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2 Months After Surgery (& Introduction - 1st Post)

Hi - I'm a 41 year old, tall, thin, marrried male and have had chronic lower back pain, stemming from a herniated L5-S1, spinal stenosis, spinal arthritis, DDD and root compression in my left leg (from the herniated disc) for 3 years. After numerous other treatment methods, such as injections, medication, PT & exercise, I finally gave in. I just underwent spinal surgery in December of 2012 (hemi-laminectomy and partial discectomy) and am still in recovery. Still out of work (sedentary job), as I cannot sit without being in pain VERY quickly. My office commute can be upwards of an hour (dependent upon traffic). Standing in one place hurts a lot too, especially if I'm not barefoot & standing on some foam pads - even then, he pain just creeps up & becomes unbearable. I also had knee arthroscopy last October.

I was advised by my surgeon that I'd be recovered in 2-3 weeks. It's now been 2 months. This is affecting my life drastically in so many ways.

- I have been in constant pain 24/7 for 3 years and continue to be.

- Family relationships/home-life have suffered greatly, as my dependency on others has worn their patience thin. As much as I try to communicate how much the pain affects my mood, positive thinking, memory and general ability to function…it does no good. I suppose it's like trying to describe to a male what childbirth feels like - though I've heard from other fellow lower back pain sufferers that their back pain is much more intense than their labor pains felt.

- The medication I am on keeps me from being able to remember basic things (e.g. - I will forget a topic of conversation, while right in the middle of the conversation). I am taking 150 mg of Lyrica (50 mg. in the AM and 100 mg. at bedtime) and 15 mg. of Diazapam/Valium (as a muscle relaxant, as well as anxiety).

- I am depressed and frustrated.

- I just want my life back before losing everything important (family, friends, work, etc.), due to this awful condition.

Other medication I have tried:
Neurontin/Gabapentin, Celebrex (I cannot tolerate other NSAIDs because of bleeding stomach issues), Oxycodone, Hydromorphone/Dilaudid, MethylPrednisone, Steriod Injections and several muscle relaxants that had no effect on me. I'm sure that I'm forgetting a few, as I've ingested more medication over the past three years than I thought imaginable.

The Lyrica seems to help a little, but SEVERELY impacts my cognitive abilities/memory.

Under my primary doctor's care, I am trying to ween myself off of the Valium VERY slowly (I was taking 17.5 mg per day & over the past 2 weeks have dropped to 15 mg.). I've been taking the high dose of Valium for years now & stopping suddenly can cause serious health issues (can be fatal).

I am currently doing aquatic physical therapy 3 times a week & think it's helping. Unfortunately, I am still in worse condition than I was prior to December's surgery.

Also meditating daily, eating organic foods, drinking smoothies every day (spinach, kale, carrots, celery, OJ, Pomegranate juice, yogurt, a banana, flax seeds, frozen blueberries/strawberries & organic protein powder) and am remaining as active as possible.

FWIW - I am an extremely tense individual by nature and have a LOT difficulty relaxing my body.

As alone and hopeless as I feel at times, I'm trying my best to remain positive and taking life one day at a time. It can be really, really tough though. I'd do anything to be pain free and to have my memory back.

Best to everyone,

L5-S1 herniation since 2010. Constant pain in lower back & sciatica in left leg. HemiLaminectomy & MicroDiscectomy performed in December of 2012. Taking recovery one day at a time and trying to remain as positive as possible!


  • Sounds like you are having a very tough time of it. many here understand you frustrations very well. i am a little over 5 mo post L5S1 microD w/ hemilam.

    Despite your troubles it seems like you are doing your best to stay positive which is the most important thing.

    My surgeon also told me a 2-3 week recovery time was attainable. Granted that was before the surgery had some complications due to a hardened herniation & conjoint nerve roots. From my exp and everything i have read on these forums is that a "true" recovery takes 6-12 months. And I am not fully recovered yet. But although I was still having alot of issues at 2 months they were not as extreme as yours.

    How many times have you met with your surgeon post-op. It def seems like a consult is in order with your continued pain. That seems the best place to start, you should not be in equal or worse pain now than pre-op. Also you mentioned your primary doc with your meds, for me it was the surgeon who dictaded what meds I should be taking at any given time.

    It sure seems like you are trying but may need more help. Please keep us updated & Good Luck!!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • Thanks for empathizing with my situation. It means a lot to me.

    I'm sorry to hear about the complications that occurred during your surgery. Waking up to find out that extra "work" had to be done to the area surrounding and including your spine must have been tough. I hope that you are coming along well on your road to recovery, becoming pain-free.

    I've met with my surgeon twice post op. He only does office consults once a week, as he's in surgery the rest of the time (very "in-demand" surgeon in my city). I have another appointment scheduled to meet with him again mid-March.

    I did meet with a physiatrist that works with him last week. After an exam & some testing, she stated that she concurs with the surgeon's feelings that since the nerve was pinched for three years, it will take time for it to decompress itself. She has asked that I have a current EMG/Nerve Conduction Study done before making any additional recommendations, as I've not had one post op yet. The last EMG performed in June/July of 2012 showed that I had nerve damage in my left leg (where I have sciatica), but that the nerves were slowly growing back.

    Finally, I am going to an acupuncturist this week in hopes that he can assist with pain management.

    Home life has reached a caustic level and I fear that I may loose one who I care greatly for in the coming weeks. This makes keeping my mindset positive difficult, but I'm not willing to give up.

    My primary care doc has been administering/monitoring my intake of Valium (for Generalized Anxiety Disorder) & Omeprazole (for bleeding stomach issues) for long before I even met my surgeon. My surgeon is aware of the what my primary doc has me on and is dictating what he wants me to take for pain.

    In lieu of all the "bad", I woke up on my stomach this week for the first time in YEARS! I'm not sure if it's the Lyrica, Physical Therapy or change in diet, but that day gave me a glimmer of hope!

    P.S. - Sorry for the delayed response. I've been trying to limit the amount of time I spend on the internet, spending time being as active as possible (I tend to get addicted to web-surfing & waste a lot of time). I will be more engaged and active on this forum, as it seems to be a great support group!
    L5-S1 herniation since 2010. Constant pain in lower back & sciatica in left leg. HemiLaminectomy & MicroDiscectomy performed in December of 2012. Taking recovery one day at a time and trying to remain as positive as possible!
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I'm two months out of a 1-lvl spine fusion and lami, plus they went in above and below the fusion to clean out any areas that looked like they had stenosis building (I have that tendency, as I have severe spinal arthritis) and my stamina is low, I'm still on meds, and still have horrific days.

    I agree that it could take time for the nerves to heal - sometimes years. Pain-free is a word you don't hear often on these forums. It seems like once you have spine problems (and surgery, this last one was my third), it's impossible to ever be pain-free. My doctor said my recovery would be a long one and that I could expect a 50% chance of pain reduction. Heck, I had a 3-lvl ACDF in 2008 and my neck still hurts! Nothing can be done, but barometric pressures, looking in one place too long, etc. take their toll. Likewise with the lumbar, standing or sitting too long is a killer.

    There's also those days when you're feeling relatively normal and do something stupid like bend real quick or twist to pick something up and that will set you back for days.

    As for the problems at home, can you take your wife with you to see the doctor so she has more of an understanding of what spine problems are about? Why they hurt so much and take so long to heal?

    I'm wishing you good, effective treatment, but know that it sometimes takes a lot of work and time to get to the place where you feel comfortable. Maybe even pain-free if you're lucky.

    Take care and keep us posted, ok?
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