This year, I have decided to stop rebelling against the advice of doctors and have modified my activities to keep the Gods of Pain mollified. As such, I have been able to keep myself comfortable on the less potent, non-narcotic drug over the past several months. It’s been great! I don’t know if any of you have had to use a scheduled narcotic on a regular basis, but it makes the tummy unhappy after only a few days. Then it’s a lesser of two evils thing: deal with the pain, or spend the night kneeling on the bathroom floor? I usually choose the first and supplement with adult beverages to take the edge off. It’s truly amazing that I’ve managed to get an A in every class throughout my undergrad program considering I’ve been decently buzzed while writing many of my papers.
This was all until I stopped trying to pretend that there is nothing wrong with me. I have now accepted that just because I can’t do what everybody else does, I am not a failure. I think of myself a decade ago, and I don’t think I would have cared about physical activity at all. I would have been happy to play the victim, so I should be grateful that my idea of self worth and reliability has improved that much during my 20s!
Unfortunately, having relatively controllable pain this year has made me forget about all of the things that set off the beast. Nick entered a fun run yesterday, and I went along to watch. I would rather run in private without the fanfare which I find nerve-wracking and stressful (plus, the tee shirts from this particular race are extremely ugly), so I did not participate myself. But I did find myself standing for over two hours.
Standing for more than 30 minutes is a big no-no in my world, because it puts pressure on my already over-emphasized lumbar curve. Our modern world makes this one an easy thing to avoid. I forget about it—until it’s too late, that is.
The folks at the pain clinic have suggested a surgery that may or may not help those silly facet joints, but I am not the fence about having it done. They use radio frequency waves to burn away the nerves surrounding the fussy facets, which they would also like to do with the SI joints eventually, but they will only do one side at a time (as Nick would say, I’m just really “mucked” up). I have been warned that the recovery is awful because all of the surrounding nerves go a little haywire. The burned nerves regrow in six months to a year, and the fresh nerves may be pain free or they may be nastier than they were to begin with.
Part of me thinks that I have to try because the improvement to my (and by association, Nick’s) quality of life would be immeasurable if it worked. But I am afraid of the worst case scenario: the discomfort being worse than it was to begin with. At least right now, I tolerate things relatively well (with the aforementioned adult beverages). I’ll consider making a decision next year, perhaps.
I have decided that it’s just this weekend that I need to avoid! It was this weekend four years ago that I got that first MRI, spent a night in the emergency room to get a CT scan, and got an open-ended ticket to visit UW Hospital. It was this weekend in 2008 that I confronted the fact that the pain didn’t go away like it was supposed to, and my surgeon ordered a follow up MRI…a battle between HMOs ensued, but really I just needed someone (from any ol’ HMO) to tell me that I wasn’t going to die any time soon because that’s what I feared the most. And, it was this weekend last year that I screwed my back up so royally that I spent all of August with a TENS unit strapped to my waist, whimpering when I had to take it off to shower. I wish electricity and water played nicer together!
So, the end of July/beginning of August is just a tenuous time in the life of my low back. I am sitting here doing homework while Nick is out paddling. I need to stay relatively “with it” because I need to pick him up once he reaches the end and take him back to his vehicle. My old buddy the TENS unit is keeping me company, and I am hoping that if I keep doing the exercises from physical therapy over and over again, this will pass quickly.
I was scouring the almighty Internet to find a visual aid for excessive lumbar lordosis for you, and I came across this link. This link says that in some cultures, this is considered an attractive trait—hah! You just ask Nick how attractive it is seeing your significant other stuff ice packs down her pants! The real thing will have to do (below). What, doesn’t everybody have an X-Ray of their back sitting around the house?
I no longer consider it a compliment when someone makes a comment about my posture—it’s not me, it’s my spine! Genetic malformation that hampers my independence! Sexxxxxy!