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Well, it finally happened…. I am at a stalemate with my writing…. the words just flowed from my fingertips when I thought I was talking to someone and not just writing… SO HERE’S THE NEWS!  I’m opening up the comments once again in hopes that I can get back to being the writer I once was or even better!

Here’s another bit of news also…. MY SON CALLED ME OUT!  When I kicked it around with him about opening the comments back up, he asked, “Why?”

“Because I had someone to talk “with” and “to” and not just put words down.”

He queried, “How will that help you in your writing?”

“It makes me feel like my writing has purpose, that I’m connected in some way, that I am contributing to their knowledge base.”

“MOM! I thought this website was aboutYOU, not about teaching people about all the medical stuff, or about something technical!”

“Well, that’s what it started out to be Brian, but, there’s so much I know now to share with others and it just doesn’t seem fair to keep it to myself.”

“But this is about YOUR journey, about what’s happening with YOU, about YOUR life, about how YOU’RE feeling health-wise and about things now that YOU’RE better. This is supposed to be about YOU and YOUR story and about how YOUR life’s changed in all the different ways. Isn’t that what YOU told me YOU originally wanted to do with this website?”

“Yeah, but, I discovered there’s so much more I could give, to share, that others could use!”

He suscintly answered, “Then write another book about THOSE things.”


So for the last three weeks I’ve been contemplating about that conversation and how to handle it. I still don’t have all of it worked out in my mind, but I did start that third book. I’m compiling all the “medical” stuff I’ve incorporated in my website, pulled it out and will be putting it in some semblance of order for it to be all in one place.

I really miss talking with all of you the way I used to, not all that long ago. You’ve become my friends. I respond well to friends, to people I feel care about me. I begin to care about you as well. This is a big hint to anyone who wants to get on my good side, become my friend first…. it goes an extremely long way with me. Get to know me, share yourself with me, let me know you care. I’ll reciprocate. I’ve never really been comfortable putting myself out there, as so many of you don’t, but the more I do, the easier it’s becoming, and the easier it is to receive. Try it!

In the meantime, know that I do miss you all, your responses spurred me on to think deeper, write better, and have a richer life because of it. Serious writing is a full time job, and, I don’t know how I’m going to find the time to dedicate myself to do this these days. I have a few other things on my plate as well, but for now I’ll try.  So I guess what I’m saying is, though I might be a little rusty, I’M BACK!

Hugs, to you all!

Take care of you and yours,



kathleenmosko@gmail.com              Twitter     @KathleenMosko

Hi Everyone!

Hard to believe it’s no longer January! GEESH! The older I get the faster the time goes! The holidays were a blurr since being sick right before Christmas and losing our family Therapy bunny, Skittles, 3 days after Christmas. His bonded mate, Candi, has been just as lost as I’ve been without him, and she and I have taken some time to get to know one another again without him around. It’s been painful to watch how lost she is, it’s sad, just very sad.

Anyway, I’ve had this to do for a while but I never realized how much had piled up for this post or how long it’d actually been. I must apologize and then I thought no, I had some living to do, as you all have, and this website in an extension, not an appendage of me and mine! LOL I have several irons in the fire, one very big one, and several small ones and a couple medium-sized ones so it’s no wonder time has just flown! I really do love being busy… although, I finally learned how to take time to stop and smell the roses… they’re wonderful to smell!

Well, I went back to October and looked at my analytics to see what questions you folks were seeking answers to. I can’t believe I let it go that long! Hmmmm. I’m gonna break it down for ya into the different surgeries, first the XLIF, then the total hip and lastly the ACDF. There’s a reason the ACDF will be that last one. It’s because I’m still having some issues with mine and I’ll be doing these topics in separate posts but want it close to this one so you can have the information all together, sorta… LOL I am always surprised at some of the questions, some are similar to ones already asked and answered in my other posts, but I’ll answer them again here just in case I put a little different twist on it that might be beneficial to you in a way I didn’t cover the last time.


Q: ARE THERE ANY PROBLEMS WITH AN XLIF?    A: The short answer to that is, probably not. The XLIF can be explained that it’s the procedure used to get the doctor into the middle of your body with the least amount of damage to other tissue, muscles and maybe even organs. The XLIF is a procedure or technique designed to get access to the spine. What a doctor does once he’s in the middle of your body at the spine is different than that. There are several procedures available to your doctor to fix any number of problems once he gets in there and sees what’s really happening. I happen to have the good fortune of my doctor being the leading neurosurgeon in the US who not only sees your spine in 3D once he’s in there, it has been told to me he can actually envision in his mind what may be going on in the interior of the spine as well or 4D. Most doctors only need the 3D version for their work to be successful. There are few questions you may want to ask the physician doing your surgery. One, is he NuVasive trained? The reason I share this question is because NuVasive docs are trained on cadaver bodies in an intensive, extensive lab environment. They also are trained to use an advanced version of neuromapping, much like an EEG only MUCH more sophisticated. This is where wires are hooked up to your legs at critical spots and held into place with a plastic sleeve. While undergoing the operation, the doctor is trained to utilize this neuro aide so he can tell exactly what nerve is being touched, drastically reducing the chance of further nerve damage. A doctor who uses this pretty much knows exactly where he is in your spine. One other question you may want to ask is how many of these procedures has that doctor performed. I know that everyone has to start somewhere, but I was one of the last of my doctor’s first 1,000 patients. He’s now working on his second 1,000! In otherwords, he’s had plenty of experience before doing mine! That is not to say all other doctors are not as good as mine, yes, I am partial, but there are plenty of really great neurosurgeons who do excellent work.  Problems arising after an XLIF procedure are usually from some other complication such as drug interactions, body systems malfunctions, or some other unknown at the time of the surgery that manifests itself post-op. The choice of your physician is a determinant here as well. I personally wanted a neurosurgeon, hands down, no ifs, ands, or buts. That being said, I know there are many orthopaedic surgeons who have gone through the NuVasive training and are well qualified to do the XLIF procedure.

Q: WHEN IS A PERSON A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR THE XLIF PROCEDURE?   A: Any number of stars must be in alighment for you to be a candidate such as insurance carriers allowing the procedure, and your body systems all working as well as they can, but from a strictly medical point of view, the doctor makes the final determination about your condition from a series of tests, mostly, at the very least, an MRI. This allows him a peek inside your body and see as to what’s happening in there and what if anything he feels he is capable of doing to fix it. One look at MY MRI’s and my doctor looked back at me and said, “My God girl, you’re a mess!” (those were his exact words) He makes the determination from what he sees internally no just by you coming in with a few old x-rays and telling him you have a pain. He takes many things into consideration before suggesting minimally invasive surgery. Usually he and the insurance company want to see if more conservative non-invasive measures can correct the pain prior to using surgery as a last resort. Some choose not to go through surgery at all for whatever reason, some can’t because of other medical conditions, and still others who won’t give up smoking which pretty much takes back surgery off the table for them unless they quit. (Please referr to a couple of earlier posts about smoking and surgery for more details about this issue.) This is due to the very low success rate of bone fusion while smoking.

Q: HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME FOR ME TO HAVE BACK SURGERY? A: The short answer to this is, WHEN THE PAIN IS SO ALL-CONSUMING YOU CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE! When it taints your thoughts, your sleep, your intimacy, your social and work life, yeah, then it’s time to do something about it. Afterward, if you have the XLIF done, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to have it fixed! THESE ARE WORDS RIGHT FROM THE HORSES’ MOUTH! My circumstances were such that I couldn’t get fixed until I did but I did it as soon as I could! And, it wasn’t a moment too soon! HONESTLY!

Q: WHAT IS THE MORTALITY RATE FOR AN XLIF PROCEDURE?  A: In Dr. Smith’s practice, there has never been a death due to an XLIF procedure. That being said, there are certain unknowns which may adversely affect a successful outcome, such as complications of drug interactions, body systems malfunctions, or some other unknown determinant which causes death post-op. One in particular that comes to mind is MRSA infection. My particular doctor wants his patients in and out of the hospital as quickly as possible and often will perform the surgery on an outpatient basis, greatly reducing the risk of infection and possible other complications. I can only speak for him at this point, so I’m not sure what other doctor’s statistics are.

 Q: IS THERE DEEP TISSUE INJURY FROM AN XLIF? A: I wouldn’t classify it as injury, but there is a certain amount of pain or discomfort from the core muscles being pulled apart in order for the surgeon to get to the interior of the body. That being said, I shudder to think of the pain associated with the actual cutting through of all those muscles in order to get to the interior as is done in the waning traditional procedures. Since the “stretching” is far less destructive, I am perfectly happy to recover from that vs actually having my muscles being cut through!

Q: DOES IT HELP TO HAVE THE XLIF DONE FIRST IF THERE ARE OTHER SURGERIES PROPOSED? A: That will strictly be up to your personal condition and how unstable one area is vs another. Often when a person, especially with a scoliotic condition, is faced with multiple surgeries to correct or improve the condition, the surgeon will take into consideration many factors such as, the area most unstable, lifestyle or activity level of a person’s work, or the acuteness of the pain. There are many others as well, one in particular is if the patient is a smoker. This is a very big issue for a surgeon when making a decision to perform surgery. (see earlier posts on this website for details about smoking) Another consideration upfront is your insurance carrier and what they will allow. If all things are equal and your surgeon is a go… in my particular case, my lower back posed the most immediate of problems, so the XLIF was my first surgery. I have known other surgeons to do a cervical correction first because the neck was more unstable than the lower back. I can’t address the reasoning for this or the particular condition of the patient; not enough information was shared.

Q: WILL A BACK FUSION LAST? A: The short answer is, YES!  HOWEVER! There is evidence that certain activities will aggravate the areas directly adjacent to the fusion causing arthritis or other conditions. A modification of certain activities should be discussed with your surgeon so it is perfectly clear to the patient which activities to avoid and the ones which can be resumed after recovery.

Q: HOW CAN I IMPROVE THE BOND OF MY FUSION? A: The time to do that is long before you need surgery. The higher your bone density the more successful your fusion may be. The number 1 thing a person can do for themselves is if they are a smoker; QUIT SMOKING!!! Exercise is the second. Those who do impact exercises, even the low impact, are in a better position to have a more successful outcome. If that’s not possible, as it was in my case, then doing passive exercises to strengthen the muscles and surrounding tissue of the painful area by doing water exercises is always a plus. Additionally, there is some indication that if you can slow or reverse osteoporosis it would help in the healing of your fusion. CAFFIENE has been linked to the onset of osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis) or osteoporosis itself. Some studies have shown that more than 300mg of caffeine, or more than one cup of coffee per day increases your chances for those onsets. Also noted is that fact that several non-coffee related foods are high in caffeine and may also be ingested throughout the course of one’s day adding additional caffeine to their intake. Mixed in with all of this is the lack of Vitamin D which is needed for the body to increase it’s metabolizing of calcium. When a person drinks coffee, it acts as a diuretic which also increases the amount of calcium expelled by the body. Caffeine also interferes with absorption of Vitamin D in the bones. So my take away from this is, eat more calcium and Vitamin D enriched foods, and drastically limit your intake of caffeine. And by the way, that means chocolate too! ALTHOUGH TEA HAS CAFFEINE, IT DOESN’T HAVE THE SAME EFFECT ON THE BODY AS COFFEE CAFFEINE DOES!   GO FIGURE!  (some of this information was taken from my search on the internet)

Q: HOW IS THE BONE HEALED IN AN XLIF SPINAL FUSION? A: Once the doctor implants graft material along with a “growth medium,” it should start to take hold right away. Graft material may come in the form of a non-bodily produced agent or, like mine, was the scrapings off my ribs to insert so it was my own body supplying the material. At about 6 weeks post-op a bone growth stimulator, a simple device designed to send electrical signals to the healing area to increase the rate of stimulation of growth. As one rep put it, If you took the time to have the surgery, and your doctor suggests a bone growth stimulator as part of your recovery, it’s just one more tool in his arsenal to help you heal quicker an more completely. My particular bone growth stimulator was provided to me by Biomet. (go to www.biomet.com to learn more about the science and  how it works. Aslo it gives you questions to ask your doctor about the device.) It’s a little device no bigger than a deck of cards with a case that attaches to your clothing or belt and attached to some wires with patches that have a sticky gel on them that stick to your skin where the doctor wants the healing, not where your scars are. All things being good, the total fusion takes about six months to complete. In the meantime, your body should be pampered somewhat. The surgeon will track your progress by a series of x-rays done at certain intervals of your healing to make sure the fusion is complete. Once the healing is complete, you should be able to resume most all of your old activities. I’m still learning what all I can do that I had to give up for so long.

Q: ONE PERSON ASKED ABOUT HAND PAIN POST-OP, AND ANOTHER ABOUT FOOT PAIN FROM AN XLIF… A: My take on this is that there are other underlying causes to those conditions which can only be addressed by your surgeon. If you haven’t made him or her aware of this condition, please do at your earliest chance. It may be something simple he can address to alleviate the discomfort.

Q: I HAVE PAIN IN MY LOW BACK AND BUTT AREA AFTER MY XLIF. A: This person doesn’t say how long after the surgery so I can only address it from my experience. I don’t recall having much butt pain at all but yes, there was some low back pain. Mainly this was due to a couple of things. First, my muscles were weak from non-use all those years prior to my surgery. Secondly, my back muscles were stretched and I had to allow time for them to work themselves back into place. As I increased my activity levels and my exercise regimine, my discomfort with my low back muscles became a thing of the past. So much so, sometimes I now have to really think hard how much pain I was really in.

Q: WHAT ARE THE NEGATIVES FOR AN XLIF PROCEDURE? A: I will only be able to address this as I know it from my experience with Dr. Smith. As far as I can assertain, there are none. Dr. Smith is very careful to screen his surgical candidates for the XLIF due to their other medical and physical conditions. I spoke directly with Joe, Dr. Smith’s PA to get his perspective about negatives. He shared with me that just on the merit of the condition of the patient and the quality of the procedure, one can expect to have recovery to a greater degree. There are no guarantees with any surgery and there are those cases where, inspite all the best efforts, some nerve damage is irreversable. Dr. Smith has an outstanding recovery rate, far higher than anyone, to my knowledge, performing the surgery to date! (other than Dr. Pimenta who pioneered and perfected the procedure)

Q: IS IT OK IF I PICK UP SOMETHING WEIGHING 10#? A: Depending on where you are in your healing process the answer is yes, and no! LOL For the first six months of my recovery of the XLIF, I was not allowed to pick up anything heavier than 5#. My son, Brian, jumped at the chance to get me a Coach purse, which I vehemently resisted, until Dr. Smith told me I would have to reduce the weight of my purse. Brian nagged me for two years prior to get me a Coach purse but I kept telling him no. After the Dr. Smith directive, he showed up one day with this 10″x8″x2″ purse. I have had more people ask me why I even bother with such a small purse, and it being a Coach purse and all, so then I have to stand there and explain to them it was Dr. Smith’s fault and what Brian did for me to acquire it! I don’t have a limitation now but Brian spent so much on it, I don’t have the heart to not use it. He’s told me it was ok if I didn’t but, it was such a fun gesture, I can’t put it away. It came in handy after my ACDF surgery anyway because I wasn’t allowed to lift anything but 5# or under then as well. Now it’s just a novelty! A gallon of milk or water weights approximately 8.5 pounds which, at the beginning of your healing will be too much to lift. For a while I suggest buying your milk in half gallons if you want to lift it yourself. And ladies, change the size of your purse!

Q: DID ANYONE LOSE WEIGHT AFTER THEIR XLIF? A: I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me the answer is a big fat YES!  I lost 29 pounds. My doctor of physical therapy told me it was due to muscle mass loss. BELIEVE ME, if I could have gained back the muscle mass without gaining back the weight I would have given up my eyeteeth for the trade! Once you are done with your slow pace and you go back to physical therapy, you should regain most of the weight back. I didn’t take it off all at once and it came back slowly as I increased my exercise program. I have hamstrings now that actually do what they’re supposed to so I’m ok with gaining back the muscle weight. NOW, if I could only lose the fat weight, I’d be in great shape! LOL

Q: I HAVE A LARGE LUMP UNDER MY XLIF SCAR AND THE AREA IS TWITCHING…  A: The lump can be one of several things, a cyst, sometimes caused by trapped fluid or blood, a growth of tisssue under the skin, or it could be the scar, which is what they call keloiding. A keloid is when scar tissue manufactures too much skin to repair itself. It’s more annoying than anything else, and it sometimes makes the scar wider than the original inciscion. If a keloid becomes unsightly, you can see a plastic surgeon to repair it. It isn’t however caused by anything your original surgeon did or didn’t do. It has to do with how your body repairs itself after a wound. In the other instances as cited above, each should warrant a visit to your surgeon to address them so he can assess what needs to be done to correct the lump, if anything. As for the twitching, although it is probably associated with the healing process of the wound itself, you may want to address it at the next regularly scheduled office visit unless you feel it’s so annoying it warrants its own visit.

Q: I HAVE SWEATING POST-OP OF MY XLIF… A: Your body has experienced an induced trauma with the XLIF surgery, although it was a good trauma in order to fix the pain. Some people react differently to that trauma and their metabolism is thrown way out of whack. I too, had the very opposite effect, I sat chilled to the bone though it was 110 degrees outside! (Remember, I live in Vegas!LOL) I would be sitting in sweatpants and a sweatshirt covered with a blanket while the rest of the household members were in shorts, T-shirts and the air conditioning was running! It was a bazzar time for me and my metabolism but it got better as I got further out post-op! I am now back to my “normal” if one could call it that… I can sit in a room in a pair of shorts and the heat doesn’t have to be blaring for me to be comfortable. It’s mostly part of the process. As your metabolism returns to a normal state, the sweats should reduce in occurance. IF for some reason you are having sweats with a fever, by all means seek medical help immediately. There may be an infection which needs addressed STAT! Take your temp and see if it’s normal or if you have a fever, then act accordingly.

WHEW! This concludes catching up with the questions concerning the XLIF PROCEDURE asked on this website as concerns and followups to the different posts. I will return shortly with a continuation of Installment 9 of Questions and Answers to address the ACDF procedure.

In the meantime, you know what to do, take care of you and yours,







kathleenmosko@gmail.com                      Twitter @KathleenMosko

Hi Everyone!

I thought I’d share one whole day of activities with you. I don’t have anyone to follow me around with a camera and take a video of everything I do, and quite frankly you wouldn’t get the color commentary the way I can express it in words. So you can just suffer a whole day with me in writing….

It’s 4:30am, my usual time to get awake. My body never adjusted to Pacific Time so I just let it do it’s thing. East Coast Time isn’t a bad thing anyway. I get to watch the sunrise through my patio doors and often I’m not disappointed by the beauty of an early morning sunrise coming up over the mountains. Having been confined for all those years to lay flat, and all the recuperation time, I cherish every streak of light in the sky, every bird that chirps and flies by or lites on my tree to sing to me. I am well, I am alive!

I didn’t think twice about rolling on my side and standing without a boost or delay to get motivated to stand to get out of bed, I had to go to the bathroom. I didn’t need to hold onto the wall for support, nor did I feel like I had to turn on a light to make sure I didn’t fall. I wasn’t wobbly at all. When I sat on the commode, I didn’t think about holding on to anything on the way down, nor did I on the way back up. My motions are second nature to me now. Reaching to brush my hair and wash my face isn’t even the slightest of issues, I did it without needing to plant my feet in a stance to accommodate the possibility it might be too painful to stand long enough to do that. Brushing my teeth is a specific no- brainer, I just brush my teeth! No elbows on the edge of the sink to support my weight because the pain is so excruciating I don’t want to brush them.

On my way to the kitchen, I pass by the bedroom, a place Irarely am now. I close the door and smile knowing until tonight I won’t really need to lay down. The bunny wanted to be played with so I reached down, I didn’t have to sit down, to pick her up and walk into the kitchen to make breakfast. I didn’t need two hands to reach from one object or wall to the next item to stabilize my gait, I was too busy holding and talking to the bunny. I reached into her hutch to give her her morning greens and never stopped to straighten myself back up before continuing. I just stood up!

The eggs are on the bottom shelf now, more room for tall things on the top shelf. It’s OK, I can reach them without using the open refridgerator door for support. I also bent over a little farther to put away the bag of  bunny greens in the drawer.

Ah, the smell of a fresh cooked breakfast, that’s a good thing now that I can stand long enough at the sink and stove to prepare myself a simple meal. The stool I used for 11 years is gone, it’s been getting in my way, and besides I don’t feel the need to sit when I cook or do dishes anymore. Breakfast with the bunny done, I head back to my room to change. I smile when I pull my leg up to put it through the opening of my undies standing up in the middle of the room. That’s something I couldn’t do not long ago, nor did I ever think I’d be able to! I didn’t have to lean against anything nor did I have to sit, or did I almost fall over from lack of balance. I just did it!

Candi, the bunny, wanted to play again. I got on the floor and laid on my tummy to coax her out of her hiding place to spend a little one on one time with her. NEVER before in the last 11 years did I ever attempt that particular move, getting on the floor, ESPECIALLY if no one was around! It’s become second nature to me if I want to let Candi know I’ll play with her. If I lay very still she’ll come out and jump on my back and run up and down the length of my body. It’s like an all over body massage, with no therapeutic benefit because she’s only four pounds! I don’t mind, it’s one of our ways to bond. Time to get up, roll to my side, tuck my good leg under my torso, use my elbow to lift, plant my other foot on the ground, and voila, I’m up off the floor, without needing someone to lift me up, or a chair or object next to me, or struggle to get up.

It’s laundry time! Bending from the waist is not possible since the XLIF, but bending to pick up the clothes isn’t something I have to think about either. I simply reach down bending at my hips, pick up the clothes, and in they go. Push a few buttons and on to the next task.

Pain? NOPE, not even as much as a twinge. I love the new me. Hmmm, a cup of coffee, and a check of my emails. Sitting is an activity relegated for purpose these days; at my desk to write at the computer, watch a little TV to get the news; not something I have to do to get my focus back. Most times I don’t use my hands any longer to boost myself out of a seat, I have the strength in my legs and back muscles and there’s no pain so I don’t have to compensate for it. I get out of the seat typically just using my legs, back and abdominal muscles. Those are the ones that were so compromised before because of the injury and all the pain! NOT ANY MORE!

Noticing our bottled water supply was getting very low in the fridge, I picked up two of the flats of water using my leg and arm muscles and, sitting in a chair loaded the fridge with the water. With little effort, the job was done! Pain? NOPE, not even a twinge! I think I’ll do a couple of things today, clean up the patio and back yard, and take in a swim! Cleaning the back yard was something I’ve been itching to do for a while now, like two years since we moved here! I want to plant some rose bushes and some annuals! Yes, it’s spring in Vegas already! Cool and warm enough to work outside! That’s the beauty of Vegas!

I decided to start with some general cleanup and raking, bending over to pick up the plastic bags and candy wrappers, newspaper and debris that blows into our yard when the wind kicks up. We’ve had plenty of that. Started moving some of the rocks the guys had to dig up and remove from the dirt where they buried Skittles. Up righted the artificial Christmas tree that’s in a planter, weighed it down with those big rocks. I think some went as much as 10 or 12 pounds! I moved the others in a more pleasing arrangement and dug up a sapling I’ve had my eye on since last year! I’ve been waiting to get a shovel in my hands to dig it up and plant it elsewhere. I emptied the compost bin and spread the compost around with a rake. I only got half the yard done because I had to stop to BBQ lunch! Pulling weeds makes me hungry!

BBQ’d chicken satay and broccoli and cauliflower, a great lunch! It kinda looks like rain and I was gonna go back out to do the rest of the yard but there’s always tomorrow for that. I want to watch Dr. Oz and then head to the pool. Pain? NOPE, not yet! (don’t think there’ll be any! LOL) I did a  lot of raking since this tree we have in our yard not only drops its leaves, it has seed pods much like the cigar trees back east! (I think those are actually poplar trees back east) Anyway, this tree makes a real mess in the fall! Oh, I even cut back the rose bushes too! It’s looking pretty spiffy I think!

Well, off to watch Dr. Oz, then to the pool! Be back shortly!

OK, so Dr. Oz got me heading in the right direction. (this is a topic for a whole ‘nother post!) It’s so warm out, almost 70 degrees, that I decided to wear my suit and cover to the pool instead of clothes, I packed em and dressed after my shower. An hour and a half of upper and lower body exercises in the water (I will post a list of the water exercises in a different post a little later) and then a quarter mile of swimming! Any pain? NOPE, still none!

Home to cook my spouse some dinner and a light meal for me. Then an hour more of TV and finishing up this post. Dinner is a no-brainer for me anymore since no matter what I choose to cook, I can more than tolerate whatever action or body motion it requires, like chopping up onions at the sink or dicing peppers, or rolling out dough! All of those things I hesitated to do before my surgery! Dropping something on the floor and picking it  up is also a no-brainer! I used to have to kick it over to where I could lean up against something to bend over to pick up or I used my toes to pick it up. Now, I just bend over, and pick it up!

I’m finding my biggest drawback for any of my activities is sitting at my computer! I really don’t have all that comfortable chair and my work space is very limited. I wish my computer battery hadn’t died on me so I could keep recharging it and then take my computer to different areas of the house, or out on the patio. Instead, until I get a new computer, I’m going to be forever connected to a wall plug. I know, I shouldn’t complain, some people don’t even have a computer! ’nuff said! LOL

As I sat in my recliner watching TV, Candi, our bunny and I snuggled under the throw-cover. She is getting used to not having Skittles around and I’m doing way more with her because she’ll let me. Picking her up or getting her out of her cage has become a common act, I don’t even think about how I’m going to lean and get her out or up. Good balance and no pain, that’s what it took! And I’ve got both. After the show it was back to her little den and I to brush my teeth (without pain) and then bed.

I’m really loving my freedom from pain, and to think of other things besides it. As I undress for bed, I look in a mirror, no I really look at my scars. For however small they are, and for as much relief they provided, I almost wish I could show them off! Not that I ever would! That would mean a bikini and yeah, I don’t see THAT happening ever in my future! LOL I’d swim naked before I’d swim in a bikini! Naked swimming would mean I would be in some secluded place by myself or with one other person… just sayin…. it’s a lot different than wearing a bikini to the beach or pool! Nonetheless, I’m still not bothered by the scars. I’m wearing them like a badge of honor! They are a constant reminder of where I was, and makes me appreciate where I am today! Any pain as I lay down to sleep? NOPE! It’s just another ordinary day! It was an AWESOME day!

I’m now  21 months post-op for my XLIF surgery, 11  months post-op for my ACDF surgery, and 9 months post-op for my total hip replacement. I don’t take ANY medication for pain at all. If my muscles are a little stiff, I have the skills now with the exercises (the ones I already posted for you) to work through the stiffness and I’m good to go! NOPE, no pain! I’m a very lucky person…

I hope someday everyone can feel as good as I do! But in the meantime, you all know what to do….. take care of you and yours and I’ll be back with some really good stuff very soon.





kathleenmosko@gmail.com                      Twitter    @KathleenMosko

Hi Everyone!

Since we’re on the subject of post-surgical stuff, I was thinking about my expectations. Also, I’ve listen to a lot of questions about what others’ expectations are for their post-op experience.

It didn’t hit me all at once. Call me naive. I guess I had this ah ha moment ‘long about two or three months into my recovery. I was sitting at Dr. Smith’s office and it hit me when the TV in the waiting room showed a commercial for a law firm handling Social Security Disability cases. I won’t have to file for SSI! That was certainly a light bulb moment!

I’ll tell ya why. All along the before thought I held deep in me was, I would get a wheelchair, get on SSI, and live what life I had left out and settle for whatever moresels life would hand me in the way of attention and companionship. I’d given up on life, on ever owning my own home again, of ever being out of pain, of possibly facing giving up driving, of ever not being co-dependent on another human being. What I felt I was facing was the rest of my life in a downward spiral. At some point I figured I would become bedridden and it’s not a far leap to the coffin after that. Yet, through all those thoughts, there was a burn deep within my soul. It was still that last flicker of hope. I was born an optimist, so how could I possibly not hold out even the slightest chance of hope.

I’ve shared with you in the past I never gave up hope on Brian, no matter how hopeless it seemed, and if that was within me then, then why should I be any less of a person to deserve that same power of hope? I honestly can’t tell you HOW I managed to muster the courage any other way except, I prayed. Mom always said, “Prayer is powerful, Kathie.” I prayed long, and hard and oh, so often for God to show me a sign, just like He did in the past with Brian. I asked Him to guide me in a direction of wellness to skilled hands who could rid me of my torture. And then, I gave my expectations to Him.

As I found my way, at first I had certain hopes, wishes really, because those hopes seemed so far removed from what I could possibly achieve. I’m talking about just being out of pain. My original thoughts surrounded the idea that the doctor, any doctor I could find, would take away even half the pain. It would eventually return but it would buy me time of some relief. That’s being in accordance with all the horror stories I’d heard about back surgeries over the years. I was open to at least that by the time I finally got to speak with doctors.

When I went to the first doctor and he shared I was so deformed he wouldn’t touch me, my heart sunk. That, for me, was one of the lowest points of my life. To know it had gone so long without treatment, that it was now beyond treatment was truly a devastating blow. When he offered up a colleague as an alternative, my hopes flickered a little. It would take a lot for me to come out of that funk. For another week until his office visit, I waffled back and forth between doing nothing and accepting my fate as it were, or giving it another shot. I always knew in the back of my mind I wanted a neurosurgeon to do my operations if it could be done, but the first doctor didn’t give me much to go on in the hope department!

Since I saw the second surgeon, an orthopod, he gave me a smile as he delivered what he thought was good news to me; I thought that’s all I could hope to achieve. He could reduce my pain by about 50% and I would have 3 major surgeries tearing up my flesh and rendering my muscles pretty much useless. I can see why so many people swore if they had to do their back surgery over again, they wouldn’t.

BUT, March 8, 2010 is my day of mercy and redemption! The day emblazoned in my brain. From his very first words, I knew Dr. William Smith was going to be very special to me. Succinct and charismatic in demeanor, he knew intuitively and listened intently to my story of pain. One he’d heard so often he could recite it just by looking at how a person was walking and standing. My expectations rose considerably as I floated out of his exam room. It would take me days to digest what all was said, and I did hang on his every word simply because I was alone, no one else  came with me to the exam. The only thing that kept resonating in my brain, pinging back and forth like a tennis ball, was the words, “I can take away your pain, do it in a minimally invasive manner and have you back to life activities in a matter of months.” It was almost beyond comprehension.

As the days past waiting for my surgical date, I had to pack and move and be host to out of town visitors. But I’d catch myself when the pain became so overwhelming, thinking of how it just might be to do that very task WITHOUT THE PAIN. As hard as I tried, I just didn’t have a single experience in my recollective past I could relate that thought to. So I simply endured, edging ever closer to my goal, one I pledged to God I would not take for granted should He so grace me with a full recovery. This website fulfills one part of that pledge.

My expectations grew thinking of all the endless possibilities, first little ones, then the “what ifs.” You know the ones you’ve dare not dream. Instead of dreaming about not being in pain, what if you were to dream about being able to sit through an entire movie pain free at a movie theater. ( I tried it at home first) Then, “what if” I could go to the mall and just window shop, or better yet, go to the Fashion Show Mall and walk ALL FOUR FLOORS with no pain! Or linger in a store just to check out everything that caught my eye because I didn’t have to leave because of the pain. And “what if” I could go with my guests to the Hoover Dam and walk around with them, climbing all the steps and walking across the bridge, and feel no pain. “What if” I could finally go back to work and be a productive member of society? WOW! The possibilities were endless… my expectations soared. I’ve eventually been able to do all my “what ifs.” The greatest of these has been being able to physically kneel in church and thank God for all His many blessings.

Early on though, I realized those were somewhat distant goals. Things I could eventually achieve. My condition didn’t happen overnight, and it was going to take some time to undo it. I had no clue how much healing was involved or how long it would take. I simply dedicated my every ounce of being to becoming well again. I had to, I had HOPE, and God was on my side and He wouldn’t let me down if only I would put forth the effort and do my part.

I”ve said it before, Dr. Smith is not a god, but an “instrument” of God given special gifts to share with the world. His time and talents are so rare and unique and it hasn’t been wasted on him. I know several people in my close circle of acquaintances and family that have the IQ of genius, but have done nothing with it, wasting their lives in mediocrity. Such a shame, and frustrating for me to know how hard I’ve struggled to gain each bit of me through endless trial and error, working hard to grasp every ounce of knowledge I come by.  With a reading disorder and being ADHD, one would think I couldn’t focus long enough to write one paragraph, let alone undertaking the task to write three books. And a lot of people have sold me short because of it. (They are now getting quite a surprise!)

As my surgical date approached, my expectations grew. I would need those thoughts to get me through to the other side of my journey. Those expectations weren’t lost, but rather utilized as a way to motivate me to keep at the physical therapy, to do the things necessary for myself to achieve my ultimate goals.

I’ve talked with several people who have a wide range of expectations post-surgery and for their recovery. Some with as narrow a focus as just getting out of a wheelchair and maybe going to a movie. Others envisioned a two or three week recovery. One that would put them back to all their daily tasks within six weeks, and were angry when they weren’t, however pain free they may be. I keep emphasizing how critically important it is to engage in as much formal physical therapy as possible to return your body to a state of new normalcy, free from pain with muscles strong enough to support your repair. But that takes time!

Some are very lucky to have the experience as one gentleman did after his surgery that within two or three weeks was completely pain free from the pre-op pain AND the post-op pain. Another was angry at Dr. Smith that he still had a twinge in his side from the surgical site, although Smith got them out of a wheelchair and was walking upright without the severe pain that put him there. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Dr. Smith, it’s that he loves smiles. Especially when they erase the furrows of pain on a person’s face. NO, there are no guarantees when he performs the surgeries, but this is a world renown surgeon who doesn’t do something first, unless he sees it needs done and then, thinks it will alleviate the condition that sent you to him in the first place. Again, HE LOVES SMILES! And he has a very long list of admirers.

But your expectations for your “after surgery” recovery should be balanced with certain expectations of the amount of effort you personally put into it. The old adage, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” comes to mind in this instance. Dr. Smith(minimally invasive procedure)+personal dedication with a positive mental attitude+motivation=a healed body as pain free as possible! This is a great formula, one you are expected to be an integral part of. Your doctor is only one part of your healing, and your expectations should be the focus of your recovery as a participant. He can’t do the physical therapy for you! YOU are the only one who can fulfill those expectation! But remember… it doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes concentrated effort on your part!

I made a pact with Dr. Smith on March 8th. I pledged to him I would do everything he asked of me, and I wouldn’t complain no matter how difficult it was to do. If he would keep his word to me, then I would keep my word to him. He smiled. I think he knew how serious I was and how important it was for me to make that pact with him. He agreed and it’s kept me going through the tough times all the way to now, as I become a productive member of society, ready to give back.

Just remember to keep your expectations within what you know you are willing to put forth the effort for. Don’t make them so unrealistic they become unattainable. No one wins then. YOU ARE A WINNER, YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU CAN BE PAIN FREE!

And on that, I will just remind you all to take care of you and yours,





kathleenmosko@gmail.com                          Twitter @kathleenmosko

Hi Everyone!

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you, are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

I never thought much about being an inspiration to others. Or, for that matter, a leader. I was just busy trying to make my way through life, meeting each challenge with as much gusto as I could muster. I’ve always kind of known I was living in a movie, but  always felt I was just an ordinary person. I was raised like that; to not think of myself as someone special; you were just a part of the bigger picture according to my parents. They worked hard, and set a great example of how to just make sure you kept your own doorstep clean and didn’t stick your nose into anyone else’s business.

I still consider myself to be an ordinary person who just happened to recognize she was living an extraordinary life. And once I realized it, I felt compelled that, at some point before I died, I was going to share my life with the world. It will be my legacy of information and know-how and determination to FIND a way when a person thinks there was none. In sharing my journey through every experience, I plan to leave a legacy to my beloved son, Brian. He, was the reason I survived when I came close to believing there was no more reason to exist. All those times I just wanted to give up and let someone else take care of me, those times when I really felt there were no answers to the questions and challenges I had, and yet, somehow, with God and a few amazing people, I saw the light. Not the one at the end of the tunnel, because for a lot of years I was so far off from reaching the end. I’m still not at the end by any stretch of the imagination… as a matter of fact, I’m just gettin started…. AGAIN!

But as I’m reading the comments from the posts in response to each of my articles from all over the world, I, am inspired to do better, to be a better writer, to give a little more, to reach a little further, like my parents did. And in doing so, I’ve become a richer person, a more well rounded person, a person who could observe  at a distance and just know, instead of seeking out a meaning…. it was just there because my parents taught me that to understand. And like them, giving all that to me, I in turn can give that all to you.

And I’m getting my reward back already… the one where you’re letting me know just how much you value me as a writer, an instructor, a mentor, and a leader. And that’s a good place to be… it feels wonderful! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I know I’ll miss the back and forth and some of the personal messages some of you took the time to send me, but I’m having a hard time doing too many things, which means I can do none of them very well. I would one day like to be on a few talk shows, sharing my experience with as many people as I can so that many more can know the information I know and become well again. That’s how I want to lead, by example.

You all have inspired me to be a better person, to not think so much of myself in terms of me, but rather in what I know that I can give back to you, and in turn inspire you to do the same in your little corner of the world! What a cool place to be, at the beginning of a huge wave of help! If every one of you contacted 10 friends with the information shared here, and they in turn did the same, just think of how many people we could all help!

I read somewhere there are over 9 million people suffering from back pain, who, with minimally invasive back surgery could be functional human beings again. IF only 1/3 of those people were reached and helped, just think how many people could once again be productive. Yesterday while volunteering, I spoke with a lady Dr. Smith will be operating on. She is in so much pain she’s in a wheelchair. I explained in detail all the “stuff” I thought she’d need to know and when I was done, her friend who brought her was in tears, and she asked for a hug. The relief she feels from the knowledge she acquired is empowering her to have a positive mental attitude to do what it takes to get her out of that chair. Just hearing me tell her what a difference the operation has made in my life and can make in hers moved her to start dreaming about going to a movie with her friend and taking her precious puppy out for a walk. It hit her friend more than it hit her, but this is one patient I want to see post-op. The one I want to see 6 months or a year from now. With activity she will loose weight, and gain her self esteem back. Right now she can’t even wear shoes and someone else must put her slippers on for her.

Recently, just before Christmas, a gentleman had come to see me three or four times, frightened by all the horror stories but knowing he had no other recourse. Seven days after surgery, he called to thank me for taking the extra time with him to put his mind at ease. He was only seven days post-op and felt no original pain. There was some surgical pain he shared but it was nothing like the pain he once suffered with. You could actually hear the smile in his voice!

I want more, more, MORE of those kinds of experiences! And you too can help. I can understand why Dr. Smith is so driven to do more surgeries, to teach more doctors. It’s almost intoxicating to hear the words of patients who once were in so much pain start leading productive, full lives again. It’s personally rewarding and totally inspiring! People come back with tears of joy in their eyes thanking Dr. Smith for the measure of relief he was able to give them. The gratitude I see pouring forth from the work he’s done, is nothing short of miraculous! That in and of itself prods me on to do more, give more, share more and be more.

There are some unsung heros in the cogs of the wheel to wellness. I’m talking about all the dedicated women of the office who quietly spend hours on some cases to get insurance approval and all the paperwork in order to do everything in their power to make it happen for Dr. Smith to work his magic! I’ve seen his assistant answer her phone, write up hospital orders, answer Dr. Smith’s directives, answer a patient’s question and do it all at the same time with a smile on her face. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned by just watching what goes on behind the scenes to make what Dr. Smith does happen.

These women inspire me to want to know more, to understand the inner workings of a doctor’s office and to understand the heartbeat of what it takes for a successful outcome. As a patient and silent observer, I get to see both sides of the story. I’ve been enlightened and motivated to do more, to help more people to feel the outcome I have. I would never want to pass on false hope, but I’ve seen hopeless cases be whole, pain-free human beings who are productive.

You can do your part too. I bet right now if you really thought about it you can think of at least one person close to you that has limited activity due to chronic back pain. Pain maybe not bad enough to put them in a wheelchair, but bad enough it makes them think twice about the activities they participate in during the course of their day or week. Those people are the ones that can use the information I’ve been sharing and will continue to share, and that YOU should be sharing this information with!

Get your friend, family member or loved one to the information about minimally invasive back surgery! Allow them the knowledge that there’s a better way to do back surgery than what they’ve heard about in the past. Help them to seek out a NuVasive doctor trained in the techniques Dr. Smith employs to alleviate their torture. Help them with the lives they can lead vs just offering sympathy as you sit by and watch them suffer. You can’t feel their pain, but you can certainly educate them to put an end to it.

So if being a leader means inspiring others to do good when they can, then, yes, I will take on that role. If I can put one person’s mind at ease as they make a life-altering decision, then I’ll have accomplished a worthwhile goal. By inspiring others is the only way I can see to aspire to my more lofty goals, to take myself out of me, walk a mile in another’s moccasins, and be empathetic towards those who need to take the leap of faith that there’s a better way to live and to heal.

With that I’ll leave you to seek out someone you know, tell them what you know, encourage them to put the pain behind them and have a fulfilling life. BE A LEADER TOO!

Go to The Better Way Back website, find out how you can help someone who is suffering in pain, find them a doctor in their area trained to do the minimally invasive techniques that can change their lives.

info@thebetterwayback.org   or call 1-800-745-7099

THEY DO NOT PAY ME TO SAY THIS, I just feel they are the leaders in minimally invasive techniques with cutting edge technology to change the world for how back surgery is done. I was a tiny little part of that innovation and I’m proud to pass it along!


In the meantime, take care of you and yours!




kathleenmosko@gmail.com              Twitter     @kathleenmosko

Hi Everyone!

I bet you thought you were going to get out of the torture of hearing more about my surgeries! NOPE! I’ve got something to say about the flip side of the issue of the
“injury pain,” I need to tell you about the “surgical pain” from my XLIF.




OK, I’ll tell you straight on, it felt like Dr. Smith had operated on the wrong part of my body… by that I mean, immediately upon waking up in my hospital room, I didn’t have the pain I had in my back like right before I went in to surgery. I did however have some really overactive nerve endings that were jumping all over the place, and mostly in my legs afterwards. I’m gonna take you through this slowly so you’re informed, but not scared out of your mind should you be looking to have this done. I’m gonna explain the “whys” of the surgical pain for ya.

Before surgery my pain level on a scale from 1 to 10 was a 60… it was all consuming. And so was this. PLEASE KEEP REMEMBERING MINE WAS AN EXRAORDINARY CASE!


Dr. Smith had just performed a one of a kind surgery on me with no cages, no rods and no plates but he did SIX FULL LEVELS of fusion. I have 36 setting pins and one screw and that’s it!

Here’s a little of the physiology of the repair.

The XLIF procedure is thus:Dr. Smith made three 2 inch incisions on my right side and one 1 inch incision in the small of my back. ( often times the doctor doesn’t need any other access except the three incisions on the side, but for as extensive a repair that I needed, and to have the best access to where he needed to be, he went in through the back too.) In order to do all the repair needing done, he was able to reach it all with only those four small openings. Scrapings of my own bone were taken from my left ribs to place in a bone growth medium and implanted in my vertebrae for the fusion. I could feel the pain in my left side post-op, but it didn’t last but about six weeks.

The pain at the incisions was minimal, more annoying than anything else, itching mostly as they healed, and because of where they were… right at my waistband. But loose fitting clothing took care of that. There were only steri-strips, all the stitches were internal. The incision in the middle of my back was non-existent in the greater scheme of things. I kept forgetting it was there!

When Joe Delappi, Dr. Smith’s PA, pulled back the muscles so Dr. Smith could work, he was stretching them, the outer ones as well as the core muscles. ( see earlier posts for the explanation detailing the XLIF procedure itself)

OK so, we’ve got the incision pain, the stretched muscles pain (this pain was in my right shoulder as the core muscles are attached higher on the body and also the stretched muscle pain in my right side more towards the outside at my waist,)and all SIX levels of nerve endings he released that were being pinched, AND, the sciatic nerve! Dr. Smith told me he had no clue how much feeling would come back, but he was pretty sure I’d have way more than what I had before the surgery. Dr. Smith’s a conservative kinda guy and doesn’t promise you the universe, but in the back of his mind, knows he can probably deliver the moon, the stars and the little brass ring you’ve been holding out hope to grab. 

He also knows that reaching for that brass ring depends solely on what happens AFTER SURGEY! He’s not God, but rather an instrument of God, and with his talents he is able to give you relief from your pain and suffering, but the rest of your recovery and how far you get towards grabbing that little brass ring, is mostly in your hands. By that I mean, your determination to be the driver of your recovery by participating wholeheartedly in your physical therapy from the moment you set your feet on the floor for the first time after surgery, rest squarely in your hands.

It was maybe six or eight hours after my surgery that I ended up out of bed, first to go potty, then to use the walker and walk the hallway. I got to be really good friends with the morphine pump button while I was there. I just kept pushing it until it worked. If I could’ve walked the hallway that night, I’d have been released to go home the next day… barring any other complications. And there were none. HOWEVER, I had some real issues with the nerve endings jumping all the time. I ended up staying until the morning of the third day, but Joe was ready to throw me out the evening of the second! LOL

I’ve been trying to think of a way to explain the pain using a common element that most all of you have experienced so you can fully understand what I’m talking about. I’m a visionary for the most part and if I can envision something, it helps me get through an event. I try to relate a present experience with one I may have had in the past, or some thing that I learned before that can help me understand what’s going on. The more you know the less frightening an event can be.

Have you ever seen a misty rain on glass. You know how the droplets are so tiny that they just adhere to the window but as a few seconds pass, the droplets become heavier,( this is where Dr. Smith would have released my pinched nerves) which makes them start to slide down the glass? Imagine the small tiny droplets of mist as the damaged nerves that the doctor just released. Using that image, allow the flow of each of those droplets to be continuously connected from the top, and as it gains more weight from the next connection, you see the droplet get bigger as it travels. Now, note that it’s not just one droplet that’s doing this but thousands, maybe tens of thousands of droplets that are doing this all at the same time. YOU’VE GOT A LOT OF ACTIVITY GOING ON ALL AT THE SAME TIME! And in reality, the activity feels like a pin prick, which in itself isn’t too bad until you realize that, oh, I don’t know, at least a gazillion of em are all doing it at once! That’s a LOT of pricking! LOL

Yeah, that’s what it was like for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t withstand it, it was just that I had so much damage to all of those levels and they all needed fixed at one time. And they all started to heal at the same time. It was like an electrical explosion in my legs. LOL I guess I never realized just how numb my legs were till I started getting the feeling back in em! ( kinda like sitting waaay too long on the toilet engrossed with some bathroom reading material! hahaha I know you know THAT feeling!)

NOTE: not all people experience this or this level of endurance. As a matter of fact, few do. Most experience a much lesser, or almost none of the pain I did. Remember mine was SIX levels, most patients only need from between one to three levels. Often only one! That puts them back on their feet and into life in a matter of weeks, far quicker than what I experienced!

That pain was at times really overwhelming, but, as my son so poignantly put it, “Just think Mom, once all this pain is gone, it’s all going to be gone forever!” THAT’S what I clung onto as the days passed and the meds sometimes didn’t do the trick. It became my silent mantra. I had a great many tricks I’d devised to overcome the sensation I was being poked by a million needles all at the same time.

First, I chose to welcome that feeling rather than complain about it. I knew that it was all part of the healing that was going on and in the end I would come out of this a changed person, and I have. To endure that kind of pain is only doable with a postivie mental attitude that you’ll get beyond it. That was my second trick. Just keep on thinking this is just a temporary condition at this point, and once done, there’ll be no more pain and no more need for strong medication.

 You look for subtle changes in the way you feel, you study your body every minute you’re awake, and you pray that you sleep long enough to feel like the change comes over that respite. There was no night or day for me at the beginning, no meaningful time for me except when it was time for another pain med. I lived and slept according to the pain med schedule. Thankfully Brian called Joe to ask him if there was something else I could take because there was such “bleed through” pain (this is the pain that comes in spite of you being given a strong narcotic at a high dose)  and it was almost unbearable.

I will tell you that Joe was AWESOME when he gave Brian the right advice to augment my meds with a particular addition which gave me the relief I was looking for. I’m not going to tell you what that was because I don’t want you trying it without your doctors’ advice. It worked for me but may be highly dangerous or ineffective for you so you’ll need to check with your doctor. I can’t tell you though, how much I appreciated the added meds. JOE ROCKS!

But, that too brought on more constipation, so I had to up my stool softener to a laxative. I didn’t care. I got the relief I was looking for. Now bear in  mind also the level of pain I’m discussing here, knowing in past posts I’ve shared with you that I didn’t take ANY prescription drugs for 10 years with the injury pain, so you have some idea of what level of high tolerance I have for pain.

I also kept in mind that I must keep moving. If it were up to my spouse, I’d probably still be in a walker. He encouraged me to just do nothing, and to take more pain pills, which spurred me on to do more, maybe a little too much more because there were days the activities I did rendered me incapable to do much else but sleep or lay flat for the next day or so. Stupid, I know, but I was in a hurry to get my life back. You know the one Dr. Smith alluded to… the one where I could wear three inch high heels! LOL And he even gave me a bonus, 2 1/8 inches back in height!

Some of the tricks I incorporated into my daily routine in the beginning was to use ice blankets on my legs  to numb the nerve endings so the pain wouldn’t be so horrendous. I had four of them, two in use while the other two were freezing. I can only liken it to something my mother told me when we were discussing her neuropathy from diabetes. She said one of her doctors told her that as the neuropathy spread, it would be like she was in a torture chamber with no relief. He said often times patients want so much medication they would rather OD than go through it. She looked at me and said, “He was right, it’s worse than torture.” And on top of it she had muscle spasms in the bottoms of her feet that were excruciating!

I only had a small taste of what my dear mother suffered with for the last ten years of her life. That feeling in my legs only lasted for a few weeks and it was ever-decreasing as the nerves reconnected. My empathy for her is boundless. Recently, I found out they have an experimental surgery to alleviate that neuropathy in diabetic patients. I wish she’d lived long enough to get that relief and walk.

I used to envision a bunch of wires flailing around like a garden hose at full blast that someone let go, all at the same time. As the water got turned off, those wires would calm down and just behave themselves. Intense, yes, but nothing like what my mom suffered through. There was no end to her suffering. She only took  6 extra strength Tylenol a day, and, if my brother forgot to leave em out for her, she didn’t even get those. A few times mom would call me to come over and bring her some Tylenol because my brother had been gone all day and she was in terrible pain. Since all I had was Tylenol too, and not any good stuff, I took what I had to her to give her some relief.

Like I said, as the days wore on, the pain lessened and what was unique that I noticed, was that the more I moved, the less it hurt later that day… so I kept moving! At first I was only able to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen, but then it was outside to the driveway, then down the driveway, then to the next driveway, then the first light pole, then the second and so on!

I can remember it wasn’t time yet for my next round of meds and I was hurting really, really bad. It was about 2:30am and Brian had just gone to sleep. He’s such a dear son, and when I called him he got up without complaint and asked me what I thought I needed. I wanted to walk, not just in the house, but outside. I’d noticed that if I walked up and down the driveway which was on an incline, after about twenty times of doing that, the pain subsided. I was later to find out once I got into formal physical therapy with Dr. Amanda Scott, I was actually doing exactly what I should be doing to alleviate the pain! She explained that when a muscle hurts or cramps, you want to do an exercise that uses the opposing muscle to facilitate relief. WHO KNEW!? LOL All I knew was that  it didn’t hurt so bad afterwards and I was able to make it to my next set of meds. By walking the incline I was actually using the opposing muscles to make the pain subside.

Let’s talk about medication. TAKE IT DAMN IT! If you’re worried about getting hooked on the stuff, you won’t! It’s that simple. BUT, your body was put through a major trauma; one of massive proportions! Don’t try to be a hero, I’M NOT JUST TALKING TO YOU GUYS OUT THERE! Your body is a marvelous organ capable of so much healing and corrective and compensating activity. But you gotta help it. Especially when the trauma you put it through was deliberate!

Time is such an ambiguous element in our lives and we often really don’t understand it or appreciate it. I’m putting this explanation here because you really need to understand that when you are in the process of healing you loose all sense of time, you often feel like you’re moving in slow motion and your healing can’t happen fast enough. I’m often asked, “How long before I can get back to my normal life?” Well, first that’s very subjective, depending on so many factors. (if there were any complications, your level of pain, your level of tolerance for pain, your injury and what you had done, how willing you are to participate in your recovery and how much physical therapy you’re willing to do.)

During your recovery phase, you lose the sense of time; AND, you’re often in a very big hurry and rush your healing. DON’T DO THAT! You are not going to be like that forever! And, you need the meds to heal long enough for you to do the PROPER healing!  You are not going to be on those meds forever, and they’re strong for a reason… they are aiding your body’s natural ability to heal itself.

I am allergic to codeine so it took out a whole class of drugs for Dr. Smith to prescribe to me as pain killers. I was on dilaudid which is 20X’s stronger than morphine it was told to me. First Brian, then I, had to go through this whole ID process each time I got a script for it because it’s what they consider a “class A” drug. Only so many pills are given and you have to verify your purpose for it’s consumption each time you pick it up and you have to show your picture ID and all that jazz. Dr. Smith anticipated me being on it for at least a year. I had figured out the rate of consumption of the pills, how long it would take me to wean myself off of them and it was going to take me like7 more months… and like a few hundred pills. by my fourth month post-op I was feeling so good and doing so much physical activity I really didn’t feel I needed em. So without his knowledge, I started to wean myself off em.

I started that in earnest the last part of August. I went to see Dr. Sparling, my primary care physician and we had a long heart to heart talk about the drugs.  I told him the numbers I’d figured out and how long it was going to take for me to get off  them. I also said I wasn’t willing to wait that long. I had my surgery on May 28,2010, and late August put me at three months. I also knew the longer I was on them, the harder it would be to get off. I WAS AT THREE MONTHS POST-OP! In healing terms, that a short period of time to not need any medication, ESPECIALLY WITH WHAT I HAD DONE, but I thought it was more a hindrance at that point rather than a help. I wanted to do more physical therapy and I needed to know what to work on in reality, not what was masked by the drugs.

The conversation led to Dr. Sparling giving me a couple of options, he said I could go to one of the drug rehab programs they have for recovering drug addicts, I could just keep stepping it down like I was, OR, I could break myself off it cold turkey. Well, the first option was definitely out of the question. This was a condition I had to deal with without other people who became junkies by choice. And I didn’t consider myself a junkie because I took it just like Dr. Smith ordered and I can honestly say I never deviated and took more at one time or closer together or anything different than what was on the script! NOT ONCE! I knew the only person I would be hurting was myself and I also needed to set a good example for Brian. Besides, I really was to the point at three months that I didn’t really need em much.

Dr. Sparling described for me what would happen to my body if I decided to get off them cold turkey, and he said it wasn’t going to be nice. He defined for me what it was I would experience and how I would probably feel. He reached out to me with a lifeline saying he’d help me through it as much as he could. I guess there’s a drug you can take that helps with some of the side effects but I chose not to ask for that either. In my mind, cold turkey meant just that, COLD TURKEY! In Dr. Sparling’s office, after weighing all my options, I told him I wouldn’t be going to a drug rehab program, and I didn’t want any additional drugs, so the only thing left for me to do was to go with a modified program. He and I decided when, after cutting the pills in half, then in quarters, I should just stop taking them. He asked me to call in and just let one of the girls know to tell him. He also said it would take about two weeks once that was in place so I should call about two weeks later to let him know through the girls how things were for me.

All along, because of the pain, I’d developed high blood pressure. Dr. Sparling was concerned about that so he had me monitor it at those blood pressure stations like at WalMart. He gave me a number to shoot for and told me to call him if the number got beyond a certain point. I felt I had all my bases covered. And, I had an appointment with Dr. Smith mixed in that timeframe, so if I needed to address something drastic I could talk about it with him. I felt enveloped with security knowing I could have a successful outcome because my doctors cared so much about me. It really was the first time in my life I felt like someone was watching out for me and my wellbeing. I felt informed and confident because I armed myself with enough information, eventhough I’d never gone through something like this before, I understood what would happen. The unknown wasn’t that bad because of it… WELL, ALMOST!

When actors portray a junkie on TV with the jitters and the shakes and the cold sweats, and the scratching of your skin because it itches like something’s crawling on it… YES, IT’S THAT, TIMES A HUNDRED! I remember going into the kitchen antsier than all get out, my skin was crawling soooo bad. Even my head itched. I looked out the kitchen window several times, and looked back at Brian and my spouse sitting at the table. I started wringing my hands together and then scratching my head. Brian came over to me and gave me a hug, told me it’d be ok and it won’t be long before all of it was just a memory.

Greg remained seated where he said, “Just take another pill, there’s better quality of life through more powerful drugs!” And then he laughed. Brian and I just looked at each other. I didn’t need enticed to go back to where I was, I needed to get clean! I occupied myself by going for walks to the bookstore around the corner from my house. I tried to concentrate on shows on PBS that seemed interesting at the time but my attention quickly faded. I did laundry, I washed dishes, I cooked, I played mahjong on the computer incessantly. I played with the bunnies like never before! I tried to find stuff that was mindless that wouldn’t tax my thinking power as the drug got out of my system. Knowing what to expect was a great tool for me. I was able to follow my progress, knowing what Dr. Sparling had explained to me. No wonder he was voted a top family physician 9 years running!

I honestly feel I had the best of the best taking care of me! Dr. Roland Sparling, and world renown neurosurgeon, Dr. William Smith… a power-packed combination! A song comes to mind from The Sound of Music, I think it’s called “Something Good.” There’s a line in it that goes something like, “So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good!” I must have, to deseve these two and eventually three men, Dr. Michael Crovetti, for my hip, and I have to add in there too, Dr. Amanda Scott, doctor of Physical Therapy. Without this incredible team, who knows where I’d be today. But, I am going to give myself credit too. When I first embarked on this journey, I told Dr. Smith if he was willing to take my case, I promised him I’d do EVERYTHING, EXACTLY how he wanted me to, no matter what. I wouldn’t complain, and I’d see to it I didn’t deviate one bit. I KEPT MY WORD TO HIM! And he kept his.

October 1, 2010 was the day I stopped taking any pain killers for my back whatsoever. That was 16 months ago, and four  months and two days post-op to be completely off them. I still had to take my BP meds and the stool softener for a while but most everthing was stopped. Bear in mind now that 10 months after the XLIF I had 3 levels of my neck fused together with an ACDF procedure on March 16, 2011 and seven weeks and five days later, on May 9, 2011 I had a total hip replacement done. I was on pain killers for only three weeks for the ACDF and two and a half weeks for the total hip…. just sayin…

Although Dr. Smith had originally said I’d be in my back brace for six months, I was able to get out of it during my October visit as well. Out of my back brace in four months! My fusion had taken hold so rapidly I didn’t need it from what he saw on the x-rays! I was exhilerated! My spirits soared. And the first place I wanted to go alone with my new set of wings was to the Cathedral… me and God had some talkin to do!

Nowdays I have a hard time remembering what that pain felt like. I got feeling back in both my legs, and even in the top of my foot. I mean, I know it from my memory, but to conjur it up in my mind, well, it’s just not inscribed in my thoughts any longer. The white noise of pain, that boombox that never shut off in my head as I did my daily tasks was no longer occupying a place in my brain. I had room to think of other things, my thinking was much clearer, I didn’t lose focus as often. I’m still ADHD and have to keep myself on task, but for the most part I now spend my days filling my head and my heart with wonderful daydreams. Mom always said, “Your days are made better by your daydreams!” So now I get to daydream a LOT!

I hope this explanation of my surgical pain doesn’t scare anyone into not taking the chance to be out of pain. Just remember Brian’s words, “Once this pain is gone Mom, it’s gonna all be gone forever!”



info@thebetterwayback.org   or call 1-800-745-7099

NO, NuVasive, nor anyone else pays me to say the things I’ve said… I am speaking on my own.

On that note, I’ll leave you to think about your decision to be pain free. And in the meantime, make sure you take care of you and yours.




PS: This particular post has been especially draining on me to write because I’ve had to revisit all the subject matter. But, if it helps just one person make that decision to be pain free, then it was worth the effort to relive it again!

kathleenmosko@gmail.com                         Twitter @kathleenmosko


kathleenmosko@gmail.com              Twitter     @kathleenmosko

Hi Everyone!

I thought I’d engage my readership in this post…. here’s the deal….

I have two trains of thoughts about the issue of injury pain vs surgical pain…. I can give you the short, more “clinical” view of these two issues, or, I can give you the long, personal journey version which may include as many as three posts to get to it all.

I started writing the long, personal version and then I had the thought that maybe some of you may only be interested in the shorter, “clinical” version. So, I’m throwing it out there to you…







IF I do the short version, I will do a little research, (all online stuff, which you can obviously do for yourself) and I’ll limit my comments to just what I’ve experienced in a clinical sense according to what that research exposes.

IF I do the long version, you’re gonna have to get a cup or two of coffee and suffer through maybe as many as three different posts as I give you my background as to how I came about to have the pain, how it affected me and how I dealt with it until I was surgically fixed and what the effects of each have been in accordance with each procedure.



On Monday, the 16th, I’ll start my research if it is the short version vote that wins or if it’s the long version, I will post the first installment by Monday evening…

So make a comment, let me know what you think… what type of writing do you want to see me doing on this very important subject?


This should be fun for me, I hope it’s fun for you!

in the meantime, take care of you and yours!




kathleenmosko@gmail.com              Twitter     @kathleenmosko

Hi Everyone!

I normally get up around 3:30 am and the first thing I do is feed my baby bunny, Candi. Now that Skittles is gone she needs some additional loving and reassurances that her routine, the one she had when Skittles was alive will still be in tact. So I keep to my schedule. The second thing I do is check my emails before I go to my website to read and allow all the comments that you post overnight.

I was delayed this morning because I awoke to a very disturbing email. Not that the author of the email sent anything bad, it was the content of his email that just flat out has PISSED ME OFF!

Remember a couple of posts ago when I told you all about the insurance company that denied one of Dr. Smith’s patients the opportunity to have this life-changing minimally invasive surgery? WELL, IT’S HAPPENED AGAIN! AND WITH A DIFFERENT PATIENT AND DIFFERENT INSURANCE COMPANY!

So, as usual, before I go off half-cocked, I did some additional research… yes, I know, maybe it’s overkill but it’s the latest information and it’s definitely cutting edge stuff… pardon the pun… I found the perfect explanation in a video offered by NuVasive, the corporation that manufactured the hardware that’s in my body.

I searched other companies, giving them a fair opportunity to post their stuff  here, anything that was even remotely updated… the best I could find was a few things from 2007… if it’s out there, it’s well hidden… so not that I’m trying to be partial, it’s just that THIS information was the most up to date I could find!

Click on this web link below and watch this video about the insurance companies and the developments and technology of minimally invasive procedures. 






While I was reading the denial letter the patient shared with me from the insurance company, I read a passage from it that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end!

It was in reference to the patient and the guidelines he must follow in order to have surgery a consideration.  I am quoting the text directly………:

 Surgery is allowed only when….”The individual is a non-smoker, or in the absence of progressive neurological compromise, will refrain from smoking for at least 6 weeks prior to planned surgery… ” What happens to you if you’re in a car accident and need emergency surgery… just asking…?

THIS IS BECOMING THE STANDARD MANDATE FOR THOSE WHO NEED SURGERY ACCORDING TO INSURANCE COMPANY POLICIES.  STOP SMOKING NOW! Don’t wait until you need surgery in an emergency and there’s no time for you to stop first. Insurance companies are looking to deny surgeries… and back surgery for a smoker is almost a given failure!

The writing is on the wall folks… between insurance companies flat out denying procedures that are life-changing with minimally invasive procedure to disallowing anyone who is a smoker access to surgery all together, changes HAVE TO BE MADE and in our favor! You have to remember, if it weren’t for us, the people who buy the insurance in the first place, there would be no need for insurance companies!




The more people who know and understand this the more enlightened we’ll be when we go to the voting booths to cast our ballots for those we chose to represent us! Big Pharma and insurance companies pay a lot of money to lobbyists to make sure votes go a certain way in their favor… and wait a minute…. how do they get their paychecks too? On the backs of every working man and woman who struggle to have food on their table, a roof over their head, and health care good enough to cover catastrophic health issues, least they be denied coverage and die before a resolution is met.


And as always, remember to take care of you and yours,




kathleenmosko@gmail.com              Twitter     @kathleenmosko

Hi Everyone!

I thought I’d start the year off right by clearing up several issues that keep arising in the comment section.

Let me first preface this by saying: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! I APPRECIATE THE EFFORT YOU MAKE TO COMMENT AND GIVE ME POSITIVE FEEDBACK TO KNOW HOW I’M DOING! THIS IS WHAT KEEPS ME GOING! Thank you for all your compliments about my writing style, I smile each time I read such a wonderful compliment! One of my writing professors just passed away in July this past year and I’m sure she’s in heaven smiling too each time it’s posted!

That being said, here’s some things you may need to understand to fully appreciate this website.




I am writing this website as cliff notes for an upcoming memoir I’m doing so not all the gaps are filled in… You’ll just have to buy my book to get all the “juicy” stuff! LOL

I am ONE writer doing all the posting, I do not have help with my writing. I AM NOT LOOKING FOR GUEST WRITERS AT THIS TIME!

This is a closed website without anyone’s help for writing as it is MY story to tell. I understand that many of you want more information and to be a part of my website. However, I will only be entering posts which pertain directly with my life experiences as they pertain to my healing processes.

At some point I may open up an additional website with a forum later this year, but for now, know that this is only as an additional thought, and not to expand my present website.

It’s been hard for me to get all the writing done I have in my que waiting, so for me to be a part of any discussion group would take up every last minute I have. I am healed enough to finally get back on the merry-go-round of life and do some exciting new things. I need time during each day to do them. As I hone my writing skills, I’m getting better and quicker at saying precisely what I want to convey so I have extra time for me to do other things and not neglect this website!

I haven’t looked for any other discussion forums pertaining to these particular issues, but I’m sure they’re out there if you just keep looking!

Someone asked me where I get my information from… PERSONAL EXPERIENCE mostly, the rest was either told to me by my expert doctors, my prior education, or I did a little research online… but very little online because you don’t really know what you’re getting there!

Sorry to the person who wants me to swap solutions to your web problems. First I haven’t the time to delve into it and secondly, I’m the last person you want to be asking for internet solutions…. I’m not savvy at IT stuff at all!

One person keeps posting that I bookmarked my website to increase the volume of traffic of my website… NOPE! I don’t bookmark anything because I have no idea how to do that! Others who have decided my website was worthy of others taking a look at it are the ones who are bookmarking it… Sorry…

Also someone keeps asking me if my titles to my posts should more reflect my post content to drive a higher volume of traffic… to that I say… worry less about your traffic and more about the quality of your content and the traffic will take care of itself. I have not done anything creatively IT-wise to increase my traffic flow so for me, I know the numbers I’m seeing in my analytics are “real.” By that I mean it’s pure data without any bells or whistles. OTHERS HAVE BEEN DRIVING MY NUMBERS NOT ME. Which gives me a much better view of the validity of my writings! “nuff said!

I do not have a hyperlink and I do not have a newsletter…. I am a lone writer barely able to make the posts I do… I’ll be going back to volunteering from a Christmas break so I may have even less time to post…

I do not know how to prevent spam as that is an IT question, but know that however my IT person has set up my website, I can filter it out.


As of right now I do not have a Facebook website link… My personal Facebook is just that,  for my family and close friends. As I grow in followers I will have a fan page set up for Facebook in the future, but as of now, I have none.

Outside of the really crappy spam, for the most part, you all have been very supportive of my writings.. it’s mostly been very positive feedback and for that I’m very grateful! I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read my posts…and comment!  THANK YOU MUCHLY! :>))

SOME “I” “T” KINDA STUFF YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW – I had a very long talk with my IT guy who says the following:

If your readers are having a hard time loading the website, in any given browser, it may be that they need to update to the latest version of that browser in order to view the pics or even just the posts.

They may be using a browser that’s not powerful enough or is outdated and cannot handle my RSS feed. In that case they may need to change their browser OR THEY MAY NEED TO CHANGE THEIR SECURITY SETTINGS IN ORDER TO VIEW MY WEBSITE! Internet Explorer comes to mind as I speak of these things… they are notoriously outdated in many ways!

Also slow to load would signal a sign that your browser is not updated or powerful enough to handle my website. Update or change the browser… I guess the theme here is to have the right browser for RSS feeds or for just loading!

If you are not from an English speaking nation, that’s awesome, but if you don’t turn your English traslator on, I have no way of knowing what comment you want to convey and am compelled to delete your entry…

I have had several requests for people who want me to email them… I have sent several personal emails out and all have been tagged undeliverable because of bad addresses… which leads me to believe they are just spam! So here’s the deal…. if you want to have a private back and forth with me you must email me at my gmail address.

kathleenmosko@gmail.com OR you can Twitter me @kathleenmosko  Although, I am not real certain about Tweeting yet, if I receive one, my IT guy said I should see it on my iPhone so I can return it!

One last thing before I go…. I know the word “guys” is used as a collective term, but, know that first, I’m a lady, and secondly, there’s only one of me! LOL I’m just trying to add a little humor here…

I will, when I can, or if it’s an issue I just can’t keep my mouth shut about, answer back to some of you, but for the most part it will be hit or miss as the awesome volume of your comments have increased exponentially and my time at the computer has been lessened. I’ll attempt to find some kind of balance in the near future, but bear with me until then!

As always, thank you so much for visiting my website, and remember to take care of you and your…




PS: for the person who said it’s a shame I don’t have a DONATE button because surely you’d donate to the upkeep of this website… I took your advice and added a donate button, but I’ve yet to see you donate anything to my paypal account! LOL  If I get too busy finding a job or working as a volunteer, this website may have to go by the wayside if it’s not augmented! Just sayin….. :>)

kathleenmosko@gmail.com              Twitter     @kathleenmosko

Hi Everyone!

Well, I thought I might tackle yet another difficult post about S E X!

As a mediator, I hold the same rules of confidentiality that a doctor or lawyer holds when it comes to clients or patients, and I do take that very seriously. I guess I convey that to the patients I speak with though I’ve never had to explain it to them. It’s almost like being in a confessional with some patients who are very forthcoming about certain issues. I feel it’s necessary to make each person feel there is no topic taboo to speak about, after all, if not with either Dr. Smith or myself, then with who? I’m ok with a no holds barred kind of atmosphere. That way if I really sense an added concern, I might bring it to Dr. Smith’s attention for him to deal with it before it goes too far. Whatever I do augments his practice in a positive way. So it came as no real surprise when I had this encounter.

I recently had a male patient ask if, at some point after his recovery, would he be able to be the “husband” he once was to his wife. He said he and his wife had talked about it at some length because it really bothers him not being able to take care of her intimate  needs. She’s a very understanding partner in the fact that she lovingly told him sex is only a part of who he is to her and that his heart is so devoted to her that’s enough for her right now. WOW! That’s one hell of a keeper if ya ask me!

The vast amount of understanding that goes into a person who cares for someone who has horrendous back pain is unbelievable. So many concerns on the surface run through a patients mind about the mechanics of the condition as well as for the care taker. If it’s a spouse, they have an even bigger vested interest in your wellness. Everthing that happens to you affects them, directly or indirectly. Some good, some not so good. It’s the drug induced lack of desire that bothers many back and leg pain sufferers. And then there are all those underlying issues you hold your breath about because you don’t dare bring them up out of fear of rejection, or anticipation, or unrealistic expectations. Having back surgery doesn’t always mean you can get back to a vigorous sex life. There are other mitigating factors that need to be taken into consideration. A heart condition, diabetic medications which alters your desires, other physical ailments not addressed by your back surgery… the list could go on… BUT, for an otherwise healthy individual who just needs the back and leg pain to go away…. there’s hope.

In any case, thoughts of intimate sexual relations are there in the back of every back and leg pain sufferer’s mind. If they say they don’t think about it if they’re in a relationship, they’re lying to themselves at the very least. Intimacy is a big part of a relationship. It’s even necessary to thrive! To have gone without intimacy for a long period of time, is damaging both to the patient whose self esteem sinks tremendously just because of the lifestyle they loose, as well as those who are watching their loved one go through it who may be in the prime of their life with a healthy appetite for sexual relations. There are unspoken things the sufferer is forced to give up. Between the pain and the drugs to kill the pain, they pretty much put a kibosh on any natural sexual desires one might have as a normal, healthy adult. Given the length of time most people suffer before having anything done is yet another factor on how adverse the condition can affect one’s sexual drive.

For the ten years I suffered with the debilitating pain, I can only say I went through the motions I was required to go through because that was in the fine print of my marriage contract. It came to a point when even the obligation of the fine print didn’t matter to me. And just suffice it to say, the road back hasn’t been easy. I’m not one to discuss my intimate life with anyone, I’m not the kind that kisses and tells. So I won’t be discussing in detail here what has transpired for me. I will, however, keep it as subjective as I can to make it informative and enlightening for you.

According to the research I’ve done, barring any other circumstances or health issues, you are certainly able, once all of the healing has taken place, to return to as normal an intimate life as you can have. By that I mean, there may be some modifications necessary of positions you once did that you’ll no longer be able to do, and the return of your fullest desires may be slow. Have patience with yourself in that respect. Ask for patience with your partner. You were meant to be intimate with another human being, that’s how we were designed, but it may take a larger amount of understanding on both your parts to get back to a place of synchronized euphoria. This condition you were in didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to undo itself overnight either! TAKE YOUR TIME! Any partner worth their weight will just be grateful you are back in the game to any greater or lesser degree, hopefully.

At this point I’d like to talk directly to your partner, the one who tolerated your pain, who, if they are a compassionate person, suffered in many ways, though different, right along with you. Yes, I know you suffered too, as you watched helplessly your loved one slowly go downhill, loosing abilities and vitality for an extended period of time without much hope. It’s just as tough on you as it is on the person suffering some times. It takes a toll on everyone who surrounds the sufferer. As the days pass and your partner gets weaker and looses more and more hope and abilities, often it’s not such a stretch as to want to walk away from the person in pain. Sometimes, though you may want to, it’s not possible for financial reasons. Which puts the partner into a funk as well. That downward spiral goes quickly into an abyss hard to climb out of. It’s hard to stay positive for two people. BUT THERE ARE THOSE WHO DO IT, and do it willingly because of the commitment and love one has for the other.

 My son gave up so much of his young life because of my condition. It wasn’t easy or fun to watch at such a tender age your mother, your only legal caretaker, be engrossed in such hainious pain and stand helplessly by, not being able to aford her a measure of relief. I so wish I could give back to him all that lost time. But, it’s forever lost. Pain took away the best 10 years of my life, but not only mine, my son’s. My heart still hurts when I think about how compassionate he was, how loving and caring he was, and how much understanding and maturity it took to watch what happened to me. I gave him the best I could at the time, but it certainly wasn’t the best I could have given him if I had not been in so much pain.

I once had a patient call me and talk to me about how bad his pain was and that his family had gotten to the point they no longer believed it was real. So many doctors he’d seen felt he just had to live with it or that it was psychosomatic. HOGWASH! When he finally was able to reach a doctor who properly diagnosed him, he’d come to the end of his rope with many of his friends and family who would be vital to his recovery but weren’t there for him. He shared that he took a cab to the hospital, and in his mind reasoned that if he didn’t make it off the operating table then he wouldn’t know the difference anyway. He saw this one opportunity to be pain free and took it. The family, including his mother would have to deal with it.

He came through the surgery with flying colors and the day he was released, called his mother for a ride home. He shared she was annoyed that he’d not given her more notice to make arrangements to go to the hospital instead of straight to work. She was more annoyed about being put out than her son not allowing her the opportunity to help. WOW! The coldness of some people! She went but the whole trip home she spewed forth her thoughts on how she felt it was a mistake and that she still thought it was all in his mind… CAN YOU IMAGINE SOMEONE BEING SO COLD? I actually can, and, that’s what scares me most about the patients I see. I don’t want any of them to feel they have no one on their side!

And, then, there are those who have little or no empathy for the debilitating state of the sufferer for they cannot feel the pain, therefore it doesn’t exist. Those are the most difficult conditions to be a sufferer among. Not only do you have to deal with the pain, often in silence, you are expected to do the everyday tasks your partner wants no matter how you feel. The expectations that, you are allowed to be in pain, just be able to function at normal capacity to fulfill all of your duties according to your living agreement prior to your injury, is often not possible to cope with. Depression usually accompanies pain that stays any length of time but is often taboo to discuss in many households because it makes you look weak or looking for sympathy or the “easy” way out. THAT could be further from the truth. There is NOTHING easy about being in excruciating pain or being depressed because of it. The sufferer often becomes numb, to emotions, to the outside world, to what needs to be taken care of for their own sake. HOW ON EARTH CAN A PERSON PERFORM “NORMALLY” UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS?  THEY CAN’T! It’s that simple!

So how then can a sufferer be expected to perform normally the intimacy of love and at the very least “sex” as an act, if they can’t wrap their head around it. It’s been said that sex is 90% mental and 10% physical. AND THAT’S A TRUE STATEMENT. (I remember, I had sex once…. or twice! LOL) If that’s the case, and a back and leg pain sufferer is preoccupied with the constancy of the pain, HOW IN THE HELL IS IT EVER GONNA BE POSSIBLE TO HAVE INTIMACY??

Encouraging the sufferer to seek a remedy from the pain is the first step in getting back an active sex life. Once that’s behind them, rediscover on a different plain all the things you found unique in one another. Learn to adapt to the new capabilities of your healed partner. Allow time for desires to come back, give broad understanding to the relationship to accommodate the necessary changes for the sake of the pain sufferer and help them discover a new-found freedom, one that through no fault of their own was taken from them and has been graciously awarded back to them.

EXPERIMENT, SEEK OUT NEW WAYS, FIND NEW INNOVATIVE WAYS TO ENJOY THE PLEASURES OF ONE ANOTHER. You might be pleasantly surprised. Throw out all the old sexual paradigmes you once held and let your new attitude let you explore the human body through touch in a way you may never have looked at it before. The mind is limitless…. let it take you to new heights, new places of pleasure… you deserve it for all that you’ve been through, all that you’ve suffered from, all that you reached the other side from…. fill your days with wonderous exploration, share your fears with your partner, open your minds to endless possibilities but first, make sure you get permission from your doctor that  you are healed enough to engage in such wanton abandonment!

REJOICE that you are back among the functional living! ENJOY your new body in such a manner you embrace all that it was, is and can be to you. TAKE CARE of your whole being, spiritually, physically, and sexually… you have a right to do that…. and if no one else has given you permission to do that…. I will… because you are worth it!

By the way, when I was done talking to this male patient, he gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek through his tears, I’d just given him back his life, right after Dr. Smith fixes him!

And as always take care of you and yours,