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Supporting my husband.

loving wifelloving wife Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Recovering from Surgery
My husband got hurt at work (he is a nurse) and ruptured a disc at L-4/L-5 and has been through 2 surgeries since May 2009. This last surgery was a fusion L-4/L-5 and he had to have titanium rods and screws put in. He is 3 months out from sugery and still in alot of pain and getting depressed. He was told at his last doctor appointment that the pain is normal for the fusion process but he was told that he has permanent nerve damage on his right side that causes his right leg to be weak and numb and tingle and burn and pins and needles all the time and it also gives out on him and he has spasms at any given time. He cannot walk without assistance and was told that he will never have normal use of his right leg for the rest of his life and will always have to use a cane and sometimes if needed a walker. He cannot drive anymore due to his permanent nerve damage in his right leg. He was also told that he woud not be able to ever go back to work again because of his right leg and back pain. He has always been a very active man and never has been one to sit around. He is now reduced to only being able to sit around, walks as much as he can as per doctors orders, but he misses being able to fish, drive, work, basically have his normal life back. We have activities for him to do while I am at work, but he is limited as to what he can and cannot do. I am corncerned and unsure of what I can do to help him with his depression he is slipping in and out of. I have to work and he stays home all day by himself. We talk alot and we text each other during the day and my boss who is a doctor is very understanding and supportive. My husband cannot take antidepressants and we have a very close and supportive relationship and good communication between us. I just want to do everything I can to help him. Any suggestions would be helpful.



  • Sounds like you have the physical side under control. Now you need to work on the mental and work issues. Would he speak to a therapist? I know if I were in his position (and I am headed that way) I would want to work through the loss/grief issues that come with such a major change in your abilities. He also should speak to a career councelor or employment agency. I know many nurses who have spine issues move on to work for insurance companies doing paperwork. Tonyawisconsin (sp) is one who recently did just that and sounded very happy. Look for her posts.

    He sounds like he is at the point where he needs to look for windows because when one door closes God opens a window.
  • Thank you for your suggestions. The doctor told him that due to his medications, his age (56 years old - a career change would be hard right now) and the damage done, he was going to be totally permanently disabled from any gainful employment. As far as a therapist he is not ready for that yet. We are trying to work through it together first. I am trying to get as much information as I can that he can read and that I can use to help him. I just have not had any luck on finding any information yet online or otherwise to help other than the standard general information. I was trying to find out the depression stages and coping after major surgery and injury articles and text written by doctors but can only find general information.
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  • Look for stages of grief. It's the same no matter what type of loss.

    As far as work..I know that can be a catch-22. Sometimes it makes more sense financially to go out on disability. But many people need to work for mental reasons. If he does go on disability he can look into volunteer opportunities. There are also lots of ways that he can get back to doing what he enjoys. Check with some organizations to see if they have programs to help with this.

    Medications can be a hard one. But make sure you have a good neurologist or PM who is willing to try different approaches. Some just dope you up to keep you quiet. But there are lots of things that can help. Often it takes trial and error to find a good mix but it can be so worth the effort.

    If you read some of the old posts on here you will see that he is not alone. There is lots of advice on how to make the adjustments when our spines breakdown.
  • Loving

    I have a similar senerio. 2 operations in 2 years, permenant disability, need a cane to walk, etc. I did flow in and out of depression for the first 2-3 months. Dr gave me an antidepressant and it sent my heart rate sky high. So no more of those.
    I have one advantage, I can drive. I am volunteering at my church 4 times a week as treasurer and food pantry administrator. I can't lift or carry, but I can do the paperwork. Some volunteer opportunities may pick him up. Check around. Good luck and you are right-you are a LOVING WIFE, just like mine.

  • Speaking from experience, I was in the same boat as your husband. I was 57 when I had my spinal infection which left me with permanent nerve damage. A year later I was having an extensive fusion of my entire lumbar region. I was released by my surgeons with nothing more than they could do. It took me 15 months to be able to walk a few hundred yards. I went from a walker to a cane to no support. My few hundred yards got longer and longer until it was a few miles. Slowly and I mean slowly, my nerves started to come back. I will never be the same as before my infection but I am far from the housebound pain suffer I was. I hope your husband will follow a similar path.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
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