It's now been 24 days since surgery, and I return to work on Tuesday. I plan to go back full-time, but I will have to see whether I will be able to work from home occasionally or if I would want to scale back temporarily to a 32 hour week.
I am feeling remarkably well. I've been taking about half of the allotment of pills (Oxycodone and Diazepam), one of each twice a day, but those are probably not necessary at this point, just a little help. We had a few friends over last weekend so I stopped taking them 8 hours prior so I could have a few beers without worrying too much about side effects. When I picked up my prescription, I had to ask the pharmacist several times and in several different ways about the interactions between alcohol and those drugs. His first answer was "don't", but as many of you have probably experienced with injuries and doctors, I eventually said something to the effect of "I am planning to do a stupid thing. What can I do to minimize the effect of this stupidity?"
My neck is still a little stiff and sore. It hurts a little to yawn, as it seems to stretch the incision. I was having a little difficulty swallowing for a few weeks, partly because I don't chew my food enough, but that seems to have finally passed. I had the staples removed after two weeks. It was a little painful to have them pulled out (see 15 second video at bottom). The cut seems to be doing ok. Sleeping hasn't really been much of a problem. I am aware of waking up once or twice a night to shift positions, and I frequently have weird dreams, but overall it's about the same. I've been more tired than usual, and was taking 2- or 3-hour naps for the first two weeks on most days. The last few days, I've gotten up at my normal time and have struggled to get out of bed. I think as long as I go to bed early these next few weeks, I should be able to manage a work schedule.
The weirdest part of the recovery is what passes for exercise now. If I walk faster than about 2 mph, my neck (both muscles and what feels like the spine) gets sore. Just this week I started riding the stationary bike in order to get my heart rate from about 75 bpm to about 100 bpm. The other day, I was playing Mario Kart Wii while riding the bike, and noticed that as I was trying to drive faster in the game, I was pedaling the bike faster, hard enough that I actually broke a sweat. I don't think my body is ready for that yet, though, so will need to back off. There is no exact timetable, but I'll be able to do more stuff gradually. I don't know yet when I will be able to run. There is a chance that I would be able to play at the GM event in July, assuming we are going to be able to put together a team, but wouldn't be able to contribute more than a token amount.
In general, life has been a lot slower these last few weeks. I've been home by myself for most of the past week and a half and haven't felt the need to rush around very much. Usually I am incredibly micro-efficient, but now am willing to take four trips to the car to carry in groceries where normally I would take them all in at once. I don't know if this lingering will carry over once I return to normal life, though. I've been trying to be "productive" in my down time, not necessarily getting anything done, but trying to avoid useless surfing or excessive game playing.
All things considered, though I would rather have skipped this whole thing, I've been pretty lucky with it.