Back Surgery Recovery Day 2 (BSRD2) – Summer is finally here!?

Today was a wonderful day weather wise which is so much better for rehab than the dead of a Canadian winter. I was able to get out and walk twice again today for a total of 1.6km or so, slightly ahead of my projected goal of 1.5k. I will try for 2k tomorrow but I think that I should stick with that for a few days, my leg was sore, I had some hip pain and the speed was noticeably diminished at the end of the walk.

Also I have noticed a certain physical difference. I have always know that the mass I lost off my right leg was at the top of the outer quadricep muscle. After the most recent nerve impingement I lost the ability to control my foot lift but also the ability to flex the outer quad down to the knee (the vastus lateralis). I just noticed this evening that I am starting to get an overdevelopment of the sartorius which is actually very pronounced but on BOTH legs not just one. This is puzzling to me since I believed the overdevelopment was due to the lack of nerve messaging and not a compensatory development of some kind. I will look into this some more but I think it is pretty interesting that I have compensatory muscular development in the leg with what I believed was no neural involvement. I suppose this could mean that I actually did have some neural effects on my left side, but it could also mean that my gait has been altered by such a degree that the effects are being felt on both sides, but not only that, in equal places on both sides. Very weird. Also on the physical side, in addition to my hip pain alternating from side to side today I also gained enough strength back in my foot to pull open one of the doors in the kitchen cabinets that we have taken the handles off as a childproofing measure. This is pretty significant and although I still can’t lift the ball of my foot while standing, it’s a move in the right direction.

On the medication front I have cut down to 5 percocet a day, mostly after walking when the pain is more and at night when it seems to be worse. I am on target to be done with the things under the 30 that I was given so I am happy about that. There is nothing I fear more than the addictive properties of pain killers. As for the cat, apparently they have found that he has a heart murmur now as well as his kidney failure and it is starting to look more and more like his time may be close to the end. I really hope we can get a few more years out of him, I think he has a pretty good life here and he deserves to go out with a little dignity rather than be forced out due to failing kidneys. We will find out more on Monday until then he is in good, albeit very, VERY expensive hands.

Recovery Day 1 – Friday April 26 2013. Plus sugar free BBQ sauce.

tumblr_m4o2eqCLmu1r8v6q9o1_500Bed was surprisingly comfortable however I still was woken up regularly by the pain and had to take pills to manage getting back to sleep. Fortunately Nicole was up early to take Elyse to daycare and I was afforded the luxury of sleeping in. Once awake, I thought it best to try to restore whatever semblance of normality I could back into my life. I was unable to shower, since I have to take 3 days off, but I tried to make it through brushing my teeth, hitting the big hole in the toilet and washing my hands and face as normally as possible. This meant standing without my cane, making sure my posture was good, not leaning over the sink and paying close attention to the distribution of weight between my two legs. I managed to make it downstairs OK, toothpaste stains and all and for the first time in a few weeks had a little bacon and egg for breakfast. My day (and for the next 3 days at least) comprised mostly of wandering doing various menial tasks around the house and then hitting the couch once my leg or back started to hurt. In fact, it was not my back that hurt at all but rather various parts of my lower body. When the urge struck me, I went outside for a walk, which happened twice. I had a goal of 1km walking today, and after both my walks I had reached a grand total of 1280m. I actually downloaded Nike+ that I had on my old iPhone so that I can keep track of my walking since the physio and EVERYONE I spoke to told me that recovery from back surgery is all about staying mobile and above all… walking. The fact that I can keep track of my walking online with Nike+ is a huge bonus too, since statistics and monitoring is one of the things I love about working out. My Nike+ account can be monitored here for those with obviously very little else to do. It’s actually pretty sad that my walking pace after back surgery is not that far off my pace when I used to walk at lunch during work…

Apart from the walking and the sleeping I was also able to make some pork in the crock pot and come up with a pretty good base for a sugar free BBQ sauce. If you add to it your favourite spice mix (of which there are many) you can come up with a pretty damn good sauce:

1 large can of tomato paste
1 400g can of crushed pineapple in juice (no sugar added obviously)
200ml of pineapple or apple juice
150g of pitted dates
Your favourite spice

Getting the pineapple and tomato paste mixed is easy, but getting the dates to cooperate is harder. I opted to put mine in the Vitamix and be done with it. You mix everything together, but make sure that you leave the mixture to sit for a while since using powdered spices takes time to dissipate the flavour. For the spice mix I have 2 that I use, both from the Bulk Barn. Once is called BBQ spice and the other is called Pulled Pork Spice. I find the pork spice to be more salty but both make equally good sauces.

On a related note, a few weeks ago Bob brought a protein bar into work that he and his wife had made and it was magnificent, I have since been playing with the recipe a little to try and get the calories down a little and to jazz it up a bit but once again, getting the dates to behave is proving problematic. You see, the recipe calls for almonds, almond butter and flax meal however I found that if I added dates, it would be tastier, less caloric and you could add pure cocoa chocolate to it for a nice chocolatey kick without the sugar. So, here  is my recipe for protein bars with dates. I find the best thing to do when preparing this is to mix the dates with the coconut oil on the stove then vitamix it. Otherwise you get a very sticky ball of dates in the food mixer. I can’t actually remember the original recipe so this will have to do.

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup flax meal
150g dates
1/2 cup coconut oil
touch of honey
drop of vanilla
1 cup unsweetened coconut
a couple of pieces of pure cocoa

Blend all the dry ingredients in the vitamix and then add the wet stuff, press into a pan lined with foil and if you can get a small cake tin you should be able to get about 25 cubes of protein bar at about 150 calories each. And you know what’s in it! Thanks to Bob for the original recipe however don’t use carob since carob is in fact just sugar with a small amount of carob seed in it.

As for the updates as to how I am actually doing today here are the basics.

I walked 1280m today mostly without the use of the cane.
I an flick my toes against each other, a habit that Nicole finds incredibly annoying while we are watching TV but I couldn’t do it yesterday, That means my toes are getting stronger. I cannot however grasp anything with my toes on my right foot, there is still a long way to go.
I can lift my toes off the floor on my right foot if I stand neutrally, however I cannot raise the foot at all.
After walking today I got a pain my my left shin right at the knee. Also I find that my left hip is sore today. I do expect some odd soreness since I have to assume that my body will have to readjust constantly as my strength returns in my right side. In the mean time, my left side is struggling to compensate, something this is bound to lead to some soreness.
Sitting on the recliner is not as comfortable as I had hoped, this means I won’t be spending too much time here but it also means I have had to try and find a way to get onto and off the floor.

Tomorrow my goal is to walk 1500m. I don’t want to go too crazy so I will see how I feel. I promised no weights or bands or anything until Monday at the earliest.

I got my temporary disabled permit today, something I regret not doing last time. In fact, not having it almost caused me a serious fall last time around. I respect the institute and I do not plan on abusing the privilege.

Finally the cat went in to the vet and it doesn’t look good. Apparently his kidneys are pretty much shot and it seems like if he doesn’t improve over the weekend then it will be time for him to be reunited with his brother Thunder in the big litter box in the sky. Poor little fella has had an arthritic limp for a long time now and it seems like he is falling apart. The tough thing will be what to tell Elyse. I can’t imagine this will be easy.