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Insight wanted for quick positive recovery of fusion T10 to S1



  • Thank you for the links.  I'm amazed how our bodies can accommodate medical issues over time.  I didn't know my spine was also twisted. Yuck!  Probably why I can turn around so far without moving my feet! LOL!  What I got out of her info was that this isn't something that is going away anytime soon but eventually there will be some normalcy.

  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 1,486

    hiya!  sorry i'm late to the game here.  in the other post in the scoliosis topic you were looking for tips for a "quick positive recovery".  i don't want to ruin your positivity, but i think you do need to know that this will be anything but "quick".  LOL.  i went back to work at just over 3 months and it was very difficult.  very very difficult.  if you can take a little longer than 2 months (june post surgery and july)....anyways, your surgeon and your body will let you know when you are ready.   one common theme with the long fusions is it takes its own time to heal.  i'm over 2 years now and doing really well, still have some stubborn rib pain but the fused area itself is great!  it's not just the fusion, but relearning balance, and retraining the body.  my balance was a good year before i could be in a canoe and not dump it!  we get so used to our twisted selves!  LOL.   being positive is so important, and looking forward!  the mental game is much harder than i thought it would be.  every day was a new challenge...but over time we get there.  so anything we can do, help with.....we're here!  i can say proudly now that i do not need any aids to help me get dressed!  my left sock was the most irritating and stubborn thing....but finally i can put that on without any help, or swearing....um.....yep.  small steps. one step forward, one step back is what it's going to feel like.  but focus on the positive, and look forward!!!!  we have lots of life to live yet!  oh, and sign up to the surgery buddies for your month of surgery.  it really helps to talk with people going through it as you are.  anything we can help with, just drop us a note!!!!

    Veritas-Health Moderator
    Dec '16 T10-S2 fusion with pelvic fixation. Laminectomies L2, L3, L4, L5, facet removal, cages L4-5, L5-S1, severe scoliosis, arthritis and stenosis repair. 

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  • WLLady, I always think everything is going to go faster than it actually does. I am in education so school is out May 27 but begins the first week of August.  Want to pull it together and have overcome all the challenges in order to have structure back in my life.  I know this will be one of the hardest things that will ever happen to me. Hate every summer vacation to be a surgery to overcome.  Still have another one next summer for a prolapsed bladder which requires a hysterectomy to repair properly. Getting older is not for the weak minded!

    I have to have a IVCF inserted, due to PEs developed during my knee replacements, the week before surgery.  I am taking a vacation the weekend before going back to my hometown to see my best friend from high school. We haven't seen each other in 47 years! Something memorable before this life changing event.

    Looking back, are there any number of things that I can do to prepare ahead of time? Purchase? Make?  What aids did you use that were worth their weight in gold? 

    Strengthening quads and glutes as well as core muscles right now. It will be tougher with knee replacements and a hip to manage some of the yoga movements to have the flexibility to cross my leg onto the knee of the other to put a sock on, etc.  Guess I saved all my money on pedicures over the years to use now, since that will be a challenge I'm sure. Trying to figure out how I will have to get dressed or put my shoes on.  Can't imagine giving up my favorite shoes, boots, etc bc I can't get them on anymore.  I know it is critical that the bone graft heals before doing much of anything.  Have read of too many people with broken rods and "failed" surgeries.  Don't want to do any of this as a repeat.  Other things are already in the queue  that are waiting to be addressed.

    My balance is definitely off so maybe it will be corrected with the surgery.  So, how much taller are you now from the surgical correction?  Like to get my height back. :)  Body change? I have worked hard to have a reasonable shape.  Not where it could be but on its way. The cervical fusion changed my neck by making it look more triangular now.  Football player style in my opinion.  Others don't see it but I do and am not happy. It is what it is now, I know. Who really cares or looks at you at 64!  I do want to know though how the surgery will change my shape, if any? My plan, if you didn't read it somewhere already, is to have a zipper tattooed on my back after healing. Want people to smile when they see the one lamina of my vertebrae sticking out wondering why.

    How long before you were driving?  That must have been a challenge to begin with.  Whole body turn. For me now, my neck has a limited rotation so my body turns some to look behind. To then add the next body part will be interesting but doable.  I need to stop projecting and do what I can now.  I drop things just to pick them up normally!!! haha

    Bless you for reaching out!  Soooo appreciated :) Z

  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 1,486

    vitally helpful things-a reacher/grabber tool.  actually get more than 1 because if you are anything like me you'll leave one somewhere and need to find the other one LOL.  and a sock aid.  i never used one (too stubborn) but on retrospect....that would have been VERY nice to have.  although with a bit of practice it is possible to put a sock on successfully with a reacher/grabber tool LOL.  i find now i cut my toenails by putting my foot up on a chair and then leaning forward from my hips.  (a definite no no for at least 3 months post surgery though!!!! wait for your surgeon's okay to do any leaning over even from the hips!) i can cut my own toenails and shave my legs!  oh, i taped a plastic plant stake rod to my razor for shaving my legs after surgery.  i used that for almost a year post surgery!  very helpful.  at least i was less hairy even if it wasn't a perfect job (plus i didn't trust my hubby to help with sharp objects LOL).  i used a walker for the first bit after surgery.  and even now i find walking poles help me a lot.  my balance was so off....and a word of warning, because you will have a post in your back now, you will find your "tipping point" has changed.  if i get pulled sideways i cannot recover and will go crashing down, same with being pulled backwards.  sometimes even just leaning back a little too much can get me hopelessly off balance.  i've had 3 spills since my surgery, each because i passed the point of no return on a reach or a pull.....thankfully i didn't hurt anything metal, but it does take a while to recover when things like that happen. 

    i gained 3 inches in surgery.  got a waist back, but i'm not straight.  i lean to the left still and still have a small twist to the left.  most people do not notice, but i do....it bothers me, but it is what it is.  i'm walking, so i'm happy.....but if i had gone into surgery without the threat of the wheelchair i would be quite annoyed.  at least my shoulders are square with my hips now, and i'm not so bad now that people notice.  they could before....i walk with a limp though, and have some nerve damage that i don't think will heal.  oh, be prepared for healing nerves.  they HURT.  zapping and tingling and aching.....but that does get better with time.  i wouldn't have believed it, but at 2 years and 4 months i still have nerves healing.  and i still have patches of skin that are totally numb.....it's a long haul. 

    i started driving at 3 months.  it was very tough.....i learned to use my mirrors a lot more, and had to switch to automatic because of the nerve damage in my left leg (i would miss the clutch pedal).  others have used a hand held mirror to help them see around awkward corners.  i find that the worst is not the 90 degree corners but things like merging into traffic onto a highway.....i tend to stop further back down the ramps now so i can time it better and see better.  but it's doable.  going into a parking lot off the road, the side to side sway is the worst....it still is not pleasant some days.  but i had to prove that i could handle an emergency stop before the surgeon would clear me to drive.  i found driving better than passengering, because i could help brace myself with 2 hands on the wheel.  plus, i could avoid the potholes LOL. 

    i'm now also looking at a hip replacement and a knee rebuild....good old arthritis.  is that why your knees etc are done?  i like your tattoo idea!  i have in mind a full back tatoo of a wolf looking out from behind a tree, with my scar being the one edge of the tree....but i'm scared of a second surgery and then having to cut through it.  so i'm thinking maybe a half back tattoo-on one side, so if they do need to they can go in beside it LOL.  i should likely do it while my skin is still numb in places. ha ha  i've seen tattoos of peoples xrays done too.  those are neat too. 

    oh, i also found putting everything you can in your house (clothes etc) between your knees and shoulders makes it easier to get to.

    Veritas-Health Moderator
    Dec '16 T10-S2 fusion with pelvic fixation. Laminectomies L2, L3, L4, L5, facet removal, cages L4-5, L5-S1, severe scoliosis, arthritis and stenosis repair. 

  • Thank you so much for the info.  It's just wrapping my head around the whole thing that doesn't seem real.  Never did I see this coming in my years of living including the other surgeries I have had.  I'm told after 50 is patch patch patch!!!Ugh! This is when I could have used the monkey's arms so no bending to do below the waist stuff. I was just looking at my shoe closet this morning with all of my boots and sneakers on the floor or bottom of the shoe racks, thinking I can't pick those up the same way anymore. :( 

    Got a grabber already and have a double sock puller for my compression hose I wear daily.  Thank goodness it's summer so not concerned about putting those things back on or if I will even be able to. Will figure out the razor deal.  Could you lay on your back to bring your knees up to do things?  How did you sleep at the beginning or even now?  I slept on our reclining sofa for a month after the cervical fusion.  Cat stretched on morning, heard a pop, and the excruciating pain was one I never want to experience again.  I am apprehensive that with this surgery I will experience the same only on my lower extremities.  It felt like my neck was on fire and straight pins being shot into my neck.  

    My next concern is, as you said, what problems will this surgery bring on that I don't have now.  With cervical I have a slight numbness in the tip of my left thumb.  With my knee surgeries I have a spot on the top of my foot that is numb.  In the spinal correction, what will it cause that I don't have to deal with now?  That scares me.  I've been so very lucky to not have had any real issues until now and I know the time has come just as it did with my knees and hip.

    My knees were the gift of my grandmother. I had one slight knock-knee, hers was severe. Did some of the minor stuff to make them last longer.  Wore out the cartilage on the outside of both knees.  Never had pain with bone on bone.  Just decided in 2010 I had the summer to recover to get it over with.  It had it's boohoo moments too.  Both at the same time. Did not want to have to repeat what I knew was going to happen again. Surprise is livable.  What a difference it made.  My funniest moment was at 3 am. Trying to turn on my bed on the floor.  Had to wear full legs braces.  As I turned, the velcro attached both legs together and I couldn't get them apart!  I was needing a pain pill and all I could do was laugh.  Ice has been my friend thru all.  The best part, when walking out of school one day, I caught my image in the glass of the doors, noticing that my legs were straight.  I looked like everybody else!  Also, when I was in an exercise class, where the exercise required your ankles to be together,  I could!!!! hallelujah! What a smile I radiated to myself. :)

    My hip replacement was a question to walking difficulty...back or hip...MRI yep it was hip. Again no cartilage, and a torn tendon.  Surgeon had to wrap a tie twist around the bone when he inserted the femoral stem into the top of my femur creating a hairline crack.  Easy recovery with no pain. Don't think I even took pain med.  Tendon reattachment costs me 6 wks with a walker.  So cramped my style to wait to get on a spin bike.

    Why would you think of having another surgery?  I know things happen.  Have seen the number of forum headlines of failed surgeries,  infinite pain issues, redo's and I just can't fathom another correction.  So it is in my best interest to do just as you said, no...no...no...and probably a few more of those since I am hard headed sometimes.  Let the bone graft harden so I can do other things later on.  One of my concerns, as I've read, is the pressure that is placed on the other vertebrae now.  Guess they feel left out of the bond the others have.  I know corny! haha I will only have 10 open totally, C3-4 and T1-9 maybe 10 or 11 if lucky.

    Once more, I appreciate the time you took to respond to my need for more info.  Just mentally preparing helps with the frustration that is bound to come.  More strengthening exercises will help and walking.  Took my mom out (she's 92) Sat. to a yard sale, which she use to love to do, by pushing her in her wheelchair probably a half mile.  Great except the long driveway is rock and I almost dumped her 3 times with the pot holes in the yard.  

    Blessings, Z

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