So here I am four weeks after a spinal fusion operation looking back on my healing journey so far! Well its been a journey of reflection, learning about myself and what matters to me. It’s been a journey of self discovery on many levels. I think many of life’s challenges do this for us….allow us the opportunity to reflect on where we are in life and the choices and compromises that may have bought us to this point.
So my back surgery was to repair an injury in my lower back, that had left me with restricted movement, numbness and leg pain. It wasn’t an easy decision to make as somehow, being a yoga teacher, I had hoped all could be repaired through yoga. However everything has its limitations and this was not feasible; so after dealing with chronic pain for years I accepted the consultants advice to get an ‘instrumented posterolateral fusion at L4/5 with an interbody fusion!! Basically they put a cage in my spine to create space where there was none and over time my body will fuse this with bone.
The surgery itself was over 6 hours and left my poor body very bruised but even straight after surgery the absence of nerve pain was noticeable so I was sure I had made the right decision. However once I was more awake I realized I had no feeling in my left leg so the hospital did extra scans and tests to ensure nothing had moved. I am happy to say I officially have no screws loose
This left the medical team to associate my left leg numbness & lack of mobility with swollen nerve roots & therefore something that would improve with time. Now I am naturally an optimistic and lucky person…so to realize that I had physical complications from a choice I had made was scary. I spent a lot of time researching, trying to move my foot and trying not to be scared.
“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.” Paulo Coelho
Luckily the post operative tiredness meant any energy I expended on this worry tired me out enough to rest so all I seemed to do for the initial fortnight is rest, eat and try to be proactive. Using all my experience and knowledge to work on my own health. I also reflected a lot about how I would feel/ cope with a future where walking was something that wasn’t smooth or easy. All the things we often take for granted…walking along the beach, dancing, sun salutations in yoga…all suddenly things I was not able to do. It was demoralizing as I although I can walk it is compromised and it takes a conscious effort not to trip over…so I did spend a lot of time trying to be positive.
Luckily for me I l have the time & motivation to do my rehab and there is already positive changes. My toes now move and some feeling has returned to part of my leg, Combining this with meditation and acupuncture has shown positive benefits and that helped me remain positive. It is also only four weeks post op so the scars are still swollen…showing how much internal swelling must still be there. I have decided not to over think the negative possibilities until at least three months post op when the swelling is decreased and the nerves have had more time to repair from the assault of the surgery.
I love my work & had missed it, so getting back to teaching yoga has also helped as I think when the day is less scheduled it can be easier to drop into a low self reflective mood. I have paced my return to work slowly…. listening to my body and talking more and demonstrating less. It has been so great to be back doing what I love!
So how do I feel about the operation now? I am so happy that every night when I fall asleep I am not in pain. I am happy that my spine is now stable and that my body is already feeling less protective of the area. I am proud of myself for healing so fast…testimony in my mind to the healthiness of my lifestyle and my attitude. I am amused that I have been stopped from doing too much too soon by post op complications…if I am honest without them I probably would have done too much. I am scared that the complications may be longer lasting than a few weeks, but I am trying to stay positive, optimistic and happy. To be active in my healing process, to not spiral downwards into what ifs and negativity. “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” Nora Ephron
I think that is all we can do to be our own hero/heroine in our life’s journey.. “A hero: a man or woman who is unsatisfied by his condition, and resolves to do something about it.” (Bangambiki Habyarimana. Pearls of Eternity). Taking control of our reactions, our actions. Freedom is not always what happens, but how we respond to it. As Paulo Coelho teaches us that we need to trust that what comes along is the right thing at that time, lest it wouldn’t be happening. So I trust that this is a lesson I needed to learn. I needed to slow down, to reflect, to realize what is important to me, and what changes I need to make to be happier.