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My LONG introduction, excited to participate!

BabyStepsBBabySteps Posts: 10
edited 07/26/2012 - 1:14 AM in New Member Introductions
Boungiorno Tutti,

I have stalked this site for a couple of days now and finally decided to join. I haven’t set up all the information in my profile yet but I will eventually. I’m not sure how many people frequent the “Newbie” forum but I figured I would properly introduce myself. I am usually long winded so I will TRY and cut things short. :)

I am currently residing in Italy for work but I am originally from Florida. I was an avid cross country runner, Italy makes it very easy to get addicted to trail running, I almost tripled my mileage running my first year here. I believe there is no other feeling like it in the world, it amazes me how passionate I am about it. I am also a very active outdoors type of person, I climb, I hike, I bike you name it I’m doing it. :) Then tragedy struck. September 2011 I was a PASSANGER in two car accidents over a span of three days. It was like the world as I knew it stopped. I had severe back pain and sciatica. I was X-rayed but never MRId, even though I continually pushed for it. I was pushed into Physical Therapy and Pain Management. PT lasted about 3 months and my pain seemed to continually get worse. I also received several local injections and a BLIND epidural! Talk about pain, I had no medication and only about half of the numbing agent actually was injected, I know now why Italians are tough! Lol oh yeah and I am 25.

After 109 days I finally received an MRI on 17 Jan 2012. The results were worse than I imagined. I was told my L5/S1 was massively herniated and was completely compressing my sciatic nerve on the left and partially on the right. Also my L4/L5 was showing bulging and deterioration as well as my L3/L4 was showing signs of degeneration. The Neurosurgeons exact words “You have a VERY bad spine”, she also told me that my back would not support my running obsession. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. It was determined that surgery was the only option to get the disc off my nerve. I had a bilateral L5/S1 Discectomy on the 5th of April.

Fast forward, 6 weeks went by with slight improvement and greatly increased back pain. My primary doctor put in for another consult. I was then seen up in Germany were I found out that the problem was greater than I was initially informed. Addition to the above mentioned injuries my spinal space was severally compromised, I developed Spinal Stenosis as well as Degenerative Disc Disorder, right L5/S1 Radiculpathy, My L5/1 also had a retrolisthesis (My S1 was pushed forward out of line and the tip of my L5 kind of curled a little around it), My L5/S1 Disc had actually been crushed not just herniated, so he would need to put my spine back where it belonged lol. It was determined that the Discectomy had failed and the next step was an L5/S1 Fusion/PLIF. There was one positive with all the resting my L4/L5 bulging had slightly gone down. Because my age it was decided that we would give my L4/L5 time to figure itself out and only move forward with the single fusion.

I went in for my PLIF on 12 June 12. The surgery went well, I didn’t have enough space between my vertebrae to put in the little disc however so I don’t have anything between my vertebrae. My discharge paper says – L5/1 Revision Bilateral Decompression/Discectomy + Instrumented PSF with Medtronic Legacy 5.5 + BMP. I only know what the first and last parts mean. :) I opted for the BMP rather than using my hip bone crest. My body had some issues after surgery so I ended up staying 8 days in the hospital. Ok this is getting LONG!

I am post op 6 weeks and 2 days or 44days :) . Today is my 3rd day back at work and I have to say it is getting difficult. I don’t often have bad days and I’ve been pretty optimistic about the whole situation, I think my age is actually in my favor because my body has more time to adapt. But I have been on my own schedule since my first surgery in April so the sitting most of the day and then only having the option to sit or stand is getting to me pain wise. I brought a yoga mat in so I can maybe lay but it’s uncomfortable. I am starting to get very distraught by it. I literally cried last night I was in so much pain, not only is it a weird uncomfortable thing but I swear I can feel the metal it’s like my body is just realizing something is in there that shouldn’t be. I also feel I may have been rushed a little to come back to work. During my 6 week post op (it was really at my 5 week) they did an injection as well, I’ll have to look up the name of it. Mainly because I am now having sharp/stabbing/electric left leg pain and had weird swelling above the incision. Ok if I don’t stop now I will go on forever! Sorry for the length, I am looking forward to participating in these forums. If you did read this whole thing, thank you for taking the time. :)


  • Im not sure where I put this.. Hope its in the right place still trying to figure the site out.
  • davrunnerddavrunner Posts: 478
    edited 07/26/2012 - 11:28 AM
    Like you I was an avid runner completing 6 marathons and a Hasher (hash house harriers, running group with a drinking problem) LOL. I inherited a bad back and was told after my last marathon in 2003 that I need to stop. You gave a great introduction to who you are, look around the other forums and you will see lots of people in the same situation or having gone through similar. Sorry you are in so much pain and that the surgery hasn't completely solved your issues. I do think you went back to work early. Your body took a massive trauma with the surgery and it needs time to recover. Again welcome.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I agree with davrunner. You went back to work to early. I have had two fusions. My NS said no work for at least 3-4 months. My job isn't to demanding just a lot of walking and 12 hour shifts. If you have any questions feel free to ask. Welcome to the community.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • Hello and welcome from me too.

    I also agree that your return to work was probably too soon.
    After my lumbar decompression and fusion I had 5 months off work.
    Take heart, there is still plenty of time for you to improve. I am over 2 years post fusion and I believe that I am still improving in the lumbar spine. (Unfortunately, I have problems in the neck and thoracic spine.)

    Do ease off on what you are doing if it is causing pain. Your body is telling you that you are pushing it too hard.
    It still has a lot of work to do to recover and heal from what is a really major surgery.

    Be patient and keep healing.
  • Thank you all so much! It is nice to hear from people who actually KNOW the feelings I am going through. I am in the Military so unfortunately I dont have alot of options or wiggle room and at my base I dont know any other individuals that have had any similiar surgeries. I know people with herniations and sometimes they go over board on trying to tell me how bad THEY hurt. I try to always be empathetic cause I was there at one point but sometimes its to much and I just want to be like no you havent been through what I have you still are at a manageable pain level and have a life! I try to avoid outbursts beccuase they are unneccessary and mayeb Im just being a baby..lol

    The biggest issue with returning to work is the fact that I can sit or stand. I brought a yoga mat so I try and lay as comfortably as possible for a couple minutes and shift around but when I lay or walk around I cant work, since im bond to computer thing. I try and stand but then I will lean down to tough keys or scroll or something. Im trying to make it a point to walk a little each hour but sometimes I get cought up in what I am doing.

    JellyHall - was yours an L5/S1 as well? I am not sure but I feel as though thats a tougher spot then say an L4/L5. Do you remember how you felt at week 6? or at what point it start to feel a little normal again? or at least your body gets used to the metal lol?
  • now work for the government. Depending on which branch there should be some sort of limited duty to allow you to recover. It is very important that you make sure everything is documented in your medical record and try and keep a copy for yourself.
    Hopefully you won't need the documentation for later VA determination but it's best to be prepared just in case.
    Hang in there and don't be afraid to let your chain of command know you need a break or more recup time.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • My fusion was at L4/5. I think I had started to feel I was improving at week 6, but I still had a long way to go. I had started walking every day, and slowly built up my walking to 2 miles a day. I can't remember how long that took me - maybe a couple of months. At 6 weeks, I hadn't started to fuse, so I still have to follow the no bending, lifting or twisting rule. I also couldn't stretch. During my recovery, I had a bed in the living room so that I could lie down and still be with the family. I still had that at 6 weeks, as lying was the most comfortable position to relax in. We moved the bed upstairs at about 8-10 weeks. It was at about 8-10 weeks that I started some physiotherapy. Very gently at first, but slowly building up my muscles again and that really helped me. I never thought I could feel the metal. I am not skinny! Lol! Now, at 2 1/4 years later, I have as much movement as before my fusion and feel pretty good. I have far less pain than before, but I do still have pain if I do too much. I was warned that I would also have to look after my back. I still walk 2 miles every day, and I believe that it helps to keep my muscles strong and my nerves functioning.

    You are still very early in your recovery journey and will have a long way to go before you reach a position where you will feel normal. It will come on you slowly and one day you will think that you now feel much better than before surgery. If you over do it in these early days, you will set yourself back for a while. If you really over do it, you could harm your recovery. Better to be patient and careful. You don't want to spoil the surgeon's work. When you start hurting, it is time to stop and rest. In fact it was time to stop and rest before you start to hurt, so don't think that you will just finish what you are doing. Good luck in your continued recovery.
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