On 18th June 2019, I had a lumbar laminectomy and fusion, as well as a sciatica nerve repair, after the neurosurgeon determined that there were degenerative changes in the S1, L4 and L5 vertebrae due to osteoporosis and extreme irritation of the sciatica nerve, causing it to feel as if it were almost touching the spine.
Being a long-distance runner, you can imagine the shock of waking up after the operation to realise that my life would never be the same again. Well, at that moment in time and for the next 8 weeks, that is what I thought as I slowly started the long and painful journey back to doing the most common day to day tasks, i.e. showering, going to the toilet, dressing, sitting, standing and walking.
With help from my beautiful physiotherapist, I got out of bed the day after the surgery, walked to the toilet the second day, showered the third day and climbed stairs the fourth day. All of this was done in excruciating pain, with the simplest task, such as going to the toilet, taking half an hour and all of my energy. Running, let alone any form of exercise, was the last thing on my mind. My biggest priority was getting rid of the pain, getting out of bed on my own, being able to sit and bath myself and, more importantly, get dressed.
For the first 6 weeks, I was not allowed to drive or be driven anywhere, so my physiotherapist came to me and, with her help, I did exercises to help me do the above tasks in an easier way and was allowed to walk for 20 minutes a day. Being a runner, my first thought was that I would be walking at least 2.5km a day. What a shock when my husband had to help me put on my running shoes, I started my Garmin watch and began to walk. All I could manage was 400m in the allocated 20 minutes. For some, this might be acceptable, but for me as a runner, this was mind blowing. I realised that I had a lot of hard work ahead of me and needed time to heal. I was determined not to give up, so I painfully did every exercise the physiotherapist gave me and managed to slowly walk around the house every day.