Wednesday, August 29, 2012

13 Weeks Post-Op

I saw my doctor yesterday and the good news is that everything looks good. I'm healing well and all of my hardware is still in place. Believe it or not, the rods, hooks, and screws can actually be dislodged or even broken. My doctor explained that the small hooks attached to the top portion of my fusion sometimes loosen with too much activity in the early post-op period. At this point in my recovery, that would be very detrimental since my spine hasn't yet fused. No hula-hooping or slip-n-sliding this summer... The nerve damage in my right thigh has also improved, but I still require medication to control the shooting pains and tingling.

The bad news is that none of my restrictions have been lifted. I've been sentenced to another 2 months of lifting no more than 5 lbs., no bending, no twisting, and no squatting. This also means that my mom has been sentenced to 2 more months of maid duty. I am allowed to lunge and kneel, but that's inconvenient and very uncomfortable. Basically anything lower than 3 feet means I have to get down on my knees. And if I'm hungry and want to check out what's in the refrigerator I can only see what is on the lower shelves, but I can't reach any of it. Maybe I should get myself a periscope... Another difficult task is grocery shopping. Since I can't lift more than 5 lbs., I can't load or unload groceries that weigh more than 5 lbs. I was thinking that I could get my Labrador a backpack so that she could go grocery shopping with me and do the heavy lifting for me! My limitations are annoying, but a small price to pay for feeling so much better. I'll follow doctor's orders for as long as necessary because I'm not going to screw this up! In November I get to start physical therapy and I'm really looking forward to it.

In other news, I head back to work next week. I've become restless and am eager to return, but I'm not sure I'll have the stamina to remain upright for ~10 hours a day for 5 days in a row. After about an hour of being upright, my shoulder and back muscles begin to burn and I need to lie down to let my muscles rest. It's probably going to be difficult, but I'm confident I'll figure out a way to manage. I'm lucky I have supportive friends, family, and co-workers!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

9 Weeks Post-Op

I'm 9 weeks post-op and I've made so much progress. That being said, I'm still slow and dependent on help from others. When I first arrived home, I needed help doing absolutely everything - dressing myself, washing myself, brushing and fixing my hair, reaching things, getting food, etc. I'm now able to to do many of these things on my own with a few modifications. I've even learned to dress myself either by using 2 of my long-handled grabbers or by sitting down. I can now put shirts on over my head, instead of having to only wear things that I can step into (week 5 milestone). One of the things I still can't do (and won't be able to do for quite a while) is bend, so I have a difficult time reaching things below waist level. While I have become quite good at picking things up with my toes, there are some situations where toes are inappropriate or just won't work. Typically, this is where my grabbers come in handy, but I've learned that my grabber can actually get me into trouble. While trying to pick up a soda can with one of my grabbers (yes, I have 3) I somehow managed to puncture one of the cans. It began spraying me and my kitchen, and while I was able to rotate the can away from me, there was little else I could do other than yell for help. Luckily, my Mom found the situation amusing and cleaned it up for me, but only after making fun of me. I've learned that even though I can do things on my own, it's often easier and more efficient to just ask for help.

I've gotten much more confident in my movement and feel comfortable moving around the house, though I won't be winning any races anytime soon. Somewhere around week 6, the feeling that I was going to break with any movement began to dissipate. My back is still very sore, but it's a good kind pain because it's a healing pain. The not-so-good part is that I also have nerve damage in my right thigh that is likely the result of lying face-down for 7.5 hours. My doctor said that this isn't that uncommon and that I should gradually regain all feeling. I really hope this improves because it's enough to keep me awake at night. Even still, it's a small price to pay.

I'm unable to be upright for long periods of time because my back gets very tired and my muscles start to burn. So, I am still spending a lot of time horizontal. I've learned to do a lot on my own, but it will still be quite a while before I'm completely independent. I already feel so much better than I did before surgery, so I think the worst is over. I couldn't be happier with the decision to have surgery (though I'm not sure I really had much of a choice) or the surgeon I chose. I'm so lucky to have my friends and family, because there is no way I could have done this without their help. The support I've gotten from everyone has really helped me through this.