Monday, November 22, 2010

19 Days Post Op: Sitting tolerance, medications, exercises, driving, etc.

Hi all!

I seem to be getting a lot more confident these days. I'm almost being a bit cocky with what i'm able to do now. Changing, grooming, showering, and other activities are a breeze now. You develop little 'tricks' to get yourself through these things, but my progress has mainly been due to lowered pain levels. I can now bend forward a little more without any pain, which makes all these tasks even easier. Did I mention that I started driving 3 days ago?

Sitting Tolerance

Sitting tolerance has also been getting better, but still isn't great. The general rule with ADR is that 6 weeks post-op you should be 80% recovered, and 3 months post-op you should be back to normal. I would say i'm 50% recovered so far. This is reflected in sitting, which puts a huge load on your disc. When I sit, I can feel the pressure on my L4/L5 bones, which are both trying to grow new bony in-growth around the endplates.. for now, i'll avoid sitting as much as I can but i'll continue to assess my tolerance by doing a trial sit-down every day, as well as general sit-downs like lunches and dinners (I am still eating most of them either standing up or in bed with some inclination).

Medications

I've been off any sort of medication since day 9 post-op. Even then I was taking half the medication they recommended. I was taking paracetamol (acetaminophen) in low-dose form and muscle relaxants as needed. I decided to stop taking them for two reasons: it didn't hurt as much and I didn't want to be too confident in my movements with clouded pain.

Exercise

Mr. Boeree's website says: "you will soon move on to more active treatments which will build up your strength, instil confidence and improve your flexibility. Endurance exercises such as treadmill walking and static cycling further promote muscle strengthening." How true that is. Hydrotherapy and walking has improved my strength, confidence, and flexibility in imaginable ways! I am currently going to the gym almost every day.. it has an indoor pool, a hot tub, and everything else a normal gym has. I started doing 10 minutes on the bicycle (the one that sits comfortable with your legs forward), after that I am doing my usual water exercises, but a bit more rigorous every day. All this complemented by normal walking around the house and patio. Today I will start with the treadmill, move to the bycicle, and then go to the pool. After all that I sit a good 10 minutes in the hot tub. I feel no pain doing any of these exercises. After that, I drive home, arrive with a tiny little bit of pain, I lie down for 10 minutes, and then i'm off to terrorizing my nephews all day.

From Mr. Boeree's website on Driving and travel:
You can return to driving as soon as you feel reasonably confident getting in and out of your car and with sitting comfortably for the necessary time. You should not drive if your concentration is impaired by feelings of discomfort or by taking medication which might make you drowsy.

The same guidelines apply to air travel, although you should avoid very long haul flights for the first three months after surgery because of the risks of a deep vein thrombosis. If you do plan to travel, be sure to book an aisle seat so you can get up to stretch and walk around, and wear you elasticized stockings. Keep yourself well hydrated and consider taking half an aspirin a day, starting a few days before your trip, as these measures help to reduce the risk of DVT.


I started driving 3 days ago. At first it was a bit uncomfortable, but i've gotten the hang of it and am now driving quite regularly (to the gym, the store, the park, etc.). It gets a tiny bit painful when i'm coming back from the gym, but this has been improving every day.

From Mr. Boeree's website on Sports and fitness training: 
You will probably be able to return to light aerobic fitness training at your health club after approximately six weeks. You can discuss appropriate exercise with your physiotherapist. However, it is best to wait until about three months before returning to golf and competitive sports.

It seems 6 weeks is the charm. I'm less than 3 weeks post-op so I haven't done any strong aerobic training yet. They recommended that I do the treadmill and the bike at the gym for the first 6 weeks, which I am doing. More than that would be over-doing it. After 3 months I should be able to do anything I want though!


From Mr. Boeree's website on Return to Work: 
You will be able to consider returning to light semi-sedentary work after three to four weeks, but if your work is more physically demanding you may benefit from a longer period of recovery. In the weeks after an operation you will tend to tire more easily and some people may prefer to return on a part time basis initially.
It seems sitting tolerance generally betters significantly after 3 to 4 weeks. I'm definitely getting there and I can't wait to be able to sit down like a normal person! Thing is, I don't have a job right now so I don't have to worry about returning to work anytime soon. This, in some weird way, is a blessing.

General Recap
So i'm getting better and better every day. It's only going to get better too, up to the level of being completely normal and pain free. I should be able to play golf and other sports 3 months post-op, living a completely pain-free normal life.

Pain is non-existent in the mornings or anytime when i'm lying down. I generally experience pain after a sudden movement or after sitting down, but these are very sporadic.

I still have a tiny bit of the old sciatica pain from before surgery. This is generally due to the nerves trying to heal, but this takes a lot longer than general healing (up to 9 months I hear). I've probably felt it only twice though.

Everything is looking up for me, I just have to keep up the good work and hope for the best!

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