Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summer Travels, Spinal Fusion One Year Later and More

I hadn't realized how long it had been since I'd last posted. I've written drafts with every intention of coming back to them, but somehow I kept getting distracted. It's been eight lovely months, and I've been very busy. I finished off another semester of school (somehow getting an A+ in astronomy??), and have spent the last three and a half months working, relaxing and knocking things off my list.

June 1st marked the one year anniversary of my spinal fusion, and I haven't looked back. All my activity restrictions have been lifted, and I been slowly getting back into yoga, as well as attending physio to sort out my crazy muscles. The surgeons say you don't need to worry about physio after this surgery - and sure I am 100% mobile, pain-free and happy, but my back is weak, and unbalanced. There are so many little things I would not have known I needed to tackle had I not seen my physio. Things would have been good without it, but they'll be great with it. Otherwise, there is nothing noteworthy to tell you about my back - only that it remains to be one of the best choices I will ever have made.

Shortly after my exciting spinal freedom, I set off to Ireland and England for two weeks. My cousin got married, and we tacked on a detour through Ireland to make the trip even more rewarding. We went to Dublin, and stayed with family in Kilkenny. We explored the Rock of Cashel and various other ruins. Kilkenny castle was also a favourite of mine. My proud purchase from Ireland was a tacky tourist bobble hat that I will wear to death in the winter. 

Next we crossed the pond over to Exeter to where the wedding was taking place. We stayed in Fursdon house, a 700-year old manor. It was so beautiful, and the most peaceful and quiet place I've ever stayed. I reunited with what felt like dozens of family members that I hadn't seen in at least a decade. It was really lovely, and a little sad because it was so brief!

Finally we went on over to London. It was an interesting experience. I've been before - but never for so long. We stayed in an AirBnB (best thing ever), and hit all of the major tourist stops. I found myself enjoying things that I didn't expect to, and being a little underwhelmed by the things I thought I'd enjoy most. My favourite location was the Tate Modern. I never could have appreciated it before now, but it was just so inspiring. I also quite liked the National Gallery, and the British Museum - though I felt a little disappointed that you cannot properly experience those in two hours. Ideally I would love to go back and spend an hour in each exhibit over a number of days. But it's nice that I have something left to see in London!

It has been a lovely summer, and I am really excited to go back to school in the fall. I have finished all my psychology credits, and will be dedicating the remainder of my classes to art (and one Earth science). I've been learning more and more about design and art history on my own, and I'm looking forward to hearing about it in an academic context. Then in December I'm done!

That's about it for now! I'll try to keep you updated a little more regularly in the months to come.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Prospect Point

It's been nearly a month since I moved downtown, and only now have we gotten the energy to make a trip into the ever so convenient Stanley Park just a hop, skip and a jump away. With the original intention of just making it to a little lake situated in the middle, we essentially circled the entire edge of the forest and hit most of the major land marks from Beaver Lake to Prospect Point.

I was actually a little surprised at how small the park felt. All in all it took us about two hours to do our exploring though, which is a reasonable amount of time for a first proper nature walk. I was pretty damn impressed that I'd both dressed warmly enough and worn the right shoes for mud.

Stanley Park has a particularly pleasant personality in that it is a dense forest, but also surrounded by the ocean and the downtown core. Sometimes that means that the paths get a little close to the road here and there, but the views are pretty nifty. We were definitely clamouring to get a good spot at the lookout because it was so busy! Needless to say, all the good spots had tripods in them.

We timed the end of our adventure quite well with the end of the day and got down to the beach (and civilization) just in time to catch the sunset. I also got to watch one of those pregnancy photoshoots - though I'm still not sure I understand them. Believe it or not, the sunset was actually much more impressive once we got home, but by then it was too late because I'd settled down at my computer with some green tea and a blanket!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Scoliosis Spinal Fusion - 7 Month Update

It's been the better part of a year since I went under the knife. With it all so far behind me, the scariest part is how fast the time has gone. 2015 was probably one of the best years of my life. I don't necessarily mean it was the most fun, because it certainly wasn't at times, but it was the one in which I made the most progress. I had my surgery, got a job that I love and that changed my whole life plans for the better, and more recently I moved in with Josh. I've been so busy between all of this that I've neglected this blog.

At 7 months I can safely say that I am pretty much done my recovery. I generally do not think about my back throughout the day, and the pain has entirely gone. I was given the go ahead to workout again at the beginning of December (save for yoga, which was a blow), so I can run for buses again which is neat. I have started working out again, and while I think I will be cautious with my body for some time, I don't think I'm any worse off than any other person who doesn't regularly work out. 

I can't touch my toes yet, but then, neither can anyone else I know if I tell them to keep their back straight. I can do the plank for a minute, albeit a torturous minute, and funnily enough I am better at squatting as I had to use my legs a lot more during recovery. Essentially, I'm far less fit than I was before my surgery, but I don't see that being true for much longer. When I'm not too busy worrying about my spine, which I generally am not these days, I'm really busy with graphic design, the astronomy class that I took on a whim, playing Fallout 4, and spending time with Josh. 

I've been lucky enough to have some amazing opportunities already with work and graphic design. I got to have a question period with a professional graphic designer; I designed, printed and assembled a portfolio of my dad's photography for his Christmas present; and I am working on many lovely projects that feature my own designs, such as wedding invitations. I've simply fallen in love with the industry, and while I have always been interested in this type of art, I am appalled at myself for never considering it a viable option before. I am very good at sparking up enthusiasm only to completely drop it within days if I am not truly interested, and I have done this with many of my prior career explorations before. With graphic design though, I think about it all the time. I even started dreaming about it. I'm very happy to have found my little niche, and finally to have everything click.

I am also loving being all moved out from my parents' places, and supporting myself. It's not that I didn't like living at home, because I really did, but I am really proud to have progressed to this point in my life. And to be living downtown with a slight ocean view too! I did not expect to be so busy, and for free time to be so fleeting. It was only a few months ago that I had time to binge watch Netflix, and was that friend who was always free to hang out. Now I really need to be booked two weeks in advance! I have to admit that being so busy has taken a toll on me, as I have been sick recently, but I'm still adjusting to a lot of big changes, and as long as I force myself to take breaks a little more I'm not too worried. Besides, this is all so much more rewarding than Netflix was anyways.

On a sad note, my cat Pearl died just before Christmas. You may have gotten to know her through my Titanium cover video, or the numerous others that she was present in during my Youtube years. I hadn't been as close with her since leaving for uni, so it didn't hit me in full force, but it was sad! She had a really good life though and was quite reasonably aged for a cat, so I wasn't so much sad that she died, more that I just didn't get to say goodbye to her.


That's basically the story of me right now. It's all a bit crazy and overwhelming, because it feels like the more I get done, the more there is to do. Almost everything has changed - for the better of course. I am ready to have some down time though, I love my little routines after all. But I am really happy with how things are right now, and I feel like I've got control over everything in my life for the moment. As long as astronomy class doesn't kick my ass, all is well.

Have a good weekend!

Monday, November 2, 2015

scoliosis spinal fusion - 5 month update

I'm struggling to believe how much time has passed. It's been 5 months since my surgery and a year since I went to my doctor and told him to schedule it. Things have been amazing the last few months, and so much of it is a blur, especially the summer. I'm not there yet, but I'm well enough that I've been able to have a lot of fun.

This is one of the only years that I have not dressed up for Halloween, but I had a lovely time anyways. I walked down to a local pumpkin patch with Josh and my friends, though sadly they were almost entirely out of pumpkins aside from some tiny yellow ones. The orange colour is entirely necessary so we went from grocery store to grocery store searching and upon finding that the best they could do was partially moulding we preceded to give up. Despite having no pumpkins, it was fun and the rest of the night involved an extremely disappointing dealcoholized wine, pumpkin pie, and being absolutely terrified of the alien in Alien Isolation. Then it was back to studying for yet another midterm.

Later this month is also my 21st birthday which I am looking forward to! How did I get so old! I don't have much of a birthday list, even though it's highly requested by my loved ones every year. I am quite content with the things I have. My computer is threatening to die on me in numerous ways, so that's a little nerve wracking - but I refuse to accept its demise and thus will not be putting it on my list! It has served me too well for such a sad ending. As for everything else, I've been slowly ready The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and in the midst of being inspired to throw a tonne of my stuff away, it doesn't make sense to ask for even more stuff right now. Anyways, enough about me. Let's talk about my spine.

My spine is great, and life is great. Now that I've really and truly finished the hard part, I can genuinely say that this is the best my life has ever been. A lot of things have fallen into place and I definitely don't think that is a coincidence. I recently got a job that I love, and I've got a lot of positive old and new relationships. I'm figuring out what I want to do post uni, and I'm almost never anxious anymore. I really think that most of this is due to my surgery and the confidence it has given me.

Though my whole blog has generally given a pretty positive review of the surgery, I want to officially state it just in case. Getting the spinal fusion and fixing my back is the best thing I have ever done for myself. It was entirely worth it and I would do it again.

I've seen many people say that it has caused them more problems than they started with, but I have to believe that that is not a representative sample of the actual population that has had the fusion. For a lot of people it's a great decision and quite literally saves their lives. I've also seen people avoiding the surgery because the recovery is tough. That's the worst way to think about it. That's using short term thinking to solve a long term problem. Believe me, the results are worth a few months of discomfort. This is your whole life, we are talking about, and putting it off will just make it worse, and the recovery longer. It took me a really long time to understand that.

In terms of my physical status, I'm still under strict activity restrictions. My next appointment is in less than one month though, and that is terrible exciting! Hopefully the fusion has progressed, because I am going crazy having to move like a feather. Otherwise, no pain these days, except after a really long day. My little 4 pound backpack doesn't hurt my muscles anymore, and I generally forget about the whole situation until something explicitly reminds me.

For now that's all I've got, but I'll be sure to update you with what happens in my six month appointment! Have a good week!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Scoliosis spinal fusion - 15 weeks update

It has been quite a while since my last post! Three weeks I think! September 1st marked the three month mark since my surgery, which is incredibly exciting and also totally anticlimactic because nothing changed. Nonetheless, time has flown by and I have been doing really well.

I went back to school, and just finished my second week of classes. I really like the courses I am taking this year so far, and I've been good about staying on top of my readings. Going back was quite a shock to the system though. I could have gone to school as early as four weeks after my surgery, I just happened to have a long summer break opportunity to revive myself. That being said, even after three months, it's been tough. I get tired much more than I used to for one, and by the end of the week it is a lot harder to go through the motions. 

Also carrying my tiny backpack which is well within my weight limit is tough. It's just four pounds, but it hurts my back. That combined with some really poorly designed chairs at school, has led to a lot more spasms and general aches that I've had for a few weeks. I am getting stronger, and it is getting easier, but getting through the long commute and sitting in classes for long periods of time is still a challenge, and probably will be for a few more weeks. Possibly the whole semester. I am hopeful though, and it's nothing that will impact my performance in school. I might just need to rely on Advil and coffee more than I'd like. 

On a more positive note, summer weather has gone so I've traded my floppy recovery clothes for real fall fashion, and I've been loving it. I am over the moon with how my body looks now for the most part, and dressing it has been a whole new wonderful experience. It's changed what clothes I wear and how I wear them. Don't get me wrong, my back is still not perfect. I'm still a bit twisty, and my shoulder is still rounded but I'm not dressing to hide anything anymore. 

My lower spine, which wasn't fused is actually straightening out now. My doctor told me this would happen but it was a little hard to believe before. My whole torso was kinda left leaning to the left after my surgery, but now that the lower curve is straightening, everything is looking better and better. A few more months and I won't be leaning to the side anymore. Not that anyone would notice it now! 

The numbness is pretty consistent. The recovery has plateaued for the moment. I'm just going to have to accept that it will take a long time to get feeling in my back again. It's at least progressed to a point where I'm comfortable and don't notice anything weird until someone touches my back. So for the most part it certainly doesn't bother me. 

Overall it has been nice getting out again. I will admit that it still makes me a little nervous being around so many people after spending so much time at home, but I'm acclimatizing quickly. Right now, I'm just getting used to a lot of things. Anyways, that's all the updates I've got for now!

Have a great weekend!

- Kelsey

Monday, August 24, 2015

scoliosis spinal fusion - 12 weeks post op

This week there was actual tangible progress! More feeling is coming back to me and the muscles are really starting to loosen up. My entire back can now feel things in the very basic sense  of the word. It's not a detailed sensory experience by any means but I can feel my back against a pillow, or water hit my skin in the shower. The muscles excite me even more. After my surgery the muscles between my shoulder blades felt like one big chunk of flesh (sorry for that icky image). It felt like they weren't separate, and it made natural movement difficult. The process is far from done but my left shoulder has basically separated out of this chunk and feels independent again. Maybe the sense nerves in the muscles came back in that spot. I'm not a doctor though so don't take my word for it. 

I've been feeling a lot safer in my body this week. I have been careful not to break any rules or restrictions, but I'm becoming more comfortable moving naturally, and just going about my daily life as normally as I can. The confidence is definitely up. Yesterday I even walked around our local lake for the first time in months. It's over an hour walk! Not that I haven't been walking a lot but I've been doing more of my daily activity by going out with friends or visiting people recently, so going back to a planned nature walk was nice. 

On another note, I've been thinking a lot about the impacts of the surgery on my life and while I can only say good things, and cannot recommend it enough if you're in my position, I have realized something. It's cliche as hell, but honestly, the one thing that hasn't changed is how I feel about my body. Some of my insecurities are definitely gone, and that does help. But it's more that my low moments have been eliminated, not so much that my overall happiness has been elevated. I should know this happens, I'm a psychology major after all, but in the end, we always seems to return to our baseline of happiness. Sometimes things can make us really happy, but we always come down. 

I don't love myself more now, and the thoughts I've made a habit of having about my body haven't gone away because of this. In the end, I think the best we can do is the eliminate the lows, and hope to not feel bad about ourselves. I've achieved this, and I am so glad for this whole experience, but I'm not necessarily happier. Physically I am much better off though!

Overall everything is coming back to baseline and that's good. My worries are fading away and I am comfortable, independent and pretty low on the anxiety scale. I am so ready to go back to school and start using my brain. I actually read some of my textbooks the other day, and finished an entire book on how to argue logically in one sitting. My brain is ready. 

See you next week!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Scoliosis spinal fusion - 11 weeks post-op

I skipped a week of updating and I think that is pretty good news. I missed it because I was actually quite busy for the first time since my surgery. I've been out and about seeing friends and family and have made the transit trip to my boyfriend's (who I will now just refer to as Josh) place multiple times. Thanks to Josh ever so generously donating some of his time to massaging my weird back muscles, the nerves are starting to come back and my muscles are starting to chill out. I can't feel texture in many parts of my back but I can feel pressure. So I can't feel nails scratching but I can feel the pressure of my fingers. 

My energy levels seem to be fairly normal now. If you walk up a hill with me I will need to catch my breath a little more than you do at the top but I can make it! As for pain, it's something that still kinda comes and goes. I don't have any constant pain. I get little twinges of it in my muscles and sometimes that stupid spasm/crampy spot in my left shoulder acts up at the end of the day. Nothing to really be concerned about anymore. If anything, these days I am afraid of getting too comfortable and ending up breaking some activity restrictions such as twisting a little simply because I forget I'm not 100%. I'm hoping that it's become enough of a habit to keep my torso straight that I won't make this mistake but it's important that I remember to keep being careful. 

I think I am pretty much used to being part of the public again. I just have to keep my eye out for people who might accidentally hit me in the back. Even just the other day a man in ikea narrowly missed hitting my back with a pack of wooden coat hangers. If I've learnt one thing from this surgery, it's to be more careful around other people because you never know what could be going on with their bodies. Don't hit people with wooden coat hangers. 

Other than that, there is no progress to report for now! I am doing well and I like to think I am independent again to some degree. I'll keep you posted as usual!

Have a good week!