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My Microdiscectomy Six week Post Op Update

2013 October 18
by Becky

Ethan

It’s been SIX WEEKS since my surgery.

In the days following my surgery—while blinded by pain, drugs, and fear—six weeks seemed like a lifetime away. I felt hopeless, helpless, and like I couldn’t wake up from some terrible nightmare.

But after 10 days or so, I started noticing improvements. Three weeks after, even more improvement. At four weeks, while I still had pain and was popping ibuprofen like candy, I felt better. My increasing energy level was the biggest indicator that good things were happening, I knew for sure I was recovering.

Last week, week five, I sort of “plateaued”. I didn’t feel better, not really much worse either. I just had more pain than felt right. So I upped my walking, laid down less, iced more, and tried some heat too. I even took a muscle relaxer one night.

But this week, week number six, has been great. GREAT. 

I’ve been moving around more easily, sleeping like a log, driving with almost no pain, and having longer pain-free windows. And the ibuprofen? I didn’t take a single one for the last three days!  At this point, when I use the word “pain”, I mostly just mean discomfort. Sometimes the discomfort creeps down my leg, not awesome. If I’m sitting and it hurts, I reposition or stand. But what I’m feeling now is much more manageable…as long as it goes away some day.

So today I had my six week post-op appointment and was give then “All Clear” to start being more active. I’m allowed to go to the gym, take longer walks, even stretch! Oh man, I miss stretching SO bad. But I’m supposed to approach it all as a beginner, like I’ve never done any of it before. So I requested physical therapy. Not something my surgeon necessarily requires, but I want to do this right, and a physical therapist is the only person I trust to help me start rebuilding my core the safe and correct way.

My surgeon’s biggest advice? Don’t overdo it now that I’m really starting to feel better. Apparently this is a pretty big mistake made by many microdiscectomy patients. Re-herniation is still a possibility and I’m totally terrified. This fear will keep me from doing too much—I’ll continue to be very cautious for many more months. This means not sitting for long periods of time, backing out of a girls trip to Nashville (sob), and not lifting anything heavy—which still includes Ethan. Good thing he’s too big to be carried anyway!

Know who else is totally pumped about all this?

Dewey

 

The Dew-Man has been on more walks in the last month then he can even believe.

I still live in quite a bit of fear. Every day I imagine blowing out my back, wondering if it will happen while I’m loading the dishwasher or maybe after one of my allergy sneezes that happen about fifty times a day lately. The likelihood of it happening is low, but not impossible. As the surgeon’s nice-but-very-direct nurse tells me, “Don’t be scared all the time,” and then five seconds later, “be careful because you still could re-herniate.” Awesome. Very comforting.

Anyway, I feel like I finally made it over the tallest peak of this back pain mountain. So maybe it’s smooth sailing from here? I have high hopes that if I continue to “be good to my back” I’ll be in great shape for our long awaited trip to Maui over Thanksgiving. I have over a month to a) continue to recover and b) get my flabby self ready for a swim suit. The flight will probably involve pain killers and a few adult beverages, but it’s gonna happen. Need me some beach time after this whole ordeal!

In summary, Microdiscectomy Surgery = A Good Thing.

5 Responses
  1. October 18, 2013

    Great!!!!!!

  2. Linda Johnson permalink
    October 18, 2013

    Wonderful News!

    The Maui vacation will be good for you all!

  3. October 18, 2013

    Put the flabby swimsuit idea out of your head. Hawaii’s so beautiful, no one will be paying attention – least of all the people you’re with!

    Excellent, excellent idea on the PT. I thought it was a little bit overboard to do it while I had a boot on my foot for a heel fracture. Because, honestly – it seemed like it had nothing to do with the actual injury itself. I was so, so wrong. I learned so much about myself in those appointments – worked on my core strength, and did exercises that seemed small, but ended up having a big impact on everything – my strength, my balance, my frame of mind. Best thing I’ve done for myself in ages.

    My doctor gave me a very specific back-to-running plan. I followed it to the letter, and six weeks post boot I ran 5K (not an official one, just my own personal one), just like he said I would. I feel better than ever.

    My other best decision / advice ever – up my Vitamin D. A level of 30 is considered fine – I was at 22 – not good. But here’s the thing – if you are active at all, especially running or working out, you need to have a level between 50-70 – so I was grossly deficient. My ortho dr. said that is exactly what caused the fracture. I added 5,000 mg a day, and have never felt better.

    My father’s highly knowledgeable in bone density issues and treatments, and it’s the big genetic issue in our family. Vitamin D is a really big deal, so (if you haven’t already) make sure you know your levels, and talk to your dr. about supplements.

    I’m done preaching now!

    • Becky permalink*
      October 18, 2013

      Amazing advice Kristin! Funny you mention vitamin D, I actually started taking it a couple weeks ago based on recommendations from our Barnes study coordinator—Ethan and I are part of a three year vitamin D study! It seems to be a vastly unpublicized supplement. Your preaching is always welcome here!! I cannot wait to start PT.

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