I can’t say time flies, but it has been two years since I ruptured my L5-S1, got carted to the hospital in an ambulance, scheduled a quick surgery and started rehab. I mostly think year over year where I see improvements. Two years is an interesting comparison.
If you look at what I’ve written about the months leading up to the rupture, you will know that things weren’t right. I likely had at least 2 herniated discs causing some problems. I had a lot of physical imbalances and other posture issues which I think contributed.
The rupture left me with significant loss of muscle control in my right leg and significant loss of sensation throughout my leg. Today, I still have some deficiencies, but considering where I was, I’m doing much better.
I still have some numbness in the lower and outer part of my right leg and foot. I think this is even less year over year. The prognosis for the nerve regeneration was that it would regenerate for about 18 months. Being that I just turned 40, I’m no spring chicken and I can’t expect my body to repair itself like a child’s body can. That said, I do think I’ve gotten a little sensation back in my foot recently. There is a fairly distinct line down my foot where I loose sensation. It is exactly like a sock crease. I get that with or without socks (barefoot even). Recently, I think it has gotten to be a little less, which is a positive thing.
As for muscle, I’ve had two challenges. The first is the combination of coordination and muscle strength. The other is trying to get symmetrical again. My right side had the nerve damage, but I have a lot of muscle problems on the left side due to the way I favored my right leg and limp I had for years (didn’t know about it). My left hip is really weak, so I go through cycles of conditioning my right leg, then left hip and then right again. I see this pretty dramatically riding my bike. On the trainer, I use a power meter, and can see huge improvements. I also do one-legged riding and can see the differences between my legs (both have weaknesses). One year ago, I started doing more weights with my legs. I could barely do 20 pounds on the hamstring leg curl with my right leg. Now I can do 70+. I am trying to keep both in sync, so I do equal sets of weight and repetitions between my legs. I can see a visual difference between my legs, so I know they are not equal. My right leg has never fully recovered all of the muscles use, and the left has some imbalances from compensating. That is what I am working on the most. The good news is that I’ve done some long hard bike rides (100+ miles) and did well with no back pain. Times were consistent with your average recreational rider, so I can’t really call it a handicap now.
A lot of my day to day life is normal, but I still need to walk often and use the stand up desk. I sit in the aisle seat on the plane so I can stand up and avoid long car rides. I play with dog and kids more this year than I could last year. Friends say they can’t tell anymore by looking at me, so I am happy for that.
Rehab has a ways to go. I want to teach myself to swim again (leg won’t remember all of the kick strokes) and maybe surf some this summer.