Monday, December 26, 2016

Brain Surgery Recovery, the Saga Continues

Two Weeks Plus

I closed the last blog entry just short of the two week mark, when I was going to get my staples removed at a follow-up appointment.  The day before this appointment I couldn't stand being inside any longer and joined my wife on one of her runs.  While I didn't run, I did manage to walk 2 miles.  I took it slow maintaining a 20:43/mile pace.  I felt pretty good up until the last 10 or 15 minutes and could tell I was tired and probably over doing it.  This made me a bit nervous, but to be honest I was really glad to be back outside.

The next day I did go back to the hospital and get my 30 staples removed as well as the stitch in my lower back.  Getting the staples out was a bit uncomfortable (more so than when I had my appendix removed), but was certainly tolerable. During the visit I did ask the nurse about physical activity limitations and if I could get back to running.  She made it clear that it was okay for me to get back out and start running again, but that I should take it slowly and not do too much too soon.

At the hospital with staples out

As I pointed out in my last blog entry I was running about 35 to 40 miles per week and running every day.  Going from that to zero was hard, but I knew I was going to have to be thoughtful as I got back into my routine.  The day after I got my staples out (which was day 12 post surgery) I did get back and walk another 2 miles.  I ran about a tenth of a mile at a time every so often to get my heart rate up and see how I felt.  The took my average time down to 14:37/mile, certainly quicker than two days earlier.  I also felt better overall after this run.

One thing I noticed was the clicking that I used to hear in my left ear while running occasionally had changed significantly.  Instead of a higher pitched short click noise as my right foot hit the trail it had turned into a much deeper slightly longer sound and it also felt like there was something in my ear, perhaps behind my ear drum.  Certainly something I need to follow with my ENT on when we meet again.  Perhaps a side effect of the surgery, or perhaps whatever we had seen on the MRI/CT to begin with has shifted.

My hair was growing back faster than I had anticipated and the scabs on the scar were healing quickly.  Everyday it seemed I had lost more of the scabs and that coupled with the hair growth was rendering my surgical scar less noticeable.  I would feel some sharp very short periods of pain around the scar occasionally and was told this was the nerves that had been damaged during the surgical procedure healing and that is normal.  At the two week mark I was just taking Tylenol as needed and by day 16 or so I was off all meds.

Getting Back to Running

I took three days off from my last activity and then did a three mile walk/run.  I slowed the pace back down overall to 17:45/mile since I wanted to go a little longer.  I was pleased with how I felt overall during the activity but was fairly wiped out that evening.  I have to admit it is hard to hold back when you get out there and just want to go all out without stopping for hours.  But at the end of the day I didn't want to set myself back so I was trying to proceed with caution so to speak.

On the 18th day post surgery I started back to work again full-time.  Since I work from home most days the transition was really great.  If I started to feel fatigued or simply needed to get away from the computer screen I had those options.  While not the release of getting out for a run, getting back to work was a sense of normalcy and help enforce the fact that I was indeed recovering.

Two days after my three mile run/walk I got back out for a 5 mile run.  I picked up the pace some and averaged 10:05/mile.  This felt great, I was able to take a few of my normal routes and ran to the local Starbucks for my standard quad shot Americano.

On my three week post surgery anniversary I got back out for a 5.5 mile run and clocked in at 9:27/mile.  I took a very similar route as the previous 5 mile run and worked more on my pacing to see how I felt.  Things felt somewhat normal again except for some irritation around the scar mostly due to wearing a hat.  The weather is cold and I wanted to protect my incision and ears.  I am still hearing the deeper sounding clicking in my ear, but seems to not last as long as it did the prior weeks.  After a mile or so it seems to stop.

Two days later I drove into Frederick for some flatter territory and did a total of 8.6 miles at an average pace of 9:19/mile.  Running through some new territory at the Mount Olivet Cemetery was great.  I hadn't run this area before and oddly enough, it was beautiful.  The weather was cool at 41F, just perfect.  Of course when I was done I ran to the local downtown Frederick Starbucks for my standard after run beverage.

Mt. Olivet Cemetery, memorial to Francis Scott Key

Rolling hills and monuments in Mt. Olivet Cemetery

Today, day 25 post surgery, I dove back into Frederick and did another 6.3 miles at an average pace of 8:46/mile.  Really starting to to get back to normal.  I use Strava to manage my runs (via a TomTom Spark 2) and I love filling in the Strava Heat Map by running all the roads/trails available in any given area.  Frederick is somewhat large, but I am slowly making progress getting it all covered.  It was really great to get back in Frederick and start working on this again.

All of the scabs on my scar have come off and with the continued growth of my hair it is really hard to notice the scar unless you really look for it. I was told not to cut my hair for 4 weeks after getting the staples removed.  I also have to go back in mid January for a followup CT Scan and consultation with the surgeon.  Hopefully that all goes well.

top left to bottom right: day 5, day 8, day 12, day 14, day 20 and day 22

Thank you to all the readers who have posted comments on social media wishing me well.  I really do appreciate your words of encouragement as well as appreciate the fact that you took the time to read about my story.  I will post a short summary following my January visit.

1 comment: