It has been a while since my last back surgery recovery update, so I’m past due. It is hard to say too much when things are pretty stable. There are still some challenging days, but for the most part I’m doing well.
General Recovery Update
Right after the laminectomy, I could almost measure progress in hours. Every day brought many changes. After 5 or 6 months, things slowed a bit. Now there is still progress, but it takes more time. For my recovery, I think there is an added element of “the cause” that I’ve figured out a bit more and subsequently been focusing in on.
The Smoking Gun – A possible cause
There were many ingredients that led to my problems. Sitting for too long, bad form from prior injuries and the fact that my body adapted around a small limp. I didn’t even know I was limping, but it turns out that the limp was making me walk without using a lot of my hip muscles. My left hip flexors were very tight when I started feeling the problems, but I didn’t realize how weak my left leg was.
During analysis of my walk and various testing, we realized my spine was not aligned and that my pelvis was twisted. In more recent testing, we found that my left hip did almost no work for helping to walk or stabilize. So, I’ve been working on that a lot with great results. I am walking a lot smoother too.
I also was getting a tone of pain in my knee. I have a known torn medial meniscus and it would fold many times per day with a lot of pain. Pain was followed by swelling. Two things helped that. First was new shoes and the second was general leg stability exercises. My right ankle was pronating a lot putting stress on the knee and allowing the meniscus room to move. By getting a more solid platform of a shoe and building the muscles, I am doing a lot better there.
I don’t think I would say I get a lot of pain any more. I am uncomfortable often enough and I get sensations that make me very worried. Luckily, they tend to not be followed by any pain.
I have been dealing with knee pain, but that isn’t really because of my back (it may have been a factor in the actual back injury).
Numbness and Sensations
I’m still very numb in my right leg. I may be getting some sensation back, but for the most part, I don’t feel a lot of change there. If you draw a line down the middle of my leg, the outside is numb. It starts just above the knee and goes to the foot.
I get periodic sensations in both legs that is almost like water trickling down. It seems to be more frequent when I am sore, tight or tired. I think it is from doing more exercise and my butt muscles tightening on the sciatic nerve. Sometimes I just need to rest.
In general, I am back to normal. People don’t notice anything funny about me physically. I am still guarded, but I’m not obvious like when I had the brace and could only shuffle my feet.
I don’t walk as much as I used to for the simple fact that I am doing other things too. I still walk a lot and my walking form is getting better.
I’m riding a schedule a lot like I used to, but I am not nearly as strong. I doubt others I’m riding with would think I’m super weak as I’ve come a long way, but I can tell I get tired faster and am off my pace. I can physically see my right leg is a lot smaller, but it is getting better.
One of the more interesting things I did was some indoor trainer workouts. They had some interesting positions during the workout. One was to stand, but not weight the handlebars. This forces you to use your core and hips… I failed that. I couldn’t do it at all. Then I videoed myself. I was holding my left arm in a torqued manner which was letting me cheat in a asymetrical manner.
I’ve corrected a lot of my bad form and it seems like I have reset my riding. The good news is that is coming along nicely and I’m feeling a lot better on the bike. I did a little over 40 miles on my birthday a few weeks ago and felt good.
Since the surgery, I’ve ridden for just over 95 total hours with over 2,500 kilometers covered, 13,200 meters climbed and 4 flat tires. The flats are important because you need to be somewhat nimble to change them. That has gotten a lot better for me too.
I don’t think much about the boat anymore. Meaning, I use it regularly but I’m not worried about launching or retrieving it. I’ve had a lot of good trips recently. Some of the best are when I am with my family and the kids are catching fish.
I think I can say the surgery was worth it. The recovery road is hard. I am not done with recovery, but I am at a pretty good place. If I take away general weakness, I am actually using better form and doing some things better. Strength is returning too.
My wife says there was no option with how bad I was when I got injured. I only question it because of the pain in the first month. There was a huge emotional toll with all of the muscles I lost use of too. That makes my injure a little different than some others who may only have had pain.
So, things are going well. There is even talk of getting a dog again.