Back Surgery

On February 12, 2015, I’m going in for my 2nd back surgery, about 3 weeks from now.

THIS is happening!THIS is happening! 

My first back surgery was on October 12, 2009. At that time I was experiencing severe sciatic nerve pain going from my lower back down my left leg. My neurosurgeon, Dr. David Nathan is amazing! The surgery involved Dr. Nathan going into my lower back, releasing the sciatic nerve from being pinched between two vertebrae and trimming off some protruding disc from between the vertebrae (the medical term is a discectomy). I also had some pieces of broken discs floating around in there that Dr. Nathan removed.

When I woke up from the surgery, I was still in the recovery room and had apparently been there much longer than normal. A male RN told me my heart was beating extremely rapidly and they were running tests trying to figure out why. Now remember, I was heavily medicated and just waking up from surgery…I told the male nurse it’s because I had him as my nurse. That was the reason my heart was beating so fast. Oh my! They did a CT Scan of my heart, gave me some meds to try and slow it down, etc. Nothing worked so they admitted me to the ICU unit. I was already up and walking around before ever leaving recovery and the pain in my leg was gone! It had been so bad, and just like that, it was gone! By the next day my heart rate was normal, I felt great and was discharged from the hospital. Ray was at work so I called my sister, Pam, to pick me up. We stopped at Lone Star Steakhouse for lunch on the way home. I was amazed at how good I felt. I took a few weeks off work and took it easy, but overall it was great success! Dr. Nathan had warned me that I have very bad degenerative disc disease (hereditary…thanks dad!) and would most likely have more back problems.

Since my back surgery in 2009, my back has slowly gotten worse. At first it was just certain activities that seemed to aggravate it, like skiing and waterskiing. I couldn’t do these activities as long as I used to and with each season the time period gets shorter, to where I could only ski for about 2 hours before my back would “lock up” on me. The worse thing is when I do something standing in one place for hours like cooking. I really enjoy cooking and it’s gotten to the point where a couple hours after preparing a big meal I can hardly walk and if I sit down I need someone to pull me up. My lower back just gives out on me.

I had an MRI a few months back and went in to see Dr. Nathan. The disc between my L5-S1 vertebrae is gone. It’s bone-on-bone. In addition, I have a nerve pinched between the vertebrae causing my left leg to go numb and my foot to tingle. I also have arthritis in my back. Ugh! Dr. Nathan said the next move is a fusion. I had heard in the past that once I have a fusion I would not be able to do any of the things I love, skiing, waterskiing, skydiving, etc. My first question to Dr. Nathan is how is the fusion going to affect my activities. Dr. Nathan said because the fusion is at the L5-S1 sight, it should actually increase my quality of life. The L5-S1 level is very low on the spine and does not have a lot of range of motion – the cause for the inability to participate in activities after fusions at higher levels on the spine. The surgery is going to involve Dr. Nathan making an incision in my back, releasing the nerve from being pinched from between the vertebrae (we’re hoping it isn’t too damaged), removing bone from my pelvis to put between the vertebrae at L5-S1 and attaching all that hardware in the photo to my spine to hold the vertebrae and inserted bone in place. Over time the L5-S1 vertebrae will “fuse” into one large bone, instead of two smaller bones. I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about fusions and how painful they are. I’m very nervous about having it done, but am so tired of the constant back pain, numbness and I’m now getting pain in my foot in addition to the tingling. I’ll be kept in the hospital 4 – 5 days. Since I won’t have anyone at home to help me out during the day, Dr. Nathan may release me to an inpatient rehab facility after the hospital stay or will send me home with an aid coming to my home to assist me. I’ll be recovering for about 8 weeks, but won’t be able to do any activities until I’m given the go ahead by Dr. Nathan. I’m thinking skydiving will probably be a year away. I also am pretty sure I won’t be waterskiing this summer. Ray and I have a scuba diving trip planned to Palau (South Pacific) 6 months after the surgery and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be recovered enough by then to scuba dive.

I plan on keeping an update of my progress because there is so much negative stuff posted on the internet about fusions that I want to track my experience from start to finish. I sometimes wonder (and hope) that the people with bad experiences are a lot more prone to posting their experiences on-line than people with good experiences.

When I’m all healed, if I can stand and prepare a nice family dinner without excruciating back pain after the fact, it will be a huge success!

One Year Post Op!

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my back surgery!  I also can’t believe how well I’m doing.  People ask me frequently if I have any regrets and without hesitation, the answer is “No”.  I am, for the most part, pain free all the time.  I can ski longer than I could before the surgery without any back… Read more →

Back Surgery Update

I can’t believe it’s been almost 9 months since my back surgery!  I’ve been doing so well and it’s so nice not to be in constant pain.  I’ve had a few little setbacks when I’ve overdone it, but nothing that isn’t better by the next day.  I was able to waterski in August!  It was awesome!  Hopefully skiing will be… Read more →

Follow Up Appointment

It’s been over 5 weeks since the surgery!  Where has the time gone?  I had my first follow up appointment with Dr. Nathan today.  Everything is good and I can start doing more as long as it doesn’t cause pain or too much discomfort.  I feel really good!  I’m going to work 2 days this week, Tuesday and Thursday.   … Read more →

Going Backwards

After my long walk a couple days ago I was hurting.  Yesterday I was still having pain in my lower back on the right side down into my buttock.  I decided to push through it and did 45 minutes of walking on the treadmill.  I think maybe it was because of the steep incline when I walked outside. Later in… Read more →

Ouch!

I’m a little sore today!  Thank I may have overdone it. Ray asked me this morning before he left for work if I really do want to work Friday.  I told him I’m a little worried about it, but I’ll give it a try.  He did tell me it’s only supposed to last a half day, which was a relief.… Read more →

What Have I Done?

It’s been just under 3 weeks since my surgery.  I’m feeling good and doing some light housework (dishes, laundry, straightening up, picking up Gigi’s toys with my “grabber”, cleaning Trip’s litter boxes, etc.) but still tend to feel low energy and nap almost every day.  The only exercising I can do is walking, which doesn’t make me feel too bad because… Read more →

Nine Days Post-Op

I can’t believe it’s only been a little over a  week since the surgery!  I’m feeling really good ~ even without all the painkillers!  Maybe too good?  I started to wonder if the surgery had really been performed!  The painkillers were causing me a lot of nausea, so I just stopped taking them 6 days after surgery, ignoring all the… Read more →

What Day is it?

Since the surgery my days have been so mixed up!  Anyhow, I didn’t do such a great job of blogging my on-going back problems while in the hospital.  I was seriously so out of it the whole time that I handle simple tasks.   Here’s more of the story.  The hospital staff brought me a pile of papers to sign.… Read more →

12 hours post op

Sorry if this post is a mess.  I’m having a heck of a time typing with 1 finger on my iPad while trying not to lift my head from the pillow. It’s 4:20 am and I’m wide awake since the nurse just had me out of bed and standing for the first time since the surgery. Everthing seems to have… Read more →

Tomorrow is Surgery Day

To say that I’m terrified would be an understatement.  Even thinking about the surgery makes my hands clammy and sweaty.  Yesterday I felt like I was having panic attacks; well, actually I think I was.   I’ve had a lot of surgeries, but nothing as major as this one.  I should stay off the internet, but instead am googling all… Read more →