Spinal fusion

My Spinal Fusion – 6 Weeks Post Op

April 17, 2023

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain.

Be still my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

by Katharina von Schlegel, born 1697

Today I saw my surgeon, Dr. M., for my six-week checkup after my spinal fusion surgery on March 2. (See my previous post for a summary of the first couple of brutal weeks alone at home.) I asked her why she sent me home alone rather than to rehab? She replied that I have had the same outcome as if I had gone to rehab. Often they are short staffed and I would be exposed more to infections. I said I wished she had advised me on December 28 when we scheduled my surgery to find someone to stay overnight with me for the first two weeks. She was silent.

We compared my xrays from before surgery with today. I saw my 5 new screws and 2 rods that are now in my spine. She pointed out the markers for my 2 plastic boxes in place of my 2 discs. She said they looked perfect and I’m exactly where I need to be at 6 weeks. I told her it was nice to be able to stand up straight again and that I’d gained an inch in height. I’m still an inch shorter than I was in high school. She said my L5 disc had totally collapsed before surgery. We won’t see any bone growth over the discs for 6 months. She needs me to continue wearing the bone growth stimulator for a total of 90 days and then I can discard it.

We then discussed my left sciatic nerve pain which is as bad as it was before surgery. I can still only sit for 15 minutes because of the pain. This is the reason I had the surgery. She explained that it will take months to heal because it was pinched by my vertebrae for so long prior to the operation. Praise God I have no pain usually in the morning. The sciatic pain increases in the afternoon and is 4-5/10 by evening making it difficult for me to sleep.

My PCP started me on Lyrica 2 weeks ago for the nerve pain but I’ve gained 7 pounds, a common side effect. I can’t afford to gain weight which will put more stress on my back. Dr. M. prescribed Nortriptyline instead to take at night. It’s commonly used for nerve pain and will make me sleepy. I can continue with extra-strength Tylenol, ice, and CBD oil because they will not hinder bone healing. She does not want me to take any more Percocet or stretch to relieve the sciatic pain. She also told me to expect more muscle spasms in my back in the next 6 weeks and prescribed Robaxin. My left leg weakness and pain from the psoas muscle they disturbed during surgery is normal and will gradually heal.

I will see Dr. M. for my 12-week check-up and repeat xrays at the end of May. If all is well, she will prescribe outpatient Physical Therapy and wean me off my back brace. They will gradually increase my 5-pound lifting limitation. I will discover what my maximum lifting limit is and my new normal a year after surgery. And I originally thought I would feel normal 3 months after surgery. Patience, Pam.

Dr. M. forecast I may feel good enough for a short trip in the fall but advised me not to plan any big travels until next year. It will be a long time until I can lift a suitcase. It’s difficult for me to find anyone to travel with me to assist. Sitting is also an issue since I don’t know when my sciatic nerve will heal.

My feet continue to swell and my only slip-on pair of walking shoes are tight. She said the swelling will continue for 6 more months and suggested I buy stretchy cloth-type walking shoes. I need comfortable sturdy shoes for my prescribed 45 minutes of walking daily.

Later in the afternoon, I went to a discount shoe store with my reacher and long-handled shoe horn. I managed to try on about 10 pairs of shoes which exhausted me. It made me appreciate all the years I could pick up the shoes from the floor and put them back on the shelf. I ended up with 3 new pairs a half-size larger than I normally wear. How I praise God because I have large feet and it’s so difficult for me to find new shoes.

I continue to drop many things a day including my cell phone which shattered beyond repair. I managed to drive to the Apple store in the mall. The young man who helped me was so kind and said his grandma recently had back surgery. He transferred all my data to my other cell phone I usually use in Mexico. There was no charge! Another praise to God. I called my phone company to make sure they were only charging me for one phone. The lady assured me they were and gave me a $10 per month discount for being a loyal customer when I asked if they could lower my bill. Another silver lining.

I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up my new meds but they had no record of them. When I returned home, I checked My Chart and they sent them to the pharmacy I used 5 years ago on the other side of town. At least I’m not in excruciating pain like when they sent them to two wrong pharmacies the day I came home from the hospital and had to wait 21 hours for them to get it to the correct pharmacy. I’ll call the surgeon’s office tomorrow to try and straighten it out. “But let patience have its perfect work…” James 1:4 (I finally got my new meds 2 days later from the right pharmacy.)

And now my blessings.

Praise God for the strength to return to my easel a few days ago and paint a simple cherry tree. The beautiful spring flowers blooming cheer me as I take short drives. I found a little cart at Walmart yesterday so I can put items in the top basket without bending over. The past two Sundays I had the strength to sit through Sunday school and Morning Worship. Friends continue to visit and help me with odd jobs. Slowly I am becoming less frustrated with all the things I drop on the floor. Praise God that I can pick up most of them with my reacher.

My waist-high herb and flower patio garden is flourishing. Watching the travels of others on YouTube scratches my itchy feet. How I praise God I was able to visit 40 countries over the years and share the gospel with folks in other lands before this surgery. Free audiobooks from the public library make for pleasant listening as I lie in bed and help distract me from the pain. Singing songs to God from my hymnbook and listening to my audio Bible and other apps make the time pass faster. I began an in depth study of the book of Daniel by Source of Light written by the late Dr. John Whitcomb.

God is so good to me! This is my year to draw nearer to Him and be content. I thank Him so much for a one-level home and my dear church family one mile away. The University campus with a beautiful lake is one mile the other way. I continue to count my blessings and seek to keep my eyes and heart fixed on Him who suffered for all my sins on the cross so that He might save my soul and fellowship with me for all eternity. I pour out my heart to Him any time of day or night. He is the best listener!

Thank you for praying for my recovery and that this quiet year will be used for God’s glory and honor.

1 thought on “My Spinal Fusion – 6 Weeks Post Op”

  1. Thank you for the additional information from our text. I don’t agree with some things your surgeon told you(just from my past years of pain and surgeries) but there is no point in belaboring it. I am just very thankful for my surgeon.

    As I told you before (and you already know this, dear sister) we have a great God who can and does override and overrule what man (or woman in the case of your surgeon) does. We need to trust Him totally, knowing that He is in control. I know that I still have a lot to learn about being patient!

    Take care and keep in touch.



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