I'm recovering from a 3 level ACDF that was done int the beginning of April (Apr '15). After three months of recovery, I went back to work...but I also started PT the same week. Before my first day back....I felt great, I was on little to no pain killers, and I was excited to get back to normal. I was amazingly positive…but....
It ended up being too much for me and after two weeks of trying to work part time, I slid backwards. Way backwards. I stopped doing my walks, started sleeping like crap, and I had to get back on my pain meds. To add insult to injury, my swallowing became difficult again. I also quickly became tired of telling people the same story over and over again...and thanking people who told me I looked great, but knowing how I felt wasn't great at all.
This week I finally had to admit to myself that I couldn't handle things and I needed to take more time off. It's horrible because it feels like a major setback (on so many levels). Today I had my doc send the paperwork in to my employer so I can stay out for another 4-6 weeks to focus on my PT. To say this is frustrating and demoralizing would be understating how I feel right now. But....
If you're in the same situation as me, things were probably not good before you had this surgery.…so you have to remind yourself that things are better today than they were before....and you have to accept this is a very, very slow recovery (and try not to get mad at the threads you read about people returning to work after six weeks ). Even when things don't seem like they're better, they are always getting better, even if it's a little bit at a time.
You also have to be aware that if you return to work and try to go back to being normal, you may not be able to jump back into things the way you're used to...and that's totally OK. It's more than OK...understanding your limits is part of this recovery process...and unfortunately it's a lot of trial and error.
After all of this is said and done, you might get back to normal or you might even be better than normal...or you may have a new "normal" you need to get used to. Wherever you end up is OK...just as long as you listen to your doctors and do what you're supposed to do to get healthy. You need to trust your doctors and therapists at a time you're questioning everything…and more importantly, you need to trust yourself and pay attention to what your body is telling you (and then be an advocate for yourself). If you do that, then you'll get better on whatever timetable for body needs you to be on...and you'll end up exactly where you're supposed to be.
I thought today would be a good time for me to write my first post and I hope my perspective can help others struggling with a slow recovery. I'm also writing this because it's the kind of thing I would've like to have read when I was struggling with my decisions.
I've been quietly reading posts from this website since I had my ski accident (Jan '14) and it's been so incredibly helpful...and I guess it's my turn to post something to try to help folks understand that recovery can be long and frustrating...and it's completely normal.
Dealing with this all kinda sucks, but I do know if I do what I'm supposed to do...it's all going to be OK. As a matter of fact, I'm feeling pretty good after writing this.
Feel free to comment or quietly ponder...thanks!