My Story: Lumbar Fusion Surgery Week 4-6

A painful baby poo-gate situation, a valentine party for 6 year olds, and back to work… but is there actually any improvement at the end of 6 weeks?

4th February 2017. Day 31 – Poo gate!

Lovely Nanny has to leave a little bit early today. Not a problem I think, Husband is working from home and I can easily collect Elder Daughter from school now. Everything is going swimmingly until Husband decides that Baby should have some “bottom time” “bottom time”, incase you don’t know, is time spent without one’s nappy on thus letting your little bottom get some air, and is very good for nappy rash. It is also an activity which Baby enjoys greatly (and who wouldn’t when you imagine being stuck in a nappy 24/7!) Husband breaks the golden rule though: bottom time should never occur until the main poo of the day is done. So Baby is happily crawling around with no nappy on, Husband is working away and I am cooking dinner when “that’s DISGUSTING!” I hear Elder Daughter shriek in a high pitched squeal which should really only be reserved for near death. “She’s done a MASSIVE poo on the FLOOR and now she’s TOUCHING it!” Husband and I rush in to find that yes, a rather large deposit has been left like a gift on the floor and Baby’s hands and feet are a horrible brown colour. Husband whisks baby upstairs for a bath and I am left to clean up the offending article and socks with Elder Daughter still shrieking. And so begins a frenzy of floor cleaning. Floor wipes, bleach, mopping and more bleach. I suddenly realise I have been on all fours cleaning the floor for at least half an hour. I try to get up and the pain is instant, my back did not like that little interlude one bit. The moral of the story is: whatever events may unfold in your house never forget about your back!

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8th February. Day 35 – Ups and downs

Today marks 5 weeks since the operation. Up until last weekend I would say the pain was minimal, but today at my visit to Physio Emma I have to admit to her that the pain situation has gone rather downhill. Since last weekend’s activities ( I have had a lot of pain in my shoulder blades and upper back, as well as increase pain in my lower back. I have been feeling slightly down cast about this, because it feels like a horribly familiar situation: everything is ok until I do anything, any kind of activity or exercise creates back pain. However Physio Emma feels that the upper back pain is being caused by the muscles compensating for the lower back muscles being still so weak, and that basically its early days yet. I have a raft of new exercises and swimming is on that list which is good. I am even allowed to do 15 minutes on a spinning bike and 5 minutes on a cross trainer, hooray! I leave feeling positive, I need to keep reminding myself that it will be months until I know if this has worked. I also keep reminding myself that I am off Gabapentin and surviving well, which is great.

14th February. Day 41 – Little people invasion

The upper back stretching exercises are working – pain is the upper back is less. This week, being half term, will be the biggest test I have faced though. Today is Elder Daughter’s 6th Birthday which means 8 little people will be joining us for games and junk food. Luckily I have my army of Mum, Dad, and Nanny to help, otherwise something like this would be impossible right now. We are well prepared and waiting when the first one arrives!

15th February. Day 42 – Post little people pain

Several rounds of musical statues, neon dancing and Hokey Cokey may just have been too much for the metal work… Today I feel exhausted and I have a lot of pain in my upper and lower back. Sitting in a car for a few hours didn’t help the situation but sometimes life gets in the way of recovery.

17th February. Day 44 – Fields of green

I am at my parents house which backs onto a valley of quintessential British scenery: patchwork fields dotted with houses and farms. Nothing is more relaxing than walking here, remembering my childhood spent running, playing and climbing in these very fields. As we step through the style Elder Daughter shouts, “Mummy see if you can get me” and runs off. How I wish I could chase her but even fast walking jars something in my back. I feel desperate to do some crazy heart-rate pumping exercise but I know that would be very foolish.

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Today marks 6 weeks since D Day. It’s still very hard to quantify how successful the operation has been. These past few days have been the closest I have got to normal life, and I can feel that in my back pain, but I do remain hopeful that eventually things will be different.

20th February. Week 6 – Back to work

The day has finally arrived, I step back into normal life once again. Tentatively I climb the stairs to my desk and my laptop whirrs into action. Luckily I have been working a little most days so I know what I am coming back to. Sitting seems so alien to me now. I am up and down like a yoyo but by lunchtime I really feel the strain. Physio Emma suggested working at a standing desk would be good, but I can’t see it happening.

21st Feb. Week 6- ow!

Today was probably the most painful day since the operation. Upper back, hips and lower back all chiming in at once with pain whenever I move. It must be because of sitting for so long yesterday. I lie down as much as I can and then go for my usual walk, but before I know it 3pm is here. Once school is out I am not able to lie again until 8pm and by then I am pretty much in agony. The only way is up!

9th March. Week 9 -Still ow!

Today is the 9 week anniversary of the spinal fusion. A visit to Mr Consultant during week 7 revealed that the new bone is growing as it should be around the cage, but did not reveal why I should still be in so much pain. I wish I had better news to report, that the fusion was a great success and I was in less pain than for the last 5 years….. the reality is that I now have lots of pain in my upper back, shoulders and pelvis/hips as well as in the lower back. The lower back pain, according to Mr consultant, could still be attributed to the operation, but he doesn’t have any explanation of the upper back or hips, and he repeats several times that 50-70% of patients have little pain by this point. Some googling reveals many people are left with lower back and pelvic pain post op and muscle pain may be the result of muscles needing to be re trained. Physio Emma adds that both pains could be the result of various parts of the back having compensated for the lack of strength in the lower back for so long and concludes that doing “too much activity” could also be to blame. The hard part is that everyone expects I am fit and well now, not that anyone is expecting me to run a marathon shortly, but at least that i can work and look after my children. Both the latter are currently very difficult. A full day at work results in extreme pain, as does lifting Baby or bending.

“Everyone is different” said Mr Consultant, and that is important to bear in mind if you are considering this. You may be luckier!

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