Surgery was February 14th.  Doctors tell me 6 months to a year before I'm fully healed.  Six months to a year before I can start climbing again.  Really sucks.

I'm not going to start doing things before they tell me I can.  I never want to have to go through what I just have.  I herniated the L5-S1 disc at the end of November.  My back got worse, then better, then worse.  Saw my doctor early January, he prescribed physical therapy.  After 4 sessions of P.T. the therapist said there was nothing she could do for me and sent me back to my doctor.  Doctor finally sent me in for an MRI.  Results came back that I had a severe herniation of the disc, which was shutting down the nerves which led to my right leg.  My doctor still wouldn't send me to the neuro-surgeon because insurance required at least a month of physical therapy before I could be bumped up to the surgeon.

That night was spent in the emergency room getting what I hoped would be better pain drugs.  I found out rather quickly that neither hydrocodone (Vicodin) nor oxycodone (Percocet) really do anything for me.  At least in this situation.  So, I spent several days without sleep, the pain getting worse and worse.  I started walking with a cane because I just couldn't balance anymore and also so I had something to rest on when I needed to take my frequent breaks while trying to walk.

Three days after my last visit I saw my doctor, who was quite disturbed by how quickly I had gotten so much worse.  Somehow this "one month of physical therapy" rule was now forgotten about and I was referred to the neruo-surgeon with an appointment before the end of the week.  The appointment arrives, I see the doctors and they're talking immediately about surgery, then stop themselves and start mentioning an injection.  Apparently before they can talk about surgery, they have to try this procedure called a transferaminal injection, where they inject some anesthetic and steroids at the base of the iritated nerve bundle.  They're positive it won't work, but the insurance company requires it.

So, I get the injection.  It works for about an hour, then everything comes back worse than before.  Crap!

So, I had surgery on February 14th.  I'm walking, no cane, very little pain.  I'm back to work, half time, more hours next week.  It still hurts to put on my socks and tie my shoes.  Other than that, if I follow instructions I'm doing great.  I can't do much bending at the waist.  No twisting at the waist.  Can't pick up anything heavier than 15-20 pounds.  I can drive, and my appetite is back.  Oh, did I mention that from January 15th through the middle of February I had lost 16 pounds, went from 198 down to 182.  Now, I'm hovering right around 190.  I feel good.

I feel good, but I will miss being able to climb this year.  My wife will surely drag me along on a few trips, I'll fake like I really enjoy being there, but in actuality, it really sucks to go along on a climbing trip when you can't climb.

Maybe sometime I'll tell you about the summer of 2005 when I couldn't climb because I tore a couple tendons in my shoulder on a climbing trip.  Didn't do the damage while climbing.  Damage happened at the campsite.  Maybe I'm just a klutz. :)