I’m starting to recognize that this recovery is a whole lot of ups and downs – 2 steps forward one step back. Although, I also recognize that I am constantly making small adjustments to what I’m doing. While I do mostly have good days, it is the overnights that prove the biggest challenge.
First off…overnight I’m in one of two positions in bed – flat on my back with pillows under my knees – or on my right side with knees bent, pillows between my knees and feet, and a pillow behind by back. When I’m on my back, it’s pretty easy to keep the ice pack right where it needs to be, but after a couple hours the ice pack is no longer ice – it’s body temp. When I’m on my side, the pillow behind my back is both for a bit of support – but also to hold the ice pack in place. It’s the best I can do, but not the most effective for keeping the ice in place. And of course, again it’s the melting factor. So I’m also up several times a night. I get stiff and uncomfortable no matter the position after a bit – and inevitably the cat wants to sleep on my feet or something which doesn’t help matters at all. So I get up and pace the hallway to loosen up the muscles – stop at the bathroom since I’m up – pace some more – get a fresh ice pack, and back to bed. I’m blaming it mostly on back surgery – but a 15 year old cheap mattress doesn’t help the situation I’m sure.
Inflammation is still an ongoing management issue as well. During the day I walk quite a bit – which helps to keep the blood flowing and reduce the inflammation – or encourage it to dissipate anyway. I do a lot of walking to the mail box and back – a couple walks in the morning, a couple in the afternoon, and one in the evening as it’s getting dark out. If I’m in town at the winery, I take a longer walk around town every 2-3 hours. My fitness app says I’m getting between 4500-8500 steps a day depending on what I do. My surgeon wants at least 5000 right now. I’m also supposed to ice my back frequently and for at least 20 minutes each time. I try and be good about sitting down every hour or two to ice. It’s actually a good pain management strategy too, as it decreases inflammation and increases blood flow.
My surgeon wanted me to wean off the back brace so that my muscles will gain strength. I’m mostly off of it now – although I have been wearing it when I drive “just in case”. It gives me just a bit of extra support as I gain confidence and get more comfortable with how to get in and out of vehicles without straining muscles or twisting my spine the wrong way.
My surgeon also has me weaning off the pain pills. I’ve managed to reduce them to half doses every 6 hours (down from full doses every 4 hours) – which conveniently coincides with the 6 hours between muscle relaxers and the 6 hours between doses of OTC Tylenol. I’m feeling pretty good at this level, and may start dropping the daytime doses and see how that goes. I’m still only 3 weeks post op from major surgery – and the phrase my surgeon used was “First, you need to rest, Second you need to Ice, Third you need to walk, Fourth you need to do-but not overdo. Listen to your back.” Seems like solid advice to me, and as I’ve said before, he has a great success rate with his surgeries.
Healing takes time and work….and rest. But I do feel like I’m doing so much better, able to do most things around the house, and concentrate enough to do some telecommuting and help out with other projects for the winery and a few church deacon things too. I’m trying to stay positive and be a good patient who follows directions!