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Depression and Isolation after L4/5 Microdiscectomy/Laminectomy

Jossy1984JJossy1984 Posts: 1
edited 10/29/2015 - 12:25 PM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi All:

I'm a 31y/o student who is 9 days post-op from L4/5 Microdiscectomy/Laminectomy. I had pretty extreme pain for about a month (not long compared to many who had this surgery), which got really bad really fast. My doctor had initially told me it was "only" sciatica and told me to work out and lose weight (I'm not huge by any means, but it's depressing being in pain for even that long). Anyhow, I ended up having emergency surgery after being essentially carried into the ER (like many, I can't even begin to describe the pain I was in, and was lucky my friend who helped me get to the hospital is in a wheelchair most of the time and was able to help me out of my house using her wheelchair). Anyhow, I've had a pretty okay recovery, pain-wise. I'm walking a mile or so a day (a very, very slow and deliberate mile or so), making sure that I'm up and about some, and trying to prepare for going back to school on Monday (I can only take 2 weeks off if I don't want to drop all my classes for the quarter and lose my grant funding- which would leave me in quite a bit more of a pickle than I'm already in), I'm trying to rest a bit (how much should I rest at this point?), and I'm pretty much off pain meds at this point (meditating through much of the pain and taking muscle relaxants only when I really need them and anti-inflammatories as well). I feel like my doctor really didn't give me much guidance (I have discharge papers, but they're super vague), and I just don't know "how much" I should be doing right now, I guess.

My sisters were kind enough to come take care of me for a bit, which has been nice, but stressful (they're the stay up late and talk and play music rather loudly type of people and I live in a very quiet triplex, with neighbors who like their sleep- I am typically a very quiet, very courteous tenant). Anyhow, they're great and wonderful and I feel really bad for getting stressed out about it- I'm used to being very, very independent and prefer to live alone, so I'm sure that's some of it. But since I've been getting around "well enough," they've decided to go on a trip to Portland for what was supposed to be a day and is now four days. While I'm pretty okay on my own (except for the fact that it's really a challenge having to walk my dog at this point- she's a big girl and that my fridge is short and I am tall, creating issues with actually being able to get food out of it, since bending is an issue), I'm feeling super depressed and super isolated. My school is in Washington and my parents live in Minnesota and I don't have a ton of super close friends here, although one of my friends did visit me last night, which was great. I don't know why I'm getting so depressed. I'm usually super introverted and pretty okay on my own. Maybe it's the issue of being really limited in my activities and knowing that I need to rest more than usual. Maybe it's that I can't sit and relax, since sitting is still pretty restricted. Maybe it's that I'm feeling better enough at this point, but I'm still not well enough to get back into life. I just kind of feel like I can't really take much more of the isolation- I really want to finish my program and all, but I feel like living so far from my parents and most of my close friends is really hard, especially since I've spent nearly the entire time that I've been back here since my summer in MN either in pain and unable to partake in much or recovering from surgery. I'm doing my best to stay positive, but sometimes that means being busy, and I feel like I pushed myself too much yesterday.

So, I guess, I'm wondering...

What are people doing to overcome the post-surgery isolation and depression (especially those of you in similar situations)?

What does my doctor mean by "walk a lot?"

At this point, I've been told not to "just lie in bed," but I can't sit or stand for long, and I try to go on a few walks a day and I'm not sure what else I should be doing, and I'm, frankly, more tired than usual and want to be ready for next week. I feel, too, like the only place where I can do homework for a long time is in bed.

Thank you for reading this- I'm just kind of at a loss and I think my resiliency can't stretch much further.

Welcome to Spine-Health

One of the most important things that members can do is to provide the rest of the community with as much information about themselves as possible. It is so very difficult for anyone to respond when we do not have enough information to go on. This is not meant to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or violated any rule, we are just trying to be pro-active and get the information upfront so that people can start responding and your thread is more effective.

So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong, The fact that your test results are negative does not mean that you are fine and without any concerns. Many times it takes several diagnostic tests and procedures to isolate a specific condition.

Here are some questions that you should answer:

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Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
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What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are

I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways it’s like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then it’s up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 10/29/15 18:25est



  • Hi Jossy,

    Thank you for posting your experience. I can very much relate to what you have described. I am 5 weeks post op after a l5 microdiscectomy following 15 months of severe sciatica. Recovery is the hardest time, not just physically, but also psychologically I think. I believe it's because time seems to slow down when you're on restricted activities. You wouldn't normally notice the days go by if you were back in your normal routine, but when you can only lie or stand, and you can't do the normal things you would do throughout the day, the days really drag out. That, coupled wih the fact that we can't be active yet, and are dependant on others, all has an effect in our mood while we recover. There's not much either of us can do during this period in terms of getting out and about or back into our normal routines until we have been cleared by our surgeons. However, I would say to keep an eye in how you're feeling each day and if your mood deteriorates, talk to your doctor as the last thing you want is to have come through back surgery and have gained depression. Sorry if I sound blunt about it, but this is what happened to me. I now have to take anti-depressants. Take care of yourself Jossy, and please remember that what you're experiencing is being felt by many who have had the same or similar operations. It's very normal to feel down during the post op period, so be compassionate with yourself and accept that you need help to do things while you recover. Be aware of any changes in your mood and please ask your do for for help if what you are feeling gets any worse. Take care, Claire
  • It's tough, but I did just that. I soon found out who my real friends were and they have been absolute rocks for me. I have since been medically retired from my job. My friends have helped me through pain depression and finding a new career. I'm a lot better now.
    L5-S1 herniation. Both knee meniscus tear. L4-5 herniation - 2 x nerve block injections. L4-5 discectomy. L1-2 nerve block injection. L4-5 reherniation - TLIF fusion. 2016: L1-2 and L5-S1 retrolistheses and multiple facet joint degeneration.
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