I wake up every morning with a long list of good intentions.
A little yoga and my PT exercises to get me going.
Breakfast for me and the kids, then off to the pool, playdate, errand, or whatever activity we have planned for the day.
Finish a blog post, sort through my email, make some phone calls.
Fold the laundry, unload the dishwasher, make dinner, clean up from dinner, and help my husband get the kids to bed by 9:00 p.m.
Spend time with my husband, get into bed at 10:00 sharp, and fall asleep by 10:15 with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.
Yeah, I know. It’s okay to laugh. I’m laughing. I mean, it’s funny how I pretend that this is my “normal,” right? Even when I’m in the best of health, I maybe succeed at about 25% of this list on the average day. And now, after surgery? Pshh. Pretty much the only thing on this list that routinely goes according to plan is the coffee. (And that’s only because my husband prepares the coffee pot the night before.)
I’m 8 weeks post-op now, and 8 weeks sounds like a lot. I’m back on my feet now. I’m driving and going to the beach and taking my kids back-to-school shopping. I saw a movie the other night and had a cocktail (okay, like two sips, but still). I even took a 4+ hour, only moderately disastrous road trip with my family. I mean, I’m doing normal people stuff, right?
A photo posted by Sharon 💕 run | yoga | joy (@mommyrunsit) on
But here’s the truth. At 8 weeks post-op, my life is still far from normal.
I’m worn out easily. Like, really easily. A trip to the grocery store for more than a few items still feels overwhelming.
I can’t bend, twist, or lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. Try to do any household chore without doing any of those things. Seriously, go try it. Simply doing a load of laundry involves all three, and lord knows how many loads of laundry I do a week.
I have trouble sleeping. It sometimes takes me 2-3 hours to fall asleep at night. And when I do sleep, all the delightful side effects from my meds (not sugarplums) come out to play.
I still need daily naps (but rarely get them anymore). I’m tired. All. The. Time.
And sometimes it’s not just regular tired, like “I need to sleep” tired. And it’s not even like the “I’ve been up feeding a newborn every two hours” sleep deprivation. It’s more like a full-body exhaustion, like my eyelids weigh 10 pounds and my toenails ache and I’m flushed and dizzy and I can barely propel my body up the stairs and into my bed, and when I finally get there, I cry just from being so damn tired.
Oh, and the crying. Geez. I cry at least once a day. Because I’m tired. Or because someone hurt my feelings. Or because I can’t reach my toenails to clip them. Or because I didn’t win an Instagram photo challenge. My injury, my surgery, my meds, my inactivity, my lack of control over so many things – man, that stuff can wreak havoc on your emotions.
Everyone tells me not to overdo it. That taking care of myself is my number one priority right now.
Sure, in theory. For a normal person. Which brings me to my point. I’m not normal. Not yet. Not by a long shot. And I think I just have to accept that. I know it’s hard on my family, especially my husband. But gosh, you guys, it’s going to be a LOT more disruptive for them if I do something stupid to mess up my fusion and have to go through it all over again – which is not some .0001% chance freak accident kind of thing. It’s not exactly common, but it happens. Spinal fusions fail. And I don’t want mine to be one of them.
Ultimately it’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen. My spine doesn’t care if my life is normal or not. It’s my responsibility not to overdo it. Period.
So I guess for now I just have to accept not normal as my new normal.
A photo posted by Sharon 💕 run | yoga | joy (@mommyrunsit) on
Onwards and upwards, my friends.
Wow I’m so happy to have found your post. I’m now just shy of 10 weeks post op- (11/12/21) L4/5 5/s1 fusion with cages. I’m a professional triathlete -along with my husband -and while I haven’t raced since 2015- starting my family- I do plan to race Ironman lake placid this July – it’s my 11th and my last- because I’ve never raced as a mommy. My kids are 2 and 4- which has been great for recovery. Lol. The recovery journey has been insane and I never expected this level of pain. I started back with my ballet 10 days post op -modified- and have been doing ballet 5x a week, PT 3x, massage 1x and I have another great spine soft tissue specialist working with me 1x a week. I suppose it’s just nice to know there is another mommy runner out there- that eventually ran again- apparently pain free. I haven’t started training yet- my PT says any day now my hips should be good enough to start- but man, you question everything- why does it still hurt 10 weeks post op? Lol
Thanks for your story. I hope you’re running pain free. I hope it hurt really fucking bad 10 weeks post op so I don’t feel so bad lol. And I can’t wait to break through and dominate this race this July. Thanks for sharing. ❤️
Thank you so much for your blog! It has helped me immensely. I also had spondylolisthesis L4/L5 and completely compressed L5/S1. Plus, I had pretty bad arthritis on my facet joints. I had the disc replacement for L4/L5 and he was able to clean up the arthritis but because I have degenerative disc disease, the doc felt the compressed disc was probably like that for 15 years and he felt this surgery replacing L4/L5 with titanium cage would make me feel better. I’m at the end of my 7th week and actually doing pretty good. The thing that really helped me is when you talked about your left leg nerve pain! After 2 weeks, when my excruciating surgical pain began to subside, I woke up one morning and couldn’t move! I had the sharp left leg nerve pain and also pain all along my left side (I had two incisions on left side and two on my back). It has gotten better since but my left hamstring is so tight and I do still feel nerve pain down that left leg as I near 8 weeks post surgery. I begin physical therapy next week and hoping it will help with the sciatica. Like you, I had no left side pain prior to surgery. I’m able to walk in the pool for 30 minutes 2/3 x week and I started walking regularly 2/3 times a week and am up to 30 minutes. I had that exhaustion too but it’s getting better as I get stronger. I wish I did the research before my surgery because I had no idea how much pain I would be in for about 10 days post surgery and it would have been good to hear it was “normal”. Anyway,
The pain on right back and hip is completely gone and for that I am grateful and hopeful that I will be able to live a good quality of life after 5 years of pain and trying everything under the sun! FYI, I’m a 56 year old, ex tennis player, super active mom of 3 (youngest now a junior in college) and ready to live and enjoy my empty nester life! Thank you for sharing! Please keep updating your status!
Sharon Wilhelm says
Hi Alicia! I hear that sooo much – that people are totally caught off guard by that terrible leg pain. I had no idea it would be like that. I would lay in bed and just cry. I do wish I’d been better prepared for the amount of pain that I’d be in. “The first two weeks will be hard” (what my surgeon told me) just didn’t cut it. Anyway, I’m so glad you’re starting to feel better and get your life back. I’m 2+ years post-op now, and generally speaking I have very few limitations. Stay in touch! <3
Yvonne DeHoyos says
I’m so glad to have found this blog! I had a cervical fusion on 09 that took 4 years to heal. I know too many failed fusion folks through the scary sites online. I’m currently 3 weeks out of an L4/5 fusion. I had developed a cyst at the facet joint there which caused L4 to slip forward. After surgery my doctor said he was surprised I could walk since L4 was almost completely decimated and the cyst was actually wrapped around my spinal cord. My incision is 12” not 4-6” as he originally said. I’ve had moments of anxiety because I’m not as far along as I thought I’d be. It was good reading your blog. It was an exclamation point moment! Someone understood and didn’t have a failed fusion! I will follow instructions to the tee. I miss cycling and walking around freely. Your success gives me hope. Now if I could just sleep the night! I think I twisted in my sleep and woke up in pain. . Thank you! Seriously…..
Hi Yvonne! A 12 inch scar, whoa! That’s going to make an excellent conversation piece someday. 🙂 I’ll be 2 years post-op next month, and I’m still doing really well (knock on wood). I worried a lot in the early months because I didn’t seem to be as active as other people. I read stories about people walking a mile/day when I could barely make it to and from my bathroom! I’ve come to accept that my body works at its own pace. Keep in touch and let me know if you ever have questions or want to talk! 🙂
Danielle Genovesi says
I love coming here and reading your blog, it’s been my ‘bible’ since I had my surgery. I went back to work this week, 7 weeks post op. I own a dog grooming salon, and let’s face it, we all need money! I’m so exhausted everyday after work, and no naps 🙁 I just want normal again
Aw, that makes me happy. 🙂 Also makes me feel a little like Beyonce, haha. I’m sure it’s rough working right now, but I totally get why you have to. I didn’t necessarily have to go back to “work,” but I was full-time momming by then. Laundry, cleaning, cooking. Off meds because I had to drive the kids around and make sure they didn’t kill each other. Take care of yourself, okay? xo
Mary Beth Jackson says
One day at a time! and yes taking care of yourself is number one priority, no apologies should be needed.
Thanks, Mary Beth. I’m trying! xo