Nearly two weeks ago, I checked into the hospital for what was supposed to be a relatively minor procedure to address an “extremely rare” complication related to last year’s spinal fusion.
When the surgeon got in there, he unexpectedly discovered that my body had reabsorbed the implanted bone grafts while the rods and screws were loose and moving around. This happens in 3% of cases, he said, and he has no idea why it happened to me, as I do not have any of the risk factors for poor healing. As he delivered the bad news to me upon my awakening, he expressed surprise that I was even able to walk around in that condition.
In response to the situation, he had to completely redo the fusion, making for a much longer recovery than we anticipated. One planned night in the hospital became four. One week of missed work will now likely be three. One month of taking it easy now becomes a season, at least.
Twice I fainted in the hospital, and my blood pressure and pulse dropped so low for no apparent reason that they ran tests to see if I had suffered a heart attack, but really the hardest part of the whole ordeal has been coming to grips with the reality that everything I went through last year I must now do again.
However, the situation has been made easier thanks to the help and support of friends, family, an excellent team of nurses and physical therapists at the hospital, and of course my wife, who is now picking up the slack for me in every facet of our life.
Just 12 days before the surgery, I ran the Mount Washington Road Race and we celebrated at the summit. We thought we were at the top; little did we know we were heading back to the beginning. The lesson: I will never take days like that for granted, as they are never guaranteed to come again.