Friday, March 16, 2012

L4-L5 Disc Troubles

I found out at physical therapy this week that the pain I have been experiencing whenever I bend forward even slightly probably is my L4-L5 disc.  Just as I suspected.  We "might" be able to get the pain out of my legs.  It sounds like I may never be able to sit down without searing pain running down my legs.

This is something I know I asked at least one surgeon.  If they do an ALIF only, and jack up the disc space more in the front, doesn't that force the next disc out the back?  It is common sense.

I am dealing with anger and hopelessness.  There are people that I have chosen to forgive for things they did wrong or might have done wrong that brought me to where I am now.  And the anger?  I was reading the book of Jonah this week.  At one point he tells God that, yes, he is angry.  Even unto death. 

That is exactly the way I have been feeling.  But God reminds him that the good in his life (specifically, a shady plant) was not of his making, so he shouldn't be angry when it is taken from him.  And furthermore, there were people who needed to be saved, and that was more important.

On Wednesday I was listening to a sermon online about suffering well.  Paul was arrested for telling others about Jesus, and then shipwrecked.  But he looked out for the needs of others instead of worrying about his problems or growing bitter.  The pastor pointed out that it is in those dark times that a Christian's light really shines.  People don't pay much attention when a Christian lives well in prosperity.  But when a Christian is suffering and still trusts in God and serves others, it makes an impact.

I'm down, and up, and down, down, down.  But I know I can trust God and His promises.  Abide in Him and suffer well!

Monday, March 5, 2012

5 Month Spine Surgery Update

It has been 5 months and here is how things stand now:

I'm poised to start physical therapy for real instead of just on my own.

It is still more painful to sit than before surgery. The only place I can sit is in the car for maybe half an hour. And that is with a cushion to sit on for the tailbone pain and a lumbar support cushion.

Can't bend at all or reach things on the floor.

The one good thing is that I have been able to walk for exercise. Couldn't do that before surgery. Unfortunately not sure how long it will last since it seems like my L4-L5 disc is bulging.

Overall, way worse than before surgery. I have often wished I could go back and undo it. So far the pain and the financial loss hasn't been worth it at all. But, I can't claim to know how this will turn out. In a year from now I may be really glad I got it over with.

If you are considering L5-S1 fusion surgery, my one suggestion is that you wait until you are in constant pain. If I was in excruciating pain before surgery, this would be an improvement.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Emotions and Thanksgiving

Today I went to the bank to get copies of some canceled checks and the guy at the desk invited me to sit down. So awkward, but I am getting better at saying things like, "actually... my back is bothering me so I should probably just stand.". As I left he said, "I hope your back feels better!"

The sun was shining. For a moment I was a normal girl with a normal strained back and soon it was going to be better. I would be going out to eat with friends and sitting on the beach for hours. I smiled and said, "thanks," and breezed out the door.

I'm so emotional. At any given moment I'm about 3 negative thoughts away from tears. Today I woke up mourning the fact that there is pain when I get up, pain when I drive, and pain when I open doors that really shouldn't be that heavy. And hope seems to be lost. So I cried I on my way home from the bank.

I desperately want to be able to sit without pain. Imagine trying to have a social life when you can't sit down to a meal, or coffee, or a movie, or a craft night... Even here at home I haven't discovered a way to sit so a friend could come over and we could have a comfortable conversation.

Maybe I will be able to find a recliner that works for me.

I literally can't face life, so I have to take each day as it comes.

All that being said, yes, I don't understand what has happened to me, but God is faithful and His promises are true.

On Sunday I was able to stand through the whole service, even though it was painful. On Tuesday I was praying about how I can't go back to my main job because I can't open the average heavy door. And then during physical therapy I figured it out! Still painful but not so dangerous. Last night at almost 2 am I figured out how to scrub out the kitchen sink without bending! It is now a bright, smooth, shiny white.

Praise and thanks to God who makes all things beautiful in His time.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I’m trying to play Words With Friends and I’m instant messaging a guy friend from a couple years back.  But the things I had hoped to be able to do, the life I was dreaming of when I knew him looks like it will never be.  Its like my Words game.  I don’t have any vowels now, so I have nothing to say.

I sat today for about 3 minutes, and when I got up, my back ached.  I walked around the house and then went for a walk outside.  Up and down the hill, walking out the pain with tears in my eyes and prayers sent up to God.  “What will my life be like?”  “I just want to go out to eat with friends and be able to sit in a Bible study or in church.”  “Lead me, provide a way for me.”

Then the verse, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” declares the Lord, “thoughts to prosper you and not to harm you.  To give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).  Over and over I sang the song in my head and walked and walked.

When I got home, I realized that forgetting everything I can’t do, God gave me the ability to take an energetic walk outside.  Something I couldn’t do before.  So forgetting everything I can’t do, I hold onto that tonight.  It was a beautiful gift.  A walk outside, with a bit of sun, on a not too cold day. 

And not every day will be like today.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I haven't had the heart to write for a while.  First, because deciding on surgery was so intense and emotional, and then because recovery from surgery has been so discouraging.

But, I've had my surgery.

I am three months out now and the bone is not healing as quickly as it should.  My surgeon pointed at the ct scan and referred to it as "fluffy stuff."  Now, I am stepping up my calcium intake even more.

There were a bunch of normal, but scary phases during the first 3 months.  The pain shooting down my leg phase that started a week after the surgery.  That first week my legs and feet felt great, but then I had an episode where I choked on a calcium pill, of all things.  It was lodged by my wind pipe and I just choked and choked and made a horrible gasping, wheezing noise until my mom heard me and walked into the room.  I could breathe carefully, but not swallow.  Finally it just slipped down my throat.

Anyway, after that my back muscles were strained and I had bad sciatic pains and crampings.

Then there was the tailbone pain.  I sat, slightly reclined, in the car for over an hour.  Even though it felt fine, near the end my tailbone started to hurt and that pain lasted for at least two weeks.  I finally quit taking my walks because the pelvic floor muscles were pulling on the tailbone and it was just exacerbating everything.

Then when I tried to start walking again it was SI joint dysfunction.  The joint where the sacrum and hips meet.  Every step forward, sideways.  It felt like terrible arthritis was developing.

One night I finally had an epiphany.  I tried to walk like we marched in marching band.  Propelling myself forward, glide stepping from heal to toe, using the ball of the foot to push forward with each step.  I focused on keeping my hips perfectly straight, and this finally allowed me to walk.

I have more to tell, who knows when, but for now, would I recommend this surgery?  I would say wait.  Wait until you are in excruciating pain.  Talk to physical therapists who know your body and know the results of the surgeon you are considering.  Physical therapists probably know more about how your body will function after surgery than the surgeon even does.

I miss being able to bend and twist.  I'm in more pain now, and I'm scared that somethings bad is going on at my L4-L5 level.  But, I'm walking, stretching, and pressing on.  It could still turn out marvelously.

The most repeated command in the Bible is...DO NOT FEAR.

"Fear not for I am with you; Be not dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wall Angels

Since I hurt my neck earlier this year, it has been really painful to lift things above shoulder level.  For a while I stopped unloading the dishwasher.  Thankfully a roommate agreed to take that on.  Then she went on vacation and I started unloading it again, but stacked the dishes on the counter and covered them with a clean dishtowel.  You do what you can, right?

Well, a couple days ago I decided to see if I could start doing my wall angels again.  It is an exercise that really helped my back and neck about a year and a half ago.  

I only did three, and that was plenty.  Then I rested a day and then did three again today.  And, yes, I mean three reps, not three sets.

I was hurting a little bit afterward, but not too much, and I felt fine after a nice long hot shower.  Maybe I will do four next time.  Woo hoo!

For me I keep a neutral spine (naturally curved) and don't flatten my spine against the wall.  This way the transverse abdominal muscles turn "on" to help support the spine.  These muscles are low on the stomach below the belly button and are parallel to the floor.  The exercise feels right when I do them like that, and any help my transverse abdominals can get is a good thing. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Credit Card Woes

My credit card seems to have been frozen.  When I went to the dealership for an oil change today, the charge was rejected.  Could it have something to do with my late payment?  Or maybe that doctor's appointment with the specialist who doesn't contract with any health insurance...who cost over $1,000 in one visit?  Have I reached my limit?

These are questions I have to answer, but I'm scared.

That's what might have gotten me into this mess though--fear.  I let a pile, HUGE pile of medical bills sit there.  And sit there.  I was down.  After the last spine surgeon appointment that I had hoped would set me on a straight course for surgery.  Anyway.  My credit card bill was in the pile.  And I got to it two days late.  Yuck.

Moving forward though.