This week has been all about reducing pain relief quite dramatically. By next week I'll be down to zero as far as the heavy duty pain medication is concerned. I've had some withdrawal symptoms which haven't been nice - mainly gut cramps. In reality they've been pretty mild so far.
I've continued my walking, but in line with last week it's been more moderate than earlier weeks and that's been good. Total for the week is 23.5 km. I also did another session in the pool - some walking and gentle exercise. I came out feeling like I'd done a work out but very relaxed and flexible. It was great and I think I could get addicted!
As in previous weeks I've had ups and downs with pain and discomfort. It's become clear that this whole saga has been a big success. I've gone from being unable to walk 150 metres 2 months ago to being able to reel off 7 km at a reasonable speed if I need to. That's success if ever I heard it. It's also clear that after having had various back pains and problems for most of my life - starting as a teenager in the early '70s - a single operation isn't going to solve all of that. One or two other levels in my spine that had previously been problematic but which were fairly settled before the surgery are now complaining again. I think that will settle down over time. The lumbo-sacral area of my back is best described as "fragile" at the moment. It's not hard to trigger off unsettling localised pain and discomfort - low key but annoying. I think a lot of that is about a few bits of titanium being buried there and the muscles needing to get used to sitting over and around that. It's too easy to focus on that sort of thing when you've just had major surgery. It's too easy to become a bit obsessive about things, so I've been trying to ride with that stuff and it generally passes after a few days. In addition I've got a 16cm scar from the base of my spine. That's become more of an issue over time, feeling slightly tight and "catching" at odd moments when I move. Again I'm trying not to focus on that and just working instead to maintain flexibility.
The things I still can't/haven't done are interesting: I can't put on my shoes and socks, mainly as I don't want to bend and twist enough to do that; I haven't driven for 8 weeks - I refuse to do that whilst on painkillers even though I think I'm quite OK to do it; I can't sit for long periods, though that's improving - up to about 20 minutes in the right chair; I can't lift and pull or push; I don't think I can sail yet and want to talk to the surgeon about that; I haven't flown - I can't get into the aircraft and the drugs prohibit it anyway.
So that's it. I've got a review with the surgeon on Wednesday and I'm planning to start work the week after. It is a good moment for thanks though: to my daughter who has faithfully put on socks for her ageing dad for most of the last 8 weeks; to Sandy in a local shop who smiled and got down on her knees to undo my laces one day when I got trapped in my shoes with nobody to help me get them off; to Maddy and Dan for the lifesaving Red Cross parcel of books - thanks guys you don't know how much I needed that; to the surgical team - you guys rock; to the nursing staff at 3LP - I couldn't have asked for more care and support and all with a smile; to my mates for enduring lunch with me when I needed company; to my neighbour for his words of wisdom; to my physio for holding my hand when it all got too much; to Chris for his wisdom and support; to Graham who'd been there before and was a calming force and full of great advice; and to my wife for all her support and for putting up with me at all!
It's been a real team effort and I can't imagine how much more goes into something like winning an Olympic Medal!