Little Victories

Each day of my convalescence, I take note of a small victory over the trauma of spine surgery. It helps me focus on the progress I’ve made, rather than the obstacles I face and will face for the next several weeks. After being in a fog for about a week, due to pain meds and a lot of sleep, I suddenly found myself humming along to one of my favorite pieces of classical music I was hearing on the radio. I realized that I hadn’t hummed or sung since before the surgery, and here I was, finding my voice. On another day soon after, I suddenly remembered that I had a blog, and it was time to let my readers know that I was alive, and I was enjoying the exercise of finding just the right words to describe how I felt. . Next, I opened my calendar, finally caring what I had scheduled for after the surgery, and just in time, I discovered a couple of birthdays I needed to acknowledge. To me, this meant that I was slowly starting to care about people other than myself. Then I began to get serious about obeying the rules my doctor and my physical therapist had pounded into my head. I had thought I could get away with bending them a little, and I use the word bending on purpose, because that’s the hardest one to obey, no bending. Have you ever considered how many times you bend over in a day, especially when you have a dog? One of my biggest challenges was how to lower the bowl of food to the floor for Dora. I thought if I could just do a very deep squat, or for you ballet dancers, a very deep second position plie, I could almost reach the floor, only dropping the bowl an inch or 2. But my PT didn’t like that, because coming back up would put strain on my back. To pick it up when empty, I could use the “reacher,” or what I lovingly call the “grabber.” It’s a stick with a jaw-like contraption on the end. I had been skeptical that I would be able to use it without sight, but once I tried it and had success, I became quite proficient. Some objects are more difficult, such as a landline phone, but I’ve devised a way to solve that crisis too. If it’s close to the bed, I scoot it over with my foot to the bed, and then lie down on the bed and reach down and grab it with my very own hand. I do the same when I want to retrieve a clean pair of socks from the drawer under my bed. I should show that one off to my PT, because he had no suggestions. Meanwhile, I solved the dog food dilemma by sitting on the edge of a chair and holding the bowl down as far as possible without bending, and she happily scarfed up the food, and it was easy for me.

While I was in the hospital, Dora’s grooming was completely forgotten. I can’t blame my kids, because they were totally absorbed in my recovery, but when I woke from my fog and saw that she had become a furry mess, and her breath was offputting to say the least, it was time for me to do something. I needed a low seat, so I could reach her without bending or twisting, and the best seat in the house was the toilet lid . Now, each day, we make a trip to the bathroom in the utility room for a good brushing and toothbrushing. I don’t know why I never thought of that before, because it’s backbreaking work even if you haven’t had surgery.

What bothered me the most was not being able to put things away. I have to keep my shoes at a level where I can reach them, same for shirts, nightgowns, and other clothing I normally keep tucked away in drawers. The dog food container is on top of the stove. The dish soap is on top of the counter, instead of beneath the sink. And some things just have to lie where they fall. I don’t like this arrangement, but in 9 more weeks, I pray my life will return to normal. And instead of humming now and then, I’ll be singing out with gusto.


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