Two More Surgeries, But Focused on the Future

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Gidley42516_1Hi Everybody.  Frankly, to me, it seems like a broken record every time I update my friends about another surgery.  Did I say surgery?  I meant surgeries (2)!  Trust me, I am not addicted to having surgeries.

It sounds bad – and it is – but the goal is to get back to doing many of the things I love to do, and doing these things with my friends and family.  I also really appreciate everybody’s continued support.

Other than my continued recovery from my L4-L5 spinal fusion operation that I had over Thanksgiving, my next goal has been to look for other possible ways to help lessen my continued nerve pain which takes which takes a lot of fun from my days.  This is from scar tissue that has formed in the spinal cord where the vertebrae was fractured, which causes unmerciful nerve pain.

I have tried dozens of treatments over the last year and a half to potentially help break-up my scar tissue to reduce the pain.  I mean dozens – from DO holistic and energy treatments, Chinese herbs, acupuncture, watching my diet, pills, hyperbaric treatments, cryotherapy, and many more… This all takes time as every treatment requires a certain number of sessions.  None have really worked for me, yet.

My last spinal surgeon recommended trying a spinal stimulator.  To make this happen, first you must see a neurologist (nerve specialist) to see if you are a candidate.  Then have a number of other evaluations before this surgery can happen.  I passed them all and was deemed a good candidate so took the next steps to get the stimulator implanted.

To describe what a spinal stimulator does is fairly simple.  It is attached to your spinal cord but higher up from where the “real” pain is coming from.  Imagine the size of a small band-aide but with electrodes attached to it.  This is then attached via a wire to a controller box which is about the size of an Oreo cookie.  The controller box, which has a battery in it, is then implanted into the fat of your glute (butt).  The spinal stim sends its own signals and the hope is that these fill up your nerve pathway so that the “real” pain signal is blocked from getting to your brain.  What you feel with a spinal stim is a vibration which is much easier to deal with.  And then you can set it (wirelessly) as light or as strong as you want/need it to cover up the “real” sharp pain.

So, the first surgery I had was last Tuesday to implant the electrodes onto my spinal cord along with a test external controller box.  Then I did a two day trial to see if an improvement was noticed.  I did notice an improvement so had a second surgery last Friday to implant the permanent controller box into my glute.

Two surgeries in one week.  Both are done now and the immediate thing for me is to get over the soreness from the three incisions made from these two surgeries.  The first few nights were rough but now things are slowly getting better.  I get the stitches out in about a week.

The big question is was all this worth it?  Is the pain less?

As of now, I have felt some improvements which is great.  My pain is not 100% gone…but is less than what it was.  The controller box is fully programmable so that the device specialist can tailor it to my pain which will happen again in a couple of weeks.

So, now I am trying to get back to doing what I do so that I can really feel where the improvements are.

This means the coaching, working and boat captain jobs I do, my general errands and the time spent on my feet, sail boat racing, swimming laps and the little bit of PT I am doing for the spine fusion.  It is good that I am still on the “no bending, twisting, and lifting over ten pounds” limitations from my spine doctor related to my recent spine fusion because I am not in a giant rush, especially if it means proper healing.

But, I am in a rush, as always, to get back to being stronger because the stronger I am the more I can do.  I will continue to work hard to move my body back through my 70’s, 60’s, 50’s, and then finally GET BACK to my 40’s where I belong.  I still have a lot of goals and desires in my life that have been hard or nearly impossible to do during the last two years.  I am not asking for pity from readers, I am just hoping my story helps those that are facing things that are seemingly impossible, but less than what I have dealt with.

Trust me, it could be better for me but it could also be worse.  Because of this, I also want to say “thank you” to those who have dealt with, and are currently dealing with, more pain than me and are still fighting through it.  You are an inspiration me.

I dream of the day that you all get an email from me that says “I am back driving” and looking for a ride!  I do believe it will happen.

Thanks again.

Memo