Plan B? Nah, This is Definitely Plan C…

Well, damn.

I’ve seen more than enough MRIs of the lower spine to know that the one I was looking at had a pretty screwed up L5-S1 disc.  The problem was that the image on the screen was, for the third time, of my own back.

This is just the latest chapter of a losing 13 year battle with this disc, including two previous back surgeries, and I was fresh out of options.  So, in mid December, I’m having spinal fusion surgery.

In the span of an hour, my plans for the next six months to a year have changed drastically. Instead of debuting my brilliant little boy, Des, I’m going to instead be inventing Rube Goldberg-like devices to be able to tie my own shoelaces.  The cool (and disturbing) part is that I’ll soon have titanium parts: screws, rods and bionic thing-a-ma-doodles.  You can bet the first time I run post surgery I’ll be making ‘na-na-na-na6 Million Dollar Man sound effects.  The not so cool part is that I won’t be able to even shuffle around outside with the Merlie Boys for a couple months, and if all goes well, not back to running at all until sometime next summer.  Gah.  I haven’t gone three days without working Des in a year.   Mr. Neurosurgeon, I think you’ve officially taken away my birthday.

How did I get here?  Well, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been told “you’re too young to have xxx back surgery…”, (as if that fixes things) I could buy you lunch.  But since I’m a few years shy of 40…

Some would hazard a guess that it came from the years of hanging my arse over the side of a boat, my unofficial major in college.

That’s my said arse in front, in the blue lifejacket. San Diego Thistle Midwinters, January, 1997.

Others may speculate it came from hauling 1/3 of my (then) bodyweight across the countryside for weeks on end and spending days bent over digging as my means of employment with the St. Joe Hotshots?

A few years after my hotshot days, I guess the crew didn’t stop digging <ahem>to take pictures.

Or years later, dragging almost that much weight around for fun?

Mmmm….red rock canyons!  How I long to have red grit in my ears again!

Or maybe I’ve just been too stubborn to slow down combined with a bad draw in the joint lottery?  Whatever.

If you’ve read this blog before or know me peronally, you might think I lean towards a little ‘too’ positive (at least where agility is concerned and after I’ve had my coffee).  Well, now you know why.  Every time I’ve stepped to the line in the three years since my last surgery I’ve known two things:  to cherish each and every run with my amazing teammate, and that each day that my body carries me around the course is a gift.  Life is too short, too good and running Merlies too much fun to let this slow me down permanently.  So let’s screw this problem down (literally), and get on with things!  With luck, Des’s debut will only be delayed a few months, and I’ll be running harder and faster than ever come summer.  Because if you’ve seen the DesMan lately you’ll understand why that’s gonna be a requirement!

I have a few weeks left before my surgery, so I’m putting my time and mobility to good use.  I’m aiming to get Des to full height on his dogwalk, and his channel weave poles closed.  If we don’t make it, that’s okay, but goals are good.  Stay tuned for video progress!

I’ll apologize now, in the coming months, I may be posting a little more about surgery and recovery than about agility.  But I’ve learned there’s that there’s a huge lack of positive stories about surgery and a return to athletic pursuits on the internet to help others facing the same situation.  So I plan on documenting mine.  Because I’m determined that I’ll be back out there Running Happy as soon as the doc says it’s safe to do so.

Thanks, C for finding this, and you and G for getting this picture! It’s Dunc’s mantra!

It’s been a while since I was a professional dirt thrower, but some of the lessons learned on the line become ingrained for life.  Hotshots have a pretty straightforward mentality on tough assignments. Here’s the PG-13 rated version:

“The hill is steep.  So the heck what.  Quit your bitching and get going”.

I know this isn’t going to be a walk in the park.  But I’m going to get going, and keep going.

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The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling!!

Okay, kidding, but for Duncan, maybe it is.  You see, Desmond, baby brother Desmond is now bigger than he is.  I’ve tried to get a good picture of them for a couple weeks, but was slightly suspicious due to Dunc positioning himself uphill of Des each time I got the camera out.  I’m on to your tricks, now Duncan!  There is no way Des will stand without bouncing, but at just under five months old, I think he’s now about 15″ tall.

It's only his ears! I'm still taller than Des, really!

Des is a typical teenager.  He slouches.  So it’s been difficult to actually see that he’s gotten taller.  To make things more confusing, for quite a while his back end has been taller than his front, so he looks like he’s perpetually going downhill.  I’ve noticed the front landing gear is starting to catch up lately, so he’s beginning to lose a little of that funny stance, but some is still in evidence.

Maybe the third picture of Des standing still, ever.

Being taller in the rear isn’t slowing Des down one bit.  It looks like his back wheels are perpetually trying to overtake the front.

For a gangly little guy, Des has always been impressively coordinated.  He can jump flatfooted from the floor to the dining room chair, the couch and my eyebrows.  I’d like to claim that he gets that from me, but unfortunately, I just lucked out.  His fuzzy mama was also impressively coordinated.

In the last few weeks, I’ve continued his foundation training with a few sends and some outs.  (Because I’m gonna need to be able to cut corners to keep up with fuzzy Mad Max).  We’re also working on shaping Cik/Cap, Sylvia Trkman’s method of training tight turns.  With Dunc, I depend on body language and good timing <cough, of course I have good timing, cough> to succeed with tight turns, but Des is hinting that he’ll have the ground speed that will demand earlier turning cues.  Here’s a short video of our recent work.  I just love that he’s already letting me run the other direction while I send him forward to that classic agility obstacle; the bucket.

I can fly! I don't need a magic feather!