Sunday, January 22, 2012

Good Butt Kicking!

Week #10

I had a good week. My left hip has stayed in place since being "popped" back in. It isn't hurting nearly as much, more sore than anything. I did push it a little far this week, but when I felt the tweaking of pain, I backed down from what I was doing. Both PT sessions went great! Tuesday was aqua and Lisa kicked my butt. She had me for another 1.5 hour session. She started working with me on advanced core exercises and balancing. The core-no problem; balancing-not so good! :-) I'm really glad that I was working my core, even with the pain, prior to surgery because I really feel that all that work has helped with how good my recovery has progressed. Thursday was my first land session and Kevin, more than Lisa, definitely kicked my butt!! :-) But it was good. I did better than I thought I would be capable of at this point post-op. That session was 1.5+ hour session and needless to say, I was a little tired when I was done. I could feel that I have a ways to go to regain my strength and stamina, but I'm able to keep up with what they are having me do and advance with little difficulty! I have to say, I'm excited because I can see that with continued effort, things will just keep getting better and better. I asked Kevin this week about his recommendations about hiring a personal trainer and he laughed a little. He said that I don't even need to be thinking about advancing that much until 6+ months post-op. I told him I'm ready to get back in shape and take things to the next level. I need to put the cart before the horse! One day at a time...blah, blah, blah!!! :-) It is much easier said than done some times, but I will slow down so I don't hurt myself and my progress.

I went for my weekly massage. I'm still sore in my hips and legs, but it has lessened some this week. I'm still med free which is great! I'm so happy that I haven't had to revolve me recovery around that aspect. I have been tempted though lately to take my sleeping pills because I'm still not sleeping well and I don't want to get worn down (more than I kind of feel now). I have an appointment with my PCP on Wed and will talk to her about my not sleeping. Also, hopefully she will order my 12 week x-rays without a problem.

Well folks, only 3 more weeks until I have to go back to work. I don't know how I feel about that. I'm definitely looking forward to having something to occupy more of my daily time, but I'm a little anxious about getting back into the swing of things. I have been keeping track of all the changes that have been happening via email, but it isn't the same as being there. I have been the go to person at work for so long and I have been on top of all the insurance changes, policy changes, new committee meetings, I'm a member of our Ethics Committee, JCAHO accredited Joint Committee and our Spine Committee, along with several other committees that having not been since August, I think I'm going to be spinning my wheels for a few weeks getting back. Plus, with Dr. Clavel wanting me to transition back and not start out full speed will make it take a little longer to get back on top of it all. I will just have to do what I can and take it one day at a time...hopefully, that will be enough.

Well...that is all for this week. Hope everyone is well and things are positive!  :-)

Take care,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Milestone #4-Two Months Post-Op

Week #8

The week started out really well. I had a great aqua session on Tuesday. I was able to start using ankle weights to increase the benefits of my work out. My let hip was still hurting  and my legs were really tight, but things were moving forward without too many problems. One concern though was that my hip pain was getting worse and sometimes it was causing me to compensate while ambulating again. I had been compensating due to issues with my back for so long that my gait suffered more than I realized prior to surgery. I was doing whatever I could (within the scope of my recovery process) to try and get my hip pain to resolve because I didn't want to develop any more bad habits that might cause a problem with my hardware. But I have to say, I was definitely starting to limp more because I was feeling lots of shooting pains when trying to roll from the left to the right foot. usual, I was just trying to block it out and move on, but it wasn't always working.

So Tuesday went great. Wednesday, not so much. I woke up with what I thought was a migraine. My head felt like it was going to explode (of course it didn't...thank goodness). :-) I thought maybe it was related to all the work that I had done at PT the day before, so I basically stayed in bed all day hoping that it would go away, but by the end of the night, things got worse. I started to develop hot/cold episodes, my body ached all over and I was nauseous. Basically, I was feeling like garbage. By Thursday morning, I felt like I had been hit by a bus!! :-(  I don't know if I had some strain of the flu (and before anyone asks...yes, I got my vaccine) or if my body finally told me that it needed me to slow down and try to get some more rest. I still haven't been sleeping very well and I stopped taking the sleeping pills over a month ago because I didn't want to become dependent on them for sleeping. By Saturday, I was feeling better, but still a little run down.

Week #9-this week

I'm so excited because my therapist was able to manipulate my left hip properly back into place on Tuesday! My internal rotation was immediately back and I was able to lift my knee to my chest with no problem. It has been 8 weeks of the hip pain being very pronounced after surgery, but today I realized it has probably been closer to 5 months because I really was having internal rotation problems prior to surgery when getting a few Thai massages before leaving for Spain. Kevin, my new hero, told me that if it slips out again, he will pop it back in so I won't have to worry. The only reason I was able to have him do it on Tuesday was I had a progress assessment prior to my aqua session. I asked if he could pop it back in place and he said he could, but he looked a little nervous. He asked me if I understood that it could really hurt and I told him that I assumed it would, but that I was ok with short term pain for a long term goal. So...two hard pulls more pain! I'm amazed!

After the re-assessment I went to my aqua session where Kevin told Lisa (aqua director) to "kick my butt because I'm strong and can handle it!" Well, I have to say, she really pushed me and it felt good. I spent about a hour and a half in the pool doing a lot of new exercises and I left tired and sore, but very proud of were I am at physically for being 8 weeks post-op. All tested areas improved from my initial evaluation, I can sit for 2+ hours at a time with minimal repositioning, I am off all medications (except for an occasional Ibuprofen 800), and I can ambulate a mile+ on my good days. Now that my left hip is back in place...who knows what I will be able to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm still REALLY tight
and sore, along with still getting tired easily, but these are all things I can work on. I honestly didn't think that I would virtually be free of low back pain this soon.

I almost don't know how to feel about that since it has been part of my daily life for 27 years. I will have to reprogram my brain to not worry so much about how I'm physically going to make it through the daily demands my staff and block out the pain because meds weren't an option in my work environment. I'm very relieved and thankful that I now have this chance to regain some of the life that I lost and was limited to for so long!

Thursday was another great aqua session. I was in the pool again for 1.5+hours because I asked Lisa to give me more to do. She told me I could stay as long as I wanted so I made sure to maximize the opportunity. She gave me more new exercises, had me on the treadmill longer, and advised that next week she is going to increase my ankle weights from 4lbs to 7-8lbs to see how I do. I'm ready...bring it on!! :-) Also, next week I'm going to start experimenting with land sessions too. Tuesday will be aqua and Thursday will be land. Wish me luck because I think that are both going to kick my butt!! :-)

Last tidbit. Mark and I went out to dinner with friends tonight and I was told that each time the wife has seen me since returning from Spain (probably about 4-5 times) she sees improvement. It was nice to hear that someone else besides Mark and family is noticing that my physical recovery is going well. Most people are amazed I'm doing so well when they realize that I had such major surgery just a little over 2 months ago and that I'm off all meds!! I guess our decision to turn me into the bionic back was a good one thus far!! :-)

Hope everyone is doing well. Have a good week and take care!!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Long Overdue Update, here it is. I have been "gently" harassed and chastised by my husband to sit down and update the blog! :-) I have been remiss again and I apologize for not keeping in mind that people might actually be looking at the blog to see my progress.

Week #5- pain (avg daily 4-6)
I started to drive again. I didn't realize that it had been over six weeks since I had driven last. It was a little difficult to find a comfortable position in my seat because several different people had driven my car before I took control again, but once I got the seat and mirrors where I needed them, it was more comfortable for me to drive than be a passenger. I cut back on the pain meds. Still only using them for assistance with sleeping. I think the Cymbalta is helping some with the neuropathic pain, but I was still so tight that I couldn't really tell.

Week #6 pain (avg daily 3-5)
I cut out pain meds all together. I'm taking Ibuprofen 800mg PRN. Only med I'm taking daily is the Cymbalta, but I had to adjust the time because I was taking it too late in the morning and it was keeping me up all night. That is another reason I stopped the pain meds. I could tell that the stimulant in the Cymbalta and the depressant in the pain meds were warring and I was the one losing because I couldn't sleep. I stopped the pain meds Tuesday night and I have been better ever since. I had my first PT session on Tuesday. The assessment went well. My left leg is definitely weaker than my right but I am able to lift it off the floor now with no problem. However, my IT band is extremely sore because it is so tight. Also, my internal rotation is pretty much non-existent right now. I'm having pain when I try to increase my stride length. It hurts when I'm roll to the ball of my left foot and push off to the right leg. It will get better, but it is a little annoying with trying to regain a more normal gait. I got another massage. Have gotten a few since being home. Not really sure that it is helping, but I can't see that it is hurting either so...I'm going to con't for a few weeks and reassess the efficacy to see if I notice a difference.

I made a radical decision...I cut all my hair off! My surgery in 1998 ruined my hair. Prior to surgery it was very think and curly, but after having 2 surgeries in 2 completely changed. I lost my curl for over 6 years, but I never regained the thickness. I was hoping that it wouldn't be the same scenario this time, but I could see that it was heading that way. Starting at about week 2, every time I took a shower, I would end up with the drain completely covered with the hair I was shedding. Sad, but true!!! Prior to surgery, my hair was in the middle of my back. I had 4 inches cut off prior to leaving for Barcelona. When I made the decision to cut it...I knew that I wanted it cut OFF! So...the day I went to the salon, my hair was a few inches past my shoulders and is tight to the back of my neck. Had I thought about it prior to the 4 inches being cut, I should have waited until I came home and donated to Locks of Love...but unfortunately, I wasn't thinking that far ahead. Needless to say, there was a lot of hair on the floor when she was done!!! I love it and it is so much easier!! No hair dryer. A little product and go. It's good for a low maintenance chick like me!! :-)

Week #7 pain (avg daily 2-3)
Started PT for real this week. Tuesday was my first session was on land because there were some issues with the pool's temperature being too cold and not ready for aqua sessions. My therapist Lisa said that she can tell that I'm going to be very functional more quickly than most, but still she didn't want to push me too much my first session. She is the aqua director and advised that she knows that the first few weeks she will be able to do more with me in the pool. Many of the stretches she could tell easily that I'm very tight and will need a while to loosen up. I just hope that I will start feeling the tightness lessen soon because I would like to move past this part to really start regaining what I have lost over the past 13 years. Walking and sitting are getting better daily. She had me ride the recumbent bike for 10 minutes and I was able to do that with no problem which was encouraging. I didn't know that it would be that easy. Thursday was my first aqua session and it is amazing even in the water I could feel all the muscles screaming that they didn't want to move! :-) I definitely was able to move a little easier and I walked on the treadmill in the water for over 15 minutes. The goal there was to try to walk with as "normal" a gait as possible knowing all the problems I'm still having with my left hip. I could tell that I had worked my muscles when I was done, but I was able to push myself which was good. I thought that I would need some meds when I got home, but all I needed was to lay down for a little while and I was better.

I have to say that at week #7 I didn't think that I would be doing as well as I am. I have relatively little back pain. It is more muscle tiredness or positional issues right now. I know that I'm not supposed to bend or twist yet, but I'm doing a little to see what I can handle. Haven't really lifted too much to this point. I will increase as I feel comfortable, but more in the PT setting for now.

I know this sounds weird, but I don't know what it will be like to be pain free. It's almost like if I don't have "some" pain, will I be able to feel anything anymore? I have had some degree of pain for so long (27 yrs) that I don't know what "normal" feels like.  I don't think I will mind if there is a little twinge because that has been my "normal" for so long that it reminds me that I'm at least feeling something.

Well folks, I think that I have babbled for long enough. I apologize again to those who have been looking for this update. I will be better come the New Year!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Milestone #3-1 Month Post-Op

Hard to believe that I'm already 30 days out from my surgery. All things being considered, I guess I'm surprising myself that I'm doing so well. I'm happy because with a 3 level ADR, I really expected to have muscle spasms because I had read so many posts from others that have had severe pain from their spams. I hope I'm not jinxing myself, but no spasms to date. I thought for sure that I would since L 3-4, L4-5 collapsed and I was gaining the height from having the 3 replaced. Don't get me wrong, I have had other pains to deal with during this recovery, just really glad spasms hasn't been among them.

Let's see...what have I been doing. Walking more. Trying to slowly increase my sitting time since it still is uncomfortable to sit too long. I can lift my left leg higher, but it is still painful to lift it more than about 8 inches off the floor. Still have to manually lift it into my car. I have gone out for a few short outings, but find that I can't really stay out longer than about 2-3 hours without by lower back getting sore. Pain meds, I'm down to take only prior to going to bed. Started Cymbalta this week for the neurogenic/neuropathic pain which seems to be helping some and assisting with not having to take pain meds during the day. My PCP thinks that I have fibromyalgia (diagnosed prior to leaving for Spain) so she thinks that trying this new med will help with some of the residual pain. I didn't believe that Cymbalta was used for this type of thing, I thought it was just for depression, but the pharmacist and the literature included assured me that it was. Go figure! :-)

Still trying to work everything out for PT to start, but I'm not worried. Have been doing my home exercises and am waiting to see what will happen with that. My main goal right now is to try and strengthen my legs and regain some flexibility in them. I'm so tight, it is ridiculous. I thought that getting several Thai massages the 2 weeks prior to surgery would help at least a little to keep me loose...WRONG! :-) Need to look into getting a massage next week to see if that will help.

Well folks, that is about it for this week.

Take care!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Can't believe it! thought I wouldn't post until next week, huh? Well, I guess I fibbed! :-) This is a good thing so I thought I would post. I was very excited today and I don't know that anyone will really care, but I was happy. My abdominal swelling has gone down to the point that I could wear "real" pants today. No work out pants...a pair with a zipper and button! I still have a little pooch, but it's easily hidden. So either I didn't have a hematoma or the heat has helped it to reabsorb. My incision is very sensitive right now, but I expected that for the first few months so I'll just deal with the weird sensations.

However, something not so good happened today, as well. I finally got a call back from my PCP's assistant regarding my call to her to discuss my pain meds and getting the prescription from her to start PT. Well, unlike what we discussed pre-surgery, she had her assistant tell me that I need to go to a pain specialist now to get my pain meds filled or I need to consult an ortho. As I informed the assistant, it is going to be hard to find an ortho that will follow me post-op. Plus, the 2 orthos I consulted here prior to going to Spain will in no way follow me because I went against their recommendations. This is a complete 180 from the conversation we had in October prior to me leaving for Spain. She advised that anything I needed, including meds, she would take care of for me when I got back because she supported my decision to go to Spain. She advised she knows that there are a lot of treatments that are available and better options for patients outside of the US, so she was on board. question, what happened between then and now. I told the assistant that I needed to talk to her personally because I'm confused about the change in plan. Hopefully, she will call tomorrow and we can address this issue. The thing that concerns me is I'm close to being out of pain meds at this point. Yes, I'm weaning myself and am almost able to get away with only using one pain pill daily, but still, I'm only 3 weeks post-op and don't want to play around if I need something. Fingers crossed we can work something out without me having to find go to another MD.

Other than that, did some Christmas shopping today and was out for about 3-4 hours with no problems walking and no sitting until we went back to the car. I'm kind of tired, but happy that I did so well today.

Let the good days continue!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Post-op week #3

Hey everyone,

I know that I haven't posted in a while. Still having bouts of being very tired and most days, typing just isn't on my list of things I want to do after exercising, being up and trying to increase my stamina. No offense to anyone who is reading and keeping track of my miraculous recovery!! :-) Please know that I appreciate your continued support.  I think I have decided to post just once a week unless something out of the ordinary happens (good or not so good).

Let's see...what has been happening this past week. I feel some stronger. Walking isn't an issue for me so that is great. is slowly getting better and I am able to remain in a sitting position with minimal repositioning. I would say that I'm comfortable for about 1-2 hrs, though 2 hrs is definitely pushing it right now. My left leg is also improving, but not a great deal yet. I can lift it off the floor much easier while standing, but if I'm in a sitting/laying position, I can barely lift it without great pain. Still waiting for my hip to pop. Hoping that will help and looking into more range of motion exercises that might help.

Today, my decision was made for me regarding whether or not I'm going to go to PT. In looking at the exercises given to me by Dr. Clavel prior to leaving Spain, they were exercises I had either done prior to this surgery at PT or I did after my first surgery and am familiar. So, I spoke with my case manager for my long term disability case and he advised that they want to know who I'm going to be using for PT since they will want to track my progress. So...since it needs to be documented, I guess I will figure out what I'm going to do. I have been doing my exercises twice daily and walking so adding the weekly increase wouldn't have been a problem for me, but that decision is out of my hands so I will suck it up and do what I need to do to keep that money coming into the household.

Surprisingly at week three, my pain is very controllable. As I stated last week, I was going to trial cutting down my pain meds and I have been able to do that successfully...yay!! :-) I have been able to cut my ibuprofen down to q12 and I have cut my vicodin dosage from 7.5mg to 5mg and the frequency down to q12. Actually, today I didn't have to take anything until about 3pm and confused myself a little because I couldn't understand why I was hurting, then remembered that I hadn't taken anything yet. Another reason I was a little more sore today was I was decorating for Christmas yesterday and I know I did more than I should have...but that is because I'm a bull headed German and that's how it goes with me!! :-)

I have to say that for being at this point post-op, I definitely didn't think that I would be doing this well and I'm happy to be where I'm at. Things aren't perfect and of course, I need to slow down a little, but mentally it helps to know that I'm going to recover and be better for making one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Oh, and on top of incision looks great! I'm so excited because my posterior scar from my previous surgeries is U..G..L..Y and this one...well, maybe someday I will be able to wear the 2 piece I said I would not be able to wear after this surgery! :-) One can dream!

I think that is about it for now...

Hope y'all have a great week,

Friday, November 25, 2011

When it's Good...

I can't believe it, but today...was a good day. Minimal pain. Haven't had to go lay down all day. Though uncomfortable at times, sitting wasn't terrible. Mark and I went for our "regular" pre-surgery walk with Augustus this p.m. and it went well. I was a little tired at the end of the walk, but I was happy that I didn't need to stop and rest at all. 

Had a visit from my good friend, Maureen, tonight. She brought me a TENs unit tonight to see if I can get any relief from the pain I'm still having in my left hip. Maybe if I can stimulate the muscles, I can start to lift my leg again. As I stated in my last post, I'm encouraged because I can lift my foot now about 4-6 inches from the floor, but I can't left from my knee yet no matter how much I yell at my leg to move! :-) I better make sure that Mark doesn't get a hold of the control though because who knows what he will do if he is in control!! :-)

I think that I am going to call it a night and end on a good note! I'm kind of tired and think that now I have earned that comfy spot in my bed!

I hope everyone has a great continuation of the holiday weekend!