Happy Spineaversary to me!!!
This week marks five years since my L4-S1 spinal fusion. I haven’t written about my back surgery in while, primarily because it’s not something I spend a whole lot of time thinking about these days – which is amazing! Even just informative posts (like FAQs) are difficult to write because I don’t remember the details of my experience anymore. I’m so grateful for my positive outcome. Everyone’s story is different, but as I’ve said over and over in these pages, having a spinal fusion was 100% the right choice for me. Five years later, I stand by that choice.
Post-Op Life: What I Can’t Do
Five years, six screws, four rods, and two titanium spacers* later, there’s very little that I’m physically unable to do except, perhaps, bend down and touch my toes. (*I couldn’t remember how many pieces of hardware I have in my back and had to look it up.) There are some things that I choose not to do, either because I find them uncomfortable or too risky.
The biggest thing I choose to avoid is running. High impact activities like running are just too hard on my lower back. Running doesn’t hurt, but it does make my back ache a bit; and the few times I’ve tried it over the last five years, the discomfort and fear outweighed any magic I used to feel. As I’ve said here and on Instagram many times, this is a personal choice. Running after a spinal fusion is entirely possible – I follow a number of people on Instagram who do so quite successfully. But for me, I’m better off sticking to other physical activities. I do still think about running, and maybe someday I’ll decide to give it another shot, but for now it’s off the table.
I’ve been trying to think of other things that I still avoid since my fusion, and the only thing I can really think of right now is…roller coasters? And considering that I’m 46 years old and was never a big fan of them in the first place, it’s no great loss. I’m more than happy leaving the roller coasters and water slides to my teenagers.
I’d also say that I’m more cautious about falling than the typical adult. I’ve had a couple of close calls while hiking or climbing on wet rocks, so I try to be extra careful about wearing proper shoes with good traction and maintaining solid footing.
Post-Op Life: What I Can Do
Well, the first thing you should know about my post-op life is that I live in Japan now! That doesn’t really have much to do with my spinal fusion, although it did involve a 14+ hour international flight from Florida to Japan. As far as my back was concerned, the flight was a piece of cake.
In the five years since my back surgery, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling. I’ve been all over the US – Colorado, California, New York, Arizona, Nevada, and more. I’ve also been to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and most recently all over Japan.
I’ve gone skiing, sledding, paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, tubing, speed boating, swimming with dolphins, indoor & outdoor rock climbing, hiking in the mountains, ice skating, roller skating, golfing, and bowling. I’ve taken yoga classes and dance classes, I go to the gym regularly, and I’ve explored countless beaches.
I feel healthy, strong, and unstoppable! Bring on the next five years!
Stay strong friends, and just know that a positive outcome is absolutely possible.