This was my Facebook post back in June. Thought I would share for anyone who has been following my recovery.
Yesterday marked 30 months (2.5 years) since my surgery. Since a number of people have been asking how I am doing, I thought it was time for another recovery update.
Positives: The surgeon was focused on mobility and functionality. If I didn’t have the surgery I would eventually be paralyzed, but the surgery was risky. In the beginning I needed a walker to get around, but determination and a lot of physical therapy got me back up on my feet. I eased back into swimming, and finally in December (two years after the surgery) the doctor gave me a green light to try to get back to running (more like jogging). It is a long process, but I think when most people see me, they have no idea that 2.5 years ago I was unable to walk unassisted. So, in that regard, the surgery was a huge success! In fact, the doctor said I can do anything that I want to do, as long as it doesn’t make my pain level/spasticity increase.
Negatives: In order to provide maximum spinal stability, the surgeon performed a spinal fusion (with titanium rods) and created a built-in back brace using muscle flaps. He had to cut and stretch the muscle tissue to do this. He said this would protect the spine and help me avoid degenerative back problems in the future. Unfortunately, this has left me with spasticity and pain. On a good day, my back feels the way your foot might feel if you tied your shoelaces too tight. It is really uncomfortable. On a bad day, it feels like a falcon has dug its claws into my back. There are activities and positions that increase the pain/spasticity. As a result, there are some activities that I absolutely avoid. I’ve tried medication, injections, stretching, massage, cupping, dry needles… nothing makes the spasticity go away, although they do help to keep it from getting worse.I try to focus on the positives… but it is hard to ignore the constant pain/discomfort. I just hope that with each passing year, perhaps my body will adjust, and slowly the pain will subside. I am grateful to everyone who has provided support during this long recovery. I know it is hard for people to understand that I am still recovering. Your patience and concern means more than you could know.