On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for the healing in my body this year. The year isn’t over, nor is the healing, but it’s still something to be thankful for!
I’m at a touch over 3 months post spinal fusion. My spine is held together by 6 screws and 3 rods, plus cages in the disk space between vertebrae L4-L5, and L5-S1. Oh, and bone matter. The goal is that everything will be held together by solid bone, and the titanium of course. I will see my surgeon again next week, and expect a good report from him.
I’ve been in physical therapy for 6 weeks now. Danielle is finally back, and she has been working me hard! We have a couple areas of focus: my hips and pelvis, and my upper back. She wants increased movement and flexibility in my upper spine so I’m doing a lot of stretching and rotation work in my shoulders and upper rib cage, rotating from the bottom of my rib cage to look over my shoulders, and reach across my chest. My hips and glutes are working as well to give me stability in my pelvis to support my sacrum and low back. During my PT sessions, Danielle has me working on the Pilates reformer – doing a lot of squats in various positions to work specific muscles both in my hips and glutes, but also in my lower abs. We are working on the flexibility of my low back (those muscles got VERY tight after surgery) while keeping my spine itself in a neutral position, but also stretching my hamstrings and hips. Everything has been very tight because of years of chronic pain and moving in “defensive and protective” mode. So I’m doing lots of stretches each day, as well as muscle building activities. Danielle has also been working on helping the nerves to heal by loosening their paths as well as stretching them. I have a series of “neural flossing” stretches and movements that are working like a charm. Nerves heal so slowly, but I am noticing changes in my symptoms, so I know what I’m doing is helping! Also, Danielle has been great about helping me modify and get comfortable in different yoga poses to help me get back into regular routines. Best of all, she’s given me confidence to start really pushing my healing forward.
I’ve kind of turned the corner from being in a very protective healing mode and being extremely careful, almost fearful, about doing something to put my surgery in jeopardy – to pushing hard and moving much more. My stamina is increasing, both muscular and cardio. I can walk comfortably for a lot longer – it’s not just one slow gentle walk to the driveway, but 3 trips back and forth at a quick pace. I’m noticing more muscle strength in the muscle groups we’ve been working on, but still need to focus on really engaging the RIGHT muscles to do the exercises, not what my body has been compensating with for years. I laughed when Danielle said I have some really bossy muscles that need to take a back seat to the ones who are supposed to be working. I won’t see her next week, but I will continue with my home exercises and yoga practices for hip and sacrum stability. I have scheduled once a week check ins with her through the end of the year. I’m doing much better – but I’m not “back to normal” yet, so therapy with guided exercises will help me get there. Re-training muscles is hard work, in case you were wondering!
I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year, but I really am thankful for the body God gave me and how resilient it is. I pray you each have blessings abounding that you are also giving thanks for.