Happy 1 year Spine-iversary

It’s been a while, this I know. Juggling everything lately has been a struggle. Time passes and with each day I don’t write, I feel guilty that I have left my readers hanging. Each time I sit down to write, I am immediately side tracked by something else that needs to be taken care of like the kids, my business….EVERYTHING. Since I am able to be more independent again, I have tried to get back into the normal lifestyle I had prior to surgery. I am not doing it smoothly, or even 100%.  However, with each day that passes, I am more and more determined to get my life back on track and find that “new normal” I so desperately need to find.

Let’s see……where did I leave ya…..

Ah, yes.

So, since my last emotional post, nothing has really changed in regards to Emma. We are monitoring it like crazy and researching any therapy, exercise, etc that we can to see if there is anything that can be done instead of waiting it out and bracing when it’s worse. I get sick to my stomach just writing about it. She started writing in a little journal she keeps hidden in her doll house titled “My Scoliosis “. This is something we didn’t tell her to do but perhaps seeing as how writing has helped me, she took it upon herself to start her own little book. Reading her entries tore me apart. All she knows is what she has seen happen to me and it breaks my heart that she has that as her example of what scoliosis entails. So many of you have messaged me and comforted me about feeling responsible for Emma’s scoliosis. I really do thank you for that. Although it’s true I am the best mom and advocate she could have as she goes through this, it doesn’t make it easier knowing she has it because of me.

At my one year check up, my doctor said I am about 90% fused. I still have quite a bit of pain and I don’t know if that’s because of my severe arthritis or the fact that there are 24 screws, 3 wires and 2 rods up my spine. My spine does feel stronger than it did one year ago after surgery. So I know my body is doing it’s part to fuse and repair my spine. I am still in physical therapy. I have graduated up from Kindergarten level to possibly 3rd or 4th grade?  I have had a few meltdowns along the way. There have been moments in therapy where I become emotional while doing some of the exercises that are a struggle for me but would have been easy to do before. My leg is still a mess. It has definitely gotten better since I woke up from surgery, but for the last 6 months there has been no change whatsoever. I still can’t feel my foot completely on the floor, although there are now a couple toes and my heel that does. I have no feeling in the rest of my left leg except for the skin surface of my calf which still HYPER sensitive and feels like my skin is ripping off as I shave my legs. I guess the silver lining there is that I can actually shave my own legs although very poorly and it takes a lot of maneuvering and blind swipes! My brain and muscles in my leg and foot are still not connecting properly. Everything I do still has quite a lag. When you walk or run, you don’t think about those steps because your brain and leg just do them. Well for me, I sometimes have to actually think about where that foot is being placed. When I have attempted to do any light dancing in class, that is where it’s painfully obvious. My leg drags with my body as I try to dance. My foot is so weak, it refuses to get up into elevé. Last week in class, I made my advance class do the same combination across the floor 10-12 times because I was determined to get my damn leg and foot to do the movement. I don’t know if it looked inspiring or sad to them but I did it nonetheless. I am also working more on strengthening my arms and legs in therapy. We do much of the work on TRX bands. I am still not allowed to really lift anything and I can’t do much because of the fragility of my spine, but I think my therapist has done a good job trying to find a happy medium for me so that I don’t leave in agony by the end. I don’t even want to go in to the issues I still face due to my bowel resection. It’s not pretty and I’ll leave it at that.

Last week for 4th of July, I did a shoot for my other blog and found these fabulous American flag cowboy boots to wear with it. That morning, I couldn’t find my shoe horn I was given by the hospital. I remember hiding it somewhere since the boys were using it as a weapon while playing super heroes. It is not possible to put boots on without a long shoe horn and so I searched and searched trying to figure out where I put it. After having no luck finding it, I decided to try a long salad spoon. After a few minutes the spoon snapped in half and the boot was still not on. I will admit, that moment I balled my eyes out. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t such a big deal, I know. However, I think a wave came over me as I thought about how much has happened over this last year and how I wish I could just do these simple tasks like getting my own boots on without help. Since I can’t really feel that left foot and what it’s doing, it makes it an even harder combo with this back that can’t bend.  After a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself, I sucked it up, shoved the larger spoon half back into the boot and with a few cuss words, got the things on. My husband came home that day after work and I told him what happened. He reached up over the fridge and said….”Why didn’t you use this?’ and held up my freaking shoe horn! EYE-ROLL emoji. So that’s where I stuck it!

Work has been up and down for me. I am still trying to find that compromise where I don’t work myself too hard one week and then need another to recover from being sore and dealing with leg spasms. Most of the parents and students have been wonderful and supportive and I am ever so grateful for that. I have lost a few here and there. Some bigger blows to the heart than others. I knew going into this,  that could,  and probably would happen. It’s hard not to feel sad about it. It’s hard to feel like I am not measuring up to the job they feel I should be doing and like I have done before. I don’t think there is another dance studio on the planet, where one teacher teaches ALL of the classes. That was me for the last 10 years. I ran my studio and taught every single class and I did it well while also dealing with chronic pain. It was a one woman show and somehow I handled it all. Well, I can’t do that anymore.  I don’t think I should feel guilty about it either. I have great teachers in my place that do a fabulous job and know what they are doing.  Every other studio I ever taught at during my career had multiple teachers of all ages and skill background. I am trying to find a schedule that lessens the load for me so that I can make it in every week consistently so that I CAN continue teaching because it’s what I love to do.

This past Saturday, I had a Spine-iversary” party to celebrate making it through a year of recovery. When I think back on this past year, it’s hard not to become overwhelmed and think about how many challenges my family and I have faced because of this. I remember saying to Neil as I lay in the hospital, drugged up and in pain, that if I made it through this, I was having a party. I don’t think he thought I was serious, but he humored me then and supported me now when I told him I in fact wanted to have one. Why not? This year has been awful. As I drove back from Safeway on Saturday morning with a trunk full of ice, I started to think about why I was having this party. I cried the whole way home. It’s been so difficult and so much has happened. As hard as it was to go through all of this and deal with the complications that have now stemmed from this, I would probably choose it again. While cutting into my amazing cake made for the party, I had a lump in the back of my throat. I can’t even look at the pictures of me during that time without feeling sick or crying. It is weird how it seems like it happened just yesterday but also so long ago? I am proud of myself for being strong enough to handle it and I couldn’t have done it without Neil being there through every step. When something like this happens, I feel like it can either tear a couple apart or make them grow stronger. I can confidently say it made us even stronger and I don’t think I could love him any more than I do. He has supported me every step of the way by taking on more housework, working more at the hospital to make up for my absence at work and has even embraced my new blog by becoming my photographer in many of my posts. He is the peanut butter to my jelly, the yin to my yang, the best partner a woman could ask for. As I watched him grilling for the party in 106 degree weather, it made me smile, because even though he complains, I know he loves me and would do anything for me.

So…….a year has come and gone. Sure I still have a journey ahead of me, but I am one tough cookie. I’ll be ok. I will admit I wake up each day with the hope that my leg is normal again, that my bowel issues are normal again and I don’t feel these rods in my back. Maybe someday I will get there, maybe I won’t. One thing I have taken away from this experience is that with determination, love and faith, you can overcome anything.

If you are interested in taking a look at my other blog, Champagne Colored Glasses, feel free to do so. This blog, that started out as an idea in the hospital, has become pretty successful in 6 months. Writing has been my creative outlet since dancing has been so difficult and I need to pour that into something, right? I am hoping to somehow mesh the two together in the near future. You can also follow my instagram handle @apriljwagner as well.

Below are some pictures of the party and a few others from my other blog.                    Until next time….



3 thoughts on “Happy 1 year Spine-iversary

  1. congratulations on making it one year. Can you really feel the rods or is it just an uncomfortable feeling? i cant imagine . im scared to death to get the surgery


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