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.