Four days post surgery

Well… I’m here.  It’s been a hairy few days, and I’m trying to sort out the details myself, so here goes.

My surgery was originally slated for 11 am on Monday, but I didn’t go in until after noon.  When he opened me up, he found that the damaged nerve was worse than he thought.  Basically, there is very little original disc left.  I think I had referred in my other post the the material going out in all directions, and it did, but there was a lot that got shoved up in what is called the “elbow” of the nerve set.  So much, and so tight that the nerves there couldn’t even move.  So, that had to be taken out, first.  There were several pieces as big as a centimeter.  The nerves in that area were very red and aggravated (of course!).  Once he got that cleaned up he could go in and clean up the rest of the material.  The surgery took three hours, and he got everything out.

What is left behind is a very large hole where the disc was… remember before I referenced that he wasn’t removing the disc, just the damaged material.  Well, so much was damaged, there was little healthy left behind.  He still didn’t want to do a fusion, though.  So, that leaves me with a very delicate area, so I have to be even more careful, with an even slower and easier progress for rehab so I don’t re-injure the area.  I see him in 4 weeks for a checkup.

I am in a back brace for when I am not in bed, and I have a walker…  not quite sure how long I will need the walker, but I’m glad I have it because I am quite unsteady on my feet, but getting stronger.

Last night, I was finally able to take a shower!  I couldn’t wait to get cleaned up and feel the hot water and just relax.  But, I blacked out.  I don’t remember much about it, I just felt icky, and that’s all I remember.  Phil said I blacked out twice, and fell… or almost fell.  I don’t remember.  Anyway, Phil took me in to the doctor, and she thinks it was from dehydration and a sudden drop of blood pressure.  So, I’m trying to make sure and drink.

That’s all I can think of right now – I’m still a little foggy, very tired and sore – I take a couple laps around the house with the walker and I’m wiped out!  If you have any questions, let me know.

I have loved getting the cards and flowers – they are so encouraging… thank you so much :)

Back Surgery: One more sleep

When the girls were little, they would get so excited about different things coming up.  Of course to small kids, it is hard to understand time concepts, so we would use how many sleeps until the event to give them a better understanding.  It worked like a charm.  I’ve used that myself for this surgery since I finally got my date, and I now only have… one more sleep until my surgery.

Just before I went back to work a year and a half ago, I was starting to deal with some back discomfort, but I played it down and didn’t take it too seriously.  Well…  I should have.  I believe what really got me was two things – one, my weight, and two, not moving around enough during the day.  So, take my advice.  If you have a desk job, set a timer to remind yourself to get up every 30 minutes and walk around for about 5.  Then, when you get home?  Move around MORE.

Anyway.

I don’t remember the exact timeline of how and when everything happened, but I have two herniated discs.  One is severe (L5, S1) and another one that is higher is not as bad.  Now, let me clarify.  A bulging disc is one that is expanded but has not leaked any of the material out.  A herniated disc, has leaked.  Now, time for a little anatomy lesson.  The bony part of your spine is the vertebrae, and in between those vertebrae are soft, cushion-y material.  That is your disc.  Think of the disc as like a jelly doughnut.  Got it?  Here is a good video on it.

So, I spent all of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 trying to, through natural remedies, get those herniated discs to go back.  Statistics vary, but only about 15% of herniated disc patients need surgery.  My pain is different than a sore back.  I have no feeling in half of my foot, and various areas of my leg, and butt, and nether regions (inside and out).  Other areas on my left side tingle like pins and needles all the time.  Often, it feels like I am being stabbed, all up and down my leg, with no warning.  And, other times my entire leg is on fire.  There are no medicines that I have taken that have helped.  Through this last year I have tried almost everything – losing weight (30+ pounds to date!), spinal manipulation, physical therapy, massage, spinal pain injections, and none of it has made a dent, and my symptoms continue to worsen.  There is very little strength and reflex left.

Back in February or March is when surgery became the only option left, and it took until June to get into the surgeon.  I am very comfortable with him – he is a highly regarded neurosurgeon at Munson Hospital in Traverse City, and he is very conservative when it comes to surgery options.  The procedure that he has decided on for me is called a microdiscectomy.  If you aren’t squeamish, you can see a simulated video of it here >>.  Basically, there is a small incision, muscles are moved out of the way, and he will clean up (not remove) the damaged disc material that is laying on and around the affected nerve(s).  There is no plan to perform a laminectomy which is removing some of the bone (this is in order to get to the disc better and sometimes involves replacement of the bone with cadaver bone), nor is there a plan to fuse the vertebrae (this is done only when the disc is removed).  The surgery takes about 3 hours, and I will reside in Hotel Munson for at least one night.  Physical therapy will start around 4 weeks post surgery.  It is estimated I will be off work for 6 weeks…. lots of unpaid time off work :)

There are two things I’m a little weird about… eyeballs and backs.  I think I’m to the point, though, that I just need to feel good again, so I’m not squeamish anymore.  And, sure, there was a time I was worried, or at least concerned about the surgery… it’s your back, and so different things run through your mind.  But, I’m just not going to think about those things.  I’m focusing on getting better.  I can’t wait to be able to go for a real walk, down my road, that doesn’t involve excruciating pain.  Or, to be able to go grocery shopping and not worry about the small window of time I have before the tingles and shooting pain begins.  Or, just not having to be on the medicine constantly to “keep the edge off”.

John 4:4
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you :)  And thank you for the prayers…  we got this!

Garden Spaces

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This year’s garden is larger scale than last year, but remains smaller scale than other years... and, smaller than what I would like, still.  Last year we decided to just grow a few tomato plants because I was still adjusting to working outside of the home.  This year, we didn’t go big like we normally do because I am going in for back surgery, and will not be able to keep up with a garden.  Yet, as usual, the idea of not doing a garden didn’t sit well.  So, we do some, just try not to go bananas.

In the normal garden area, we have a 14′ x 21′ area that has tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers and pumpkins.  Just off of that I have a couple of small trenches of potatoes.

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Because of the amount of rain that we have had, my area isn’t doing so well yet, but with a little Miracle Gro therapy, I hope the tide changes soon :)

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Phil took over the tomato plants (10 of them) and green beans that we planted on the side of the house.  They are really growing very well there!

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We have been chicken owners for four years now, and we have just recently switched things around and made them free range chickens.  There are four left of the original 10.  We were hesitant to let them free range because of our dogs, and other dogs in the area, and we were unsure how the cats would behave.  But, after a few test runs, we are thrilled that they can now have that kind of freedom, and I am sure they are as well :)

 

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