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What I’ve Learned One Year After Surgery

What I’ve learned one year later…

One year ago today I was laying across three chairs in the hospital waiting area hoping every name they announced that morning would be mine.

headshots, photographer, shining moments photography

Three months prior I felt an aching twinge in my back but didn’t think much about it because I’ve had back problems before. I’d restart my PT exercises and the pain would ease and I’d be moving again.

We’d just gotten home from vacation and I went for a kickboxing workout. I finished my workout feeling worse – not better. Fast forward a few weeks and the PT exercises weren’t working so I scheduled an appointment to get checked out.

Step 1/ MRI to see what was going on this time.

Have you had a MRI before? If not, close your eyes BEFORE they slide you inside that tube. Just sayin’ – I’m not claustrophobic {or maybe I am}.

They gave me earbuds to listen to music, but it’s almost comical since it’s so noisy when they take the images. All I heard were the words I was screaming inside my head, “BREATHE – JUST BREATHE”

Step 2/ I went back for the results of the MRI. Image showed the nerve down my left leg being pinched {but felt like that L4/L5 was being cut off}. The surgeon described it as a jelly doughnut that squeezed out all the jelly. pushing into my nerve.

Not sure I’ll see a jelly donut the same ever again 🤨

Fast forward a few months after going to PT 2-3 times/ week, trying two cortisone injections, and home PT exercises 3X/day at home.


I tried it all, talked with friends who’d had back problems, doctors and doctor-friends, and finally scheduled a date for surgery. Being cut into, at my spine, is the scariest thing I’ve done since childbirth. At least after childbirth I went home with my beautiful furry-headed babies.

It’s been ONE YEAR since my surgery.

The exact vertebrae where the surgeon shaved to relieve the pressure was good pretty much instantly. However, the nerve damage has taken a lot longer to repair. I still have nerve twinges one-year later.

What I’ve Learned | 4 Things::

1/ Every body reacts different to anesthesia. I felt like I caught the flu, Scarlet Fever, and Black Death at the same time! Yes, that bad, and I don’t want to go through that ever again. I try to keep that memory in my head every time I think about kickboxing again. I love kickboxing, but my back doesn’t – period!

2/ Have you ever been wheeled into a surgery room? All the people shuffling around prepping and then the anesthesiologist telling you to count down—-10-9-8-7—- I think that was the last number I said and then everything was gone. That gap in memory still freaks me out. I don’t know how much time I lost or what I said as I came out of the anesthesia.

3/ Instant relief had its caveats. The rupture cutting off my nerve was relieved, but the nerve damage has taken a long time to repair.

4/ Advice from people you trust is helpful; all of it was welcome but at the end of the day I’m the one sleeping on the den floor because I can’t make it upstairs. I’m the one telling Nick or Emma AGAIN that I can’t make it to their concert or game. I’m the only one who can decide when it’s been enough. Surgery was the answer for me.

Only YOU know what’s best FOR YOU.

Okay, one more thing… Yoga does a body good! Thankfully I’m pretty much back to my normal photography routine this Fall for my fun 2020 seniors and it’s thanks to my post-op physical therapy AND yoga.

What I’ve learned…Get my quality of life back!

CHEERS & SPARKLES to your week!


If you’re curious about trying yoga, here’s my YOGA POST to give you a downward dog start.

After surgery when I could finally sit upright again I wrote about the 5 Things I Learned From All That Pain.

shining-moments-photography, senior-photography, headshot-photographer


Modern High School Senior Portraits + Headshot Photographer serving Dekalb County and Kane County


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