BACK SURGERY SAGA–Putting on Hold 2012 Backpacking and the High Uintas Project

The NEW OBSTACLE I mention in Part 2 has me putting on hold Part 3.  Give me a week or so.
UPDATE:  April 20, 2012  Scroll down to see what the specialists concluded and the treatment that will have me overcoming the “obstacle” and  backpacking still in my 77th year. 
May 16th UPDATE:  “overcoming the obstacle”  got a bit more complicated, so it looks like the“backpacking still” will mostly be this old guy doing it in my 78th year!  “I’m going under the knife”  as there is too much of me still working pretty good TO GIVE IN!  
May 17th UPDATE:  On May 24th I will undergo surgery for my  “degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis.”  That translated to High Uinta geezer English is:  “I’m a worn out old guy!” Recovery can take as long as 12 months, but  knowing me, the Dr. thinks I might be ready to backpack by August 24th. I’ll apparently be in the hospital at least 3 days, then a week or so of bed rest at home, and then gradually get back in shape and hope to at least do what I have listed as my first trip for this summer.   I will do my darndest and see how it goes.   While I recuperate and recover I’ll be doing all the research I need to put all this together, but before the surgery I’ll do PART 3:  GEAR so that it might be in time to help all of you with a suggestion or two.. and  then I’ll keep you updated on things like the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway opening, and do some YouTube videos and photo/essays on a few of the fascinating historical aspects of the Uintas you probably don’t know about, etc. 

May 17th UPDATE:  On May 24th I will undergo surgery.
I will appreciate the prayers of all my High Uinta Friends and my large “congregation of REAMS customers, employees and friends.”

 “Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion L4-L5” was done on May 24th. I returned home on the 26th with instructions to not bend over, twist, or lift anything.  By my first post-surgery visit on June 5th  I was afraid I had exercised too much and  maybe done some damage, but the x-rays showed all was fine.  I’ll insert an x-ray below showing the titanium thing-a-ma-jiggs installed in my spine to keep things straight until bone grows up to make me strong again.  

In spite of the pain, etc. Dr. Richie still believes I will be able to backpack by late August.   I have good days, and bad days, one of my daily walks being to REAMS “where everybody knows my name.”  It’s my CHEERS!  Yesterday, a painful day with difficulty sleeping, had me finally at midnight seeing a DVD my son David gave me–“127 DAYS,”    WOW!  Aaron Ralston did everything wrong to get himself into his impossible situation–but what he did to survive will stop me forever from whining about a little pain.

I was doing fine with my recovery for about 2-3 weeks when I had increased my daily walking, twice a day, to a total of  as much as 6 miles.  But then left leg pain and weakness took over and the Dr. suspected that my persistence at continuing to work with pain for 3-4 months possibly caused nerve damage.  He told me to back off on the exercise and re-evaluate at my July 17th visit.  I was in tough shape for that visit, and today as I report.  I did go through a couple of weeks of hell to get off the narcotic pain killer and sleep aid prescribed by the Dr. and am struggling to get along with over the counter pain killers.
The next step is for the Dr. to try and learn what the heck’s going on by having me undergo a
 “CT  Myelogram L Spine” scan in a week after somehow going through 7 days without Excedrin, Ibuprofen or Noxaprene (pain killing blood thinners).  Last night was the first with basically not being able to sleep.  I will find a way to get through it, and do my darndest to finish what I started and avoid being “JUST A BUNCH OF HOT AIR!  I always have in mind:

CT Myelogram scan results….July 27th
My doctor and the radiologist concluded from the scan that everything is normal and that I should experience a full recovery.  I just have to be patient and very careful with walking and exercise as apparently there was nerve damage and being an old guy now has recovery happen in slow motion! That for sure will have me waiting until August 2013 to accomplish the four trips planned for this summer and give me enough time to learn to walk all over again and have sufficient  strength to get the job done.  I’ll insert two print outs below  from the scan the doctor gave me.

8 Replies to “BACK SURGERY SAGA–Putting on Hold 2012 Backpacking and the High Uintas Project”

  1. Happy you are doing well. You are an inspiration indeed. Enjoyed our past E-mails of all things going on. Thanks for your smiles and cod liver oil advice at Reams. Also for the slides you transferred onto cd's. Remember the chicken soup and apple pie? Washington state is beautiful, but not good for arthritis. My left hip too is worn out. High pain level here.

  2. Hope you are doing well now. Surgery for a painful, common back condition known as spinal stenosis resulted in significantly reduced back pain and better physical function than treatment with drugs and physical therapy, according to the latest findings from a large federally funded research effort.Spinal stenosis involves a narrowing of a passage in the spine through which nerves pass, and it can result in debilitating pain in the lower back, hips and legs. The surgical solution involves enlarging the opening to relieve the pressure on the nerves, in an operation called a laminectomy. Keep up the faith and live you life.

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