Tim and his wife, Kate, went to every appointment together so they both would be prepared for what was to come after lumbar fusion surgery. He recommends getting a hospital bed both for the patient’s comfort and to allow the caregiver a peaceful night’s sleep. He can’t emphasize enough that if the patient is not prepared to put in the physical therapy work post surgery that they should really think twice about going through with it. Today he is back playing tennis twice a week and let’s his young grandchildren sit on his shoulders during walks to the park.
I was and remain very fortunate to have my wife Kate in my life, and she was my primary caregiver, and she took that on very seriously. She went to all the appointments that I had with all the various doctors, so she was very knowledgeable of what I'd been through and what I was going through and what needed to happen going forward.
I'm very fortunate in that the success of that surgery has stuck, and it has stuck, I think, in large part because the surgery was successful, but also in large part that I've taken pretty good care of myself in the meantime. I play tennis two or three times a week, and when I do that, I have to be kind of smart about making sure that I stretch well before that and make sure that I just don't walk out on the court and expect it all to work.
Again, part of that is because of the back issue. It's also because I'm about to be 60 years old. But it is important that I continue to take care of these things because I do realize that one of the negatives to this surgery is that by doing the fusion at the one level that I did, it actually puts a little bit more stress on everything else on the other side. The work that I do that follows up on that therapy doesn't just work on that particular back situation. It helps keep everything else working relatively well.
The thing that I tell people that are in that same situation is that it's important, I think, to exhaust all your possibilities and know all your options before you just go straight to surgery. If you try a medical regimen and it isn't working for you, you can still do the surgery. If you try the surgery, it's kinda hard to go back to the medical regimen. So, make sure you understand all of your options and consider everything - all the other options. Make sure you are prepared not only for the surgery but for the physical therapy, and really the lifetime change that has to come along with that.
And if you're not ready to do that, or if you really can't commit to that, surgery may not be the right thing for you, because I've talked to people who have done the surgery angle and have ended up almost in a worse place. Now, I'm not gonna lay any blame anywhere, but the possibility is is that they didn't take the post-surgery instructions and physical therapy as seriously. Sometimes it's easy to say, "Yeah, I'll do it." And then you get back in your life and you've never been active or you just aren't in a place to be able to take on that part of the challenge, which becomes really kind of a lifelong challenge.