Wednesday, August 28, 2013

LUMBAR FUSION - The Eleventh Month and tee shirts

 In the delivery room . . . no, this isn't the wrong post.  Decades ago, I learned in a maternity ward far away that my legs are very short from the knee to the ground.  What this has to do with recovery after spinal fusion is A LOT.

From that night a over a year ago when I couldn't walk from the car to the apartment with my food, leg pain, much or little, has been a recurring problem. The second round of shots, the new anesthesiologist, and the heavy medicine didn't stop the pain in my legs.  Fast forward, well, not exactly fast, because I resisted the surgery, and some friends and acquaintances insisted I must not have it. 

The surgery was a success.  The cane is left at home.  The fusion is strong, and my spine area has rarely hurt.  

The legs, however,  sometimes hurt a bit, sometimes more than a bit.   (I suspect that I put off the surgery too long.)  When they hurt a little bit, I elevate them.  When they hurt at night, I rest them on a very firm pillow.  Sometimes just a change of position is enough.

I emailed the surgeon weeks ago when they hurt more than a bit.  He emailed me exactly what his assistant told me long ago: Get up and do things every half hour - no long sitting.  Hard for the computer addict, the coffee shop addict. Solution - A timer on the desk set for a half hour.  Solution - If all else fails, a snack if I get up after half an hour.

What I know is, tall chairs have taken a toll on these short legs--long before surgery. My feet just don't reach the floor.   Adjustable desk chairs save me.  I prop my legs up still, to take the pressure of chair edges off my thighs.  I have a box under the dining room table for a footstool.   Since I no longer wear heels, I finally had to be firm about tall chairs.   And an hour in a pew at church is out of the question.

Like life, recovery has been a roller coaster, not an escalator, as my fall in the fifth or six month showed.  I had a slight setback after that, which lasted awhile.   A couple of months ago, I had another setback for no reason I can think of. 

 I'm  walking every day at the same time, farther and farther without weakness.  Whether I have five minutes or an hour, I want the walk to be so automatic that I feel antsy if I don't do it.  

I climb the library stairs without a cane.  I get down on my knees to clean under the bed.  And get back up without calling for an EMT. 

If something is too heavy, I don't lift it.  This recovery has called for a lot of creativity, especially how to tie shoes without bending.

If you already have a job, you go back to work as soon as you can after surgery, and do what you can.  But if your job was a casualty of the recession, it's hard to get back in the game after recovery.  Even if, in some ways,  you're in better shape than before.

When I was first diagnosed, I wanted the tee shirt I saw that said:

I do my own stunts
 Now I want a tee shirt that says:

Hire me.  I'll race you to the stairs.

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