I haven’t been very active this past year. What I mean is, in comparison to other times in my life. I hurt my lower back in August of 2017 during my third straight weekend of running over ten miles while training for the CIM. The injury initially presented as an SI injury resulting in either a fracture or severe swelling. After MRI and exam after exam, we decided it was just terrible inflammation. My doctor recommended Platelet Rich Plasma injections at the joint sites to bring down the swelling and then physical therapy to work on strengthening my core. The joints responded favorably and the swelling went down with noticeable improvement in my lower back pain.
Over the next year, I worked on getting fit and building my core. Unfortunately, that went well enough so that I pushed to get back to running. Initially, I ran on the Alter G treadmill which physically lifts you so that you aren’t pounding on your joints as you maintain your aerobic health. Soon after, I ran on a regular treadmill and after a few minutes found my pain had returned. My pain consisted of tingling, numbness, and burning down my left leg.
Another MRI and consultation resulted in a referral to a surgeon a full year after the initial injury. We agreed that I would undergo surgery on Dec. 5 and have my L5S1 discs separated a bit, and stabilized with titanium hardware. The surgery went as planned and I am now into week 4 of recovery.
I have been walking since the day of the surgery and over time, the pain from the incisions has reduced considerably. I still have some numbness on my left leg, but it is intermittent and according to my surgeon, expected to resolve over time. Sitting is very uncomfortable, so I spend my time either walking, standing or in bed. I can only support sitting for about half an hour and both my back, and leg begin to ache. Again, I am told this is pretty normal so I won’t worry about it. Time will tell.
So then, why this post? I think because its the end of the year and like many, I am reflecting on all that has transpired in 2018 and all that I look forward to in 2019. I had a great year despite all of the physical discomfort caused by my back injury. I spent a ton of money on physical therapy and medical appointments. My insurance while very good is costly nonetheless. I never lost my ability to walk and while I postponed for the second year in a row my goal of running the CIM again, I accomplished a walking goal that has been a dream of mine; I walked the 500 mile Camino Frances in Spain. (You can read about it in posts under the appropriate menu of this blog.)
My family wonders why I pushed so hard to complete the Camino, and then later, to get the surgery for my back in 2018 when it would cost less in January 2019 (different insurance program kicks in). Well, I pushed because I felt like I was stuck. I couldn’t execute or even plan some of my goals, and my activity level was decreasing daily.
And my dog is getting fat. You know what that means.
This year has also resulted in the death of friendships due in part to political differences and I am sad. I’m sad mostly because I realized that the basis for the end of these friendships, in fact, is not political. Which in a weird way makes me feel better. At least I am standing up for myself and my feelings. It never really was about the color of the sky anyway. It was the fact that they didn’t care how I felt about the sky that hurt the most.
I started to get really sad, you know, the stay home and don’t see anyone kind of sad. Normally, I would head out to Yosemite to hike, or go on runs with the dog and otherwise make myself feel better. I couldn’t do this without risking further injury or pain. I had to cut back on hiking with my grandchild, the love of my life.
So I decided to fix the fix to my sadness. I will be 57 in January. I refuse to waste another year being sad. Since I couldn’t bend over to pull myself up by my bootstraps I asked my doctor for a backbone. Thankfully he obliged, and like the song says, ‘I’m on the way from misery to happiness today! uh-huh!’
Happy 2019 y’all!
Siempre Pa’ Adelante!