Enjoying Disneyland with Jen. No we didn’t just get off Splash Mountain, it was raining.

As I detailed last time, I have decided to forgo surgery on my back.  I wanted to wait to do some physical therapy before posting again.  I also planned a trip to Disneyland since I wasn’t having surgery and wanted to contrast that trip with the one I took last year.  It was a memorable experience and I could easily compare the trips to see if things have improved or not.

Physical therapy first.  I’m doing water therapy, basically exercises done in a warm pool to strengthen my back and abdominal muscles.  The water helps stabilize your body and lessen the impact.  I’m doing well and I can tell it’s working because it leaves me tired and sore, but only for a few hours.  Mostly it’s stretches and basic core building exercises.

My therapist, a great lady I enjoy talking to while she guides me, is amazed at my ability to master the exercises and my low level of pain.  She keeps asking if it hurts and I keep reminding her that my only significant pain is from walking and standing for long periods.  Sitting and day to day stuff is nearly pain free most of the time.  I assume she sees a lot of really messed up people and post op patients.  Anyway, I think it’s helping, but its only been a few weeks.

That brings me to Disneyland.  I was supposed to have surgery on Nov. 5th, a week ago today.  I’d be laid up and popping pain pills all last week but instead, I went to Disneyland.  That beats surgery any day!  We went last year after New Years and it was a grind for me.  All that standing and walking did horrible things to my nerve and caused me great pain.  I could barely handle it after three days and even stayed in the room the last night.  That’s what finally made me seek medical help.

Cars Land was amazing. Just like the movie and the details were incredible. Radiator Springs Racers was a long wait, but worth it.

Well, this trip was much better.  Less pain and much more enjoyable.  It’s not all physical improvements, however.  Some of it was mental and some was just better strategy. Mentally, I was better prepared for the pain and  was better able to accept it and power through.  Logistically, I avoided very long lines, took more breaks and concentrated on my posture and holding my stomach tight.  But even with all that, I did feel better physically.

I honestly felt better after leaving the doctor a few weeks back and part of that was posture.  I made an effort when I walked to hold my shoulders back, suck in my gut and let my abdomen do its share of the heavy lifting, so to speak.  It worked instantly.  The first day I did a mile and a half with no stopping to squat and take the pressure off my nerve.  Since then,  I’ve been going two miles with manageable pain.  How could something so simple work so well, I wonder, but it does.  Core strength and posture and vital to back health and too many people don’t realize it.

The biggest hurdle so far is accepting the limitations and accommodations.  I talked about some of those on my fishing blog.  I doubt I could do four or five days at Disneyland like we used to when the kids were younger without a break.  I probably won’t be checking off several bucket list items that have to do with long hikes.  At least not just yet.  Still, the idea of accepting all that is hard sometimes.  I suppose we all have to accept it to one extent or another as we age and I’ll have to deal with more as time passes.

However, I’m hoping the combination of therapy, attitude and losing weight either make the pain manageable, if not eliminate it, or makes a simpler surgery possible (no spinal fusion).  I can live with those two outcomes and I’m encouraged that one or both are possible.  Time will tell.  If not, then I suppose I will have to pay the piper for a youth spent abusing my back.  But that is truly an option of last resort and I’m committed to another path.  Keeping my fingers crossed.