Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Complete Guide to Spinal surgery from a Patient's Point of View, One Month Later

Hi Everyone:
 Well, its 4 weeks post-op tomorrow.   I gave up my walker last week and switched over to a cane.  I find that it really helps, still not able to support myself walking alone for too long.  I am doing leg stretches,  knee bends, and leg crossovers.  I can walk a good distance, although it makes me very tired.  Tried steps yesterday, not too good....can only do about 3 steps.  My pain level is almost 0.  Gave up morphine last week and switched over to Ultraset.  Still taking Lyrica for nerve pain.

Nerve pain:  apparently when there is a lateral approach incision it enters through the psoas muscle.  Well that incision still gives me some discomfort.  A nerve that goes down into the upper thigh quad muscle is affected.  I have numbness, tingling and hypersensitivity.  It is getting better, but not nearly as comfortable as I would like.  Some Internet research tells me that it is common after XLIF (extreme lateral interbody fusion) which is what I had.

Saw my surgeon this week, he is pleased (good for him), I guess I am pleased.  I haven't had any set backs or post op complications.  My progress is steady but slow.  All of my staples were removed.  I had a look at my x-rays, I look like the bionic woman.  My niece says " it looks like they implanted a chicken coop inside of you",  she's probably right!  Although I don't feel much like clucking and my feathers still feel a bit ruffled.

You really have to push yourself.  It takes every bit of strength to get up, shower, hook up my bone stimulator device (yes wearing this thing that sends pulses to the electrodes attached to my spinal area to promote bone growth), and get dressed.  If I go out for a small excursion I am completely exhausted.   So I rest.  It's easy to stay in bed all day, but not wise.  I walk the long hallway of my apartment back and forth dozens of times. I know that in 4 more weeks I will be a completely different patient with completely different views, so I try to stay positive.  After three spine surgeries, it is hard at times to stay positive.  If I ever require another spine surgery, I don't think I could do it.  I just don't have it in me mentally.  So, I hope for the best, that this surgery was the last, that my spine stays stable.   I don't want to do gymnastics, ice skate, jog,or ride a bicycle;  I just want to be able to walk and walk, hike a bit,  maybe be able to swim.  The flexibility of my spine is forever compromised, and I accept that.  I have 6 inches of rods, screws and a cage implanted,  with the hope of getting rid of the severe back pain I have had.  Only another person with back pain would really be able to understand the drastic impact this has on your life. 

I am thankful to my superb surgeon, Dr. John Bendo, who listened to me and made the decision to be more aggressive with this last surgery (7 hours by the way).  I am thankful to the nurses, the aides, the physical therapy staff, pain management, and all those involved in my care at Joint Diseases NYU Hospital, there care, concern, emotional support and kindness will be remembered.

 To every person out there, and there are many, who suffer from chronic long term back pain,  my thoughts and prayers are with you.  I was lucky.  Lucky to have a great surgeon, great care, an incredible family, supportive friends, but most of all determination.  Determination to get through this a third time.  It's been a long haul.

Love SCB

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