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The roller coaster ride of recovery...

ouch2oouch2 Posts: 1,270
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all, I am now 3 and a half weeks post op from my adr surgery L5/S1. Recovery really is a roller coaster ride, and my thoughts on it are ever changing. Depending on the time of day I will change my opinion on whether this was a good idea or not.

When I first woke up, I thought that I was dying, had never experienced that after any other(spine or not) surgery.Between the pain, all the constraints of leg pumps and wires, breathing trouble with full face mask, it was horrible. It took a long time to get it all under control, but thankfully things improved.

Since the hospital things seem to be slowly improving, am able to walk around the house without walker(Yah!) and pain seems to be mainly different than before surgery. Things have really slowed down recovery wise though in the past week or so, and I am afraid things are not going to keep improving.One day last week I was feeling so good that it was the first day that I thought that this surgery was the answer. Unfortunately the next day I had to go out for the first time to the doctor's and the rest of the day and night I had unbelievable spasms that had me thinking "why did I ever have this surgery"

Deep down I know that this is a marathon and not a sprint. I am anxious for the warmer weather to arrive, to be able to walk outside.

My incision still has two strings (internal stitches) that are working their way out. They are now sticking out a good 4 inches. Hope that they disolve or come all the way out soon. Will snip them a bit closer to the skin. My incission is about 6 inches horizontal and is very numb and tender. The line is very thin and fading already, but feels lumpy underneath. Anyone else have any similar issues with incision?

I have a pedometer and have been trying to walk as much as I can around the house. My doctor wants me to be walking three hours a day by the time I go back to see him on the 21st. Yikes, I have a ways to go yet.

Hope that everyone is having a pain reduced day today!

>: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


  • You said the exact right thing - you're running in a marathon and not a sprint. I had my two fusion surgeries within 7 months of each other in 2009. Sitting here typing this, I can tell you that I feel really good, but for me, it took more than 2 years to get here.

    No two people and recoveries are the same, though. All you can do is keep plugging along and try not to get frustrated. I experienced many episodes that felt like set backs over those two years, which my surgeon told me was normal (e.g., something happening (often without knowing what) that caused the swelling around my titanium implants to increase, putting pressure on nerves and causing a recurrence of pre-op symptoms). Each time it happened, I freaked out and wondered if I would ever feel like a whole human again. Even sitting here now, I know that such painful days will still happen from time to time. It's the nature of the spine injury beast.

    But despite the long road, I've finally reached a place where I feel mostly normal (knock on wood). Having spent years in the kind of pain that the people posting on this forum know well, I absolutely believe that it was worth having the surgeries and eduring the long recovery to get here.

    So keep your head up, keep doing the work (whether it's walking or eventually PT), get plenty of sleep, eat well, and stay positive. That day that you realize you feel pretty good may not be today or tomorrow. But that doesn't mean it's not coming. When it does, you'll look back on this and think to yourself that it was totally worth it. :)
  • My incision up front from the adr surgery the skin will be numb and somewhat lumpy which is ok,
    Incision looks like another butt crack, I can still see mine after 7 years and not prety,

    As long as there is no infection it should heal up fine, Just keep on walking and i hope for you that you have beter results then i did,

    I probably should of waited a few years when adr came out and not be 1 of the 1 st done as a clinical trial as i did,

    Asl long as you have not felt any ususual nerve pain that was not there before you should be good to go,

    Legs hurting and weakness would be normal at this point in time after your surgery,
    The more you can walk the less chance of scar tissue growing where it dont belong,

    Sound like you will do realy good, Best of luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Hi Karen

    Yes it is a roller coaster ride. I have had 4 back surgeries, 3 of which were fusions.

    Just when you think you will never feel better, you do!!

    Being patient is the hardest part.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • A roller coaster ride is an understatement! I am 1 year post-op and can tell you that my recovery is still not over. Hang in there!
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Hi Karen :wave:

    As you know, I am not a back surgery patient (not yet any ways lol). However I still want to follow your healing progress and offer you support in any way I can :)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • I used to walk patterns into the carpet before we finally got a treadmill I could walk on during recovery. I would get really creative (or try to) and vary the direction and order I would walk in and out of each room. I found that some really good up tempo music was excellent for making it tolerable.

    Keep in mind that our incisions are at times multiple layers, with the skin being the final closure. I've had some of my ugliest incisions heal into nice thin lines over the course of time. Once they were healed well, I always rub them daily with a good lotion and work any adhesions loose and keep them pliable.

    Are you maintaining a good diet? It's so easy to get into the habit of just munching on junk or eating one or two types of food while we are stuck at home recovering. This is the time our body needs the most amount of proper nutrition in order to heal from surgery. My neurosurgeon had a nutritionist talk to me about the proper diet for healing and it made a huge difference for me. I was so worried about gaining weight being so inactive, that I would eat very few calories and small portions. So I was starving my body of the exact nutrients it needed to heal. So striking a balance between not junking out and not starving out is important.

    Didn't mean to get off on a tangent, but to me every part of recovery effects the other.

    Hang in there.

  • Are awesome! I am usually on the boards pretty much every day, but since surgery, not so much. Now I know that I need to get on here no matter how I am feeling, as I always feel better when I do :)

    Urbansprite, you and I are similar in that I also had two surgeries 7 months apart, though mine was double disc./lami in July, then went into this not sure if it would be adr,fusion or hybrid. Glad to hear that you are doing so well, worth the two year wait to get there. I will gladly tough out a two year recovery knowing it will be worth it in the end.

    C, love tangents! You brought up a great point, and one that I am working better on practicing. After surgery I hardly ate and lost about 10 pounds, so kind of went off healthy eating a bit knowing weight wise I could. Now I am back on track, eating healthy,vitamins, juicing, to help my body heal, so thank you for re inforcing that.

    Alex, you were at the point of needing surgery when the trials were going on, and brave to jump in and try it. I am so sorry that you had such nerve problems after, and it definitely came to mind when I was deciding to try adr. It is a risk I am taking, though definitely scared if there are problems, removing the disc is lifethreatning, so hope that doesn't become an issue.

    Lili, Jani, Beth, thank you also for your encouraging words... >:D<

    >: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
  • Rollercoaster best describes it. Sounds like you are handling your recovery very well. I just had my third lumbar surgery and each recovery has been completely different. I thought the laminectomy was going to be a breeze because I already had a fusion with cages. Couldn't have been more wrong. I am glad that you know you are getting better.:)
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