Post-surgery depression??

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A. Nonymous
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 183
   Posted 5/27/2008 8:41 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi everyone.  Four weeks ago, I had an anterior & posterior lumbar fusion at the L4-L5 level.  This was my fourth surgery in 16 months.  The surgery went fairly well, although they had to take me back in to surgery 30 minutes after the initial surgery to correct the placement of one of the pedicle screws, so I ended up on the operating table and under anesthesia for about 4 hours total.  The good news is that the nerve pain that has plagued my life for 4 years appears to be much improved, I'm healing well, and I'm optimistic about the long-term outcome of the surgery.  However, I'm having some other problems that I don't know if are just reactions to the anesthesia, or maybe depression or even post-traumatic stress. 
 
I have a hard time going to sleep.  Even if I get up early, I stay up until 3 or 4:00 a.m.  My mood is erratic, and I'm more emotional than usual.  I feel confused and I have a very difficult time concentrating on anything.  My hand-eye coordination seems affected; I drop things much more often than before.  I'm very apathetic.  I have no motivation to do anything. 
 
These symptoms are worse since the surgery, but I've been having some of them for at least 1 year.  They seemed to come along after my second surgery 3/07.   The lack of concentration and motivation have been the most bothersome.  I've tried a host of anti-depressants without much effectiveness.  I'm currently taking Prozac.  Previously, I just assumed this was pain-related depression.  Most of us here know it's difficult to be happy when you're in excruciating pain every waking minute of the day.  But, now my pain level has been markedly decreased, and the mental and emotional symptoms have gotten worse. 
 
I'm planning on seeing a phychologist that I've seen previously.  He specializes in chronic pain patients.  Has anyone else experienced some or all of these symptoms following a surgery?  I've read that it can take quite some time to overcome the effects of general anesthesia, but I don't know if that's part of the problem.  I think it would be helpful for me to hear that others have experienced this and that it goes away in time (hopefully).  The concentration and confusion problems are very unnerving and frustrating for me. 
 
Thanks for listening everyone.  Good luck and God Bless.
 
Anon 

Chutz
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9090
   Posted 5/27/2008 9:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Anon and welcome!

I understand the symptoms you are talking about. They are all common to fibromyalgia. BUT...I'm not saying you have fibro, just that it might be something to consider or talk to your doctor about. The primary symptom of fibro is muscle pain, but the lack of concentration, dropping things, lack of motivation and sleep problems come with it.

Just a thought...
Chutz
Co-Mod Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Forums
~~~
Fibromyalgia, Ulcerative Colitis, Insulin dependent diabetic, collapsed disk, dermatitis herpetiformus, osteo arthritis in spine and other locations.
***************

The only difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has it's limits. Albert Einstein: (1879-1955)


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 5/27/2008 10:42 PM (GMT -7)   
Anon,
I think your decision to return to the psychologist is a good one; he/she can help you evaluate whether this is depression, or something more complex. I had a lumbar fusion surgery last Setp. and was under anesthesia for 6 hours - twice as long as was planned. There is a part of me that feels something changed in my body afterwards, and I'm beginning to wonder if it possibly affected my cardiovascular system. I had some swelling of my left ankle, which has improved over time, but I'm a lot more tired than I used to be. Of course, I'm on more meds, and my nerve pain was not helped by the surgery. So I now do take an anti-depressant to help with mood as well as nerve pain. The anti-depressant definitely helped, but I think the experience of surgery is more profound than even doctors want to consider. Anesthesia can stay in tissues for along time, although I don't think I've got any more in my at this stage.

I'll be curious what you learn as you assess your situation, and as others add their input. I also think having surgery, and recovering, is traumatic and draining, especially major surgery like with a spine.

I don't know if this helps but thought I'd add my two cents.

PaLady

Post Edited (PAlady) : 5/27/2008 11:45:31 PM (GMT-6)


CaryF
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 505
   Posted 5/28/2008 8:48 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi A.,

I am 2 weeks out of a multilevel C-spine fusion. Surgery was 7 hours. All my follow up questions have included depression which is so common after such surgery I was at first concerned they thought I might be suicidal. I was told depression is to be expected and should be closely monitored especially when we have such a long ardious recovery period and the outcome is unknown. I had my anti-depressant dosage increased and was given a mild sleeping pill. I was told my depression is situational and will improve as I improve. I think you are experiencing normal post op depression and your Drs. will be understanding and helpful (mine are anyway).

Best wishes for a full recovery!

Cary

A. Nonymous
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 183
   Posted 5/28/2008 9:39 AM (GMT -7)   

Thanks, everyone.  I'm pretty sure this is related to surgery.  With 4 surgeries in 16 months, I really haven't had time to recover from any of them.  Even though the 3rd surgery was minimally invasive, I had a really hard time recovering from it.  I was just starting to feel more "normal", though still in constant pain, when I learned I needed the fusion. 

Cary, I agree that most people, doctors included, underestimate what surgery and being under general anesthesia can do to a person.  I really thought that most of my symptoms, particularly the concentration problems, were just a side effect of the pain killers I was on.  However, I've cut the pain killers down to about 25% of what I was taking previously, and it hasn't helped.  I know my father had some of the same symptoms following heart surgery, particularly the hand/eye coordination issue.  He was always dropping things, which was very uncharacteristic. 

I'm going to try to see the psychologist for advice, and just hang in there until I recover more fully.  At only 4 weeks post-surgery, I'm still limited in what I can do physically, and it will still be a few weeks before I return to work.  Thanks again, everyone.

Anon


solar powered
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 538
   Posted 5/28/2008 10:22 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Anon,
I had 4 knee (same knee) surgeries due to complications in a 16 months time span so I can understand what you are talking about even though my surgeries weren't as extensive as yours. I was already on an anti-depressant at the time but found I was becoming more and more depressed with each passing trip to the OR. I remember after waking up from the last one looking at the brace on my leg and saying outloud, "OMG, I can't believe I'm here again". I had a very tough recovery and thought that maybe I would need to up my drugs because I was in a very dark place, fearful and borderline hopeless. fortunately about 3 months post-op, I seemed to snap out of it. It helped that the pain started to resolve which gave me some hope. I still have some problems including pain with that knee but I'm not in that bad place emotionally. I guess my advice is to give it more time. All that trauma to the body is just so hard on it, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I hope the psychologist can help you. I also hope you have friends or family that can be supportive. I was very lucky to have a few and I'm sure that they helped save me from that dark place. Best wishes to you. Lisa

A. Nonymous
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 183
   Posted 5/28/2008 10:39 AM (GMT -7)   

Thanks, Lisa.  It's tough when you keep having surgeries and you don't see results.  After this last surgery, I could feel a decrease in my usual pain almost immediately, and initially was "up" emotionally because of the improvement, so I'm really disappointed in myself that I'm not happier right now.  It looks like there's a good chance that my 4 years of Hell might finally be at an end, and I'm not happy???  I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself.  I'm still having nerve pain from the surgery, the previous pain isn't completely resolved, I can't physically do what I'd like, and I'm not following my regular routine since I'm not working.  I realize that's a lot to deal with.  It's helpful just to know others have gone through this and that it gets better. 

Anon

 


A. Nonymous
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 183
   Posted 5/28/2008 3:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks, Gramps. You hit the nail on the head. I AM very worried about returning to work. Things were not going well when I went on medical leave for this surgery, so that doesn't help the situation. Plus, the concentration problems really affect my job performance. I know it doesn't help to worry about it, but it's difficult to just tell yourself that and stop worrying. I'm going to try to see the psychologist soon, and just work on being a little more proactive every day, and try to get back into some kind of routine.

And thanks for the advice to take things slowly. I made that mistake on the first 3 surgeries. I was able to overcome it on the first 2, but by the 3rd surgery, my body had been through too much to just jump back into work, and I suffered for trying to do just that. I ended up developing neck and shoulder problems from the fatigue and stress, and it took me 6 months to recover. I'm not making that mistake again.

Anon

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 13454
   Posted 5/29/2008 12:13 PM (GMT -7)   
Good for you A, you learned a very hard lesson by tying to do too much at one time and so soon post op. But, we are human and at some time I think all of us make that very mistake after surgery. We have a day we feel decent and over do and that knocks us back about 3 steps. Above all be kind to yourself and your body, as you have been thru way too much in a short amt of time. Being kind to yourself and your body is a very big part of recovery. I am like the others I think its very normal for some sort of depression to set in after surgery. Its happened to me on several occassions. Hugs Susie


A. Nonymous
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 183
   Posted 5/29/2008 5:58 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks, Susie. The symptoms have gotten worse after several of my surgeries, but they were all failures and I was left with no pain relief, plus added pain from surgery. That'll depress anyone. But this time, I've gotten some pain relief, so I kinda feel guilty for not being in a great mood about everything. I had an initial "high" after surgery when it appeared it was a success, and then the reality of recovery set in. I feel a little better today, and I'm seeing my PCP tomorrow to request a change to my anti-depressant. Thanks to everyone for chiming in.

Anon
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