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emotional issues ranging from frustration to depression

kathyykkathyy Posts: 586
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello again. You've all been so helpful and supportive and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.

I'm 56, 10 days postop for a L4-5 fusion, Laminectomy and separate incision for bone graft. My husband and I are empty nesters. We have owned and operated a service business for 20 years in the Atlanta area. My surgery was Nov. 18th, almost to the day that my mom died a year ago. You've all been so reassuring in terms of my physical recovery......but I almost think my emotional side is the worst.

I cry at the drop of a hat. Or, I loose my temper which I really never do! I'm extremely sensitive and feel like I've become the biggest PIA for everyone around me. My son and daughter have taken turns staying with me for the week after surgery since my poor husband has to do his job and my job at work! Nobody complains - I know that we are a close family and we share a great deal of love. Intellectually I know that everyone is happy to help. But right now that doesn't really make me feel better, for some reason.

Let me give you a for instance of my new found schizophrenia. The other day I went to the fridge to pull out a slice of cheese. I dropped the whole pack (my 2 dogs were happy to take advantage of the situation) and I just burst into tears. The day before I decided to take a shower and "attempt" to make myself a bit more presentable (I look awful because I'm anemic due to blood loss during 6 hour procedure). Well, all of a sudden I realized that the outfit I wanted was in the bottom drawer and I couldn't reach it. Again, I sobbed. Ya'll - I really almost NEVER cry.

Every time I have to ask my dear sweet hub to pick up something or carry something or even vacuum the floor I feel so GUILTY and inadequate. On top of it all, I miss my mom so much. She was my best friend and my strength.

These behaviors are anything but typical for me. I am very strong, very active in community and church and have a strong faith. But I just can't seem to hold it together and the emotions just wash over me at the most upredictable moments.

Has anyone out there experience these feelings of helplessness, depression and crying at the drop of the hat? My neighbor across the street is an ER nurse and she says it's primarily due to drugs and anesthesia plus a weakende physical state. True??

Thanks for listening. Kathy


  • I think what you are felling is very normal, but very frustrating. I know that after my lamenectomy I had an infection with a lot of pain and had many of the same feelins that you are describing. I was a total basket case. Honestly, I am afraid of getting this way again after my upcoming surgery.

    Al I can say is that it will get better as you gradually feel better. If you feel like you can't handle things you could contact your Dr. and ask them for something. Also, in your good moments make sure to thank your caregivers for their help. Don't forget to give yourself a break. >:D<
  • from a 2 level fusion with TLIF on 11/21. I am in the same boat as you. It will get better, it has too. I have had almost the same exact situations happen to me, with the clothes and the feeling useless. I have also had unexpected melt downs. For example, my mom brought over biscuits on Thanksgiving morning. My husband and she and I sat at the table and I just burst out in tears. I had a total meltdown, just while cutting a biscuit in half!

    Later, a simple dose of sunshine on the driveway helped me to feel so much better. Just as things turn down, they may turn up. Hang in there an know that there are others going through the same. You are not abnormal, and you are very loved, just as you are!

    One Love,

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  • What you are describing is totally NORMAL for what you've recently endured. And I believe your ER neighbor is correct, as that, too is what my NS told me, along w/ this: surgery depletes your body of serotonin (that feel-good hormone we naturally produce when we're well) and until that builds back up (at about 2-3 months out) you'll probably feel the effects of that--crying, moody-ness, the "blues", frustration over what you can't do for yourself right now, etc. It does get better. And if not, certainly talk to your doc about a short-term med to help you get past this low point in your recovery period.

    I cried many times each day (from the physical pain, of course, but often just found myself spontaneously weeping..) for about the first 3 months...then it dubsided to about 1-2 times a day & now (at almost 11 months) I still have my "moments" but it is MUCH better. I think it's wonderful, Kathy, that you are up & about so soon! Remember what was done to you! It's your whole Central Nervous System that was invated, it's not "just" ordinary surgery (I had many surgeries b4 my spinal issues & I got over them all much much sooner) I think spinal surgery assaults your whole being: physical, mental, emotional & spiritual---it is a tremendously disrupting experience & just seems to take forever to recover from. You seems to "morph" from one type of pain to another as you heal: incisional, muscular, nerve-related...& altho the x-rays & MRI's (in my case anyway) show that things are doing well, your MIND keeps re-hashing the whole ordeal & for me, that was what would (& sometimes still does) set off the water-cascade of tears....

    Stephanie's good idea: get out in the sunshine, or at least sit by a sunny window. And REST! Don't vaccuum!! Don't cook!! Don't do much of ANYTYHING yet!(walking is good, tho, if you have permission) And don't feel the least bit guilty for asking for any help you can! No one who hasn't had this done can even begin to understand the toll it takes on us....consider yourself to be in a "state of grace" for awhile now...do whatever you feel like doing, including crying! And you are not even 2 weeks out! My PLIF was in January & I swear I did NOTHING until Easter. But now I'm teaching again (still in pain, but better) so hang in there & don't be hard on yourself for ANY reason!

    Sorry for the long post, everyone! But this thread speaks to my heart, as I experienced the same emotions, etc...and even considered buying stock in the Kleenex corportation, haha! :)

    I will keep you in my thoughts today, Kathy & send healing wishes your way! You sound like a very dear & conscientious person...be as gentle on yourself as I am sure you are w/ others. You are loved and you WILL feel better as time does its miracle of healing you in every way.

  • What you are describing sounds SO SO familiar. It seemed to me that everything I touched I dropped (then could not pick up) and that everything I wanted was either on the bottom shelf or bottom drawer or somewhere else I could not reach. And all of these made me cry because I felt so clumsy and useless and generally like a big pain in the rear because I had to keep asking for help. Then I cried because I felt so stupid for crying. When i read on this site that others had the same experience it did make me feel better. I thought I was losing my mind!

    I did get more proficient in using my grabber though it really does not work for getting things from lower shelves of the fridge (food tends to spill!). And when my cousin visited with her dog I wanted to keep him because he cleaned up many of the things I dropped - so much more efficient than my grabber.
    I am 58 and had L4/5 fusion in late July - anterior/posterior.

    I know exactly what you mean about hating to ask your husband to do even more than he is already doing. Things like cleaning the bathtub are still not an option for me and my husband (wonderful though he his) just does not notice to do those things on the same schedule I might think is important. So, I have adjusted my standards quite a bit, but still need to ask him to do things on a regular basis - and still hate it.

    Anyway, you feel helpless because, relatively speaking, you are. And that is OK - you need to be helpless right now so that your body can heal. As a friend of mine told me over and over "right now, your full-time job is your recovery"! So concentrate on your recovery - walk, rest, walk, rest, walk, rest, etc. - and it will get better.
  • I can tell from your post that you are such a caring, loving person, and it's hard for you not to be able to be as you were before! It's sort of like the grieving process you are still going through for your mother--you so miss the way things used to be. Part of that recovery, as I'm sure you know, is acceptance. I went through the same emotions as you...on the one had feeling guilty that I couldn't DO anything for anyone, even myself. And then I'd turn around and get upset about the fact that my family wasn't doing enough for me! I'm a totally independent person and I'm not used to anyone doing for me and yet here I was resenting that they didn't do enough! Wow! Such weird emotional ranges we seem to have going through this experience. I'm 5 months out now and the emotions have settled back down (mostly). I still cry every now and again because I still can't do the things I used to do without even thinking about it, but it's better.

    Try to think about it this way...you are now going through the grieving process in double portions. One for your mom and one for the former you. Hope this helps a little. I know quite a bit about the grieving process...my husband of 34 years was losing the battle against a brain tumor and 3 months before his death, we got the news that my dad had lung cancer. I lost them both within a year and a half. On top of that, 3 months before my dad died, my mom had a serious stroke. She died 4 years later. Yeah, it's hard! Especially during the holidays.

    Sorry for the long post, but wanted to let you know that we understand exactly where you're coming from...and it's perfectly normal. >:D< >:D<
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  • Hi Kathy,
    I had your exact same surgery at the exact same spot (L4-L5) and had the exact same issues post surgery. For me, it was the meds that were responsible. I was on morphine in the hospital and hydromorphone when I got home. Once I was switched to Vicodin, the emotional symptoms got MUCH better. I am currently recovering from surgery to remove the fusion hardware (my sensitive body was reacting badly to the metal), and I specifically requested that, if possible, they use something other than morphine for the pain. Instead, they used fentinyl. It was effective for the pain, and it made me less of a lunatic (sm). The morphine made me crazy. I would get really angry, and then I would cry. I would call people from the hospital in the middle of the night, oblivious to the fact that it was 3:00 am and I was waking them (I am so lucky that that everyone was so understanding). Oh, I would also LIE when I was on those meds! I am normally a really honest person, but the drugs confused me, and I would lie about really silly things. For instance, I would say something like "My friends came to visit me and brought me Chinese food for dinner." Then I would say, "Never mind, that's not true." And then I would get really angry, and then I would start crying. I also tweezed a hole in my eyebrow while on morphine (Darn, that took a long time to grow back!). My family and friends were really incredibly patient and understanding with me during this time, thank God. Actually, they found my temporary insanity quite amusing.

    I know the emotions feel very intense, but keep in mind that the meds are magnifying everything. Plus, you are recovering from a very major piece of surgery. You were under anesthesia for along time, and it takes awhile to get it out of your system. Get lots of rest. Nourish your body with nutritious and satisfying food, and nourish your spirit and psyche with love and laughter. Healing from fusion is a long process, and for awhile it has to be your top priority. Treat yourself with all the love, tenderness and patience you would give to a wounded child.

    Healing Thoughts,
    Deb P.
  • It's morning- any morning lately. Get up- or try to- go back to my coffin aka bed and rage,cry,and go wacko.Same thing everyday cause its GroundHogDay everyday here at my house. Another day of nothing.Dropping things, sitting on a rock hard commode, in my PJ's. Big day event- changing PJ's. No life, no makeup. Dont even look in the mirror. Two showers- almost fainted. I think Ill stay dirty for a while. Cry and rage again. Everyone is helping. I dont want the help. I wanna get up, drive my car,live life. But NOOOOOOOO. Back,neck,butt,hips are in pain. More meds- more psycholand. I know its the meds but I need them sooo I cry and rage and feel out of control. I am.My husband is taking a verbal beating from me. Who else can I rage against. PT wants me to walk,walk,walk. R they serious??? R U walking alot? So excited to start GHDay again tomo. Same sh-t different day. Do take Zoloft and just upped the dose- dont think if Im considering suicide it's working.LOL. You're not alone, just wish we were in recovery together. Somehow all this would seem hysterical, right? Let me know if I made u smile- if so you aint dead yet.....
  • Sounds like your mourning your temporary loss of independence - your response is perfectly OK, you are not "schizophrenic" sweety, just being a little too hard on yourself!! And its also very OK to miss your mother at this time, you're physically weak at the moment - well I won't get into the whole psychology of it but you're going to be OK! This is a temporary setback. Give yourself a break, and don't push yourself out of guilt. Take care,
  • I felt like a total loser because I couldn't clean behind my old stove so they could deliver my new stove. I'm getting the stove of my dreams. I should be happy right? Wrong. I sat here and cried my eyes out! I've called my kids crying so many times over the last 2 months that I've lost count. You are perfectly normal. But here's a hug in case you didn't get one today. >:D<
  • Isn't it amazing what will totally reduce us to tears - especially that feeling of helplessness - of not being able to do the things we feel like we should be able to do. And I hope you love your new stove!
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