8 month Spinal Fusion Recovery Update

Friday the 13th, viewed by many as the unluckiest day of the year, happened to coincide with my 8 month Spineaversary. Fortunately, November 13, 2020 was a day of personal celebration: my 18th Adoption day and recovery from Spinal Fusion surgery. The Eaton family traditionally marks Gotcha Day with cake and gathering; returning home from college, my timing was perfect for this year’s celebration.

We always order our cakes from Cake Creators, a one woman bake shop, locally designed and crafted in Lancaster, PA. My mom always picks the theme when ordering the cake; this element of surprise is my favorite part of the tradition. The theme for this year was running; more specifically, my four virtual Marathon race finishes.

Running has provided me with so many opportunities over the past eight months, and has been the single most significant activity in my life since recovery. My healing process started simultaneously with outdoor walks. I gradually increased the duration of these walks to further reap the benefits of fresh air during Quarantine. As my time outside increased, so did my mileage. I began to log ~10-15 miles each day on my Garmin Forerunner 245, and would track my activities on this watch.

Walking provided me with a strong foundation to build back my strength and technique needed to run. My transition into running was gradual, but necessary for the time and care I needed to do it safely. I started out by using my version of the walk/run method; as I felt ready, I would run/jog throughout my walks. Typically, these spurts of running are scheduled with a timer or distance tracker; however, I performed based on my own personal physical cues and comfort levels. My logged activities on Garmin Connect tracked my progression from walking less and running more. As this progression furthered, I eventually transitioned to steady state running.

I am not a fast runner; surprisingly, I enjoy being a rather slow distance runner. This sport allows me to stay connected with my body and enjoy the benefits of it without feeling the need to compete. I embrace every moment of fresh air and memorize each natural sensation experienced on a long run. My first Marathon was a 6:09:48, and I loved every second of it. My time or pace are of no concern to me when the true reason behind my participation in this sport is to maintain my overall wellness: mental and physical. That isn’t to say I stray away from challenge; running is so special because of the versatility it offers. I also enjoy pushing my body and mind to its limits: both provide me with mental clarity and peace when I need it most.

My 5th Marathon and PR was a 4:34:15, and I am incredibly proud of that. I have worked extremely hard throughout the past eight months to recover from Spinal Fusion Surgery stronger than I was prior to it. My goal has been accomplished, and I can confidently say I feel the strongest I’ve ever been: mentally and physically.

I am immensely grateful for the care of Dr. Jain and his team at Johns Hopkins. My seven day hospital stay was just the starting point of my recovery, but was vital to my overall success in that. The support of my family and friends was and continues to be overwhelming; I cannot express my gratitude for them enough. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned throughout the past eight months is that my overall success is reliant upon my will and determination towards it. If you want to achieve something, you are the only one capable of accomplishing or veering away from that goal.


julia grace

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