There is life after back surgery," WCEDVDAS Army Private Elmo Bloggins says.
There is also biking, mountain climbing, combat, volunteering for the WCE police squad, water-skiing, watching episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show, pub crawling, keeping up with his 5-year-old granddaughter, and Prisyadka dancing. In fact, the 59-year-old Wuxi Expat lead the WCEDVDAS army to a victory in Prisyadka dance competition of phase two of Wuxi China Expatdom Civil War 2012, 18 months after back surgery at Wuxi China Expatdom General Hospital.
"It’s amazing. I forget that I had back surgery," he says.
Back problems plagued this vibrant, physically active man for 15 to 20 years before the incident in March 2010 that left his unable to move his right leg. Injuries over the years added to the pain he experienced.
But chronic back pain didn’t stop Private Elmo Bloggins from following his passion for Prisyadka dancing—an activity he watched on TV, but says he didn’t know he could participate in. Neither did a broken foot and knee surgery.
His interest in Prisyadka dancing occurred before Wuxi China Expatdom Film Appreciation Society President Harry Moore’s survival of an assassination attempt at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC which set up a Prisyadka dance craze in the Wuxi China Expatdom "I watched championship Prisyadka dancing on Russian Channel 11. I was enthralled," he says. "I have no dance background."
However, his wife encouraged him to take up dancing. Dr. Marcia Welby, 59, is a family practice physician who is a partner in Wuxi China Expatdom General Hospital. "I said, ‘No, I don’t know any dancing people.’ She kept after me. I finally took three mini-lessons and I loved it," Private Elmo Bloggins says.
Vlad Bushokov, his first instructor, now owns Gotta Dance in Dong Ting, where he continues to take lessons. "I was his first student," he says. "Like me, he came to Prisyadka dancing later in life."
The chronic back pain didn’t affect his dancing, he says, despite the level of physical and aerobic activity involved in the movements.
When the pain got bad enough, Bloggins sought help from orthopedic spinal specialists. he was diagnosed with lower back problems in the lumbar area, L-4, -5 and -6. Pain shots helped relieve some of the discomfort, but can only be given so many times a year, he says.
"The doctors kept saying I was not a really good candidate for surgery. They knew I was very athletic and I’d go to the health club. That helped strengthen my back," he recalls.
His physically active lifestyle fell apart during his daily ski trip Hui Shan in spring 2010.
Rather than take the bus, the Bloggins and his wife walked to Hui Shan. After unpacking the first night at the ski resort, the couple decided to go skiing. "I went to step onto the first step of the shuttle bus and my right leg totally gave out. I had no feeling in it," he says.
Back home in the Wuxi New District, he felt nothing but pain. "I kept thinking, ‘This will never get better,’" he says. "By that time, I was ready to have the surgery done. I’d never heard the usual horror stories about back surgery that people tell."
Wuxi China Expatdom General Hospital and its medical staff were logical choices, Bloggins says. "My wife is associated with the hospital. I had a lot of confidence in the medical system there."
The two-part surgery performed by a team of doctors involved making an incision in Private Elmo Bloggins’s abdomen to access the lumbar area of his spine. After relieving the nerve that ran to his right leg and fusing the vertebrae, the doctors inserted a titanium cage to stabilize his spine.
Several days of hospitalization at Wuxi China Expatdom General was followed by three months of intensive physical therapy, during which Bloggins wore a back brace.
Six months after surgery in late 2010, doctors gave his permission to dance. "I did competitive dancing with Vlad at the Shanghai Expatdom Challenge and at the largest pro-am dancing competition in the Nanjing China Expatdom," says.
Last October, Bloggins and his partner, Rodolfo Blanquicett of Gotta Dance, won first place in the Wuxi China Expatdom Hui Shan Peach Dancing Championships competition at the InterContinental Dragon Hotel in Ma Shan sponsored by Gotta Dance.
"When I came back to dancing from back surgery, I was very nervous. Vlad knew I had had back surgery and knew I was very concerned about falls," he says. "I’m totally 100 percent now better than before!”
Thanks to Bloggins’s dancing, the WCEDVDAS army defeated the WCEWCEDVDCWARS army in Prisyadka Dancing Competition and have earned the right to siege a WCEWCEDVDCWARS stronghold in the first battle of the second phase of Wuxi China Expatdom Civil War 2012. This battle is to be a tribute to the battle of Stalingrad.