I confess....I am actually interested in chatting about the child abuse story that is focused right in my backyard, but I do want to do a quick health update too so y'all may be getting two posts back-to-back. I know, you are excited. My blog traffic is down according to the "stats" button on my "Dashboard" but I've been told that may miss folks who view it through readers. Not sure if that's the case and I do get a kick out of higher view numbers, but I also find the blog pretty useful for collecting my thoughts regardless. That's semi-honest.
Anyway, I do like that I will be able to look back on the back journey and also may be able to refer others here who are facing similar challenges. I had my 3 month follow-up appointment on Wednesday. As a quick refresher, I had an anterior lumbar interbody fusion at L5/S1 (a low back spinal fusion that went through the belly) on 8/8/11. It followed a couple years of increasing pain and failed attempts to use injections and physical therapy to remedy it. The doc reported that the disc was one of the worst he's seen in years, significant given that he regularly does multiple fusions a week and a validation that the pain was quite real.
My mental chant has been "Go bones, go!" since the bones need to fuse themselves over the inserted cages. The first month appointment was too early to tell much so I was anxious to see the x-rays this time and THRILLED to see "new bone" growing. This is VERY good news and a sign that I will eventually "fully fuse" which makes the operation successful and hopefully remedies the pain. The full fusion takes a year but it is encouraging to see it is going in the right direction. The surgeon was very pleased with the status.
I do still have a good bit of pain but the doc was not concerned. It has been more focused on the lower back in the past weeks which scared me. I was more certain it was my body adjusting when it was full spine and this felt too much like my "old" pain. But the doc was not concerned. I am going to wean off wearing my brace over the next two weeks and then he'll send an order to start physical therapy. The PT will focus on strength and stretching related to the operation but the doc said that PT can also give me tips on getting back into weight training more generally which is great. I miss my triceps!
I will pretty definitely have a scar. It is a little bigger than "four fingers" and between my navel and bikini line. A bit jealous of my wise back buddy (met her on a forum, she's a couple years younger but we have a LOT in common....she had a similar surgery about 3w later and is also a fitness person so we can relate a lot) who actually asked for and got a horizontal incision that is low enough for coverage in swimwear. Mine is vertical. It is still red but the doc says it will turn white. It's funny, the first time I wore a bikini in my life was at age 27. I'm not at my happy weight these days so the excuse to turn in the two-piece is not such a horrid thing and it certainly is not an everyday public area so it could be much worse. The incision pain was HORRID the first few days but that did disappear pretty quickly and the itching calmed over time.
So, good news all around. Still feeling frustrated with the pain and the limitations but it helps to know it is all going in the right direction. Progress is being made, I'll get to make more progress with PT etc., and there WILL be a day when this is all in the past. Thanks to all who have shared support and sent good thoughts. I can't express how valuable it has been to have a cheering section!