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Spinal Fusion - Six Weeks Later...

*** I'm going to share some images. If bodily things make you queasy, you may want to cover that portion of your monitor!

It has been six weeks since my surgery. I have learned so much about myself (both physically & mentally), my friends & loved ones, the kindness of strangers, going back to the basics and what is truly essential for a fulfilling life. In complete and utter honesty I can say that I am grateful to have had this experience. It has changed me and I am better than I was in so many ways. More about that in a future post. In spite of all the pain and difficulties, if I had the choice, I absolutely would do it all over again.

Last week I had the first follow-up appointment with my surgeon Dr. Stefan Kim at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, MA. The X-rays show that the equipment is still perfectly in place and that the spondylisthesis (slippage) of my spine was significantly improved. Dr. Kim had told me prior to the surgery that the slippage was so great he may not be able to correct it completely. His goal was to pull the spine back into place as much as possible, create a space between the vertebra to relieve pressure on the nerves to my legs and then prevent any further slippage by fusing it all together.  You can see in the photos that the vertebrae aren't aligned perfectly, but pretty close, and disc space has been restored with the use of an "inter-body cage" which you can faintly see in the X-ray.  Within that cage is bone grafting material from which the fusion will begin.

Actual fusion has not begun and will not for several more weeks, so I continue to wear my back brace. No bending, twisting or lifting more than 15-20 pounds. Dr. Kim was pleased with the results except for the fact that I still have some pain in my left leg. The nerves are no longer impinged, so he believes that my pain may be a result of muscle spasms. He has prescribed physical therapy which I will start tomorrow.

On my side of things, I now walk for an hour every day and because I am getting stronger, those walks take me further every day. I can take stairs and stand comfortably for a significant amount of time, but sitting for any length of time is still uncomfortable. On Wednesday I drove for the first time in 6 weeks. It was nice to get out of the house, but driving is extremely uncomfortable between the fact that I'm sitting, the back brace pushing up against the rods in my back and the jarring bumps in the road (boo potholes!). Saturday My husband moved the bed out of the living room and back up into the bedroom (ahhhh!!!) and I return to work on a limited basis this week. Life is returning to normal. No. Not normal... so much better!


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