9.10.2012 – 11.6.2012

November 7, 2012

Throughout – Sharon, and the kids, have been amazingly supportive.  And the outreach from friends all over has been wonderful.

9.10.2012 – Having a good roll with Jim.  Get rolled forward, fail to move my head to the side, chin gets compressed down onto chest.  Heard some popping in my c-spine/upper back.  We both stop, I roll my neck, everything feels OK, finish it out.

Pain starts a couple hours later.  Burner in the left shoulder/back, between the spine and the shoulder blade.  Intensifies through that evening.

No big deal, right?  Feels more or less like when I pulled a muscle in my back mountain biking circa 2005.  Hurts enough that I can’t sleep for more than an hour or two at a time, and then only by lying face down, which is not comfortable.

9.11.12 – See GP for muscle relaxers.

9.12.12 – Muscle relaxers aren’t working.  See J. Kula at MSPT for evaluation.  Proscribes stretching.

9.13.12 – Not working.

9.14.12 – Saw Noah Samuels at Pekoe Acupuncture.  Two hours on table, did acupuncture and cupping.  Actually provided about six-eight hours of relief.

9.17.12 – See Dr. Sanders.  Describe increasing pain in shoulder, down left arm, slight numbness in web of left hand.  He recommends and MRI, says time may resolve, maybe a cortisone shot.

9.18.2012-9.21.2012 – Three sessions of PT at PTSAC.  Mike and Mr. Lee took good care of me as usual, not much more than temp relief, though.

9.24.2012 – Get an MRI of the c-spine and the left shoulder done.

9.27.2012 – MRI shows herniated discs at C-5/6 and C-6/7.  Sanders refers to Dr. Nathan Moskowitz about a cortisone shot.  I break down and ask for Percocet so I can get some sleep.

9.27.2012 – 10.3.2012 – Percocet is a wonderful thing.  Pain starts to settle out a bit in the back, but shoulder and arm continue to be problematic.

10.4.2012 – Talk to Dr. Moskowitz.  Says issues will not resolve without two level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).  Says pain will go away, but that post surgery (i) no crossfit, (ii) no BJJ, (iii) no muay thai.  This is a profoundly depressing prognosis.

For posterity, the rest of the day doesn’t get any better.  I drive to Forest Glen to park, end up having to pay $5 to leave the lot when the last spot gets filled right in front of me.  Drive to Silver Spring and park there.  Get coffee at Starbucks, which gets knocked out of my hand 30m from the store, so I get to buy a second cup.  Wander through the rest of the day in a daze, including drafting email to BETA explaining where I’m at, which I don’t send.  Realize on the ride home I never paid for my parking spot.  Sure enough – $45 parking ticket.  Great day.

10.5.2012 – 10.8.2012 – ask around for second opinions on surgery.  Billy Layton had lower back surgery done by Dr. Arthur Kobrine – same guy that saved James Brady.

10.10.12 – Meet Dr. Kobrine for second opinion.  Asks how I was hurt, end up spending the first 20 minutes talking martial arts and MMA.  Agrees with Moskowitz’s diagnosis, but prognosis is completely different.  Says I’ll be back on the mats in 3 months, no restrictions.  This is not profoundly depressing.

10.19.2012 – Had a routine follow-up on knee with Sanders.  Was surprised that both surgeons thought surgery necessary, but points out that’s why we have specialists.  Agreed with Kobrine’s prognosis – “If you’re going to have a spinal surgery, this is the one to have.  If it’s good enough for Payton Manning, it’s good enough for you.”

10.23.2012 – Two level ACDF with Dr. Kobrine at Sibley.  Surgery started about 8am, lasted about two hours.  Spent one night at hospital, which was fine except for the lack of sleep.  Up and walking around same day.  Lost voice, however.

10.24.2012-10.30.2012-  Rest and rehab at home.  24 hours/day in soft neck brace.  Basically watched movies and read all day.  Still no voice, on run of steroids to reduce swelling.

Only other issue was that I reacted to steri-strips again.  Need to remember to list those as an allergy if I ever have to do this again.

10.31-2012-11.5.2012  Back to work.  Started to feel much of the same things I had pre-surgery before starting the second run of steroids – slight burner in left shoulder, some numbness in left arm.  Pain went away with second run of steroids.

That said, steroids have made me jittery and interrupted sleep.  Not great.

11.6.2012 – First follow-up with Dr. Kobrine.

Says films look great, can go back to gym to do “neck neutral” work:

  • Farmer carry
  • Front squats
  • Pullups
  • Knee raises
  • Dips
  • Flutterkicks, etc.
  • Jumping rope (low bob) OK

Says voice will come back – just may take a while longer.

Discussed numbness in left arm.  He measured strength, said it felt fine, but we should continue to observe.

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2 Responses to “9.10.2012 – 11.6.2012”

  1. Ben said

    I had almost the same series of events: got rolled up on my neck,after several months started getting intense pain in neck and back, saw doc and was prescribed muscle relaxers, after that didn’t work went to chiro, finally had MRI. I ended up having 2 level acdf. I’m now 3 months post op, have follow up this week. I really want to be able to go back to bjj and also weightlifting. How are things going for you?

    • Nick said

      I’m sorry you had to go through that – it’s no fun. If I’m any indicator, however, you should be in good shape.

      I was back in the crossfit gym within a couple months – need to check the log. Started slow, added weight and lifts as the body permitted and the surgeon approved, and am now back full bore. Hit a bunch of five rep PRs a few weeks back, so I’ll argue no overall loss there.

      Waited longer to start back with the bjj. Same result, though. I’m back full bore, even participated in our in house white belt tournament. I do notice some limitation in my neck mobility, and so focus on warm ups there. More importantly, my approach was “tap early, tap often.” And it’s worked so far.

      The one lingering issue I had was some pressure (not quite pain) that never quite went away from my shoulder blade/back. Found an amazing PT (Adam Weaver) that does trigger point therapy – absolute magic. I strongly recommend finding someone who can do that – it really put me over the hump on the recovery.

      Hope that helps. Hang in there. Happy to answer anything I can as you move forward.

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