Fusion to 5k part 7 ($80,000 coffee mug ?)

The days after walking the Illinois Marathon 10k reminded me that I may have pushed myself too hard and needed to back off until my body recovered. I continued to walk and go to physical therapy although my energy levels that week were not at their best and leg soreness forced me to cut back on the distance I was walking. In physical therapy the main focus was regaining strength and flexibility in my right leg/foot and working on my balance, which like my walking were not that great the week after the race. In just thirty days (Not that I was counting) I would out find out if my spine was healing and starting to fuse giving me a better idea on when running would become a reality. My improvements that month were not dramatic, but even a slight weight increase in my legs extensions (2 lbs to 5 lbs woohoo!) I took as a victory although knowing I still had a long way to go. When the day of my six month follow-up appointment finally came with Dr. Harms, I had to go in early to have an X-ray taken of my back before the appointment. (Too bad I don’t get frequent flyers miles for all the X-rays and MRI’s I’ve had in the last twelve months.) While sitting in the waiting room after the X-ray I couldn’t help but notice the other patients getting X-rays and waiting for the results. Some walked with limps and others moved a little smoother and I appeared to be the youngest of the group there that day. When my name was finally called I was taken to one of Dr. Harms offices decorated with Star Wars collectibles from floor to ceiling.

Dr. Harms Star Wars Room

While waiting I thought about what I had been through in the past six months and soon I would find out how my fusion was healing and when I would be released to start running again and I even started counting how many Star Wars  characters were on the wall. I guess we will never know the number because a few minutes later Dr. Harms entered the room. He asked me how things were going and went over my records and then pulled up my X-ray’s on the computer to show me the results.

Screws & Rods & donor bone ( oh my! )

He informed me that the fusion was healing well with the donor bone starting to grow together and the rods and screws were still nice and solid. I was also told that I only needed to wear the brace for strenuous activities for the next three weeks and I could start to add a little running to my routine but to be very gradual and listen to my body. Before I left I was asked to answer a few questions on a post-op six month survey and when I was finished I was given a spine institute travel coffee mug which I have renamed “The $80,000 coffee mug”, the amount that my surgery has cost so far.

$80,000 Coffee mug?

The next day I was back at physical therapy and could start adding core strength exercises to my routine. I discussed with my PT. Heather that Dr.Harms had released me to start running again and she suggested I wait until my core, leg and foot strength improves which I agreed was probably a good idea. After three more weeks of PT including more difficult exercises, Heather brought up the idea of having me run that weekend and doing 4 x 30 sec runs with 5 min of walking between each run. That weekend I would be traveling to Colorado Springs, Colorado visiting family which meant I would be doing my first run in almost sixteen months at an Elevation of 6,035 feet above sea level. I would also be attempting to walk up the incline at Pikes Peak with the restrictions that I would have to wear my brace, use hiking poles and only go half way up.

Pikes Peak or Bust

To be continued……..


About runvan26

Endurance Athlete & Avid Fly Fisherman
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