L5-S1, Straubing, Germany - December 2005
Email from Steve and Margaret, 11/10/2006
It’s hard to believe that
we were getting ready for Germany a year ago, but at almost 1 year
post-op, I'm doing much better. Folks who haven’t
seen me in a while comment on how the pain is not etched on my face
You know that my recovery was quite slow and contained
more than just a few ups and downs. The distraction pain lasted about
and thankfully, it's at ZERO now. After the distraction pain faded,
the next challenge was the morphine withdrawal. When that was over,
I had a long and wonderful period of ZERO pain. Attempts at higher
activity levels brought on some disappointing setbacks, but I seem
to have arrived
at a level that allows me to function well with very low pain levels
and no narcotics. The only thing I'm taking now for my back is ibuprophen.
(However, I did have to cut back on my activities to achieve that.) Yoga,
especially the mental aspects, has been important in my recovery and
I highly recommend it.
You remember how severely disabled I was and while I'm no where near
perfect, I'm so much better.
I still have some weakness in my right foot and leg,
but the cane is long gone. I can roughhouse with my son now (actually
running to chase
him at times!) We can kick a soccer ball around and I'm walking 50
minutes/day with zero pain. I'm also back to working part-time. I'm
also still very encouraged because I'm still seeing progress. Even if
it stops and I stay where I am, I'm still so much better than I was.
Thank you for everything you do. Your work has been so important to me,
family and so many others.
All the best,
Steve, Margaret and Will
PS. Feel free to have your clients contact
me if they want to know more about my experiences.
on the Journal of Steve's
Caring Bridge site
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2005 06:05 PM,
It is New Year’s Eve and I just reviewed all of the guest book
entries on the site. I am so moved and awed by the support I have received
and the support that is out there. I have been thinking a lot about what
the means to me and how important it is to carry that openness and support
into the world. I am absolutely committed and available to anyone who
needs advice or a sounding board in dealing with back pain, depression,
surgery abroad, or anything else my experience triggers. This also includes
my treasure trove of recipes (yes, I am the one who does most of the
cooking, although Margaret is an excellent cook in her own right)!
I also wanted to acknowledge Mark Mintzer.
His notes on this site are especially revealing, insightful and inspirational.
I think that hearing his description of me before the surgery had
much the same impact on me as his seeing me had on him. Throughout
this process, it has been hard for me to know or accept how impaired
I was – my own perspective is pretty skewed.
Mark has also been an incredible source
of support and comfort throughout this process. From the moment we
first talked, I felt that I was seen and heard and that I could trust
him. It was so valuable to be able to talk with someone who had a
window into what I was experiencing. In Germany, it was great to
know that he was watching the surgery and to see him when I woke
from anesthesia. It was also great to have him available to help
listen, interpret and explain what was going on.
When I left Straubing, I knew that I was
going to truly miss being around Mark and our conversations – about
anatomy, physiology, surgery and life. He has such an honest desire
to learn and help other people with whatever knowledge and wisdom
he can learn and accumulate and share. He doesn’t make your
decisions, but gives you the information you need to be comfortable
with the ones that you make. Thanks Mark.
Finally, how am I doing? I have been feeling
more depressed than I have been recently. The nerve pain is hard
to deal with on a daily basis and I am so ready to be done with the
chapter in my life. Even though I truly believe that this is a side-effect
of the surgery, I am having a hard time holding that space of neutrality.
The good news is that the nerve pain seems to have moved out of my
butt, and I am hoping that is a sign of improvement. The other good
news is that my back pain is no longer at the forefront of my consciousness
and seems to be less.
Tonight, we will bring in the new year
with a pomegranate-ginger champagne cocktail.
My love to you all,
Not in Germany yet... researching options
in Los Angeles a few months earlier:
"Mark picked us up at LAX and attended
our doctors appointment with us.
We went out to lunch and discussed the info
we'd received and our options.
I can't believe how useful it was to have
Mark participate at this level."
Arrived in Straubing to a great snow!
Steve's Guardian Alien overhead
The view from the Hospital
Out of the hospital!
Steve and Gary busted with their gluhwein.|
Lunch in an 1860's Chateau
Look at the icicles from the flume on the left.
One month later (on AnneC's page), this was a wall of ice!
Night time at the Stadtplatz