We have been sidetracked yet again…unavoidably…against our will…
I’m going to ramble a bit here, so if you’re not interested you can just skip down to the pictures.
We were having the time of our lives sailing around Antigua and Barbuda when I re-injured my back. Already nursing a bad knee, it was evident that without medical attention my physical condition would prevent us from continuing our adventure. Greatly disappointed, we decided to interrupt our trip and head back to Grenada so that we could close up the boat and fly home to Florida. Our plan (back in April) was to fly home as soon as possible, get my knee and back fixed then return to the boat by November and continue with our adventure. Seven months was seemingly enough time to get two procedures done, recover, and return to the boat. Well, things don’t always go the way we want or expect and my repairs are taking twice as long as we wanted them to.
Actually, my knee went quite well and is back to 90 percent, which is as good as it will ever be. The relief from my previous knee surgery lasted over ten years so if I can get ten years from this procedure, I’ll be happy! Following insurance company policies and procedures, x-rays, MRIs, etc. it took about six weeks to get in front of a good knee surgeon. The wait to see a specialist is very frustrating and I assumed it would be several weeks until I could be scheduled for the procedure but for once we were pleasantly surprised. After reviewing the clinical evidence, I was quite happy and totally validated when the doctor told us, in technical terms: “your knee is messed up, what are you doing tomorrow?” His staff was able to get insurance authorization in less than an hour and a slot in the OR for the next morning! The surgery was a success, I’ll never run again but there is tremendous relief. At least we can go swimming, walking and hiking again without fear of painful aftereffects. The surgeon told us that was the last surgery on my right knee and unfortunately the next step will be knee replacement. Hopefully we won’t be talking about that for at least another ten years!
Correcting my back injury has proven to be a much more involved process. You don’t just go to a back specialist, not with my health insurance. You go to your primary care manager for x-rays, MRIs, and try the local treatment first. When that treatment proves ineffective, your PCM refers you to pain management and physical therapy, etc. When those treatments fail you go back to your PCM. So now I request a referral from my PCM to a back specialist. Even before this process started I began researching back doctors. I found the best doctor in all of central Florida right here where we live and almost went into shock when we found out he was in my insurance network!!!! Weeks go by, with no relief, while you follow the path prescribed by your PCM (and the insurance company). Another week goes by waiting for insurance authorization to see a specific doctor. Now we have authorization but, because we decided to pick the best doctor in central Florida, the initial appointment isn’t for ten weeks… Whaaaat? It gets better. Now that I am in the “back pain social network,” I meet a guy and find out his son works for this doctor! This guy makes a call for me and gets my appointment moved up by several weeks! So that’s positive! Now we’re thinking we will get to see the doctor, agree on a path forward, and I will be in recovery very quickly…uh no. First we had to see the administrative people and maybe a nurse, fill out mountains of paperwork, get new x-rays, another MRI, and make an appointment to see his assistant. Weeks go by and we finally get an audience with the doctor’s assistant. I pitch my case, she reviews the x-rays and MRI, and yes, I have debilitating sciatica, great. We agree on bone fusion as the best course of action buuuut we have to do injections first in order to appease the insurance company. Whatever. Great. Months have passed since we came home and initiated contact with the healthcare system regarding my back pain. We were surprised to hear that I can get my injection in two weeks. We wait, I get my injection, no impact, no effect at all. Now I can get an audience with the doctor. A few weeks later we get in to see the doctor and we discuss in great detail his findings, my symptoms, the impact this pain has on our lives, and possible corrective action. We confirm, face to face, exactly what is wrong with me and how to fix it. Then he tells us there is another test he wants to do to confirm the problem. Wha…whaaaat? I just stared at him and replied: “Five months have elapsed since I have started this process, you know exactly what is wrong with me and how to fix it and you want to do another test?” The look on his face shifted, he tossed the pen he was holding onto the desk, reached for some forms and said “Fine, I guess we can go straight to surgery!”
It took six months to get my back fixed. It has been a couple of weeks since my surgery and I am healing quite well. The sciatic nerve pain is gone and every day that goes by, the pain from the surgery fades away. Unfortunately there is a four to six month recovery time which is why we will not be able to return to the boat until summer.
So that’s the story for the past few months, on to the pictures. Click on them for full screen view.
Sailing around Antigua and Barbuda:
Beach happy hours:
Beautiful sunsets, just a perfect time to get hurt and have to return home:
We raced back to Grenada to haul the boat. The yard seemed to have some difficulty getting the straps positioned where I wanted them, so in the water I went. If you want it done right, do it yourself:
Trailered into position for the next few months:
Once back home, first step was fixing the knee:
Eww, bottom of my femur, which is supposed to be smooth and blemish free. My femur looks like the surface of the moon, or worse:
Eww again, this is supposed to be smooth and attached. As you can see my “stuff” is ripped, retracted, and has no real functionality anymore…
A couple of months after knee surgery I flew back to Grenada to check up on the boat and get some sanding done. Pleasant flight but:
I forgot how hot it was in Grenada. I wasn’t even doing anything yet. I worked up a sweat just thinking about what I was going to get accomplished:
I was able to get some of the bottom sanded:
…and the prop and prop shaft clean:
Mmmm chicken roti, salad, fries, beer, and of course water. Delicious:
Then I flew back home just in time for back surgery. I was so excited to finally be free of this pain, Tanya on the other hand did not share in my excitement:
Post op, a little groggy, and what’s with the hose in the neck?
Breathing exercises. Tanya made me do them…just so she could laugh at me:
Yeah, sitting up!
Screws, rod, and cage they put in my spine. The sciatic nerve pain is gone!
The one good thing about being home is being able to spend time with the grandson. He loves to share his Cheerios and toys: