L4/L5 Lumbar Fusion with PLIF, 12 Week Follow-Up

Three months have passed since my spine surgery, and today I had a follow-up appointment that included x-rays of my lumbar spine to check the progress of my fusion:

I have little skill in reading x-rays aside from noticing obvious things, such as recognizing that the images above show a spine with hardware and not a fractured limb. My surgeon commented that my fusion is solidifying well for 12 weeks past surgery.

I suppose that this surgery has had a successful outcome. I haven’t had sciatic pains or leg numbness since early May. I am not on any daily medication for pain or neuropathy. I just take Tylenol as needed, and it is more likely that I’ll take it for a headache than for back or leg pain.

What I did not expect is a worrisome accent to any other issue brewing in my abdomen. It’s like an amplifier has been plugged into that region, dialing up the volume of various abdominal pains. This is no small inconvenience for a woman who hasn’t hit menopause yet, but only a minority of people who get lumbar surgery are both female and pre-menopausal.

I addressed this issue with my surgeon today, and he assured me that these pains should subside back to what is normal for me once my healing is complete. I hope so.

The highlight of this appointment was hearing my surgeon gently break the news to me that it was time to get back to work. When he handed the work release slip to me, I just didn’t have the heart to tell him that he gave me one just like it dated May 1 during my last appointment. I don’t work in the medical profession, but it think it may be a sign of patient overload when you’ve lost track of which patients are on work restriction.

Maybe the last five weeks at work have been mere phantasm.

My next x-rays and appointment will happen in six weeks. I wonder if I’ll get released to work all over again, this time the news delivered in tones that are even softer and with words spoken ever so slowly.

In six months, he’ll just mouth the words to me again or hire a mime who wipes¬†imaginary sweat off his brow as he pretends to dig a trench.

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