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graindart - Friday Aug 26, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 258.0

Update on the open back surgery (double discectomy). The short story is that it was a success and I can no longer ever consider becoming a back model.  There's about a 6" scar held together right now with staples.  I'm a guy, so scars don't really matter to me, especially on a part of my body that I'll rarely ever be able to see.  After getting home from the surgery we showed the scar to our 2 daughters (6&8 years old).  I asked if it looked nasty or if it looked alright.  My 8 year old daughter had a big grin on her face and said it looked "cool".  My 6 year old didn't say a word and just kept staring at it with kind of a worried look.  I reassured her that it felt fine and that the surgery made me feel a lot better, but you could tell she wasn't impressed.

That was the short version, read on if you're still interested.

Had to be there by 6:30am then just kind of laid around answering questions and having vitals taken.  They put me on an IV with just fluids to make sure I was hydrated, that was around 7am.  

Around 7:45am the nurse was going to inject a sedative into the IV.  I asked how long that was going to take to kick in.  She kind of laughed and said I'd be gone in 10 or 15 seconds.  15 seconds and I felt nothing different.  30 seconds and I felt nothing different.  They then started wheeling my bed through a couple halls and into the operating room, still felt nothing different.  I looked around the room, saw the 4 or 5 doctors / nurses and numerous machines.  It was now at about the 2 minute mark and I'm thinking something may be wrong if the drugs were supposed to kick in at 10 or 15 seconds and I felt nothing as of yet.  I decided I'd wait another minute or so before letting someone know that we might have a problem.........    Then I woke up with some fuzzy vision and was told the surgery went well.  I was amazed.  (I've never been under anesthesia / knocked out before.)  I thought it was going to be like the movies where they stick a thing over your mouth / nose and tell you to start counting backwards from 100.  Nope, for me it went immediately from me feeling completely normal to waking up after it was done.  That was great!

Operation actually started around 8am.  It was open back surgery to remove 2 disc herniations on my lower back.  I regained consciousness around 9:15am.  Laid there for another hour or so while they charted my vitals and asked me questions.  Then they transferred me to a kind of reclining chair thing so that I could situp more and moved me to the recovery area and allowed my wife and sister to come visit with me.  At 11:30am the nurse brought a wheel chair and said that it looked like I was doing good enough to go home.

The herniated discs didn't cause all that much pain in my back, but they tweaked my spinal nerves so much that my left leg has been in extreme pain for the past 5 months.  For the past 3 or 4 months I've had to use a crutch to walk and haven't been able to stand up straight or sit up straight.  Even using a crutch I was only able to walk about 30 or 40 feet at a time before needing to stop and reposition or lean against something.

Immediately after the surgery, the extreme leg pain was gone.  I was able to stand up and sit up straight again for the first time in several months.  I do have a little bit of numbness or loss of feeling in the foot of the leg that previously had the pain.  The whole foot isn't numb and I can feel all parts of it.  It's hard to explain, but it just feels different than my other foot (maybe less sensitive or something).  My back feels very weak, like a strong wind could snap me in half.  I'm able to walk around and don't feel any leg pain, but my walking is kind of slow baby steps.  I'm able to get where I want to go, it just takes me about 3 times longer to actually get there.  My 6 year old daughter keeps letting me know that she'd love to play "tag" with me right now (because of my slow speed).  I do have some mild back pain from the surgery site and am taking a little pain medication, but not much.

It's pretty amazing what can be done nowadays.  It seems like 15 or 20 years ago if you had back surgery it was a major thing that they'd keep you in the hospital for several days, the risks were higher, and the success rates much lower.  Spring forward to today and a double-discectomy operation starting at 8am and being sent home at 11:30am the same day.  

I think my only regret about the operation was that I didn't have it sooner.

And just for those wondering about the cost......  I don't have health insurance and pay everything out of my own pocket.  The total cost for a few doctors visits, xrays, MRI, surgery, anesthesia, etc was about $13,000.  Since I was pre-paying or paying at each visit, I was able to get all the discounts I could find.  If I had insurance, the total that would've been charged to the insurance company would've been over $20k.  It's amazing the types of discounts you can get if you tell them you're able to write them a check right now.  Most of the things were 25% to 30% discounts for cash / check.  This was done as an "outpatient" procedure at a brand new facility right next to the local hospital.  (joint venture between some doctors and the hospital actually, and physically connected by an enclosed walkway over the separating street)  The doctor that did my surgery said that it was my choice if I wanted it done in the actual hospital operating room or in the adjacent orthopedic operating room that he's a partner in.  Either way it was going to be the same doctor, same equipment, same anesthesioligists, etc.  Both options included up to a 23 hour stay for the price quotes.  The only difference......the operation in the hospital operating room would have cost an additional $5000.  That was an easy choice for me to make.

The immediate leg pain being gone was great.  As for surgery recovery, even with it only being 4 days since the operation, I'm already seeing progress in how I'm feeling, my mobility, returning strength, and my flexibility.  I work for myself so am able to set my own schedule and rest when I need to.  I took the whole day of the surgery off, but have chosen to work since then.  (I'm not a workaholic or anything, but go crazy just sitting around watching tv.)  We've got an Alaskan cruise coming up in 2 weeks that we had scheduled about a year ago before any othis leg / back stuff started.  I'm going to take it quite easy up to and through the cruise.  It will be a little disappointing to not be able to do some of the excursions that interested me (ziplines and some other stuff).  I guess I'll just be the designated camera guy.  Before we were able to get the surgery schedule at the last minute, I was actually thinking that I was going to need to get a wheel chair to be able to just get to dinner and back to the room, so this surgery and quick recovery is a huge blessing.

I've been using an Android tablet to do my daily bible devotions for the past few months.  It's easy and convenient and sits on my bed's headboard.  When I wake up in the morning I just reach up and turn it on and am ready to go.  It's nice since I don't need to get up, turn on any lights, and my wife can continue to sleep.  I don't remember which "app" it is, but to kind of mix things up I'm using a yearly devotional app that has you in 4 different parts of the bible each day (2 old, 2 new).  On Sunday morning (day before surgery) one of the places it had me in was Luke chapter 13 where it talks about a woman that had a bad back for 18 years, was bent over and couldn't straighten up at all.  Jesus healed her.  I've probably read through that section numerous times over the years, but didn't remember that it was even there.  I was amazed and encouraged by that being part of my devotion that day (unplanned by me, since I just read the sections the Android app has for that day).  Of course I was hoping that it was meant to be an encouragement reading about the healing of the back and hopefully not that I should be prepared for 18 years of back trouble before being healed.  Anyways, I was feeling encouraged.

Monday the day of the surgery I had to be up at 5:30am so that we could get to the surgery center by 6:30am.  After such an encouraging devotional the day before I tried to make excuses why I should skip my morning devotional on Monday morning and just do it later in the day.  It was too early, I hadn't slept the greatest, we didn't have a lot of time before we needed to get out the door, etc.  In the end, I decided enough excuses and I won't try to fit God into a box by reading what I want to hear and what I think is the best encouragement to me.  So I fired up the tablet.  Monday mornings devotions had sections on death and the afterlife.  

Just an aside.......I love humor and irony, I find humor in lots of things.  I find humor in the bible, I find humor when I look back at things I've prayed about and outcomes.  As an example from a few years ago I was in need of a good running car with low miles because I needed it for a job that I was going to be putting thousands of highway miles per month on it.  We prayed about it and I found a used car with very low miles that thought might work, but you never know when buying a used car.  I went to test drive it and recognized the seller as someone that I had worked with quite awhile ago and he wasn't exactly someone that I would have called trustworthy back then.  I took the car for a test drive and just happened to turn on the stereo which was set to a christian radio station which surprised me.  The car seemed fine and when I went back just asked him if he was now a christian.  He was and said that the proceeds of the sale of the used car were actually going to the church he attended for some building project thing.  Everything seemed right and I bought the car.  I never had a problem with the car and took it from 30k miles to 140k miles in a matter of 3 years.  Now to the part I find humorous.  After 3 years I started talking to God about the car and just kind of mentioning that I don't mean to seem ungrateful, but I'm kind of getting tired of that car and wouldn't mind getting a different one.  Soon after I was driving home on the freeway in the middle of the night at highway speeds, came up and over a hill to see 3 adult deer standing perpendicular to the direction I was driving.  One in the left lane, one in the right lane, and one right inbetween the two lanes.  (it was a narrow mountain section with metal guard rails on each side and no shoulder areas)  I saw them a split second before swerving a little and nailing the middle one.  That totalled the car.  While it wasn't what I meant when I was praying about being tired of the car, I did enjoy the humor in the answered prayer.  I sat there for a few minutes with a smile imagining God sitting there saying "tired of the car?  no problem, I can fix that.......".  I do love humor and am now more careful how and what I pray about.

Anyways back to the devotions pre-surgery.  I found great encouragement in reading Sunday's devotions that mentioned the specific healing of a person with a bad back that hadn't been able to straighten up for 18 years.  I then found great humor in reading Monday's devotions that talked about death and the afterlife.  I thought it was great and put me in even better spirits.  Of course my wife didn't see it as humor, but rather that I should always be prepared for either outcome and as long as I was prepared either way it would all be good in the end.  I let her know I was prepared either way and we left for the surgery center.


Progress as of today: 7.2 lbs lost so far, only 83 lbs to go!

liza36 on 08/26/2011:
I'm happy to know that the surgery was successful, and you are feeling better with each day. I chuckled at the car/sense of humor comments. Anyway, I hope for a continued recovery.

KayBee on 08/27/2011:
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I just had a back surgery myself, but it was something bigger than yours. I got pretty much kicked off in seconds, hehe. I remember the nurse telling me: "Sleep well!". The surgery lasted 5 hours, I won some built-in metals (yeah, not medals, hhaha), and they put me on feet 2 days after the surgery. It took place on the 2nd August and I'm still recovering. I have a 40 cms (16 inches) cut on my back, and a "black hole" (numbness) in the middle. I'm KathyBlue anyway and I've been here for years, but I feel so renewed now that I needed to archive my KathyBlue account and open a new one. :) I go back to work on Monday. YAYYY...

Em17 on 08/28/2011:
Have a good recovery! =) Have a great week coming up as well =)

shams on 10/20/2011:
with god will this week will be much better

graindart - Sunday Aug 21, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 258.0

Day 2 of new fast ended. I feel hungry and have a small headache, but don't feel too terribly bad.  I had a few times where I felt very hungry, but they passed fairly quickly.

My back surgery is tomorrow morning and I have to be there by 6:30am.  I can't eat or drink anything for 8+ hours before.  The not eating I can handle fine, but I know I'm going to be plenty thirsty in the morning.

Hopefully the surgery will go well and I'll actually be able to walk upright again for the first time in months.  I'm looking forward to it.

Progress as of today: 7.2 lbs lost so far, only 83 lbs to go!

thinkpositive on 08/22/2011:
Hope your surgery goes well!

rockingrobyn on 08/22/2011:
hope everything goes welll and thast you'll be feeling alot better real soon.

liza36 on 08/26/2011:
How did the surgery go? Hope you are recovering well.

graindart - Saturday Aug 20, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 258.0

Day 1 of new fast ended. I feel hungry and have a small headache, but don't feel to terribly bad.

Progress as of today: 7.2 lbs lost so far, only 83 lbs to go!

graindart - Saturday Aug 20, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 258.0

Just journaling for my own records while I wait for back surgery.

A week ago I decided to make an abrupt change for at least a few days.  I started on a fast with no food, but plenty of water.  I also stopped taking any pain killers to see how well I would be able to cope.  

I ended up going 3 days without food and then started eating again.  I was pretty hungry, but the headaches were subsiding by the end of day 3.  I'm guessing the headaches were from caffeine / pop withdrawals.  Since I already went through the headaches and didn't want to have to go through that again, I kept from drinking the pop again.  (When I'm drinking pop, I average about 30oz-50oz per day.)  I was feeling weak, irritable, and hungry so I started eating again after day 3 and felt better.  I've been able to deal with the increase in pain without having to take much pain medication over the past week.  I think I've taken a total of 3 extra strength Tylenol pills over the past 7 days with only minor added discomfort.

Back surgery (double discectomy) is 6:30am on Monday.  If everything goes well, I'm expecting to be able to walk standing upright without a crutch for the first time in several months.

I have to keep from eating for half a day before the surgery, so I'm contemplating starting another no food fast today just to see if I get the large headaches or if they were mostly attributable to the cold turkey on the caffeine / pop.


Progress as of today: 7.2 lbs lost so far, only 83 lbs to go!

graindart - Saturday Aug 13, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 258.0

Well, I'm at the end of day 2 of my fast.  I also made it through the whole day without taking any pain medication. 

Head - I've had a headache the whole day and my mind has felt really fuzzy.  My head's felt like it usually does when I give up caffeine cold turkey.  I was hoping for a clearer head now that it's been about 36 hours since I last took any Tylenol, but hopefully it'll clear up over the next few days.

Body - My back and leg have been hurting a little worse than when I was on the pain medication, but not anything unbearable.  The pain was actually quite a bit less than I was expecting.  Today and tomorrow are fairly relaxing days, so Monday / Tuesday should be a better test of whether I can deal without pain medication.

Hunger - I had several times during the day that I had strong hunger pains.  Nothing terrible, but enough for me to consider grabbing something to eat.  The hunger seemed to last for 10-20 minutes at a time and subsided.  Even though I'm not feeling unusually hungry right now, food is occupying the majority of my thoughts.  Unfortunately I'm not able to do much to take my mind off the food. Due to my back and leg condtion, I'm not able to do any exercise (that includes walking, swimming, fishing, and pretty much anything else).  The majority of my day is spent sitting and laying down. 

I can't wait for the back surgery.  I've been researching it for the past month or so.  I've even tried watching real surgery videos on the internet.  I usually just end up listening to the commentary, as I'm not a fan of blood, needles, cutting, etc.  For back surgery, it's minimally invasive and the recovery time is remarkably short as long as you're part of the 90-95% success rate.  If everything goes correctly, a 1 mile per day walking plan is suggested starting the day after the surgery.  I've never been a huge fan of walking, but after having to use a crutch to move 30-40 feet at a time for the past few months, I'm definitely looking forward to being mobile again.  It's amazing how you take walking for granted until you either can't do much of it or it's very painful to do it.

Progress as of today: 7.2 lbs lost so far, only 83 lbs to go!

Horn_Of_Plenty on 08/14/2011:
feel better. Maybe if you are able to get to a pool or join one, you could do a little exercise that way? Pools are great for exercise....

I hope you feel better. It seems many on here are feeling a bit under the weather lately.

graindart on 08/14/2011:
I wish a pool was an option. I've tried pools several times over the past 5 months and they offer no real relief from the pain.

liza36 on 08/16/2011:
Good luck with your surgery. I hope it will alleviate the pain you are in. Hang in there!

graindart - Friday Aug 12, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 258.0

It's been about 5 months since my leg and back started hurting.  About 3 or 4 months ago I had to start using a crutch just to get around.  It's now to the point where I have to sit or lay around most of the day.  Walking with a crutch, I can get about 30 or 40 feet at a time before needing to stop and rest / shift my back.

In the past I've rarely taken any pain medication in any given year.  I'd estimate that I've averaged less than 10 tylenol pills per YEAR for the past decade.  Unfortunately for the past 5 months I've been taking about 10 pain pills per DAY (aspirin, Aleve, Tylenol,etc).  

I saw a back specialist and had xrays about 4 months ago.  He said that it was probably a herniated disc in my lower back and that my leg pain was due to the nerves in the spine being pressured by the herniated disc.  Supposedly the majority of people's herniated discs heal on their own.  He said that the best course of action was to get lots of relaxation and give it 6 months in the hope that it would heal on its own.  He said that if the pain got too bad that we could discuss surgery. 

After a total of 5 months and with my mobility getting pretty bad, I decided to go get an MRI and see the doctor for the results.  The MRI confirmed that there were actually 2 herniated discs in my lower back and one was pretty large.  He said we could schedule surgery for the next Monday but we had to reschedule when he found out that I was taking aspirin and Aleve.  I guess aspirin and Aleve can cause bleeding problems, so we had to reschedule for August 22nd.

Even though I've been taking quite a bit of pain medication, it didn't completely mask the pain and I still felt plenty.  The thing I hate worse than the pain is the cloudy head feeling.  Since I had to get off the aspirin / Aleve, I switched back to just Tylenol at the doctors suggestion.  Unfortunately the past few days on Tylenol alone have been a little more painful, not excrutiating pain, just different pain in areas that must have been masked better by the aspirin.

After a couple of days on just Tylenol I've decided on an abrupt change that may or may not last for a few days or more depending on how I feel.  

I'm not really looking for suggestions, I just decided to post my thoughts here so that I can keep track of things.  I've got about 9 days before the surgery and have decided to start a food fast and also try to go off the pain medication all together to see how things are really feeling.

Day 1 fast - yesterday (Friday) - I did fine with no food, but plenty of water.  Had several times where I felt hungry and my stomach was grumbling numerous times especially later at night.  I missed eating meals with my family.  I was concerned that I would be waking up in the middle of the night due to feeling hungry, but that didn't happen.  I woke up every few hours due to back / leg pain, but that's been par for the course the past few months.  I had a couple Tylenol at the beginning of the day and a couple at about 11am.  I decided I'd better do that because I had work appointments that I couldn't miss at 1pm.  I didn't take any additional pain medication after that and it's now been about 24 hours since I've had any.  I'm definitely feeling the pain more now, but it's not anywhere near as bad as I was expecting it to be.  Unless something becomes unbearable, I'm planning on going without medication today and tomorrow and see if I think I'll be able to handle work starting Monday without it or not.

Progress as of today: 7.2 lbs lost so far, only 83 lbs to go!

hollybelle on 08/13/2011:
So sorry for your pain and back problems. Wishing you a successful treatment. Hope to hear more from you soon.

graindart - Wednesday May 18, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 250.0

Weightloss / diet / activity all on hold while dealing with my back and leg.  My back doesn't hurt much, but my leg kills without being hopped up on medication.  After seeing a chiropractor a few times, x-rays, and seeing a medical doctor back specialist...... the concensus is that I've got a herniated disc in my lower back that is pinching a nerve that is causing the major leg pain.  The doctor said that with rest and relaxation the majority of people's backs heal without additional steps needed.  He said to come back in a couple months if its not better.

After I've got a fair amount of over the counter pain medication in me I can function, but first thing in the morning it's all I can do to move 30 feet at a time with the help of a crutch. 

Just placing this placecard entry here so that when I'm looking back on my entries down the road I remember why I had this hiccup in my progress.

Progress as of today: 15.2 lbs lost so far, only 75 lbs to go!

Em17 on 05/18/2011:
Aww I hope it gets better =)

~Moody~ on 05/18/2011:
Ack, I'm so sorry to hear about the herniated disc. My best friend has degenerative bone disease, and just today had her 4th back surgery..So I understand and have witnessed first hand how painful that is. I hope your doctor is right and you heal. In the meantime, be very careful and go easy.

hollybelle on 05/19/2011:
Hi and welcome back. So sorry to hear about your back. My husband was in similar situation after a bike accident a few years ago. Good news is - his herniated disc did heal without surgery. It took along time and lots of Ibuprofen. The other thing that helped him was a lady that did a particular type of physical therapy - unvonventional, but safe. He said that was the best thing he did in the healing process. I cannot remember the type of practitioner she wasbut I'll ask him and let you know in case you'd like to try it. His injury occurred after a very slight OOPS on the bicycle - something like his foot slipped off the pedal and twisted his back slightly. It did get better - slowly but surely, though. He lived on ibuprofen for a long time.

graindart - Thursday Apr 07, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 245.4

Started the day off with a Slimfast, vitamins, and water.

Lunch was some chow mein.

Dinner was mac-n-cheese, chicken cordon bleu, asparagus, and some baby peppers with ranch/blue cheese dip.

Had an orange for a snack.

My left leg has been killing me for the past couple of weeks.  If I'm doing something I don't notice it too much, but if I'm just sitting at my desk / driving / or laying around it hurts a lot.  The first week or so I took it easy on the leg thinking that I may have strained it or something.  Now I'm thinking that it might have to do with poor circulation so yesterday and today I got out with the kids and walked for around an hour per day.  It didn't hurt while walking so I think I'll continue doing some mild exercise for the next week or so.  If I don't see any improvement it'll be time to see a doctor I guess. 

Progress as of today: 19.8 lbs lost so far, only 70.4 lbs to go!

graindart - Friday Apr 01, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 245.4

Well, I fell of the wagon for about a week or so.  I even had a 44oz Mtn Dew even though I haven't had any pop for 2 months.  The taste wasn't as good as I was remembering, but the carbonation and ice-cold temperature were excellent!  I submitted to my cravings for pop, chips, and a little candy on one of the days.  The other days I just went overboard on eating stuff, including ice cream.

Yesterday was better, although I still ended the day with a scoop of my favorite ice cream.  It's a simple vanilla base with tiny flecks of lemon or lemon zest.

Today I'm starting off with water, Slimfast, and vitamins.

Lunch and dinner remain to be seen.


Progress as of today: 19.8 lbs lost so far, only 70.4 lbs to go!

paddler on 04/03/2011:
Whatever you are doing, it seems to be working. You're doing great. I really wish they didn't have food commercials on TV.

graindart - Wednesday Mar 23, 2011
(drink mainly water,no snacks,no food after 7pm)
Weight: 244.4

Breakfast - Slimfast, vitamins, water

Lunch - small thing of chow mein

Dinner - turkey, bread, stuffing, asparagus

Sitting here watching some TV, just saw the best looking fully-loaded hot & cheesy pizza.  I really really wanted to run out and get one or have one delivered.  

Trying to convince myself to wait until tomorrow and have pizza for lunch or dinner instead of tacking it on to a day I've already eaten my meals.  Pretty sure I can hold out until tomorrow.

Progress as of today: 20.8 lbs lost so far, only 69.4 lbs to go!

lolla on 03/24/2011:
Don't you hate these comercials? It really should be illegal. Why can't they advertize veggies and fruits all day? Hang in there!

geevee on 03/24/2011:
Good job in talking yourself out of having the pizza. I failed in my attempt to NOT have peanut butter and jam at 3:30am. Darn!

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