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Post-Fusion Travel Experience

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,000
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've not been here for a few weeks because we have been traveling since Dec 4th. I thought I would share a bit about my experience with travel at 5 months post-fusion because it has been a reality check for me.

My very sweet husband booked us on a 10 day Caribbean cruise for our 30th anniversary. At the time we booked it - about 2 weeks post-surgery - I could not imagine that I would not be able to do pretty much whatever I wanted to by December. The reality turned out to be a bit different than my initial expectations.

We drove to Florida to my Mother's on Dec 4 and 5 - breaking the trip up into two 4.5 hour drives as I was concerned about 9 hours in the car in one day. I really had no problem with the drive - wearing my brace in the car really helps with support and my back does not get so tired. (I had just been told I could discontinue the brace so in the car was the only time I wore it.)

We drove another 2.5 hours on Dec 9 to start the cruise. I had been shopping, etc. etc for the 3 days prior to the cruise so my back and ab muscles were sore but heat helped with that. I chose not to take the brace with me as it is so ugly and hot and did nothing for my cruise wardrobe! We got to the port and due to some back-up in boarding the ship it took us over 2 hours to get to our stateroom - part of the time standing and part sitting. I was tired but unpacked, dressed, and went to dinner where I sat for 2 hours. I had taken a heating pad to help with any soreness but it quit working that first night! The next day I was really sore and tired but since it was a day "at sea" The cabin stewardess was wonderful about trying to help out and we finally figured out that putting hot water into a plastic water bottle made an OK hot water bottle as long as I did not let it tip over and leak. (The experiment with a ziploc bag with a washcloth soaked in hot water was a dismal failure as the bag was clearly not leak-proof! Same with ice in the ziploc.) The hot tub helped, too. Anyway, by day 3 and our first port of call I was less sore - though I know that the 2 hour dinners did not help. However, two plus hours of walking around in port about did me in. I had to rest for the remainder of the day in order to be able to go to dinner with any degree of comfort. By now, I had started taking my small memory foam cushion with me to dinner to support my back - not a great fashion accessory but it really helped. And after this first day in port, I realized that the 3 and 4 hour plus tours we had planned in various ports were simply not an option for me. I also discovered that the cushioned deck chairs, etc. really don't work all that well for more than about 20 minutes. Ditto the love seat in our stateroom and many other chairs onboard. Probably should have taken my brace! Oh, and shaving my legs in the small shower on an even slightly rocking ship was a real trick without bending or twisting inappropriately.

I was really surprised at how limited I was in terms of endurance and activities. I had thought my pre-cruise activity level was - if not back to normal - pretty high. In retrospect, I realized how much I had modified the way I do things, where and how long I sit and the overall post-surgery limitations that I don't regularly encounter at home. (One example is handling luggage - like just lifting it onto the bed to pack/unpack).

Don't get me wrong - this was a very, very nice trip. But if I had it to do again I would not have scheduled it till maybe 1 year post surgery so that I could do more of the shore activities. I would also try a shorter trip first as a reality check of my ability to handle the rigors of travel - even travel that appears to be relaxing and luxurious!

I am sure others of you have many suggestions to those of us considering travel - and I wish I had asked on this site in advance!

(Sorry this was so long!)



  • So sorry about your discomfort on your vacation. I had fusion and harrington rods put in T2-L3 Oct 6. I'm a flight attendant on private jets and have been wondering just how long I'll have to be off work. So far, 6 months is the plan. But I have to be able to serve 14 people, leap over children and dogs, and basically be bionic because rich people think that you are and they have no concept of the reality of time. I may be looking at being grounded longer since when i go back it will be 14 hour days on my feet most of the time......
  • Thank you for sharing with us (and don't apologize for the length - the details always help the rest of us, believe me!) While I'm glad to hear you were able to get away for a tropical vacation after a tough surgery, I am sorry to hear it was not the relaxing vacation it could have been. The most important thing is you were with your sweetie :)))
    Jan 2009 L5-S1 ALIF
    May 2017 ALIF L4-L5 with PLF rods added L4-L5-S1
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  • I hope I did not sound "whiney" in my post. Believe me, I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to take this trip. (We had actually considered cancelling given my recovery and the current financial state but it was too late to do so without losing the $$$.) But I did want to alert others that the demands of travel are deceptive and different from one's usual everyday routine. Unless, of course, you are like "grounded flyer" above. Which, by the way, sounds like a very interesting job - although quite demanding. Sounds like "grounded" has much more patience than I!

    Wow Zach, I cannot even imagine an 18 hour flight. I did 2 two hour flights (with 3 hour layover) in October and although I fared better than I thought, I was glad they were not longer (and were not on regional jets).
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