The long road that seemed to never end, has finally come to its last miles. I have received approval from the insurance company for my back surgery. In the end, it was not an issue of whether I needed the surgery or not. That seemed clear to all involved. It was a small, yet for me critical, issue of coverage for the double fusion. The wording in the insurance policy is clear -- such a surgery is not considered required unless there is clear evidence of dislocation by a certain percentage. Had this been clear to my surgeon and myself during the initial appeals, it might have not taken so very long. The bottom line, the evidence is not there. So, they have approved a fusion at L4-5 and basically a replacement disk and relocation of S1-L5. But, the approval clearly states that if my surgeon finds need for the second fusion during the surgery, that he is authorized to do it. This is fantastic news. I know that my surgeon has no intention of leaving me partly fixed. I will get what I need, and he is authorized to do so.
During my final appeal, I read a statement I prepared about my history, my current status, and how this is making a mess of my life. I was thanked by a panel member. In the end, I think that statement made them want to find a way to make the surgery happen in the way we all knew was required. Yet, that restriction made it difficult for them. After some questioning of my surgeon, this final outcome was found.
Bottom line -- we won. I will get everything I need.
This is another lesson in not giving up and never quitting. It took me some time to get motivated for this fight. My wife and friends kept me going when I could not. In every important way, this was exactly like an ultra marathon. And, like an ultra marathon, my crew made all the difference.
My surgery is January 25th. I feel ready. It will not be fun. It will be painful and the recovery hard. I don't care. Mentally I am more than ready for what is to come. In the end, I will cross a finish line of freedom from pain and a return to the life of running and extreme adventures that I so wish to have back.
My wife will be there to support me during my recovery. I am getting some pre-payback, however. I am supporting her during a difficult recovery time right now.
Sadly, my wife, Deborah, was walking in a cross walk of a shopping center parking lot when she was hit by a car. She was battered and bruised badly, with a huge black eye where she broke the windshield with her face. The worst injury is to her knee where the bumper hit it. She has a minimally depressed tibial plateau fracture, an injury right at the knee. She also has a badly torn MCL. A CT scan shows that surgery is not necessary to reposition the break. But, she must be non-weight bearing on that leg for a full three months! That might sound easy, but it is not. Between the break and the torn MCL, it is also very painful.
I cannot help but think about just how close she was to getting killed. Just a few more miles per hour and she likely would have cracked open her skull and dumped gray matter all over the driver. While that makes for a great visual and a just payback, it would not have resulted in a continuation of our life together. I am much happier with the current result. All in all, she is just recovering from relatively minor injuries -- a lot of them, all over and in her body, but still relatively minor individually.
Deborah will still be on crutches while I am laid up. That will be interesting. We have been through a lot together. This is just a bump in the road. I am going to be fixed, and she is still alive. That is good enough.
So, as I was going to do six months ago, I will post here my progress through the surgery and recovery. I have set my recovery goal of getting to Death Valley in 2013 and doing my self supported solo crossing in August. That is my goal. If my aging body does not let me recover fast enough to make that happen, that will be OK. I will have tried. Recovery is just one more ultra marathon in this thing called life. I will, no matter what, be ready for 2014.
I could not look at it for a while, but now I can and use it for motivation. Please let me share the photo log video I made after my 2010 Death Valley crossing, Death Valley Express. My bad back was killing me, but I made it. Slowly, with a recovery from severe dehydration, but I made it. That is all I really wanted to do, and really could expect to do, given how bad my back has turned out to have been.
Find the video by clicking here. Turn on your sound. The music is a big part of the message.
For now, stay tuned. This surely will be an interesting adventure. Different, but interesting.