Tagged the discectomy chronicles
Frankenstein back with 28 staples (credit: Lindsey Snow)
Life isn’t fair.
I was born with an 80 year-old back. Not exactly 80, but old. It first broke when I was 29. After surgery, it worked again, but only for another six years. It teetered and failed again late this summer in the same spot — a re-ruptured L4/5 disc. The thing was so decrepit, my surgeon had to remove the remains and fuse my spine.
Now I’m resigned to a life of low impact and light lifting. I can’t even hold my youngest brown-eyed boy in his final months of baby-dom, let alone lift a gallon of milk for a month. I can’t return to full activity for six months until the vertebrae fully fuse. And after that, I’m advised to give up running, basketball, soccer, and maybe wake boarding or else.
But it’s not all bad. In fact, I’ve got a heck of a lot to look forward to—a lot more to live for. While having my body deteriorate ahead of schedule and the long recovery are both humbling, I also feel inspired by the experience. Here are 10 things I learned post surgery: Continue reading…
- Full head of hair. To all my bros (and any women) out there with thinning, balding, receding, or otherwise missing hair, I sympathize with you. I don’t know what it would be like without follicles. I imagine it’s drafty and uncomfortable. I’m grateful for a full coiffure.
- A titanium back. Six months ago, I had my lower back fused. Although my participation in high-impact activities involving running, jumping, and extreme bending have been cut short by two thirds a lifetime, I’m grateful for the $26,000 titanium rods, screws, and spacer that keep me upright and mobile now. With a new lease on life, I feel great. Continue reading…
credit: blake snow
I haven’t written one of these in half a decade. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here goes again. Continue reading…
My defective lower lumbar
Thanks to genetics, I inherited two bad discs in my back, the neurologist told me. (Sorry kids, you’re next.)
For no particular reason, the first one broke six years ago. It laid me up for six straight weeks, forcing me to work lying down for a month and a half. After surgery, I could thankfully sit, run, and walk again with a normal gait.
I was also given a clean bill of health. “Blake, I’ve had patients scale Mount Everest and play two hours of basketball every morning for the rest of their lives after similar surgery,” the doctor told me. “Except for moving refrigerators and pianos, you have my blessing to do whatever physically adventurous things you want.”
I took his counsel to heart, got fit, ate more plants, and experienced a renaissance of outdoor exploits and saw a lot of wonderful things since then. In a way, breaking my back was the best thing to happen to me since marrying Lindsey, fathering children, and being awesome.
Now I get to do it all over. Last week, I broke my back again. Continue reading…
Dr. Howard Reichman,
Five years ago, you sliced me up, exposed my spine, and were centimeters away from paralyzing me. All standard procedure for a neurological discectomy, of course. But I appreciate your steady hand and medical confidence as much today as I did then.
After you fixed my ruptured disc, I ran two marathons, got myself in the best shape of my life, reared more children, become a better husband, and picked up a lot of new adventurous hobbies. No longer am I the boring, unbalanced, and self-centered work-a-holic I used to be.
I couldn’t have done much of that without a healthy back.
If you’re happy with your health, nutrition and self-image, skip to the next post. If not, read on.
In nine years of marriage, Lindsey and I have never owned a weight scale. Not one.
Why? Because they’re superficial, largely meaningless, and a lousy motivator of long-term health. Continue reading…
In 2009, I started running in the ugliest shoes ever. The first time I did it, my calves and feet ached in places they hadn’t before. The second time I did it, I knew I’d never run in cushioned shoes again.
With the exception to select frozen days of winter, in which I run in Nike Free 3.0s to stave off frost bite, I’ve run in Five Finger Classics (pictured) or KSOs ever since. Here’s why: Continue reading…
I like running.
With exception to an injury hiatus, I ran several times a week over the past two years. And since reading Born To Run, I do so enthusiastically (not begrudgingly like I once did).
I normally run continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. On occasion, two hours—whatever I feel like really. I don’t time myself or track miles—an act that makes running feel like work—I just run.
Two weeks ago, I was feeling especially light on my feet. When I left the house on an empty stomach that Saturday, I didn’t plan on running for three plus hours, but I did. I also didn’t take water or food with me, and nearly put myself in the hospital as a result.
At the recommendation of my surgeon, I started doing calisthenics this week in an effort to stretch my healing back and start building my core (so my lower discs don’t have to work so hard). I also need to lose more weight — I currently weigh 212 lbs. Not so fun fact: I weighed 185 at my wedding five years ago. But I digress.
After almost three months of atrophy, I’m amazed how quickly the human body becomes unfit. I’m breathing like crazy after only 10 push ups, whereas three months ago I was in the best shape I’ve been since high school. But I must say, the stretching and light work outs alleviate the lingering pain in my leg caused by a once flattened sciatic nerve. Is nice!
I’m anxious to get back to running, but have to wait another month before doing so. So have you been exercising? Tsk, tsk.
I ruptured a disc in my lower back on July 4. I successfully ran a 10K that day, but the spine cushion (as it is called) blew due to genetics, not physical exertion, I’m told. The demanding event and requisite training only aggravated an already degenerative disc.
On Friday, I had a discectomy to cure the problem, which slices through my back, drills a hole in my vertebrae, and traverses the sacred spinal canal to remove the loose fragment that was pinning my sciatic nerve against my bone, causing pain throughout my entire right leg.
After four weeks of inexplicable pain in my right leg, I was diagnosed with a herniated (possibly ruptured) disc in my lower back yesterday. Said injury partially blocks my sciatic nerve, making my right leg mad at me.
In all seriousness, it’s rather disabling — causing limping, an inability to sit or stand for long periods of time, and loss of feeling in my foot. Unbeknownst to me, it seems I sustained the injury during my 10K run on July 4.
If only I had maintained my previous life of idleness and extreme atrophy, none of this would have happened. ;)
(I should be fine, by the way, with at least a shot, physical therapy, and time. If not, routine surgery should take care of it. UPDATE: I had surgery in late August. It was a success and I’m on my way back to 100%.)
Lindsey, my father-in-law, and I ran our first 10k at the Provo Freedom Festival on Saturday. Although I ran (ahem, slow-jogged) the entire 6.2 miles, my right leg now feels like jell-o. Nevertheless, I think I’m falling in love with this running business. Regarding the “medal,” I felt silly wearing it because the promoters gave one to all 1125 runners (unique, just like everyone else).