Today was the final follow-up visit to my surgeon, who performed the L5-S1 bilateral discectomy on January 18. So at the two-month mark, since I am not experiencing any acute pain in my back or left leg, he released me -- no follow-ups unless I somehow get into trouble doing too much.
I am walking up to 2.25 miles a day and doing my stretching, so he said to keep that up. I still have 1) occasional odd shooting zaps down my leg (normal), 2) some numbness down my left calf (normal), and 3) numbness on the bottoms of my feet (possibly normal, but I had existing neuropathy from diabetes), and 4) on top of the left foot (unclear the cause, possibly neuropathy).
It's likely that 3 and 4 may never resolve; he thinks over the next 6 months #2 will resolve.
I still have to avoid lifting more than 10 lbs, and definitely not sit without a break longer than 30 minutes at a time. I can tell because we were at Target the other day and they had some hand weights on sale. I picked up the 10 lb. weight and I immediately felt it in my back -- not like acute pain, but it told me "put that down."
The walking is great for the back; I am usually pretty stiff before and after, but during the walk I am comfortable. Well, except for the feet. Today the neuropathy was so bad that I had to wear two pairs of socks because they were hypersensitive and were burning and tingling. Yes, folks this is normal, and it sucks, but I have to push past pain that I know I'll have to live with -- meds haven't seemed to quash this; at most Lyrica takes the edge off of it, along with Calan. Cymbalta was horrible, got off of that quickly. Amiltriptyline was equally annoying and didn't do crap.
So I'm resigned to dealing with that and the RA -- compared to the acute herniation pain, staying at a 4 out of 10 on a pain scale beats 8 any day. It was only a couple of months ago that I was being shuttled around in a wheelchair to see the doctor.
I hope to stay out of one for a long while, and certainly not because I did too much too soon and re-herniated. I spoke to one colleague at work who had the same operation and he said that he didn't do the PT walking, ignored the stretches, and yes -- he re-herniated and ended up with operation #2.
And he followed post-op instructions that time around and is doing well now, but he reiterated to me that I was doing the right thing by taking it slow and steady.
Casualties of this whole mess:
1) I have a lot of bills to pay (thankfully the insurance covered $32K of a $34,328.82 hospital bill!), but I did (and still do) have to lay out quite a bit of cash. It's sad that even with health insurance, people can be bankrupted by medical bills. I'm lucky this time around.
2) Lost wages: I was off for 6 weeks, most of it unpaid leave. What paid time off I had is long gone. So no vacations for me...that means no Netroots Nation in 2013. I won't have built up enough time off by then to go to San Jose. I have to save what I do earn to go to NYC for my birthday.
I'm trying not to take on any blog-related engagements these days; it's enough to keep my health on track, though tempting it may be. I know there are opportunities to get myself overworked and physically spent, so activism has to take a back seat. If I cannot even churn out regular blog posts, I have no business traveling around and putting miles on my body either, lol.
But I have some of my health back.