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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Healing

On the day before my surgery. I took an auto-timer photo of myself doing one of my favorite things. Getting back on my bike soon is one of my greatest motivators in following the PT's orders.
R joined me for a quick ride on our trails. He glowed jet black in the morning sun.
And later, we gazed at the mountains as the sun set.
Now, several days past my surgery, K and I are hanging out, letting our bodies heal. K recovered from her gastrotomy fast enough to travel to the hospital where I had my spine surgery. She has a 8" long incision in her belly, held closed by large staples. I'm astounded by how fast she's bouncing back.
I'm told that my surgery when very smoothly, with no surprises. The surgeon removed the remaining bits of my degenerated discs, shaved off a bevy of bone spurs, used a miniature jack to open up the space between the vertebrae, placed bone grafts in those spaces, attached titanium metal plates to hold the vertebrae together, and then closed me up. His work took about 4 hours.

On a funny note, I gained at least another 1/2" in height! I gained an inch in my lumbar fusions surgery!

After the surgery, I woke up without feeling nauseous, a first for me. And, I could wiggle my toes and fingers - woo hoo! Then, two days post-surgery, I had to pass tests by a physical therapist and an occupational therapist to get permission to go home. After I proved that I could walk the hospital hallways, climb steps, brush my teeth, put on my shoes and socks, plus myriad other details, I was released from the hospital early - probably at least partly because I was physically fit when I entered the hospital. It felt wonderful to leave the bustle of the hospital and return to our peaceful home.

My orders were to start a walking program immediately. It's fortuitous that both K and I have very similar exercise prescriptions so we take a lot of short and slow walks each.
I have to wear a very restrictive neck brace. My docs have forbidden most active pursuits besides taking short walks or riding a recumbent exercise bike. These restrictions will be lifted once x-rays show a strong fusion of the 4 cervical vertebrae involved.

Full fusion could take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks. Because my fusion is multi-level (3 discs removed and 4 vertebrae fused together), I'm likely to be on the slower end of the spectrum. On the flip side, I tend to follow the doc's orders and be pro-active about healing which speeds healing. So, I don't have a set time-table for recovery. We'll just watch and wait, observing how fast I heal.

Because my disc problems are genetic and not from an accident, the surgeons and I are fully aware that no surgical procedure exists that will make all of my pain or other neurological deficits disappear. Aside from the fused segments of my cervical and lumbar spine, I have a number of other 'bad' discs, and I even have one place where the disc has disintegrated so the vertebrae have no cushioning between them. So, no matter what, that joint will keep hurting me (I'm too tired to explain the last minute decision not to fuse that joint - I'll explain more later). Based on those facts, my greatest hope is to feel a bit better and regain the strength that has been stolen by damaged nerves.

Thanks to every single one of you for your thoughts and prayers. And I especially thank those of you who mentioned me and K in your blogs. Thanks to you, I arrived home many wonderful messages that truly lifted my spirits. I feel very lucky, indeed.

35 comments:

  1. PAWESOME
    AWESOME
    NEWS!!!!


    Thank for the updates on you and K!

    So many of us have been wondering and khrossing parts!

    Please follow your doctors' orders!

    Khyra sends some wags of her tail to all!

    Khyra and Phyll

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  2. I'm so glad you're back! I am so glad that both you and K are doing well. I've been thinking of you both all the time.

    I do hope you'll keep writing through your recovery, even though you can't yet get out on your favorite trails.

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  3. Wow! I'm surprised that you're back and blogging so soon. But that's a good sign! Lots of well wishes on a speedy recovery!

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  4. So wonderful to see this post. Big hugs and healing wishes to you both!!!!! Take it easy, doctor's orders!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose, mom and dad

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  5. We are overjoyed to see this post - wonderful news. We know the road ahead is a tough one but we have no doubt you will make a successful trip. Prayers for continued healing for both you and K. We are thinking of you both.

    Woos, the OP Pack and Mom

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  6. I was so surprised to see a post from you so soon after surgery! So happy to hear all went well and you are on the road to recovery...I love the picture of you and K, "united we stand!"
    All I can say is you are remarkable and an inspiration!
    Take care,
    Kit

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  7. The surgery sounds so major, I'm just amazed at how much you can already do. But like you said, you're pre-surgical fitness probably makes a big difference and will continue to do so through your recovery. So glad to have your presence back and to hear that K is recovering also.

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  8. Holy smokes! No moss grows under your feet! I thought it would be a little while before we saw you back around. I am so happy that you and K are both on the mend! At least the worst part of it is behind you. (I sincerely hope!)

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  9. Yeah, I am so happy that things went well and you and K are recuperating nicely. Best wishes for continued recuperation successes.

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  10. i'm so glad you are both mending...together! sounds like things went as planned and you got out of the hospital quick! you're a wonderful patient i'm sure....complying with the doctors orders, being strong and healthy will assist in the healing process....
    glad your home where you want to be!
    xoxo

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  11. Great to hear things went so smoothly. How lovely that you have K right there with you for each step of your recovery.

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  12. I like the picture of you and K together, as a matter of fact its one of my all-time favorites on your blog. Walking for the both of you will become its own adventure, I'm sure. This is so good that you are back already, healthy,happy and soon to be strong and (hopefully) pain free. Good job preparing for all of this, reading about your process in your blog was quite fascinating. God Speed.

    NPD

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  13. What a surprise to see you blogging already! so glad you are home and both of you have begun your healing. We will keep you in our prayers!

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  14. Hurray - both you and K are on the mend! The weather seems to be warming a bit - good for some walks. I am also walking (at a snail's pace!). We are still in Denver. I was relieved to get your update, KB. I've been thinking of you. Take Care!

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  15. I think it is very fitting that both you and K have to go through the healing process together. Maybe K planned it that way.

    I do remember the agony of the walking regimen - having to go slow and steady - not rushing the healing. Slow is not something I am good at (and, as I have said, my surgery was extremely minor compared to yours).

    Continue to take care, heal, and know that lots of us are out here rooting for your full recovery.

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  16. That is great news about your back surgery going so well. I hope your back on your bike real soon.

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  17. Glad you are home and that everything went so well! Now, just take the time you need to heal. I'm sure K and R will be more than happy to give you their brand of therapy!

    Holly and Khady

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  18. You are doing ALL the right stuff! Admirable! I'm simply undone by your feisty spirit, yet careful plans for your future. Amazing what you've already accomplished! Kudos to you (and also to K!) - I know K must have been a tremendous source of strength for you! Have been thinking of you so much!
    Hugs from us all xo
    Sammie and Miche, Bill

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  19. I'm so glad both you and K are back on the mend and able to walk together. I'm also very happy to hear you will be following your doctor's and PT's orders. It truly does speed the healing process. The massages to break up the scar tissue in about 8 weeks or so are a bear, but once you get past that stage, the pain does gradually subside. And what's left isn't anywhere as demoralizing as it was before surgery.

    Keep your head and chin up. We miss you when you're gone, and we can't wait to read about your next adventures.

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  20. Welcome Home, KB!

    I'm just thrilled at your progress and know that you are going to do this recooping just right.

    We'll all be here for you, excited for what this surgery will mean to you.

    You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Blessings,

    Jo and Stella

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  21. We are just so,so happy that everything has gone well.

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  22. Very glad to hear that you are both healing well.

    Great photos!

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  23. that was a major surgery and we're so glad that you are on the road to recovery. we're amazed at how much you seem to be doing and do take it slow please.

    we read about you on Khyra's blog and came over to say 'hi' and a speedy recovery.

    take care and chikisses
    coco

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  24. Wonderful! So glad everything went smoothly. And doubly glad to see you out & about. Although I'm sure recovery time never passes as quickly as one would like, I'm almost envious of all the nice long walks you'll be taking through your beautiful forest in the coming weeks.

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  25. Great news, we found you thru our Sibermal group. we're adding our prayers & sibe vibes for both your & K's recovery. And oh my, what beautiful location!

    a-roos to yous,
    jack a-aroo & biped mom pat

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  26. I am SO happy that everything went so well for you and K

    Attitude is everything and you have that in spades !! You inspire me, KB !!

    Welcome HOME !!

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  27. What a wonderfull surprise to se you at home - and out in the nature so quick - and blogging allready. Hope that recovering will continue ok and that you will be reliefed from some of your pains. Good of you to post a picture to verify that you both look healthy. Love EM

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  28. Hi
    i am a friend of Khyra- so we came to tell you that we are pulling all good thoughts your way- to keep getting better
    xoxox
    tweedles

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  29. Happy FULL recovery to the both of you. I can't believe you're back already with beautiful photos. Everybody's blog was filled with kinds thoughts and wishes. Welcome back!!!
    Twinkie and family

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  30. All good news! It's great to see you getting out again already. Don't you wish we could match dogs when it comes to healing time?

    Welcome back - or at least part way back!

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  31. I'm amazed you're back so soon! It does help to be fit. I used to ride a lot, MTB, like you. I stopped due to an accident and head injury that messed with my endocrine system. I get on the bike now and then and love it but I have yet to be able to stay on it. Things are looking up this year and I hope to get back on and stay on. Riding and dogs. can't get much better than that in life, now can it?

    so glad you are healthy in body, mind and certainly spirit. many people would break down. I can't wait to see you on your regular bike again w/K and R of course!

    cheers to your quick heeling.
    wags-n-wiggles,
    wild dingo

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  32. Great news! I'm so glad to hear that everything went well! I'll continue to send healing Sibe Vibes to you and K!

    Mochi

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  33. I'm so glad to hear things went well and that both of you are on the mend. We'll continue to keep you in our very full hearts.

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  34. Dearest KB,
    Sooooo sorry we've been AWOL - last wknd a full one, then it rained all week and between lost power and servers, there was little time online. Finally a breather and sooooo happy to hear about the success and your walks. I've scanned through the posts, but will read now and find out where you are at and what you're up to! Thinking of you lots!
    Hugs xo
    Sammie and family

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