Sunday, 12 February 2006

If the knife doesn't kill me, the stress just might... On Wednesday at around 7am I'll be up in the Seattle area on a table in a surgical suite, and with any luck about an hour and a half (or so) later I'll be hallucinating and stuff in the recovery room as the proud and successful recipient of a artificial disc replacement at the L5/S1 joint in my lower back. I get to lay around in a hospital bed for a couple/few days, then can head home to lie around a whole lot more.

It's not quite Steve Austin style stuff, but the plan is to replace a collapsed, herniated and generally failed lumbar disc with a mechanical replacement. I'll be like a scaled-down version the bionic man. Not quite six million dollars worth of work (more like in the tens of thousands), but I am told they can rebuild me, they have the technology.

MRI picture from a while backTruth be told, I'm just a bit scared. I've never been through surgery anywhere near this extensive before, and the decision to do this has been a long and tedious process involving a lot of risk and personal decisions. In the past I've had epidural injections of cortisone, lots of physical therapy, a minimally-invasive microdiscectomy surgical procedure, more physical therapy, medication, rest, exercise, you name it. But when a body part's shot, it's just shot.

Since then I decided - after meeting with a few highly regarded and experienced surgeons who told me I'm just delaying the inevitable fusion or artificial disc surgery - to stick it out for a while and see if I could just deal with the pain. The problem is, in order to do that I've had to keep myself from doing a lot of the things one needs to do in a normal life from day to day, as well as a lot of the things that help make life enjoyable, and that's no good.

So, here I am. Surgery could mean a great improvement in my quality of life. Of course it's not without risks (you really want someone operating on your spine?), and the past year has been mostly about deciding whether the risks of the procedure are worth the potential benefits and avoiding surgery. The pain has not improved much if at all, it always limits me, and at many times it's quite unbearable. Life's no good like this. So, it's time. My doctor is very experienced and I have lots of confidence in him. The facility is great. No more excuses.

As always seems to happen (Ask Murphy why, I sure there's a law about it), workplace and life situations, stresses and pressures are coming to a head right about the time I have to do this surgery, but I've decided that I really only get one life, and one body for that life. Jobs are something that can flex and be molded and true friends will wait, so while I'm wanting to get back to work and life as soon as it's realistic, I have to take care of this other stuff first, slow and steady as they say.

But I'm not just worried and scared. I'm also excited. The prospect of healing and being able to do many of the things I used to take for granted is truly something to look forward to - things like loading the trash cans into the truck to take to the dump, or walking the dog more than a quarter mile, or riding a bike or my motorcycle, or sitting in a chair for more than 15 minutes at a time, or even just being able to pick things up off the floor. 

That and not falling flat on my face in the hallway because I twist or step the wrong way, or because I drag my leg and pain shoots out my foot - That's just one of many things I am looking forward to no longer experiencing.

Anyhow, It'll be lighter than usual posting here probably for a little while 'til this is behind me. Maybe a little bit more to write over the next couple days, but come Wednesday I think I'll be rather out of it. Cross your fingers for me.

Add/Read: Comments [11]
Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Sunday, 12 February 2006 13:30:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Sunday, 12 February 2006 13:50:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Greg! So--You ARE going to be a bionic man!! Nothing will be impossible!
The Lesak's
Sunday, 12 February 2006 15:03:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Fingers crossed... we wish you the best Greg.
Sunday, 12 February 2006 16:18:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Good luck Greg!
Sunday, 12 February 2006 16:38:46 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Wishing you the best and a speedy, but relaxing recovery.
Monday, 13 February 2006 04:49:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
All spare digits crossed buddy - take care of yourself - we'll be standing by for some good news and your return in good health.
Monday, 13 February 2006 05:27:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Good luck Greg! Not that you will really need it, but nonetheless good luck! I have no doubts that you will come out of all this feeling much better and doing things once again that you love to do. Wish I was closer than I am, I would be happy to come over and help you out while you recover and get better. But since that isn't the case I shall be with you in mind and spirit my friend.
Monday, 13 February 2006 09:42:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Good Luck Greg! Wishing you a speedy recovery.
Omar Shahine
Monday, 13 February 2006 11:51:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
best of luck, and a great post-surgical write-up is expected! :)
Tuesday, 14 February 2006 07:52:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Good luck you'll be in our prayers!
Tuesday, 14 February 2006 11:50:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Good post. Well said, dude. Hope all works out well and you come out of this walking straight and tall.

Wishing you all the best and a speedy recovery.
Tuesday, 14 February 2006 19:10:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks, everyone - it helps knowing people are pulling for ya!
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