And Now the Healing

On the left, the incision 72 hours after surgery, on the right, the incision a week after surgery.
On the left, the incision 72 hours after surgery, on the right, the incision a week after surgery.

I realize that my last entry was a bit, well, all over the place. My thoughts and emotions were jumbled and I had a very difficult time telling a cohesive story. I will endeavor to do a better job this time ‘round.

I retired at 12:30 a.m. May 6 after posting my last blog entry. My mind was swirling with endless nightmarish possibilities of the results of back surgery. Call it a “minor procedure,” call it “minimally invasive,” call it whatever you like. But my mind makes the leap to paraplegic very quickly. It’s a short walk to wheelchair confinement.

Old Forester
Medicine.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m., ended up late to my call time of 6:00 a.m., and of course forgot my MRI disc. Wouldn’t you know it, the MRI facility didn’t open until 8:00 a.m. As I was being prepped, the surgeon popped in and asked if I brought my films. My answer was, “of course not.” You would’ve thought I kicked his dog. Thankfully, his office was nearby, he made a quick dash and returned with a copy. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I do remember waking up.

Antique Surgical Instruments
It could’ve been worse I guess.

It’s been a week and I am no worse for wear. Hydrocodone is my friend. I have my moments of severe pain. Hell, I have my hours of severe pain. I make sure I get up and move around every hour to two hours. Walking up stairs seems to be the most difficult. Bending over is not an option. Getting up from a sitting or prone position is not fun.

Two days ago I walked a half a mile. Yesterday I walked half a mile. Today I walked a mile. I am only allowed to walk for six weeks.

So. The $64 million question is…did it work? I don’t know. Prior to surgery I was in constant pain. A deep ache in my butt and my hip, sciatica, and my IT band was electric. I couldn’t stand for more than 10 minutes without my leg and foot going numb. That deep ache in my right lumbar area, butt and hip would force me to sit.

Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein
Hump? What hump?

Prior to the weightlifting accident that caused the two herniated discs, I was suffering from mild sciatica and I was working though some issues with my glutes and piriformis muscle.

Although the MRI clearly showed the herniated discs, additional X-rays didn’t show any spinal instability that may have been causing my debilitating lumbar spasms for the better part of 10 years. Apparently, the surgeon found some instability during the operation. Hopefully, the herniated discs have been repaired, the stabilizing clamp that has been put in place will prevent the wiggle that causes the lumbar spasms and I will live the rest of my days back pain-free.

I am able to stand for long periods of time without the lumbar, butt and/or hip ache. My foot, mainly my right big toe, does tingle some after standing for a bit. But it’s less than it was the day of and the day after surgery. One of the surgery center nurses said during her day after follow up call that my nerves were inflamed. I’m sure there is some swelling as well. The surgery site is sore. I do get aches in the lumbar muscles. The surgery site is starting to itch.

Frankenstein's monster
Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster in Universal’s 1931 classic. Stitched together, kind of like me.

I see the surgeon’s nurse for my first post-op a week from today and we’ll find out if I get to go back to work. I’m trying to look at this whole thing as an opportunity to rest and recharge. No commute. Sleeping in. A chance for all of the other muscles and joints to heal after weeks and months of hard exercise.

The shocking thing for me so far has been my ability to maintain my weight. According to the operating room scale, I weighed 182 pounds the day of my surgery. That would make the bathroom scale about 1.5 pounds off on the heavy side. I have been floating between 178-182. As I may have mentioned, you never know if you have straightened out your metabolism until you put it to a test. I haven’t exactly been eating healthy like I was when I was “training.” When I am not well, I gravitate toward comfort food. My saving grace is that I have learned portion control and do eat healthier foods in general.

Daniel Craig
Yes, I know, I have a bit of a man crush on Daniel Craig. I will achieve this look. I will do whatever it takes (naturally, of course), but this will be my physique. Tell me I can’t, I dare you.

Each day I regain a little bit more flexibility. I still feel like a mule has kicked me. I was told this recovery would take six weeks. I am not going to count any chickens (that I’m not planning to eat) so I am not going to offer any prognosis. I try to live my life with no regrets. I don’t think I am going to regret having this surgery. I shall remain cautiously optimistic.

I am very much looking forward to getting back to my diet and exercise regimen. I am going to be more determined than ever to achieve my fitness goals and my ideal body. I have been told by too many people lately that I am too old to do certain things or that I am trying to achieve the impossible.

Lee Majors
Lee Majors as Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was The Six Million Dollar Man starring Lee Majors. I often pretended to be the bionic man when playing with friends. I am starting to feel like Steve Austin. “We can rebuild him, we have the technology…” Oh hell, I am dating myself.

For those of you who read this and do not know me personally, the one thing you do not do is tell me I can’t do something.

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One thought on “And Now the Healing

  1. Jennifer

    I know you can do anything you set your mind to. You can accomplish everything and anything, just stay strong and keep believing in yourself and your inner strength.

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