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Taking so long.....

Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
edited 08/30/2015 - 9:12 PM in Recovering from Surgery
Had spinal fusion, L4-5, disc removed and replaced with cage spacer back on March 23,2015. I had been diagnosed with spondylolisthesis. Had been suffering from sciatica with tingling and pain in right leg for 2 years, the last six months became unbearable, so opted for surgery since I was not able to do my job as a school custodian any longer. I had previously tried PT, shots, drugs; nothing had helped.

The surgery took care of the sciatic pain, the nerve is no longer pinched. But......I am still off work because I'm physically still unable to do much. I'm almost 57, so I realized I wouldn't be back to work for a few months, especially since my job is physically demanding, but now it looks like November before I can go back to work, which I have to be able to do my job at 100% before they let me return.

The problems I'm still having is from the stiffness, causing a sense of immobility. I've been in PT since June, and I do see some progress. I still cannot sit for very long, 15 minutes and I start feeling nauseated, so driving very far is not something I do, unless I stop and get out and walk around.

Laying down is better than sitting, though it feels like I'm laying on a bulge when on my back, so I alternative laying on my sides also.

I walk around as much as possible, but even that can feel like too much at times. My lower back either starts feeling compressed, and/or I feel exhausted and I have to lay down or I feel like I'll collapse. I just got an exercise bike/elliptical for home use, since walking outdoors is limited from weather conditions. I am slowly building up time on it, but so far 10 minutes is still my limit.

My poolside PT therapist says I walk like I'm still in a protective mode, but its because I still feel restricted in moving, like I have a weighted 2x4 strapped across my lower back, and the more I move, the more restricting it feels. It's not usually painful, just prevents me from moving freely, and the left side seems more troublesome... the opposite side of my pain before surgery. At times I also have a burning bee sting pain there on the left side, seems like where my drain tubes were from the surgery, so maybe from scar tissue?

My blood calcium level was high back in July, so maybe that is part of why I'm healing so slowly. Dr. checked my parathyroid levels to make sure they were functioning, and levels were in a good normal range. I'll have another blood draw next month or so. Has anyone had any issues with this during their recovery?




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  • Siamese77SSiamese77 Posts: 20
    edited 08/30/2015 - 11:18 PM
    Hi Sheri,

    I had a L4/L4 TLIF and L5/S PLF fixation (had anterior fusion 2012) on 12th May 2015. I'm 37, in reasonably good shape and work as a PE teacher. I'm still in quite a lot of pain since surgery, but a different pain to what i was having before. I still get a sharpish pain when I bend and roll over in bed right below the scar in the centre of the spine. I try and walk 4-5 miles every day but somedays are more painful than others so I have to stop. My back feels very weak at the moment and almost unstable at times. I'm on medical leave until mid November too so got a while to recover yet.

    Keep me updated on your recovery and good luck.

    All the best

    Micro Discectomy L5/S1 Feb 12
    Anterior Fusion L5/S1 June 12
    Posterior Fixation added to L5/S1 Nov 12
    Hardware removal Nov 13
    TLIF at L4/L5 May 15
    Posterior Fixation added again at L5/S1
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    edited 08/31/2015 - 7:42 AM
    Thanks lan, hope you recover before November also. I won't give up here, but I have considered, even before surgery, that I may have to consider another line of work, something not so physically demanding. My NS recommended I didn't continue my line of work any longer than the three years I planned on. I can retire in a few years without penalty if I can hang in there, but after this surgery, I don't ever want to experience another. So I hope I will never try to do more than I should. If I don't think I can do my job successfully, I won't return to it in November. If not then maybe after January or later....I think my long term disability can go for two years, but if I'm not fit to work by March, or sooner, my place of employment may try and get me to take an early retirement, and go on SSD, and I hear that is a long process. Being single makes it all such a financial burden, difficult not to let it get me down, just trying to take one day at a time here.
    I was blessed to have my mum help me out after the surgery....especially with my bum. It's been a very humbling experience to say the least. I still use my high rise commode, and I had the discomfort wiping just before surgery, but at least I can do so myself again.
    I use my grabber all the time ( I have two, in case I drop one and not able to retrieve it), I use a broom handle stick to open up washer, a back scratcher to open up dryer (both front loaders with different handles). I remove clothing with grabber. Can manage dishwasher, but sometimes have to sit in chair to load and unload bottom rack. I still have difficulty shaving legs, wouldn't bother but have PT pool. I still have to use that sock helper with ropes to put socks on, and shoehorn to put on shoes. I managed to clip toenails again, laying down with knees bent, but since it causes so much discomfort shortly after, and barely able to walk next day, I will go back to finding someone else to do it. My mum is not a toenail kind of gal, but that's okay, she's been most helpful in other ways. I've went to a salon once since surgery, but will go somewhere else next time, not as sanitary as a place should be.
    Anyone else have any helpful tips on getting things done painlessly?
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    I don't use my grabber to aid in BM wiping, if that's what you thought I may have meant when I said I use my grabber for everything after I was talking of bathroom wiping discomfort....Ha! Too funny. I know they sell something's that you can use for that, but I figured the discomfort wasn't enough for the investment.

    A couple other things I did invest in were a round swivel cushion for my car seat. That has helped, but its probably not the best made one out there, for my car seat at least. At the same time I purchased a handle that sets down in the door jam of car when door is open, to assist in getting in and out, helps take the strain off your back, aiding in stability. I have just graduated from having to use that.... baby steps. I have a low sitting car, something people over 50 should really reconsider when purchasing a vehicle..."Will this be a doable thing if I ever have to have a surgery."

    Another investment I made last year was an adjustable mattress platform for my mattress. Not for my back, but for my GERD. Since my surgery I haven't been able to have it raised for that purpose, even though surgeon said an elevation of 30% is doable, but no more than that. I'm just not comfortable enough to sleep like that now, at least on my side, and rotating positions is something I have to do now. Maybe someday. But this bed frame investment is still something I benefit from weekly, when I change my sheets. If I couldn't raise up both ends, I still wouldn't be able to change my own sheets. I hope someday I can bend again.
  • Hey Sheri,

    Wow, I really admire you doing all those things by yourself. If it wasn't for the help of my wife and my parents there is no way I would get through this ordeal. I was using a grabber initially but now find in more comfortable to squat down and pick things up. I couldn't do this initially but now find it helps to stretch out my back if I hold the squatted position for a while. Not sure If I would be able to cope doing everything your doing- fair play to you!

    I'm 37 so unfortunately theres no early retirement for me. I'm pretty confident we'll get back to the jobs we love Sheri even if it takes a while longer than planned.

    When you say you cannot bend do you mean at all? Can you not bend at the waist without flexing your spine? I find that if I try and bend normally when I put my shoes on etc it hurts like hell. However, when I bend I keep my spine relatively flat it doesn't hurt so much.

    Today is quite a bad day for the pain with my incisional area and both legs burning like crazy- think the acupuncture aggravated it. Looks like I'm not able to walk today…

    Take care

    Micro Discectomy L5/S1 Feb 12
    Anterior Fusion L5/S1 June 12
    Posterior Fixation added to L5/S1 Nov 12
    Hardware removal Nov 13
    TLIF at L4/L5 May 15
    Posterior Fixation added again at L5/S1
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    edited 09/01/2015 - 2:18 AM
    Hopefully after you rest some more your pain will subside. Thankful I'm not in constant pain. I'm usually not in pain, just seems like my body is very limited in some movements, I avoid doing things if pain is involved. I mean, like I still do my hamstring stretches while laying in bed, even though doing so is painfu to my legs at the time. But the squatting discomfort bothers me still. Feels like I have a come-along tool fastened to my spine causing too much pull from both directions. Just not there yet I guess. There are some movements I have found to be too limited, either by pain, or by a horrendous stiffness, but after awhile of more healing, I will attempt again, and doing the movements are then pleasantly more doable. Maybe my core muscles aren't strong enough yet for the squatting. This week my PT may have me work myself in to getting down to the floor and back up. Hopefully someday I won't feel like I'm 100...that this stiffness will work its way out of me. I did have a lot of arthritis in the disc that was removed, I just pray that was all I had...hopefully.

  • Hey Sheri,

    How's your recovery going? Did you manage to start back to work?

    I've been back a while and although I sore every day, I'm managing.


    Micro Discectomy L5/S1 Feb 12
    Anterior Fusion L5/S1 June 12
    Posterior Fixation added to L5/S1 Nov 12
    Hardware removal Nov 13
    TLIF at L4/L5 May 15
    Posterior Fixation added again at L5/S1
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    Ian, sorry to hear you're sore from working, but managing, I hope that will improve also. I would really like to be back working my job too, minus the pain.

    My returning to work requires me to be 100% back at it, which at eight months I'm not even close. Although, compared to what I was at three months recovery, it seems like I've come a long way.

    I think between six and seven months post op I started having symptoms of sciatica again....the more time went on, the more that pain reared its unwanted head. Still nothing as bad as pre surgery, but escalating at times. Thinking possibly just inflammation, but something for sure going on beneath fusion, sacrum area. Recent X-rays don't show any fractures, and rods and screws looked okay, not sure how much more fusion growth since month three X-ray. Surgeons nurse gave X-ray assessment of disc disease, lumbar myelopathy to surgeon for review, to see if he wants further tests, or try different kind of PT. Should know more this week, or after Thanksgiving.

    Just knowing where I am in recovery, and what my job expects of me, I can honestly say forcing myself to do work I'm not capable of doing any longer would only be hurting myself, and risk being in worse shape in the future.

    Hopefully, after another year of healing I'll be back doing something....at this point though, sitting is still too uncomfortable, 15 minutes is still that threshold to pain. Alternating from sitting, standing, walking, and laying, as the day progresses makes for a world of stiffness just screaming for stillness.

    Physically though, strength wise, I've improved. I can open my washer and dryer by hand now, no more broomstick handle finagling...but still have to use grabber to remove clothing. I don't need a chair to load/unload bottom rack of dishwasher anymore. I still can't bake anything too heavy....just a 10 pounder this year for Thanksgiving.

    Emotionally, even though I've had to adjust to quite a few disappointments of not being able to do things like I used to, life is good. At this point pain management is not a crucial part of my life, so that does make life easier, but I'm still not pushing myself into a life of pain either, and that too makes a difference for me.
  • Grrrrrr I'm frustrated for you. Buuuuutttt, I think you are extremely wise and in the long run going to feel a lot better.

    Too often we have to read, (okay, more like every other post), that one of us overdid, rushed or didn't listen and BOOM.. Find our butts back were we started in pain, or worse still, worse.

    I'm surprised how long it has taken me to do a couple things on my recovery and I'm only a month out. Then I read your post March journey and am humbled and wizened and above all cautioned. Of course we are still stiff and I too feel the 2x4 strapped to the back. I admire you went with the 10 pound turkey! I had to schedule my shopping to be sure to get a 20 pounder..but I had to bring a person with me and home to store. Luckily mom and dad and hubby can help me prep of Tom this year.

    And it really is the little things. It's shaving your legs, it's picking up spilt coffee grounds on the kitchen floor, and it's picking up the grocery bags from the cart to the car. I'm thinking you are so smart Sheri. I think if most of us took the caution you have forced on yourself we would all be better off. So when I feel stiff or frustrated I am going to remember this post Inparticular...it is extremely frustrating to move slow.

    Worse still is the best part: I bet like me there are times you feel fantastic (I'm really lucky that this is most of the time for me now)..but these are also the most dangerous times, you know...the times we could be most damaging.

    I think you are wise. I read post after post..heck, I've written a fair few in my youth: waaaaaaa, I want to run, I want to lift, I want to do the 2 hours of cardio...on and on. I am going to remember that I have one spine. That is it. No such thing as a spine transplant. I cannot excessively workout or exercise like my age demographic or mentality. I have to be a grown up. I have to be like Sheri and wise enough to go slow now and not spend all my chips. I think that in doing so you are giving your second chance a chance to heal with the absolute least amount of trouble. I think you are saving the money you will want to spend in the future.

    So don't be down
    Angel Sheri!
    Turn the frown around!
    And know that you have truly inspired me and I have a huge feeling many others to follow your lead. I hope the next set of X-rays are better than the last. I am a tad concerned about that nurses reading. (I had something similar on second fusion and ignored it..it wasn't until I got the second opinion that I should not have ignored it..the whole compressed vein thing). So remember you are the consumer and if going slow and letting self heal doesn't jive with some excess pain...second opinion time. I know you like and respect your doctor..and he is probably correct...but remember..one spine.

    Great to hear from you angel girl and if I don't check back in, in time..HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you! Will think of you and wish you a safe turkey prep! I'm naming my bird, Tap Dancing Turkey, this year. This is because I feel so good and feel like tap dancing thanks to support and surgery. And in turn, my family feels the same way to see me so sunshiney again!
  • I recently had L-5, S-1 ALIF on Nov 9, 2015. I have had nothing but the worst pain in my left leg, left hip, left foot. My foot is swollen, the shooting pains i get in my left leg is unimaginable something I have never ever experienced even BEFORE the surgery, after surgery it is 10x worse!! Im in agony, ohhhh the pain, burning, pinching, pulling is horrific. I cant sleep, all I do is cry. I had an MRI, Xrays, bloodwork, and my doc says everything is in its place and its the nerves trying to find their place, grow,. But I dont know!!! Is this normal? I cant take this pain!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
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  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    Has to be a nightmare! I have read many posts of that happening right after surgery, but I'm not sure of the end results. I would keep communicating with your Drs.

  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    Hope you have fun with your tap dancing Tom this Thanksgiving ....and as long as we're dreaming of dancing....I'm naming mine Antonio Banderas, and we'll be salsa dancing on the veranda, both in our pajamas, all the way to the oven, where we'll finish with the stuffin!
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    edited 11/24/2015 - 2:45 PM
    I talked with surgeons nurse again today, asking why I am feeling so much inflammation, and having difficulty walking again....she said my X-rays looked good, and that recovery can take 12 -18 months for recovery, and I'm only at 8 months, so considered still early on in recovery.

    They are sending me to PM to have orthopedic Dr find better physical therapy ways of helping me through this...That my bones and fusion looked good, and treating for muscular irritation from the muscles being moved around from surgery.

    We shall see.....
  • Hoping that the pm is a success! I find my pm doctor to be invaluable.

    I'm still doing great in that I'm walking so I'm simply ecstatic. That said, I'm feeling arthritic. When I'm moving I'm okay and I know exactly what you mean Sheri, I avoid moves that bring pain. It is the movement after resting position that is painful for me. So I stretch and do my exercises. Those do indeed work and feel good, like I said..movement is not my issue.

    I'm sharing this because I think when I see my pm next I will explain this to him and other notes from my journal so we can tweek my medicine away from surgical recovery and more to cover this joint and arthritic pain. I don't feel I can complain because the pain is acute and subsides after I move for a while, it is just the original movement. I'm so pleased my chronic pain still seems completely over, which is such a relief..that again I feel I cannot complain.

    Anyways, I'm also really happy to read that your medical team hears you and continues to work to find answers for you. The worst news I think for pain sufferers is to be not believed, or no answer for you. Your surgery seems like forever ago to you, I know. Mine was 6 weeks ago and feels like forever ago too. I think it is the nature of our illness.

    A cancer patient receives treatment and then tests are run and the next attack is planned. Well, with spine surgery..the pain is not easily measured once the surgery happens. I know you and I feel different levels of pain relief..but it's not 100%. Well, a dear friend of mine has brain cancer and never has had a 100% clear pet scan in 10+ years, but the levels are so low he is able to live a life feeling cancer free. Sure he has to keep in mind..the horror of it returning..but in the meantime he is living. I feel like spinal disabilities and pain simply do not have that same kind of social awareness. Thus we as pain sufferers do not have a clear path of what will happen next and at what point our pain is just a lil thing in the back of our head to bear with, meanwhile live life. And I will never forget the horror of the chemo my friend endured. Unbelievable pain. And as a result he is so full of life now. He looks at me..I had to drag my legs around painfully until I could finally get past the injection stages and then enduring the 8 hour spinal surgery..those first recovery days...he was the one who could understand the pain. He shares my joy at the return of my mobility. But we both shake our heads at the hurdles I will have to endure to finally be able to manage the aches and pains of final recovery..if such a thing exists.

    So sure. Still tap dancing and happy for any of us In this thread / in general who are doing better than we were pre surgery. But wishing better pm for all who go thru spinal issues in the future. I think we are some of the last of a generation experiencing this treatment in such an archaic manner. I think more and more people are suffering with spine pain and as such a new social awareness and then a better treatment and healing plan will have to emerge.

    Especially you Sheri, wishing you luck with the new doctor and that the aches and pains that you have had these past months are eradicated or managed so you can live life without thinking of your spine 24/7. It really is the best thread title Sheri..spinal disability and remedy takes so long... I hope that we see vast improvements in spine care so our children and grandchildren a generation never endure.
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 732
    I've had 2 lower lumbar fusion surgeries (PLIF) and on the first surgery I woke up with almost zero pain and recovered without any particular complications. However after my second surgery (same surgeon) like you I woke up with ALL of the same nerve pains and even more than BEFORE for the surgery. It was horrible and frustrating!!! Also like you my surgeon did all the imaging checks and blood checks and said everything is fine... just hang-in. In the end he was right but it took 4 horrible months for the nerve and other complications to go away. His explanation was that it sometimes takes that long for the nerve swelling to reduce to the point where there is no longer any irritation/pain. One of things I did during the 4 months was to take a daily dosage of Oxycodone which helped a lot with the pain. So yes... in my experience what you are going through can be considered normal. You're only less than a month out from surgery and fusion surgeries are a MAJOR surgery and there is LOTS of trauma to your internal organs and tissues so it will take quite some time for things to come back to normal. Hang in there... recovery from fusion surgery is a longgggg road... but you WILL get better.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • Beechner315BBeechner315 Posts: 4
    edited 12/06/2015 - 10:22 AM
    Bantiporek said:
    I recently had L-5, S-1 ALIF on Nov 9, 2015. I have had nothing but the worst pain in my left leg, left hip, left foot. My foot is swollen, the shooting pains i get in my left leg is unimaginable something I have never ever experienced even BEFORE the surgery, after surgery it is 10x worse!! Im in agony, ohhhh the pain, burning, pinching, pulling is horrific. I cant sleep, all I do is cry. I had an MRI, Xrays, bloodwork, and my doc says everything is in its place and its the nerves trying to find their place, grow,. But I dont know!!! Is this normal? I cant take this pain![/quote. I went through that as well finally ordered a mylogram and that revealed something..had surgery again 11/30 double lamenectimy from l2 to s1 resection of filum terminals..and removal of mass from spina duria ,, 7 hrs in surgery..I am still in same pain as before surgery.and now I HV lost fellengs in my private area as well as back side..maybe ask for a mylegram..I am frustrated bevus I had to fight for a ur with them before they found something..hope it works out for u
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    Well....it was one of those appointments that leaves me a bit baffled. For one thing I didn't have a list on paper of questions, but I wasn't prepared for the doctor telling me my fusion was good, my fused vertebrae was stronger than before the surgery. and I can do anything I want now, nothing to hold me back.

    For me, that just doesn't ring as being all truthful. My fusion I believe is fusing well, but to say my back is stronger than ever, I disagree. I asked him about the vertebrae above and below taking more of a beating....he just agreed. To me that is contradictory to saying I can do anything I want, like I never had a fusion.

    I then asked why my walking distance has decreased before I'm in pain now, why I can't lift more than 10 pounds without my spine feeling compressed and too weighted down to move? He checked my back by pressing the sacroiliac joint area, and yes, that was painful....which he said is common after having lumbar fusion. He says he could give me an injection, and start me on specific physical therapy for the sacroiliac issue.

    My appointment for the injection isn't till the 18th, could have been sooner, but was the day before another appointment I had elsewhere, and I didn't want to risk being in pain from the injection ( my physical exam for my disability retirement....yeah, still waiting for that to go through and be settled), an appointment I wouldn't want to cancel.

    So, I have a couple weeks to think of better questions to ask PM Doctor....I just cannot understand why he would tell me I'm good to do anything I want, but he did add I should ask my surgeon how much weight I should be lifting.

    I asked the doctor if he thought I made a mistake in retiring now, instead of trying to work as custodian for three more years..... he said, no, he wasn't saying that. He said there is a difference in lifting 25 pounds of groceries at a time, to lifting that weight every day at work. To me, that doesn't spell out that I can do anything I want now.
  • you on any type of leave from work? FMLA, Short term disability, long term or SSI, ect? are you in the states? you must protect yourself physically but financially as well. If you are in the states please look into Americans with Disabilities Act. Your job can;t just let you go there is more to that. I am able to help or explain any questions you may have in that respect I dealt with HR and leave for many of my employees. Let me know if I can be of help .
    This can't be happening
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    edited 01/04/2016 - 8:43 PM
    I'm still on my long term disability through work, still with my work health insurance, though insurance company dropped my dental and eye care. My health claim is still active from being off last March for lumbar fusion, so I believe I have another year to be on that...then I can switch to my retirement insurance.

    The exam I have next week is for my work retirement disability, since I'm 57, not waiting till I'm 60 to retire, and only have 16+ years in. I believe it's just a requirement, having to have one once a year till I'm 59. Just to show I'm eligible for disability retirement, no longer able to do my job any longer.

    My work health insurance company hires someone to assist me in disability social security, I know I have to be on it for at least a year....I should know in a few more months maybe. Hoping someday though I can get a less strenuous job.

    It's all quite mind boggling, hoping I'm not missing, or forgetting to do something?
  • duckgirldduckgirl Posts: 252
    edited 01/04/2016 - 8:44 PM
    Hi Sheri - thank you for sharing your recovery process. I had fusion at L5-S1 on 11/3, and feel my recovery has been slower than expected. My surgeon isn't concerned. I followed up as I wanted to ask him a few questions - and he has referred me to pain management. Have you found pain management doctors helpful - or is this your first time going? My surgeon's office gave no explanation or instruction about the referral. I feel like they are passing off any follow up to this new PM doctor which is frustrating! Thanks for any thoughts you have. I have no clue what to expect, and feel overwhelmed with next steps in recovery. I am back working some, but tire very easily sitting at a desk.
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    You are welcome duckgirl, and this is my first pain management since my fusion surgery last March. I've done physical therapy after 3 months post op, but around 6 or 7 months I noticed a decrease in walking from an increase in pain, so had to discontinue PT until new X-rays and evaluation. So hoping the injection and sacroiliac joint exercises will benefit my recovery.

    I can't imagine having to have gone back to work as you have so soon after fusion. Was yours done posterior or anterior? Mine was done posterior, and I'm probably older, that can make a big difference in recovery time for some.

    I still struggle with sitting; the sitting in itself is uncomfortable, and getting back up feels like my tailbone is breaking.

    I did see advertised on television last week a portable desktop station platform.... Sets on top of desk, easily raises platform to a height for standing at desk, so one can alternate from sitting and standing as needed. Looked like it could do the trick.

    The pain management course I participated in before my fusion helped in some ways, mostly mentally, and the occupation therapy part, but the exercises for back, legs, made things worse, developed plantar fasciitis real bad from all the stretching, making it more difficult to walk, which most likely through my walking gait off, increasing the sciatic pain.
  • symptom/condition. However, I am feeling like duckgirl. I know something is wrong other then just healing at a slow rate, I have more pain now then I did prior to the PLIF, legs are going numb can not sit can not do the squat bend thing walking is becoming a problem for me as well. I am 9 months post up just did a SI joint and not relief so this also rules out its not SI dysfunction. My first surgery in july of last year was a micro on l4 l5 then 11 months undiagnosed an annular tear. so bone fusion in may. Its got to be a year before they rule it a failed back surgery that frustrates me because now I have to spend time messing around with meds that I never do well with so I'm afraid of looking at 4 months of trial after trial of medication.

    as for duckgirl did you not have return to work restrictions? Major surgery is at least 8 weeks?
    This can't be happening
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    How did I get here ~ Have your X-rays showed that your fusion is fusing? Mine have, but I know that doesn't rule out other problems.

    I don't have any numbness down my legs, but when my sacrum area starts acting up, after walking a bit, though just to the grocery store is enough, my sacrum area, and left buttock does feel slightly going numb.

    When these new symptoms started, I noticed it more so during a weeks time. I would barely walk far before I started feeling inflammation in the sacrum area, and shortly following I would feel like I was pregnant out my back, making walking difficult, which is something I experienced before surgery, minus the sciatic pain. There were a couple times out walking when I started to get a few twinges of sciatic pain, but I rested as quick as I could, and took it easy the next day.

    I still struggle with the squatting and getting down on knees too. I still use my grabber, but I'm trying to move as normal as I can.

    My PM doctor telling me I can do anything now, that I'm not going to hurt my fusion, still has me puzzled. I'm thinking it must be a routine thing for them....we have fusions, they tell us were fixed and to go out and live our life like we never had a fusion, and if we do something that does hurt the fused area, well, that's just life and that's what them doctors are there for....we're an endless supply of bad spines for them to work on. My first question for him on my injection appointment is going to be how soon does he plan on me having to have another fusion.....well, I'll ask him that after I get the injection ; )

    You said your SI injection didn't help...did you feel any difference in that area? Is there a possibility that it wasn't administered correctly? I sure hope they can figure something out for you. I know how nasty drugs can take a toll on on bodies, and I wouldn't want to rely on them either, if I didn't have to.

    I was reading about that soft fusion procedure, where it was starting to be used when fusion hardware failed, needing to be removed. I need to research more about it, just in case.

    I'm hoping the SI injections make a difference for me. I may have had issues there in past....I do remember many years ago that for some reason I could no longer sit Indian style anymore, like my bone structure, joint, or muscle was limiting movement.

    So, you said they missed the annular tear...did they find it from doing another imaging test?

  • They kept saying that my sacrum pain was do to the S I joint which can come on after a one fusion but weve been playing that card since the micro in 2014. This just rules it out. My xray shows the screws in place the rod in place but my bone and the cadaver bone are not fusing. They ordered a external bone stim, And the nerve root at l4 l5 is chronic and it wont every heal which is causing a major muscle to become atrophy which is wearing on my body. I never had back pain until that herniated disk micro in 2014 and this just stinks....totally not the word Id chose but Im avoiding edits...
    ( MRI w/wo contrast, full bone scan nothing detected the tear) the discography which was a test THEY didn't offer it was a test I researched and presented to my Dr by email at 3 am.... was the only test and they had me in surgery in 2 weeks it was like a tornado hit...
    I resigned from my job I can barely get through a day of daily tasks I can't shop like i use to for a family of 5 I am a trained chef I can't prepare meals like I use to, laundry....I'm use to taking care of everyone. I have had cancer and it was easier then this....It was a diagnosis and I knew had to attack it...this is a constant "I don't know" it wears on you.

    Keep me posted. I hope the SI joint injection works for you. When is yours?
    This can't be happening
  • My dr told me I could work from home week 2, and then go back to work week 3. After having the procedure, I can't imagine how anyone could go back so soon! I am now going into 10 weeks (or 9?) and not seeing much improvement from about week 5. I also have been very fatigued and get tired easily from small tasks or a 6 hour workday. I had the posterior fusion, Sheri76.
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    edited 01/15/2016 - 6:57 PM
    We'll, not sure what to think. For the most part, I don't see how I could be denied my full retirement benefit, from no longer being able to do my job as custodian...but I am a bit concerned now on how the physicians evaluation of today's exam could possibly be inaccurately relayed.

    I don't know if part of the exam was to see how quickly a patient can get defensive and flustered, or if it was just part of the examiners quirky personality. I have no problem with a persons quirkiness, as long as it doesn't interfere with the way things really are....that being my no longer being able to physically do my job where I was employed. I'm sure I have my own unique quirks, so I'm not insinuating I'm perfect. I just don't want to be one of many that have been done an injustice by someone's wrong judgement call, having to suffer the consequences from here on out because of it.

    As soon as I walked in she commented on how well I walked, even over the ice, I just said I was being careful. But I already had a sense of being tested, more than by watching how I walked, may have been how she said it. I started getting a little defensive, just wanting to retort that she had never seen me walk before today, and she can't feel what I feel while I'm walking, and my job wasn't all about walking, though it consists of way over five plus miles a day...but I said nothing.

    My papers said I only had a laminectomy, so after that was corrected, she did view my fusion scar on my back.

    Upon asking me questions she stopped me and told me to only answer by yes or no...but I kept getting this feeling I was in a pinball machine, like I was being zigzagged through a maze, again, I think it was just the way she said things, and she even commented on her having to have things done a certain way or it messes her up....had me do some physical feats, which I only had difficulty with the bending, and she only asked if I had difficulty squatting, not making me do so after answering yes.

    One of the questions she asked was of urine leakage problems, which since my surgery that has worsened. Now I get right to the bathroom at first sign of sensation or bladder pressure, or else once it starts I can no longer stop it. And I only get the tingling down both legs just prior of sensation of having to urinate only when I'm lying down, which I didn't know if that was normal, but the tingling started before I had the fusion.

    And normally my blood pressure is normal, but it was high that day, and even higher when I went over health insurance paperwork with my GP Dr later in afternoon.

    So, overall, I'm not sure yet where I stand, but at least I'm standing.
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    edited 01/19/2016 - 11:28 AM
    Had the injection yesterday, didn't think it was as bad as lumbar ones. I just had the left SI joint done. I had some increase in pain the remainder of the day, but not to where I had to ice it.

    Today though, the increased pain is gone, but I don't notice any difference than before the injection yet.
    But my face looks like I have lupus...a red face is side effect that can last a day or two....along with the sweating and sleep issues. The face flushing I didn't have with other injections either, kinda bothersome, feels like face is burning up, hot to touch, but no fever. Took a low dose aspirin just in case, but face is still red and hot.

    Hopefully, I'll get a bit more mobile with less pain soon. I go back for recheck on the 1st of next month, then I think I'll start PT specific exercises for SI joint.

    I haven't heard anything on my work disability retirement yet since my exam last Friday. Tried calling today, but may have been too late in afternoon, maybe hear something tomorrow.
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    There was no further improvement from the SI joint injection.

    But this past Monday I was down on my knees, which is still something I struggle with since PT period post surgery, to find myself in excruciating pain when trying to get back up. It felt like my whole lower back shifted up big time, paralyzingly me in pain, then after about 30 seconds it shifted back down, but all I could still do was cry out in complete agony. I could barley breathe, and fortunately someone was there to help me lay down on my side. Had the cold sweats with nausea, but thankfully didn't vomit. I was finally able to breathe after about 10 minutes, getting up soon after.

    I could tell I was going to have some repercussions from whatever it was that happened, so I took some muscle relaxers (left over from March surgery), and laid down applying ice pack to back.

    I laid low for a few days, the weather was bad anyways, but Thursday I started getting an increase in sciatic pain in left buttock and going further down leg. I had an appt scheduled for Monday already, so I tried to just give it more time,

    Well, Friday came and I had a hard time trying to stand up when getting out of bed, and felt quite a bit of inflammation in lower back. Thinking maybe after getting up and moving around may help, and the sun was out, so I gave it a try.... did some errands, only to realize I should have tried to get in to see PM that day instead of waiting. It wasn't getting feeling better to cough or sneeze, even while laying down, without being in pain. And when laying down, I could feel a shifting feeling when trying to roll over, but more precise spinal/bone sliding with an ache.

    The office closes earlier on Friday, so they said I could go to ER and have them take images and then they'd have them for Monday.

    They took numerous X-rays, both lower and upper back, I was sore above my fusion also. They came back okay, but said my Dr may want to order an MRI on Monday.

    They had given me a shot in butt for pain and inflammation prior to doing the X-rays, but so far hadn't made any difference. They wrote me out a script for three days of prednisone, and for some Valium, telling me to go back to icing back.

    Today I felt much less inflammation, with just faint SI joint /hip pain. But as for the sacrum/tailbone area, I still feel the pressure, though I am able to walk better with less inflammation.

    Then....yes, yes, I'm almost done!!!! I carefully got down on my knees to plug paper shredder in, and came to realize that has been one of the culprits all along.....something about being on my knees is causing major problems. Within minutes after getting back up, I experienced sharp bee stinging pain on opposite side of lower back, but only lasted about 10 minutes.

    It seems like there is something with scrum/tailbone area...and when walking, ever since fusion surgery, there is a force that feels like it's pushing down there, almost like there's too much torque pushing against being able to walk. And when getting down on my knees it must be aggravating something that isn't setting right, causing too much spinal compression, and increasing inflammation.....thinking back to the first time I got down on knees post surgery, 5-6 months post op, and that's when my walking distance starting decreasing, because of the increase of pain and inflammation.

    So, I will avoid getting on knees till they figure it out....
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    Got MRI results back yesterday, couple things going on PA said, but didn't think was causing all the inflammation, so sending me back for aqua therapy, and prescribed voltaren gel (topical anti inflammatory; get ulcers from oral NSAIDs). 

    The prednisone the ER prescribed for me those three days helped a lot with the inflammation, but once wore off, not even the Valium helped. The zanaflex PA prescribed did nothing, so switched me to flexeral, which is easier on my system, but wasn't controlling muscle spasms either, so just trying to see if taking that at bedtime and using the topical gel will help get me past inflammation so I can work on more mobility, because staying on either isn't something I can do indefinitely.

    The MRI finds were a slight acute or subacute compression fracture at T12, some bulging in lower thoracic and lower lumbar discs minimally/mildly deforming anterior margin of thecal sac (spondylosis in lower thoracic and lower lumbar), all lower thoracic and lumbar nerves exiting freely.

    I personally feel I need an adjustment in hips, sacrum, or tailbone area, but know with having had fusion that's most likely a no go. Since fusion last March I still feel like I'm walking against something pushing me the wrong way, a torque kind of force, like something is in the wrong place throwing my walking gait off.

    Getting on my knees is still something that causes inflammation, so was instructed by PA to avoid doing so at this time.

    Standing up from sitting, or sitting from standing or walking for a period of time is also a bit painful still, so I did buy a new cane that's adjustable, and has a hand loop strap....I had an older wooden one that was a little too tall for my arm length, and no strap, which from dropping would require me to possibly get on my knees to retrieve. I still have and use my grabber, but having to use cane and carry around grabber both at same time, everywhere I go is annoying. If I go somewhere I just leave grabber in the car (unless I'm at grocery store). 

    Since my back went out a couple weeks ago, still having some bad lower back spasms, I'm still using the cane while out walking, is more of a safety net for me. I don't necessarily have to "use it" to help me walk, I just use it incase I need it, or to help in sitting or rising. Also, for some reason, I find there's times my left foot crosses over, or I'm  missing a step with other foot, a split second of my brain not getting a signal to move other foot....don't think it's drop foot or anything, not sure yet, maybe just a momentary lose of balance, keep forgetting to ask Dr.

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