Why I might not take you up on your invitation to Turkey…

So if you follow my blog, most of you know that my “prince charming”  or even my “Prince I can get along with you”  really has never shown up. It’s a little strange, as I have a pretty great social life which revolves around open water swimming, and other outside pursuits, but what the heck… I’m not a super model, and I’m now at an age where people are in general either married or going through some kind of relationship turmoil…


So every year I either go home to my parents, or gather with my parents at my sister and her husband’s home.  Alternatively, I  simply stay home.  For the past two years my excuse has been my back injury and recovery.  It’s an excuse, but really sitting on an airplane last year would be uncomfortable, and this year, I can not imagine trying to schlep through an airport.  Plus, I have discovered that a summer visit is more lovely, and about 50% less expensive in airline fare than the holiday thing.  Less stressful as well.

Because of this, I am often invited to many friend’s homes over the varying holidays. Most of the time, I politely turn them down.  I usually actually say that I’ve already made plans elsewhere with some other family.  I sometimes really regret this because as an American through and through I ADORE the traditional Thanksgiving Feast.  I can not think of a more favorite meal than the turkey, sweet potato casserole thing, regular potatoes, stuffing, cranberry… you name it, I really like eating it.

I really always appreciate the invites.  I do.  Honestly though, for the most part, they feel a bit strange.

I mean think about it as you invite someone over to spend Thanksgiving day with your family.

When you don’t KNOW the family, and only know one individual, one feels a little like the “Example”  you know, the strange loner that you invite to holiday dinner to set an example for your kids.  To the guest, all of the traditions that you hold dear are going to be pretty foreign to me.  All holiday family traditions are a little corny, and while sitting through certain ones with family is just part of the ritual, for a stranger, it can be very awkward. The entire visit can be spent “getting to know you”  and it can just not be that fun.  The holidays can be stressful, and it can be difficult to get a full on feast on the table on time and keep your children from mutinying and get the TV off etc… adding a stranger into the mix can just make it crazy.  If your kids may possibly have some difficulty with the excitement, you may be faced with some very badly behaved children in front of your friend, who is going to be just as embarrassed as you are.  Your kids are always angels right?  Trust me, no one enjoys sitting through any  kind of family conflict.

Should you not extend the invite?  Actually I think you should.  Lots of people don’t feel like I feel and I think would love to join your table.  And there are loads of exceptions…

Foreign exchange students/workers.  I think these folks really should always be included in traditional celebrations.  Firstly, they may not have had an opportunity to take part before, an if you were overseas, I imagine you’d want to learn about the local celebrations also.  Plus, if they are students, living in a dorm, really everyone is gone and it’s going to feel strange, so having something to do is a good good thing.

Friends who are “like family”.  If you have a friend who regularly comes over to your house to watch the game, or make crafts… or your family regularly spends lots of time with them…then they really are part of your family, maybe even more so than your great aunt who you see only once a year.  Your kids know them, your spouse knows them.  In fact, it might be strange to stretch out on the couch, turn on football and try to squeeze in another slice of pie without them.

Your holiday is disrupted.  If your spouse is in the service, or working out of state, everything is going to feel strange anyway.  One year my friend invited me over when her husband was gone for Thanksgiving.  She and her family decided to make pizza.  It was very casual and I did accept.  We knew the day and were watching the parade on TV, but all of the traditions were kind of thrown out the window…so having a stranger there didn’t seem so strange.

You want to invite multiple lone people.  If you have 4 people invited that are spending Thanksgiving alone, it becomes more like a dinner party with a traditional meal, than the one charity invite.  Heck you might even set some folks up on that day, why not.  The same friend as the Pizza lady invited me one year and had invited a few of her husband’s single co workers as well, so we all just hung around and it was much more like a party than Thanksgiving dinner.

So, that’s my take on it.  If you want to extend an invitation, always do so, because it’s always better to have options than none… but don’t be too terribly surprised if the invite isn’t taken up….It’s still super appreciated!


Recovery Mode

So I’ve kind of entered the blah phase of recovery mode.  I feel “pretty good” most of the time. I’m not laying about in any kind of agonizing pain.  I am also very limited in what I can and can not do which is draining to be thinking about how I’m getting up, rolling over in bed, getting in or out of a car…. I feel as if one wrong move will undo everything the surgeon did.

One really big wrong move could of course… or a repetitive series of small wrong moves, but… 90% of people fuse, and so I imagine since I am being careful… I should be part of the 90%.  604_Bone_cells.jpg

I will find out if I am starting to show any signs of bone growth in late December, so for now I am just eating this astounding amount of protein, and not doing a lot of bending lifting or twisting.

So yesterday after really doing only basic things, I decided to go out and do quite a lot.  It’s post operative day like 17 so I really have recovered.

I went to a Friendsgiving.


It was delicious and fun, and since I am not going anywhere for the holiday it was MY thanksgiving- so turkey, yams, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry.  I fear I’d been cloistered in my home so long that maybe I talked too much, but  that is the way of things.  I had a lot of fun.

I stayed about 3 hours and then wanted to go on down to a fund raiser/swim party at the lake. So I drove about 40 minutes down there…


And obviously did not swim, but took some photos and hung out with my friends.  This what what they were doing swimming 5K in a lake at dusk….


Since I could not swim, I did bring along a tiny donation and enjoyed seeing everyone else, and the afterparty.

It’s kind of funny.  I have to wear a brace now pretty much 100%  of the time Im out in public.  It’s not super comfortable, and when I see myself in it, I look a bit thick through the middle.  Most people seem to not even have noted.  So either they aren’t looking carefully, or they are being super polite in not mentioning that I seem to have grown.  Pretty sure when I get permission to ditch the brace, a lot of people will comment on how much weight I’ve lost.

So I went to the party saw some folks I knew, ate all sorts of good food again and then… abruptly, it started to POUR rain.  This is pretty rare in Florida in late November.  It rained and rained.  I hung around probably 45 minutes to an hour longer than I really wanted to… hoping it would stop, and finally braved it to drive home.  I hate driving in rain at night because well… Dark, wet, turnpike at 70 MPH what could go wrong?

So I did make it home.  I walked the dog and then apparently slept like a rock for the next 8 hours.  Definitely too too much for one day 17 days after surgery.  Still, I was amazing to be out, to see people and chat with them.

Today I just want to primarily rest, hang out on the couch, maybe do some Pre black friday Christmas shopping… and  keep my back “quiet”

I know that once back at work, the 90 days of “quiet back”  will fly by… but right now…


It’s taking some time.  In fact, I was just wishing i could go for a short swim…and then laughing at recalling how many times last year toward the end of the training I’d stare at the pool and just groan at having to get in again….. Always want what you don’t have…


First Follow up

So I had my first follow up.  I admit it started out a bit rough… I got checked in and all was well, until the assistant smiled and said, oh you are scheduled to see “Rob” today.  Now, Rob is a PA and I’m sure a very good one, but I’ve never met Rob, and I gotta admit, I wasn’t having it.  I said I don’t really mind but I was expecting to see the surgeon… I really am not a fan of seeing PAs.  Honestly some of them have less experience in healthcare than I do, and I’ve just not been too impressed.  I also wanted it explained why I didn’t have the anterior approach I thought I was having. At the same time, one doesn’t want to be a jerk, right, so I was like alright…

Luckily I think the MA saw my irritation, and possibly the MD also overheard it.  She shut the door and within about 45 seconds she reopened it telling me, Dr. H. will come see you.

In fairness, there isn’t much to do at a 2 week follow up for Neurosurgery. There’s been not enough time to see if fusion has occurred, and if one is having intense neurological symptoms, well.. that’s par for the course, so… a PA doing that first follow up kind of makes sense..and honestly if it had been Mr. Abass who I met several times in the hospital, I probably would have felt better about it.

Dr H. did come in and see me, and he was just as great as ever.  He never did explain really why he chose the posterior approach, over the anterior, because I’m not really sure he knows why.  One reason was the spacer device he chose. He implanted a new device that seems to frankly be enormous.  He told me it was a “really big spacer”  so I assume I’m not the only one thinking it looked huge on the film.  It apparently goes in as a circle and kind of turns/ expands into a V… I of course tried to look it up and can’t really find it. He uses Lifespine devices, and even though I understood perfectly what the device does, I can’t really recognize it on the Lifespine website.  Whatever it is, he did confirm that I could indeed run with it and the 4 tiny screws and 2 little teeny rods that hold my L5 to my S1 now.

He checked all of my nerve sensation, and we discussed the continued symptoms in my leg.  No guarantees on those symptoms going away, but I expect just as in the past, some will go, and some will remain.  I mentioned to him that my left hand did go numb.  I thought he would kind of look at me like I was nuts, instead he went nuts.  He was all over checking my strength and reflexes in my upper arms.  I mumbled that  I didn’t really care much as long as I could run. He looked me in the eye and said, well that’s nice, but I CARE if your hand got damaged.  He explained that apparently a lot of needles are stuck into nerves to monitor sensation and that while nothing apparently went awry during the surgery, there is that risk, or perhaps something was placed incorrectly for the entire surgery. So I’m glad I mentioned it, even if it seemed silly to me.

The next follow up is with films in late December.  I’m allowed back to ambulate in the pool in 2 more weeks.

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Admittedly, I discovered last year that pool walking is really horrible exercise.  I know there are a lot of websites that say it is great, but honestly when I did it instead of the running, cycling and regular swimming I was used to doing, I got weaker and fatter.  So, since I am allowed actual walking… the addition of water walking is probably not critical except that it gives me TWO activities I can do at the gym.  He did veto any type of lifting and clarified that he really does want that brace worn most of the time… kind of a bummer on the brace because I actually kind of hate it.

We left laughing with each other because I am very excited about gaining a few millimeters of height.  He’s not the tallest, and said, “I should have these spacers put in”  and I of course said, Oh no, you are perfect.  This was overheard by a variety of office staff who immediately set upon him to which he replied “Story of my life, man, story of my life”  I must say… I like the newer younger generation of surgeons.  They appear to be real people committed to excellence.

So… put generally  – I do feel positive.  I am able to go back to work on the 27th.  He asked if i didn’t want to just take that Friday off too and enjoy the holiday, but I really would prefer to get the 8 hours of pay…and start to get back into the swing of things.  I honestly wish I never had to go back to any work, but… that is not the way of the world.  People always say Oh you’d get bored, but I really never would.  If I could maintain the same income and not work ( ha ha ha ha) I’d do a lot of gym working out, some volunteering, and I would have the cleanest home ever.  I currently am doing none of those things, because I’m unable to bend lift or twist, so actually I might as well be sitting at work.  I thought I’d miss work, but I don’t, however, I don’t remember hating it, so I will probably get used to going back there daily.  I’m still getting very fatigued, but… this is in over a week, and who knows how I’ll feel by then…I assume by then I’ll feel stronger.

Indulging in a back update

So… my first follow up is thankfully in 2 days.

I got the robot call to remind me that the appointment is at 10:00 am, which is also a good thing because I thought it was at about 1:30.

It’s also a good thing it’s earlier in the day because oddly today, I started to get a wee bit restless. I blame my Mother. ill-show-her-when-i-grow-up-im-going-to-blame-my-mother-for-everything-wrong-with-my-life-720b5.png

Not exactly but I was on the phone with her today and she did her usual doom and gloom and told me, “Oh be prepared that the doctor may tell you your surgery was not at all successful”….

I suppose this is possible.  BUT.. to be honest, every follow up I’ve ever been to the Doctor always asks how I’m feeling first…(smart move right… if the patient says they are pleased, then there’s no issue even if there is an issue).  and secondly, when things don’t go well with surgery there are usually signs, you know… Like increased pain… drainage of nasty things from the surgical site.

Since the surgery I’ve had improved stability when walking, no drainage from any surgical site, and in general,  decreased pain.  To ME it seems that things are moving along as we had hoped.  Prior to leaving the hospital all of my post operative X-rays looked “great”.  There were no complications that I was told about during the procedure.  So, the idea that the follow up would go poorly is kind of strange.

I have some questions about the procedure itself, since I don’t really know what he did… he can answer them I’m sure because he was there and did the stuff, I’the only person in that room that had anesthesia.

I want to get back in the pool… and since I’m looking well healed I imagine I’ll be able to start pool walking….and maybe treading water which is much more interesting than pool walking.

I want to understand better why the no bending/twisting/ restrictions..is it to minimize pain or to maximize fusion.  Again, I’m fairly sure we can discuss this.

I also want to know about the monstrosity Brace. LSO1.jpgLSO1.jpg

He told me it was for “comfort only”…. But all the printed material says to wear it any time I’m out of bed. I’ve been wearing it a lot… but occasionally at 2 am it just doesn’t make it on from the bed to the bathroom.  The darn thing is super heavy.  It was the one confusing thing, so I’m again pretty sure he can clarify what that meant…

I am terrified that I may be doing too much “twisting” and a little bit of “bending”  I’m not actually bending, but I have been known to squat down a little while keeping the back straight- which still puts some pressure on the back. I do want to protect that bone graft, but well, it’s a hard concept for me to get for some reason.

I do still have some very irritating and not pleasant neurological symptoms, but based on how my leg feels I think they are working on healing, and I’m fairly sure the surgeon will have an opinion on those as well…

The one thing I REALLY want to know, but won’t, is if I am starting to fuse.  It’s too early. Apparently the earliest evidence of beginning of fusion can be seen is usually 6 weeks post op. So… while I desperately want reassurance that I appear to be fusing….I won’t have it until… about December 16th or whenever he orders the X-rays…. I just read that some people have a complication of “Exuberant bone growth”  Which put a funny cartoon in my head… but apparently no one else finds this funny, at least not on the internet.  I did kind of think about the enormous amount of supplements I take to encourage bone growth…with a bit of concern…

So I expect the follow up will go well, really but my Mom, you know… puts ideas into my pea brain.

Now all I can think of the few things that aren’t quite perfect, like the small bits of pain I have left in my back… the odd extra big swelling on the R side incision compared to the Left… which could be just about anything…from migrating hardware to just big swelling….


Good thing I essentially have only one day to wait…

Fingers crossed. (and yes, I’m going to continue to love my Mom but avoid chatting with her for a while…)

Why I Celebrate St Lucia Day…. Or a mild discussion of xenophobia.

Maybe I should wait for St. Lucia day (December 13, if you don’t know…) to post this, but I think I’ll post it up now.

I’ve been dismayed lately.  I’m seeing a lot of just depressing stuff on Facebook… my window to the outer world as I recover from surgery.Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 9.03.51 AM.png

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So… It’s no joke that I take issue with all of this nonsense.  I admit, having lived overseas in South Sudan, I may be a WEE BIT less liberal than some, because  after my time in S. Sudan I realized that North Africa really was actually quite a great place to have people disappear, become completely brainwashed and emerge as very very dangerous people.  So, I’m not just all peace love and hugs to everyone.  That said, of course the majority of refugees are in general going to be people literally seeking a better life, a safe life. The situation in these places is awful, and something most comfortable Americans and Europeans couldn’t really understand.  Even people here win the US living in abject poverty tend to have it a bit better than some Sudanese or Syrians.

There is this prevalence of fear of the unknown, and this discussion of how “these” people don’t want to assimilate… and how awful that is.  (Of course the Amish in PA and OH don’t want to assimilate either, but we think of them as good furniture and pie makers who are quaint and charming?)  I thought the story of St Lucia day to be perfect.

My family is of Scots-Irish-Welsh origin we believe.  (Yep if I did 23 and me, I am 100% sure I’d finally find the W. African genes that gave me and my Mom and her Mom the weird kinky hair we have) but as far as the amateur genealogists have discovered we are pretty UK type persons.

Every year on December 13, as long as I can recall, I and my sister celebrated St. Lucia Day.  My Mom made St. Lucia day buns, and my sister and I would take turns each year waking up our household in a white nightgown with the crown of candles…. My mom even came to my school when I was in second grade and taught the class about the tradition. (with construction paper candles of course!)


So every year, we eagerly awaited this holiday, especially as it helped to kind of ease some of the building Christmas excitement.  (I don’t know how my mom dealt with all that craziness, because I LOVE Christmas, and even now get really crazy about it).

In college, my Mom who is pretty great by the way, helped us to continue the tradition by sometimes sending up a little gift. I was opening a little gift and explaining my understanding of St. Lucia day to one of my friends another friend kind of looked at me…


(I do kind of look scots-irish don’t I?)

and said, I didn’t know you were Swedish.  I was like, I’m not, we always celebrate this holiday.  To be honest, I was a little surprised to find out it was more of a Swedish tradition.  I had NO IDEA, I thought you know, that most people celebrated St. Lucia day.   So… I looked it up and talked more to my Mother about it.  How did this very not Nordic family start to celebrate this holiday?

Turns out growing up my Mother’s neighbors were a childless couple from Sweden.  My Mom apparently enjoyed visiting the wife especially, and was gifted with many items, such as…


And some cooking lessons for making the St. Lucia day buns.  As well as a lesson on what St. Lucia day really was.  So… because of my Mom’s neighbor…we celebrate St. Lucia day.  I still celebrate it in my own way it is a festival of hospitality as well as light, so I choose to attempt to bring light into the world.

What a lovely tradition that my mother learned from her immigrant neighbors, right?  What a nice way for our family to grow.  Charming? right? I think so.  I’m always grateful that my Mom had this great relationship with her neighbors who taught her so much.

My sister is married to a man of Italian heritage.  Her kids celebrate St. Lucia day.  (So hard as she only has boys)…again not really in tradition. They also celebrate all sorts of italian traditions I know very little about!

My Mother’s neighbors apparently got along well in the community back in the 1950’s. Of course they were similar in appearance etc… But they were different and brought all sorts of different traditions with them.

Should they have assimilated and stopped celebrating something that really isn’t a mainstream American celebration?

I really don’t think so.  The woman taught my Mom something that has added to the life of our family is a very positive way.

I think it only adds to our uniqueness as Americans.  We are not homogeneous.  We embrace a lot of traditions and things that may not have been originally ours.  We understand and accept wild differences between people… or at least, I thought we did.


I really wish that every single person who has posted the junk I reposted here from Facebook would have to meet and spend time with someone that they insist is too foreign for America, or someone who “does not want to assimilate” and get to know just a little bit about their hopes and dreams and ideals and the whys of what they do that seems SO STRANGE to us.  Most parents, refugee and otherwise worry about their children’s success…


and they do want their kids to fit in.  The trick is for them to fit in without losing a cultural identity entirely.  One way to help is for people to be more interested/accepting of some cultural differences.  Kids hide stuff that will make them a target of ridicule…adults as well.

Maybe this holiday season, we should all try to find a festival we don’t know too much about and take part in some part of it.  Maybe.  We might even just ask our co workers event ones who look like us… to describe how they are getting ready for this time of year, I imagine we’d learn a lot.  If there is someone newly here from somewhere else… it would be a great time to reach out. Invite them to a holiday brunch, not to convert them, but to share time with them. Share of yourself, and allow them to share of themselves.  It’s long overdue. We are missing out on so much by pretending to protect ourselves.






Turn of Events…

I think I’m still actually ok but I definitely have had a bit of an icky day.  It started off OK, I got up, walked the dog, had coffee and was starving, I actually had that weird floaty need food feeling, so I grabbed a Victory bar.


I ate it down and continued to sip my weird coffee concoction.  I’ve been drinking this for a few weeks now, but after about ah hour, I felt incredibly hungry still, and then nauseous….

stomach virus.


Vomiting is never really fun.  With a fresh spinal fusion…it was a really frightening experience.  Because I’d been laying down, I didn’t have my big brace on to help you know, BRACE myself.  It was not that terrible, but I was scared that I’d squeeze out my cage or mess something up.

I also luckily had some zofran (anti emetic) which I took, and then drank up some seltzer.  Honestly, I really just wanted and still want some alka seltzer.

Sadly no Aspirin, no NSAIDS for 306 months.  I never knew how much I really and truly love aspirin.  I had to make do with a singulair for asthma and allergies, a tylenol and the zofran.

No more vomiting, but I gotta admit, I still feel very queasy.  Lets hope this passes quickly.  Because I now feel you know, kind of yucky, but it has nothing to do with the spine I think!


Spine Post op Day 11…

So, I have officially in my mind made it over the bad surgery hump.  I’ve been feeling pretty good nd strong over the past few days.  i have noted though that my energy, which I think is normal is pretty low. Example:

Today I woke up super early (probably because I fell asleep last night at like 8 pm)  I thought it was six, so I walked the dog, made a coffee concoction of coffee, vitamin D oil, and some collagen.  As I sat down to enjoy that interesting beverage I realized the one clock I had glanced at was never changed for DST…. so it was 5 am.

By 8 am I headed over to the gym.  I wanted to get my treadmill walking in and hopefully see some people.

I was able to walk for 45 minutes at a slow pace.  I covered 1.7 miles.  After I got off I saw my friends Kathy and Dave.  It was nice to chat with them. Dave has some freaky back problems so he listened kindly to my discussion… i then realized I had an hour to kill before my “breakfast with the girls” So I decided to hit Publix – they make an incredible onion rye bread.

So I picked up some apples, the bread and butter and headed to the girls breakfast out where I sat and chatted happily away with 3 other ladies for a few hours.  We were on our way out when we saw a table of white haired ladies, we nudged each other and said… that will be us in 10 years.  Seriously I hope it is us. What a treasure to have friendships that last.  We lingered a bit and I realized I just had to GO home.  and Lay down.  I got home around 1:30 and lay on the couch with a protein shake, the dog and the tv until I realized it was 4 pm….  travelers-diarrhea_456px

Yes, I guess if 45 minutes of slow walking, a trip to the store and to the cafe wears me out, I’m not QUITE ready to be back at work.  But I’m hopeful that maybe by Wednesday the 25th I can return.  That would be ideal because traffic will be super light due to holiday, I will have to take the next day off, so I can rest, and then go again on Friday, and then a full weekend off to be ready for a full week.

My back is still a tiny bit sore, and my poor poor tortured right leg still has a variety of neuropathies.  That said, I think they are improving, and generally nerves heal at a crazy rate of 1 inch per month.  So…I’ve got an entire leg… of inches….

I feel positive, and like things are going well.  I just hope my surgeon also feels positive this Thursday.