After those awful two days post-surgery things started to improve. I got my energy back and went back to work that Monday. My back still hurt a lot from the surgery — laying down, sitting up and sitting down — all of it ached really badly. But I was told this was normal and since I wasn’t taking any pain medication, it made sense that it was still hurting.
After 9 or 10 days, I really wanted to try working out. The doctor had said I could start running — so I did — and it was hard. I could tell it had been months and I felt slow as molasses. Some people thought it was odd that I would workout so soon after surgery but I was just following what the doctor said.
Working Out Again
For a period of weeks, my back continued to hurt from surgery. For awhile, I thought something must be wrong — but at at my post-op appointment, the doctor told me it was totally normal, that my back went through a lot of trauma with surgery and it was going to take a while to feel normal again. Whew, that made me feel better!
I continued taking it easy with working out but got back into a normal routine — happily! Over time, the pain subsided and I felt normal — almost. I became a stretching machine — making it a priority to do all my PT stretches and some exercises once or twice a day. I felt “off” if I didn’t really stretch out my hips, back, hamstrings and more. I had an overwhelming desire to relieve any pressure that might be happening because of tightness, recognizing how bad that can be on your spine.
After a month and a half, I was so ready to get back to the box. I told myself I’d wait till May 1st but after reading up on some CF-related stuff the last week of April, I gave in and emailed my coach. I told her I was ready to come back and slowly ease back into the gym. I was elated to meet with her in person and discuss modifications and ways to do it smartly.
Now, I’ve been back at CrossFit for two weeks — and it feels like I never left. Yes, I still love it — though I feel weaker than ever. I continue to have small irritations in my left leg. I also have an odd, phantom-like pain in my back where it used to hurt. I’m always expecting but then it doesn’t. I’m kind of terrified of the barbell — and doing back squats yesterday made me really nervous. I did deadlifts with almost no weight and anxiously await cleans and snatches, two of my favorites. Don’t worry — it will be light for a long time.
Overall, the surgery feels like a success. We ended up spending about $2,500 for the whole after what insurance covered so it wasn’t that bad but still, that’s a lot of money. I’m fortunate that’s something we can afford and not have to worry about.
So far, not regrets on surgery. Of course it’s only been 2 and half months but it did the job, after spending 6 months trying everything else. I guess I’m kind of glad we tried other things first — so at least we knew surgery was the only option. I’m sure some probably still would have stayed away from surgery but it felt like it was never going away on its own.
It looks like more back trouble likely awaits me in my future — as it runs in my family — and in multiple rounds. If this particular herniated disc was genetic and unavoidable as my doctor said, there’s nothing I can do to prevent it. However, I believe that a strong core, good posture, correct form and other actions can help a lot.
During this time period, Crossfit athlete Kevin Ogar was gravely injured at a competition. He is now a parapalegic and will never walk again. The incident had a strong effect on me — I couldn’t believe this had happened. I even watched the awful video of it. Why? I’m not sure — but it was scary stuff. Since the incident, Kevin has been an amazing fighter. I recently caught up with his progress on Instagram — and he’s back in the box doing modified CrossFit workouts, smiling at the camera and giving it his all.
As I was feeling sorry for myself, this incident snapped me back to reality. What the hell, Ericka? I was so full of it, being down about my injury. It reminded me how good I have it and how lucky I am that this was the extent of my problems. Kevin inspired me and is no doubt inspired thousands of others by not letting his injury break him. Going back to the gym with his spirit in mind is definitely a priority for me now. Work hard — because you get the privilege of doing so. When it hurts, when it’s excruciating, you do it for those that can’t — because of a body that doesn’t work right, or because they aren’t here any longer.