Nine months down

Medication and hydration! 

Nine months ago I have my back fused. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s only been nine months, and in other ways it feels like the time has flown by. Nine months ago I had rods put in my back. Nine months ago I had major issues with rehab and wound up in the ER.

It’s been nine months, and how have things changed? Do I regret the surgery? Part of my recovery problems have been my fault. I still carry around a heavy backpack. I had a bed collapse on me because I was digging around under it. I sometimes forgot to call to schedule follow ups.

I guess I’m partially still bitter because of my NF1, I still have issues with my back – hairline fractures, scalloped vertebrae  and dural ectasia. I will never  have a full recovery from pain, and it’s a hallowing thought.

But I don’t regret the fusion. I’m taller now, and the pain is somewhat better, although there are still days where I’m curled up in my bed with a N64 controller and a cup of tea because anything else hurts too much. I totally rocked the hospital gown too, as evident in this gorgeous picture taken 5 days after surgery (and before a shower and real clothes, ick!)

I look like death on a stick.

I had my share of adventures in the hospital, such as the IV falling out and the weird feeling of a catheter. Learning how to walk again was difficult and painful, although I caught on quickly. It was awhile before I could use my crutches the way I was used to again, and I know had I not had limited mobility to begin with, walking again would have been a snap.

My scar is healing nicely, and so that’s good. I have almost all my mobility back. I do sometimes (I’m hyperflexible) sit or lie in weird positions. My back is like “OH HAI ANGELIQUE YOU HAVE RODS IN ME REMEMBER LOL” and I’m like “oops” when I realize I can’t always move exactly how I used to. Thankfully, bodies are adaptive and I just learn new ways to move around! It’s still terrifying, though, because my surgery was so major and I still live in fear of the doctors discovering something that went wrong after surgery and having to go back in and fix something. I wonder if if all the pain I’m still in is normal. I wonder if my bones won’t fuse properly. I wonder if the rest of my spine will shift (not unheard of with NF, but not common either) and I’ll have to have more of my spine fused. And sometimes I still feel like just a scared child who wants someone to hold her and tell her that it’ll be alright, which I don’t think is a bad thing, per se, but at the time time it’s heartbreaking because does anyone really know if it will be alright?

Perhaps it’s hard because the recovery was brutal due to rehab messing things up and my NF. Perhaps it’s difficult because I still live in pain due to both the NF and the fibromaliga. But is there a way things could have turned out different? Had I not had the surgery, my spine would have continued to curve and that would be, well, bad. I would have had to have more fused and quite frankly, that would suck. My scar is impressive enough as is. But yet, nine months out, I’m still living with pain and I’m still struggling. And I can’t help but wonder – three months later, will it still be like this?

But at the same time, I find myself grateful that I’ve been given the chance to heal and the chance to move on with my life. I’m stronger than I was before surgery, both emotionally and physically. Even if my back doesn’t fully heal properly it doesn’t mean that the surgery was a failure, but rather that there’s a different plan in store for me. The ride may be difficult and bumpy, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not in it for the long haul. But no matter what, nine months with rods in my back have passed and I’m recovering, in some way, shape, or form.

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