Thursday, June 25, 2015

Health Update

Thanks to my friends and fans for suggesting a topic.  This picture was taken 4-5 weeks ago, the beard has a much nicer trim today.  I need a haircut.

I continue to make progress.  I have been doing physical therapy three times a week.  The regime is brutal, and when I get use to it, they add a new and frequently difficult task.  I was complaining this afternoon that my knees have been hurting the past day or so, and the therapist pointed out how far I have come in the past three weeks.  Three weeks ago I was using a walker, today I am using a cane, and about 1/3 of the time, no cane to walk.  I can walk for 45 minutes at a stretch.  One day last week I climbed 10 flights of stairs, I am slow, but I made it up and back down.  I couldn't do that for the past few months.  I am moving better then I have since late last year.  Despite feeling like they are locked in vices at times, my knees are much stronger, then I stand up or sit down the work is entirely in my legs and not me pulling or pushing with my arms.  That being said, there is still a significant amount of sensory loss in my feet.  My feet get very tight and my I have some swelling later in the day in my feet.  There is some improvement in sensation in my feet.  Every indication is that this will be slow and and at times somewhat painful progress.   I can work with what I have and odds are it will get better, but my feet and legs may never be back 100% to normal.

I am doing more and more around the house.  I am doing some cooking, I have enough bend back in my knees to load the dishwasher.  I can't lift anything over 10 pounds, so Jay get to do the heavy stuff.  Because of the brace, I need help drying after a shower.  Thankfully we have a tiny walk in shower in the second bath in the condo.  

I have doctors appointments on Monday for x-rays and to see the lead neurosurgeon.  Assuming that the x-rays show that the titanium is becoming best friends with the bone and muscle in my spine, I expect that I will receive directions on phasing out the body brace, This $2,400 custom made torture device goes from my shoulders to my hips and I have to wear it unless I am laying down.  It is tight and restrictive - that is what it is meant to be.  I have built up my ability to wear it, I can be comfortable for 5-6 hours, then I have to lay down and take it off, at least take the top half of it off (I call that half shell.)  Sleeping has become a bit of a challenge, I can sleep on my left side for 2-3 hours, then my shoulder hurts, it is harder to sleep on my right side because of nerve damage around the bottom of my ribs on that side (permanent.)  An hour or two on my right side.  Sleeping on my back can be difficult, as the spinal fusion creates a pressure spot, and the ribs that are missing ends are healing and starting to bother me.  I sleep for 5-6 hours at night, then nap 2-3 times during the day. If I am allowed to sit up without the brace, sleeping will be easier, as sitting up in bed relieves the rib discomfort.  Some nights I put the brace back on, prop myself up on pillows and sleep for another hour or two.

I have defied the doctor on one issue, I started driving a few days ago.  It feels good.  The brace is a little constricting, I don't think I will attempt parallel parking just yet, but it feels great to be back driving.

I can't return to work until the doctor approves,  I am hoping for the week after the 4th of July.  My paid medical leave is approved through the first three weeks of July, I really need to be back before then.

I will update next week, after I see Dr. W.


  1. DRIVING! NO CANE! w00t w00t!

    ain't no stopping you now! keep up the (slow and steady) progress, dear! :-)

    and thanks for taking my subtle suggestion!

  2. "I have built up my ability to wear it, I can be comfortable for 5-6 hours, then I have to lay down and take it off, at least take the top half of it off (I call that half shell."

    Perhaps we should take to calling you Travel Tortoise now instead of Penguin. ;-)
    You are doing fantastically well in getting back to "normal"......well done!

  3. It sounds like absolute torture but your progress is truly remarkable and inspiring.

  4. Great news, well except for the beard is trimmed part, kept on keepin on!

  5. you are looking good!
    You are a typical patient viz. naughty for defying your doctor - boo!
    I am glad you are doing ducky.

  6. Glad to here that great progress is being made. Keep up the good work, as much as it hurts!

    Peace <3