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November 07, 2015

Usually around this time of year

I am regaling one with tales of yet another fantastic trip to Somoto Canyon.  We discovered it for the first time in early November of 2013, and had a return trip last November.  Being that it is officially Nick's favorite place in Nicaragua, I naturally assumed we would all head there together this year (maybe even getting Cait to go along, too!).

Sadly, any hopes of me going started to fade around October 12th, and truly faded when I was told I couldn't go for fear of making a bad health issue worse. I was actually quite relieved to be told I had to stay home, as while I felt like I should try and push forward, I knew deep down inside I could end up in even more pain.  What could be so awful?

Back pain, pure and simple. I don't know what exactly happened, but started having lower back pain (tailbone pain, to be exact) in late September. I figured it would fade, but then it seemed to turn to sciatica. Painful, but tolerable. On the morning of October 12th, instead of enjoying a day off work with a hike and breakfast at a favorite cafe, I ended up in excruciating pain by doing nothing more than bending a knee. A terrible pain shot down the other leg, and it felt like I was walking/standing/lying down on a nerve that was now on fire in my left leg.

Thanks to a bit of ibuprofen and a lot of time on a heating pad, the pain eased up so I could hobble around the house.  I ended up at the Health Unit the next day (so love having that right at work), and made an appointment to see a top orthopedic surgeon at the hospital here as soon as possible. A visit to him, x-rays, an appointment w/the head of PT, several PT appointments, an MRI, and a follow-up visit later (not to mention several trips to the Health Unit), I have an answer:  a ruptured disk.  Basically, that disk is just sitting on the nerve, hence the pain and uncomfortably numb feeling I have had for the past month.

Yes, numbness. While I can generally handle the pain, the numbness in my leg and foot has been making me crazy. By last week, the constant sensation of pins and needles in my left foot, the weakness in my left leg that is a result of me not being able to walk/exercise enough, and the overall pain had me extremely stressed out (not to mention making my job far more difficult). In fact, when the surgeon reviewed my MRI, and announced I would need surgery, I was almost relieved, as I had been sure that was in the offing, and it seemed like a giant (if likely painful) step in the right direction.

So, with all of that, Somoto Canyon was completely out. As it is, I have probably been doing way too much, but given that have fewer only 8 months left in Nicaragua, we are rather frantically trying to get to all of those places we haven't yet visited...while Cait works on college applications and deals with the general exhaustion of senior year, while Kelsey enjoys her final year of middle school, while Nick tries not to think about moving (he has decided he does not want to leave Nicaragua) and while Peter and I are just a bit busy with work.  The back issue that I had hoped would just go away on its own has not, and now I'm left with only one option: medevac.

Not all of the details are completely hammered out, but it looks like I am definitely headed back to the U.S. for a few weeks.  I will likely have to have a microdisctectomy to fix the issue with my spine, possibly therapy and other follow-up before I return to Nicaragua.  I can hope to only be back for 2 weeks, but in all likelihood, I think my stay will be a bit longer.  Not something I wanted, but given it's right now my only option for a return to a normal walking ability, I will take what I can get.

So, no Somoto for me. While Peter and Nick enjoyed hiking, swimming, jumping (Nick assures me he jumped from serious heights this year), and an extremely fun day in Somoto, Cait, Kelsey and I had a girls' day out. Lunch for all three of us and then Cait, one of her friends, and I caught a movie.  I've realized I've got to take advantage of these times, given that Cait will head off to college next year (no news yet as to where). 

Sadly, I don't even have any photos (yet)...well, except this one of the extremely zonked LG.  Poor little dude sat down in his comfy chair to eat his baked potato, and fell asleep before he could take two bites.

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Despite the back issues, and the limitations on my movements (and activities), life here is quite good. The closer we come to the end of the tour, the more I think about our lifestyle, and give thanks for these exhausting and fun opportunities, whether or not we all join in or simply admire from the (very far away) sidelines.  Now, to only guess where we might be headed next...?

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You know pain is bad when the idea of surgery is "YAY!". Wishing you smooth travels and a speedy recovery so you can be back at post quickly with all your loved ones and the joys of the senior year countdown!

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