As you can tell, I took some time off of blogging. I’ve had so many requests for an update and I feel like I am now in a position to do so with a merry heart. I had to take some time to heal my body – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. 2016 hit me like a ton of bricks with the si joint fusion, thyroid cancer scare and surgery, and my bladder disease (Interstitial Cystitis aka “IC”) coming out of remission followed by diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is closely linked to IC. I have spent much of my time researching, seeing natural specialists, changing everything about my health, and in physical therapy. I can tell you that this time off has allowed me the time to heal and I couldn’t be more excited to share this update with you!
For those catching up, I had my sacroiliac joint fused in May 2016 after multiple failed conservative treatments. I flew from Tampa to Montana to have the Rialto fusion method, if you’re new to this – please, please, please research the different methods and don’t settle for the first one thrown at you. Get multiple opinions. You can read more about the backstory here. So here I am at 8 months post op with Rialto from Medtronic…how am I?? I have my life back.
No, seriously. I can run. You read that right…I am RUNNING. I can now shop without wheelchairs or electric scooters, I went to a natural Expo in Orlando and literally walked around a convention center for 7 hours with no pain. I can do yoga. I am lifting weights. I regularly do 70 squats to build my glute & leg muscles. And I signed up to walk/run my first post op 5k next month. I’ve started the “Couch to 5k” training program and ran for over 11 minutes this past week. This is nothing short of a miracle, folks!
Some videos – I can run stairs (say hi to my Batman! Whom I can hold once again)…
And I recently participated in a bowling tournament. Bowling! Who knew? No pain.
Most days I am absolutely pain free. Other days? I might have pain 1 to 2 on the pain scale which is easily alleviated by stretching and walking. I no longer take prescription pain medication. I don’t need to ice anything and a huge indicator of my healing is that I can push my body to do new things without a backlash pain flare.
If you’ve been keeping up with my story either here or on Facebook/Instagram, you’ll know the first few months of my recovery were so up and down, I sometimes wondered if I was going to make it out with a successful fusion. At the suggestion of a friend, I enrolled in Pelvic Floor Therapy around 3.5 months post op and I wish I had known about this BEFORE surgery!! If you’re in the Tampa/Brandon, FL area, Sam Martin at Brandon OPPT is absolutely amazeballs. She was able to treat both my SI joint issues and my bladder disease. What I found is that I have some internal muscles that are pulling my sacrum ONTO my fusion hardware just enough to cause pain. Believe it or not, my sacrum still moves ever so slightly despite the fusion. We’ve worked on these muscles and once we added the at-home strength exercises, it’s been a dramatic recovery every since. I can’t recommend this enough. And to give yourself the grace to recover at your body’s pace…this recovery takes months and mostly because of the muscle rehab that needs to happen from years of pelvic dysfunction. Please note that Pelvic Floor Therapy is NOT the same as regular physical therapy so please research this and I highly recommend you try this if you are considering a fusion.
I set a goal before surgery that I would run a 5k. That is becoming a reality! I’m going to be making my “dream board” with a 5k and 10k listed and beyond. I think we need to DREAM BIGGER. While my story may not reflect someone else’s story, we simply cannot give up hope that we will recover. There are so many compounding issues that we find out about after surgery, but I resolved to conquer them all and grab hold of my dreams. I want to run a marathon. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but I’m going for it, people. If I end up having to bike my way there, fine. I get up at 4:30 am every morning to run. People gasp and ask “why!?” Because I can.
In other news, I found out several weeks ago that I won my external appeal against Cigna! Ya’ll, my surgery is paid for! Several of us have been using the 102-page research file I put together plus an in-depth letter several of us created and three of us online SI joint friends have won our external appeals, overcoming the “experimental” reason for denial. The tides are turning! We are winning. There is significant evidence that fusion is not an experimental surgery for sacroiliac joint dysfunction. This is HUGE! If you need assistance with your appeals, comment below and I’ll be happy to email you and we can chat. Don’t take “no” for an answer.
This is me pre-surgery, like…a month or so beforehand. (Say hi to Batman!) My SI Joint dysfunction had progressed rapidly near the end. Many of my coworkers didn’t know because I would limp from my car to my desk and around the office, but I was done by the time I got home. Almost like I had a limited amount of steps I could do per day and then it was over. In the few months right before fusion, I went downhill so fast I was taking Hydrocodone all day every day and I rode scooters like this or wheelchairs to go anywhere.
This isn’t me anymore. I can walk. I went on a paleo diet to heal my body 10 days post op and lost 25 lbs…this has helped so much with overall inflammation, my bladder, and my joints. We do recover. I think the most important step in this journey has been to resolve in my mind that “I CAN and I WILL.” And so I did.
If you’ve found this blog because you’re considering fusion…let me encourage you to do your research. Talk to patients. There are many, many fusion methods available and they are NOT created equal. I chose Rialto for a reason – immediate weight bearing, easier recovery, posterior approach, and I’ve seen less revisions. But I also cannot overstate the need to exhaust all conservative treatments before trying surgery…if you haven’t tried pelvic floor therapy, prolotherapy, acupuncture, etc…please do those first. While fusion is amazeballs for ME, a revision is very difficult to do so this should only be your last resort. I thank God everyday when I get on my treadmill that my last resort became my healing.
I’ll post more after my 5k next month! Follow me on Instagram (@goffdropz) for almost daily updates on all things paleo, smoothies, Fusion Recovery, etc.
Interested in Rialto Fusion Method? Find your tribe, research, and an ongoing updated list of Rialto doctors nationwide…Join us on Facebook: Rialto Talk
Read the rest of my SI Joint Dysfunction Journey.
I’m also on Instagram: goffdropz