Yesterday marked the one month since my surgery and while it flew by, it was definitely mentally and physically challenging but I think I came out on top.
My New Hardware
To back up a little if you’re new here my surgery was to remove a herniated disc in my cervical spine (neck) in levels C5-6 which is at the base of my spine. The short version was that they orthoscopically went in through the front of my neck, took out the herniated disc and inserted a metal disc replacement.
There is no clear explanation as to what caused this to happen, but since there was no disc degeneration it was from general wear and tear on my neck or an incident that happened at some point in my life. As a figure skater turned runner and desk job worker somewhere along the way my spine got compressed.
My symptoms started in 2012 during the summer before my wedding when I was getting migraines. I thought it was just stressed but when they continued post-wedding I went to the doctor that October and she gave me migraine medication. This continued and my symptoms progressed into numbness in my arms, hands, neck & face, shooting pains down my arms and back, throbbing in my hands and tightness in between my shoulders that wouldn’t go away.
In February of 2013 I returned to my doctor and she diagnosed me with a herniated disc and sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. It was then he recommended surgery but said I could do Physical Therapy and get Steroid injections to give myself time. As an optimist, I decided to give those things a try and see if they cured me. I also tried massage therapy, which worked wonders and kept me pain free for a few days at a time, but it was never enough. So, then began the year of doctor visits, many nights spent in tears, many days working from home and just wanting to feel better.
Finally in December of 2013 I decided it was time for surgery. My doctor had to fight with my insurance to get me approved and booked for February 11, 2014. I am lucky that I have an understanding management at work, so I was able to take a week off post surgery and then a week working from home to recover.
Day Two Post-Surgery
The surgery itself took about an hour and a half but we were at the hospital from 9:30-5:00 that day. Post surgery I was sore but happy because my nerve pain went away immediately, we ate sushi that night and then I spent most of the next two days feeling like I got hit my a bus.
After the first few days, slowly but surely the pain in my neck and shoulders from surgery went away and I weaned myself off the pain medications. I was in good spirits dealing with this because my headache of over a year was gone and I was no longer numb. I was just happy that it worked. I went back to work too early, and then worked from home the second week. The rest helped a lot and I’m been taking it easy ever since while returning to normal and slowly easing back into exercise.
Now, I’m truly feeling like myself again. My mood is lifted and I’m constantly amazed at the lack of pain I have. I still am a little tight in between my shoulder blades, which is normal and will go away with time. I’ve gotten two PT massages, stretch whenever I think about it and ice when I’m sore since every day is different. I’m looking forward to the 6 week mark, when my doctor says all the pain will be gone!
I’ve been able to run again (for one minute at a time), spin again, lift weights and do yoga pain-free. And, after a year and a half of pain it feels AMAZING and I’m so grateful that I took the step to have my surgery. This is a feeling I hope I never forget and I’m truly thankful that I have my solution.
Have you ever had a major injury? What was your recovery like? How did it change your attitude?