Friday, August 21, 2015

And the comeback begins

The past 2 Saturdays I have gone to the forest to do the fire road trail which is an 8 mile roundtrip course I have been doing for a couple of years. The first Saturday I decided to jog down a few of the hills and walk the uphills but listen to see how my body would react. The doctor did say I could start adding some running in in about 6 weeks and this was 11 days later so close enough to try??? I was with some friends and it actually felt really good. One friend was struggling to keep up so we decided just to stick with walking after a couple of downhills.  On August 11th I then decided to run the local 5K route that I have been walking a lot and just do a run/walk and again go by feel...nothing to prove no need to push. I ran that in 41:47 - not too bad only 68 days after major spinal surgery!! Afterwards I still felt pretty good. The only pains I have are some sciatica nerve pain in my right upper glute area and its not shooting pains down the leg nor does it pinch to make it hard to sit up and stand up. Doc says it could be a permanent nerve damage, could be residual pain, could be just a flare up. I will keep listening to  my body and not push to much. Next appointment is October 20th so if I am still having that discomfort he may do an MRI just to be sure nothing is still wrong. 
So back to my comeback..... The second Saturday...this time 2 friends and Andi my 4 legged running partner went out to the fire road trail....things felt amazing!! My friend that struggled the week before was doing awesome as well.....we ran the downhills power walked the uphills for the majority of the 8 miles. Towards the end there were a couple of the downhills that I decided maybe it wouldn't hurt just to walk them because I know going downhill is going to be more pounding anyways then just running on flat surface. After we finished we stopped for some ice cream. 
This week on Monday Tuesday and Thursday I ran/walked the bear run as well.  My goal for the week was to run under 40 minutes but not to push myself...so even though I set my garmin I would not look at it because I didn't want my head to tell my body to move faster I wanted my body to tell my body how to work. All three runs were under 40 minutes with two of them at 37!! I am trying to figure out if I am some sort of medical marvel or just a plain ass freak??? 
Today I was going to run/walk with Heather but after doing my upper body strength workout my nerve pinch was telling me maybe just to walk. So I was glad I listened and we did a nice 4 miles with a super nice clip and no nerve pain what so ever during the walk. 
My head and heart tells me its ready to do a marathon but I know not running one since January 11th and all the trama my spine and nerve endings were put thru it may be like starting over for awhile? All I can do is get out there and see what happens but remind myself to not push too much. Its also hard to believe that December 31 January 1 January 10 and January 11th I did a marathon each of those days!!! Wonder if my first one back is going to feel like the first marathon I ever did? Well I won't know that since my two marathons I ever did was after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles :-).....but I remember what I felt like after my first half marathon! I think we feel the same after each distance that is a milestone. I got to a point to where I no longer hurt even after a 50 miler or a 100K. Since I only have done one 100 miler I never got to a point of not hurting after that...I can't even imagine not hurting after that. 
Well I have rambled enough for today.....looking forward to tomorrows 8 miles in the forest and I have been biking a 50K each sunday and have been feeling good on the bike as well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Life is journey

Life is a journey and if we didn't have set backs that we could pick ourselves back up from in order to start a new journey it would just be plain boring.
I had my follow up appointment on July 28th and knew I was going to be able to fly after that appointment so I had already made arrangements for my son and I to go to Vegas and Southern Utah.  I couldn't wait for him to see what I am so in love with!
 We arrived in Vegas on Wednesday evening and stayed for 2 nights....On Thursday we toured the Hoover Dam and that evening watched the amazing Blue Man Group!! We also played some penny slot and black jack and both of us cashed out ahead with about $150 each more!
On Friday morning we drove to Hurricane and met with a real estate agent Ive been working with for about 9 months and this time we were planning to check out the small town of Kanab. This was also our base for the next 5 nights. Kanab is home of the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and only has about 4,000 folks but it is more centrally located to all the different National Parks and ranges about 10 degrees cooler in the summer then Hurricane but 20 degrees cooler in the winter. I liked one home but due to some differences in communication from the seller I started getting an uneasy feeling about it and went with my gut. It wasn't the one either.
Saturday we decided to try to drive down a sand road to a trail that would take us to dino tracks...the rental agent upgraded us to a Kia for an additional $278 and swore we would be fine. I told him exactly what the directions to get there said about needing a high clearance 4WD and he said this vehicle would be ok. Well we got 1.9 miles down the road which I still don't know how we got that far and the bottom of the car was completely under sand. Thank God I had met a local SAR guy Paul from the area before we had gone to Kanab and I had all his contact info or we could have been out there all day! We did keep a case of water in the car at all times in case anything would come up. Paul made it out in his truck and taught Tanner how to shovel the sand out from under the car and wheels so that we could get a chain around it and he could start pulling us out. I felt bad for Tanner but there was no way I was going to be able to get down there and shovel. It took some time and there was no hurry but we finally got out!!! We spent that day hiking local trails and checking out the Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
Sunday we drove to Willis Creek Slot Canyon...I love slot canyons and after my trip out there in April I decided I could be considered a Slot Canyon Junkie...I don't think I could ever tire of them!! Willis Creek Slot I read was a nice slot and good for beginners...not super technical and not much having to wedge through the slots or boulder climb to get to the other parts....this was perfect with my back still just shy of the 2 month mark and I really wanted Tanner to experience a slot canyon. We
had to leave fairly early to get there as we were watching the weather and rain was due in around 1pm. If it rains within so many miles of the vicinity you don't wanna be in a slot canyon due to flooding. When we arrived a couple other cars were there so that made me feel more at ease. Off we headed and in a short time down the slots we went! We caught up with the other groups that were down there with their children.  When we got to the end and turned around Tanner heard a rattle...and said what was that. We were told we would hear a rattle snake before we would see a rattle snake and sure enough we did!! It was so funny cause Tanner was a little worried about the rattle snakes and I kept telling him that the chances were so slim that we really would run across one and here we see it on the first real day of hiking. It rattled once, Tanner saw it and we stepped over the creek to move away....it kept slithering away from us all the while you could tell it was keeping an eye on us...and never again did it rattle. They must do one warning and then you move away and they move away. I did get a photo but I didn't try to take a selfie like the idiot on the news a couple weeks ago did.
Monday we drove to the Grand Canyon North Rim....this was both our first times here and we decided to hike down into the Canyon. Once we got tot the first check point we were told the next one has a water refill and a tunnel....we knew the trip up was going to be rough but also knew it would be worth it to keep going! It was starting to get pretty hot and mules were sharing the same trail....oh boy the smell of mule piss and shit lingered for a long time!!! This hike took us down about 1700 feet through switchbacks with view after view. We took out time and just enjoyed everything about it. At times I would just stop and tell Tanner to just listen.....listen to just nothing! The air is thinner, the sounds are just nature. My favorite photo came from some folks we met at the first check point...I wanted one of the two of us just looking out over the canyon, not posing just admiring its beauty. I know have this one framed in my family room.
Tuesday was all about Bryces Canyon.....I was there in April but only drove to the lookout points and admired the views. I was so excited because I wanted to hike down into the canyon and see the hoodoos all around me. The hike we had planned was a figure 8 loop that combined 3 of the top trails. It would be about 2000 feet of elevation change and we both knew it would be work but the payoff would be worth it.  We followed the directions from someones hiking post and did the Navajo Trail and connected into Peek A Boo loop....When we finished the Peek A Boo loop it was getting hot and there were no water refills on these trails at all? We then looked over the directions trying to see which way to the Queens Garden trail but something was off a little bit so we decided to start heading back up the navajo trail loop...We got in about 6 miles and it really was spectacular!.
Wednesday we drove back through Hurricane and I showed Tanner the house that I had placed a back up offer on in April but didn't get.  One of those things were timing is just right...at that time I didn't know I would be needing MAJOR back surgery so all things work out for a reason. He really liked the Hurricane area more then Kanab and felt I would be happier there because there is much more to do and its closer to some bigger cities. Even though its a little further to the north rim by an another hour then Kanab there is a 10 screen movie theatre not a one screen and there is plenty of food and grocery choices. When the timing is right it will happen.  I think my plans now are to try to find a place that will allow my dogs that is furnished after the first of the year and just rent on a monthly basis....I will be running my business remotely and have a place to store my furniture here if my home here sells. 2000 miles is a long way away to go alone after being in a town for almost 48 years so I want to be sure things run smooth with the business and I feel comfortable before making that huge leap. Hiking new trails every weekend will be amazing!!!
Now we are back home and I am able to start lifting some weights and adding in some other cardio. He told me on the 28th to wait about 6 more weeks before running but Im such a slow runner I had to give it a try today. My first mile was around 14 something....it takes awhile for the legs to get ready to move...they feel stiff easily and still tire quickly, the inner thighs and such feel weak as well but I know that will all come back. I had no goal today except to add some jogging in...whether it was pole to pole or flower pot to flower pot I wasn't going to push I was going to stay comfortable and be connected to how things felt. Mile 2 came out to be a 12:14 min mile...wow...I will take that being 2 months and 7 days after major spine surgery!! Mile 2 was a 12:41. I have no desire to beat my time at all...right now its about coming back slow and smart. I still feel the slight pinch in the right butt cheek and still no radiating down the leg and the inner thighs are really tight but will have to start stretching more.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 24 Post L4 L5 S1 Spinal Fusion Checkup

Today was my first follow up with my Neurological Surgeon Dr Gregory Balturshot.  I was kinda hoping we would get to take X-rays and see my cool looking new titanium spine but he said he won't do that till the next appointment which will be July 28th. He asked how things were and I did tell him I hate to say because I don't wanna jinx things like the last time.  I told him that the area just about my butt but below the lower back all the way across still had a tenderness type pain that is best described as a burning.... I also have that same pain on the left side of the incision and I can feel it there more when I pull open a door, pick up a plate something weighted but not near 5-10 pounds which is my limit for lifting. It feels like muscular pain and he said that will go away.  I also told him my right hip had some sharp pains in the rear and he explained this could be from where my spine is not stabilized and my walking gait may have me kinda walking crooked...like one leg is slightly longer or shorter then the other but in time it will all get strong again and be fine. I then told him I feel best while I am walking and told him during the week of post surgery day 16-22 I walked 56 miles with the 3 previous days before my appointment I was doing a little over 10 each day. This is not at one time...this is spread out through the day and my longest walk is about 4 miles. He said he knew I would do well with this procedure and said as long as the walking is not hurting any and when I get tired I stop that I can continue. So then I asked....since I am a goal oriented person and while walking the couple days before I thought...hmmm wonder if he will let me try to walk a half marathon 13.1 miles each day but of course spread out throughout the day. He said YES!!! BUT....if it hurts don't push and if i get tired STOP! I agreed. Since I can't work because I am a gym owner and teach class and train clients and there is absolutely NO BLT...bending lifting twisting....which this is one abbreviation I would like to change because when I hear that I just want a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich!  I was also told I was allowed to swim and pool jog...but no EFX yet. I could try the indoor bike but if the push and pull of the legs bother me I should stop.
So today is actually day 25 and I started my goal of trying to do a half marathon each day and the pool is open on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays so today I was also going to try the pool. I go up and did my first morning walk....I am finding that around mile 2 ish that my feet and legs start to kinda ache....an ache that I felt after running my 100 miler. Once I stop and chill for a few then Im fine. I walked a little over 3 then went to the pool. I tried some laps and only did 250 meters because it made that area of my right hip hurt. I then decided to do some pool jogging and did a little in shallow and even though it takes some impact off I found I didn't want even that little bit of extra impact on my back so I took it to deep water running as well as frog kicks, flutter kicks and outward frog kicks so that I could work on some leg muscles that had not been worked. I did high knees I did heel to my rear and it all felt great! I then went to the swim blocks and did some pull ups and one arm pull ups just to have some upper body while even though I was lifting my body the water kept all the strains off my back. Since there is no impact with deep water aqua jogging my garmin won't pick up the distance but I stayed active in the pool for a little over 45 minutes. As soon as I was done Heather met me for my second walk of the day. Same thing here I noticed my feet and legs getting achy and we sat down on some stone under a tree for a bit and just let things calm down.
A couple hours later I was meeting Jackie for a walk and this time I decided instead of wearing socks and my hokas or asics I was going to wear no socks and my keen sandals....believe it or not we walked a little over 4 miles and my feet and legs didn't bother me at all. Im wondering if maybe where the nerves were so traumatized and they are trying to heel if the socks and the shoes keep them from breathing??? I don't know but Im going to walk in my Keen sandals in the morning and see if it feels ok again.  I did get my 13.1 miles in walking plus the 45 min in the pool which I would assume would be atleast another 2 miles...but my head had to see at least 13.1 on my garmin today - OCD - The pool is closed friday for the holiday but back open on monday so I will return. I may not be as obsessed and depending on how long I'm jogging in the pool maybe i will count it like a 20 ish min mile and allow it to count towards my 13.1.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

21 days Post Spinal Fusion L4-S1

So today is 21 days post surgery.....I hate to even type how things are going in fear of jinxing the recovery process. After the double Laminectomy I felt great immediately upon waking with the nerve pain gone but felt some left hip pains that were pretty sharp. I walked and did the EFX and some stationary biking during the recovery and had a total amount of stepping miles of 146 for the month of March.  In january I had a step count of only 126 miles and that included 3 marathons and a 5K so you can tell how debilitated I became.
In April my step mileage count was 137 miles...when I did stationary biking it doesnt register as steps so I did have some other forms of exercise as well. It was in April 6 weeks after the first procedure when the nerve pain returned but to the opposite side....nothing as severe as before but would have advanced to that over some time. Knowing I would be having surgery on June 6th during the month of May I pushed myself to walk and hike and get myself nice and strong in hopes that it would be an advantage in recovering. I walked and hikes 161 miles during the month of May.
Surgery was June 6th and 3 days prior I went and walked a half marathon in northern ohio so that I could be surrounded by my running family and have a little bit of mental therapy before the big day. I was incarcerate from Thursday the 6th and was released Sunday the 9th.  The first evening was the worse where I didn't even have the strength to move my body...actually all 4 days were horrifying but each day did get a little easier. By saturday the 8th I was walking around the floor of the hospital 3 times and did that 3 times during that day. I never pushed and one time I cut it short and did only half a loop because I was tired.  When I got home it was still tough getting up and down but I have always felt better when I moved rather then the pain from sitting or laying on the incision area and then the initial movement causes some pain as well. After I was home for a couple days I began some short walks outside. They started with a couple .25 mile 3 times a day and they rapidly increased each day...again I have not once pushed myself...I have paid close attention to how I feel and if I would get the slightest feeling of discomfort I immediately turn around and head for home.  It was day 11 and I was out walking and things just felt so good that instead of turning where I had been for a 1.50 mile total walk I just kept going...nice and slow. I ended up going 3.2 miles. I was concerned and called the doctors office to see if this was bad even though I wasn't pushing at all. The nurse said to listen to my body and that was a lot for someone that isn't even quite 2 weeks out and to absolutely not do anything else but walk...No bend lift or twist and no other forms of exercise.  The next afternoon and evening I had more of the hip sharp pains that I had been having so I decided to back down to my 1.5 mile distances for the rest of that week. I still went and did a walk every couple hours but just kept them shorter in distance. By Saturday I was feeling ok so started to bump them back up again and I could feel my pace getting a little faster....still I AM NOT PUSHING myself.  This week now I have been averaging about 15,000 steps a day,,,Tuesday thru today I have been doing in excess of 7 miles each day...with the longest walk being the 3.2 mile route when I wake up and then I follow it with distances that range from 1.5-2 miles a couple more times during the day. I can say today my hip pain is starting to disappear. I still have incision pain when I sit back or lay down on it but I feel the best when I am moving and walking.  My pace is getting much faster too. I managed this mornings 3.2 in about 50 minutes but I wasn't going for speed just walking comfortably. I also stopped during this 50 minutes and talked to some people I say.
I have no intentions of trying to run or jog until the doctor tells me I can. I know the titanium has to heal in there and make my spine strong again so jarring things could really mess things up....but the way I am feeling I believe some speed walking and some longer distances will be there much sooner then I ever dreamed! I think running will be there much sooner then I ever dreamed but I would guess its going to be still at least 4 or so months out...but thats a lot better then 1-2 years as suggested before the surgery!!
My first follow up will be this Tuesday and I believe he will X-ray and see how things are looking and then give me a plan of action.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

11 Days Post Spinal Fusion L4-S1

So Im 11 days post op and I start to feel like I am some sort of medical marvel...first with the knee years ago being told I can't run or would need a knee replacement within 2 years but then year and half later decided to run and did 88 marathons/ultras and now don't have any swelling or bruising of the knee? I feel like I should be hurting more but my walking get longer and stronger everyday.
I had my staples removed last friday afternoon - there was 23 of them...I had my mom take a look at it and it looked like a couple places where the incision was pulling apart some and I called my family doctor who removed them and sent a photo to his text but didn't hear back so I had mom go ahead and get some butterfly's and try to close the gap. It seemed to work then my son saw a gap in the middle where the incision was really deep and he did the same and the next evening it seemed to have gotten much better.  There is some itching where it is healing and when I sit or lay there is some surgery pain in the center right side of the incision....kinda feels like a burning sensation when it hits me. My right hip still has some pain and I have some itching in the left upper hip. I am not sure which side he took part of my bone out to use as a harvest bone and I am assuming some of this itching and hip pain is probably from that.
Walking feels great! Its so hot and humid outside but it feels good to walk. I started last week with just walking up the street and back 3 times a day and then by the weekend I was up to half mile 3-4 times a day. When it was too hot and humid I got on the treadmill at a 2.5-2.8mph walk for half mile. Things really don't hurt much when I'm walking...seems to hurt the most when I am laying and then have to roll or move positions.  Nighttimes are still a little rough and I have to take pain medication at bedtime to help sleep and lighten up that pain of laying on my back or side and then having to move some.  Yesterday it got pretty hot and humid so I took to the treadmill at a very slow pace and things felt so good I just kept going....I stopped at 1 mile and felt as though I could go more without any issues but chose not to.
I woke today and had to go to work for a few to get a deposit together and a couple other things then when I got done I headed outside for a mile walk...but when I got going I decided that I would go on to Kinneys lane and back and I know this is 3/4 of a mile each way. It was 100% humidity but there was a little breeze and wasn't hot hot hot.  I really felt good that it was almost scary.  My mind started questioning if I will mess things up by walking too much but the doctor said the more I walk without pain the faster things heal. If it hurts stop...that simple. I know I am strong willed and stubborn and I can block pain very easily so i then question myself and wonder is it hurting and I just have blocked it??? But really it feels much better when I am moving. Steps are very easy, I am NOT lifting anything more then 5 -10 pounds and that is one area that I will not attempt. That area is one that I know can make things worse and there is no reason nor need to attempt to lift anything. I am able to do laundry and when it's finished Tanner brings the basket upstairs for me...even though it most likely isn't 5-10 pounds I will not risk that.  I am not using the sweeper as tempting as it is when I see dog or cat hair laying around it is not worth it. I was glad Moxie (the cat) got her hair cut yesterday as that will keep down some of that.
Most people who go into this surgery are older then myself and are not nearly as active. Last year even with the pains before surgery I averaged 250-300 miles a month of walking/running then after my surgery at the end of February I still averaged 150-176 miles of walking each month. I didn't run but stayed walking. Even when the laminectomy didn't work as we hoped I still stayed active knowing this recovery would be less painful the healthier I was going into it. I had stopped the pity party that first part of May and stopped eating all the ice cream and junk and took 10 of the 30 pounds I had put on since last year and 20 some alone since Jan off.  I had a couple bad days this week but when your son makes you a homemade banana cream pie, crust and all then banana bread from scratch whats a mom to do :)
I have already started thinking of new goals.....I know in November I will do just the half at RnR Vegas and walk it....but I am thinking I will be able to start back to running a little at a time by then and get training for RnR Nashville in April. I also am signed up for RnR NOLA in Feb and the full there has a 7 hour time limit so walking with little bits of jogging shouldn't be a problem if all goes well.  I don't think I will be able to do California International the first of December since it is a 6 hour time limit and I don't think I will be running enough by December to get me there in that time but I have not written it off yet. I was signed up for several events when we hoped the first procedure worked and had no idea I would be having major spinal surgery. California International allows for deferral but heck its $49 just to defer so I am not sure what I will do and have till the middle of November to decide what I will need to do.
My spirits are high and I have received so many cards from friends all over the place. I pick one randomly each day to read - my dream is to have one a day each day of my recovery...at first the doc said I would be 1-2 years with no running so I took it as 1 year....after the surgery he felt it was a realistic goal to look forward to possibly doing RnR Nashville as my comeback marathon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Recovery Starts Here

I only had six weeks pain free after the double Laminectomy on Feb 23 then the left glute area started with stage one of the nerve pain...I call it stage one because it was the same nerve pain that left me debilitated about 6 months prior when that began on the right side and wouldn't go away.  I had plans a week later (first week of April) to spend a week in southern Utah where I was planning on do the ZION 100K again...I already knew I would be unable to do that but I love the area and decided to volunteer at the event and then spend the week with my friend Amber checking out places I didn't get to see the year before.  The doc had  put me on a steroid pack a week or so before going to Utah hoping it was just inflammation but that didn't help. Once I got to Utah I knew it wasn't going to be a good outcome since the steroids didn't help at all so I hiked and enjoyed every minute I could. I had to take some rest breaks but it was all worth it! About week 10 I went back to the Doctor and had another MRI.....I had the MRI locally on a tuesday and that evening the Doctor himself called me at 6:30 pm.....I knew that probably wasn't a good sign. Sure enough I was still a complete mess and one of the disc were completely gone. When I went back in to discuss it with him he asked me to be honest about my prior recovery since the one disc was completely gone and I told him...I was good...I only walked...no running at all.  I told him about my hiking in Utah the week or so prior and he said that wouldn't have done anything as it was already done before I left for there so he didn't mind at all me doing what I love. I did have to shovel 18 inches of snow off my roof less then a week after the first surgery since my roof and flat and my drains were completely iced over so nothing could drain. A couple days before the big snow some water had started coming through and I got out there then to get the ice off while I waited on someone else to come up and help. They finally showed up and took over and I had made arrangements with them knowing that this big snow was coming to come out and shovel it for me. The day of the snow he was suppose to come in the evening but didn't show and said he would be there by 11:00 the next day since it was going to get to the 50's so it would start melting and i could lose the entire back room if that happened....11:30 came and I called...said he got tied up at another job but would be right out....1:00 comes...nobody and its getting warmer...I call no answer. Tanner was still in college so I had no choice and I had to get out there and do it myself. My doctor was aware but said you had to do what you had to do and then said it may not hurt anything that some do things by the book and still have problems so do something they shouldn't and don't have problems. We don't know if that played a factor and at this point it doesnt matter why and he knew the spinal fusion was going to inevitable anyways but we were hoping for a couple years down the road.
Being such a major surgery it took time to get insurance to approve and with my age it took a little more since most people don't have this type of issue at my age. I was scheduled for June 6th.
The Procedure that was done was
1. L-4-L5, L5-S1 laminectomy and facetectomy
2. Posterolateral theses L4-L5 and L5-S1
3. Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion with preparation of interspace L4-L5
4. Placement of 10X20 mm Crescent PEEK intervertebral biomechanical device L4-L5
5. L4-S1 segmental pedicle screw instrumentation with pedicle screw system
6. Harvest of local bone through same incision
7. Use of Porgenix and Magnafuse moralized allograft for inter body and posterolateral fusion
I was unable to eat of drink after midnight the night before and surgery was scheduled for 12:45 with an arrival time of 10:45. I took a xanax before leaving as I was very nervous. I arrived and found he was running late and my time would now be 2:00. My IVs were attached and the things on my legs so they would be able to monitor how close to the nerves he was during the procedure. My mom took me and was allowed to wait in the pre op room with me...poor thing couldn't stay awake.
The doctor came in to talk with me and then the anesthesiologist and shortly after I was headed back to the surgery room. As I approached I started getting more scared- I am glad he started the anesthesia right away because I was almost in tears with fear...what if something went wrong..this is my spine
the back bone of my entire body and well being.  It didn't take long and I was off in my happy place and had no idea what was going on.  When I woke up in the recovery area they called my family to let them know but I was only able to lay there. After about 2 hours and no room for me to go to they allowed two family members to come back....Tanner and my dad had arrived by then so they came back. Tanner snapped this pretend it doesnt hurt like hell picture and we visited for a few and then the waiting game for a real room began again. It was almost 4:30 hours till I got into a room.  When I arrived my folks and Tanner came in and it was rough. I had major hip pain going on...they thought from the position I was in during surgery as well as nerve damage and the position after surgery. I felt like if I could just stand up for a few it would feel a little better....now comes the most frustrating and scary part. I tried and tried just to raise my butt and hips off the bed and I had no strength to do that at all! I was scared I was so frustrated and I tried so hard and just couldn't do it. I said again I really need to stand up and move and so they had someone come in and teach me to try to bend the right leg then roll it over to the left...try to much and lift my hips up so my body would lay on its side using the bed railing and the bed and this was so hard!!! I finally got to a side position...next step was to let my legs roll over the bed and then push my upper body erect....again very difficult and painful but I finally made it up. They put a walker in front of me and I pushed and they helped to get me to stand upright. I asked to try to walk and they went with me a couple steps into the hallway to the nurses station and back...that was enough and it helped with the pain that I was having in the hips.  My folks left and Tanner and my dad went on home...Mom was staying with my brother so she was close if needed but it was also my nieces bday weekend so she got to spend some time with them shopping and enjoying a visit. Im not one to ask for help and why come sit and stare at me in the hospital.  Once I got settled into my room and bed they gave me an ice pack because the hip started to hurt again as well as my quads and every muscle and nerve in my lower body. I honestly felt so weak in the legs that I thought I had ran a Hundo!  They started me now on stronger pain medication through IV and that would last about 3 hours so every 3 hours or so they would come check on me. Night one was rough and around midnight the new nurse on duty came to empty my drainage bags and my catheter - about an hour later I had so much bladder pain and the urge to pee that it almost had me in tears....I reached over to see what was up with the catheter and the nurse that changed it had it draped over my hand rail so all my urine was draining back into the bag.  I called for help and finally someone came and fixed and got it going correctly but after that the bladder pain and pressure never went away. Morning came around and this same nurse told me I need to order breakfast at 7am...gave me a menu and left. About 6:45 I called and said I was told to order breakfast but have no clue how to do it because she gave me a menu and left? She came back in and said I need to call this number 3663.....I said ok...but how do I call that number with what??? She then reached way back behind me on a wall and says oh here is the phone.  I ordered some raise bran and hard boiled egg. The nurse then came in and took my catheter out and did some charting and I told her I had to pee and she said no you don't you just feel like it because i took the catheter out...so 15 min goes by and the nurses are changing shifts...I start to try to get myself up when they both were in there and they said what do you need and I said I need to pee....now the nurse from hell said we can help..all you have to do is ask...I said I did...I told you I had to pee and you said I didn't. I finally got myself up and used the walked to get to the bathroom and I peed!!! I had to then have a bladder scan the next 3 times I went to be sure my bladder was getting empty or close to empty each time.  The doctor came to see me and I told him about the nurse from hell....he said all went well but he wants me to have a bone scan when I am healed to see if it may tell more about my bones and what type of Arthur I may have. He said he was so surprised how weak my bones were with my activity level and that the 78 year old man before me in surgery had stronger back bones then me. He then said it is something congenial which the only person that had arthritis was my dads mom and she passed away very young so nobody really knows what kind. I don't have joint pain as would be expected either. He felt the surgery will be successful and we started talking running.  I had walked a half marathon 3 days prior to the surgery...It was one of Mainly Marathons series of 7 states 7 marathons in 7 days and it was starting in Northern Ohio...about a 4:30 hour drive and the RD gave me a free entry and was sharing a room with a friend.  It wasn't about doing any distance and I didn't care if I did half,full or just a couple miles...it was mostly for mental therapy as I needed to be with members of my running family before I would go under this major surgery and would be off for quite a long recovery. I am so glad I got to go...I stopped at the half and got an extra medal to give to my Doc....signed the back with a date and gave it to him after surgery and told him to keep that so if at 92 years old I break Harriet Thompson marathon record she broke the weekend prior he would have this from me :) He has done only one full marathon and he said he would like to do another but he cramped up around mile 20-22 and had to walk some and stretch...not that there is anything wrong with that but he really wanted to be able to run without walking...I told him he should do the RnR Nashville with me in April next year and that it is part of St Judes so he would have a medical connection and really think he would enjoy that....at that moment he said that will be our goal for me to be able to do that marathon in April! I loved this goal since at first he has to tell all patients that they should expect to not be running for 1-2 years. Of course we don't know how the healing and recovery process will go but hey its a goal and its a great goal!!!
OT came in and taught me how to put my socks on and took me around the hallway. We started with the walker and when i got in the hall she asked if I wanted to try without the walker and I said yes...she had a tie around me for safety that she held onto but I managed a loop with out the walker.  Mom Allison and the girls came over after bday shopping and stayed about an hour and the girls walked the hall loop with me once. I was not allowed to walk without someone being with me. PT was suppose to come but never showed up that day.
Friday they also came in and changed my bandage and took one of my drains out. The hook looking things on that photo are where the drains are. Throughout the night I had to pee so many times and its such a huge process just to get myself up. My ab muscles even feel like that have pulled away from my skin due to the stress of trying to maneuver my body and then I use everything in me just to push myself to a sitting position then on to stand.  I do a count to three then deep breath in my nose and blow out the mouth before each movement.  They giggled once and said they have never heard anyone count to 3 before but it works!!  That evening I had a surprise visit from Tanner and his friends....It was nice because I was ready to walk the hallways but you hate to push the call button because they workers are so busy with other people you don't want to bother them to come walk around the hallway with you. They brought me a cream horn from Schmidts and I only ate the top off it with some cream - I was afraid too much sweets would cause some bowel issues and I think the body heals better with less sugar. The 4 of them took me two laps around the hallway, we looked like someone very important with a good looking posey around them.
A big storm came through and they hung out for about 90 minutes and then I went to sleep for a bit. Sleep is very tough...I only needed the IV pain medication Friday night and stopped that in the early Saturday am but Saturday night about 1:00 it was unbearable again...I kept pushing the call button on both sides of the bed and nothing happened....the call button and remote was on the table but I must have forgotten to bring it closer to me during a potty time. I did some breathing and managed to get myself to sleep for another hour then tried all the call buttons again but those don't work....I managed one more time to breath myself to sleep and then the gal came for vitals and I told her the buttons on the bed don't work and i couldn't reach the controller...she got my nurse and the pain had gotten too far out of control that she had to do the IV meds to get me back to a manageable level...then I started back on the oral doses and things seemed to be fine.
Saturday mom stopped over and brought me some chipotle...I ate a little but don't have much of an appetite still. She stayed for about an hour or so and told me about my nieces bday presents (they got her an electric guitar!!) My niece has been learning guitar for awhile and is really good...she is also super artistic...she just turned 14. She was excited to open her other presents and had to wait till grandma got back so there isn't much to do but sit and stare at wall in a hospital room so mom headed back after an hour or so. She checked to be sure PT would be there today too.  We were hoping my other drain would be removed on Saturday but there was still enough drainage that they needed to keep it in.  PT did come and taught me to do steps since I have steps in my home. She also walked me around the hallway walker free!!! She let them know that I could now walk the hallway with out assistance as I chose. I had another great surprises on Saturday...that afternoon my old Pastor that got reassigned Pastor Kym James and her husband Frank brought me balloons and he brought his guitar and they played and sand me a couple songs. We all prayed together and it was very refreshing.
Sunday morning came and I got the ok at 5am to take out the drains but the nurse was busy and had to check in a new patient. Then at 7 am the shift changes so I had to wait till the new nurse got situated....finally an hour or so later she came and changed the dressing and removed the drain. It thought removing it would be like a sigh of instant relief but it wasn't.  I got released and we got home around 1:30 in the afternoon and got settled in. It felt good that night to be in my own bed and I really worried about not having the rails and such to pull on to get up but I found it easier getting in and out of my own bed. It is now Wednesday and I have been home for about 72 hours and things are improving. I am a little concerned with the top of the incision as it looks like a big sac of fluid and almost feels that way too. I iced it last night and today it seems to have gone down a little but I did call the docs office to let them know. She suggested it could be scar tissue forming and she would let him know and get back with me if I should be alarmed. I walked outside today about a total of 300 steps...my goal was to make it to the end of the street but I came up short and decided to turn around. As of around 9 pm last night I haven't taken any pain meds but I think I will have to after while. I had a headache and was allowed to take tylenol and that has helped.
My son when he first saw my incision was like OH WOW....i said what is it draining or something wrong and he says no.....it just looks like you have a giant extended butt crack half way up your back.
I managed another walk this evening and the total steps for it were 585. I have no need to push myself as I want things to recover the way they should.  I have had a strange smell in my nose all day. Years ago I was told I had Ol Factory hallucinations where people smell a smell that is not there and I really haven't had them to to bad the past couple years but maybe being in there with all the nerve has brought it back on...lets hope it is temporary because its very annoying!! One smells something but can't even describe what it is...its not foul its not pleasant its just a weird ass smell!
The first part of May I started tracking again with Whale Watchers since I had gained over 20 pounds since the first of the year. I was so depressed and the comfort food really did help...plus before the first surgery I couldn't even stand without crying for longer then 30 seconds so ice cream and junk became my go to. I lost about 8 pounds that month and the week since surgery I lost 3.5 so Im in the right direction. Trying to eat lots of protein so the muscle and such will heal quicker.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Best Birthday Ever

I have to say this is one of the best birthday's and birthday week.  I actually slept the best I have slept in over 10 months!!! I had surgery on Monday and had some anxiety and nervousness about it because when the doctor came in to speak to me and my folks before surgery he explained in clarity how I need a spinal fusion and his success rate with the procedure he decided to do Monday is usually 90-95% but he could not say that in my case. Then I wondered why didn't we just do the fusion...but he spoke before I could ask and said how he knows what my activity level is and he did feel mentally I could not handle the recovery from a fusion and it would be almost a year before I could run again with that. I understood this and he is right...the past 6 weeks of pain and being stuck on the couch caused me to have so many selfish thoughts of not being able to hold on another day but I did - I have a amazing son who called from college and checked on me everyday and told me how much he loved me!
I only told a few friends about what was going on because I don't like people to know when I am in pain or not doing well. I learned a lot from doing that as well....I learned some of those that I thought were close friends really are not -I guess I thought telling those I felt were my closest friends meant I cared about them enough to let them know what was going on and thought they cared enough about me to support me and keep me positive. Instead I learned that there were a few who I told when I saw at a Doctor visit or if they saw me crippled over in the grocery and could tell something was wrong and came to me in concern that those were the ones that have really been there for me more so.
Lets get back to the surgery/miracle for now - We stayed the night in Columbus on Sunday night as I had to be to the surgery center Monday am. I got all checked in and they came to do my IV. The girl doing my IV was rough and kept pushing so hard and the vein popped and I passed out...next thing I was hearing was 3 nurses saying stay with us stay with us and the anesthesiologist asking me questions about allergies while I was just trying not to hyperventilate and at the same time the other nurse starts to put the IV in my other arm. I then remember the anesthesiologist say she will wait a minute LOL...ok yes please do because I can't hear a word you are saying right now. I had to sit up for a minute to get bearings and then the other nurse got my IV in and it bleed everywhere. Wasn't my morning for needles and at this point I am so tired of needles and hospitals and doctors.  After that is when the doctor came in to discuss what we were doing and what I need done etc. When I got to the surgery room I guess during the anesthesia I kept fighting it asking the doc if he thought I would be recovered enough to run 100 miles at Nanny Goat in May and all these other events. After the surgery when I woke up I just I started on those questions again. haha. He told my folks boy she's a stubborn one isn't she :) He also told them I have a lot of permanent nerve damage and that a spinal fusion is eminent. He did say no to 100 miles at Nanny Goat in May haha He also say no to even the 25K at Zion in 6 weeks mostly due to it being unstable trail and risk of falling right now. I am planning to volunteer but will get his permission and what duties and hours I can do it.
I got to the recovery room and I did wake quickly and recovered quickly. My surgery took about an hour and I was on the way home by around 10:30. I could feel the incision pain and even though it was a small area it felt like the entire back of my lower back....I could already tell the pain in the glute hip and down the leg was gone.  My folks went to get the car and the nurses said I probably wouldn't see him until my follow up because he has surgeries scheduled all day and typically just speaks to the family after the surgery and goes in for the next one. He stopped in to check on me as I was dressed getting ready to leave and I told him I could already feel the difference and again asked him about running LOL. I did this because my mother only heard that he said no to running trails and long events and NO 100 milers..and he said no to 100 miles in May and trails right now because of falling and injuring a disc since everything has just been opened up. Falling now could easily rupture something else so I need to let it heal and be careful. I respect that and I will follow orders but when my mother started telling me I wasn't going to be running I was completely let down because thats why we didn't do the fusion right now and did this procedure so I would recover faster and be at the things I enjoy doing quicker.  I was so glad he peaked in before I left because I woulda gone crazy not knowing anything at all about recovery before the 13th when I go back.
My mom came and washed the orange off my back yesterday and then I got into my shower and washed my hair....wow I washed my hair and body without having to hold on to the towel bar crying and praying for the shampoo to rinse out faster!! That was the first in 6 weeks and was an awesome feeling!! I can walk to the bathroom. I can stand and make a sandwich.....all the small things we take for granted and when they are taken away from you its a terrible thing but when a doctor can give them back to you its a miracle!