A Long and Winding Road
Many of you know that in mid-September of last year, I underwent major spine surgery. After nearly eight hours in the OR with incisions front, back and side, I am now the possessor of enough titanium cages, screws, and rods to correct a half dozen misaligned vertebrae, a 27 degree curve, pinched sciatic nerve and significant arthritis. Four days in the hospital (none of which I remember thanks to big doses of happy medicine), nine more in a rehabilitation center and I was home to finish recovering. In some ways, that was the easy part.
Therapy began in the hospital, and continued in the rehab center and at home via a visiting therapist. Then I began twice-weekly sessions at an outpatient center, consisting of 90-minute workouts including bike pedaling, recumbent sled pushing, wall pushups, squats and my personal favorite--sitting on a large ball while kicking, marching and doing exercises with a latex resistance band (much harder than it sounds). Then its off to a table for more exercises, topped off by a therapist stretching, twisting and bending your limbs while you try not to yell. Dessert is ice or heat.
This doesn't count what you do on "off" days. Oh, no. You are given a home program of exercises including many of the same ones you do at the center. I now have my own big blue ball and use two cans of garbanzos as a substitute for the medicine ball used for stretching. Our dachshund Toby watches me in amused silence as I go through my paces. I won't lie. It's much easier to stay motivated when someone is coaching you along.
The payoff for these efforts is that I feel pretty much back to myself, with a few exceptions. Loading and unloading the dishwasher can still be uncomfortable and I can't tie my shoes. I have to use the sock-putter-on gadget they gave me in rehab, which makes me feel ancient. I'm told that it will be about nine months before my back feels normal.
With any luck, I'll have another 20 years to use my new spine. In the meantime, I'll grin and bear it!
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I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.