Sunday, June 19, 2011

On the Road to Recovery

I woke up really early on Wednesday morning - more nervous than anything....showered, got dressed, checked my little backpack of stuff to take to the hospital (for the 49 hundreth time), and we were off. The ride was uneventful...and check-in was a breeze. I had already pre-registered so I didn't have to go over the new patient stuff again, Kristine just verified the information and printed off my hospital scantrons and bracelets, etc. It seemed like it took forever but the sweet little gal came out and called my name and showed me to my "prep" room.

Then Esy came in. She would be my prep nurse, so she got to put in my IV and tell me a little of what to expect from the day. She also told me all the folks that would be coming to see me in the next 1/2 hour or so...I'm tellin' ya now...If you EVER need to get a large bore IV - get Esy...I didn't even feel it go in and I was watching! She is GOOOOOOOD! We joked and laughed as she finished her preparations. Then I got to meet the anesthesiologist, - Dr. Taylor, the fellow that would be assissting Dr. Shellock, the blood dr., the nerve specialist, the general surgeon that would do the initial open and close, and of course Dr. Shellock came in to meet me as well and see how I was holding up. It wasn't long after they all came in that Dr. Taylor came in and said we needed to get the show on the road. I waited expectantly for her to ask me to begin counting backwards - but I never heard it. The next thing I knew I was in my own little room - I even slept through the recovery area!

Rick stayed with me all day, Candy and the kids came by twice, I think, and Cotton and Angel came by to visit as well. It really means a lot that they were willing to come and see me!

Just a little after dinner time that evening I was able to get up and walk the ward. The walking wasn't too bad at all - it was more the getting up and down that took it out of me. After the walk Rick got all set up on the little (and I do mean little) hide-a-bed that was in the room and we both tried to get some rest.

Day 2 we woke up pretty early. I got some jello becasue by now I was pretty hungry. Dr. Shellock's fellow came by and was pleased with my progress. He gave the order that put me on a liquied diet instead of just clear liquids, so I was able to get some cream of wheat, chocolate milk, and V-8 juice for breakfast. The therapist came by about 10 and I was able to complete an entire lap around the ward with very little pain. Even the getting up and down was getting better. When Dr. Shellock came by she said I was ready to be cut loose! Whoo Hoo...they say that hardly ever happens...the normal stay is 2 days, but I was doing great.

We packed everything up so Rick could get it down to the car, they came and did some more vital checks and I was on my way home to recover.

I am so grateful for the Drs., nurses, staff, family and friends that left messages of encouragement and prayers for my speedy recovery. I continue to get better and stronger as each day goes on. My goal is to take it nice and slow, but still blow their minds with the recovery!

So the starting gun has sounded and I'm walking toward the finish line now!

Monday, June 13, 2011


I have discovered that it is VERY difficult to post to a blog you started about running - when you are not running!!! I have no motivation to post, because I wanted this to track my runs and races as I learned more and more, but right now I can't run.

You see, way back about 1987 or 1988 I hurt my back. Really bad. Bad lifting technique, combined with trying to do too much at once, combined with shifting load = back injury! I went to the Dr. but all he did was listen and tell me I'd have back problems the rest of my life - be more careful and prescibe some pain meds and muscle relaxers. So for over 20 years any time it started to hurt (or I had extremly bad spasms) I would go back, tell whoever what he had said, pick up my pain pills, sit it out and go on my merry way. It would come and go and I learned to "deal with it". Most of the time I could tell when it was getting close to the spasm stage and stop it before it got too bad. I thought the running would help - you know less weight, less load to carry, less pain...etc. Well for the most part it did I think.

Then came last summer... I was doing well for most of the summer - walking and running nearly every morning of the week. I had even shaved some time off my 5k time and I was looking forward to race season...the season that never really happened. I don't know why it never happened - it was so got in the way I guess...that seems to happen from time to time, and other things seemed more important than going to work out and run 5 days a week. I really slowed down. Then it became - well I'll get going again over Thanksgiving...then I guess I'll wait until after Christmas - we have that trip you know, and there really isn't any sense in starting again now...then it was after Christmas and I still wasn't doing much. And that is when the pain started getting first just achy...but more often than before. Maybe it was because I wasn't working out and running?

Rick and I decided to try joining a different gym thinking that maybe that would give us the old "spark" back - so we joined up and had our session with the trainers. I told the trainer about my back and she said she had something similar - but her chiropractor had really fixed her up...and by the way - he did acupuncture too. I had wanted to try that, so I got his name.

By February it was getting pretty bad - and very consistent. Even though we had cancelled the new gym membership (it wasn't what we thought it would be - we actually liked our old gym better) I went ahead and made an appointment with the chiropractor the trainer had recommended. Then it iced...not a little ice but TONS... We were out of school the entire week...but I made Rick take me to that appointment! He listened to me tell about what had happened and took some x-rays. The first I had ever had of my back - yeah, that's right, the original Dr. NEVER DID ANY X-RAYS!!! What we found was that I had no disc left at all between the L-4 and L-5 vertebrae just above my tailbone and about even with my hip bones. When I saw that I knew that was probably why all the visits to my first chiropractor hadn't really done anything! Rick and I discussed it and decided I probably needed to go see his back Dr.

Another couple of weeks and I went to see her. She took another set of x-rays and after visiting and hearing the history decided that she really needed to see an MRI before deciding the best course of action. So an MRI was scheduled and a return visit as well. When I went back what she had determined was that all my other discs still looked good and that surgery was the best option for me. The missing disc and bone on bone was more than likely the cause of the pain as well as the muscle spasms I was experiencing. I told her I really couldn't do it until May - she couldn't do it in May because she would be on leave, so we set a June date. June 15th to be exact.

Tomorrow I go for my pre-op visit, to find out what time the surgery will be, and to ask any questions that have come up, I've already done all the pre-op "stuff"...Then Wednesday it is off to the hospital to get my back fixed up.

One of the questions I'll have for her is "how long before I can run again?" I know I'll be up and walking very quickly - and they want me doing a mile in no more than 30 minutes before my two week check-up...and I don't want to push too hard to fast, but the truth of the matter is...I'm ready for this break to be over - I'm ready to start running matter how slow I am. I have learned once again that it isn't how quickly I make the journey - it is the actual making it that is important to me because life is a marathon...and those take time.

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This is about my life. My life as a wife. My life as a mother. My life as a Memaw. My life as a teacher. My life as a runner. My life such as it is.