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Andrea Langworthy's column: Adventure awaits

Until last May, when I called my daughter to wish her a happy birthday, I thought I was going to be 66 this year. But when I said something to my firstborn about her being four years away from 50, she said, “No, Mom, I’m 47. Twenty years younger than you’ll be.” Yikes!

The past 12 months have been a blur. A year ago, I was looking forward to a visit from my Florida sister and a family dinner at my house. I had been to the salon to have my hair colored and cut; my eyebrows waxed and tinted, too. Plus, a pedicure.

My husband’s back was bothering him then and he had nerve soreness in his leg because of it but he was still working and was able to run the errands required for hosting a dinner party. We knew he would need back surgery but the surgeon felt it was fine to wait awhile.

By the end of August, though, my husband could barely take a step because of excruciating pain. The laminectomy was moved to October.

A couple of weeks after the surgery, his back was straight, he was pain-free and he offered to fix dinner. Within weeks, though, the other leg was throbbing. I won’t bore you with details of doctor’s visits, physical therapy and finally, the last resort — surgery in February to stretch his IT band; a ligament on the outside of the leg from the knee to the upper thigh.

The procedure didn’t help and over the next few months, the situation worsened. A physical therapist suggested a return to Mayo. The neurosurgeon who operated on his back discovered disc problems that hadn’t been there earlier.

I have a disease that has resulted in muscle loss. When I leave the house, I use a cane and rely on my husband to hold my other hand. He’s been so unsteady the past year and in such pain, I haven’t wanted to chance a misstep on either of our parts. So, I’ve been homebound for a year. In fact, after a fall last winter when I knew he shouldn’t try to help me up, I dialed 911. After that, I set up a home office atop my bed and have rarely ventured out of the bedroom.

When my sister visited two weeks ago, we stayed in that room. A few days later, a friend came over for a glass of wine and we did the same. I swallowed my pride and let them see me the real me — unwaxed brows; dull, gray-tinged, dishwater-colored hair to my shoulders instead of my usual blonde chin-length style — in what had become my habitat. But on both occasions, I had so much fun I forgot about the impression I was, or wasn’t, making.

And just lately, thanks to cortisone injections and acetaminophen, I have the best birthday gift of all: my spouse is oh-so-much better. He’s able to walk a couple of blocks most days and think about going back to work. And I’m oh-so-ready to spread my wings. In preparation, I had two people come to my house: a stylist to cut and color my hair, an esthetician to do my eyebrows. A nail tech is in line to give me a pedicure and manicure.

My husband has taken my hand and we’ve ventured to other parts of the house. Next is a trip to the garage. He’s due for a third cortisone shot and then, watch out world! I’ll be breaking out of the “big house.”