Improving Quality of Life 6 weeks after Spinal fusion surgery


Every day I feel a little better.  Certainly having had the pulmonary embolism surgical complication slowed my recovery and especially my physical therapy but now that it has almost been a month since that event I can definitely look back and see how far I have come.  2 weeks ago I began walking at least 4 times a week, my record was 45 minutes out in the woods with my dog lily and Brian.  I felt great afterwards but was very sore the next day.  I know that will improve with time.  My stamina is coming back little by little.  This past Friday I accomplished a deep clean on my living and bed rooms as well as both bathrooms.  It felt good to take control of my house again.  My family has been so supportive and they made it so I didn’t have to do anything which at first I really couldn’t.  Brian has a been a real trouper, he did all the cooking, grocery shopping and laundry for more than a month all while working full time and still managing to work on his art.  The kids, especially Sam, who is the only one still living at home, helped out a lot with the cleaning and just daily running of the house.  I am so proud of them in how they stepped up when I really needed them.  Stephanie and Sarah were here spending time with me as often as they could and it was a lot and I know how hard it is for them because they both have full time jobs that are not near where I live.  I don’t know if they realize how much that meant to me.  They were my lifeline and my connection to the outside world and my biggest cheerleaders picking my spirits up whenever I got frustrated or down. I have to keep reminding myself that I am only 6 weeks out from this surgery and only 1 month from the embolism complication.  Patience is not my strong suit 🙂 those who know me can attest to that.  I want to thank all my family and friends who have been keeping constant tabs on me by text and email and calls to see how I am and to just keep me company, truly no one is an island and I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am without all the wonderful support that I have been so fortunate to have.  

My spine surgeon, Dr. Frisch,  gave me the go-ahead to start weaning off of the brace.  I had been wearing it all of my waking hours with hard plastic pieces in the front and back.  He now only wants me to wear it when doing heavy chores and I have removed the hard plastic piece from the front of it.  I am now starting re-build my core muscles which have taken a terrible hit.  My incision is about 6 inches long and runs vertical to the left of my belly button.  The skin around it is no longer numb so I am feeling the first pain from it.  It was numb for nearly a month and that was an eerie feeling to touch it and have the sides of it not feel anything, the actual incision site had pain but the sides felt nothing.

People have asked me over and over if I think it was all worth it and I really do.  The biggest source of my pain before surgery was excruciating pain that eventually ran the length of the side of my right leg.  As soon as a week after surgery I noticed that it was gone and it still is today, so yes, the surgery itself was a success.  I do still have some pain in the middle of my lower back which is probably residual surgical pain caused by the trauma of installing the titanium pieces and the screws that hold them in place but I would rate that pain at a 4 most of the time.  I have some pain in the middle of the back of my left thigh that is caused by my herniated L3 disc that was not repaired in this surgery.  As I said in previous posts, surgeons do not feel comfortable fusing more than 2 levels in a surgery  or to perform surgery at all in a person who has multiple damaged levels of the spine. So my surgeon chose to repair the lowest 2 as they were causing the majority of my pain.  I was actually fortunate to find a surgeon who would even try repairing just 2 out of 3 herniated discs, most doctors over the 16 years since the original injury told me I was not a surgical candidate and would need lifelong pain management.  I will need to learn to live with the pain from L3 so I will not have a completely pain free life but that pain level is anywhere from 4-6 depending on my activity level.  I will probably need to be on some type of pain medicine or at least have it on hand for this pain but all in all my entire quality of life is improved and I know it will continue to get better over time.  I was told to allow 3 months (for me that will be January 19th) for full effect of the surgery and that it may be an entire year before I completely feel like myself again.  With this in mind, I can expect my quality of life to continue to improve over this year and I have found my hope again.  I sincerely thank Dr Richard Frisch and his staff of the Southeastern Spine Institute for taking a chance on me and giving me this chance at a better quality of life.  I hope he knows that through it all, I am sincerely grateful to him.  I also want to give a shout out to his assistant Tina who has tirelessly helped me complete the reams of paperwork required for me to be able to be on short term disability from work.  Just when we think we have sent everything in they want something else, all I have to do is call her and she gets it done for me, Tina, thank you!!!  I am scheduled to go back to work on Monday December 17th and I will be ready for it, actually looking forward to seeing everyone again after all this time.  As always, thanks for reading and please feel free to share information in the comment section about your own experience or any thoughts you have.  TTYL

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