[Tripping On…] Five Weeks, Post-Surgery

It’s been five weeks since my spine surgery. I didn’t write about my healing process as a weekly update for the first few weeks because I was writing about the process daily. If there’s any change from Week 4 to Week 5, it’s that now I’m starting to feel a restoration of my physicality on a general scale. There are still many specifics that don’t feel right. My tailbone constantly hurts. But other things are recovering nicely.

I’ve still been in a moderate amount of pain each day.

It increases based on extraneous activity such as going anywhere or existing, but I’ve been able to reduce my use of the post-surgery painkilling medication Oxycodone to about once or twice a week. I had to take one 10 milligram dose a few hours ago because it’s like the pain build-up reaches a point where my tolerance toward many things in life becomes unbearable, so it’s been helpful. That could be the addict in me, but I don’t think it’s entirely that. I still have many pills remaining and I don’t dip in when my mental state is hurting because it doesn’t help. It does help when my physical state is hurting and I can’t fix it, like this tailbone pain.

I think every day for the past five weeks, I’ve taken a midday nap.

Before surgery, I never took a siesta of any sort. OK, maybe once a year. Now, I’ve needed to rest for anywhere between one to three hours every single day without fail. When I met with my current spine doctor three weeks ago, I didn’t think much of it, but now, it’s kind of weird. I sleep fairly well at night, too, so it’s not that I’m napping to compensate for sleeping minimally. I was well-rested this morning after sleeping a good night’s rest and still needed to take a nap. I assume this is my body still recovering, but it’s not something I knew about prior to surgery.

These essays are the most “if I would have known” of these Tripping On essays.

Even still, they are useful in situations like I’m in now. I’ll be meeting with my current spine doctor tomorrow. He retires soon, so this will be a final meeting with him before he transfers care. I have a series of questions I need to ask him, so I’ll write them up here so I can review them, edit, and expand on them, so tomorrow I can write them on a physical piece of paper with squares so I can make sure to ask all of the important questions. I will also refer to my list I brought last time because some of the same things – a doctor’s note with my current restrictions and the doctor’s dictated notes – are things that I’ll need to ask for again that wouldn’t normally come up.

Let’s start with physical therapy.

Last time, he said that if my tailbone still hurts, I should go PT. When I last went, I had restrictions on what I could or could not do. My physical therapist wanted me to do twisting and turning to help my core muscles but that was a restriction, and my current spine doctor even forbade me from going to physical therapy until our next meeting, so that was an awkward series of calls to cancel and confirm the cancellation of my appointment without getting a last-minute charge. Starting off with “my doctor advised me not to go to PT” is a good way to avoid that fee, but due to COVID-19, that fee had been dismissed anyways.

Another thing I wanted to bring up was pain management.

A majority of the time I’ve gone to physical therapy for my spinal problems, I’ve hurt more than I prefer after I leave. I can’t drive for four days after taking Oxycodone, so it will be a challenge for me to take Oxycodone and drive to physical therapy. I still have some Pregabalin, so I could use the rest of that medication, if he advises, otherwise, I would need some other option to manage my pain symptoms as my body recovers and as I go through PT.

Even with the Oxycodone I took, my tailbone right now hurts significantly.

That’s been the major hurdle I need to overcome now. I didn’t experience this pain prior to surgery. I could – and often did – sit for hours at a time without feeling any pain. The only thing that’s changed, other than the surgery, to my overall ergonomic setup is that I’m now sitting on more pillows than before. Some of these pillows have specific ergonomic designs, not specifically calling out the tailbone, but are more designed for sitting for extended periods of time. Yesterday, I needed to sit on three pillows to manage my tailbone pain, and it didn’t help me through the worst of it.

Let me describe my tailbone pain.

At our last meeting, the doctor gave me a 30-minute sitting restriction. I’ve found that sometimes the pain will kick in after 15 minutes, sometimes, 45. I did the best that I could to stand every 30 minutes. It does help sometimes. However, my tailbone only has about a 4-hour window of sitting time before its pain hurts to the point where it did last night where I either can sleep and feel better, or, as what happened last night, I laid awake in bed in pain until I fell asleep. This is when I need to take pain medication to manage that. I’ve done the best that I can to avoid sitting for too long, however, I get exhausted from standing and walking easily, so my overall physical strength isn’t in the best shape to do other activities other than sitting or lying down. That covers a majority of my list. It does feel nice to have some of my physicality back, even if I don’t have the strength to go out to the store yet.

Tomorrow’s meeting should help me get there.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: I like these sorts of weekly series since they can help me glance at how I’ve progressed. Writing while reviewing the list was especially helpful since I could focus on editing that while writing this.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 October 05 [9:46pm to 10:18pm]
Last Edited: 2020 October 05 [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.