One, Twice, Three Times the Anesthesia

A physical and emotional journey toward wellness

Nikki Barr


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

It was just a year ago that I piled into the car in the early morning hours of December 28, 2022, and headed to Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia to undergo a lumbar fusion. After years of physical therapies, acupuncture, doing nothing, chiropractic treatments, injections, and nerve cauterization, I woke up one morning in October barely able to walk a few steps and in so much pain, I was instructed to go to the emergency room.

The back story (pun intended)

For a few years, I had been pursuing a passion I found in lifting heavy weights and trained to power lift. I was close to entering my first benching competition — just shy of the max I wanted. The sciatic pain on my right side kept getting worse and would sideline some of my training for a few weeks at a time until it subsided. After the third round, I went to the doctor.

I had a slipped disc. Go to orthopedic for an assessment.

Go to physical therapy. Get an MRI. Be told there was little that could be done aside from injections.

Never powerlift again.

Fast forward to the emergency room. The MRI confirmed that the disc had moved to a grade 2 slippage and I was told to take some pain pills and follow up with my back doctor. I did. He did another injection and when it failed to work, sent me to neurosurgery. The rest, as they say, is history.

It happened in Paris

Versailles from the rowboat. Photo from authors collection.

In April, my partner and I embarked on a two week adventure in Europe. I had won a trip of my choosing in 2020 from work (one of the top recognitions given) and, well, it was 2020. I booked my trip at the last possible moment, hoping that surgery would go well enough that I could enjoy spring in Paris and Berlin.

On a day trip to Versailles, we came upon a lake with rental rowboats. It was a beautiful, charming day, and I was convinced (if reticently — I don’t like rocky boats) to partake.



Nikki Barr

Normal human in an extraordinaire world. Memoir / Humor / Just Life