I have degenerative disc disease. After years of various treatments I had a spinal fusion in 2007. All 4 of my lumbar vertebrae were fused, using my own bone grafts, and a lot of hardware. This surgery was done in South Africa, as we work for US government as we were serving in Africa at this time. It was a long and difficult recovery, but eventually I was able to return to half time work and basically recover my life, except for all the limitations of not bending or twisting. Am I the only one who has trouble backing up my car because I can n longer turn to look over my shoulder?)
I made it to 2009 before pain and other symptoms began to return ( yes I was in PT), and doctors, this time in Poland, began to talk of the next level up compressing nerves and more fusion. I fought off the idea until late in 2013, when I was basically living on the couch with my legs elevated. Since we were then serving in Fiji, with very limited medical resources available, I made the call and returned to the US for the serious decision to heed doctor’s advice and had one more vertebrae fused in April of 2014. It was also determined that all the hardware from the 2007 surgery was causing a lot of my pain and all of that was removed. Yes, it did help.
So, here I am, with now five fused vertebrae and facing another recovery for that. I knew what to expect and this time I vowed to stay in the US for a year to really get the follow-up care I needed to possibly avoid any more surgery. Then, 2 days after the back surgery I had a “heart event” and found myself in the cardiac ward and had a double heart by-pass. So, now I am just one month out from the back surgery, just shy of one month from the open heart surgery and have to recover from both, simultaneously. Now you may get my user name. Are you kidding me? Try doing the log roll and push up to get up from the bed when you can’t use your chest muscles and they harvested veins from your stronger leg. People, this is really hard.
I was so fortunate to have a husband who took all his leave, switched positions so he could stay in US with me this year. He was with me through all the hospital days I truly don’t remember and has gone to every first doctor visit since I got out of acute rehab about a week ago. He is using all his saved leave, and could not be any more supportive. I have started home PT, mostly focused on my back, until I get clearance from Cardio docs later this month. My Pt has been really good at helping me try to move in ways that do not hurt either of the back or chest, but I am still in a lot of pain, so it is baby steps all the way. I can do stairs and walk at least 10 minutes a day, with my new shiny walker. Like my brace, I will slowly wean off both of those and about a month I expect I will be in a cardio rehab program.
So, why did I decide to join this chat/group? I just need someplace where I can express the fears and questions and deal with all the negative stuff, without dumping it all on my wonderful husband. I am hoping to get some encouragement, see if anyone else out thre had to recover from both back and heart surgery at the same time, and to get me through the low times that seem to be a normal part of the heart op recovery. I have not been a part of any group like this, so help me understand how it works. I will be moving in three weeks to an apartment in DC where I know no one and will need all the support I can muster, including on-line friends. I am female, 61 and still in a bit of shock about all this. Still, all the surgeons are happy with their work and my progress so far and are releasing me to the care of others.
IF anyone out there wants to be a support buddy, please respond.
are you kidding me