From that night a over a year ago when I couldn't walk from the car to the apartment with my food, leg pain, much or little, has been a recurring problem. The second round of shots, the new anesthesiologist, and the heavy medicine didn't stop the pain in my legs. Fast forward, well, not exactly fast, because I resisted the surgery, and some friends and acquaintances insisted I must not have it.
The surgery was a success. The cane is left at home. The fusion is strong, and my spine area has rarely hurt.
The legs, however, sometimes hurt a bit, sometimes more than a bit. (I suspect that I put off the surgery too long.) When they hurt a little bit, I elevate them. When they hurt at night, I rest them on a very firm pillow. Sometimes just a change of position is enough.
I emailed the surgeon weeks ago when they hurt more than a bit. He emailed me exactly what his assistant told me long ago: Get up and do things every half hour - no long sitting. Hard for the computer addict, the coffee shop addict. Solution - A timer on the desk set for a half hour. Solution - If all else fails, a snack if I get up after half an hour.
What I know is, tall chairs have taken a toll on these short legs--long before surgery. My feet just don't reach the floor. Adjustable desk chairs save me. I prop my legs up still, to take the pressure of chair edges off my thighs. I have a box under the dining room table for a footstool. Since I no longer wear heels, I finally had to be firm about tall chairs. And an hour in a pew at church is out of the question.
Like life, recovery has been a roller coaster, not an escalator, as my fall in the fifth or six month showed. I had a slight setback after that, which lasted awhile. A couple of months ago, I had another setback for no reason I can think of.
I'm walking every day at the same time, farther and farther without weakness. Whether I have five minutes or an hour, I want the walk to be so automatic that I feel antsy if I don't do it.
I climb the library stairs without a cane. I get down on my knees to clean under the bed. And get back up without calling for an EMT.
If something is too heavy, I don't lift it. This recovery has called for a lot of creativity, especially how to tie shoes without bending.
If you already have a job, you go back to work as soon as you can after surgery, and do what you can. But if your job was a casualty of the recession, it's hard to get back in the game after recovery. Even if, in some ways, you're in better shape than before.
When I was first diagnosed, I wanted the tee shirt I saw that said:
I do my own stunts
Hire me. I'll race you to the stairs.