I am officially entering month 8 of surgery recovery. I feel like I lost an entire year of my life to my back. More than two years if I count the way my back limited me beforehand.
I hate how much my body has changed. I still can’t really fit into most of the pants I wore before the surgery – my calves and ankles are giant balloons. My endurance is awful – I finally started doing cardio last week (the elliptical because I am not allowed to run or do anything with ‘impact’ on my back) and I am out of breath after 20 minutes. I have been forcing myself to go for 45 minutes at a time, but if I am being honest, then I am just tired all day afterwards. I have tried doing barre and yoga classes, but my back mobility is so weak that I can barely get through the class. I feel like the fat, uncoordinated person in the class and that everyone’s eyes are on me, because I am struggling so much (yes, I know that’s not true, but when you’re sweaty and immobile, you tend to get irrational)
It’s tough to describe, but my body feels completely different after spinal fusion – it’s like someone pushed my ribs and butt in and straightened my body. Before this, my torso had a bit of an S shaped that I assumed was natural (we are never really taught what a normal body looks like, are we?) and now I feel like a tree. I can finally do a plank without my back collapsing. But I’m irrationally terrified that something I do will hurt my back again.
I was told before that recovery is not linear and I still feel like there are pits and peaks in the process. It seemed crazy that people would take 2-3 years to run a 5K or go skiing again, but the thought of either of those things makes me terrified. I’m guilty of judging people for this too – I remember reading about Kim from Matt and Kim and how recovering from knee surgery brought her into a huge depression, because she thought she would never dance again. I trivialized her feelings, because it seemed insurmountable that a surgery can cripple a body. But here I am, almost a year in and I still feel crippled.