Spinal fusion recovery

Diana, Age 72

I discovered 70candles.com about six months before I turned 70. I was so grateful to have found both the book and the website, because as I approached 70, although I felt a measure of satisfaction with my life I also had some apprehension as to how life would unfold after this “landmark” birthday. My sense was that time was limited for all the things I still wanted to do and accomplish.

When I turned 70, the future looked bright. I was active and in apparent good health. I looked forward to many years of a happy retirement with lots of time spent on traveling and hobbies. Now 72, I have recently had spine surgery (March 26, 2018): a laminectomy and a lumbar spinal fusion. My L5S1 nerve was compressed, causing weakness and foot drop in my right leg.

I’m grateful that my recovery from surgery seems to be going well at this point. Fortunately, almost six weeks post surgery, I have no pain, only some low back muscle soreness now and then if I sit too long in one position or try to do too much. The symptoms of nerve weakness in my right leg are still very noticeable, but I’ve been told that it may take up to a year for full nerve function to return. I am able to get out to local parks every day to walk as much as my leg will tolerate, but other activities, such as working out at the Y, cycling, etc., are restricted for the first six months.

I had been in the habit of thinking of myself as one of those seventy something women who would be active right through her nineties, but, now I realize I may have to live with a certain degree of disability and also the likelihood of possible future surgeries.

I would love to hear from other women who have undergone spinal fusion surgery and recovery. I would so appreciate if you would share your stories, your advice, your encouragement.

Thanks to everyone for their blog posts. I am so glad we all have this wonderful resource and can share our joys as well as our sometimes formidable challenges with each other.

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3 Responses to Spinal fusion recovery

  1. Mary Lou says:

    Hi Diana,
    It seems that the early 70’s is around that time where many of us have these mobility issues ht. Mine started with lower back pain and weakness in my legs. The doctor’s were baffled and tests eventually showed many things going on at once. First I had Endo-venous laser treatment in both legs, next back surgery for a pinched nerve (laminectomy) and then Total Hip Replacement. This was all within four years. I was also diagnosed with Severe Sleep Apnea.
    Needless to say, I thought this is what aging is about yet I kept pushing the rehab and exercise, and started treatment for the Sleep Apnea.
    Now, four years later, I’m back to feeling the best that I every felt. I walk a mile 2 to 3 times a week and am involved in the things I really enjoy doing. I have energy now that I haven’t had in years and didn’t think I’d feel again.
    So hang in there and keep increasing your level of activity one step at a time.

  2. Diana Belland says:

    Hello, Marylou,

    Thank you SO much for your reply. After reading your story, I am so glad for you that, after four years, you are back to feeling the best you ever felt! You had so much to deal with all at once but you didn’t let it stop you.

    Your story is very inspiring to me and gives me hope that I. too, will be back to walking and hiking with ease. My right leg shows no improvement at this point (seven weeks after surgery), and I sometimes worry if the L5S1 nerve which was decompressed will ever function normally again. You also had a laminectomy like I did and your results have been great, so I am going to think positively! My husband and I are leaving for London on June 26 and we will spend about ten days in Cornwall. I am determined that, even though I won’t probably have my leg strength back by then, I will adapt to walking with a cane or use my trekking poles so that I can still enjoy short walks or just sit and admire the views.

    It’s wonderful to read that you have energy now that you haven’t had in years. Thank you for your compassionate and inspiring response and I wish you many more years of great health!


  3. Pamela Kieffer says:

    I had two back surgeries when I was in my sixties and never recovered from pain and balance problems. Today I am 85, have my own little house in my daughter’s yard. I use all kinds of walking tools, cane frame, rollator and an offered arm. She and her husband have extensive gardens. We re both master gardeners so even though I am not much help working in the gardens I sure have lots of knowledge to share. Lucky for me what I lost in physical ability has made my brain sharper.
    I hope many of you gals in your seventies and eighties will go onto enjoy life a happy useful life as I do. Pamela Kieffer

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