Back Update, Post Doc Visit

I have been putting off a “back update” until after I saw the doctor, which did happen this morning. I met today with the surgeon who did my back surgery on July 11.

This last week has been a combo of bed and steroids, and more bed (with my computer). Either the steroids are working or “time heals all wounds.” I’m not sure which one is bringing the magic.

My disc herniated on Wednesday, August 30. It hit critical mass on Sunday, September 03. I was in bed from Sunday to this past Saturday, September 09.

The children rearranged my office so that our nifty zero-gravity chair could replace my standard upright desk chair. Several have asked what a zero-gravity chair is. We have two from Walmart, which I bought a year or so ago so I’d have one up and downstairs. See here http://bit.ly/2wSVBHy These are also perfect for the beach; easy to carry and store.

The new chair arrangement permitted me to sit at the office all day on Saturday. It was not bad. Sunday was similar as far as the level of difficulty. The positive is that it was nice to get out of bed. Today, I’m back in bed because it’s most comfortable.

As For the Back

I’m able to walk, sit some, stand, and move around the house. The pain has dropped from a 25 to a 6, on the 1 to 10 scale. Less pain is great news. And I’m used to “six pain,” so I can take this.

We’ll see if it’s steroids or natural healing because I finished the steroids today, and will monitor the pain for the rest of the week.

I will visit the doctor in a week to ten days to follow up. For now, I’m going to hang out in my bed, spend a few hours a day at the office–at least when I do my podcasting–and keep everything nice and easy for an indefinite period.

The good news is that winter is coming. We tend to hibernate during the cold months. I disdain the winter. With shorter and colder days, it won’t be so bad. I can work, rest, enjoy the family, and come out next spring swinging (or shuffling).

I hope.

How Did It Happen?

The first question folks have asked is, “What happened?” The most accurate answer is that I do not know. And neither does the doctor. His best guess is that part of the scar tissue broke off and herniated the disc.

I was taking a nap!

Geez!!

Napping does not seem like a dangerous activity.

Be warned.

He said at this morning’s appointment that herniation happens to 5 to 10% of the folks who have a discectomy. (I wished I read the fine print.) He also said there is nothing you can do about it to prevent it. It’s one of those things. I’m good with that, though I feel like a walking time bomb.

It has been a week, but I see the end.

Again.

The last time I saw the end, it was only looping around to a more intensified repetition of the past twelve years. Maybe this time it won’t circle back for another dose of pain.

Unless something happens, I won’t update anymore on this issue.

To the Other Body

I do appreciate all who have asked how things are going. I appreciate the random drop-ins (Heidi F.), the food drop offs, the child transportation to school. And Tom and Missy having dinner with us last night. Tropical Chicken is the best. It was still good for lunch today.

Matt C., Nikki, Ruth, and Julie, thanks for the meals.

Oh, Alan, thanks for coming without an invitation and pushing yourself into my life. You stood in your own back pain for twenty minutes in my bedroom. I enjoyed the chat and your sacrifice. Let me know when you want to blow up our Christmas trees.

If I missed someone in this list, it’s because I was on drugs (or wished I was on drugs). But God knows who you are, and the kindness you gave.

Advertisements

Back Again

Just when you thought things were going well. Then, boom: things are not so good again. I took a nap last Wednesday, August 30. After waking, I felt my sciatica pain in my left butt cheek. It was the old pain, though it was not nearly as bad.

Just alarming.

As the days wore on, the pain worsened until by Sunday I could not walk, stand, or sit. The only thing that relieved the pain was to lay down while writhing to the “lucky position.” It takes about seven minutes to find the sweet spot between torture and agony.

I went to the doc yesterday. It was an ordeal to walk from house to van, from van to office, from office to patient room, from patient room to X-ray, etc. You get the idea. I’m back to counting seconds, measuring distances, and strategizing shortest routes. I cannot stand for more than 20 seconds, and the aftermath for standing, walking, or sitting is excruciating.

It was funny in the X-ray room when the guy went behind the wall to set-up, and after he returned, I was on the floor. He asked, “Dude, what are you doing?”

I laughed.

He was flummoxed.

Laying down was the only way I could get relief, and I was not about to stand there and wait on him to get setup. The floor was amazingly cold, which was also nice. He took the X-ray, and I shuffled back to my room.

After the visit, I made it to the van, found my spot in the back, and lay there for the ride home. I’m not sure if you’ve ever laid in the back of a van, but there is a lot of tossing and turning that you don’t feel when you’re driving. It’s a thorough jostle. The other negative is that I had a seat lifted up so I could have more room to stretch my legs. I couldn’t tie it off because it was too much effort, which was not a problem since I was holding it with my hand to keep it from falling on me.

I forgot about holding it on the way back home, and at one of the sudden stops, it came crashing down on my head. For about ten seconds I forgot about my back pain. My throbbing head brought sweet relief. I can’t say here what I said when it hit me, but it was instructive. I have some things to work on for sure.

Later in the day, we made the trek to get an MRI. While waiting on the tech, I found a spot on the floor beside a plant. (They don’t vacuum behind that plant.) An old lady was watching with sadness. She was commiserating. Which was better than the “cop on guard” at the doctor’s office earlier in the day. He was nice but also doing his job, which I do appreciate. He did let me lay there. (It reminds me of being pregnant (from what I’ve observed): sometimes you really don’t care what folks think.)

MRI Update

I just received the report from the doctor (Wednesday morning). She said the bulge was greater than the bulge before my surgery. It’s a herniated disc. Shazam. That makes sense because when the nurse checked me in yesterday, she asked the “1 to 10” pain question, to which I said 25. It was only a 17 on the “1 to 10 scale” prior to the surgery. Subjective assessment, of course.

I have three options:

  1. Prednisone pills to mitigate the pain.
  2. Epidural steroid injection to relieve the pain.
  3. Surgery. Again.

I’m going with the pills first. Then we’ll see how it goes. I have my bed set-up nicely so I can work. Haydn brought one of my podcasting mics up last night so that I could do a pod from the bed. That’s a first. I listened to it, and it doesn’t sound like I was laying down. We’re good.

I would appreciate your prayers. It was painful before, but this is unexplainable. I’ve struggled with discouragement and some fear. God is my comfort. And I do mean that. It would be horrible without faith, though mine is a bit wobbly at this juncture.

An Aside – Lucia is doing better. She will go tomorrow to get her second (and last) tube removed. Fortunately, this “back thing” waited until she could be somewhat mobile. It is kinda funny; we’re both laid up in bed. Sorta romantic, in an old people kind of way.

Dear God, “Is this our future?”

Dear Son, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” – Ecclesiastes 12:1

But Let Me Add – The children are inspiring. They are amazing really. They serve so well, don’t succumb to fear, and the laughter continues in our home.

You’re either laugh or cry. I’ve done both this week.

The Air Force Academy

The Air Force Academy is in Colorado Springs too. I did not realize how popular this place is until tooling around the city a bit. We went a couple of times to the Academy.

The main thing we wanted to see was the chapel. It is a large pointy structure that had a ton of character. The first time we went, it was too late to go inside.

The second time, we went inside the tourist building and the chapel. They were close to each other so that we could walk from the tourist center to the chapel.

In the tourist center, we watched a short video about the life of a first-year cadet. The presentation was interesting and well done. I was hoping it would appeal to my children, and it did, right up to the part where the upperclassmen were banging on the newbie’s doors at 5 AM. That pretty much sealed the deal for my children; they will look at other colleges.

The chapel was well worth the visit. It’s too much to talk about in this post, but you can Google it to read all about it. I did a Facebook Live detailing some of the architecture. Really cool.

I also had a nice long chat with the tourist guide who was hanging out at the front door. He was a nice man who liked to talk. That was easy. He gave me some inside intel about the chapel and the grounds.

I left the Academy appreciating our military, all over again. I have much respect for them, as well as our law enforcement officers. Anybody willing to put their lives on the line for our safety is worth the highest respect.

Something that I found ironic was the requirements for getting into the Air Force. In the video that we watched, the narrator said the requirements were different for males and females. Ladies did not have to do as many push-ups, pull-ups, or throwing a ball as far as the guys. There were other differences too.

And I thought we were all the same. It seems discriminatory to have one set of standards for the guys and another set for the gals. I left thinking that our country practices selective discrimination. Or, maybe, there are actual distinctions between male and female. Shazam, Gomer! I’m sure after our lefty liberals find out about this anomaly, they will jump right on it to tighten this thing up a bit.

Focus on the Family

We were in Colorado Springs, so we had to visit the Focus on the Family campus. In the broader expanse of Christianity, Focus has done a lot of good work for the cause of Christ, mostly with social and political inroads. They are still carrying some weight in those areas.

As a courtesy nod to their good work and curiosity about how a large ministry functions, I wanted to visit their campus. I also have a sentimental affection for James Dobson. Before my theology became more precise and while I was scrambling for truth in a barren Christian culture (fundamentalism), God used Dobson to help me.

The Focus ministry is much smaller than it used to be. One of the four buildings on campus is no longer in use due to downsizing. The ministry has lost a lot of strength. I have not kept up with them, so I’m not aware why they have not been able to sustain the ministry.

The one building we could visit was the visitor’s center, which was a fabulous facility. The workers were great. Personable, happy, courteous, welcoming, helpful, and passionate. They are the kind of folks you want on the front line of a ministry. And the building was fantastic, especially the kid area, which was on the bottom floor.

A few years ago, a couple visited Focus, and while there, they asked a tour guide if all the visitors got in the way of Focus doing their day-to-day work. The guide said it was a problem. The couple donated 4,000,000.00 to build a visitor’s center. Boom!

And that is how I pray. Some day, somebody will love what we do so much, ask what we need, and they will make a game-changing donation. Some day.

Adventure in Odyssey

We also got to do an Adventures in Odyssey show. We were not too familiar with that program, so the most embarrassing moment was when the producer asked us about one of the cardboard cut out characters on the show. It was a prop in the studio. None of us knew the character’s name. Embarrassing.

We wanted to do the show, which presumes we know something about the show. Oh, well. The producer was a bit surprised, as in, why are you here if you don’t know anything about us?

Anyhow, the show we did was great. It was also good to see how the team produced a program, the sound effects, the set-up, etc. It was all good.

Speaking of not being familiar with their ministry, I was putting pics of Whit’s End on Instagram. I hashtagged it “whits-inn.” I thought it was “inn” instead of “end.” Fortunately, you can edit Instagram.

The Takeaway

My top three takeaways from being there were,

  1. Gratitude for how the Lord has used this ministry.
  2. Seeing the facility, which is a solid representation of how Christianity should look to the world, i.e., professional, happy, clean, and not weird.
  3. Wondering what we need to do to redefine ourselves, so our ministry does not lose traction.

The last takeaway about “redefinition” is something I think about all the time. K-Mart, Blockbuster, and Radio Shack have disappeared from the corporate landscape. Our ministry will go that way too if we are not evolving (or redefining ourselves).

I have been praying for my replacement since the first day of this ministry. I believe in what the Lord is doing with our work and would like to see it advance into the future, long after I go to heaven. Being aware of how to connect with an ever-changing culture without compromising the gospel is vital for redefinition.

Post-Op, Day Two and Three

I walked into her room on Saturday, and she was sound asleep. We let her hang out in La La Land a bit longer and went running errands. Just couldn’t wake her, knowing she was not resting well in the hospital and she looked beautifully out of it.

Ansa said, “Mommy looks so peaceful.”

(It reminded me of what folks say when they look into a casket. I didn’t say to Ansa what I was thinking; it would ruin the moment, and her memory.)

We left.

Plus, Trader Joes was having their 50th, and I didn’t want to miss out on the free hot dogs, chips, and fix’ins. Haydn was down with that too. He likes it when I’m in charge of the meals.

We came back about two hours later, and she was awake but not in a hurry to leave. We sat with her for a few hours. I then took the kids home, which was five minutes next door. She was ready to go when I came back.

I brought her home around 4 PM. She promptly went to sleep after making the challenging walk upstairs. This surgery is harder on her than the mastectomy, as far as sapping her strength. Lucia was whooped and disoriented on day one after the operation.

She awoke at 8 PM (Saturday), took a pill, drained her two tubes, and went back to bed. She slept through the night.

She awoke at 9 AM on Sunday morning, drained her two tubes, took three pills, ate a banana, and went back to her happy place. I’m writing this while sitting beside her. I took the kids to the church meeting and will pick them up when it’s over, deliver our Panera Bread (a Sunday ritual), and come back home.

Lucia is okay, for the most part. She could walk to the bathroom without assistance this morning, but could not do that last night. And she can take care of her tubes without help. The primary thing is rest.

She’s an excellent patient, BTW. She never complains, loves her kisses, and wants me to lay with her. It’s fun play’in doctor, I must add.

In the Future

I won’t give any more frequent updates unless something changes. Lucia has a checkup on Tuesday. She will go to follow up appointments after that. The main thing is rest and healing for her, and prayers from you. Those three things are indispensable.

That’s pretty much it.

I need to get back to my doctoring.

It (surgery) Is Finished

We were up and at it about ten minutes late this morning. That’s about right for us. We arrived at the hospital–next door–about 7:50 AM. Lucia was in her pre-op bed by 8:30.

A few friends came to pray. I sat with her until they rolled her away at 9:50 AM. There were no glitches except a slight kerfuffle between the transport attendant and the pre-op nurse about Lucia not having a green cap. Hers was red. Red means, STOP. Green means, GO.

He was adamant about not moving her until she gets a green cap. And he was a bit miffed that he was not in the “know” about why she did not have a green cap.

The kerfuffle was a bit unnerving since it was just before they rolled her away to get cut. The nurse and attendant were arguing just outside our blanketed wall, like parents arguing in the other room. Then they put on their “southern smiles” as they stepped into our area to continue the prep process.

And just like fussing parents, they acted as though we could not hear what was going on between them.

Lucia did get her green cap, praise God.

Let’s just say this is a “rural hospital,” which has many perks like all the incredible attention you receive. But they are a bit weak in certain areas. E.g., the check-in attendant at the front desk stepped away for a bit. I told her I’d take over, which seemed to be fine with her.

After the attendant left for an errand, a couple came around the corner in need of surgery. I welcomed the man and his wife in and chatted them up for a bit. They were grateful and even thought I was part of the staff. I mean, since I was standing there with a Yeti full of coffee, my special Colorado hoodie, and flip-flops. I guess I blended. (Please don’t share this with anyone ’cause I don’t want to have to deny it. It’s a great hospital.)

Lucia went into surgery just before 10 AM and came out at 1:10. I talked to the doc at 1:20. (He was not too keen on me recording him. He seemed a bit paranoid, but the problem is that I forget stuff, so recording seemed prudent.)

She went into room 424 to recover. I went to pick up Tristen and then came back home to get Haydn and Ansa. We saw Lucia at 3 PM, and she looked wasted. We talked briefly, and she said she was in a lot of pain. I did not want to speak too much with her so she could rest.

They are going to increase her meds.

The good news is that they are not alarmed about anything. The doc also said things went well. What she is experiencing is normal, though you never like to see a person go through pain, especially family. With that said, she’s doing well.

She needs to sleep primarily. More medication will help. We’ll stay a few hours, but our primary objective is for her to sleep. I will bring her home tomorrow around noon after the doc comes by to release her, which he said that should happen.

Lucia will sleep for most of the next two weeks. This amount of rest will give her the best chance to recover well.

More to come…

Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is a small city park in Colorado Springs. And it’s free. The man at the tourist center said that so many folks visit, they are going to have to do some expansion work, i.e., parking, rules, hiking, etc. These new travel apps give it high ratings, mostly because it’s free, so a lot of folks are visiting. We went there a couple of times, and it was busy both times, but not unbearable.

It’s a collection of red, flat rocks jutting out of the ground, which gives it character and uncommon beauty. You can drive, walk, run, or bike. There are a few roads and a lot of hiking trails. There was a climbing instructor there too. You could pay at his store, wherever that is, and he would belay you as you climb one of the long, tower rocks.

That was cool.

They had a trading post with a lot of stuff in it. I bought my Colorado hoodie souvenir there. And that was cool too. It was in that store where I met the young dude from the UK. He said he liked America better than his homeland because things are big here, you can go anywhere, and we can have guns.

Interesting.

He plays Polocrosse, which is something I have never heard of; it’s a blend of polo and lacrosse. Interestingly, we saw him and his team two weeks later at the Denver airport. They were leaving the same time as us.

I spoke.

He remembered.

Back to the Garden

We chatted up the Forest Ranger. Her name was Stephanie, and the horse she rode in on was called Cody. I love Forest Rangers. Most of them are too “tree-huggy” for me, but I love their passion. I appreciate folks who know what they want and make sacrifices to get it.

I’ve talked to a lot of Forest Rangers in my adult life, and all of them are about the same. They love what they do, are kind to strangers, and will chat you up about God’s creation (my words, not usually theirs).

There is also a “balanced rock” at the Garden. It looks–sorta, kinda–like a big spinning top that is upside down. Everybody wants to sit on it and get their picture made.

So we did.

Then there are the “kissing camels.” Near the top of one of the outcroppings of red, flat rocks were two rocks touching at one point, and just underneath where they touched was a hole. It looked like two “rocks kissing,” I suppose. Or it did to someone, so they called it Kissing Camels.

We stayed in Kissing Camels Subdivision, and there are shirts and hats and things that have “kissing camels” on them. God bless America; we know how to market stuff.

I did not see the two touching rocks as camels, but not to be an aggravationist, I went with it. They did have lights shining on it at night, which was cool.

The main thing about the park is that it’s a place to hike around a bit. The rocks are full of character, and, of course, with a “general revelation” presupposition, it’s another opportunity to appreciate God.

So I did.