Today is day seven after my back surgery. Things are going well. For the most part. There are the highs and the lows, as you might expect with any recovery.
As for the “highs,” it’s all about the Oxy. After two days of stumbling around in a drug-induced state, I went Roberto Duran on the meds, and said, “No mas. No mas.” (Reference to the Roberto Duran v. Sugar Ray Leonard boxing match on 11.25.80 when Duran quit the fight abruptly by saying, “No mas. No mas.” https://youtu.be/qtYVyRTvv90)
I’m not sure how anyone can take such a drug and function well. I suppose if the pain is that bad, you have no choice. I chose to suffer the consequences of the pain than live in “Grog-ville.” Honestly, that’s been the worst part of the recovery. It took a couple of days to rid my body of the residual effect of the meds.
As for the lows, it’s all about the boredom. The doctor said not to do anything, get as much rest as possible, and not to lift anything more than my Yeti filled to the brim with coffee. Praise God. I’m following his orders, though the temptation to do more is always within my reach.
Yesterday, (Sunday) I sat for three hours recording podcasts. It was okay. Sorta. The sciatic pain in my left buttock showed up again. It was the pressure of sitting. I’m not overly-concerned about it because the overall pain has mitigated substantially since the surgery.
On the positive side of things, I can roll over in bed–while sleeping–and there is no pain at all. None. I have not been able to roll over in bed for years without bracing my body and preparing my mind for the lightning bolt that shoots through me. That’s a wonderful thing. Sometimes I roll over even though I don’t need to. I do it because I can. (I’m a toss-and-turn sleeper, BTW.)
I can walk up and down stairs with no trouble. I can walk around the kitchen with minimal burning shooting down my leg. I’m not sure how much pain is real or phantom. Regardless, it’s real to me, but manageable from a comparative before and after surgery scale. I hope it all goes away, but if this is what I got, I can live with it.
I did walk around the block with Lucia. That was nice–the Lucia part, that is. Haven’t been able to do that with her in years without agony–the pain part, that is. The last time we took a turn around the block, I was going from trashcan to trashcan, propping myself up along the way, trying to bring relief to my back. I made a note to walk on Tuesdays with her because that’s when the neighbors have their garbage cans out to the curbs. It was a bit embarrassing: hard to tell if I’m dumpster diving or stumbling around intoxicated. (Unintended second reference to getting high. Suspend your suspicion. It means nothing.)
The toughest part of this recovery is not being with my family. They go places; I stay home. They have fun; I lay on my back. This season is the first time in our family history that we haven’t been able to do things together. I don’t like it. At all. I’m glad they are having fun, no doubt, but I have to take my thoughts captive about my lack of participation. It reminds me of all the shut-ins I visited through the years at all those nursing homes. I come in for a visit, leave shortly thereafter to enjoy my life, while they stay put. God is good at meeting me at this angst point.
And then there is the guilt of not being able to serve them. I don’t mind my family (and others) serving me, but I’m like a one-legged man right now. All the serving is coming my way, and I can’t reciprocate. A “balanced Christian life” is serving and being served. I feel my limitation. The upside is that I can do ministry stuff (when I’m not high). BTW, my apologies to any incoherent or just plain weird emails or social media posts I made last week. I blame that on the Oxy.
Our biggest consternation this past week was making a decision on the two conferences I have in the Rockies this coming week and the next. One of the most fun things we do as a family is pile into our van for a multi-week (or multi-month) road trip. We love being together, and it doesn’t get any better than doing the “sardine can” thing in our van. It’s an amazing time of memories, adventure, and laughter. I cannot overstate how much fun this is, which is why it’s been hard to figure out how to get to Denver.
The problem is the “fear of God” monologs I received from the doctor, nurses, and, particularly, the discharge nurse about what traveling in a van for a long distance would do to my back. Yesterday, we finally decided to fly instead of driving. The fun of being in Denver together compensated for the disappointment of the decision not to drive. Nevertheless, I’m still sad we could not make this road trip together. I can’t overstate this: road trips are crazy fun.
The other upside to flying is that I can get four more days in bed, which will give my body more time to make a full recovery. One of the nurses said that the incision in my back is small, but my body is traumatized more than I can imagine. I believe her. Whenever you go into a person’s body and cut something out of it, the body is in shock, and you don’t want to speed up the recovery no matter how well you think you feel. It takes time.
What Do I Need?
As long as I’m laying down, there is no pain at all. Please pray that I can walk around with no pain. That’s all I want at this time. I’ll take what the Lord gives regarding the recovery, but since a few folks have asked, I want you to know that “my will” is for the pain to be gone completely.