When Life Hands You Lemons – Why I’ve Been MIA

I like to joke that I turned 50 and fell apart! Who knew trying to stay in shape would end with me in the hospital needing two operations within one week. Back in April, I joined my hubby in the basement to lift weights. The music was pumping, my dance moves were on full display and I was feeling pretty good about myself when I picked up VERY heavy weights and started doing deadlifts. That’s when I felt that creak in my back and as the days and weeks went by, the pain got worse and eventually became unbearable.

Brooklyn Bridge kellyelko.com #brooklynbridge #brooklyn #newyork

The diagnosis was a herniated disc with sciatica which is when the disc opens up and the jelly inside oozes out (gross!) and presses on the nerve causing shooting pains from my back all the way down my leg.

After enduring physical therapy, an MRI, a spinal injection but still finding no relief, I finally underwent surgery for my herniated disc and thought all was well when I went home a few hours after the operation. That good feeling didn’t last long and four days later, I was rushed to the ER and admitted to the hospital because my disc had re-herniated (I’m one of the lucky 5% of people this happens to).

One perk was this view from my hospital bed at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Hospital for Special Surgery in New York kellyelko.com

I’ve been home a little over a week and I’m feeling better but super cautious. I have to follow the BLT rule – no bending, lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk or twisting (there go my wild dance moves).

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself for a long time and I’m still wondering what my future will hold. My blog centers around decorating and home decor but I will no longer be able to move my sofa or coffee table or lug heavy bins out of my basement. I don’t think I’ll even be able to put lights on my Christmas tree because it involves so much bending (I like to practically climb inside the tree to get the lights in all the nooks and crannies)!

That doesn’t even include the basic day to day things I need help with. My girls put my socks on me and tie my sneakers (talk about a role reversal) so I can walk the dog but I can’t even bend over to pick up Sushi’s poop so I need someone to take that walk with me! I can’t even pick up Sushi because she weighs a lot more than a gallon of milk (but I’m not body shaming her)! All this means I’ll be dependent on others to help me and I hate that feeling.

To add insult to injury, I was starting to look like Sasquatch so I broke down and bought this to help me shave my legs and these to help me pick things up off the floor!

Now I just need to invent something that helps dogs scoop up their own poop.

Boston Terrier on a walk through the fall leaves kellyelko.com #fall #fallfoliage #bostonterrier

Luckily, I have friends who have been through this and they are helping me see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve gotten cards, flowers, phone calls and people stopping by and it’s meant so much. If you know of someone going through something tough, I encourage you to reach out.

Funny get well card kellyelko.com

So I’ll be doing what I’ve always done here but I’ll be doing it a lot more slowly. I’m sharing so much on Instagram so I hope you’re following me there because it’s a fun place for me to share my adventures, behind the scenes peeks at what I’m working on and other things I don’t share here.

I also am excited to bring you more Eclectic Home Tours starting Saturday. I took a break for awhile but I have so many amazing houses I know you’ll love so stay tuned.

Click HERE to Follow me on Instagram

@Kelly.Elko on Instagram

If you have gone through this or know of anyone who has, please give me any tips for getting better and keeping this from happening again.

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  1. I’m so sorry that happened to you. As a fellow herniated disc sufferer (along, for a while, with sciatica) you have my deepest sympathies – back pain is so all-encompassing and debilitating for body and mind.
    It sounds like you have great support and a sold attitude so I know you will heal and find that much of what may, at the moment, seem lost will come back.
    Take good care.

    1. I’m glad to hear you have recuperated! You are right – back pain is really debilitating! Have you had to make permanent changes with the way you move or the things you do?

  2. I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately Kelly. The best advice I can give you is take it one day at a time, and as hard as it is, let others help you. Just take baby steps. You got this! ❤

  3. Kelly, Sorry to hear about your health problems. How long do you have to follow the BLT rule? When I shattered my ankle a few years back I spent months mostly in bed and unable to walk. Not fun at all. At least you gave a good support system. Hugs, Pat S

    1. Thank you Pat! I’m not sure how long I have to officially follow BLT but I’m going to be so cautious and scared that it will happen again that I know I’ll be doing it for a long time. A gal at my salon had the same operation and she says she has made permanent changes to her life including making sure she never twists or lifts anything heavier than 10 lbs. She only does yoga but modifies the moves. I’m sorry you went through a shattered ankle – being in bed so long must have been tough!

  4. Omg,I am so very sorry to read all you have been through! I’ve missed your beautiful blog and thought you were just enjoying your summer. Sending my best wishes for a speedy recovery and getting back to being able to do some of the things you love to do and we all love reading about!

  5. I’ve missed you Kelly. I’m sending prayers. When changing positions suck in your abdomen (girdle) activate your thigh muscles to protect your back. I’ve been a nurse 35 years and have always followed that rule. I enjoy your blog I have pictures of your home saved in my phone. You are beautiful and have great style. Your gonna be fine it just takes time. You can’t keep a good woman down! 😊

  6. Sorry to hear you went through this. Your girls sound like they are your little angels helping you out. Also it sounds as if you have a great amount of support which is helpful for sure Hope all continues in a positive direction and this time of life will be just a memory soon.

      1. Girls roll their eyes especially as they get close to the teen years. One of my daughters was known for saying “whatever!” My husband got her a baseball hat or shirt that said it.

  7. I’m so sorry this happened to you Kelly. I miss your blog. Prayers for a full recovery so you can get back to doing all the things you love!

  8. Oh honey I hear you! I have had and re-injured a herniated disc. No surgeries for me though. Will pray for your recovery. Injury can and will happen again when you least expect it, like putting on your underwear! Im nursing back pain now for that very reason 🙂 I turned 50 in July! Happy you have loved ones there to help you. You’ll feel better soon, just take your time and be aware of what your doing or going to do. Blessings and prayers!

    1. My biggest fear is re-injury so I’ll be taking baby steps for a very long time. Sorry you struggle with this too – it’s the worst! And welcome to 50 – happy birthday!

  9. Kelly…
    I’d had two back surgeries 30 years ago. I was on pain meds for 30 yrs. Then pain meds suddenly disappeared everywhere. About 3 months ago, I was having serious pain and saw a new surgeon. To my surprise, he told me to swim two times a week for the rest of my life. He assured me that my back would improve. I hadn’t been swimming in 25 years. I can tell you that I’ve been seeing such improvement! I am very blessed to live 5 min.
    from a state park lodge with a big indoor pool. I’d asked doctor if he could actually give me a written
    prescription for swimming, which he did. It would cost me $10/visit, which I could not afford. I spoke to the lodge manager and showed him my script. He gave me a free membership for life! Blessed, as said. Swimming is working for me. I sincerely hope you find something that helps you…

    1. That is amazing Judi! I am not a great swimmer – doggie paddle is my stroke! But I think I may have to get my buns to my local pool. First I need to get some goggles because I can’t stand that chlorine smell! I’m glad you found an answer and that free membership is such a great gift!

  10. Hi…I (almost) feel your pain. Just reaching out to tell you to be strong…and YOU’VE GOT THIS! I’m 68, retired, live in Kansas. Never taken meds, been on my own about 20 years, never hardly seen any doctors…so gave up my expensive supplement insurance for meds and dental about 6 mo ago. So….now the knee I took injections for 9 years ago and was pain free until now…isn’t now. Now full knee replacement scheduled, small pain in teeth may lead to root canal with no dental insurance before they do knee surgery. Have no prescription insurance either anymore. They have also found some heart problems that have to be investigated before they do surgery. I have had more tests, doctors appointments, and medical “scary stuff” than I have ever experienced before. Anyway…..my advice is don’t keep pushing limits with your health, and your body when you’re younger. Do things in moderation. Walking is still the best exercise. When you age problems will start where you have had previous injuries and over worked areas. Take care, and you have a long life ahead. Be kind to yourself.

    1. I’m so sorry you’re struggling with health issues Diane! There is really nothing worse. I will definitely be taking your advice and it looks like walking is going to be my new BFF. I hope everything turns out well for you. Please keep me posted!

  11. So sorry to hear about your surgeries- one is bad enough but two is torture! I will tell you that once you have healed and have the OK from the doctor, you should go back to physical therapy to get those back muscles stronger. Not the kind of PT with massage and ESTIM, but a program to promote stretching and strengthening. I’ve worked in a clinic for a long time teaching the New England Baptist Hospital’s Spine Program and I can tell you first hand that it saved a lot of people from a lifetime of misery because they thought they “couldn’t do things” like bending and twisting. The fact is, you bend and twist all the time in every day life-even in your sleep-and your back needs to be strong and flexible enough to handle it! Especially if you want to decorate and move furniture : ) Best of luck to you!

    1. My surgeon wants to see me 6 weeks post surgery and he said he would probably start me on PT then. Thanks for the info and I definitely need to find a really good PT program because the one I did pre surgery wasn’t great!

  12. Kelly, so sorry to hear of your recent surgeries. Hope resting and recuperating will help you recovery to your new normal.

  13. Hey Kelly,
    Been missing your posts. I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through this. You take care and heal. Everything else will fall into place. You’re a strong woman. You’ve got this!!

    1. Thanks for offering to be my pooper scooper! Can you believe I went for a walk in the park with a friend who isn’t a fan of dogs. She picked me up and off we went. She refused to pick up Sushi’s poop! I was mortified and had to leave it there after practically begging her to pick it up. Then she refused to lift Sushi into the car to go home and instead moved her car closer to the curb as Sushi struggled and finally succeeded to get in. Needless to say, I’ll be finding other people to walk with us!

  14. I was dreading turning 50.. not sure if you were too? Anyway, the week before I turned 50 I came down with a RAGING case of Plantar Fasciitis which caused some nerve damage, threw off my ‘gait’ and caused tight leg muscles (much more uncomfortable than it might sound). Lots of PT, Xrays, MRI scan.. It was a solid six months before I started to feel even a little better. It was DEPRESSING. I just turned 52 in July and I feel completely back to normal! I probably did at 51.. but it made me realize that age doesn’t matter as long as you feel good!! Your issues do sound worse, but it sounds like you are getting great care and have a good support system. Have faith that this will past and you will feel better!! I’m sorry 50 ‘bitch slapped’ you like it did me. PS I’m not a gratuitous ‘cusser’, but that’s how I felt. lol

    1. LOL – I do love a well placed curse! I didn’t dread 50 – it’ better than the alternative! Your Plantar Fascitis sounds horrible and I’m sorry you had to go through that. The 50’s are your decade – grab them by the you know what!!!

  15. My husband had this surgery too. You are young and will be back to being able to BLT in no time! Just don’t over do it and you will be fine. Listen to your body.

  16. hope this phase goes by quickly! always be thankful… it could have been worse!
    look forward to hearing more from you!

  17. So sorry to hear the news about your back! I am highly optimistic that you will eventually heal and be able to do all those things….it will just take time. As for pooper scoopers go, I have one that requires little bending. It looks like long salad tongs (but metal) so I barely have to bend over to scoop up the dog poo and I think it would work for you too. Take it easy and let your body heal. I have faith that you will be up and at em again in the near future.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I thought of those long scoopers which would be great for my yard but I picture myself walking her and having to carry the scooper around til I get home! LOL 🙂

  18. I am truly sorry, but the only thing that ever happened to me was a pinched nerve in my back,so i do understand, i learned how very important our back is and how many muscles it has attached to the rest of our body. I went to a Chiropractor for about two months and had to lay flat on my back, so i know part of what your going through. Hope you get better, hugs.

    1. We don’t appreciate our health until something happens to us! I’m sorry you went through that! I could only lay on my right side for months before the operation! What a sight!

  19. Oh wow! I am sorry you are going thru this. Sending you healing vibes. I always knew exercise was bad for you and now I have evidence! Lol Seriously, don’t worry about the future right now until you are totally healed. Humans have an amazing ability to adapt and you’ll find your new rhythms.

  20. I’m so sorry you are having so much trouble with your back. I used to work at a chiropractic office and seen so many of these injuries. It does get better. Just have to be a little more careful. Don’t let it get you down. So easy to say but I know its hard to do. Hope you feel better soon.

  21. Oh Kelly…I am so sorry!!!…My sister went through heck too with her back and ended up with a staph infections….but she is great now and I know you will be….I know it will be hard for you to sit and especially around this time of the year…..I LOVE the card…I need one of those too!!!…Just doing the finishing touches on a blog post to also state why I have been M.I.A. on the blog…
    Praying that you continue to heal quickly and successfully!!!

    1. I’m glad your sister is better those staph infections are no joke! I am so sorry that you are going through your own health struggles Shirley! I’m here for you if you need anything!

  22. Unfortunately I’m no stranger to needing help with my shoes and socks, and I hope you recover fast and get to feeling like your old self. Till then I’m looking to diversify my income and a companion walker and dog poop picker-upper are about the only things I’m qualified for, get my room ready.

  23. Kelly,
    I don’t know how I missed that you’d had surgery; but am glad you are healing. I have had 3 cervical fusions and currently have l5/s1 that flares (no surgery yet). Goes without saying that there are adjustments that most be made for activities, work and, well, most things. I’ve learned to say “no”…mostly, to things I know I just cannot do (many amusement rides, heavy lifting, etc). I, too use the grabbers for laundry, things in upper cabinets. I have a plethora of assorted pillows and heating pads/wraps that I use in chairs, planes, etc. I’d suggest a waterpik or similar shower head. It helps to relax the muscles that spasm.
    I pray you will continue to heal well and won’t require further surgeries.

    1. I have the grabbers! I even bought that contraption to help put on socks!! I’m feeling much better and just started physical therapy. I hope you feel better every day Christy!

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