Back to Back

The right time of year for major surgery is January. And if ever there was a winter to hunker down, staying cozy and well-medicated, this is the year. By the time this winter is over, (is it ever going to be over?) my newly refurbished back will be cured and I’ll be coming out with the tulips. As I am gradually learning to follow all the “get better” rules, the healing continues.

In the hospital, the medicos gave me the first rule for going home: No BLT’s. “Do you like a BLT sandwich?” one nurse asked. When I nodded, she said that would make remembering the first rule easier. She explained the BLT acronym no Bending, no Lifting, no Twisting. The way my incision felt at that moment I thought this won’t be hard to remember. I’m NEVER bending, lifting or twisting – ever again.

Until I dropped the first pill an hour later. And it’s been a challenge ever since.

When I got home, I resurrected the mechanical grabber I used after my knee replacement. Suddenly I could pick up a dropped earring, the newspaper and even lift the dish to feed the cat (although the cat did object to an attempt to hoist him with the grabber.)

The twisting and lifting haven’t been a problem. I learned quickly to pay attention getting in and out of bed and the car . . . no twist. Richard has taken care of lifting anything over five pounds and I’ve virtually abandoned my ten-pound purse. I am absolute perfection at carrying a four-ounce glass of orange juice with my walker into the den

In the hospital I was taking two Percocets every four hours. In the three weeks since the surgery, I’ve stretched it out to one every seven or eight hours. The one medicine rule I had to follow was “Don’t let the pain get ahead of you. Hah! No chance of that. After I had allowed that to happen once and dragged in agony to the medicine cabinet, I vowed never again. Let me tell you, modern pharmacology is a wonderful thing.

After being discharged from Home Health Nursing, I began my therapy this week with Andy. I’ve known Andy through the years I’ve spent working on various body parts but I never realized until Tuesday that he was a direct descendant of Attila the Hun. Please understand, Andy doesn’t look like a barbarian. His deceptive demeanor is one of kindness and caring with a ready smile. But he’s a quiet killer.

“We’re just going to start with very gentle exercises. You won’t even think they’re much of a challenge.” And I agreed with him. Twenty of each tiny lift, squeeze and swing. Piece of cake.

I felt a little wobbly when I got home and took a short nap in the late afternoon. And yup, modern pharmacology is a wunnerful thing. A quiet dinner and an early bed.

I woke at 2:40AM needing to roll over to get to the edge of the bed. Nothing worked. Five minutes later I had struggled across the mattress and up to a standing position. When I took the first few steps I was desperately hanging on to the furniture looking for the truck that had obviously hit me. Not everything hurt – just each joint and juncture from the waist down. The back/hips/leg triumvirate finally wobbled me to the bathroom. I felt like one of those old Weebles and all I could think was, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Determined, I made it to the facility and to the medicine bottle by the sink. Modern pharmacuckoo iz juss fabulush.

Today Andy asked, “So how did it go after the first workout?” It occurred to me that I could pass it off and lie to him, but Killer seemed so genuinely interested that I told him the truth. And in the course of my second session he did mandate a few more helpful rules. He told me not to stand for more than 10 minutes in one place so that explained the unsuccessful Valentine shopping trip. “And don’t sit in one place for more than 20 minutes.” Ohhhhhhhhhh, THAT explains the problem after the two hour work meeting. Hmm, maybe there is something to listening to these experts.

So after three weeks I’ve become a believer. For the near future I’m still not going to be a Bender, Lifter, Twister, Long Stander or Sitter. As I gradually learn all these normal activities again it will be as I am also weaning off of the miracle of modern medicine. Goodbye lovely Percocets, it’s been nice knowing you. Your little brother Tylenol is going to have to step up to heavy duty. I bet the Doc won’t recommend chardonnay as a substitute either. Just as well.

Sometimes Chardonnay introduces a sway. And, horrors! A sway could lead to a Bend or a Twist. Nope, I want my back back and that requires following all the rules.

Back to Killer on Monday.