There are a lot of myths about what spine surgery recovery looks like and sisters Jamie and Lindsey Sharman were honest when they came to me for the initial consultation that they were very worried about them.
“I had a lot of fear – a lot,” Jamie says. “I was scared of the recovery process, staying in the hospital, what I’d be able to do afterward – all of it.”
Spine Surgeon Dr. Jazini shares more about his patients’ journeys: Jamie came to me first. Her back problems started when she was pregnant in 2017 and as a single mom, she was worried about being out of commission for very long with back surgery. But her pain from a damaged disc was so excruciating and extreme – she realized she couldn’t go on living with it. She was scared – but I assured her that surgery – in her case a spinal fusion in 2021 and a spinal laminectomy two days later – was going to reduce her pain and fix her problem. Still, she admits being surprised when that’s exactly what happened.
“Waking up in zero pain after being in pain forever really put my mind at ease,” Jamie says. “I had a three-month-long recovery process of no bending, no twisting, and no lifting but I have no complaints about my recovery. Those were strict restrictions that I followed but I had to keep reminding myself about them because I didn’t have pain.”
Jamie’s older sister Lindsey admits she would have put her back surgery off out of fear if she hadn’t watched her sister and seen how well she recovered from her procedures. “Seeing what she went through definitely put my mind at ease but I was still so nervous. I’m a science teacher and coach and I was worried about getting back to work and how I’d live my life afterward,” Lindsey explains.
Lindsey had surgery more recently – in April 2022. In her case, she needed a L5/S1 disc replacement. “ I remember waking up from surgery and thinking I was going to need to ask for a pillow to put under my legs because that’s the only way I’d been able to lie down and then I was like – wait, it doesn’t hurt. That’s so weird. My back doesn’t hurt and I’m laying flat,” Lindsey says. “I was shocked again in the recovery room two hours after surgery when they were like – okay, you’re going to get up and walk ten feet. I couldn’t believe it but I did it.”
Lindsey timed her surgery around spring break and surprised herself yet again when she was back at work 10 days later. “I remember VSI saying – that might be a little fast, but I was bored at home and I felt great. So I went and did a whole day of work and finished out the week and never looked back,” she says.
Jamie’s now fully recovered, living with no restrictions, and back to being a busy single mom. She exercises every day and regularly participates in a vigorous boot camp that she loves. I recently cleared Lindsey to return to exercise and is now getting back to the active life she loves too. Both remain pain-free and say they want others to know they shouldn’t put off back procedures out of fear about surgical recoveries.
“The recovery is not as bad as what you think with 1960s back surgeries or stories you may hear from your grandparents or your aunts or others who did this 50 years ago,” Lindsey says. “Medicine has come a long way. It’s not nearly as scary as you think and it will change your life for the better in more ways than you can even imagine.”
Dr. Ehsan Jazini is a board-certified spine surgeon at Virginia Spine Institute. He has been the first in the nation, and in the world, to perform advanced surgical techniques in cervical disc replacement, augmented reality (AR) spine surgery, and robotic spine surgery. Dr. Jazini was the first in the world to perform Augmented Reality guided personalized spine implant surgery using artificial intelligence. As a leading published author in the field of spine surgery, Dr. Jazini was selected as the Editor in Chief of The Spine Health Journal for the National Spine Health Foundation. Learn more about Dr. Jazini.