Recovering from Spine Surgery: Patience required

Posted by lilypaws @lilypaws, Jul 11, 2020

It was a big surgery and the recovery is tough. No bending, twisting or lifting heavy things My husband keeps on gets after me that I am still twisting, but I’m doing the best I can. I walked 4 blocks yesterday and going for 6 blocks today.

Since seeing my surgeon at Mayo in Rochester he was very clear about what I can and cannot do, since I have soft bones he said If I wasn’t careful I could pull out a screw or break a rod. He wants me to get off of Oxycodone and Tramadol. First I’m doing the Oxycodone and then I’ll work at getting off of Tramadol. I find the Flexiril muscle relaxant really helps. So I’m having more spasms in my muscles.

I have become depressed since I got home. I can’t seem to do anything and my husband is so good that he does most of what I can’t do. I take Tymlos to strengthen my bones. It’s and injection I have give myself every day. Just a very small needle into my stomach I may have to do it up to 2 years. I go see my surgeon again in 3 months.

I pray to God to please heal me. I’m sorry this is so long, but the degeneration caused a scoliosis and my L-4-5 and S-1 had stenosis .
very bad stenosis and the surgeon had to work having the nerves not being pinched. Then the fusion was from T-10 to my pelvis. I had complications after the surgery, but is won’t go into them.
lilypaws

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@jenniferhunter

@lilypaws Hi Jeanie. Here's my story. I own an older horse, and usually take a trip with a group from the boarding stable to go trail riding once a year. My horse was not sound enough to go this year, and one of my friends loaned me a horse, and because the camp ground where we could keep the horses had re-opened after the lock down, we were able to go. In preparation, we all went trail riding several times as a group near home to get in condition for the trip, and put some training into the horses. I had to ride in last place because the mare kicked at other horses behind her. About half way through the trip, somewhere there was a loose dog and I never saw it, but the horse spooked as we came out of the woods where the trail bordered a field. She took off at a full gallop, and I did all I could to hold on, but she jarred me loose and I fell. It happened so fast and I didn't know I was falling until I hit the ground. I knew my ankle was broken and dislocated, and I got my first hour long ride in an ambulance and emergency surgery that put a cage on my ankle to stabilize it with pins into the tibia (shin bone) and my heel bone. I was taken there because of it being a better hospital with good orthopedic surgeons. I was in that regional hospital for 2 days because I wasn't well enough to be able to navigate on my own with a walker and get up and down stairs while I was in so much pain. My friends picked up a walker for me, and drove me home in my car. There were 4 of us and 3 vehicles, so that worked out OK. It was a compound fracture of the fibula, and the tibia was in several pieces. I then had to search for a surgeon to fix the fractures and I wanted a good surgeon, so I contacted the Mayo surgeon who did my spine surgery for his recommendation, and they reached out to me right away and I had an appointment with scheduled surgery in just a couple days. It was fixed with 2 titanium plates on the tibia, and a screw placed inside the fibula.

I was riding as safely as possible and wearing a helmet. When I fell, I fell on my side and didn't hit my head. It was just a freak thing and it happened with this horse because I was riding in last place. One of the other girls fell off also because the other horses all reacted, but she was not hurt. I am lucky that there were no other injuries other than my ankle, and I never did anything to break my fall because I didn't know I was falling, so I didn't hurt my hands or arms, neck or back. It didn't hurt that much right away, because the body goes into shock and prevents the pain signals. I was in the emergency room 2 hours later when my body noticed the pain, and it was bad, like a knife in the bottom of my heel and they got me into surgery within an hour of my arrival. The surgical nurse was talking with me about her horses outside the operating room while they waited for the results of the COVID swab test, and then took me into surgery. The surgeon hadn't decided if he would put plates on my bones or put a cage on, so I didn't know until I woke up. We didn't talk that long, but I remember his eyes behind his glasses which is all I could really see of him. His surgical nurse was great, and so nice to me, and I really was enjoying talking to her about her horses. This was the new me who was not afraid of surgery any more. Even coming to Mayo for the 2nd surgery didn't worry me, and I did just fine. I knew I was in good hands and I made sure the thank my surgeon. I have been told it's 6 months to a year for a full recovery for this type on injury and that I can develop post traumatic arthritis later. I hope not.

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What an unfortunate accident. I'm glad you were so at ease with the surgery this time around. All the work you did prior to your cervical surgery set you up for this. May the thought of riding your horses again get you thru the healing process.

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@wisco50

What a bummer, but as you say, just a freaky accident that you could not have predicted. At least your head didn’t take it. Plus, a broken ankle/leg better than your neck or back….sigh. I try to be grateful for the “best” outcomes!

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@wisco50 Thank you. It wasn't the horse's fault either because she was running from something she thought would eat her. Horses are prey animals and herd animals, so the herd will run first at the first sign of danger, and ask questions later. They really do amazing things by learning to trust their humans. I think she was developing that with me because when I was at her stall she put her nose against my face and her chin on my shoulder and was calm for a little bit.

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@red3

What an unfortunate accident. I'm glad you were so at ease with the surgery this time around. All the work you did prior to your cervical surgery set you up for this. May the thought of riding your horses again get you thru the healing process.

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@red3 Thank you, and I think you read my mind. I am looking forward to playing with my own horse again. I have already visited him and fed him carrots at the gate. When I got him a fly sheet last summer, it looked like a lab coat, so I added some things and dressed him up like a surgeon. I decorated my cast with several pictures of him and his surgeon picture with the real surgeon next to him who repaired my fracture. I also added a small picture of my cats. I thought about it, but decided not to add pictures of the horse that injured me. My horse helped me rehab from spine surgery a few years ago and has earned his reputation as a therapy animal with me a least! Horses are very healing and when you find one who cares, you can tell him anything. If there is a carrot in my pocket, he will steal it, but that's the reason I bring it.

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@jenniferhunter

@lioness Progress is slow, and my incisions will not be happy until his cast is off, but if I think back to how this felt when it started, I am a lot better. I started with lots of pain around the clock and using medication that nauseated me, and I slept a lot. I have been off pain meds since the 2nd week after surgery, except for when I have swelling causing pain that keeps me awake now and then. I am getting away with sitting up without my leg elevated all the time, but not all day, as it will start throbbing. Since there are 7 incisions, it's hard to not have something affected no matter which way I turn my leg. Last night, I had some stabbing pain in my little toes until I rotated my leg 180 degrees to the other side and it stopped. 2 incisions are pretty large with one vertical on the inside of my shin, and the one from the first emergency surgery that is transverse going around the outside of the ankle through the area where the bone broke through the skin… that hurts the most. My Mayo surgeon said he would have done that as a vertical and it was a bit in his way since his incision could not cross that one. I'm wondering if it will hit that and hurt when I finally get to wear shoes With each step it gets a little better. I was glad to get the fixator cage off, then I had a splint cast after the 2nd surgery and the stitches rubbed inside which hurt and drove me crazy. When those stitches came out and I got this cast, it was better, but the first couple days were hard because of swelling from removing stitches and being in a cast that solidly restricts everything, and I just lived on my back with my foot elevated and had to take pain meds. Now, it doesn't hurt most of the time. This has been painful for a long time, and more painful than my spine surgery was. Progress is progress. I don't get much done at home, but I am starting to work on some things as I can tolerate sitting up. I am about ready to do a little bit of painting, and when I come back to Mayo, I'm going to paint some studies of the stone barns that were on Dr. Charlie Mayo's farm. I'm pretty excited about having permission for that and it gives me a goal. I might have to sit with my foot elevated for that, but I'm going to try.

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@jenniferhunter Glad to hear you are getting better and are making progress with what you can do . Just don't push it but you know that . When the cast comes off finally it will feel good to get into shoes but probably will hurt for a while and you will know doubt get arthritis in that ankle as time goes on . Ice is a great friend so don't be afraid to use it when needed ,15 min. on then heat as this brings the blood to the surface and promotes healing . I use this all the time for my breaks I had and still do at times.

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@lioness

@jenniferhunter Glad to hear you are getting better and are making progress with what you can do . Just don't push it but you know that . When the cast comes off finally it will feel good to get into shoes but probably will hurt for a while and you will know doubt get arthritis in that ankle as time goes on . Ice is a great friend so don't be afraid to use it when needed ,15 min. on then heat as this brings the blood to the surface and promotes healing . I use this all the time for my breaks I had and still do at times.

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@lioness Thanks, lioness. I will be transitioned into a boot, so no shoes for awhile. Thanks for tip on heat and cold. I will try that when I can.

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