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My spine surgery journey: from preparation to recovery

Thread starter #411
On the 28th of February, 2019, bellbird woke before the sunrise to the sound of her alarm.

She had those nervous excited butterflies for what was about to happen:
Today she was going to make a dream come true.
A dream that for a very long time seemed quite impossible.
But she was ready now, and her body was in the best shape that it had been in for a year.

She got up, and turned a light on.
She put on some music, to steady her mind. But made sure it wasn't loud enough to wake anyone in the neighbouring rooms.
She put on her fresh pyjamas. They were blueish and long-sleeved. And her slippers.
It was cool outside on this late-summer early morning.

She left her motel room, to see her parents, there weren't many other people around outside.
Mr Bear was under one arm, and she held a hand of each of her parents in her own.
Together they walked across the road to the hospital.
The water on the road from the light rain over night reflected the world above it.

It was time to make this happen.
It was time to have spinal fusion surgery.

************

On the 28th of February, 2020, bellbird woke before the sunrise to the sound of her alarm.

She had those nervous excited butterflies for what was about to happen:
Today she was going to make a dream come true.
A dream that for a very long time seemed quite impossible.
But she was ready now, and her body was in the best shape that it had been in for a year.

She got up, and turned a light on.
She put on some music, to steady her mind. But made sure it wasn't loud enough to wake anyone in the neighbouring rooms.
She put on her running gear. It was a blueish and long-sleeved outfit. And her running shoes.
It was cool outside on this late-summer early morning.

She left her flat, there weren't many other people around outside.
Her phone was in one hand, and she had her headphones on.
She walked across the road away from the town.
The still water of the river from the calm over night reflected the world above it.

It was time to make this happen.
It was time to run 5 km.

************

Whenever anyone; doctors/physios/etc, would ask me what my main fitness goal was following my surgery, my answer was always: to run 5 km, without breaks, and no pain.

This morning, exactly one year since my surgery, I achieved that goal.

Cheers to one entire lap around the sun as a bionic bellbird. My favourite lap around the sun, yet.

20200228_072605.jpg
 
Thread starter #416
Since running my C25K, I've now transitioned into running 4km twice a week. It's a good distance for me. I'm also focusing on core strength and flexibility through yoga and pilates.

My new fitness goal is to get my one kilometre running split time down to 6 minutes by the end of the year.

My starting baseline was 4km with 6min 51sec split. That was just over a week ago.
This evening I ran 4km with a 6min 39sec split. It felt amazing. I feel amazing.

Another night, another 3am wakeup in pain.
One year ago, today, I was in the hospital, in a really really tough spot.
An unresolved complication, excruciating pain, and a stumped surgical team.
Those few days were some of the most difficult I've had to face on this whole spinal fusion journey.

Where I am at today blows my mind: I have a back that can run, and I have no pain.
One year ago, what I get to experience now was something that I could only hope for.

Now, I get to live it.

I am very very grateful.
 
Thread starter #419
A somewhat-belated spine update:

I was due to see my surgeon in May, but NZ was in the midst of lockdown at that time.
I was given the chance to come to the hospital just for x-rays, and then speak with my surgeon over Zoom after he had reviewed them, but I elected to wait until I could have an in-person appointment as I wasn't experiencing any back-issues and I prefer seeing him in-person.

So just over a month ago, a couple days after we moved into covid alert level 1 (the lowest of out alert levels, that basically allows "normal" life in NZ with the exception of our borders still being closed), I got to see my surgeon.
And, because we were at level 1, my boyfriend was allowed to come to my appointment with me, which I was really happy about because it meant that he could meet my surgeon for the first time as well as see the orthopaedic clinic and radiography department that I know like the back of my hand after all these years of appointments.

The appointment went better than I could have hoped.
My x-rays look awesome.
My surgeon was very happy with my progress.
-I haven't needed any pain medication since I saw him last August.
-I have no pain, only some discomfort when I have done things like sitting on a stool with no back support for a long period of time, or stood in one spot for a long period of time. But it is never enough that I need pain medication, nor does it ever last more than a couple hours and definitely not into the next day.
-I can run, walk, swim, jump, do yoga, climb trees, hold a plank, do push ups, etc without issue. I've even started ballroom dancing.

I asked him if I am fully fused (which is the end-goal of a spinal fusion), and he said it is hard to tell on x-rays, but that there has been absolutely no movement of my instrumentation since the last x-ray, which is a very good thing and strongly suggests that I am fused.

He next wants to see me in a year's time (!!!), by which point I will be 2+ years post-op, and provided there is still no movement of the instrumentation, I will definitely be fused by then.
He told me several times that I am looking really well, and my alignment is excellent.

I asked him if I could show him my incision scar. He said that he didn't need to see it, but that I could show him if I'd like. So I did, because I'm just so proud of it. Who ever sutured me up in theatre did a fine job. It is razor thin and has healed so well that it is practically invisible now against my skin and the contour of my ribs. Surgeon was impressed, too.

I then asked him what my restrictions are now, as up until that point, I hadn't been able to lift over 8kg.
Surgeon said I am now allowed to lift any weight that I functionally need to, but no weightlifting career :laugh:

As for the best things that I can do for my back from here on, surgeon said to keep maintaining a healthy diet and weight, keep active, and keep up cardiac fitness. All things I have been doing.

So, happy surgeon, happy bellbird.
 
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