Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I'm back...sorta

I haven't written a post in quite a while, which is pretty sad considering it doesn't take very long to do. However, I have a pretty valid excuse - back surgery. Yes, it is what it sounds like.

For the past few years I've had on-again off-again back pains, that I had attributed to chronic sciatica - as it runs in the family. I had seen a couple different chiropractors, both whom had their own theories as to why my lower back / right leg was hurting so much. Neither really helped very much. It wasn't until around this time last summer when I was visiting my buddies in Greenville, SC and I slept on a crazy marshmallow couch that the pain really began getting out of control. I decided to go see an orthopedic surgeon and get some information on ways that I can alleviate the pain. After a series of x-rays and MRI's I discovered that I had three (well, 2 and a half) herniated discs. These discs were putting pressure on my spinal cord, causing the severe pain and numbness in my right leg.

The doc gave me some pain meds and told me to go see a pain management specialist to get a series of steriod/neuro-inhibitor shots in my spine. Each shot helped get rid of the pain for probably 2 weeks. Finally, about a month ago, the pain became so debilitating that I couldn't walk for more than a minute without my right leg feeling like it was being cut open by the devil - so, luckily my good friend Keri's dad referred my to a neurosurgeon who specializes in backs. After out first meeting I had the date scheduled for my surgery - he believed my problem was so severe that I would be risking paralysis if action wasn't taken immediately.

I've never really had any surgery done before - I guess if you count having your wisdom teeth taken out then yes, but that was like a 30 minute procedure and they did it at the dentist's office. Needless to say, I was a little (a lot) freaked out when the doc told me that I would have to be in the hospital for three days, that the procedure would take around 4 hours, and that I would have 8 screws and four rods in my spine when it was all done with. Basically - this is what they put into my spine:

So now here I am, about 2 weeks since my operation - and I'm actually doing pretty well. Amazingly, my back/leg pain has subsided - and I'm left with some residual numbness (which is normal) and outer pain from the incisions. I'm left with two scars - one that's about 12 inches long and goes directly down the middle of my back - the other is on the right side of my back and is about 6 inches long. I'm stuck wearing a back brace for the next three months and, obviously, my activities are quite limited during that time. But, the fact that the pain that I've had for so long isn't there anymore, is incredible.

Oh, and on a sidenote - I've quit smoking, have started a pretty rigorous diet, and suddenly my head feels a lot clearer than it has in a while.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me out over the past few weeks - especially my parents and my brother - they've been so great to take care of me. And everyone who has sent me good wishes, it means a lot - I'll be up and running in no time!