Recovery update: Since some of you have asked, here is the latest on my recovery. It has now been 18 months since my surgery, and I have to keep reminding myself that my doctors told me it would take at least two years to recover from the surgery. It is hard to keep that in mind when comparing my recovery with the recovery of people who have had more routine back surgeries. I need to remind myself that the tumor was actually in my spine, and that I basically suffered a spinal cord injury when they took the tumor out. When I take this into consideration, the progress I have made so far is amazing.
This time last year, I was just starting to tread water with the hope of swimming by the end of the summer. Now, a year later, I am happy to report that my motor abilities are just about back to where they were before the surgery. I am doing yoga every day, I am swimming every weekend, and I am out walking Monday thru Friday. I can climb stairs without difficulty, and I can sit for longer periods of time. This is a major improvement over this time last year.
I am also happy to report that the numbness in my left leg/foot is improving. Although I still have some tingling and the occasional pain in my left leg/foot, I have enough sensation to confidently walk on uneven surfaces. I still have trouble with slippery floors, but it is getting better.
Despite these improvements, I still have deficits that would not be apparent to most people who interact with me on a daily basis. The biggest problem is spasticity in my lumbar region. If you don’t know what spasticity is, imagine a muscle spasm that never goes away. That is what I have had every day since my surgery. Some days it is only in my back, other days it seems to wrap around my body like a corset. The pain associated with the spasticity can increase or decrease as a result of my activities, fatigue, or stress, but it never completely goes away. Three things that definitely increase the spasticity are carrying anything heavier than a gallon of milk, driving, and working on a computer.
I am still working with my medical team to try to reduce the spasticity, and I am still going to PT. Improvements at this point are barely noticiable from day to day, but when I think back to last year, I can definitely see that I have made some progress.
I continue to be grateful to the people who have been by my side throughout the past two years as I’ve dealt with the diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. It is a long road, but having your support makes it easier. Thank you!