...On the MAT(T)
I Got Mad Sweeps YO!

I Got Mad Sweeps YO!

Every Day I’m Shufflin’

Well… I did it!! I made it through the discectomy procedure, and thankfully with no complications.

When I arrived, in Pre-Op, everyone was quite welcoming and friendly. However, I was told that I must remove my contacts for the surgery. :-/ This made me a bit nervous because I couldn’t identify any of the myriad doctors and nurses that were questioning me or sticking me with needles. I am quite blind without my glasses or contacts. Anything that is more that a foot from my face is a complete blur! The anxiety I had before I arrived was heightened by my temporary “blindness”.

Thankfully, when Dr. Levin arrived, he really made my experience a great one. His familiar voice was quite comforting and I can’t thank him enough for what he has done for me. With his soothing tone, he was extremely good at communicating with both me and my wife (best friend, caretaker, and so much more…) about what would be done and what to expect going forward. He was also very attentive about any concerns or questions. It was all in all a wonderful experience, as far as surgeries go. As I mentioned, I was quite nervous when I arrived, and he made me feel at ease, as did the Valium I was administered. He even signed my back (as you will see in the photo below) where the incision was to be made, just to be sure that there would be no confusion.

As I explained in my previous post on Sunday, I asked Dr. Levin if I could keep the piece of extruded disc that he will be removing, and to my dismay, he said that he will be taking it out in chunks and usually gets “sucked out” in the suction tank. :(  But he actually looked disappointed for me, so I let it slide. :P 

  The incision was made vertically as shown below. and all of the micro surgery was done through this small opening.

After I shower today, at least 24 hours after surgery (Doctors orders), I will be taking the dressing off to reveal no stitches. Apparently they are all inside and will disolve. 

The doc said that the extruded piece of disc was a lot bigger than he expected, but was able to get all of it. He was even able to reach across to the right side to remove the central bulge that I mentioned in my last post.

Immediately after surgery, Dr. Levin went out to reassure my wife that everything was OK and went smoothly. Within an hour, I was WALKING (more like shuffling) down the hall, ready to go home.

On the way home, we stopped at CVS to pickup my Meds, Vicodin and Valium, and when we finally arrived, I shuffled to the front door and couldn’t be happier to to be home! 

The Doctor said that he wants me walking at least 30 minutes a day, and not to sit for longer that 30 minutes. so I keep shuffling around the house, taking very short sitting breaks when I need to. Last night was definitely a rough night of sleep for me and my poor wife. I am guessing that because of the IV drip that kept me hydrated during surgery, I was up every hour on the hour having to go pee. The transitions from lying down to standing are the hardest and most painful so far, and my unconditionally loving wife was there to help me every time. Even if I told her that I want to try myself, she stood there steadfastly, waiting to offer a helping hand.

Words cannot express the love and admiration I feel for my family, friends, co-workers, training partners, and folks who I have never met (you all know who you are, and if you’re guessing whether or not I mean you… I probably don’t) who have all been there to support me and send their positive energy and well wishes my way, so THANK YOU all from the bottom of my heart. 

And MOST of all, my Wife and Daughters! Without them there every step of the way, I don’t know if I could have done it. I surely wouldn’t have wanted to anyway. And the love and support that they are sure to give me in the weeks ahead, I will be sure to love them even more each day, more that i already do!

Thanks for reading! I will continue shufflin’ and hopefully soon, running, and wrestling, and Training BJJ again. not too soon though, It has felt like an eternity, but this is a new beginning and… 

"You can’t rush perfection" - Unknown

See you all next post! Peace!

Everything Happens For A Reason

I’m really not sure what that reason is yet, but I look forward to finding out.

Well it’s been almost three weeks since my last informative post about my foot drop and impending surgery. Well, I called the office last Friday to speak with the surgeon’s medical assistant and to see if Dr. Levin wanted to see me before my scheduled surgery on the 26th of September. Here is the response that I received; “Hmmm… you said your name was Matthew? (long pause) I don’t seem to see you on the schedule. Did you schedule this with Jamica?” “Yes, That’s who I spoke with” I replied. “Ummm, Yeah… She’s no longer with us, I’m sorry, but don’t feel bad, your not the only one affected by that one… she dropped the ball on lots of people. Let me call the hospital and at least see if she put it on their schedule, and I’ll get back to you.” Needless to say, I wasn’t on the schedule.

Anyway, I am actually feeling a bit better. The foot drop is showing signs of improvement on the right side. The numb area has seemed to have gotten lower on my shin, and my strength, although still much weaker than normal, has improved. The problem is, that I am starting to feel slight symptoms on the other foot. The top of my right foot has, at times, felt a bit numb or like pins and needles. I only feel it sometimes, but I still feel it. So Dr. Levin called me back that night after finding out about the “Jamica debacle” and apologized profusely and asked me how I was feeling. I told him about the new symptoms and improvement of the old. He said (paraphrasing), “I know the insurance company is not going to like this but I am going to send you for another MRI. That is my “road map” during surgery and if there are new symptoms, I am going to need to address those too.” 

So, I am scheduled for an MRI (hopefully my last) on Wednesday next week, pending insurance approval of course. They did just approve one barely over a month ago. Dr. Levin says he will evaluate the MRI a day or two after it’s taken, and we will schedule surgery for the following week if necessary. This usually take a few weeks but because I was led to believe that I was on the schedule, he would make it work.

Maybe this is an opportunity to let me heal a bit more, and I won’t need the surgery at all. Or maybe it will show that the surgery should treat both sides, and not just the left. Dr. Levin told me that he doesn’t do exploratory surgery like they used to in the years past. The MRI will show him right where to go as not to disturb anything unnecessarily, and aid a speedy recovery. Nice to know!

My only concern really, (please tell me if you think I’m wrong here) is that if I heal now and don’t need surgery now, will I need it soon? I just dont want to get back to running and wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu if I am going to be back in the MRI tunnel in a month or two with an extruded disc and a drop foot again. Even if I get the surgery, will I be back in the tunnel in a month or two after recovery?

I, for some reason, feel like, if I go through with and need the surgery, It would be like a turning point for me. A time to start fresh with at least that disc. I’m ready to get it out and start the real healing process. All these pills and PT are driving me nuts!!!!! I need my life back, and I don’t want to prolong or procrastinate, or whatever you call it ANYMORE! Where… Oh Where… is the turning point in this struggle. Have I hit the bottom yet? …or have I already made my way on the road to recovery, at least long enough to have my life back for a few years at least.

OK, That really felt good. Maybe this, right now, is my turning point.

Thanks for reading! See you next post. :-/

4 More Weeks…. :(

After visiting the Doc on Tuesday, He refilled my scripts (Celebrex and Soma) and is sending me to a different Physical Therapist 2 times a week for the next 4 weeks. That means I can’t do anything for at least 4 more weeks. This is killing me!!!!  

In the meantime, I continue to visualize Jiu Jitsu in my mind so that when I come back, at least I will be thinking clearly and hopefully wont be “rusty”. My mind id ready… My body is just not.

It’s back to the Doc today

It’s been a while since I have posted but this morning I go back to the Doc for my follow up and I’ve been hoping that I would be getting cleared today. The past few weeks have been up and down. I’ve actually been improving quite well. Between the meds and Physical Therapy, I have been improving steadily. I was actually running again and it felt great, and even did some light rolling with my friends from St. Albans last Wednesday. Things were looking great and I was eager (and still am) to get back to it…. That is… until Sunday morning.

When I initially threw my back out, I knew exactly what I did to make it happen. It was Judo night at Yamasaki Academy. Repetitive motion of hip tossing did it. This I know.

Saturday, I had a small get together with some friends to watch UFC 129 at my house. Everything was fine…. I felt great. Right before I went to bed, My back was starting to tighten up, so I took some advil and off to bed I went. When I woke on Sunday morning… I could barely get out of bed… let alone walk. I was shuffling around the house like a geriatric.

This time, I have no idea what happened, and the pain is just as bad or even worse than last time. It has really taken the wind out of sails. The most frustrating part is not knowing what I did to throw it out again. That’s all I can think about. How can I prevent this from happening again if I don’t know what the cause was this time? these are all the questions I will be asking the Doc this morning.

Let’s just hope that this episode doesn’t set me back another month!!!


“In the Chinese language, the subject is an animal, and an object is a vegetable,” he says. “You can not ask a vegetable to jump from here to there. If you don’t move, you are not an animal anymore - you become a vegetable!” - Gene-Jack Wang
Spark, by John J. Ratey MD
Let the Healing Begin!!!!

Today: Physical Therapy at 10:00am then off to Acupuncture at 12:00pm… and some meditation somewhere in there too (Thanks Morgann).  Busy morning.

….And the diagnosis is….

No training until further notice. Disc herniation at L5-S1 and bulging discs from L3-L4. Cleberex for swelling and pain now so I don’t cry at commercials anymore like the Prednozone was making me do…. And Carisoprodol as a muscle relaxer as not cause dependency from Diazepam. Depending how physical therapy goes, depends on how soon I get back to it. I guess I better get a move on and put as much effort into PT as I do BJJ.

See y’all soon!

Wishing I was I doctor…. or at least could read an MRI!

Just got the films back from my MRI today…. Can’t tell what the heck I’m looking at. GRRRR! I want this fixed already. Pain is lingering longer than it usually has in the past. Hoping that surgery is not in my future but if that’s what it takes to get back to it…. So be it!

MRI day today

Let’s hope I can get back on the mat soon. I’m having BJJ withdrawals.