About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Fashion Statement?

Today I got fitted for the back brace that I'll have to wear for three to four months after my surgery. It actually didn't feel quite as cumbersome as this photo makes it appear, although this is about the size. Mine sits a bit lower down, though. It has a hard plastic insert at the back that was heated and then inserted into the soft corset form. The specialist then pressed on my lower back to make the insert shape to my body. Standing up was okay and I could feel the support giving relief, but sitting down in it was rather uncomfortable.
I guess I'll get used to it. What alternative is there? *sigh*
It's also so tight that I won't be able to eat much while I have it on, so that might be a benefit! lol

Most people understand what herniated (or slipped) discs are and how painful they can be. I have two of those, but apparently, I have two other even more serious issues.

I looked up "Lumbar Spondylolisthesis" and this is what it said.
Normally, the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) stand neatly stacked on top of one another. Ligaments and joints support the spine. Spondylolisthesis alters the alignment of the spine. In this condition, one of the spine bones slips forward over the one below it. As the bone slips forward, the nearby tissues and nerves may become irritated and painful.

It can be congenital (present at birth) or the result of an injury or degeneration of the discs and facet joints.
So what does it feel like?

An ache in the low back and buttock areas is the most common complaint in patients with spondylolisthesis. Pain is usually worse when standing, walking, or bending backward and may be eased by resting or bending the spine forward. Leaning on a counter top, piece of furniture, or shopping cart are common ways to alleviate (reduce) the symptoms.
Spasm is also common in the low back muscles. The hamstring muscles on the back of the thighs may become tight.

Slippage can also cause nerve compression. Nerve compression is a result of
pressure on a nerve. As the spine slips forward, the nerves may be squeezed where they exit the spine. This condition also reduces space in the spinal canal where the vertebra has slipped. This can put extra pressure on the nerve tissues inside the canal. Nerve compression can cause symptoms where the nerve travels and may include numbness, tingling, slowed reflexes, and muscle weakness in the legs.

I guess I understand now why I can't stand in one spot for very long before experiencing severe pain. How long is the rehabilitation process?

After lumbar fusion surgery for spondylolisthesis, patients must normally wait four months before beginning a rehabilitation program. This delay is needed to give the fusion a chance to start healing. Patients typically need to attend therapy sessions for six to eight weeks and should expect full recovery to take at least 12 months.
My other big problem is "Spinal Stenosis." What does that mean?

Narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal pinches the nerves that go to the skin and muscles of the legs. Sometimes, the pinched nerves become inflamed, causing pain in the buttocks and/or legs.

The surgical procedure for lumbar spinal stenosis involves removing the bone and soft tissues of the spine that are pinching the nerves.

As far as I'm concerned, I've spent far too long in discomfort that has turned into pain that is affecting my whole life. I do not want to be an invalid. I do not want to have to use a cane or a walker. I do not want to live in a wheel chair.

What I do want is to get this over with so I can get on with living! I want to play with my precious grandchildren, go for long walks with friends, travel the world, and play tennis again. So bring it on, Doc! The sooner we get this done the better.
Now I wait. *sigh*

15 comments:

RiverPoet said...

Leslie, you are in my prayers. I know something about spinal problems, and yours are not trivial. I hope that the back brace offers some help until you can have the surgery. You have a difficult road ahead of you, but then hopefully you'll be much better after the fusion is set.

My neck fusion healed nicely, and I have friends who have had their lumbar spine fused. They are doing well now. It will all be okay.

Peace - D

nancygrayce said...

Wow! That's awful. I'll be praying that the surgery goes perfectly and that you heal way ahead of schedule! You can do it!

Denise said...

I am with you leslie, you must miss so much the things which were part of your life. Lots of love Dxx

'JoAnn's-D-Eyes'NL said...

Hey dear Leslie,
I am thnking of you!!! Just that you know that , take care my dear I wish you all the best and strenght with your back...

Greetings from JoAnn

Visit my blog (alsp "d") here: www.joannwalraven.blogspot.com

jmb said...

Leslie, it is so awful for you and I do hope that the surgery goes well and that it is sooner rather than later. I'm sure it will be fine, fine, fine!

leslie said...

Thanks everyone! I've started to get quite anxious over all this now that that back brace is sitting there waiting to be used. I'm trying to look "beyond" the first few weeks that I have to face to the days, weeks, months, and hopefully years ahead that will be pain-free and when I'll be able to start making plans again.

Claudia said...

Good luck, visiting from Michelles blog.

My husband has Spondylolisthesis due to (or hand in hand with?) degenerative disc disease. He has back pain and spasms every day, he has endured herniations three times, affecting his work, causing us financial hardship, and in his case severe depression.

Thank goodness that is over with, but the pain remains.

Good luck to you on your surgury!

starnitesky said...

I hope the back brace will help until you have the surgery, I have had two slipped discs at separate times and I remember how painful it was. This seems a lot worse.

I hope the back brace will give you some pain free days.

I will be thinking about you.

Rambling Woods said...

Leslie..I'm sorry to hear about your upcoming surgery. I have some mobility issues due to MS and do use a cane. I understand why you wouldn't want to have more problems and more. It will be an ordeal, but it seems like you will get pain relief and full mobility. Good luck to you...

Liz said...

That sounds horrid. And back pain isn't something that you can just ignore or avoid: your back is too involved in the whole of life. Poor you. I hope the surgery takes place soon and I pray for an unexpectedly speedy recovery.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

My thoughts are with you in this, Leslie. The waiting must be very frustrating.

Ruth D~ said...

You will probably love the brace as you come to associate it with freedom from pain, and healing.

I've had students who have to wear something similar to correct scoliosis.

But still . . . I second your sigh, nd send all good thoughts for your surgery.

Country Girl said...

Thinking about you.

Sally said...

G'day leslie - greetings from Queensland Australia. I found your blog whilst looking up info on spondylolisthesis which I have had since puberty 35 years ago. Mine is a level 5 which gives me quite a curve - good for dancing the lambada but no good for doing the limbo.I had it stabilised in 1974 when i was 16 and was hospitalised for 4 months in traction and then in a body cast. I hear they can fix it in 10 days now. woo hoo! still, i have always maintained that i'd rather have a bad back than a bad attitude - as a bad attitude is so much more debilitating. In fact, my back "challenge" ensured that i lived a fantastic life following all my dreams. It's wonderfully motivating when some one gives you a list of things you wont be able to do. It gives you the green light to do them all and prove them wrong! in fact i have sky dived, bungy jumped and am a professional scuba diver - so how's that for snubbing deformity? Anyway, i just wanted to say hi and to say to feel free to drop me line if you would like a mending mentor. I recommend nude volleyball as good exercise- use it or lose it! stay strong and dont be scared - the best may well be yet to come. Best fishes - Sally G

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