Tag Archive | back surgery

emotional overload, again

I started outpatient physical therapy to help strengthen and balance my back and legs after my surgery. I knew this was likely to trigger flashbacks from teenage PT, me learning to walk again after my first surgery. And it did. It was hard, but I think I managed well. I made sure I had a female therapist when I made the appointment to decrease my anxiety about someone touching me. I kept myself grounded by telling myself the year, that I am a mom, listing things I could make for lunch.
Session went well, whenever I was triggered, I just brought myself back and instead of telling myself I am a stupid freak, I told myself it was understandable this situation was triggering.

Big trigger when she videotaped me walking. Teen PT did that with me in a swimsuit. Teen lawyers did that to prove my freakyness for AF’s malpractice suit against my surgeon. Both were horrible, humiliating times I was not in control and no one could help me. But some breathing and grounding got me through it. I know she noticed something wrong, but I think she thought I was embarrassed, tired from our workout, but not triggered. She assured me my face would not be in the video, only legs for gait analysis, and that it will help her design my care plan.

She was completely awesome. This PT lady was smart, had empathy, had no trouble with my questions or my special requests.

Near the end of the hour, we started discussing how my leg previously never had any muscle retention. That I worked furiously each day to keep it from sliding backwards, yet I woke up each morning weaker again, no growth, no tone, because of improper nerve signals.

She tested my spatial recognition, my proprioreceptors by forcing me to look away and keep my hands off my leg during the motions. It feels wrong, and a bit dizzying, but if I concentrate, I can do this. This is new from the recent surgery decompressing the spinal nerves. 

PT lady said with this, it is possible that new muscle can now be rebuilt, actual progress and forward potential after being stuck for 27 years. I am still too afraid to hope for this, even though I am already seeing small gains since the surgery. Seeing should be believing, but I know too much that seeing can be deceptive also.

Hope for someone like me, does not come easily, and has a huge cost when things don’t work out. So I remain safely curious. Curiosity keeps me moving and trying – without fear of devastation.

Except I felt a little hope with her words. No matter how much I tried not to.

Then I felt foolish and afraid for feeling hope.

Then I wanted to share my hope with my mom.

That’s when I brokedown. Too much. I made it to my car and cried. Oh mom, how much I wanted to share GOOD news with you….no matter how troubled our past, I do know the pain you felt when I was paralyzed. I somehow thought this news might heal some of that pain, bring us closer. Perhaps not, but I will never know. Just know I forgive your mistreatment of me when I could not walk, I think you did your best to cope and only had denial. 

So I started PT, had several flashbacks, remained grounded while being touched, let myself feel some hope by accident, and I missed my mom.

A full day…all in an hour.

Turtles can’t do yoga

Such an odd feeling to be trapped in your own body. Since my back surgery in April I keep having these odd moments of panic, nearly like claustrophobia, but the small, tight space I am confined within is my own body.

My initial back surgery as a child fused most of my spine but left a few vertebrae at the base in the lumbar L4-S1 and up in my neck free to turn and twist. My recent surgery extended the fusion and internal hardware to give me more stability against my scoliosis and kyphosis. My lumbar discs had deterioriated and disappeared. I had air gaps in my spinal column from so much slipping motion between my vertebrae. This has been corrected. I am no longer in pain. The nerve has been decompressed. I am getting stronger every day. However I had to sacrifice even more of my precious little flexibility.

This may not sound like much to those of you with a bendy, twisty spine. You can’t imagine what it is like to have a solid, rigid backbone. You can’t imagine having perfect posture and never being able to stretch your side muscles, do a sit up, arch or curl your back. I also can’t jump, as your spine is a natural shock absorber, being solid puts all that force onto one spot like a sledge hammer. Not that I was very jumpy, but jostly things like hay rides or roller coasters are quite painful. I have moments when tears come to my eyes now, out of frustration, not pain. I feel like I’m trapped in a shell.

The extra hardware alongside the original hardware have completely eliminated all the twisting. Good for pain. But it feels so odd. Like I am in a full body cast. I simply can’t move.

I can no longer rest my head on Hubby’s shoulder when snuggling in bed. I can barely reach the floor, if I drop or spill something. I have to do a combination of a sumo wrestler squat/ballerina lunge since I can only bend within my hip joint itself, nothing in my back at all. I started driving again this week, and I can barely see for backing up, only having motion in my neck, no longer able to twist at all. I can’t see or get items from the back of the fridge or cupboards. I can’t tuck in my kids, I have to hug them before they get in bed. I can’t reach my dogs’ tummy when they lay on the floor, only with my feet. I can tie my own shoes now, but I have to hold my breath and stretch first. I can’t do even the little bit of yoga I used to do.

I will get used to my new body given more time. I’ll keep working on my leg flexibility too. And I am so happy to walk around without the pain, truly I am. I only wanted to document how odd this experience has been as well, to reach for something that should be within reach, but it may as well be a million miles away because your unbendable body will not let you get there. Kind of like trying to stick your elbow in your ear.

And the toughest part perhaps has been Hubby thinking I am pushing him away, rejecting him. I just can’t get there from here. I can’t get comfortable. I can’t bend and lean into him. All I have is my arms.

tortoise1_cepolina

I feel like a turtle with a hard awkward shell. Turtles can’t do yoga either, and they always seem quite peaceful. I know I’ll be alright eventually.