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Is This Normal


       Here's my deal, I'm 55 years old and had spinal fusion surgery on 11/27/2019. I get confused with the L numbers so I'll just say the bottom two disc were fused and the third one from the bottom had a partial discectomy. At 5 months and 2 weeks I was still getting sore at the end of the day and still feeling that healing was taking place. With my company benefits the time away from work is all that I could afford so I went back to work at that time. Now I'm 7 months out and still at work not missing any time due to pain, not taking any pain medication but still feeling pain in my upper buttocks, lower back, upper back, core, and my lower extremities (left shin, knee, sometimes right leg). Now let me explain that I'm not feeling this at one time. One day it's here are there, as the day goes on it just feels like it's time to just stop and get off my feet.

         I'll explain one more thing. My back condition cause some nerve damage. I had developed a limp that my Dr. said was not going to go away until I relieve the nerve and the best way to do that considering my age was fusion / lapendectomy surgery. I had pain constantly in my left shin. My legs and right hip was also going numb to the point of losing the ability to walk. If I didn't sit down at that point then I was going to go down. A shopping cart was needed or I wasn't going to make it through any store. The mall and activities where walking and standing without the ability to sit down when needed was out of the question. All of my home health nurses and physical therapist pretty much told me that I should have had the surgery 3 years ago. I should also say that the numbness and inability to walk and stand has been cured by the surgery I no longer need a shopping cart and mall trips or back on.

So after saying all of that my question or concern is, just how should I be feeling. I thought at this point that I would be pain free and feeling like a 21 year old. I do feel that I'm still healing but not sure. My Dr. has released me and said anatomically that the fusion is fine going back to work is up to me. When I get home from work I don't feel like stretching I also don't feel like stretching when I wake up at 3:00 am. I work 10 hours a day (5 am -3:30 pm) 6 days a week as a machinist operating CNC machines. I just feel unstable at times due to weakness or pain in my lower extremities. Is this normal for 7 months out or what? I'm looking for the word Normal.

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Comments

  • BigWhoDat

    Welcome to Spine Health

    I am not sure that anything is normal when it comes to spine surgery, especially fusion surgery, I have had 2 lumbar fusion surgeries and both were different, after the first I went back to work after 4 weeks and did really well, after the second it took 9 weeks and I worked part time for almost 9 months, it took about 1 1/2 years before I felt "normal", basically what I am saying is that everybody is different and every surgery is different, after fusion surgery nerves and muscles take time to recover from the trauma, how long is anybody's guess. I know it's hard after a long day but do yourself a favor and keep doing your PT exercises because they do help with strength.

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip  

  • Thanks Chip, I'm a fighter and will keep moving forward with PT.

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167
    edited 07/31/2019 - 1:04 PM

    BigWhoDat

    Going forward with PT is a great move. So is the positive attitude. Below is a link to a very good article about recovery: time and patience.

    Good luck and keep us posted.


  • Thanks for the info and the support.

  • Yes, it makes a lot of sense. No I don't feel like I've regressed. I just needed to here that it takes time. After the short time signing on to this forum I've gathered that what I'm going through is pretty much normal. That's what I wanted to know. If it's time it takes then it's time I got. "On Ward Ever Backwards Never"

    Thanks!!

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    BigWhoDat

    We are so glad that you found what you were looking for here. This is a great web site full of caring, honest and supportive members. 
    Please keep us updated on how you are doing.

  • Well it's been sometime since I post the question back in July. I'm now 1 year and 2 months out of back fusion surgery and still feel that I'm healing. Still having discomfort in my lower extremities but I'm now able to push through a short stationary bike ride and my PT. I'm starting to think it's my hip now but don't know if it's the back surgery that needs the full 2 years of healing. I now have a office job, still walking at least 7500 steps a day with 10000 steps a day occasional. Some days are better than others my wife say it's the weather and I just don't want to believe in that weather thing. I'm overall a positive person but I tell you guys that some days I can start to feel depression setting in. I've been aching for a while now and just want to feel good again.

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    BigWhoDat

    Great to hear from you again. Bit I am sorry you are still have some issues. Like your wife, I believe the weather has a lot to do with the way you feel. Especially if your have arthritis. I can tell when the weather is going to change by what starts hurting more. And of course I feel better in the spring and summer, my depression is not as bad, the sun is out, it's warm. Now, I have to stay in because it's 27 degrees, gloomy and snowing.

    I hope you feel better soon, it sounds you have been recovering very good. Keep us posted.
    Sandra

  • Thanks Sandra, You've replied every time I've post. If you think I'm recovering very good then I'll take it. I'm getting ready soon as I finish this post to do my exercises. Would like to know what's your story and how your doing.


    Thanks: Steve

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    Steve

    How did your exercises go? I still do mine, some I do better in my hot shower. Thanks for asking for my story. It's a long one but I'll make it short.

    I had my first surgery over 20 yrs. ago for a tumor wrapped around my spinal cord at T-10-T11. It had me in a wheel chair for a year until we finally found a surgeon that would take the risk. He removed it and I was fine. Little did we know that 20 yrs. later the veins from the the tumor would start deteriorating my spine. I am 71 yrs.old now and 11 yrs. ago I had to have fusion surgery from L1-L6. Before that, I was very active, still working as a pharmacy tech and riding my Harley. Five yrs. after surgery it all collapsed. And I developed a fast moving scoliosis. Due to bad health issues I was not a candidate for surgery. I'm held together with 2 rods, 8 large screws and cages from the original surgery.  I had 4 opinions on surgery and they all said no.

    I was offered a pain pump because the meds were not covering my pain and doctors were at the starting point of running scared. Today, I don't get out except to go to the doctor. With a good psychologist, wonderful husband and family, and, this forum, I have a very good support system. I deal with the pain, it could be worse. And it was for a bit. Last week I had the onset of shingles on my face. I always look at it as "this too shall pass". 

    Keep in touch, I would like to know how you are doing.
    Sandra

  • Sandra: After hearing your short story you are now my new Hero. What I have is nothing compared to what you went through. All though I'm also a 2 time cancer survivor with a Single By pass Surgery from a 99% calcified blockage that could not be stented. And now Back Fusion and don't know if I'm looking at future Hip Surgery. Did i mentioned gal Bladder removal also. Saying all that. It's nothing compared to what your going through. I want to support you as much as you support everyone else here. Sorry it took me 5 months to get back on this Forum. My excercise went well. This week I'm picking it up from a 10 min bike ride to 15 and see how that work. Yeseterday was a hurting day and although i got of of bed with pain issues the day today went better than yesterday. I find it's no rhyme or reason to why I hurt differentlyt from day to day. I just need to forget about what's causing it and just keep on keeping on like you. Onward Ever Backwards Never. Thank you again for responding you have fired me up to get back to where I want to be. Where ever that is, It's better than Now.


    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    So, I am assuming you are from Louisiana by your username, or a big Saints fan!! I was born and raised in south La., true cajun heritage. 

    Thank you so much! I love your motto, Onward Ever, Backward Never!! I think this should be the new mantra for all us. Such inspiring words. Keep up the good fight to get where you want to be, where you are comfortable. You may always have aches and pains, especially as we grow older, but I still think a lot of it is just arthritis.

    You are a cancer survivor and open heart surgery...wow!! You have been through a lot. And yet, you still have such a great attitude. 

    I have found by being on the forum and helping other members helps me in a lot of ways. It keeps me busy but most of all, I have always felt like if I can help one person, then I have done my job. And God will help me. There are so many people out there that are having surgery and are scared to death. We can help them with kind words and our experiences. They will read about your recovery and maybe those words will resonate with them.

    Thank you for coming back. Keep us posted on your progress.
    Sandra


  • Yes, Lawtell, La. the birthplace of zydeco music, About 180 miles west of New Orleans. And I'm proud of my creole heritage.And of course a Saints Fan. I see your from Indiana. Sorry about super bowl XLIV but we've been waiting for 44 years for a super bowl victory.

           My phrase Onwards ever Backwards never comes from a high school teacher I had back in the 70's. At that time I never really paid it much mind. Then as I got older I realize what the guy was trying to instill in us. So it's my battle cry for anything that needs to get done.I'm in a leadership role at work and I tell people all the time when we speak we inspire so keep your speaking positive. One ounce of negative will kill a pound of positive. So I keep it positive.

         I spent some time in Indianapolis at I U hospital.My 2nd bout with cancer they removed a soccer ball sized tumor from my body cavity. this was in 1998.I remember seeing it snow while I was overlooking the Colts stadium.

        As far as my back goes, your words have been encouraging to me. Today I move up my bike ride from 10 to 15 minutes. I'll see how that goes and if I survive it we'll be looking at 20 min next week if it feels like I should. I used to ride 30 good minutes before the back got to where I needed the surgery. My goal is to get back there.

        I'm with you on helping with this forum and god helping you. I know that positive breeds positive and God is all about Positive. I joined this forum for help but I'm also here to help.


    Thanks, Steve




  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    Steve

    I live in Ind. but still have that southern drawl. And still listen to Zydeco music!! 

    You have another wonderful saying, One ounce of negative will kill a pound of positive. On the forum, my biggest plea to everyone is to think positive. A positive attitude will get you further.

    I am waiting on spring and summer, when I can go outside and walk again. It's too cold, too wet and too slippery now. I have a long front porch that overlooks our pond and the woods, I sit there for hours and work on the forum. I get my best inspiration there.

    How did you do with raising your time limit on your bike? Have a good night and God bless.
    Sandra

  • Hi Sandra, the bike ride went well, 15 min then went to my stretches and made it through. Then soaked in a hot bath then out to an Ice pack. Went to bed and woke up feeling pretty good. As the day went on my legs was feeling wobbly and just had lower extremities aching. After work again my body just says stop. I struggle with trying to figure out if it's the exercise and stretching or is it just healing. When I don't stretch and exercise some days I don't ache so much. Then in a couple more days I'm aching. Can't put my finger on why so I just say it's healing and I'm destined to keep it going. So my routine is every other day with the exercises. So today I'll get a good nights rest, go to work and go at it again. Until I can't walk I'll keep going.

            I should tell you that the reason the bike ride is so important to me is because of my heart. I've learned for early signs of heart problems you need to exercise the heart. It's the reason I had the back surgery. Once I started missing work and could not exercise due to pain I went for the surgery. Now after a little over a year I'm still struggling. I would also like to tell you that the 1st day I felt chest pain was on my Bike. It's like it happen in one day. I remember on a Friday I rode the bike for 30 min intensely with no problems. The very next day at the 12 min mark I had chest pains. So It's important that I exercise the heart. I had the heart surgery in 2016.


    Steve, always good chatting with you.

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    Steve

    How is your heart doing now? Do you get good reports from your heart doctor? I do agree, exercising the heart is very important. 

    My husband, Tim, was diagnosed 17 yrs. ago with cardiac heart failure, he was 48. The doctor wanted to put him on a heart transplant list as his heart was working only 30%. We thought about it, went out and bought a new limited edition 2003 Harley Road King, and told the doctor we were putting it in God's hands. Tim had a check up with his doctor last week, he always ask, where's the Harley!! And we still have it. His heart reversed itself and now works at 100%. 

    Have you been back to see your surgeon since your last follow up visit last year? If you are aching and still have wobbly legs, if it were me, I might go get it checked out. I hate to hear you are still struggling.

    Thanks for chatting with me too, I have realized a lot from you.
    Sandra

  • Sandra

                      My hearts OK. I had a single Bypass cause they could not stent it. It was 99% blocked and calcified. Until then I had no heart problems. My heart was not damaged and I lost and maintained 70 lb weight loss since then. I also made a lot of lifestyle changes to my diet. Low salt, low fat, healthy eating. No more Boudin and sausage and cracklins for me. don't even touch cold cuts or bacon. I have substituted sausage with my own home made chicken and turkey tasso. I use it for a breakfast meat when i make an egg white omelet. also it's red beans and tasso instead of sausage. The only fast food place I'll eat is Subway and then I make the healthy choice.Last time I went to heart Dr. he was totally impressed that I'm still maintaining my weight and lifstyle. My numbers were good.

              My wife had what your husband had. She wore the life vest for 6 months. But with lifestyle changes her heart went form 13%-19% functional to the last time she was checked she was up to 49% with the max number of that test being 60%. So she is doing fine like your husband we just continue to watch what she eats.

             As for as my back. No I had not been back but did give them a call and told them what was up. 1st I should tell you that my insurance plan at work had me go to a Blue Cross deticated  center for my Surgery. It was 120 miles away in Thibodaeux LA. My doctor who I thought would do the surgery was 10 miles away in Opelousas La. So after a year of still hurting I went to my dr near by. he told me my screws were broken or bent and I may not have gotten a good fusion plus he said X-rays show I have two bad hips.

           Well after that news I was not excited so I called the office where I did the surgery. They got the X-rays from my Dr near by and said the fusion is okay the screws are bent and maybe broken but when I was released by them my fusion was good and at that time they said if screws broken no problem because I didn't need them anymore.

          So I guess I know my problem and it just may be my hips. I'm thinking more healing time cause I do not want to hear a Dr say it's time for hip replacements. My plan is to go a couple of more months or maybe go the whole 2 year period and then see about the hips.I just had enough surgeries and if hip surgery is like back surgery then I'm not hurting bad enough yet.

    Thanks for listening.





  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    Steve

    I had to read the last few paragraphs above over and over. I cannot believe a doctor actually told you that. Broken or bent screws can cause a lot of painful problems. Which I know you are well aware of. You have been through so much already that I can see why you are putting things off. 

    I still cook cajun except can't get boudin up here though. I have to watch Tim's diet but I am the opposite. Trying to gain weight. I got really sick a few yrs. ago and got down to 83 lbs. from 110 lbs. Cannot gain weight to save my life.

    I'm glad your wife is doing good. I know that was a scary time for us with Tim's heart.

    Have a good night,
    Sandra

  • Sandra:

                   No I'm not aware. I took my Dr.s word. He told me this Before the surgery and after the other Dr. told me they were bent. He said after 6 months the fusion have took and the screws are not needed. When they released me to go back to work they said anatomically I can not hurt the fusion. I don't know who to make the appointment with. The same back Dr. a Hip Dr. No one seem to know anything. All I get is everybody is different and it could take up to 2 years to heal. But seems like if I exercise I pay for it. I rode the bike 15 min on monday and that was it. never missed work never took anything for pain but my body is saying just rest. So I only got one day of exercise in this week compared to 3 last week.

                Don't worry to much about me, I'll figure it out. Remember On wards Ever Backwards Never!


    You also have a good night.

    Steve




  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    Steve

    It's not worrying about each other here, it's friends being concerned. And putting our heads together to give our experiences with certain issues. Onward!!

    Have you thought about getting another opinion from another a spine specialist? Broken screws could lead to potential problems. If you want more information on this, go to the search box at the top right of the page and key in broken screws. Scroll down past the ads and there are articles and older conversations on this issue.

    I'm sorry you could not do your exercises, I know that was important for you.

    Happy Valentine's Day to you and your wife. Have a good day.
    Sandra

  • Sandra

    Thank you for being on this forum. It really helps me to talk to you. I'm starting to feel better as I laid off the exercise. It's Saturday morning so I'll be taking it easy the next two days and should feel stronger on Monday morning. I'll keep you posted.

    I thought about going to a hip Dr to get a good exam on my hips to find out what's up there. The problem I have with getting another opinion is that if surgery is needed then my insurance is only going to pay the same Dr at the same hospital.

    I have a co-worker that had the same surgery I had about 5 years ago. He has been good to talk to. He tells me it's a long recovery and he is still exercising very carefully. He says after this surgery we may never come back to where we want to be. He tells me to give it time and things will fall into place. My wife says the same.

    I'll get back to you on Monday afternoon to tell you how I'm doing.

    Hope you and your husband had a happy Valentine's Day

    Steve

  • Sandra

                 Well since the last time we talked I'm doing pretty good. Weak wobbly legs are gone but I haven't exercised since Monday of last week. My plan is to take the whole week off and if I still feel good then I'll start back slowly one step at a time to see if it's the stretching, the bike ride or the being off of gabapatin that's causing the weak wobbly achy feeling.

    I'll keep you posted.

    Steve 


  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    Steve

    Sounds like a good plan. Eliminate one thing at a time. I'm glad you are feeling better. I had to cut down on my Gabapentin a few months back, too many bad side effects. 

    Take care and keep us posted.

  • Sandra

    What type of side effects you get. I was prescribed 300 mg 3 times a day. To tell you the truth I really don't know what they do for me. I've been taking only 1 dose of 2 pills (600 mg) once a day. Usually in the middle of the night if I happen to wake up. If not I'll take them in the morning.I had stopped taking them cause it's hard to tell if they do anything. Since I had this bad stretch last week I'm putting some of the blame on not taking the meds but not really sure. I hope what I'm feeling is not side effects of Gabapentin.


    Steve

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,167

    I apologize for the delay in answering you. I had wobbly legs, lack of concentration and memory, eyesight was blurry and could not comprehend anything. I backed down by 2 pills a day and it all stopped. I know it was the Gabapentin because I didn't change any other meds. But I also know they help, I just had to ind the right dose for me.

    I hope you get to feeling better. We all deserve some good days.
    Sandra

  • Thanks for the info. I think the 2 pills in the middle of the night or 1st thing in the morning is what I need. I was feeling bad due to activity I think. When I laid off the exercise and got back on the meds I'm much better. I would say I had a good week. Next week I'll try the bike only starting at 10 min and see how I start to feel. I'll keep you posted.

    Thanks!!    Steve

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