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An update report from DrSpace! October 8, 2015

Posted by The Space Show in Uncategorized.

An update report from DrSpace!

Wednesday, 10/8/15

Dear Space Show Listeners:

I wanted to take a few minutes and give you a post spinal surgery and recovery update as to my progress and my plans for returning to The Space Show broadcast schedule.

First, as many of you know, I had minimally invasive lumbar microdiscectomy surgery the morning of Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Three fragments were removed from the L4 nerve root which was also impacting the L5 nerve root. As I was told, the nerve roots were very swollen, red, and irritated. I have been slowly recovering ever since. I came home from the hospital Friday morning, Oct. 2 and had to prepare the house and the way I live for lots and lots of mobility limitations and restrictions. I wish I had been instructed on this before the surgery so I could have had the house prepared in advance but such advance instructions were not given me. For example, I had to rent a reclining automatic hospital chair to support me when sitting at an angle (I can’t sit up straight for any length of time for maybe another week or so). I had to make other accommodations as well, especially when doing simple things like getting in and out of bed, taking a shower, etc. Lately I have been riding as a passenger in a car as friends have taken me to the doctor and a few other places. As long as the seat tilts back and I am generous with the use of pillows, I’m fine for very short car rides. I am starting to spend a little more time each day getting some work done at the computer but today I could not do a full Space Show program even if I mixed it up with sitting and standing And if I use the pain pills, for sure such a program would be weird to say the least and I am sure very different than a typical program. But I am making progress, I have had people helping me, my son Michael was with me from the start but left to return home yesterday. I’ve been walking on the walking path across the street from where I live and doing more each day thought not without some discomfort. I do walk with a cane for the time being.

The next Space Show program is scheduled for next week, Tuesday, Oct. 13 with an Open Lines program. I am leaving it on the schedule but I urge you to check the website newsletter for the latest on my ability to return to broadcasting that Tuesday evening.   After that, there is a full Space Show schedule and I will resume booking show for later dates but if I feel I can’t handle the Open Lines show, I will cancel it and you will see that reflected on updates to the website newsletter, maybe with an update at the last minute on the 13th. My next show is Friday, Oct. 16 so that gives me extra time for more recovery and a full two weeks plus some from the surgery. Right now I am very optimistic I can meet that schedule. As for returning to being 100%, fully capable of driving, behaving as before the injury, well, let’s say I have a new respect for the doctors when they tell me it’s a 4-6 week healing process!

I do want to thank the many of you have sent me emails, best wishes for a speedy recovery, etc. I have been unable to answer each of them but I have received them and I certainly appreciate your kind and supportive thoughts regarding my recovery. By the way, there was no direct cause for this injury which happened when I was leaving Los Angeles to return home after the AIAA Space 2015 Conference. The doctor called it a “spontaneous” injury which means it just happened. I certainly hope I don’t encounter another “spontaneous” back injury, that’s for sure.

I will keep you posted of my progress here on the blog but for now, I am planning to do the Oct. 13, Tuesday, Open Lines Show. Check the website newsletter at the last minute for any changes in my plans plus I will use the blog for additional updates.

As for the new website development program, Spencer has been working right along without me as yesterday was the first time we spoke since before the surgery. He is to send me some samples of what he has been doing for the week and we are set to check in on the weekend as my time with him via Skype was very limited. Spencer believes he can launch the new site by the end of October but I think that is pushing it based on my recovery so far. I think mid-November or Thanksgiving is more realistic but I hope Spencer is right and we can be up and going by the end of October. Despite the fact that we are soon to be working with multiple beta testers, I believe that once we launch the site we will still be evolving as other items will crop up needing our attention. When they do, if you let us know as soon as possible, Spencer can address them right away. But the plan is to start working with the beta testers on an official basis next week. Spencer will be taking care of that and will be in touch with the beta testers at the appropriate time.

One little piece of advice I can give to all you free of charge as I know many of you have had back problems from time to time as have I. My problems started in high school weight lifting nearly 60 years ago. Remember, I will be 70 on my next birthday so I have lived with back issues for a long time but nothing like what I encountered this time around. Those of you that know me in person and listen to lots of shows hear me kidding around about being overweight, wanting microgravity to weigh less, you know, stuff like that. Well, back problems can be exacerbated by being overweight, especially if you carry the excess weight around your waist. It does put stress on your back. If I can offer any advice out of this it is to drop the excess weight. Believe me, as hard as it is to lose weight, stop over eating, give up eating your favorite foods, add substantial exercise to your daily regime, it is a million times harder to deal with something like lumbar surgery, even the minimally invasive type of surgery. Drop the weight. A spontaneous lumbar disc injury can happen to any of us and even with a good support network of people helping you through it, it is really unpleasant and hard and results in lots of lost time and productivity, pain and discomfort. So I urge you to head these injuries off at the pass and put the odds in your favor by dropping the excess weight. No guarantees of course, no way to even know that my being overweight was the ultimate cause of the injury, but it certainly weakens the back components and makes injuries such as what happened to me a bit more likely to happen. Opt for the diet and exercise, not lumbar spine surgery.

I look forward to returning as soon as possible to The Space Show. Thank you all for your support and patience. With a little luck, The Space Show’s return is just around the corner.

All the best,

David Livingston



1. Joe from Houston - October 12, 2015

Your back injuries from a while back helped inspire me to focus my rocket science efforts on helping people just like you by treating back pain with a unique stretching method that is better, cheaper, and safer than just pulling on the spine while lying on a table. Many people have already benefitted from it. I am sorry I did not get one to you in time.

Thanks for all you do!

The Space Show - October 12, 2015

Joe, I had disc fragments that were expelled from a herniated disc lodge inside the L4 nerve root. I was unable to do physical therapy or anything similar for fear of moving the fragments within the nerve root and making a crappy situation even worse. The three fragments had to be physically removed from the L4 nerve root that was very much inflamed, swollen and distorting the location of the L5 nerve root. The surgeon, a UCSF specialist in in minimally invasive spine surgery, was able to remove the three fragments and reposition the nerve roots without doing anything to the disc. I was very fortunate that in this case minimally invasive spine surgery turned out to be factual. Leaving the fragments in the nerve root was a complication given the likelihood of their moving and making matters worse plus they could calcify over time making their surgical removal far more involved. Once I understood the problem, learned how to read the MRI and did my own research, I made what I considered to be the only viable choice which was to take care of the matter now before it got worse. Given the type of injury I sustatined, I would not have engaged in physical therapy, stretching or anything else that might have moved the fragments making the injury worse than it already was. The injury was considered spontaneous which means it just happened without my doing anything to actually cause it to happen other than having a bad back with problems since high school weight lifting and being overweight with most of the weight in the belly area which causes a strain on backs, especially as we age. Your method may be applicable to some patients but clearly not when fragments are stuck in the nerve root and have the possibility of moving or getting in deeper and making matters worse. When something like this happens, once is thankful for the skilled hands of well trained, modern neurosurgeons who know how to do this without causing too much pain and suffering and misery for the patient. I am now 12 days out from the surgery, doing better, having less pain and discomfort but clearly the healing is continuing. I managed to go see the Martian last night with a good, comfy pillow to sit on and did just fine. I am planning on resuming Space Show programming tomorrow night with Open Lines. I will talk about The Martian but in case somebody actually does not know much about the movie or the book, I will do my best to not give away the ending. No spoiler alerts, OK? I am seriously behind in all my work, my Indiegogo Perk Processing and much more but I hope to get caught up a rapidly as can be done without hurting my healing progress which is a 4-6 week total process.

Until tomorrow night everyone,

David L.

2. Michael J. Listner - October 10, 2015


I agree with Matt. Don’t push it. Heal first; The Space Show and your audience isn’t going anywhere.

B John (Björn) - October 14, 2015

No no no! Space first. Always space first. I look forward to connecting with the next Space Show as soon as possible. Healing can be done later or never. But it won’t happen without the right spirit and motivation. Come on, get up, it’s show time. There’s a space to explore. That is what matters.

3. Matt from Switzerland - October 9, 2015

Please Dr. Livingstone,
take care of Yourself first, then the spaceshow.
Even though, I miss Your show its YOUR health first!!

Matt from Switzerland - October 9, 2015

edit punctuation:

Please Dr. Livingstone,
take care of Yourself first, then the spaceshow.
Even though I miss Your show, its YOUR health first!!

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