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Can't Sleep, Post Surgery Depression, Scared

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Depression and Coping
Hey ya'll,

I am having some difficulties with sleeping... can't get comfortable in bed... tried pillows, no pillows, back, side. I am so frustrated and tired.

I had TLIF L4-5/S1 fusion have screws and rods on Oct. 7th. I am doing great. Some problems when I over do, have a pain in the butt and tingling down left leg. Walk around and it goes away. I have cut down on my pain meds. I am walking 1/2 mile or so a day.

So why am I depressed other than walking I am SCARED to death to do ANYTHING. I am afraid that if I sit on the couch I will twist something getting up. If I sit in some other chair besides a straight chair I am afraid of getting up.

I am really and truely scared to do anything. I have discussed this with my doctor and he says as long as I feel good do it, as long as I don't BLT. So what doesn't include bending, lifting and twisting? I have an e-mail in to my doc to give me a definative answer.

My husband makes me get out of the house every couple of days. He will entice me to one of my favorite resterants.

I know that everyone recuperate at different rates. But is anybody else so scared they don't want to do ANYTHING till they are fused. That takes what 6 months to a year???

I want to feel confident to do things! Any suggestions?




  • So sorry your having issues.
    It's normal ! You won't even be 4 wks post op till next friday the 7th.
    I was that way last year with my first surgery on my back. I was not sleeping right, could not get comfortable etc. I was on the couch sleeping with the laptop/meds/water/ remote. Watched alot of old repeats <:P <br />I started feeling better around 6 weeks last yr. I was out and about.

    This year I have different issues not related to my back. So that is why I am uncomfortable at 6 wks out.

    Sitting on the couch should be fine. Give it a try. Just slide forward when getting off. Thats how I do it. Same with the chair.

    Your walking sounds perfect!!! What meds are on you? Mabye they are not doing there job for you getting comfortable to sleep at night.
    What is your pain level at during night verses day time???

    I found ice to be really well in numbing the incision area.
    Takeing short naps during the day. So that your body relaxes.
    One thing I see you mentioned you said you cut down on your meds.
    Staying on your med schedule to the "T". Those meds help us recover. Every 4-6 hrs like they say. I found out the hard way not thinking I needed as many as they perscribed. Oh boy do ya.(that could also have to do with you being uncomfy if you have cut down already at 3 weeks.) You will hear alot of ppl saying that. Even all my nurses said it.
    But of course that is totally your choice and your drs. If you feel you do not need them. But its sounding like you are.
    Also heat on your back /hips/ legs I use a heating blanket to relax all those mmuscles.
    These are all the things the Drs do not tell us. They tell us its going to be a long recovery but never tell us whats coming along with it. I think they really should. And of course alot of us forget to ask. When surgery is a last option we are so excited to get it done, in hopeing we have no pain, well we end up still having pain for awhile.

    Now at 6 months last yr I was dancing. The holidays went fine. Except for being totally WORN OUT as you can imagine. My surgery was Sept 7, 2007. My most recent was Sept 17th 2008.

    This is a hard long recovery for alot of people. Give it some time. You will get to the point of feeling comfortable.

    Also pillows under your knees while trying to sleep it takes some pressure off.

    Im not scared to do anything. If you have screws , rods etc your fine. Do you have a brace??? That is to prevent the twisting, bending L is for lifting of course . I use the grabber for just about everything. Laundry etc.
    Your going to get bored that is a given, no matter what especially if your used to being on a schedule.

    Read some of our recovery stories from Aug/Sept that will give you a idea of how people recover. I started one for Oct/Nov recoveries But not sure how many people have posted there yet. Gotta go check that out LOL I'v been just jumping around from post to post. That thread is under Back/neck surgery fourm. IT HELPS SO MUCH...

    Mabye you hear from your dr soon and they will have more advice for ya.

    Hang in there the best you can
    Terri O:) O:)
  • Hi

    I'm a week or so behind you. I had rods and screws on 3 levels put in on 11th Oct then the interior discs on 2 levels 6 days later - doc's choice to do it individually....

    Anyway - I double checked with physio this week - as like you I was unsure of what to do.

    SITTING - Bolt up right sitting - on dining chair etc - only up to 15mins in any hour (or less if it hurts) The rest of the time, pottering around house, walking for recuperation (now on 2 x 800m a day) As for other sitting, a recliner at 45 degrees, or on sofa flat out, or reclined with cushions - anything as long as all the weight is NOT on your spine as it is when bolt upright (does that make sense?) Even leaning against table where weight is then thru the legs - she called it 'perching' I find it hard to 'perch' as I'm so tall.

    BENDING - you can pick things up, lift toilet lids etc by bending at the knees and going all the way down - and then up again. I can do this ok as my legs are quite strong, but I know others struggle to stay steady at this. Just no bending from the waist.

    I think the main thing is to keep the spine straight. When I lie on sofa, I always roll onto my side and then lever up with my arms (as the log roll)

    I hope this helps a bit - but as Terri said, isn't it a little early to cut the meds?? I'm not taking anything too strong, but I know when they are due and if I'm an hour or so late..... #o

    Good luck and there are lots of others here to help too


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  • TerryVj
    I am on Viocodan either 7.5 or 10/325. I have started taking the meds every 5 or so hours. The pillow under my legs worked like a charm... never thought of that one.


    Yes part of the problem is that I am scared. Lately when I sit on the couch I get a spasm or two in my left buttock (which is what I had pre surgery)


    I do the leg squats and that does work. I also have the ever present tongs. I have found a clothes hanger (the ones you use for your tank tops) works really good for pulling up the undies and pants.

    I am trying really hard to not be scared and get out of this depression mood. I think I should go to my regular doc and get my depression meds changed.

    Thanks for all ya'lls help and support It really helps to know that ya'll have be there and WE should have the T_shirt.

  • I had the same surgery as you did back in June. You are doing great!

    I know what you mean about being fearful that you will do something to screw up your back. Relax! You will find, in time, that even with no BLT, there are things you can do with your grabber to make yourself feel useful!

    It is normal to feel depressed anytime there is a negative impact on our lives. However, this is not a permanent change. I'm 4 months out and have gradually been able to do more than I was at 1 month! You won't always feel the way you do now...look for positive things in your life and don't dwell on the negative, ok? This feeling you have WILL pass!
  • It was about 5 or 6 weeks before I could sleep comfortably! I went to bed every night with ice and heat packs on various parts of my body held in place by pillows. When I wanted to move or turn over it took what seemed like 10 minutes to get everything in place again. Also, I would get up and walk in the night to alleviate the pain from stiffness. The very best thing I did was to buy a memory foam topper for our mattress! Wow - it made all the difference in the world in my sleeping comfort.

    Sitting is hard - I still have trouble finding a comfortable place to sit. At less than a month post-surgery like you, there was no place I could sit comfortably - I reclined on the couch slightly propped on my side with pillows or walked. I found that by walking even a few minutes every hour I did not get as stiff and sore. I could kind of sit with feet way up in the recliner for about 20 minutes tops.

    As for bending - I find that by bending at the hips (without rounding my back at all) combined with squatting and the "grabber" I can do most things. Do you have a brace? - that is what keeps me from bending or twisting in ways I should not.

    The depression really hit me at about 1 month - I was watching TV and suddenly found myself in tears. I felt like I would never be OK again - this lasted for about 6 weeks before I realized I really was making progress even if it was very SLOW progress. Diversion is critical because boredom adds to the depression! Somewhere on this site there was a great list of things to do during recovery to keep yourself busy and entertained.

    Hang in there - it really does get better!

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  • Megb,

    As soon as I get really comfy in a chair or lying on the couch, I start to have a few spasms. So I feel that maybe I'm not ready for "comfy" yet. I am starting to sleep better, so I am not as depressed.

    I wear my turtle shell everywhere except in bed and to the bathroom. I sit,walk bend, crouch whatever with it on. It feels like a security blanket.

    I did drive to the library on Monday. When I told my husband that I finally ventured out on my own. He thought that was great till I told him I got a little scared and was somewhat nauseated. He wondered when I got to be so afraid of things.

    I have tried explaining to my husband that I am scared of the nuts and bolts that are screwed in my spine, (he then says don't forget the rods) . Since I have never had a foreign object in my body before, I'm thinking that it may take a little bit (a few days, couple of weeks, a month?) to get use to it. IS THIS UNUSUAL?

    All in all I am doing better. I go for walks, add doing something new each day, long on to to this forum. If I feel twinges or something weird I do stop what I am doing so that maybe I can identify what is going on and I try not to complain to much and be thankful for what I have or don't have (24/7 PAIN!)


    I tried to explain that while I knew I was a good driver, I was being overly cautious worried that the whoever was around me was paying attention.
  • The first time I drove after surgery I found I was a bit scared, too. I am not really sure why - maybe I was afraid of messing up my back or maybe it had just been so long since I had driven or maybe I still felt like a bit of an invalid. Whatever it was, I was even a bit lightheaded just walking out to the garage to get in the car.

    And I still have to get up and walk if I sit too long so I don't tighten up and get muscle spasms. Especially as I add new exercises in PT. But it does get better.

    Hang in there.
  • Lilli, it will all get easier. It is still so new for you, it is an adjustment. I felt the same way too, scared to move, scared to drive, etc. It passes. And just when you get used to driving, then when you wean out of the brace, it gets scarey again. I felt naked driving without it. I wore it in the car for a while, but got tired of taking it on and off all the time, so gave it up all the way eventually. Time definitely helps get through it all. Just come here and vent to us anytime. This is just a long slow, worrisome recovery. Sounds like you are doing all the right stuff, so just give it time and it will all get easier. Take care, >:D< Calli-Sue
  • I, too, was scared to death the first time I drove after surgery. When I got back home, I was like shaking all over. For me, I think it's the fear of getting in an accident and messing everything up! People who drive so fast and so aggressive have never experienced real pain. If they had, they would definitely be more careful! Just a thought.
  • Oh Joy,

    You nailed it right on the head!!!! :D

    I live in Arizona and the out of staters (snow birds ;) are backkkk So many
    people so many driving habits. That YES i am worried about the accident thing. I have now gone out twice. Yesterday I went to the grocery store and it was a lot better. I am going to go out every two or three days. Luckily all the things I need are within three miles from me.

    I have a doctors appointment the first week of December and he is about 60 miles away :jawdrop: . So unless my husband takes me I will have to drive that dang freeway. Thank goodness the appointment is later in the morning so I avoid rush hour traffic.

    Cali-Sue, my turtle (brace) is my friend. I wear it everywhere. I am still wear it when I sit.


    Again I am so happy to have found this site. Finally don't feel alone here are people that understand!!
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