Monday, April 22, 2019

Broken Back Recovery: The First 3 Months

(Posted 1 year after it was written)

I'm three months out from my spinal fusion surgery. When I think about where I am now its difficult to remember where I cam from. It almost feels like a dream.

First month -Very sick from the anesthesia for the first week. Very hungry, but nauseous. I couldn't eat more than soup. I lost 15 pounds. I would wake up every hour on the hour all night long. I dreaded going to bed because I knew I wouldn't sleep. Very tired. I would spend almost 18 hours a day in bed. My back was quite sore. I was terrified of coughing or sneezing because of the pain in my back. However the most pain was in my legs. My calves were constantly in pain. In the hospital I had pneumatic cuffs on my legs to help with my circulation. At home I didn't have the cuffs and so my legs hurt a lot. My feet hurt a lot too. Most of my pain meds were for my feet and legs. I would also get random shots of pain in my left leg. My feet hurt were swollen and always cold. My muscles were all incredibly stiff. I could barely move. I could barely go up or down stairs because of my stiffness. I had a wheel chair and walker for the first few weeks. Eventually I moved on to the cane. By the end of the month I found it easier to walk without the cane but I still used it outside on uneven surfaces. I barely had bladder or bowel control. I wore diapers for the first month out of the hospital. I was not allowed to bend or twist.

Second month -I eventually stopped taking all my pain meds, muscle relaxants and laxatives. Bowel movements were painful. I dreaded trying to go to the bathroom. It hurt and sometimes took up half an hour. I almost passed out once or twice. My sleep pattern slowly improved. I would only wake up 3 or 4 times during the night. I could finally get out of bed before 11am. My legs and feet still hurt a lot. The random shooting pain in my left leg finally stopped but I developed a new pain in my leg whenever I would touch my left thigh. The swelling in my feet went down and the coldness and numbness turned into tingling. I had approval from the doctor to start driving and bending and twisting.

Third month -My feet and legs still hurt a lot, but differently. My flexibility was almost non existent. I had to manually bend my legs to stretch my muscles. It hurt to bend forward, not that my back could bend much at all. I had to keep my back from moving for 2 months so once I started moving I was shocked to find I had almost 0 flexibility through my back, glutes, hamstrings and calves. I felt like a pole. I very consciously stretched and bent to my limits and held it for as long as I could. Mobility and range of motion improved but I was no where near my pre-accident limits. I started swimming. My balance was horrible, but improving. I used to fall over if I closed my eyes because I couldn't use the horizon to determine what vertical was. Now, with great effort, I could stay upright, but it was not easy.

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