Monday, September 18, 2006

On the Road to Recovery

A lot has happened since the last post -- A lumbar disk (L4/5) blew out just before Labor Day. I endured 2 weeks of unabated, debilitating pain. I've tried every drug combination shy of intravenous morphine. I lost countless hours of sleep. Lost 15 pounds. The narcotics precipitated a nasty gastro-intestinal disorder. I had surgery on September 12th. Endured further intestinal problems and have had to put up with withdrawal symptoms as I wean myself from the narcotics. It looks like, and I say this quite a bit of caution and a lot of "wood knocking", the worst is behind me and I am slowly on the mend.

First the good news - the eye crossing, heart stopping, intense pain is pretty much gone. I have had a few episodes where if i turn my foot the wrong way or sit improperly that I have sharp spasms that eventually subside. If I'm careful and slow, I can get by. I can get my own socks on. I can walk up and down stairs. I can get through a day without consuming a medicine cabinet's amount of pills.

Now the bad news - I still have persistent numbness in both legs. I can't stand up straight. I can only walk a short distance. I'm constantly cranky -- so I've been told. Hopefully, all these things will improve with time - again "knocking on wood".

Highlights and Lowlights
I am very appreciative of all the support that you have shown. I've received many calls, emails, visits, and cards wishing me well. My new employer, Trapeze Networks, has been very decent and considerate since I went down on the second day of the job. Thanks everyone for your kindness and support. It has cheered me up especially since the local weather has been spectacular and I haven't had the opportunity to enjoy biking or attending Bears games -- well and a diminished general quality of life nor an ability to do simple things like walking around.

And now for an unexpected lowlight. I strongly advise if you're of a sensitive nature, that you skip this section and pick it up below where it says "Okay, you can start reading again." It's pretty impolite and downright icky. Anyway, don't say I didn't warn you. One of the side effects of taking morphine-based drugs is that they can be addicitive (of course we all know that) and incredibly constipating. I'm sure I've lost half of you by that sentence. Really, I don't mind if you skip ahead. Anyway, you hear about the good effects - like pain relief, rippin' good hallucinations. But they emphasize the addiction part but not that constipation part. I suppose that because I took Vicodin, Oxycontin, Duadid, NuCor (stronger than Vicodin), Flexeril (muscle relaxant), and Neurontin (nerve pain medication) that I had the adverse effects. Mind you, I did not take all of them at the same time. I don't want to get my good doctor in trouble here. We tried some medicines, if they did not work, we moved to others. So for ten days, nothing *ahem* moved. This weekend, 5 days after the surgery, I had the misfortune of eating something greasy from a fast food place. I can only describe the effect, by relating a similar incident. I recall one family vacation at Bryce Canyon in southern Utah and listening to a ranger describe a flash flood in a dry stream bed. The first thing about a flash flood is you can hear it long before it reaches you. You can hear loud crashing and rumbling. When you first see the flood, there is no water, only a mad collection of boulders, logs, and debris smashing everything in its path. This is followed by a furious torrent of mud and rocks violently racing down the mountain. Yep, that pretty much describes it exactly. As I endured my personal internal flash flood, I thought, (aside from "What next?" and "What did I do to tick you off, God?") I really need to take better care of myself. Let that be a warning to you - be careful with those drugs.

Okay, you can start reading again
I have a follow up visit with my good doctor on Wednesday. I hope the leg numbness is a temporary effect. I should be back at work this week. Again, thanks for your support and kindness. And though I hope you never have to endure similar problems, I am more than happy to return the support you've provided me.

So with this little twist of fate, I now have grist for my ongoing blog. I'll provide bi-weekly updates to this blog and update you on my recovery and progress. My goal is to walk normally, get back on the bike, get my BMI down to a 23, ride up Haleakala, become a TnT Mentor, and throw another Death Ride in there for good measure.