Well, folks. I made it. One year post SI Joint Fusion. It really is a surreal feeling at this point…sitting down to write about this moment, to summarize an entire year of crazy recovery. I remember so vividly the moment before they rolled me down the hall into surgery..the fear, the wonder, the unknown. A year seemed so far away. I had hoped I would be better. I had hoped I wouldn’t be worse. I prayed I wouldn’t be the same…which was perhaps my greatest fear.
So where am I now? Well…I am pain free. And not just pain free from lingering minimal joint pain, but pain free from the ongoing muscle pains I was having. No more narcotics or even natural supplements for pain. I’ve had many, many setbacks along the way as well as many triumphs. It wasn’t until I started pelvic floor therapy around 3.5 months post op that it all started to turn around. Highly, highly recommend!
I still have occasional movement in my SI joint. Weird, right? But true. My pelvic floor muscles will pull my sacrum onto my hardware causing a little compression. I’ve learned how to gently reset myself (remember – I only had one side done, so I still have free movement on the other side). But I haven’t had to “reset” myself in about 6 weeks? My pelvic floor is pretty much recovered and I’m no longer in physical therapy. Yoga, stretching, strengthening, walking, etc…the recovery has been a long, long one. KT tape has been my friend.
If you’re considering SI Joint fusion…don’t let anyone tell you it’s a quick fix. It doesn’t matter which fusion method you choose, the recovery will be long. I chose Rialto because it made the most sense to me – posterior approach, immediate weight bearing, etc and I believe it to be an amazing product. But the muscle rehab is a long one…not for the faint of heart. Years of muscle dysfunction do not fix themselves once screws or rods are put into the pelvis. It takes patience and diligence to rebuild.
So now…if you’ve been following my journey either here, Facebook, or on Instagram (@goffdropz)…you’ll know I completed a 5k in February using the Couch to 5k program. I’m a couple weeks from completing the 10k Training Program and will start Half Marathon training next month. I’m setting my sights on a Half Marathon this winter! I can’t express what a dream come true this is for me!!! I originally thought I wouldn’t be able to run at all…or maybe a 5k would be cool. But this…this is possible. This is real. This is HAPPENING.
Not only that. But I don’t need those stupid wheelchairs or electric scooters anymore to go shopping. I can carry my son again. I don’t need a chair to watch him play outside without me. I am free to be a mother with no restrictions and my almost 3-year-old will never know the difference or remember Mommy in that electric scooter at Target. That is a miracle from God.
I sometimes say that I “got my life back” but that’s not really the truth. I have been given a NEW life…been made new…a new creation. I have a newfound thankfulness and gratitude for every little thing I can do now that I couldn’t do before. I run because I CAN and I rarely dread getting up early or lacing up my sneakers because this is something I couldn’t do and thought I would never do again. I dreaded running before even though I ran cross country. I yearn for it now.
I marvel over being able to kick a ball around with my family in our own yard. Or walk around for hours in a theme park without narcotics. Everything is a “wow, I didn’t know I could do that!” moment. I pray I never take it for granted. Chronic pain and disease changes people. Recovery transforms them forever.
I recently had the opportunity to become a Patient Ambassador for Medtronic for Rialto. What does that mean? Well, for full disclosure, it’s a 100% unpaid and volunteer position where I get to tell my story to people interested in finding out more about the Rialto method. I’ve been blessed to meet so many cool people along the way at Medtronic…people who truly care and spend their lives trying to make the lives of others better. It’s an amazing opportunity to share the story of successful fusion with others. Medtronic will be launching their new SI Joint website section soon complete with a surgeon search tool (whoop whoop! We’ve been WAITING for that one!) and there my video testimonial will be posted with a link for people to sign up to schedule a call to hear my story and ask questions. No more, no less. I feel pretty honored, humbled, and still weirded out by the whole thing, to be honest. But with everything these two screws have given me, I feel like it’s only right to give back in some capacity.
So where do I go from here? I don’t know, how about the cliche “the sky’s the limit?” I’ve been given no “mile limit” on my screws…so I’m going for a full marathon, baby!! And I’m just going to live my life to the fullest in every moment. Give back to others in any way that I can. I continue to struggle with other health issues and that is a process. But talking to others, encouraging others, inspiring others and telling people there’s hope is my goal.
If you’re an SI Joint Dysfunction sufferer…don’t give up. You don’t always need surgery to recover. Pelvic floor therapy, prolotherapy, PRP, somatics, pain science…research this stuff! People are recovering without fusion. Fusion is NOT a quick fix…it’s only the beginning of a long, long recovery…and should be considered as a last resort because it’s not guaranteed. But if you find yourself researching fusion as an option…please know that not all methods are the same (not even close!). So do your research. Talk to patients. Join all the groups on Facebook and talk to people…ask the hard questions. Get more than one surgeon opinion. Need a list of questions to ask your surgeon? Try HERE. It’s important to ask the difficult questions. Need SI Joint Research to combat an insurance denial of “experimental”? Try HERE. Let me know if you need help, I won my external appeal against Cigna 7 months post op.
Recovery is possible.
Interested in Rialto Sacroiliac Joint 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 with running, recovery, paleo, and natural healing: goffdropz
Other SI Joint Blogs:
Wonky Pelvis – by Lauren McBride (Rialto)
Dizzy Pelvis – by Laura Jenkins (Rialto)
Patient Point of View – Gayla Guthrie (iFuse and Rialto)
Restoring Venus – Amy Eicher (unbranded screw fixation)