18 Weeks Post Spinal Fusion

I haven’t really counted the weeks lately, been counting months mostly – but it was a question floating around in my head, so I grabbed my phone and counted the weeks.

You know, we go through life every day – just doing life, but not really paying attention to anything outside of the moment. Most folks this time of year are focusing on Christmas obviously – so thinking ahead to make sure they have gifts for everyone, all the right things in the fridge for special meals, and planning those last few days to make sure everything on the list gets done in time. But how many folks look back? Some do for sure – especially those who are missing a special someone who isn’t with them for the holiday. But as a rule, we don’t necessarily think back with any specificity about what the last few weeks, months, or even years have looked like in our lives. We just do life – one day at a time. Each morning brings new opportunities.

Many of you know I work at a university – so my work life centers around academic calendars – the start and end of semesters, the work associated with beginnings and endings. Juggling new students, and students about to graduate. Its a perpetual cycle, but one that is also very predictable. I work from a calendar that reminds me of specific tasks needing to be done each week in order for the semester to continue to run smoothly. So when I threw the wrench of spinal surgery into my work life – it was kind of crazy. I was out of work for 4 weeks, and I spent most of the remaining 12 weeks of the semester trying to catch back up! I expect the spring semester to be back to a more normal feel – not constantly playing catch up.

As my last post explained, in my recovery from surgery, I was having some trouble with my SI joint, and so my therapist scaled back what I was doing to really focus on deep core strength, and supporting my spine with some very targeted work. I’m happy to say that the rest and focused work on stabilization worked like a charm. Of course, the KT tape probably helped too! My SI joint and therefore my pelvis has stayed nice and straight and stable. This is the foundation of our weight bearing structure, so when it is out of alignment, it messes with everything else. After nearly two weeks of really focusing on the deep core muscles, I can really pin point them and ensure they are engaged and working to support my spine. I am beginning to add back in more of the other work and exercises again – but slowly, and only after warming up with the core work first.

I’ve been keeping up with the nerve work too – neural flossing – to continue to keep those pathways clear. I don’t have the constant nerve pain like I did, but I need to stretch it regularly as I continue to heal. What we don’t want at this point is to have any scar tissue forming that the nerves can get hung up on. It might be time to schedule another couple of massages – one to focus on the surface adhesions and keeping the scar itself moving around, and another one to focus on the deep tissue tension as I gain strength, that I keep the neural paths open and moving. While it has been 4 months, there is still active healing and scar tissue forming (or hopefully not forming) – and so the timing is right for another couple of massages.

As the year wraps up, I can’t help but be grateful for all the prayers that have been offered on my behalf this year. For healing, for strength and for joy and prosperity. I’ve leaned heavy on my faith this year, and have been greatly blessed. My prayer for each of you this year is that you too are richly blessed and that you know the love of God in your heart. Merry Christmas, friends!

5 weeks Post Op

5 weeks ago I went in for spinal fusion.  I’ve been back to work for a little over a week and a half.  I’m not quite up to full time, but pretty darn close.  Each day I leave the house with a cooler with my breakfast, lunch, and 3 ice packs.  I use one in the car on my drive in, and then throughout the day I rotate through the 3 of them with trips back and forth to the freezer helping to get me moving more and more, and also I get to do the stairs to help with strengthening my hips.  Walking is great, but stairs add a layer of strength work that I can’t get at home.  I’ve also taken one of my yoga mats back to work, and during my lunch I can do my stretches there.

I’ve had a few challenges to navigate over the past week.  I had a mix up with getting my muscle relaxer prescription filled.  I asked them to send it to one pharmacy.  They sent it to a different one.  Not a big deal, just a quick trip across town – only to find out their computer system was down and they couldn’t even confirm if they got the refill request.  It was of course after 5pm.  I took a deep breath and a memory check of what I had in my “arsenal”.  I’m not really a drug hoarder, but if you remember, we struggled to find a combination to reduce the severe cramping I had the second week.  It was truly out of my hands at that point, so I headed home knowing that God’s got a plan, and it will all work out tomorrow.  I did alright overnight with ice and the other muscle relaxer I had been prescribed.  At least I slept and didn’t have muscle cramps!!

Tuesday morning I called the surgeon office again, and asked them to please send the prescription again because of the mix up last night.  I headed into town back to the first pharmacy.  “Um, I’m sorry ma’am but this shows that your insurance won’t pay for a second refill until the 25th because this was filled by another pharmacy already.”  Alrighty then…I thanked the nice pill lady, and headed back to my car with my cell phone plastered to my ear.   Yup…they had sent it to the other pharmacy yesterday and when their system accepted it (apparently after the computer rebooted) it locked the prescription.  But here’s the thing…they didn’t actually HAVE the medications on hand – but the delivery should be here by 11am.  Perfect I grumbled to myself, thanked them and said I’d be back after my appointment.

And so I headed off to my appointment – with the massage therapist.  Mostly I was looking for a just a bit of tension relief and some general pampering, but hopeful that she would be able to maybe ease some of the muscle soreness in my hip and glute too.  That’s the thing about a painful recovery, or chronic pain – you tense up allllll your muscles and so it’s not just my back around my surgery site that holds the tension.  I’ll see her again next week.

Finished up there, and then back to the pharmacy.  The delivery had come in, my prescription was filled and waiting, and off to work I went.

Tuesday night was also my return to Stephen Ministry.  That was good for my soul.  I got lots of wonderful hugs from folks who have been praying for me, and I got to hear what everyone had been up to since late June.  We had a good continuing education session around talking about faith and spirituality with our care receivers, and then went into peer supervision.  I got home late of course, and after a quick bite to eat, off to bed I went.

So that brings us to today, Wednesday.  I was pretty tired by the end of the day, so cut out early – I did work through my lunch technically, so I’m still calling it an 8 hour day.  I stopped at the grocery store for a couple of things and had to ask strangers for help lifting my kitty litter first into my cart (25 pounds is a no-no), and then into my car.  I was very thankful for well raised college boys who helped me very politely.  Next stop was the feed store for duck food – but they always ask if they can help me – 50 pounds was a definite no-no.  This was a big tall line-backer sized college or farm kid and he very easily got the grain and loaded it into my car for me.  I’m not one that asks for help very often, but I know I have to be smart – and lifting stuff…is not smart right now.  I try and keep myself under 10 pounds.

Tomorrow and Friday will be as close to my old routine as I’m going to get for a while.  I have to teach my seminar on edTPA to student teachers.  Thursday is the local student teachers, and then Friday I fly to Seattle for that group.  I’ve planned it out as much as possible to be set up with ice packs available during the day since I’m pretty sure TSA would not look favorably on my homemade ice packs…since they don’t freeze solid and stay slushy.  I’ve got my nice lumbar memory foam pillow, and my little bag of prescriptions.  I’ll be tired by the end of it all I’m sure – and I promise to listen to my back and move when I need to….and REST as best I can.

Next week it’s another check in with my surgeon (who knows about my massage appointment and my flight to Seattle for the day already).  I expect that will net me an order to start physical therapy.  I also have to make a long drive over to the Richland area and teach my seminar on Wednesday.  Listen to my back; ice; stop and walk; rest.  Pretty much how I’ve approached my entire recovery.

Alright, dinner is about ready (Buffalo Chicken Soup – YUM!), so I’ll leave you with a bible verse to ponder.

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Checking things off the List

I am a list maker and find it very gratifying to check things off as I have them completed.  Inevitably, I also add to my list on a regular basis, so it is much like a revolving door with 1 thing checked off, 2 things added.

As I’m working down my list of pre-surgery details this week, I’m also trying to find peace about this whole process.  As you can imagine, I’ve had many conversations and have relayed information to friends and family repeatedly.  I’ve shared which hospital I’ll be at, who my doctor is, what procedure they are planning, how many nights I’m expected to be in the hospital, and what the outline of my recovery should look like.  I’ve received plenty of opinions both for and against surgery in general, the doctor I’m working with, and all the miracle remedies that people have used to relieve their own back pain – the have you considered…. statements are well intention-ed, but after a while, they do become rather draining, I must admit.

I’m firm in my decision that this is the right step.  I’m confident in my doctor and the hospital.  I know I’ll have a tough couple of weeks immediately after surgery, and I know I won’t be fully healed for many months – but this is still the right choice in my mind.  So I’m just continuing on with my list.

  • Ride to and from the hospital – check
  • Pre-op Labs and EKG – check
  • Cook and freeze – ongoing
  • Laundry – ongoing
  • Shower Chair – check
  • Ice packs – check
  • Make a batch of lotion – check
  • Set up computer for remote access (telecommuting) – check
  • Shove 6 weeks worth of work into 2 weeks for my job – ongoing, but closer every day
  • General cleaning and recognizing trip hazards in the house – ongoing
  • Clearing off the nightstand except for bare essentials – check
  • Pre-pack and packing list – ongoing
  • File nails short and trim toenails – check
  • Remove toenail polish – Saturday
  • Haircut – check
  • Clean makeup brushes – check
  • Dig out gram’s grabber tool and adjustable hiking cane – check


I’m sure as the next few days tick by, I’ll be adding more things to the list.  Still waiting for the nurse to call me for the pre-op call to set the time for my procedure NEXT WEEK!!!

In the meantime, I’m spending my devotional time in study for the reassurance that God’s got this, and his plan is perfect, no matter the earthly outcome.

No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus  ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Have a blessed day, friends!