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Do we ever learn?

I am speaking for myself, but I am sure this can apply to so many others.

You would think after years of surgery, flareups, therapy, medications, injections, etc you would learn NOT to over do things.

I am almost 3 months into my Achilles tendon reconstructive surgery. Two weeks ago, I finally was able to eliminate that 1,000 pound hard shoe brace. I am now in a soft tie up/Velcro up brace to keep my ankle together.

So, today was a beautiful day, I went outside into my garden to trim some shrubs and herbs. At one point I had to go into the shrub bed to do the pruning. It was uneven turf, so, my footing wasn't the greatest.

I come into the house, take off the brace, and my ankle is almost swollen double its size. Luckily some ice, elevating the foot will make the difference and I should be good tomorrow, just a bit sore

I should have know better....

Just as with every surgery , each doctor lays out all the restrictions and limitations. In the beginning, we follow them, probably because we are so scared and worried about the situation. But as soon as we start to feel good, look out!

Thats when we can become dangerous..... I know, I have been that way.

When do we really learn that when you over do , you are going to pay.... Maybe not the first time.

Just like if you drove your Porsche, redlining the tach way beyond safe zones. Once or twice, probably no harm done to the engine, but if you keep that up, soon, you will be looking at rebuilding that engine.

Not much different from our own bodies!
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


  • prevention rather than cure is a saying my dear departed Daddy taught me Dilauro :-). But I guess we don't always listen to wise men and make mistakes! Throughout my adult life I have pushed my back to its limits even though I was aware I had a weakness and live to regret that now. I have never driven a Porsche but created redlining affects in my back, hence some of my other posts strongly suggesting that people suffering first back issues, do exactly as their doctors/surgeon are instructing.

    I, like you, have a keen interest in gardening but this time I am watching the weeds and trying to find positives in them :-). I have watched the new lawn start seeding due to my partners business trips, thinking 'oh well, my dads lawn regrew after the '76 drought!!!' . Maybe this is age or maybe I have realised at last life is too short to spend time recovering after causing further injury, instead of embracing what I have and be grateful. Maybe I needed to face the risk of losing all function and feeling in my foot and parts of my leg, which would have made me a non driver, to learn life AND limbs are precious!

    I hope the shrubs were worth the risk and the swelling reduces quickly.. . I experienced a lot of extra pain from walking on an uneven lawn the house builders left behind, but guess I had best walk elsewhere instead of getting the lawn roller out :-D

    Good luck with your foot recovery
    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015

  • Thank you for this thread! It is so hard to not take advantage of the times we are feeling better after being in pain amd/or under restrictions for a long period of time. I wish I had some kind of computer connected to my body that would tell me when I was pushing too hard because I always figure it out when it's too late. Maybe that can be Apple's next project? :)
    L4/5/S1 scar tissue removal surgery, plus unexpected L4/5 microdiscectomy #2 October 2015
    L4/5 microdiscectomy May 2015
    2-level ADR C4-6 (Mobi-C) February 2015
  • Well I can say that I agree with this so dearly that everyday it's a battle to control myself when I'm feeling so good cuz it don't come more then the pain but I do pay the price the next day. It's like eating greasy fatty food knowing that it's good for that moment but when you can't sleep cuz of the gas pains and your acid reflux is killing u, We think twice before doing that again. I guess being human we thend to push are limits but it's a horrible price to pay. Don't be to hard on yourself but remember think before u do, cuz in the long run ur be back to feeling back to normal without any set back. Good luck DIVINE356
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    edited 06/29/2015 - 7:04 AM
    ..a balance on my life, sometimes.

    I think with the spinal issues, chronic pain, and many of the accompanying issues, I feel so ill.
    I'm very limited in life and its activities. I think of the future and work with PM doctor to rotate my daily meds annualy, or so, to not build up resistance. You know, fentynl patch, then OxyContin, then back to patch and so on...
    I try not to take breakthrough meds unless needed to keep me out of ER. I want those to continue to be effective, also.

    Not knowing how many years in my future, part of the plan is for meds to continue working so I will always be as comfortable as possible.

    On the other hand, when I do have a good day, and that happens for no rhyme or reason I can figure out, on a good day I want to do what I want to do. :)
    Maybe go outside and take more walks than I normally would, kneel down to talk to a child, or visit a friend, go to a restaurant , drive my car for a couple errands....
    Most of that requires me to sit upright for hours, ...much more that I'm able to do on most days.

    I know I will be near unable to move the next day ...or for maybe a week. But sometimes, I make that choice.
    My thought process is, if this was my last day, how would I want to spend it. And answer is to be with people, esp. my family and friends!

    When I'm feeling the follow up pain, I feel the warmth of the day that caused it. It was worth it!

    This will sound odd, but it's similar to my thinking of people coming to visit me, an extremely rare occasion.
    The last thing I want any of us to do is clean up any cups or plates. I want to see their faces and listen to them and their stories.

    In a couple of days I will clean up the kitchen, but meanwhile, looking at the disarray, well, I remember why when on my own I use paper cups and plates. :) and then I have warm memories of the visit and smile as I think of my home recently filled with noise and life!

    So, for balance, I think of days that could be my last and yet plan as if I'll live to be 102 years old!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • As strange as it sounds it's good to read this thread! I know that many of us have done damage pushing too hard, too soon after surgery etc & we need to be aware of our restrictions but I've been guilty of surrendering to the FEAR in the past & it's no way to live! Many say, "I can't do ANYTHING because it makes my pain so much worse for days after!". It took me a while to learn to say "So what!" on occasion. Some things are worth the pain. LIFE is worth the pain! I know that being too careful, not doing anything that might flare my pain seemed like a good idea at the time but the isolation & boredom only led to depression & more time to spend thinking about my pain...which made my pain flare even worse than walking in that field with my kids or going to that party. Within reason (of course) I'd rather feel terrible because I've earnt it having fun & distracting myself from my unrelenting pain than laying around doing nothing because of the FEAR!!

    Pain sucks but we shouldn't let it suck the life out of us!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Well said, EnglishGirl. I've been worrying about July 4 myself. It would be really depressing to think the rest of my family is getting together while I am isolated in pain. My boy will be seeing fireworks for the first time in his life, and that is something I would not miss for the world.
  • I've got little kids & I promised myself right from the start that come hell or high water I would find a way, even if it's a 'different' way to participate in all of their milestones. It's sooooo depressing to miss out on things. I consider depression my bigger enemy than chronic pain. Having said that we're going to a fireworks party that's nearly an hours drive & I'm REALLY scared! It's with new work colleagues of my husbands so I won't be able to take a rest & lay on their sofa....I can sneak into the back of the car with breakthrough meds & my prescription cream & heat pad if it gets REALLY desperate. ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • jlb72jjlb72 Posts: 2
    edited 07/16/2015 - 11:14 AM
    Hello Everyone,

    This is my first post to a forum ever so I will try to follow all of the rules. I had spinal fusion C4/C5 because as I was told the discs had degenerated and caused my vertebrae to lose its natural curve. My symptoms were; loss of feeling in my fingers (especially my ring and pinky), constant mini spasms that occurred everywhere (triceps, lats, lower back, thighs, calves), and, please excuse my explanation here but I can't think of any other way to describe it, I felt oafish especially in my legs - like there were times that my legs seemed as though they belonged to someone else. I know that last one sounds strange, but that's the best I can do to describe it.

    It's only been 4 months since the surgery and I have returned to exercising after being cleared by my surgeon and physical therepist, I used to be quite strong/muscular but as I've aged (42) I have settled, for, well whatever happens to you when you get older :) I should also add that I have Crohn's disease and had 30 cm of bowel removed in 2007 (terminal ileum and sigmoid colon) and have had a stoma since. So I was no stranger to what to expect post surgery.

    I used to be a software engineer but I am currently doing a PhD, I have been back at it since June, so about 1.5 months and here is where my question comes...I feel pretty good, I am achy in the a.m., but getting back to the gym has helped with that a bit (stretching, light cardio, very light weights), but I find myself unable to concentrate and focus on my work and I am sure that the fact that I haven't slept through the night in, well I don't know how long, a month at least. I thought the exercise and reading and getting back to my routine would help, but it hasn't. If anything I sleep less, feel less well rested am a bit more irritable and can't seem to look at anything for longer than 2 seconds (exaggeration, but it feels that way). I know that patience is a virtue but my supervisor isn't 100% on board with that philosophy. So ,if anyone has had a similar situation post fusion surgery and has any advice I would be so grateful.

    Thank you,


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  • Hi Jason.
    There's a whole forum here on recovering from surgery. That could be a great place to start. I find the 'tricks & tips' of others who have been through similar things a great help.
    When I comes to sleep have you asked your doc or pharmacist if it's ok for you to take Melatoin? It's a natural sleep regulator. It helps me. To be honest I have prescription sleeping pills when things get bad. I've got little kids & no support system so I need to function all day, every day from very early. Sleep is essential. I feel terrible when I don't. It's not just lack of focus & concentration. I find it makes my pain flare & increases depression.

    Back to the subject of this post, PLEASE don't push too hard. Too many suffer the consequences after surgery! Slow & steady is right. It's your life!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • I don't have any advice, but I did want you to know you're not alone as far as attention problems are concerned. I was nearing the end of a master's degree program when the trouble with my back really started. I was anxious about tests and reports and was the perfect type of research-and-read, study-and-write, consumed-by-studies student.

    Well, I went haywire when I started having flare-ups, sciatica, and disc dessication. I could not imagine taking (little alone, preparing for) my final exams. It was very difficult when I sat down to write an email to my professor explaining my situation and how I felt that I could not continue on. Fortunately, the pain and anxiety fell to tolerable levels, and a year later, I did well on the exams and graduated from the program.

    That is a positive milestone in my life (and mostly internal, because no one really appreciates how difficult the achievement was), but it is far from a happy ending. The DDD has progressed, and I am almost always scatter-brained. I can't sit down to read a book. I'm more anxious and forgetful (almost to the point of panic and nausea, sometimes). and I'm much more willing to give up on complex tasks in order to simplify and work towards pain relief.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Jason, and know that you are not alone.
  • I'm now a LOTUS man after I found out my Porsche needed an engine rebuild. True story. The LOTUS can run red line all day long with no worries.

    Even at 8 weeks post op I am chomping to push some limits in a small way. Last week I lengthened my short walk (7 minutes max so far) and was bit back with pain and two days of deep numbness, after stretching the walk to 11 minutes.

    if Frustration, anxiety, and disappointment were the goal, we could be considered a pretty darn successful group .

    Have a super weekend.

    May 13, 2015. L4/L5
    2X bilateral lam
    2X s. process removed
    2X lumbar sten
    1X discotomy
    1X synovial cystectomy
    4X f. joint modifications
    4X foramenotomies
    1X spondylolisthesis
    1X bilateral post. Llumbar fusion
    1X instrumented fixation
  • I just wanted to say thanks for the speedy replies. I never thought of melatonin. Must be all the fogginess :) I am trying not to push too hard, but on days I feel good I 'forget' that I had surgery much to my chagrin the next day. I will go to pharmacy tomorrow and see what the deal is. I have a good relationship with my pharmacist because of how often I'm in there. And thanks again. Hope you all are keeping well or as well as possible. :)

  • gfishggfish Pittsburgh PAPosts: 160
    edited 11/17/2015 - 12:16 PM
    As I have pain. there is stuff you just want to do. Or like to do. I like to wash, wax my cars with the radio on in my garage. I just cant do it. But I try and pay the price dearly... Not show cars, my everyday runarounds. Im sure i will try again, and pay the price again. Just slower.
    Greg fisher
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    And each time you do it slower, you will be building up some resistance. So after a while, you can start to do some of those things without paying as much of a price.

    Thats sort of the name of the chronic pain game.

    • Initially for everything you do outside the normal guidelines you pay a BIG price
      After you do this for a while, the price you pay is not as Great
      And before you know it, there isnt hardly any price at all, just a bit of small discomfort
    However, there is always a however, IF you start to do more and more outside those guidelines, you will still go through that same
    process. But put them back to back and the price you pay will be LARGER

    This is just something you figure out over time. The groundrules may be laid out in advance, but everyone has a different tolerance to everything.
    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
  • It was such a beautiful day yesterday and I was out in it!

    Me! I was out there! I felt amazing! And walking is just so important that I didn't really think....

    I had pt in the morning and we did some core moves along with some leg moves. Therapist specifically told me not to repeat them today and I would need to wait till tomorrow to repeat. In the meantime walking was encouraged. So I headed out! First to get some Christmas shopping started and then lunch finally with the girls! It had been months since I had gotten to go!

    I left and still felt great, headed to one more store. Came home to broken ac. No biggy, got it fixed with awesome ac guy. But in the meantime house warmed up pretty good (we live in Florida) and there is humidity to boot.

    So the heat and the long day finally catching up to me as I lay awake at 3am playing on my tablet. The cramps jarred me awake. I'm so lucky that they are just cramps and not the chronic pain of months prior. But the cramps are a gentle (slightly viciously gentle) reminder that I need to SLOW DOWN! What kinda crazy person am I? I know better! I really do. What was I thinking?

    So yes, Ron...I do love that I came across your post in the midnight hours. I feel bad that I take comfort that I am not the only one. Hoping from this point I put in some stoppers on myself. Jeeeeeeez I should have known better.
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