Thaddeus talks about how much the support of his family has helped him prevail from years of pain medication addiction and chronic back pain. He is as happy as he has ever been and looking forward to getting back to his love of working on boats, but he realizes he will no longer be doing the bending and twisting he used to do to repair engines.
The surgical pain was just absolutely intense. It was so strong that I was going through the pain pills, like, twice as fast as I should have.
You know, my wife was working. She would make me a lunch and pack it in a cooler next side to the bed. A sandwich or a drink or some hard-boiled egg or something, I just lay in bed and watch TV all day and take my meds. It's very hard. It's very debilitating. It's depressing, and it's hard to wrap your head around it, and one of the problems was getting more medication. They changed the laws recently for narcotic use to try to control the abuse.
You used to be able to get a prescription and then when you run out, you could just have the doctor call the pharmacy and refill it over the phone. Now you have actually have to have a hard copy script for narcotics each time you get them, and I would call the my surgeon's office and explain what was going on. Well, it happened that my daughter lives near there, and they sent down another prescription for some really strong stuff - Dilaudid in a tablet form, and they also gave me a Fenactol patch which you put on your skin.
So, those two combinations - the pills and the patch - really kept me comfortable, and once you're comfortable, you start healing. You're not depressed and you're not fighting it and your wife isn't worried. Slowly I just started getting better and better and better, but I really had some pain management issues for about six weeks postop, and it was all surgical pain. I didn't have any more shooting pain down my back. All my symptoms were gone. I just started building up my endurance, and now I'm about, well, I've been walking up to two to three miles a day for every day, and I feel great. I don't have any pain.
Well, my caregiver - my wife - thank God. Bless her. She would take care of me. She would feed me, make lunch for me when she had to go to work. The part that was really hard on her was seeing me in so much pain. It was really hard on her because there's just nothing you can do for the patient other than to just try and keep them comfortable. I just had to go through the healing process, and because of the pain management - which was really off-the-wall - I was doped up all of the time and it would drive her crazy, you know, trying to deal with me being laid up and being doped up and angry and cranky and short-tempered.
It takes a lot to [LAUGH] take care somebody like that, you know? I'm starting to ease back into my work load. I'll probably just only go back to work part-time. When you're in back pain, flying on airplanes in coach can be [LAUGH] really challenging sometimes. Even just going through security and all that stuff. But now I'm feeling much better. I'm also a very avid scuba diver, and this has precluded me from diving for about, gosh, over year and a half I haven't been in the water, but I just got cleared to go back to dive in January.
I even did a five mile walk about 10, 15 days ago, and I felt really good after that. So, hiking is something I wanna pursue and, uh, my sport of diving, uh, is what I'm trying to get back into doing. If I had to run across this crosswalk or something, I can do that, but as far running any distant, like, a mile or jogging or anything, nah. Running is just not my game. But this walking has helped my muscles in my legs a lot, especially my bad leg - my withered leg.
I've been trying to concentrate on building up this muscle group in here. Plus, life is good right now. I'm feeling happy and I'm pain-free, and I’m just thrilled that I ended up where I ended up, you know? They did a bang up job. I'm living proof that my three-level lumbar fusion has been a great success. My quality of life is much, much, much improved. I can walk around. I'm pain-free. I've lost 20 pounds just from walking and changing my diet a little bit.
I think that if you get it done right, I think there's a lot of hope at the end of the tunnel for people that are considering this procedure. Find the best surgeon you can. Go to the very best in the world that you can find is what my recommendation would be.