Posts Tagged ‘the back pain’
I know I promised to write about Bill Walton and Nate “Rock” Quarry but I’ve been dealing with a family crisis for the last few days which has preoccupied me. They say everything happens for a reason and this in no exception. This just gives me a chance to “show” you how much these fellas mean to me.
Before I went to San Deigo, Julia called me from The Better Way Back to ask if there was anything they could do for me. I was bold enough to ask for three signed pictures from Nate for my three nephews who are crazy about him. And I asked if I brought a ball with me could I have Bill Walton sign it. She shared they didn’t have a problem with the requests but asked if I could wait to get them until after the Cheetah Ball because they were all so busy. Sounded reasonable.
Today, as I was sitting here reading through my book proposal when the doorbell rang. I answered it to find a Fed Ex guy with three LARGE packages addressed to me! I could hardly get them open in my excitement to see what was in them. I started to cry, tears of happiness. In one of the boxes was a poster-size picture of me and a quote from my video, “When I finally did sing, I sang my heart out. It felt so right and it was all because of the XLIF procedure.” It has The Better Way Back logo on it! The picture is the one I use for my profile picture on Facebook. WOW! The next box had a framed picture of me done in caricature from a local San Diego artist who was drawing us at our dinner the first evening we were there. Also there was a professionally framed picture of Bill, Nate and myself! And, in that box was an envelope with the signed pictures of Nate I asked for. He autographed them to each one by name! I got a personal card from him and the President of the Americas as well! AGAIN, WOW! The last box had a plexiglass square with an autographed basketball to me from Bill Walton! WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! He, Nate and I are all part of an elite group of individuals lucky enough to have had the XLIF surgery and are now getting on with our lives.
First let me share with you an incident that happened to a friend of mine. Her husband saw Bill walk into the bathroom at a convention they were both attending. Her husband stopped him and asked for his autograph. Bill said he’d be glad to if he could wait a few minutes. When he came out, Bill signed his autograph for my friend’s husband who said he was very personable. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, he is. He is warm and friendly and just a real nice guy. I was talking with him back stage before we went out for the discussion panel and Bill was joking with us and running through our questions with us, just a real lay-back kind of guy. They introduced him and Nate first holding the other discussion panelist back. I was the first one of the patient panelists introduced and walked on stage. I offered my hand for Bill to shake but he took my hand and raised it to kiss. I was floored! LOL I can’t imagine the look on my face! No one, I mean, NEVER has anyone ever done that to me. <blush> WOW! What a gentleman! Once the panel was over they whisked him away and I didn’t get a chance to see him the rest of the weekend, but would have liked to talk with him in a more social setting.
Nate was next, who I gave a hug to. His strength is tempered by his gentleness, a true gentleman who even believes in opening a door for a lady and holding her seat for her and he’s not ashamed to admit it. It was a warm friendly hug, he gives GREAT hugs! I did get a chance to speak with Nate a few times during the weekend and all I can say is, he’s got a heart of gold and he loves his daughter! He has a great personality, warm and genuine. There’s such a tenderness in his voice when he talks about his daughter, it’s clearly unmistakable she is his driving force. He talked about his fighting but always adding within the context what his daughter thought. He’s almost unassuming in some aspects in that he’s not loud and braggy like I imagine a lot of those guys are.
Nate was actually the force behind the concept of The Better Way Back. He described for us his back situation and how it affected him so profoundly. He came up with the idea of The Better Way Back to help others realize their life didn’t have to be over spent in endless, agonizing pain. He proposed to the NuVasive people to wear their logo on his trunks during his comeback fight after his surgery and rehab. They agreed, he won, in a big way, and the rest, as they say, is history. He thinks fighting was a calling, and if that’s the case then The Better Way Back is his second calling. He devotes countless hours traveling all over the country doing motivational speaking and travels the world to visit our troops overseas; always promoting The Better Way Back as well. I think that even if Nate doesn’t return to the fighting cage, his name will still be in the spotlight for promoting the XLIF procedure and others like it to advance the science of back injury recovery. Kuddos to Nate for having that vision!
So today, all in all has been a GREAT day, one, for receiving all the wonderful gifts from my friends at The Better Way Back, and two, for the opportunity to relive all those special moments once again!
I want to give a special thanks to all the wonderful people at The Better Way Back who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure nothing stood in the way of a perfect event! I’m not sure of each ones’ title but a very special thanks to Liz, Julia & Emily. You all did a wonderful job pulling your part of the weekend together and working alongside the NuVasive team of Melissa and Kirsten. Hats off to all of you!
One more special thank you goes to two men named Rolf Benirschke and Greg Anton who founded Legacy Health Strategies. “They created Legacy Health Strategies because they have a passion for helping patients in their time of need and as they looked at their own business careers, they wanted to make sure they left a positive Legacy in their communities as well.” I have to say both of these gentlemen know their stuff when it comes to putting together an outreach program for people to connect with the right health services. Rolf is also very much involved in The Better Way Back, if I’m not mistaken, I think he’s the director.
The reason I’m a little unsure of what his function is, is because NuVasive has done an excellent job to work in conjunction with these programs so they are seamless. Kuddos to them for such a seamless affiliate program.
Brian just came home and was blown away with the poster-size picture of his mother sitting in front of the fireplace. He said he’s gonna get me a poster frame so I can hang it. He just kept repeating, “WOW, Mom, WOW! OH, WOW Mom!” So I’m thinking he thinks it’s awesome! LOL The basketball is already on the fireplace mantel! And the pictures are already hung for all to see! Brian just kept saying, “WOW Mom, this is AWESOME!” I think he likes the stuff as much as I do!
Well I have to get dinner ready so this is a good time to wrap it up. I’m having a hard time finding the words to express to everyone just how grateful I am for all the wonderful things happening to me. Somehow I’ll find them, and when I do, I’ll express my gratitude.
Until then, remember to take care of you and yours,
PS remember to check back on Friday, my one year anniversary for my website where I’ll be posting the first three pages of my book, For Brian’s Sake and the first page of the second book, Broken. (remember, it is copyrighted material and you need my written consent to copy or do anything with my excerpt.)
Aaaaah, but what a memory it will be! From the plane ride to the limo ride to the Hilton on San Diego Bay it was filled with pretty powerful stuff. As luck or fate would have it, my son, Brian, was booked to fly to Phoenix to see his girlfriend, Ally. Our gates were 19 and 20 respectively, an hour apart and it hit me, Brian was going an hour east to continue on his life journey, his future with his girlfriend and future wife, and I was traveling an hour west to greet my new tomorrow. How poignant it was to be at the airport at the same time as our lives are separating. For the last twenty-two years I worked to get him and I to a place of wellness and me to have the opportunity to get on with the rest of my life. That day arrived simultaneously, almost unnoticeable.
There were new people for me to meet, like the attorney and his wife from Vegas who were so gracious to guide me through the steps familiar to them from doing this last year. They eased a lot of fears about what was going to happen but only to an extent. What happens to patients who become Patient Ambassadors is only understandable through experience.
San Diego is the kind of town that if you never get out of your car, the sights from your window are still recognizable from pictures you’ve seen in magazines. The trolley running along the roadway and just a few feet away from the ocean’s edge, it’s all a part of the scene that’s set as you travel to your destination.
Once in the hotel lobby I was immediately impressed with how I was treated. Warm, genuine greetings are met with a surprise bag with my name on it. A welcome to our event gift. As I opened my room door I was greeted with a phone call from one of The Better Way Back folks, Julia. She greeted me and asked if my flight was ok and if my room was acceptable to me…. As long as I didn’t have to cook or clean for the next three days, it didn’t matter to me, but it was a bonus that it looked out onto the Pacific Ocean and the room was gorgeous.
As I was hanging up the phone a knock on my door yielded a young lady presenting me with a “Welcome” tray of goodies! A gift card and a wonderful snack welcoming me to San Diego. It was a really nice touch.
Soon after I was whisked away to dinner at a restaurant in the Gaslamp District with Nate “Rock” Quarry the UFC fighter and the rest of The Better Way Back team. We were ushered into an Atrium for dinner where the New Patient Ambassadors got to meet, share our stories and interact for a while. All around the room there were poster-size pictures of us with quotes from our interviews. We had dinner with Dr. Tormeh, one of the leading neurosurgeons responsible for Claire’s new-found freedom from pain. It was a time for camaraderie and communion welcoming us into the NuVasive family.
Liz St. John, Julia Saba, Melissa Kaysen, and Rolf Benirschke, a former NFL player, rounded out the evening asking us to share our experience with the NuVasive XLIF procedure. Both heartfelt and moving, each one had their story to share. But, with an exciting day ahead it was time to go back to the hotel for some rest before our big day and the ball.
After meeting for breakfast in the hotel we were taken to NuVasive world headquarters in La Jolla. There, we toured the heartbeat of an inner sanctum where talented geniuses are encouraged to think outside the box, making innovation the norm and standard to beat for themselves. A quick look at one of the doctors in action performing the setup procedure on a cadaver moved us on to our purpose for being there. A teleconference took place with us as well as new Patient Ambassadors from Tennessee and from all around the country. There we discussed some of our experiences, then Rolf explained the highlights of 2010 and what The Better Way Back wants to achieve in 2011. They want to have at least 300 plus Patient Ambassadors instead of only the 46 that are now a part of the program. As things would happen, Rolf’s dear friend Mark is to have a six-level back surgery on the 7th of February but is extremely apprehensive about it. Rolf asked if I wouldn’t mind speaking with him after our conference.
Before lunch I took the phone from Rolf and discussed in detail all the pointed questions his friend had about my experience and what he could hope to expect in the weeks and months ahead. By doing this kind of Patient Outreach program, it dispels fears and myths about all the negativity from horror stories of decades of botched back surgeries. It isn’t like that any more. Advances in technologies in neurosurgery have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years and now with the onset of neuromapping, what was done to me eight months ago is considered obsolete as newer, safer, and more streamlined techniques are developed. It’s an exciting time to be a neurosurgeon and a patient who finally has a minimally invasive procedure at their disposal to help get the rest of their life back, pain free!
On the return trip to our hotel we were treated to a “scenic” ride back along the coastal waters, through a section of La Jolla and Ocean Beach. Back by the hotel the aircraft carrier Midway is docked to board and enjoy a lunch or tour of the ship. I chose to be let out a couple of miles away from the hotel to take in the sights before rehearsal for the evening’s events. As I walked, I could see the naval yard across the bay to Coronado Island and the Coast Guard Station where my father’s ship would come into port during the war. There, my mother would wait for him and they took in the very sights and views of the ocean as I now was. I recalled so many of the stories my mom talked about when I was little and now, I could finally put a picture to the scenes I held dear in my mind. I arrived back at the hotel with no time to spare for rehearsal, and with a quick run-through behind me, I was poised to prepare myself for the evenings’ activities.
Each of the New Patient Ambassadors was seated at a different table giving more people an opportunity to interact with us on a personal level. This event is held to award the NuVasive army of sales reps with the year’s best and brightest and to allow the co-mingling of thoughts on how best to represent the company as it grows bigger and brighter on the world stage.
As I spoke with my new Ambassador friend from Las Vegas about the evenings’ events, he didn’t do the night’s affair justice when describing it to me. It’s one of those things where you just gotta be there to really understand the scope of it.
I was seated at the table with two of the board members, and the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of NuVasive. I had no idea who I was talking to as I put my mouth in gear… you’d think that after suffering from hoof-in-mouth disease for decades, I’d learn to tread lightly. But no, I spoke right through better judgement as I explained to Jason, whom by the way only introduced himself as Jason, that I had a meeting with a producer and ghost writer last weekend about getting my memoir written and that I was in need of funding for the project! Nothing like talking about it with the right wrong guy! LOL It wasn’t until much later in the evening, when he was announced to go up on stage that I realized who I was sitting next to. Geesh! I should have been handed a booklet with all the big wigs’ pictures and names so I wouldn’t have sounded so foolish!
As the evening progressed and dinner was served, I was tapped to head to the stage, just after I saw my surgeon get an award for being one of four doctors in the world to have performed more than 1,000 XLIF procedures since its inception. Backstage I patiently waited to be called while Nate Quarry assured me that he would escort me down the steps once we were done so I wouldn’t fall. I am still having some hip issues and I wore brand new two inch heels with my dress. I was the first one introduced and was greeted onstage by Bill Walton, ex-NBA star and now fellow XLIF patient himself. Once we were all seated, three patient advocates and two doctors, a series of questions were posed to each of us. A two minute video of each one of us was played as an introduction leading up to the queries. The questions were a sampling of our experiences and our stories giving a face and character to the metal parts designed and sold by the members of the audience.
Alex Lukianov, CEO and founder of the NuVasive company is an out of the box visionary with a playful streak. He himself is an XLIF patient so he well “gets” what he is doing for people everywhere. There was a performance with a troupe from Circ de Sole, and a 28 piece band with dancers and singers for our dinner entertainment. With a playful heart, Alex let down what little hair he still has along with COO Keith Valentine to do a number of small skits. There was, interspersed during the evening, videos about the company and how it came to be. Hats off to Nadia Scott and Jerry Hana for their professionalism to pull those videos off making us look so good and to add to the variety of media to convey the overall picture of the company as a whole.
It was really cool when I was escorted off stage by Nate Quarry to be warmly greeted by Dr. Smith who conveyed he was totally shocked to see me there. His friends at NuVasive had not shared that tidbit with him. He was also a little surprised because I’ve changed so much physically since he’s seen me in his office. He didn’t recognize me that morning when I spoke to him as he politely breezed swiftly passed me. A little slighted at first, I came to realize my appearance had changed so much he didn’t know who I was. LOL See what he did to me!
I felt like Cinderella and told others as much, not wanting to know when it was midnight! After our discussion panel on stage, people were coming up to me thanking me for sharing my story with them and motivating them to be the best they can be because they have a name and a face to the reason why they do what they do all year long. I was the one who was so overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and camaraderie. I’ve mostly felt like I was the one on the outside looking in and for one of the first times in my life I felt a part of something truly unique and that I belonged.
This past weekend has filled an empty place in my heart that hasn’t known the kind of love and compassion it has long been looking for. It was comfortable. And I liked it. A lot. I achieved something so personal and got to share it with people who understood what it took to get here. That kind of validation isn’t often rewarded to others but I’ve now had the unique opportunity to know what that feels like. All of their love and support are motivation enough for me to continue on my healing journey, and to share with as many people in the world as I can to help them lighten their hearts too.
As I was leaving the ball I was met with a young man from Germany. Standing in the hallway with my shoes in hand, he and I had a lively discussion about the company and the world view from our personal perspectives. It is a conversation I will not soon forget. Once we said our goodbyes, some forty minutes later, I had to pass the Odysea Bar to get to the elevators. It dawned on me I was standing for that long without thinking about looking for a chair!
Of course I was hailed over to speak with others and for the next two hours had yet another lively discussion with a young man named Pete and his wife. Pete was absolutely convinced by the end of our talk he was in the right profession doing the right thing, as his contribution to the bigger picture so people like me and hopefully millions more will have life changing stories to tell as well.
By that time I’d been up for 23 1/2 hours and it was time for me to rest. But before I went to sleep, I sent a message to my ghost writer and told him to brace himself… I had an earful for him and his producer friend, and he better be ready to jump on board for a full steam ahead ride!
This is the capsulated version of a very wonderful evening and weekend that will be forever etched in my mind. It won’t be the last you hear about this weekend because I still have to put my impressions and feeling down in print as well. Since I’m using this website to chronicle my healing journey, there is still much more to come. I’ll keep you posted but for now, I have thank yous to design and get made to send.
I can’t even begin to know how to thank all the people who made this weekend happen and to allow me this opportunity to be a small part of their big picture. I hope I can be of service and am grateful for the trust they’ve placed in me to represent them on a personal level to the world stage. I’ll forever keep that in mind as I go about the task I have before me to get the word out.
I’ve been asked to do a second memoir after I’m done with FOR BRAIN’S SAKE, my journey to my son’s healing, to share MY personal journey about the experience of getting my body back to wellness. It’s an exciting time to be me!
For now I’ll pause to reflect on the past few days to get it into perspective enough to convey my inner thoughts and feelings about what just happened to me. It truly has changed my world forever.
Remember in the meantime to take care of you and yours,
HUGS & Love,
I hope this finds everyone still in good spirits although, as life goes on, my friends have dealt with some emotional blows already in this new year. The declining health of parents, the loss of a parent or dear pet, the questioning of one’s ability to just go on…. it breaks my heart to know my friends are suffering in such a personal way.
Life is a personal journey, unlike any other. The best we can do is share our journey in the hopes that in sharing, we can help someone else lighten their load on their own as they travel. Sharing makes us feel less alone and more like we may be doing some good for someone else, which is rather uplifting. In doing so, it lessens our burden by knowing we’re not alone, and, for whatever reason, we can take comfort in knowing others understand.
I feel that by sharing my journey with my back and me ultimately overcoming a whole lot of odds, I can inspire my friends and readers to know the message….you are NOT alone. Once I got that, it was a lot easier for me to deal with what I had before me. We each have something different to learn, that’s why God puts different things before us to challenge us. But always keep in mind, He will never give you more than what you can handle, and if you look to Him, he will guide you through.
Having said that, I want to share what’s coming in the near future, like Tuesday! A producer and cameraman are coming to my house to interview me for “The Better Way Back” program. This program is designed to assist potential surgical candidates and ones who’ve already gone through surgery. I’ve become a “Patient Ambassador,” a person who has already experienced the XLIF procedure who can talk with other patients and ally some of their concerns and fears. By sharing my experience, there is an assurance to the candidate that I totally “get” where they’re coming from. And believe me….I do!
Most of all, I want others to not be afraid of this new procedure. The horror stories I’ve heard from friends and strangers about their neighbors’ uncle who had back surgery that was useless and unsuccessful is NOT my experience. There is a BETTER WAY to do what I had to have done! I can only tell what my experience was and it was no horror story. As a matter of fact, on the 28th of this month, (my 8th month out of surgery) the NuVasive people, (they’re the manufacturer of the hardware in my body), invited me to go to San Diego where I’ll be part of a patient discussion panel, sharing my experience with fellow patients and doctors from around the world.
I’ll have the opportunity to connect with others whose healing is further along and I can ask questions about what to expect in the months ahead. I can share with those who haven’t yet had their surgery to dispell any fears they may have about the success of the XLIF procedure. I can hardly wait, it’ll be such an amazing time for me.
Right now though, I’m excited that they think my story is worthy of film time! I’ve always known I was living in a movie, and those of you who know me personally who are reading this can attest to that. Some of you just shake your heads when I tell of the next “thing” that comes by me without solicitation, and you are amazed how so much could happen to one person. One person who virtually has not ventured out into the world to get “into” things, as it were.
At any rate, that’s what I’ve been up to for the last few days, preparing for that, plus spending quality time with Brian and his girlfriend, Ally who stayed with us for 10 days to celebrate Christmas with us. We had a wonderful old fashioned Christmas just like when Brian was little with all the “stuff” that goes along with it. He wanted their ”first Christmas” to be special. I think he pulled it off! I have two more days left to clean and get all the Christmas decorations packed away. Then I’ll be meeting up with some people to help me finish my book, along with swimming.
I’ll post about how my time with the film crew went after Tuesday and keep you informed about what else is happening. Then I think I’ll be down for a while until after the Cheetah Ball (I’m gonna feel like Cinderella) at the end of the month. They have a dinner after the discussion panel. Gowns, Tuxes and all! I can hardly wait! I’m going to meet some pretty exciting and interesting people there I’m sure, so I’ll have LOTS to share with you when I get back.
Aside from all that my friends, know that I keep you in my heart and prayers that God gives you the strength to get through whatever challenge He’s put before you. Trust in Him and He will get you through whatever your challenge is. He does for me.
I’ll talk with you all soon,
Just remember to take care of you and yours,
PS: I still may be having another surgery in the spring to address my neck issues too.
It’s a well known fact that people, no matter who we are, find change uncomfortable. It’s human nature to resist the unknown. We’re more comfortable in our little fifedom knowing all the players and all their reactions and most of the time second guessing and being right.
That’s not really so for me. In the past I’ve been thrust into many unknown, almost intolerable situations of the greatest magnitude. So when I went to Dr. Smith I expected change would happen. But in the bigger scheme of things, I didn’t have a clue just how much change would take place for me. Dr. Smith’s been in my life for all of a nano second of all of my years on earth and yet, by one snap decision he made to do my surgery, has changed my life so profoundly for the better, forever. I was a year past his cut-off age for doing this surgery, and for some reason, he decided to give me this gift. A total stranger, who, had no idea what type of person I am, trusted me to do the right thing. To do exactly what he perscribed, for me to heal. That’s powerful, to hold the future of another in the palm of your hand and know you can make that kind of difference for them. And he’s done it very humbly. The XLIF and PLIF procedure, along with his personal tweeking has been transformative. On the other hand, he entrusted to me the responsibility to do all that I can to help myself. And I am. I don’t want to let myself down. Or him. For the first time in my life I’m focused on me. It’s a strange feeling this change of direction.
I was talking to Amanda today about it and I wondered if Dr. Smith realizes just how much of what his act does to someone emotionally. Yeah, I’ve seen people shake his hand and grown men almost brought to tears in his office, thanking him for giving themselves or their loved one relief. But I wonder if the Doc REALLY realizes just how profound his acts are. We kicked it back and forth and came up with the notion that maybe he didn’t really think about it for a couple of reasons. The first, he’s always thinking about the next challenging case. Secondly, I tried to add up the minutes he and I were in each other’s space…the first visit 15-20 minutes, the second, third and fourth for maybe a total of 25 minutes. No wait, one visit I saw his PA, not him. I chuckle to think that for less than an hours’ worth of contact, my life could be so prfoundly changed. AND for the better. That’s mutual trust. It’s amazing!
The changes of my physical self are noticable to a lot of people already. My one friend here in Vegas keeps telling me I look taller. I am, by a little over two inches! But not so with other changes. What I’ve held close to the vest, are the changes going on inside of me a quiet confidence is coming over me like I felt when I was in college. I’m gaining an assuredness and confidence that’s long been dormant. My thoughts are more deliberate now than at any other time that I can think of. It’s as if I’m redefining myself to my new body, challenging all the old paradigms. I look at things as if they are possibilities now, not just something I hoped I get to do.
My mother spent her life “thinking about things” and it drove me crazy. When I’d suggest something to her, even if it was to make her life a little easier or more pleasant, her response was always, ” I’ll have to think about that.” She went to her grave not experiencing half of what she wanted. Now that I can, and am forced to focus on me, I’m learning all about the new me. Stronger and more intuned with my needs than ever before. Since I no longer think about pain, I’ve entertained my thoughts in some pretty random ways. Pretty COOL ways. I never thought I’d have those kinds of thoughts because I figured I’d always be in pain. To that, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s really cool too.
My final goal in the journey with Brian to HIS wellness was to be a part of and witness his 21st birthday. But by then I was in so much pain I didn’t feel well enough to go to his birthday dinner. He’d already downsized his activities to accomodate what I could be a part of and it broke my heart and I felt so guilty that on this last momentous day for him and I, I didn’t feel like being there. But, as always, I put on my game face for him, sucked it up and reveled in the celebration. It was wonderful, but I prayed for the dinner to be over. Pain robbed me of my final goal I set for him and I as a parent. (That is until he gets married and has my first grandchild. LOL Those goals are not within my power so I stopped having my goals as his at his 21st birthday. LOL)
I am starting to think about things like being more productive, more creative, more compassionate, being more passionate. I feel free to have the time to do the things that really matter to me. Yes, I still care about all the people in my life, but you’ve been telling me adnausium to think about me for a change…and at least for now, I think I will.
I want you all to know that this journey I’m sharing with you in no way diminishes what is happening in your life as not being important. Life has it that we get on and off the merry-go-round as we see fit to accomplish our individual life’s journey. I also think it’s important for you to know that I care about you all. I’m taking care of me so if you need me, I’ll still be around to lend, if nothing else, an ear. Mom always said, ” to be a good conversationalist is to be a good listener.”
As I continue on my bifercated journey, both physical and emotional, I’ll keep in mind that others’ journey may hold just as much “special stuff” in their own as I have in mine.
To all of you who have taken the time to share the changes happening with me, thank you. Come help me enjoy my new me!
remember to take care of you!
Monday at mattsmith Physical Therapy (a blatant plug for them) I thanked Amanda for teaching me how to kneel and told her about church and singing. I love the new things my body’s now able to do!
Amanda, that is, Dr. Amanda, doctor of physical therapy, seems like she loves what she does and takes pleasure in helping people heal from their sore bodies. I explained to her that I’m cold turkeying my meds so she gave me two more new exercises to do. I now do 43 of them. One laying on my tummy on a big ball that I have to pretend I’m an airplane and one, the dying bug, I did fifty of! VERY, VERY HARD ONE! I also rode the bike for over 5 miles! Amanda thought she was so sneaky when she very cavalierly walked over and started talking to me as she was turning up the difficulty on the bike. She thought I didn’t notice but I did! I was sweatin like a pig but the natural endorphines can only be released if I use my body, then it helps replace the down feeling I’m having with the lack of meds. They (the endorphines) lasted until almost 9pm! I was normal for almost 5 hours!
Some of the other changes in my body I’ve noticed is the lump on my back, almost like the Hunchback of Notre Dame’s, is gone, and in different shoes I walk differently. One of the very first things I noticed different about my body was that I could feel both my butt cheek bones on the seat at the same time! I’ve been so crooked for so long I didn’t remember how that felt. Seats are harder now to sit upon, but at least I’m even!
Not only am I two inches taller, but when I look in the glass as I pass by a store window I see my posture almost straight up! AMAZING! I still have to work at reminding myself that I don’t have to bend over any more. The mind over matter thing applies here.
My mind has been so conditioned to me not doing things that I find myself doing things I used to to compensate, eventhough I can now do them. I know intellectually that I’m now able to bend at the hips and pick things off the floor without pain. Before, I used my feet most of the time or left it until someone else picked it up. I dropped a bottle cap by the garbage this morning and instinctively I used my toes to pick it up. After I did, I scolded myself because I knew I could bend over but didn’t. My mind is still telling me I can’t do something when I know my body now can. This healing has been just as much mental as it is about medically healing. If a person isn’t in the right frame of mind for healing from the PLIF or XLIF procedure, then it will be tough to regain what once was lost. (for those of you who don’t know, I had BOTH procedures! SIX levels of vertebrae were fused!) A robust determination and a no quit attitude is extremely important to make sure you can get the most out of the procedures.
I swam yesterday for the first time in a very looooong time. I wasn’t just walking or peddling on a noodle, I was SWIMMING! I did the backstroke and back crawl, the breast stroke and then did water cycling on a noodle! I felt AMAZING! I was downright giddy! It’s so good to be able to swim, really swim again. Of course I did my stretches first in the water… which felt great! I can get my legs up higher in the water and have more resistance than on land. And I felt good for about three hours afterwards. The natural endorphines worked that long with only an hours worth of swimming!
Today, I had to admit to Dr. Amanda that I had a sharp pain between my shoulder blades, muscle cramps in my neck and a headache when I laid down at night. This all while I’m not to take any painkillers as I come off the narcotics. UGH! I got up and walked around the house and went out to the back patio, but at four in the morning, it’s not a good thing to get dressed and go for a walk…at least not in Vegas!
I’m decidedly calmer that I was five days ago… the sweats are almost gone and the shakes are as well. My head’s still a little fuzzy at times, I can’t seem to remember some people’s names. I hope it’s just the drugs and it will eventually return to normal.
I can hardly wait to go back to Dr. Smith. I want to see the new set of X-rays to see how much healing has been going on. I really have done everything he’s asked of me. It’s been damn hard but I’ve done it all, EVERYTHING!
Oh, and I don’t remember if I said anything lately about the high heels. Well, I didn’t take them into PT last week. I don’t think I’m quite ready for them just yet. I’m still having balance issues in different shoes. If I put on a different pair, I have to adjust my whole stance to accomodate for their style. Bummer. I know in my heart I’ll wear high heels again, but I don’t want to be stupid about it either. Ten years is a long time to wait. A couple more weeks “ain’t nothin but a thang!” LOL
Amanda is helping me with my weight plateau. I think this week if I do everything she says, I’ll have a breakthrough. YES, ALONG WITH EVERYTHING ELSE I’M GOING THROUGH I DECIDED TO LOOSE SOME WEIGHT! I know, I know. CRAZY, RIGHT? But, the lighter I am the less pressure I’m putting on my back. And the only reason why I was heavier was because I couldn’t move as much. Now, I really don’t have an excuse! LOL But that’s ok, I’ll take the way things are now. I’ve waited so long to put my money where my mouth was when I used to tell people if I could only not be in pain, I’d loose the weight. I’m 26 pounds down from my weight the day of surgery, even after replacing it with muscle weight. I’m so pumped! Most of my clothes just hang on me now and there was an issue of having to get new guchies cause they were falling off! LOL DON’T EVEN ASK! Just know that I’m already down four dress sizes, and counting!
At any rate, Amanda seemed to think I wasn’t taking in enough calories to heal properly. So we had a nice heart to heart talk about what I should be eating. I want to go back to Dr. Smith and tell him what I now weigh just so I can see the look on his face! I bet few of his other patients have complied like I have. It puts me just that much closer to my goal weight to weigh what I did in high school for when I go to my fortieth class reunion next August! I want to do that so bad for no other reason but just because it’s something I want! AND, I HAVE THE CONTROL TO GET IT DONE! THAT is an awesome feeling!
I don’t know if I mentioned it yet, but, I’m trying to learn Italian. You never know if an opportunity may arise that I might get to go there. Tuscany….ahhh the thought of it! I want some Italian dishes. At least some serving pieces. For the first time in my life I can have thoughts like that because I’m not in pain! It’s an amazing feeling too, to be able to know that I could make a long flight like that, no problem! That’d be so cool! But first, I have to learn Italian… me and Rick Steve’s travel phrase book and dictionary are becoming good friends! I’m going to walk to Borders one day ( it’s in my backyard practically) and just sit there and read some of the Italian books they have. (the learning how to speak it kind! LOL)
In the meantime, I’ll just keep going to PT, connecting in a BIG way with my PT TEAM! They’re fantastic! Doug, Amanda, Julie, Bobby, Shane and Carol, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART! You folks are awesome!
more later, remember to take care of you,
I shared my concerns with Dr. Smith about my fear of MRSA before the surgery so I think that’s why I got a private room at the end of the hall. My experience with my mother-in-laws’ bout with MRSA was more than I could comprehend when it came my time to a hospital stay. And this is not to say that EVERY hospital is highly contagious, I just wanted to take control of MY situation. Especially since there was so little I would have control of once I had the surgery. It was nice to not have to share a room with someone since I was under so much influence of some really heavy drugs and Brian wanting to stay with me. I am allergic to some medicines so they had less of a selection to help me with controlling the pain. That’s why the class A drugs were used.
Here’s where I should probably explain what the PLIF procedure is. Conventional orthopeadic wisdom has been to enter the body through the back, opening up the spine not only for ease of access but to cut through a lot of back muscles which then have to heal along with the bones. I had three opinions before I had this done. Two orthopeadic doctors, one of which said I was so deformed he wouldn’t touch me, the other who said he would open me from the nape of my neck to my tailbone and put titanium rods on both sides of my spine to straighten me up…however, there would be complications…first he would do one operation, then in four or five days do another….then in six months do yet another to stabilize my neck…allthewhile being exposed to infection and a long, painful recovery after every surgery. He also said I would not have the mobility I once had, however, I would be pain free eventually. Facing this led me to my gut feeling there had to be a better way to do this….they could send a man to the moon and repair a space station with tin foil…surely we’ve progressed technologically to the point that arthoscopic surgery could be adapted to fix the back. Well, not exactly, but almost!
“The Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, PLIF procedure is performed through the middle back, which allows direct access to the area being treated, the downside is that this approach also requires significant disrution to the muscles, bones and ligaments of the back, which can lead to pain and desensitization after surgery. (I’llget back to this statement in a little bit.) In some cases, for additional stability, it will be necessary for your surgeon to implant screws, plates or rods into the vertibrae to hold them in place.
This, I do believe, was done to gain access to the opening in my pelvis where the spinal nerves are fed through an opening on each side to go down both legs. The opening on the left was almost completely closed off pinching my nerves into an opening a third the size needed.”
I also had the XLIF procedure done.
“When performing the XILF procedure, your surgeon will approach your spine fromthe side of your body. You will be positioned on your side on the surgical table and two small incisions will be made. (two and a half to three inches long) One of the incisions will be made on your side – this is the incision from which most of the surgery will be performed. Another incision will be made slightly behind the first, toward the back. The XLIF procedure does not require entry through sensitive back muscles, bones or ligaments, resulting in less postoperative pain. It also allows for more complete disc remooval and implant insertion compared with approaches from the back. When compared to ALIF, where the surgeon enters from the front, the XLIF procedure offers the benefit of reducing the risk of vascular injury during the procedure.
Disc preparation is done by removing the disc tissue which will allow the bones to be fused together. Several x-rays will be taken during this stage to ensure the preparation is correct. Once the disc has been prepared, the surgeon will then place a stabilizing implant into the space to restore the disc height and enable the spine to once again support necessary loads. Once in position, a final x-ray will be taken to confirm correct impant placement. In the event that further stabilization is necessary the surgeon may choose to insert additional screws, rods, or plates into the vertebrae.”
That’s only the half of it. This doesn’t explain about how they have to pull your muscles aside from your spine so the doctor can get in there. If you can imagine someone taking a two rubber band sling shot and pulling one set of bands in one direction while the surgeon works on the exposed spine. By pulling those muscles, it stretches them some and when you wake up from the anesthesia you can actually feel they have been pulled. From my neck all the way to my groin, the muscles in front of my body felt like they had been stretched a mile.
TO BE CONTINUED…..
I just wanted you to know that I project that soon, like within the next two weeks or so, I should be able to sit up for at least 40 or 45 minutes so I can do some posting…some additional writing…It’s been a month since my surgery…they say I’m doing really well but I want to be healed already…I was going to post my recovery as it happened but I’ve been in too much pain and on too many pills to make coherent sentences! LOL I’m slowly gaining strength and wit and should be back to about 75% soon…I figure that’s a good enough percent to start writing again! I’ve had to learn how to walk all over again and let me tell you, at fifty something….it just plain sucks! My mind is telling my legs one thing and my legs are doing something all together different! I’ve got a great therapist working with me who claims she can get me good in another month and fantastic in two! I’m trusting her.
Take care of yourselves and I’ll be posting more in the near future. For all my US friends, have a safe Fourth of July and a wonderful summer. To all my foreign friends enjoy the days ahead for winter will be upon you all too soon!
hugs to all!