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I Have a Lot of Work Ahead of Me

Yesterday I had my follow-up with the neurosurgeon. He is very pleased with the healing of the incisions and all the surgery appears to feel and respond as expected. He is also pleased that my pain levels are down from 7 to 3 with NSAIDs and Tylenol.

My progress is right on track.

It has been a crazy track - a entire year of debilitating pain. The surgeon said I had severe compression similar to a whiplash patient. I have not been able to work as a software engineer or do anything which requires critical, detailed, or logical thinking. Not even drive. I have gained 25 pounds due to inactivity, medication, and poor food choices.

I mean I now live in the south!

The doctor said I can run and thought it might be good for me. Good for me?! It is good for everyone who knows me! I did sneak in a 3-miler the other day. Some of it felt good. It did make my head throb. In any case, I will be running no matter what it feels like.

Seriously, do you know anything about me?

As far as my cognitive abilities, they are also improving. I have picked up the guitar after a very long time. I will be trying to work on my book to engage the mind a bit more.

And there is always Jeopardy at 7:30!

Today is the first day the I go shopping where I will be making a serious effort to get this weight under control. I am still taking the Gabapentin which is of the devil, but I need the nerves in my head to heal.

Today I am making a meal plan and going for a 3 mile run.

This condition has made a real mess of my life. The doctor is fine if I work. Currently I don't have a job. I am still spending quite a bit of time resting. I still have chronic pain which makes it hard to focus; although it is better. I am sort of stuck between short-term disability, long term disability, and permanent disability.

I certainly am grateful to be feeling better, but I am not sure what the next move is.

Oh right, make a food plan and run 3 miles.

Today I Don't Want to Be Strong

My 15-year-old is visiting for a few weeks and we are having fun. We've been to the beach, the bookstores, the art museum, the Oceanfront, Waterside, the Mermaid factory and the Grilled Cheese Bistro! We have also done a lot of boating. Out there in the sunshine, watching the coastal scenery, looking at the dolphins at play, spotting blue heron, egret and bald eagles - and she is great at making peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

It has been nice. She is a good kid - and a bit like her father.

Me: Charlotte, don't be a smartass.

Charlotte: I am practicing to be your successor.

I was listening to the radio with her and that song came on; What Doesn't Kill You Still Sucks - or whatever. I was all set to sit down and write about something other than a health condition. I was going to open a can of my finest smartassery and have some fun.

Getting up without a "that" headache has been good.

The first few days are exciting post surgery. I mean, morphine is exciting! Not having a 7-level migraine is good. I admit it, I am struggling to be positive. When I had my knee repaired, it was surgery + healing = cured. It was pretty much the same with the shoulder repair I had in March.

In 2011 I used this blog to get through congestive heart failure.

I was afraid my life was over in so many ways. I thought I might just sit in a chair taking medicine, being depressed, waiting to die. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was also afraid.

Not running (hoping to be cleared on Monday) has taken away my antidepressant.

Each time I have had a major health issue, I made a goal. After heart failure, I ran the marathon, and after cancer I ran the World Majors. Now that I am working through occipital neuralgia, I wanted to make another goal.

I was thinking about running 50 half marathons in 50 states.

Then I sat here and thought of all the work that would take. I am still not sure I am/will be cured. Everyday that goes by and I have a headache, even the kind that can be managed with Tylenol, I am afraid I won't get better.

The neurosurgeon said it could take a year to see results.

Meanwhile, I have not worked in a year and I don't have a job. I am still waiting to see where I stand with disability. At the moment, I am still unable to work full-time. I can barely keep up with my kid on vacation.

Today, I don't feel like being strong, having faith, or whatever it takes.

I just need to get back to running... hoping everything will fall into place after that.

How A Year Can Change You

Today marks 1 year the migraine-like headache had me in the ER. They thought it was a stroke. I can’t begin to describe the scorching pain. They gave me torodol, fentanyl, and Zofran that day.

I would be hard pressed to count the number of times I was in a hospital in the past year.

There were four ER visits in the first six weeks. Then I had four ER visits in a single week in March. Add to that, two kidney surgeries, a rotator cuff repair, and nerve decompression surgery not even two weeks ago. Let's not forget MRIs and injections.

It has been a long painful year.

I had to run a calendar report for disability and there are over 125 doctors appointments in the past year. My wife is on a hugging basis with the anesthesiologist at Bon Secours Hospital. We have a favorite nurse at Chesapeake Regional, and one of the PAs at Sentara Princess Anne made us crack up. Her sense of humor makes us smile every time we think of it. I am greeted by first name at the orthopedics office and the drug store.

I am hoping this chronic pain journey is coming to an end.

Despite all the health related stuff, I have made the very best of this year. I moved to the waterside and bought a boat. It is a life-long dream come true. I ran Tokyo and finished my World Majors Challenge.  There are thousands of great moments with my wife, kids, and friends.

I am blessed!

Post Op Day 11: The 3 surgical incisions are healing nicely - a little itchy but good progress. The really bad headaches which seem to stage themselves as a brain injury, are pretty much gone. The chronic tinnitus is pretty well gone as well. I am assuming the sleep apnea has also diminished. I am sleeping better and no reports from Ruth. My shoulder is back to 95% usefulness and with a little pain doing various tasks.

That leaves the disc issue in my upper spine.

It has been aggravated by the surgery. The doctor said it should calm down by week 4. I certainly hope so. I have had enough pain for a lifetime. The good news is that the cervical pain, to some extent, responds to Tylenol and Motrin. I am about 75% right now with pain levels around 3 or 4.

That is so much better than the daily 6 or 7.
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