Friday, August 13, 2010

4 week update

So here we are, a month just about after this journey of mine began.

I wanted to start this blog from the beginning for a reason: honest and unbiased feedback. As many of us know the majority of those who choose to be vocal are so because they are unhappy--which leads to many more negative experiences than positive around the web. This is especially true about back surgery since a happy customer rarely takes the time to tell since they are back living their lives, while those scarred by it have a lifetime of misery and pain to share with the world. So in this spirit I started this blog from the point where I knew I would likely be going under the knife and not from some point more distant in the future where I would come in with a bias. Hopefully I will join those in the former and not the latter as the years roll through.

So at 4 weeks, if I was asked "Would I do it" the answer would be a resounding YES. Would I go posterior approach? NO! The ALIF/PLIF combined fusion is the gold standard for a reason: Highest chance of success, and most durable fusion for those wanting to return to an active life, along with the most muscle sparing. Yes there are more initial risks, but if you ask me that was the best decision I made in recent years.

As for where I am in my recovery, it seems that I am an exception rather than the norm when it comes to this, because at 4 weeks out I think I am actually better already then before the surgery. I have not taken a single narcotic in nearly 3 weeks (only acetaminophen now), walk between 2-4 miles/day, and have less back pain then before the surgery. The crippling hip pain is gone entirely, all there is now is some residual soreness in the left leg, but in the last three weeks it has gone from horrible to mildly nagging. Hopefully in the next month or two it will dissipate entirely. The biggest problem now is just the back brace and flexibility. As my endurance continues to improve I hope to be back to work before the 3 months are up. As it turns out the last year of being sedentary and hardly walking really took a toll on my legs and feet--my body is not used to being upright. Considering the changes to anatomy from the reduction as well as the pelvic angle its taking me a good bit of time to get used to walking and standing again, but it continues to improve slowly but steadily. The biggest thing this surgery has done is give me hope--the idea that I can again one day again go hiking in the Rockies or Sierras is something to look forward to if it comes true.

On the subject of narcotics--I'm glad I stopped them when I did. While everyone is different in their tolerance for pain, after the first few days of agony the leg pain started to subside as my threshold and sensitivity figured itself back out. I really think 75% of the pain when I stopped the oxycodone was from the withdrawl and had little to do with the back surgery. The heightened pain sensitivity when stopping can be a hurdle, but now I can drive, go places, and get back to work much sooner since I won't have that hanging over my head. With only a PLIF or without instrumentation this might not be possible due to the additional trauma, or the instability, but since there's nothing moving the only pain I should have is incisional or inflammation, and that should go away within a week or two or something is wrong.

So that is it for now, hopefully all will continue as it has been, and by this time next month I will be getting ready to go back to work a couple of weeks earlier than expected.

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