It’s Good To Be Back

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:03 pm

I thought I’d take a moment to give a full report on the results of my recent back surgery.

Today is two weeks and a day after I went in for laparoscopic surgery to address the herniations in my L4 and L5 spinal discs, and to clear out scar tissue left over from the surgery I had ten years ago for ruptured and herniated discs at L4/L5/S1. Over the last year or so my back (and more specifically, my right leg, since this is primarily a reaction to pressure on my sciatic nerve) have hurt more or less constantly. That is to say, my leg has hurt constantly, to a greater or lesser degree. This has affected my stride, my posture, my activity level and my sleep. Basically it’s affected everything except my eye color. Additionally, I have been experiencing a gradual and unrelenting reduction in strength and motor control in my right leg, particularly my right gastrocnemius, ever since my initial surgery ten years ago.

I am now in less pain than I have been for—what, six months, a year?—anyway, than at any time since my back started acting up again. Other than some residual tenderness in the area of the incisions and a long-standing habitual forward tilt to my pelvis (a response to the pain from fully straightening my back), I am largely free from the discomfort and restrictions of my condition. I can now sleep without the need for painkillers and muscle relaxants to keep me from waking in the middle of the night and being unable to drift back off because of the discomfort. The weakness in my right gastroc remains, and may never go away—too many years with my sciatic nerve trapped under a mass of calcified scar tissue like a line of unfortunate motorists in a freeway collapse—but I will be undergoing physical therapy to see what might be regained there as well.

I have often said that we Big White Guys are the Chevy K Blazers of the human race: big, noisy, wasteful of resources, with shitty repair records. We were designed to die in battle with an axe planted in our skull by age 25, leaving behind a bereaved widow and three or four children to take our place. We were never meant to survive to age 39, and our rapidly decaying biological infrastructure is proof positive of this.

There must be many partially-crippled Big White Guys in very similar circumstances to mine out there right now, cruising the Infobahn from their ergonomic office chairs or from their La-Z-Boys via their laptops. Sould you happen to come across this missive whilst casually Googling away an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon, this message is for you: I know your last surgery sucked. Believe me, I know because I had it myself. It left you weak or limited or painful, and you vowed to yourself that you would put up with just about anything rather than go through that bullshit again. I’m telling you the experience has changed. The technology has improved drastically. What took me six months to recover from the first time was over in two weeks, with nothing of the side-effects I experienced back then. I can’t believe I agonized for months over the decision to go forward with the surgery, but I did it, so you don’t have to. It worked. Go talk to a specialist. Now.

If you are in the Puget Sound area, I highly recommend Dr. Jeffrey Roh at Orthopedics International. Just don’t mis-associate the quality of his medicine with the quality of his secretarial staff: they all seem to have the organizational skills of Clostridium bacteria. But the medical staff is top-notch, and he really seems to know his spines.

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