentioned, I try to be more active. Pain, warts and all! On this site, we are a collective of various spinal issues, and support each other. Yes, we are unique in our medical issues.

    Yes, other sites that specialize to support other painful conditions, *they* too are unique to their situation. Please keep the perspective of the OP - she isn't saying *we* are the only ones in pain, she is stating what WE go through...I'm rather disappointed at your post Graham. Nuff said.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Great post, Cathie! I'm 4 weeks post-op, so I'm trying to find a balance between rest and activity. I don't go back for another follow-up appt until the 23rd, unless they move my appt up. I believe I'm having issues with another disc. However, I really want to get fit and lose some weight, and see if that helps with some of my pain issues. Once the surgeon clears me to do so, I'd love to try Zumba.

    You'd think that after having spine surgery, the best thing to do would be to stay in bed and rest, but it's quite the contrary. Obviously you have to adhere to the restrictions of no B/L/T, but staying in bed truly is counter-productive. It leads to muscle atrophy and you end up feeling weak and drained on top of everything else. When the weather is nice (not too hot and not raining), I try to get outside for a walk every day. Initially I could barely make it past my neighbors house, but I'm gradually able to go further and further. I feel energized when I walk. The only problem is that being on my feet for longer than 5 to 10 minutes causes me to be in severe pain on the left, now. Going to call the doc today once the office opens.
  • Lol. Graham tossed another monkey wrench in to this post i see . Good job dude. Lol.

    There are many people in some sort of pain around the globe with many diferent medical conditions and they also suffer of course. Some will result in death depending on there conditions. Some will just hurt and live in pain and grow old living with pain.

    Only the strong survive. So in a way it does make spineys a special breed of animals! Some of us would put our animals to sleep rather then watch them suffer but we decide to push on and fight chronic pain.

    Just knowing that others might be worse off because they have some illness as posibly cancer and they fight with there pain and might even die does not help anyone here. I think everyone is pushing on in there own way.

    Its obvious we all have diferent back ground and so many diferent medical history on this board that what Cathy said will posibly reach a few who need not be afraid to push themself after surgery becsuse of course the activity is the most important factor .

    Only once you get back to your activity for a long time will you know your true outcome. Or as Ron said once you get back to activity you will soon find out what your limitations are and will be forced to adjust. But if a person just siting on there ass just cause they had surgery and never push on will never know what there limitations are.

    Some of us will have limitations they can live with. And sadly some of us have limitations that dont even come close to anything near a healthy happy form of life that we can live with. And this is what will always divide diferences in opinions.
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • If I had to choose a species i'ld like to be that wrench throwing monkey. That way I can throw poo ..... Is this the beginning of a new fetish in my spiney ways? Hmmmmm.... Hope not .... Too much spam on THOSE websites. Lol. :)
  • PhilC45 said:

    In other words, if you are able stay physically active, it is sometimes possible to minimize lasting negative effects. The caveat is that time off from physical rehabilitation does not exist. I find that if I do not work out six days a week everything regresses and my coordination and balance starts to regress. Therefore, for the rest of my life, I will have to be physically active most days.
  • Work out 6 days a week! Hell if i could work out 6 days a week i be going back to work and get paid for it at least.
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • He's very lucky indeed, works out on top of working! That was one of the good things about being in the military, we actually did get paid to work out, lol
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I understand exactly what you're saying. I definitely push myself and yes I think I'm better for it...although at times I'm worse because of it. Still, all in all I think it's the only way to be. I look at it this way, if I sit and do nothing not only am I in pain but I also dwell on that pain to much. At least while I'm busy my mind is occupied with other things besides the pain. So yep, it's possible for me...until I've pushed to far then I just back off, whine and wallow in my self pity parties for awhile then do it all over again. lol.

    I hope you're feeling much better today my friend. I totally understand how you felt having it hit you after you made your original post. Seems like it happens that way all to often doesn't it?

    Take care,
  • I think the one thing everyone needs to keep in mind is that everyone is in a different place in life. I refuse to believe that the vast majority of spinal patients, had surgery to just lay in bed. The reason they take the risk of surgery, is they want their life back. Some members on this board while they don't work, spend most of the time figuring out how to take care of themselves and do small things. While for many those things may not be a challenge, for others it is huge challenge.

    I myself, get up everyday, do my stretches, shower and hope today is the day, it will be better. I truly believe being in chronic pain is a much harder job than any type of employment I have ever had, both physically and emotional.

    The one thing I am always so happy to see, is the members who get their life back, who go on, to do other things. I live vicariously through all of you whom do. I am not jealous, but rather proud and happy to see you get better. If I could do anything for anyone on this site, it would be, you come here get educated, get better and get on with your life and this is just something in the shadows of your life. Of course many of you I have made friends with and still want to chat with you, but not as frequently as you would be busy out living.

    Cath, I think your post is important, in that many came here from trauma, nothing gradually over time. It helps them learn to not guard the injury once it is fixed. I mean you still have to follow doctors advice, but your not afraid to try things and see what will happen. But there are some the injury and pain is so fresh, it is hard not to guard. I also believe new members to this situation don't understand how strong their hardware is. But I know reading threads like this helps them learn, which is why they are so important.
  • I def think we push ourselves everyday. Sometimes I am at work and the pain is horrifying, but I have to keep going. I only get low dose pain meds from clinic and that is it. There is no other choice. I rest when I get home.

    But that is me. It is the will to do the work I love and support my family. I think that getting out of the house some, and having some outside the home relationships are important, and important for the healing process.

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