It’s been one week since you looked at me
Threw your arms in the air and said you’re crazy
– Barenaked Ladies, One Week.
Pain 2 Mobility 6
Some people may have looked at me last Monday and thought I was crazy to be going in to surgery but if there is one thing I have learned over my lifetime of back issues it’s that knowing when to wait and knowing when to act are absolutely critical to prevent permanent damage. I learned the hard way that poor judgment both pre-op and post-op are truly a recipe for disaster. My quality of life since my first operation was severely compromised and the long term effects of waiting too long for surgery and then being far too timid in my recovery are things I am still dealing with to this day. But enough counting regrets I was convinced in my decision this time around that without surgery I would be one more impingement away from potentially permanent inability to feel almost my whole right leg. Although not having any feeling below my knee has been barely noticeable at times, not being able to feel my whole leg would be unacceptable. Not only that, I was concerned that the next time any involvement of my bowel and urinary system would potentially mean a lifetime of adult diapers and as much as having drop foot was frightening I am not willing to accept the potential of this particular side effect. The simple fact is that this particular nerve root was more central, much closer to the “saddle” nerve bundle and a much higher likelihood of affecting that particular system.
Anyway, today I woke up fine. Getting out of bed has been a deliberate and methodical process since the surgery but today I felt more fluid and flexible in my ability to go from laying to standing. Since those are the only 2 things I am permitted to do at this time the transition between the two is a major concern. Two days ago I attempted to sit on the Lazy boy and was greeted with what can only be described as a major breakthrough although getting in was fine, getting out was to be a painful and excruciatingly slow process. Fast forward to today and I am able to get in and out of the recliner with relative ease and getting in and out of bed is more of a formality than a challenge. Daily activities are becoming more mundane which is a great thing but the pain is a constant reminder of just how careful I need to continue to be. I was concerned that last night at the gym would have been a bad decision but this morning I don’t feel any worse than I have done any other day and although that is a good sign, I think I was pretty close to my limits.
Today is Tuesday and I got weighed this morning. I am down about 10lbs from before surgery and am looking both small, frail and old. Of course my relationship with the mirror is as distorted as what I see so I am sure other than looking a bit smaller I look the same. I will continue to monitor my weight and body fat so I can track my progress. This will be especially critical once I start going back to the gym to work out (and no I don’t mean slinging hundreds of pounds around). I do need to reactivate my body in the way to which it is accustomed, which means specific work for specific muscular systems in order to maintain the support my spine needs. Truth is that any weakness of the body transfers a majority of the load directly onto the spine. Having weak arms or shoulders will directly affect the load on your spine and that is exactly what I need to avoid.
Which brings me to my next thought. What to do about my workouts now after my surgery. I would be reckless to imagine that my workouts have had no effect on me. It’s stupid to assume that shrugging 500lbs or shoulder pressing 250lbs isn’t going to affect my spinal load. Those days are officially over. I am going to have to limit myself to bodyweight movements only and by that I don’t mean no weight, I mean limiting my weight to my bodyweight. Only benching 230 rather than my PR of 415 won’t be a big deal but not deadlifting at all, no squatting heavy and shrugging with tiny barbells will most certainly eat at my ego. But it really depends on if I want to struggle with my ego or my ability to walk. I think it’s time for a change.
Today’s facts. Feeling in the leg is the same, no strength changes that I can notice. Incision pain is about the same, a little itchy but no redness or swelling. My mobility is better in the house, and despite buying a nice new pair of winter boots I think today will be a treadmill day rather than venturing out into the -4 weather and freezing my ass off.