Major Disappointment

On Saturday I started to feel a familiar pressure in my right calf.  I assumed I’d overdone it and rested.  Sunday I was in Church and found that all I could focus on was the creeping up bad sensation in my leg.  Again, I rested.

On Monday, as I made my way to work and proceeded to SIT at the computer most of the day. Sitting at you computer

My leg just started to tingle and burn.  I thought well, it will still get better with rest.

Tuesday I had my follow up with the actual Neurosurgeon, not his nutty PA.

He was quite concerned about the ongoing tingling.  He put me on a prednisone pack to try to reduce the irritation and wrote me for a follow up on the 7th of April.  I will need a new MRI, and it is likely I have reherniated the disc.

In discussion with the Doctor it seems it was highly likely that this would occur.  My pars defect has apparently made my lower spine very unstable.  The Doctor explained that my original herniation was not due to severe training and the same thing may have happened with sneezing or coughing.  He also explained that I was still at risk for this with sneezing or coughing.  He really had wanted to fuse the bone, but felt I needed the other surgery emergently. My disc segment he removed was 3 cm by 3cm which apparently is quite large, about 1/3 to 1/4 of the total disk.  Usually it’s about 1 cm. It was twisted around the S1 nerve root which is why I had such difficult symptoms. So, he did the right thing in removing it as soon as I would let him.

So it’s now Friday.  I fully expected the prednisone to work miracles.  It has not.  My leg has now pretty much the same symptoms as before, though much reduced.  I’ve definitely spent a few nights crying over the situation, because it isn’t just being active that is affected.  I am in a low level of constant pain and it is very frustrating.  Many people suggest “doing something different” to occupy the mind, but it is really hard to do anything that requires deep thought because of the pain level all the time.  I do “ok” at work…but that’s enough for me right now.

On Thursday I kind of gave myself a bit of a pep talk.  I realized that to have a spinal fusion I would need about 4 weeks off from work, and I do not yet qualify for FMLA, so I will not be having a fusion until the very least November of this year.

I also realized that I had had pretty spectacular results from the 2 epidural injections I did have, given the size of the disc.  I don’t think this disk extrusion is as big since I still have great motor function.  So, this may be an option to get to feeling better.

I also had a meeting with the new coach. 10978576_10152629909261497_1566455192216217738_n

He reminded me of this.  He also was in some ways just exactly what I needed.  He listed to me very intently…took notes…admitted to some of his own foibles, and made me laugh long and hard.

I am still allowed to swim (as long as I use a swim snorkel) so he is going to give me some swimming lessons and had me order a special mat with lumbar support so I can start to do Abdominal exercises.

So… I feel as if I am back at square one, but, actually I am more like back at Square 2 in a 100 square process.  It is still better than when it first happened. I feel as if my life is just completely controlled by my back situation.  I’m trying to not let that happen, but well… Coach did say things would improve, so I’m gonna bank on his words…

Post Operative Report.

It is 4 days unit my odd follow up at 7 weeks.  I am anticipating a lot and hoping for a lot from this appointment, so I hope I have not set myself up for disappointment.

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After my post on Monday my back was miserable.  I did a lot of self-care things, like foam rolling, and rolling with a hard medicine ball, and some stretches, but it was just very attention getting.  I wanted a massage, but that is a bad idea currently.  So I was getting kind of hopeless, than I remembered muscle relaxers.  I have a few left from last year.  I took one, slept like a rock, and woke up feeling better than I had since before the surgery.  The next night I still felt great and actually kind of stayed up a bit lay just laying in bed, being amazed that I was not in some sort of pain.

So… problem pretty much solved.  My QL muscle area on my right is still very tender and sore.

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This though is to be expected from several months of trying to adjust to help my back deal with injury, the actual surgical injury and then recovery.  I think it is getting better.

I did get brave the other day and bed at the waist to pick something up. Amazingly, my disc did not pop out and nothing hurt terribly.  I still feel pretty stiff, but I’m actually about as flexible as a regular person now.

Hopeful to be back strength training, swimming and spinning by tuesday night!

As always, as I am able to incorporate more and more activity, my brain starts to work better and better, so I am now feeling much better.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend!

Loose Ends of the Week-End

What a crazy weekend I had.
Saturday I was feeling fantastic so I did a lot of exercise. More than I had in a long time. That was all good and well…
open-uri20130601-13644-16kives(No I didn’t do these things, but the picture…is good for the purpose). But I had also decided to go to see a movie with friends for a birthday celebration. Well.

We went to the movies and had dinner, then drinks, then dessert and by the time I got home it was 2 am!!!!  I really was exhausted. The environment of a night out is kind of torture to me.  There were lots of smokers, extremely loud music (so you can’t hear anyone talk, but everyone is talking..) and just the late hour.

Sunday I woke and had promised a friend I’d go to meeting with them. I felt just very very tired. I really didn’t want to go, but I also did.  It was an odd meeting…well for me.  It was a very typical Quaker meeting as far as I could tell.  People were genuine, lovely and open.  I was sleepy, and repeating in my head was very strangely one bit of the 23rd psalm.  “surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all of my days.”  I do not really find the 23rd psalm comforting or even interesting, so I never would have chosen it.  Meeting works that way.

By the time I made it to the gym, I started to “burn up the treadmill”  and noted my right upper back, far from the surgical site was miserable.  It could have been the extra exercise, the lack of rest, the late night out, or the hour plus sitting on an actually quite comfy but very straight backed chair.  So I had to cut things short.

Lots of ice.  Hoping things improve by tomorrow.

I am well past the age of staying out until 2.

Surely the Lord’s goodness and mercy do follow me all of my life.

Love to go to bed early!

6 weeks post op…

On Monday I will be six whole weeks post op.

WOW.  It actually does seem like it was longer.

I’m doing alright. I still have altered sensation in my lower leg and first two toes and on my foot.  It *seems* to be marginally improving, but so little that it is barely notable.

I’ve been able to increase both the speed and distance of my walking.  I am astounded at how out of shape I have gotten. WOW.

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So, this above lady is kind of a jerk. I’d like to see how she looks 6 months after a herniated disc.  My injury was unpleasant but I have a much better understanding of some people who are very limited in what they can do.  While injured I did everything I was allowed to do, but…it wasn’t much. This kind of statement is kind of a slap in the face. Not everyone is genetically going to look like that, nor are they going to be able to devote the time this person does to her body appearance.

My actual low back gets very sore still, but I’m assuming this will eventually work itself out as I strengthen the back.  I just try to be careful to rest it often, and realize that I can not get back into training shape in say 3 weeks after being essentially out for 6 months.

I follow up in about 2 weeks and am making a grand assumption that I will be allowed to SWIM and get on a stationary.  This should help me to start to really lose my injury weight, and also should help me to feel much better. I really miss swimming and cycling.

I’m actually afraid to bend over at the waist.  I am sure in my mind that the left over disk will just “pop out”.  So I am waiting for follow up to get some advice about this.

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Otherwise it is lovely to no longer be 100% focused on bizarre sensations.

I feel secure enough that I did register for the Alligator Lighthouse swim!  I also firmed up my Kayaker this week.  I am very excited to have him as he is a certified lifeguard, and he is just about as excited about doing it as I am.  Often, people who are support are really not into it.  He and I spoke on Wednesday and on thursday i got this text.

I spoke with R. (wife) and we are IN! I am going to support the crap out of you and you are going to do great!

I’m a wee bit worried about how expenses are going to be divvied up. I was going to just have them stay in the place we stayed before and cover that cost, but he texted they wanted to stay on a sailboat, and I was like, stay wherever you want, as long as you are present for the race and the pre race instructions.  So, I am assuming he’s going to cover the sailboat sleeping.

But it’s cool to have someone actually want to Kayak about, and be excited about my swim.

Funny thing…after the Jelly Fish experience, we are getting fewer takers.

It really is a great swim…..

So 6 weeks. I seem to be recovering.  not 100% but a lot better.

Cold March-ing in

We’ve really had some wild weather lately.  Sure, it’s tame, but this week we went from a high of 90 to a high of 60 in one day.  I keep putting away my winter coat and having to get it back out…

All is going “ok”

I’ve been trying to eat a lower carbohydrate diet for my new coaching.  No surprise here, it is difficult to do and not the most pleasant of meals.  On the plus side, I can eat bacon, which I really like.  On the minus side, carbohydrates are in a lot of things, and surprise me all the time.  I really have not lost any weight, but I also have not gained any, so…it’s a bit of a frustration.  I may just go back to counting calories.  Like the rest of the nation, I use My Fitness Pal to track food intake and exercise.  It’s been very helpful.  I love the bar code feature, if you are preparing anything that had a bar code on it (even for example, fresh cauliflower that has a bar code on the tag.).  I see a lot of great low carb recipes, but so far the two I’ve tried have ben only so -so and very difficult to prepare.  So…we’ll see!

My leg seems to have settled on down and I am no longer having the burning “leg on fire” sensation for about a week now.  That is a huge relief.  My first two toes on the foot remain with some altered sensation, but it is better than it was before, but I’m not noting any improvement now, so this may be what i get.  I do wonder how that foot is going to feel when I start running again, but that’s not for a long time now.  I’ve been able to increase my walking and hopefully in a few weeks I can start swimming again.  I feel a sense of relief that my mind is no longer dominated by pain control, I am much much more able to function.   I have some moments where I completely forget I had surgery, but not too many.  I’m at that point where people have also stopped asking about it.  That is a bit of a relief, and also well…certain people you wish would ask…

Work is quite a challenge these days.  After our meeting mid week I took over call.  It has not been a terrible burden, except for one call which took up most of my Saturday and some of Sunday as well.  It was one of the most complicated things I’ve worked on, and I’m still a bit worried that I didn’t “do it right”.  For the first time Ever I am totally looking forward to going to work, and especially the moment of getting “off call”  a bit later in this week.  Whew.  I’m still figuring out the culture of the environment and I am sure I’m forgetting stuff….but as far as work goes, I am much more relaxed on a daily basis.

Hopefully we will start having a better March….we’re having the cold hard bright sunlight.  I really want a warmer and more humid moment.  I’m not running so I might as well be as warm as I can be!

I believe as soon as I can start to swim, elliptical and bike I will start to really feel myself again. I kind of miss that person.  This person is OK…but not nearly as fun.

Moving onwards!

So week two back on the job after having the microdiscectomy.

It was in some ways easier and some much harder.

Big highlight of the work week- we got our lab coats, so now when we walk around we look “official”.  Some hospitals are not this way but ours is a cult of the lab coat- everyone has one. Our acting director was great as had them smartly embroidered with our name, credentials and the hospital logo.  Silly, but I do like mine a lot. (Great pockets in it!)

The week was easier in that I actually am now beginning to get comfortable with the system of doing things at the facility.  For example, at my old facility I did a lot of the analysis when an infection occurred. In the new facility we notify the floor and give the details and then they do a “deep dive” review and supposedly come up with an action plan.  As you might imagine, this is a bit easier on me, and if the unit itself comes up with an action plan, it’s more likely to be implemented than if I tell them what to do.

I’m starting to remember all the pieces that go with submitting an infection- where to file forms online, who to send things to, who people are and so on.

I suspect now that prior to the surgery I was in more pain than I recall because I really do not remember any of the stuff I did.  Big Blur.

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So this is good.  I like being able to connect the dots better.

On the other side, I started to try to increase my miles on the treadmill. Generally when one has had an injury, or surgery the goal is to slowly increase time and distance and endurance. So I set about doing so. Monday marked my fastest and highest miles (3 whole miles ha ha ha).  By Tuesday, I could not really remain seated in a chair for more than about 8 minutes.  Luckily I do have a door on my office and I can work a bit standing up.  I was however TERRIFIED that I had reherniated, or that this was it… I would endure this sort of thing forever. This is distressing, and extremely painful.  As in more pain for a day than before the procedure. So, it was kind of the dominant thing all week.

Luckily, I found another physician’s web page advertising his services that explained my sudden increase in pain. As he explained, walking after the surgery is very important because it reduces the amount of scar tissue that can form (and can be very painful in the back when one is allowed to bend and twist again). The other side of the coin is that the nerve root that was compressed and is healing is also irritated somewhat by walking. So it’s a balance.

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I had overdone it. After this realization, I utilized my muscle relaxers and even narcotic medications to promote sleep at night. I reduced my walking and even took an entire day off from the gym. This is apparently unusual because one of the trainers called saying he was worried that something had happened since I never came that day.  By Friday, I was feeling more energy and a decrease in symptoms! I am so relieved about this. I also feel quite pleased as I was about to call the surgeon’s office, and instead was able to figure it out on my own!

The other bright spot in the week – I firmed up the new coaching agreement. Coach K and I had a nice long chat in regards to the Alligator Lighthouse Swim, what I should be doing now, and how things are in general.  I am such a sucker for approval.  We talked for a long time and he stated he would only coach me if I would clean up my diet. This has been a long standing enormous problem for me, and while my old coach left it alone, Coach K says he just felt it was always the missing piece for me. He then added that he has been super impressed with how I just keep going with whatever I have. (Apparently he works with at least 2 other people who had back injuries who have become somewhat less than ideal coach-ees, with a lot of excuses etc). He also expressed interest coming to help supervise my swim….at least for the training swim, which is pretty cool.  We will see what happens, but I feel confident that I have a good person to work with again, which is also a relief, as I start to look at that long swim.  I’m not thinking too much about running right now, after my week of pain and wild burning, aching, throbbing, prickly feeling in my leg and glutes I feel pretty good concentrating on the walking and hopefully in a few weeks the swims.

so we’ll see, right now, it’s totally beyond me, so I can share the video from tobymac right?

Transitions.

I’ve now survived the weekend after the first week at work.

I feel a little bit off.

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I remember this time after my last surgery. I couldn’t be that active, I was not sure the surgery had been successful, and things were quite uncertain.  This passes. Just like last time I find myself exploring all sorts of craziness.

I started playing “Candy Crush Saga”  On Facebook.  Unknown-2

Seriously, it is such a waste of time, and I don’t quite get the obsession with it, but I keep playing it.  I don’t know.

I have been assured that very little can derail my mortgage at this time, so I have sat back and kind of relaxed a bit and indulged in a TINY bit of planning.  Mostly, reigning myself and my Pinterest board for my house back in. I had hoped to have enough left over to furnish the home in one fell swoop, but it looks like I will probably have a home like most people…cobbled together with pieces of furniture from friends, parents, yard sales and such.  Of course, I live in Florida, (the place old people go to die) so Estate Sales happen frequently and there is usually some very good items there.  I am thinking of looking for an upgrade on my coffee maker at them.  I have also decided to convert my fish tank into a terrarium.  I don’t know that I have the patience to balance out the pH and such for a gorgeous tank.  images-2

I’ve always liked terrariums and I think it would be interesting to watch a small micro-universe created in a 55 gallon tank.  So that’s my distractions from the obvious main issue in life.

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I am STILL having some issues with my toes/back.  I have gotten so “pro-active” that I have started drinking apple cider vinegar. The stuff is VILE! It is touted for a lot of health benefits- weight loss, diabetes control, you name it.  It is not promoted for nerve health, but I know a relatively logical woman who started to drink it after her hand went numb after surgery and her numbness has disappeared.  She was like…could be a coincidence, or not… So…I looked into it.  Vinegar itself is not harmful, so I decided why not try it out. I’ve had 2 doses so far and enjoyed neither one, nor have I felt any particular miracle improvement.  I have not gotten worse though.  It takes time and is frustrating.

I also signed up like a crazy person for the Swim for the Alligator Lighthouse.

It’s a huge long swim.  about 9 miles.  I know that training will be fine for this, and while sometimes I’m a little slow…I usually can keep going. The two challenges are the nasty Jelly Fish and making sure I swim fast enough for the cut off.  If the weather is better this year it should be easier.

Signing up cheered me up a lot.  Now if I could actually get into any body of water.

Follow up is the 3rd week in March, so I have a long way to wait for that clearance.

So it’s a lot of wait and see.  I’m definitely “over” the surgery…now I am just waiting to see if I can either get used to the deficit or if it will go away.  I sure wish it would go.  The longer I go without seeing a slight improvement, the less positive I feel, but…who knows, maybe apple cider vinegar is the secret?