Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Six Month Cyborg Birthday

My surgical x-rays from January 16, 2013
Photo on the left shows two circular x-ray films.  The top is a front-view of my screws and rods into my vertebrae, the bottom is a side view that shows how long the screws go into my vertebrae.

It's been a long six months and today marks my half-year cyborg birthday.  I'm not quite sure what to say as this hasn't been the journey I expected to be on.  My mind is full of things that I thought I would be able to do by now.  I thought I would be walking without assistive devices.  I thought I would be able to walk the mile from home to work & school.  I thought I would have just a nagging pain that Tylenol or Advil could ameliorate (or maybe the occasional opioid when pain would keep me from falling asleep).

I knew that there were things I would probably never do again.  I would probably never run again, but I had hopes that I could walk 5k races and eventually be able to train for a walking marathon (because completing a marathon is still on my bucket list, along with see every continent and being an extra in a movie).  I knew that I would be limited in my weightlifting capabilities (I wrote about that in my post "Mourning the loss of my one-rep max").

Most of all, I expected to be back at my intellectual fittest, and that's the most frustrating thing right now.  I went back to work about two months too soon and probably should have taken a leave of absence for my coursework, but since my job and my health insurance are tied to my student status, I couldn't.  I'm not sure if my brain would be back where it needed to be if I took the three to six months off that I should have taken.  All I know is that between pain, spasms, nerve problems, and fatigue, my ability to concentrate on my scholarly work (or even reading fiction for pleasure) is severely compromised.  I don't even play video games as much as I used to because of it, and my ability to concentrate while playing board games or tabletop role playing games is so low that my friends have to make allowances.  I'm still fighting through a personal essay I'm working on for a book chapter, and the last 25 page paper I need to write for my Spring semester incomplete is trapped in cognitive purgatory.  Even several blog posts are stuck because of my brain fog.....the wheel is turning but the hamster is narcoleptic (I refuse to call it dead....I'm still working and still writing a little, and still managing to do some things in life that give me happiness).

It might seem as if I regret having the surgery by seeing what I've written.  I'm upset that it hasn't worked out the way I imagined.  I'm upset that my L4/L5 spinal joint is already showing signs of compressing the nerves into my legs.  I'm angry that I now deal with spasms that are painful and cause me to accidentally kick my beloved Bela cat (who has made his own amazing recovery and is now a 15 pound orange love beastie).  However, I am in less pain than I was this past November and December.  I haven't been to an Emergency Room for pain since before the surgery.  I haven't had a pain spike so bad that I couldn't breathe for an extended period of time.  I can walk through a grocery store most of the time, albeit aided with a cart or assistive devices.  I'm also slowly getting back into bellydance via my Cyborg Dance Projekt.

I don't regret the surgery, but I really wish that it would have gone better.  I knew going in that my pituitary birth defect would make this journey difficult and increase my chances of the surgery failing or not helping.  At this point, I just have to try to keep hoping that it will get better.  If nothing else, if my cognitive abilities don't improve, being a doctoral student in the sociology of physical activity & sport is going to be extremely difficult.  I enjoy sociological thinking, but it doesn't come naturally to me.  Science is my first scholarly language, but I find sociocultural scholarship more rewarding....but combined with this new post-op/cyborg/healing brain, it's exhausting and painful at best.

Here's to hoping that the next six months lead to a better overall quality of life.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that this hasnt been the journey I thought it would be either. I got so much better so quick and over the past month......NOTHING. Not a bit better. I really thought I would be off pain meds by now. I wanted to be off them. I'm not even close. I watched all the youtube videos and am appreciative of all of those people, but my story seems so different. I totally know where you are coming from! Good luck to you!