[Tripping On…] Four Weeks, Post-Surgery

If I would have known that it would have taken almost a month to sleep on my back again after spine surgery, I would have still had the surgery, but I might have practiced sleeping on my stomach more often. The drainage from the surgery wound has almost completely stopped. Compared to, say, five weeks ago, I feel much more able to do even basic tasks. I could even probably go grocery shopping solo soon.

Yesterday, I was also able to write three essays for the first time in a while.

With my writing schedule, which is completely optional and hasn’t impacted my focus on recuperation, I publish two essays daily, so I should write at least two essays to keep pace. I noticed that this week, “Week 3” publishes on a Monday where this “Week 4” publishes on a Sunday, so I didn’t quite keep to that pace. I still write at least one essay daily because that’s something I can easily do, even when I’m in bed. I always worry about the day where I’m not able to write. If I hadn’t written before my surgery, that would have been my first day without writing anything in years.

I shouldn’t worry about something like that, but writing helps me explore my thoughts.

I’ve had some minor setbacks here and there. I went grocery shopping a few days ago that spurred up some spine pain, so I rested for a few days. That helped significantly. I walked around a little yesterday, which did the same, but I caught myself before I pushed myself too far. This morning, now four weeks since surgery, I honestly did need to use both of my canes to walk around when I awoke, but now that I’ve been awake nearly two hours, I feel more able to walk around, without either cane; at a slow pace.

I haven’t taken post-surgical painkillers in now five days.

However, it’s not because of a lack of pain, but rather because I’d rather feel the pain through to try to fix it as I can. I couldn’t sleep well last night and the night before. There is something to be said about the change in temperatures as the weather transitions from summer to fall, but I think more than that, what the surgery did was knock out the biggest pain point, leaving those smaller pain points to present themselves more fully. I have some neck pain and pain just above my surgical point now that might be fixed with further movement.

There’s a balance between sitting and moving around.

When I met with my current spine doctor two weeks after surgery, he recommended a 30-minute sitting restriction because of how much my tailbone has been hurting. Today, I could barely move around, so at my first 30-minute alarm, I stood then sat down. I walked around slowly at the second. When my third alarm goes off in about 10 minutes, I should be able to walk around more, but I may end up lying down in bed for a few minutes to let my spine rest. I had the impression that I needed to stand or sit upright rather than rest on my back as part of the recovery process, but over the past week, I’ve found that resting like that has been helpful.

This is all taking some adjusting because I imagine I’ll still have ‘bad spine days’ ahead.

Instead of fully-unhinged days of pain like I did prior to surgery, I think what will happen is closer to ‘bad spine mornings’ like I had, where my spine hasn’t let me have the full mobility of, say, someone without spine problems. I could do more stretches, as I just did, but I don’t feel confident that moving my back around too much is the best for me. What if the little cracks and aches I hear when I move my spine, as one does when they stretch, might cause significant pain?

This post-surgery recovery has taken up a majority of my willpower.

I don’t have much energy to tolerate behaviors or media that I might have otherwise been accepting toward. I wrote some negative thoughts on a popular album yesterday on my 2020 Album page, which I know is me channeling that negative energy somewhere, so it will be interesting to see if I get any negative comments. I doubt it because I didn’t post it on the album’s page itself, so those who love it can feel secure in their security blanket.

I also don’t have the energy to finish 100 Years of Solitude.

I’m on chapter 14 with over five hours of audiobook listening to go and what might have seemed tolerable before feels like a slog at this point in my post-surgical recovery. I’d rather spend that five hours listening to music or doing many other activities, including getting up at my 30-minute alarm to go rest.

If there’s any truth I can say about recovery, it’s that it’s not a straight line.

We might not feel good from doing any sort of physical activity, which can help the body and mind feel better. I feel like I’ve regressed a few days in my physical recovery after taking that walk yesterday, and my body aches a bit too much, but I have to decide for myself whether that’s a physical pain I can’t fix or one I can. If that pain is beyond my control – if doing everything I can to treat my body – doesn’t help, then I can take a painkiller. I just know that dealing with physical pain and emotional pain is what does me in. Taking a painkiller won’t fix any emotional pain. The most it does is numb the sensations around me long enough for that emotional pain to feel less substantial. If that’s the pain I’m feeling, rather than physical pain, then that’s where I need to lean into my sobriety to help myself recover.

This balancing act doesn’t just apply to people like me.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Sequels like this are easy to write.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 September 28 [7:29am to “my 30-minute alarm to go rest” at 7:58am; 8:25am to 8:30am]
Last Edited: 2020 September 28 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.