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Spinal Surgery Recovery (5 Months Post)

April 3, 2015

Five months ago today, I was lying in a hospital bed in Central MexicoCentral Mexico, recovering from a six-hour spinal surgery and wondering if I would ever again be able to walk, if I would ever again be able to actively and joyfully participate in life with my children and my family…if I would ever experience life again outside of a wheelchair. 

It was a challenging surgery and far more complicated than the neurosurgeon had predicted, including the removal of bone, a one-liter blood loss and two prosthetic silicone spacers drilled into my spine. Coming out of the anesthesia was tough and I am just grateful that my husband Frank was there to comfort me through a very difficult evening of shaking and vomiting–neither of which are pleasant in their own right–but on the heels of surgery, was excruciatingly painful. 

Morning After Spinal Surgery

The morning after the surgery, I awoke in a semi-panic when I could not feel nor move my left leg, not even my toes. I had read one too many success stories of people going in for back surgery and walking out of the hospital the next day like new. That was also my hope for me, but was not my case.

Spinal Surgery Recovery (5 Months Post)

I had never before felt so defeated, frustrated and yes, worried.

I messaged my surgeon, Dr. Galvan, and he said he would be right over. Frank and the kids were also on their way from San Miguel de Allende to come visit me and Lord knows I dearly needed those kisses and hugs of support.

I’m not sure the following would have gone as well as it did had it not been for the presence of my family and the encouragement of Dr. Galvan.

45 Minutes to Walk 10 Steps

Dr. Galvan first asked me to wiggle my toes and while not with great ease or movement, I was able to muster up enough strength and determination to move them just the slightest. He then told me that I would sit up in bed for a half an hour. I thought his idea crazy, but had faith. Sure enough, slow and steady like the turtle that won the race–with the help of both Frank and Dr. Galvan on each side of me–I was able to inch myself up to a sit. Painful. Miraculous. 

Spinal Surgery Recovery (5 Months Post)

Dr. Galvan then instructed me to sit on the edge of the bed and to let my legs dangle for half an hour. I laughed through the tears. Only less than 12 hours post surgery, I was doing what felt both heroic and impossible. His confidence and faith in me, coupled with the fact that my children and husband were witness to this, was without a doubt the driving force behind my resolute determination. 

Next, Dr. Galvan told me I would stand up and walk. What?! Seriously?! When I realized that doing so would likely mean that I could use an actual bathroom (and kick that bedpan to the curb!), I dug deep. In fact, once I was up on my feet, Dr. Galvan asked me where I would like to go…ha, as if there were so many options. I immediately pointed towards the bathroom, and sure enough, inch by inch (although it felt a lot more like centimeter by centimeter), Dr. Galvan and Frank assisted me and together with my IV stand, I made it to the bathroom! My children Mairead and Liam were cheering me along, saying “good job Mama, you can do it Mama, you are doing it Mama!”

Once back in my bed, the enormity of it all just kind of sunk in. 

Spinal Surgery Recovery (5 Months Post)

This has been a journey no doubt, for myself and for my family.

I humor myself by thinking that I am a bionic woman now. In fact, my surgeon said that upon “full recovery”, I should have about 90 percent mobility and flexibility. I wonder what percentage I was operating at pre-surgery!

Good things are in progress, good things lie ahead. I am forever grateful.

Spinal Surgery Recovery (5 Months Post)

Today, everyday, we celebrate life.


Other articles I have written about my Spinal Surgery in Mexico Experience:

Spinal Surgery in Mexico~From Wheelchair to Walking



About the author: Together with my Retired Firefighter Husband and our now 19-year-old twins who were just 8 when we immigrated to Mexico in 2012, we have created a joyful life of design and freedom South of The Border. Welcome to Los O’Gradys in Mexico! Saludos, Katie 🇲🇽 ☘️

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Dorene Short April 3, 2016, 10:03 pm

    Wow Katie! Good for you! I read your other post about your surgery ordeal. I can’t believe it has already been 5 months. Many blessings to you and your family and may your recovery endure. Please give a hug and a kiss to the kids for me and tell Frank I say “Hi”.

    Love, D

    • Katie O'Grady April 4, 2016, 12:01 pm

      So great to see you in here! Thank you for your good thoughts….
      Much love and lots of hugs to you and yours!
      Katie 🙂

  • Roberto April 3, 2016, 10:19 pm

    Katy so glad to hear this worked out. You are a brave woman, no doubt. It is in times like these, that we see the deepest into ourselves and having our families to support us and love us is appreciated lie no other time. I havev recently been through some issues myself, and I saw death, if not right in front of me, right down the hall. It is from that place I speak.


    • Katie O'Grady April 4, 2016, 11:51 am

      Hi Roberto,
      Thank you so much for your kind words….and you are brave too my friend.
      I am hoping your days ahead are healthy and happy.

  • Pat April 3, 2016, 10:21 pm

    Sending love and prayers for 101% recovery!
    God bless!

    • Katie O'Grady April 4, 2016, 11:48 am

      Many thanks Pat…
      I like that, a “101% recovery”!
      Thank you,
      Katie 🙂

  • Barbara Lane April 5, 2016, 8:06 pm

    Bravo darling! We are always stronger than we think. God said it came to pass, He didn’t say it came to stay. So happy to find you here with this joyous news. Bless you and yours – go forth knowing you’re loved mightily and a powerful example for so many.

    • Katie O'Grady April 5, 2016, 9:08 pm

      Goodness Barbara,
      Thank you so much for such kind, heartwarming words…
      I am honored and so blessed.
      Katie <3

  • Shelly King April 7, 2016, 11:27 pm

    Wow, Katie! I’ve had 2 spinal surgeries, but nothing like yours. Yours were really super scary! I never doubted I would have full mobility, but you had a real scare that you might not. You’re a tough woman! I’m amazed at all your body has been through and you still look like a teenager. Good for you.
    Blessings from San Diego!

    • Katie O'Grady April 9, 2016, 11:48 am

      Hi Shelly!
      A scare indeed it was and one that I am very grateful to be coming out on the other side of.
      2015 was a bit of a rough year for me physically, but I am nothing if not determined!
      I am working on a new and improved version of me, ha!
      Thank you for popping in to say ‘hi’ and offer me your support.
      Hugs from Mexico!
      Katie 🙂

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