Recovery Day 17

Everything thing seems to be moving according to plan. I went in to speak with my physiotherapist on recovery day 13 and checked out our Canuck protocols on ADR. We sure don’t do as many as Europe! One of his clients is back to playing competitive soccer post ADR, so that’s promising. In Canada, they try to get people up and running in physio between 2 and 4 weeks. I’m ok with some light physio, but I do not want to do anything that will aggravate my back/belly. I tried some of his gentle core work and it hurt my belly – so, I’ve opted to wait another week or two before I try anything again. Walking is it for the near future.

I’ve contacted our local hydrotherapy pool and should be able to setup a session next week for some gentle exercise.

I had another little setback when a bee flew into my head and startled me… just like the elevator incident. Again, I flinched, arched back slightly and had some pain shoot down my left leg. A couple days of sore shins, sore sacro and throbbing in my left foot followed, but have since subsided. You can take it VERY easy, but you cannot defeat your own reflexes!

My discomfort hasn’t changed much in the past few days, but my recovery time is getting quicker. Where I used to have to lay in bed for 40 minutes after getting sore, it’s only taking about 20 minutes now to feel comfortable again. I’ll take that as some progress. I also haven’t had to take any pain killers for a few days.

The biggest problem for me right now has been the NSAIDs. I stopped taking them after the last post, though Mr. Boeree wanted me to keep them for a few weeks… but to quit if I had any nasty side effects. My stomach is still a mess. ūüôĀ I need to try a different type from Naproxen if I’m ever going to take these things again.

All in all, I’m lucky that everything is going ok and I’m crossing my fingers that it continues.

We went down to the beach today and had a great time. However, I spent 60% of the time lying on the grass, resting, after the walk to get there! Dog and kid water party. ūüôā I’ve also been very lucky so far to have had my parents with me in the UK, a very understanding (and very pregnant) wife waiting for me at home and her parents to help us out around the house for the past week. Next week is going to be interesting on our own!

2 Weeks

It’s now 2 weeks ago that I went under the knife. I’m still right around the same discomfort levels I’ve been at since Sunday. Yesterday hurt a little more I think because I tried to sleep on my side a couple of times in the night. My back didn’t like that very much. ūüôĀ I ended up taking some more tylenol (2000 MG total) to help.

I also contacted Mr. Boeree and confirmed that he still wants me taking Naproxen for the first few weeks post op to hinder HO. This stuff is murdering my stomach, but HO would be worse if it ever happened I’m guessing.

Of note to any of you in North America – hydrotherapy seems to mean something completely different in Calgary… I decided to look up aquatherapy and found some centres close to my house.

I’m heading in to see my spine specialist physios today to have an assessment done. I’ve got all of my discharge docs from the Spine Clinic and my scans and we’ll hopefully be able to hammer out a gentle program to start up next week. I wasn’t expecting this, but it would appear that for us Canucks, our first 7 physio sessions are covered by our provincial healthcare system post-op. It’s not much, but I won’t have to pay out of pocket at least. I completely drained my extended physio benefits this year with my desperate attempts at physio and chiro for 9 months pre-surgery.

From the insurance side of things, I submitted my application for STD just before I departed for London and got word yesterday that all was approved. As it stands now, I’ll be looking to resume part time work on the 15th of August and a return to full time on the 29th. This all depends on how I recover and I do not want to push anything that might screw my back up. My job is highly sedentary (IT Manager), so part time in front of a computer shouldn’t be too big of a deal if my recovery goes decently. I had also rigged up a standing workstation pre-surgery, so I won’t have to sit the entire time. Fingers are crossed, but as always, one has to be prepared for setbacks.

I’m still walking 4 x 20 minutes per day and won’t be upping my speed or distance for the foreseeable future. Thanks Si for all of your information on the hydro side of things… it will come in handy when speaking with my local peeps.

@Tim – good luck! T-minus two days for your flight. ūüôā

Sneezing continues to be the Bain of my existence. I feel like my spine is going to pop out each time it happens and I’m never quick enough to stop it! Pointers from any of you veterans?

Cheers,

-Brett

How Do You Know

When you over do it, post op? Any of you on the other side know this? I’m sticking to my walking diligently, as instructed, but want to be sure I’m not doing too much and screwing stuff up.

As soon as my back feels taxed, I climb into bed for about 40 mins with a single pillow as per Mr Boeree’s instructions. I’m not sitting for too long and I take a big nap after lunch. Generally I’m hitting the sack at 9:30pm and waking up refreshed and without much discomfort at about 4 am. Thank you Jet Lag!

My only worry is that I’m walking close to 6km per day already across 4 outings. 1.5 km per each 20 minute walk. I feel great, but is this too much? I didn’t think anything of it until I installed this nifty app called run keeper on my iPhone. It’s free and pretty kick ass, but it tells you exactly your speeds and distances.

Still, no bending/twisting/extension/flexion or sudden movements for 4-6 weeks… that is very important to remember.

I finished my blood thinners on Saturday the 23rd and ceased tylenol on Sunday.

I’ve been taking 1 x 550MG Naproxen per day since Sunday the 17th of July… to decrease¬†inflammation¬†and inhibit scar tissue growth as much as possible. ¬†I will probably discontinue it this week and move to regular¬†ibuprofen¬†as needed because¬†it is much easier on my stomach.

I began taking 1 x¬†multivitamin¬†and 1 x fish oil on Sunday the 24th along with 1 x Whey Protein Isolate Shake w/ L-Glutamine to aid my body in repairs. ¬†I’m also drinking a lot of water and though I had a full light beer last night, I probably won’t have much more than that for quite some time just to be safe.

-Brett

Recovery Day 11

I’m up to 80 minutes of walking per day (4 x 20 Minutes) with lots of rest and help from my wife and her parents. Pain is settling down and I’m just taking tylenol and codeine as needed – usually around lunch and before bed. I’ll be making my first physio appointment back in Calgary tomorrow morning and will bring this document in for them to see… Thanks Hooch.

My current pain seems to be a dull ache around the L4-5 level, but it feels more muscle related. I’ve also got some kind of ligament pain in my sacro joint that alternates sides, which I believe is related to the increased disc height/distraction. Other than that, I get the odd facet tweak when leaning/bending gently. All of the pain seems to subside when I rest in bed with a single pillow. The tylenol helps too! Sneezing hurts like hell.

Staples are out.

Something very odd happened last night. My wife and I were getting ready to head out for my last walk of the evening. We couldn’t find our dog’s leash and spent a few extra seconds looking for it… when BANG! A crane rounded the corner close to our house and lost control of its boom. It literally took out the street light right in front of our place and a tree two houses down. We were almost right in front of it when it happened! Thank god for our dog. Somehow it didn’t hit any cars or people and needless to say, it probably would have screwed up my back a LITTLE more! ūüėČ

The Spine Clinic Review

I just realized that I didn’t ever properly review the Spine Clinic in the UK! ¬†Here are my thoughts:

Mr. Boeree is one of the kindest and most thorough medical professionals I’ve ever met.¬† From my first phone consultation, to finally shaking his hand and eventually waking up post-op… I knew I was in exceptional hands.¬† I was blown away when he could tell me my symptoms on our first phone call, just by looking at my MRI.¬† Spot on!

Dr. McGill is a very¬†competent¬†anesthetist and though I didn’t see him often or have to speak with him much, I believe that is¬†testament¬†of his skill.

The administration side of things was a breeze and I’ve been in email contact with them often as I try to¬†pursue¬†reimbursement from my insurance provider.¬† The Nursing, PT, Pharmacist and support staff were second to none and I was a little bummed at leaving the hospital on the fourth day because I was enjoying the food and company so much!

London Was Great

It’s 7:45am on Friday morning – I head to the airport at 9:30am. ¬†I was able to get out early the past couple of days and score breakfast for us from Pret a Manger. ¬† It’s close enough that I’m not overdoing it, but its nice to be able to get out and about and actually accomplish something. ¬†I really wanted to try and walk to a world famous french bakery this morning, but it’s 2.2 miles round trip. ¬†I don’t want to push my luck before a 9 hour flight.

I called ahead and requested wheelchair assistance at Heathrow… it should be interesting!

I’m excited to get back over the pond. ūüôā

-Brett

Back In London

It’s hard to believe it was only 7 days ago that I walked into that operating theatre… but here I am back in London. ¬†The car ride took just over an hour from Southampton to the Sheraton Park Lane. ¬†I even pre-empted the trip with some codine. ¬†But, my back really, really hurt. ¬†I’ve been in bed for the most part since we got here. ¬†Little walks, lots of rest.

I’m dreading the 9 hour flight on Friday!

-Brett

Day 6 – Improving a Little Each Day

It’s crazy how your body responds to a surgery like this. The swelling on my stomach is finally starting to subside a little and my walking stride is getting longer… it’s much easier to walk today than it was the day I was discharged. I’m up to walking about 60 minutes total per day in 15 minute increments with as many stairs as I can fit in without pushing it. I would say I’m about 3/4 of my old walking speed pre-surgery.

That’s all you can really do post surgery – no bending, twisting, flexion or extension. Just walk, sit, lie down. Repeat. I seem to have worked into a 2 hour cycle. I’m also napping every time I feel like my body needs one.

I had my first hydrotherapy class today and have my final class tomorrow morning at 9:30am. It’s great being weightless in that water! Your back feels completely different as soon as you enter. The only weird thing upon entering the water was that I could sense an almost “phantom” numbness in my big toe that went away as soon as I got out. It wasn’t even really numb – just different. Very weird! Nerves heal in funny ways.

I also worked up enough courage to pop in the car and head out to the Chilworth Arms with my parents tonight. I even managed to dress up a bit(jeans and all – LOL). I had to get up 4 times for a walk during the meal, but it was nice to be out among people again – if even for just a short time! I finished about 1/2 my glass of Peroni as well. It’s too bad I wasted my first beer back on a Peroni. ūüôā

For any of you thinking of making the trip out here – the Chilworth seems to be the best eats around and its not too $$. I would also not stay at the Hilton again. The staff are great, but the food is sub par and expensive. They also have abnormally low sinks that drove me bonkers because I can’t bend yet! I’ve heard good things about the Holiday Inn in Eastleigh… though I would probably rather have stayed in Winchester. It seems to be the most scenic city around. My parents scouted the area pretty well while I was in hospital! ūüėČ

Also, Bath is a good 2.5 hours away and Stonehenge is on the way there. The UK back surgery route can be “true” medical tourism!

Here are the Google Map coordinates for the Spine Clinic at Nuffield Health Wessex Hospital. It took us a little while to find it the first time.

We head back to London tomorrow for a couple more days before I fly back to Calgary. I’ll be letting Air Canada know beforehand that I’d like a wheelchair and assistance upon arrival at the airport. It can take up to an hour to wait if you don’t let them know until you’re there. Thanks Duane!

My only regret so far is missing out on the Spitfire Museum. ūüôĀ I suppose I’ll have to visit Southampton and Mr. Boeree on my next business trip to London!

Wow… I should never have had that coffee after dinner.

-Brett

More Photos

I went through my image discs and found these before and after shots of almost the same angle/section. ¬†Pretty cool to see. ¬†I think my L4-5 disc was shorter on the left side and this explains why Mr. Boeree had some difficulty in his approach from the left-front, squeezing his disc excising instruments into the space. ¬†I think it is also why I feel the most pain and weirdness on my left side around the sacro joint now. ¬†It’s the side adjusting to the biggest change. ¬†There is also a¬†noticeable¬†change in foraminal volume between the two films.